More success raising our boy without spanking/hitting/slapping

We never did slap our kid around or anything like that, but I had originally planned on no spanking at all.  Then my son hit toddler age, and I had trouble getting him to behave.  My ex-friend Richard convinced me to spank, and to do it as hard as I could, and unfortunately, I listened.

It didn’t do one bit of good.  The only thing that ever really worked with my son was to take away things he most wanted if he misbehaved.

After breaking off relations with Richard and his wife (for psychologically abusing me and constantly causing drama), we also stopped spanking, period.  That was about three years ago.

If you read the comments on pretty much every Internet article/blog post about modern discipline, you’d think that parents not spanking/slapping their kids are causing the downfall of society.  That kids run wild because nobody spanks/belts/slaps them anymore.

But I’ve seen kids who are constantly spanked/slapped/screamed at, running wild anyway (Richard’s kids).  I’ve seen well-behaved kids who are raised without harshness.

And the older generations complained about MY generation (X) when we were young, too–even though most of us got spanked or even belted as kids.  In those days, it was still okay to use a paddle or a wooden spoon!

Nowadays in America, according to statistics, most parents do still spank their kids.  So–If most of the kids are getting spanked, then where are all the non-spanked kids who are supposedly running wild?  It must be the spanked-kids who are running wild, then!

Or maybe it’s all imaginary–the same complaints older generations have made about younger generations since the dawn of time–and kids behave no worse than they always have!

Also, violence breeds violence: If you abuse a child, you teach that child to abuse, or to find a spouse who abuses.  Why is it assault to smack your wife upside the head, but okay to smack a child (whose head is much smaller and brain much more vulnerable) upside the head?

Abused kids of today often become the criminals of tomorrow, whom society must then deal with, so it is indeed society’s business when kids are abused.  It is indeed your business if your next-door neighbor is smacking his kid around.

While I hesitate to call a short, quick spank on the well-padded butt “abuse,” especially since most parents still do it, I do intend to raise my child without violence of any kind.  I believe I have apologized to my son for spanking him in the past and following Richard’s bad advice.

He is high-spirited at home.  What brings quick compliance?  “No computer tomorrow!”  The thought of spending a whole long day without playing Minecraft or Roblox, brings him upstairs quick.  But I read that children often push the boundaries with their parents because they’re more comfortable with them.  The real test is how the child behaves for teachers and other authority figures.

Another thing you hear is, “Teachers have trouble controlling their classrooms because parents don’t spank anymore.”  Well, they DO still spank, so it must be some other reason.

And my kid sure isn’t the one causing the problem.  Every year, we hear what a wonderful boy we have, how good he is in class.  Every year, the teacher says, “He’s such a nice boy!”  “He’s a nice kid!”  “He befriended a girl who has trouble making friends.”  “He’s brilliant!”  “His test scores are far above average.”  On Thursday, during parent-teacher conferences, we heard it all again.

He also takes after me: He’s quiet, though he talks all the time with his best friends.  He has also naturally matured since second grade (he’s in fourth grade): He works well in groups, works hard, focuses (he used to be easily distracted), LOVES math (does math problems for fun!), loves to read, reads all the time.

I got paddled, and went to an elementary school where I once heard teachers paddling some poor kid, but I sure didn’t work that hard in school in 4th grade, or do my homework!

And I was a well-behaved kid otherwise, so I didn’t get paddled in school, but just having to put my name on the board was humiliating enough.

(Everybody got spanked or paddled, yet most of my classmates got in trouble more often than I did, and even gasped when I had to put my name on the board, so don’t say the paddling made me well-behaved.  No, it was natural temperament.)

At the beginning of the year, my son had some trouble remembering to do/bring in his homework.  So I gave him some tips, and told him that I would have to take 50 cents off his allowance every time he brought home another late slip.  We also had to tell him because of a problem last year, $1 off his allowance every time he gets to school late.

Guess what?  Ever since then, we’ve had no trouble with forgotten homework or tardiness.  🙂  [Update 12/23/14: So far in fifth grade, he has been remembering homework with no trouble, and his tardiness has also sharply dropped off.]

