Monday, September 15, 2014

To Switch or Not

There is has been much discussion over the past week about domestic violence in the national discourse including the recent news over the weekend about an NFL player using a 'switch' on his 4 year old child.  As any parent knows, kids can be so frustrating.  They cry, throw temper tantrums, whine and lose their patience easily.  It's part of being a kid, they are learning to understand and resolve differences, they are also watching you all the time to see how you handle conflict. It's our job as adults to teach them how to work through problems or disagreements.

I admit that there have been many times I have yelled at my children and sometimes, smacked their hands when they were little and I was upset.  Every time I have lost my temper, I have been so upset with myself, and frustrated that I haven't been able to keep my emotions under control.  Discipline is essential to teaching but should never out balance love or guidance.

The story this weekend went way beyond this though.  A 4 year old boy spent a weekend with his father and went back to his mother with black and blue bruises from a beating, broken skin and blood from a stick?  This is just plain wrong.  

Can you imagine even one hit from a stick?  The player's excuse was that he grew up this way and was disciplined like this.  Ugh, ugh, ugh. Many of our parents had a much more rigid approach to parenting than we do today.  Much of that behaviour would be considered abusive by today's standards and for good reason.  My parents raised eight children and moved several times over the course of their long marriage.  I cannot imagine how stressful it was to feed them, clothe them, change cities and manage it all.  It was a very strict household, too strict in my opinion.

I have tried to take the best of their upbringing and very deliberately not follow the worst of it. Children can spend a whole lifetime trying to overcome the disapproval or abuse of a parent.  If you are feeling like you need to hit your child excessively, and make no mistake, taking any item and using it on your child is abusive, walk away.  Walk outside and shake it off.  Count to 10, breathe.  Have a listen to Cris Carter on his thoughts.

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