Tuesday, August 07, 2007


I got to spend the afternoon with Montel today because Mateo's cold made it impossible for me to work at home while he was at home, coughing and sneezing and smiling and playing and sleeping and crying and wanting love, love, love. The topic? Whether or not to spank your child.

The first guests were a couple where the man, who I shall loosely call a dad, thought it was perfectly okay to slap his 7-week old baby's hand and to try to teach him a lesson when it came to crying and eating. Nice way to teach your kid that by using his only method of communication, namely, crying, is the the wrong way to tell his parents he's hungry. As the "dad" said, his son needs to learn that he is the parent and the baby is the, well, baby.

Luckily, Montel did not cry. I, on the other hand, wanted to.

I generally don't believe in hitting your child as a form of punishment, especially when your child has no clue as to what's going on, and so it was interesting to get different perspectives from parents and doctors about the matter. What it seems to boil down to on the medical side of it is that spanking should be used as a form of punishment until at least age 5 or older. And if parents do decide to spank, it should be with love. While that sounds like an oxymoronic statement, it does make sense. Basically, don't go hitting your kid just because you've had a bad day and your kid is being a kid and getting on your nerves. And don't hit your kid when you're angry. (Thanks, mom, for not killing me when I made you soooo mad when I was in Jr. High. You know, for that thing that made you sooooo mad that you had to leave. You know, that thing you can't remember now and even if you did, I don't really want to know about it because who needs a reminder of their evilness?)

So now my husband and I are on the cusp of repeated "nos" and head shaking at Mateo because he's now more grabby than ever. And even though I've laid down the punishment law, which is no hitting....at any age....unless Mateo is on the verge of darting across the street or about to stick his hand on the burner, I'm sure there will be a point where my husband and I will have to reevaluate things.

My friend kept asking me today, when I was giving her Montel updates via IM, that if Mateo was acting like a jerk and doing all kinds of things that were making me mad, then I would hit him, wouldn't I? and I kept saying no, I don't think so. Because I have to take some responsibility as to why Mateo was acting like a jerk when he should know better (and I'm sorry, right now, he doesn't know any better at all and won't for quite some time) and that if for some reason Mateo starts heading down a wrong path in life, then maybe I need to reevaluate how we are as parents and how much time we are spending with him. And that maybe it's a bit our fault and not completely his. But that's waaaaay later on in life.

And yes, I was spanked as a child, and no, I never once felt it was child abuse or my parents hated me. I just look at Mateo and I can't see myself spanking him or "tapping" him or trying to teach him a lesson. I'm pretty sure that at 6 months he knows I'm the parent and he's the baby, but I also suspect he knows he's got me wrapped around his chubby hand. But mom's no dummy, and she's been known to "break" babies.

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