No violence, but still “hitting” him where it hurts: his allowance.  We do not have to threaten violence to get him to study.  We do not have to threaten violence to get compliance in other areas.

And it’s paying off.

 

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So now it’s time for my son to start sex ed…..

4th grade, already, they start it around here.  And they’ve been doing it for 30 years.  My own school, 30 years ago, had no such formal training.  My teacher one day separated the girls from the boys, and told us girls why she requested a new pad machine for the girls’ bathroom (one of our 9-year-olds had already started her period).

Then she showed us the boys’ bathroom, because it had become a fad for girls to go in there.  She wanted to de-mystify it, while it was empty, so they’d stop doing that.  (I never did it.)  I did wonder why the boys didn’t have doors on their stalls; wouldn’t they hate being seen doing their business?

Now, we did have a day of movies etc. in some middle school class.  I believe birth control was discussed to some extent.  And we did have a bit of a talk in biology class in high school.  So we weren’t completely without sex ed.

But my ex Phil gave me the impression that his school in Wisconsin had more formal and extensive training, which he then used to show me how ignorant I was in thinking certain sexual behaviors were sex.  (Actually, they are sex, but I believed him because of his fancy sex ed training, and put myself into risky situations, trusting him.)

It looks like the local schools have more formal training than we ever got where I grew up.  They have special teachers trained to do this, and start in 4th grade already.  They don’t go into detail at this age–it’s mostly about puberty changes, bathing, deodorant, that sort of thing–but they have special classes and videos.  Then in middle and high school, they go into more about the sexual aspect.

I’m in favor of sex ed in schools, because I remember vividly what it was like going through puberty in elementary and middle school, how the kids teased each other, that one 9-year-old girl actually did have sex–and because I don’t want any other girls to be led by some selfish boy who claims fancy knowledge, to get her to do things she otherwise would not do.

(“No, no sex before marriage!”  “But THAT’s not ‘sex.’  Sex involves penetration.”  Next thing she knows, she’s pregnant even though she never had “sex.”)

The failure rate of abstinence-based education is very telling, as is the rate of premarital sex even among Christian teenagers/young adults.  I don’t want my boy to get some girl pregnant because of lack of knowledge about how to avoid that.

I intend to make sure he knows that all the other “non-intercourse” sexual practices are indeed sex, and may lead to intercourse, which then leads to pregnancy.

But still–The thought of my little 9-year-old going through puberty and sex ed, when I could swear I just brought him home from the hospital a week ago–Where did the time go?

 

 

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My son’s pet flock of finches

My son now has a “pet flock” of finches. Not only does he have his two spice finches, but there’s a flock which will sit on the fence and watch the house. Then when he gives them bread, they swoop down before he’s even done. They’re so fat now that I’m surprised they can still fly. Sometimes, bunnies feast as well; yesterday, a chipmunk nommed on the bread.

 

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Parents, DON’T beat your children!

I just had to unfriend somebody for posting on Facebook that we should beat our children.  Dang it, people, in this day and age—!!!!!

Fortunately, she was an acquaintance, nothing closer than that.

But after the crap I went through with Richard and Tracy and how they beat/choked their children, and reporting them to CPS, and then getting stalked by them for a year for speaking up about it, I don’t want to go through this crap again with somebody else!!!!

I was already wary of this person after I heard her cuss at her kid one day.  But this confirmed it.  😛  If she had said “spank,” I would’ve let it pass.  But she used the word “beat.”  😛

I quietly unfriended her shortly after reading her post, and did not take a screen print.  But as near as I can recall her post, it was:

Parents, you should beat your children.  You need to be their parent, not their f**king friend.

Um….There’s a HUGE middle ground between beating/abusing children and being too lax.  😛

[Update 12/6/14:]  In early 2014, I saw her at a checkers tournament.  Hubby and I both were appalled when, during a discussion on child abuse, she justified grabbing her little boy’s ears, saying it didn’t hurt him, etc.

She may have said other things as well.  But this confirmed my decision to unfriend her.  Well, that and some abusive things she said about Hubby later on, which caused me to block her as well.  I also saw her smack the boy in the mouth once for using the same language she herself does.

 

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Parent-Teacher Conference: Our Kid’s a “Crazy Inventor”

Just got back from a parent-teacher conference.  Geez, our kid is brilliant.  He’s in third grade now; scoring at the top at everything; behaving; getting along well with other kids; sweet; and the teacher occasionally asks him if he’ll be a crazy inventor when he grows up, because he’s inventive.

I can just see it now….With that hair always in cowlicks because he forgets to brush it, his Gen-X parents into stuff like goth, steampunk, D&D and unconventional sleep times/schedules–our little boy growing up into one of those begoggled steampunk turn-of-the-century inventors.

Like, say, Jasper Dale on Avonlea, my favorite character on that show, by the way.  Forget his social awkwardness and stutter–Jasper is smart and hot.  (Hey, look, somebody else agrees with me!)

We stopped spanking our son a few years ago, and yet he still is well-behaved for teachers and most other adults.  Every year he gets such praise from his teachers.  His parents were both social misfits (still are), yet he’s doing fine.  How did that happen?  His parents both had “issues” in school, yet he’s doing well.  How did that happen?

And yet, with how well this one’s turning out, we’ve been unable to have more children…..What a frickin’ shame.

 

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Wondering if NVLD is hereditary

Thinking my little boy has inherited my brain….His daddy tells him that since he found out yesterday that Mommy didn’t want my son drinking Kool-Aid but milk for lunch, he’s not going to make that same mistake twice.  What does my son focus on?  “It wasn’t Kool-Aid, it was pop.” LOL

Focusing on the details and missing the big picture: that’s common for NVLD.  This tendency of NVLD kids to focus on details is sometimes called “being a little lawyer.”  You’ll tell them they can’t do something, but they’ll find some way that your reason is invalid, and try to argue around it. 

My little boy does that all the time.  Drives me nuts and I have to try to guide him out of it so it doesn’t cause him trouble later….Though, if he does become a lawyer, this may actually help him.  😉

And I’ve often done it, though I was a lot worse when I was younger.  Mom, you should let me do this because….  We shouldn’t break up because…. Okay, maybe we won’t be serious, but how about just dating…. (I found evidence of this in my diaries for both Peter and Shawn.) 

I used to be one of those grammar/spelling nazis on the Net, until I discovered people don’t like that.  I’ll be reading an article in the newspaper and focus on the cringeworthy spelling/grammar error (but then, that’s normal for people in my line of work). 

But this does make an NVLDer an excellent proofreader.  My scores on the entry test I took for SEEK years ago, astounded the person testing me.  She said nobody else had done that well before.  My filing skills were praised at my last job.

It’s hard to realize, because your brain naturally works this way, that it’s annoying for others, or why it’s annoying.  Honestly, we’re not trying to annoy you. 

I only learned about this NVLD trait in the last few years, and recognized it in myself. 

You just honestly think that those loopholes exist.  If that particular thing was not included in the list of “forbidden” items, you’ll think it’s not forbidden, even if your mom meant that all similar things are forbidden, and expects you to understand that. 

“I shouldn’t have to tell you that!” is a common refrain.

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After his conviction, Richard comes to my church

To my shock, Richard showed up at my church today.  I hadn’t seen him there since last Christmas, and thought that–ever since I reported him to Social Services and he got convicted of choking his kid–he would never show up at my church again, out of shame, knowing or suspecting that I know what he did.  (The Forum was shocked as well.)

But there he was, so who knows when he could show up again.  Every week maybe?  And my church is TINY.  It’s hard to stay at opposite ends of the church in a church that small.  Staying at opposite ends means staying a yard or two apart.  Because of this, even though Jeff normally drops me off and leaves (he’s Lutheran), he stayed nearby as moral support–or a kind of bodyguard.

But I did note a few things.  They may mean nothing, or they may mean something, I don’t know: Richard was very quiet during the service, even during the Creed.  I didn’t hear him and he was just two or three pews back with nobody in between.  He did not go to get the Eucharist.

Only two children were with him: The child he choked was not there.  The youngest also was not there, and neither was Tracy.

He was right behind me in the line to get blessed bread from the priest, but said nothing to me.  Of course, I was sending out clear body language to “stay away.”

Unlike the first or second time I saw them at my church after everything went down, this time I’m given strength by the knowledge that I should not cower in shame from someone who did such a horrible thing to a little kid.

During coffee hour, my son played with the two children who were there.  Child #1 is only about 5 and just happy-go-lucky whatever happens.  She’ll pass by us and maybe smile or give a hug.  Child #2 is older, and upset at Jeff and me for not coming around anymore.

Before I left, I got waylaid by the two girls after Jeff and my son had already gone out.  I gave them hugs and smiles, but also got Child #2’s scolding eyes.  She said things like, “You guys don’t come around anymore,” “We miss you,” “It was fun to play at your house.”

Jeff tells me he also got her scolding eyes.  But you can’t tell a little child, “Sorry, but we can’t come to your house anymore because your mother is nasty and your father choked your sister.”  So instead, I said, “We miss you, too.”

I hate to see children suffer from the sins of the parents.  I keep praying that the probation officer and Social Services are working to change things for those girls so they can break the cycle.

Jeff does not want to be friends with these people again.

[The case also showed up in the local newspaper’s printed listing of court cases, in November, showing his name, the ruling, and the amount of the fine.]

I posted on Facebook a dedication to Richard: “Suedehead” by Morrissey:

Why do you come here?  And why do you hang around?  Why do you come here When you know it makes things hard for me?  When you know, oh…Why do you come?

I also wrote:

Today I was put in the extremely uncomfortable and heartbreaking position of talking to a child who didn’t understand why I don’t come around anymore, and seeing the scold in her eyes.

“It was fun playing at your house,” she said.  “We miss you,” she said.

But you can’t tell a child that her parents’ disgraceful behavior is the reason.  “We miss you, too,” was all I could say.

I don’t get it–Why does he come to my church if he’s not going to try to make things right with us?  It’s supposed to be my refuge, my peaceful place.  But he keeps showing up there like a bad penny.

He has his own church.  What he did to me, has put me into my own Long Dark Night of the Soul; when he choked his daughter, I was horrified; and when I see him again, it’s a setback, when I’ve come so far along.

Every Sunday service, I’m afraid to go because he might be there.  Why doesn’t he leave me alone?

Dude, I don’t hate you, but I am extremely disappointed in you.  I expected much better of you…….

Then I posted a link to my blog post, Healing Takes a Long Time.  Some excerpts:

I had thought I’d never see Richard at my church again, but there he was on Sunday.  A wound I thought was healing has been ripped open again, gaping and oozing.

It’s hard for me to even get myself up and going to church on Sunday mornings, for fear that they will be there.  They’ve surprised me a few times at church, or at my church’s Greek Fest, since the breach, even though I rarely ever saw them there before.  (They go elsewhere.)

It felt like they were doing it on purpose to terrorize me.  Every time I saw them, I’d barely make it through, feel like collapsing, have to fight to keep from trembling.  Only anger at all the abuse could give me strength to get through.

This time, Hubby and I saw their vehicle in the parking lot, so Hubby stayed to give me moral support.  (He has his own church and normally just drops me off at mine.)

This time, it was just Richard and two of his kids, not the one who was choked.  It was all very quiet, no scenes or anything.  He didn’t even take communion.

During coffee hour, my son played with the two kids.  One is only about 5 and just happy-go-lucky whatever happens.  She’d pass by us and maybe smile or give a hug. Just the sweetest, most adorable little girl.

The other one is 7, and upset at Hubby and me for not coming around anymore.

Before I left, I got waylaid by the two girls after Hubby and my son had already gone out.  I gave them hugs and smiles, but also got the older one’s scolding eyes.

She said things in a scolding tone like, “You guys don’t come around anymore,” “We miss you,” “It was fun to play at your house.”  Hubby also got her scolding eyes earlier.

My heart broke right there.  I couldn’t tell a 7-year-old child about the reasons.

I couldn’t tell a 7-year-old child about the abuse, how Tracy had verbally eviscerated me over a misunderstanding and had no remorse, how her father had done a terrible, evil deed to her sister, how he had once planned to do a terrible, evil deed to a lady who had upset him two years ago, and made me afraid of him, afraid of what horrible deeds he could do to me.

I couldn’t explain to her in a way that she could understand it had nothing to do with her.

All I could say was, “We miss you, too,” and try not to cry.  I’ve been miserable ever since, missing her and the other children.

I just kept hoping during coffee hour that Richard would come to Hubby and me and apologize for all the things he’d done to us, and was very disappointed when he didn’t.  I still keep hoping.

[5/4/14: Instead, he just spent the whole time ignoring us, making no move to make peace with us, instead telling one of my fellow parishioners about his conversion to Orthodoxy. 

His conversion–hmph–What a joke!  Was that an Orthodox way to treat us, Richard?  You’re no Christian!]

I hope that, because of the criminal conviction, he’s using his probation as a second chance to change things around.  I hope that one day things will be different, that his abusive home environment will become healthy and good, that he will come to us.

Websites on abusers keep saying, “Don’t hope for change.  Let go of the hope for change.  Accept that this is the way they are and will always be.  Don’t listen when the Church says they can change.”  But in my heart I just don’t believe that.

I was angry.  I tried to hold onto my anger to distance myself from Richard and all the pain.  But it’s all just vanished and sadness has returned.

When he came to our city four years ago, I had no idea things would turn out like this.  I gave them so much of myself, trying to help them, because Richard’s friendship was so important and special to me.  He had never said anything about an abusive homelife, not until then.

One person on an Orthodox message board noted that I sound emotionally and spiritually traumatized.  This is certainly true.

If you are religious, please pray for me and this whole situation, which affects not just me but four innocent children.

[Below was added in spring 2014.]

Tracy accused me of breaking off relations with her because I needed to “grow up” and accept the “consequences” of my “behavior.” 

No, we broke off relations with her because she’s a screaming harpy, a child abuser, a husband beater, and an abusive friend who bullies shy, quiet, gentle people. 

We had already considered breaking off relations with her several times before that, even considered reporting her to CPS before the breakup. 

Her behavior on July 1, 2010 was the last straw. 

And now we have proof, in black and white, and in the state’s court records, that Richard is also a child abuser, making his loss no longer the tragedy I thought it was.

But I still suffered from residual pain and grief over his loss.

On October 31, 2011, the newspaper published this letter I sent to the editor:

I commend Jaymee Barton (“Surviving Violence,” Oct. 24) for speaking out on domestic abuse and [two local newspapers] for publishing stories about this issue over the past year.

An earlier article, “Injuries to Child Raise Questions” (Aug. 26), discussed sentencing for child abusers.  Recently, a local man who choked his young daughter was charged with two felonies.  But through plea bargaining, his sentence became probation, no jail time.

How can this happen with such a despicable act?  Is that child being protected?  Domestic abuse is far too common – husbands abusing wives emotionally, verbally and/or physically, wives abusing husbands in the same way, husbands and wives abusing each other, parents abusing children.

And keep in mind that “domestic abuse” [in Wisconsin] applies to anyone living together, including roommates.  People laugh at women abusing men, but it happens quite a bit, even physically.  Even going to counseling can be a way for the abuser to control the abused by manipulating the counselor.

I also commend Social Services and the police in trying to stop abuse.  Anyone who witnesses or suspects abuse should report it to the police or Social Services to help them do their job protecting those who can’t protect themselves.  And I hope the abused, even children, will have the courage to tell someone who can help.

Table of Contents 

1. Introduction

2. We share a house 

3. Tracy’s abuse turns on me 

4. More details about Tracy’s abuse of her husband and children 

5. My frustrations mount 

6. Sexual Harassment from some of Richard’s friends

7. Without warning or explanation, tensions build

 
8. The Incident

9. The fallout; a second chance?

10. Grief 

11. Struggle to regain normalcy

12. Musings on how Christians should treat each other

13. Conclusion 

13b. Thinking of celebrating the first anniversary

14. Updates on Richard’s Criminal Charges 

Sequel to this Story: Fighting the Darkness: Journey from Despair to Healing

 

 

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