The Manifesto Project

By Rebeldad Brian Reid

Today, I have a challenge: I want you to share your universal truths about parenthood. E-mail me (at rebeldad+manifesto@gmail.com) a manifesto of no more than 500 words on any parenting/balance topic you can think of, and I'll post them all at rebeldad.com/manifesto.html and highlight the best of them on the main rebeldad.com page and/or this space.

I'm inspired by a recent project from one of the more interesting bloggers out there, Hugh MacLeod from gapingvoid.com (occasionally NSFW). He's been calling for manifestos of 500 words or less on any topic and posting some of the more interesting ones. It's fascinating to see the big-picture thinking that has emerged. I want to expand this kind of knowledge-sharing, so please pass along your thoughts. They don't have to be perfect. Just true.

Here's my attempt, for reference.

Parenting takes no specialized knowledge, and reading parenting books does precious little to improve parenting (though it's a terrific way to ratchet up your stress level). There are no secrets; there are no can't-fail strategies, and anyone who tells you differently is misguided, insecure or trying to sell you something. It's all about common sense. And time:

1. All kids are different: What works with your eldest won't automatically work for your youngest, and what worked for your mom or your brother or the dad next door isn't necessarily going to work for you. Be flexible.

2. Parenting is improvisation. Like jazz, there are no mistakes, only opportunities. Hopelessly lost in a big city? It's an adventure! Tempers flaring? Break out the Play-Doh -- it's like one of those squeezy stress balls, only it smells better.

3. Outsource your anxiety. Pediatricians are trained to tell when a bout of the stomach flu is worth worrying about. Call them early and often, but trust 'em when they tell you it's OK. (And if you can't trust 'em, find someone that you can trust.) Same goes for teachers, guidance counselors, etc.

4. Kids don't have to always come first. Your marriage, your social life or your dream of running a 40-minute 10K should not be put on hold for two decades just because you're a parent. Make time for the other important stuff.

5. Balance is impossible. That doesn't mean you shouldn't fight to get your priorities straight and your life in order. But know that you haven't failed on the days when not everything clicks.

6. Organization is vital. It's easy to get away with being a happy-go-lucky, single twenty-something who writes notes on the palm of your hand, but it's almost impossible to be content as a parent without an organizational philosophy. We'd all be better off if we threw all our copies of the "What to Expect" series into the river and bought "Getting Things Done," instead.

7. Your No. 1 job is "role model." Kids do not believe in "do as I say, not as I do." On the contrary, they believe -- at a staggeringly early age -- the exact opposite. Kids are wicked smart that way.

8. Children need quality time, but you can't schedule it. There's no telling when those special moments of child-parent bonding will kick in, but when you give 'em your undivided attention -- TV off, Blackberries away, please -- the magic moments have a way of appearing.

9. Don't hit children. Ever.

10. Tell your kids that you love them. And show them, too. How? By listening, mostly, and by doing everything you can to support their dreams.

Brian Reid writes about parenting and work-family balance. You can read his blog at rebeldad.com.

By Brian Reid |  December 14, 2006; 9:00 AM ET  | Category:  Tips
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Those are 10 pretty good truths, Brian!

Posted by: Mr.Honda | December 14, 2006 9:29 AM

Sounds like a fun project, Brian. I'll have to think a bit about mine.

I agree with 98% of what you wrote. My only disagreement is over the value of parenting books. I think they're useless when you treat them as instruction manuals, but can be really helpful when you treat them as sources of additional tools to keep in your kit.

Posted by: Elizabeth | December 14, 2006 9:41 AM

Here are a few I'm fond of

1 - the more time you spend with your kids, the more they learn from you. Be their softball coach (or soccer, basketball, etc.) If you can't be the coach, be the team parent. Cheer them on, don't criticize them. At the end of the day, you'll be surprised how much they've learned from your behavior.

2 - kids are going to rebel at some stage, probably early teens. You did, too. Accept it, be ready to deal with it. The best way to do that is to be ready to explain why you think and act the way you do. As Brian said, they really do learn more from what you do than from what you say.

3 - keep the rebellion within bounds. No drugs, drunk driving, or unprotected sex. No criminal acts - theft, beating up others, etc. (And it doesn't hurt for you to live that way, too.)

4 - if they make their bed, they lie in. Don't always go rushing in to clean up their messes. If they break something, they bought it.

Posted by: Army Brat | December 14, 2006 9:45 AM

Brian

Are you again drumming up material for a book deal?

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2006 9:45 AM

Do you have to use the word 'manifesto?' Are you trying to sound intellectual? The only manifesto I recall was the Communist manifesto. Why not just call your project 'Rules for Parents.'

BTW -- my parents controlled their children with a strong hand, especially #9, and broke all your rules. We're not in a rubber room yet.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2006 9:53 AM

I think your list is pretty complete.

I'm gonna amend Army Brat - The more time you spend with your kids while they're with other kids the more you'll learn about your kid! Then you can model the change you want to see in your kid and help them over rough spots.

Posted by: RoseG | December 14, 2006 9:54 AM

Generally a pretty good list, but I also have to disagree about your take on parenting books. I read books about pregnancy, child birth and parenting through out my pregnancy and found them very helpful. I was expecting my first child and didn't have any idea what to expect. The books helped me feel more prepared. I'd much rather get that practical information from a book than some of the nonsense advice I heard. If I'd listened to my mother for instance, I wouldn't have breastfed, I would have started my baby on solid food from day one and I wouldn't have used a car seat. It's been my observation that people who disparage reading books are usually people who just don't like to read.

Posted by: Melt | December 14, 2006 9:56 AM

This is one truth that I think holds up pretty well. Love is limitless. You can never run out, and in fact, it grows with use. I always tell my little boy that the more love we give away, the more we actually have.

Posted by: Emily | December 14, 2006 9:58 AM

I like your truths, Brian. Although I also disagree on the parenting books. I found Dr. Sears "The Baby Book" SO helpful, as well as "Between Parent and Child" and "Raising a Son", as well as various pregnancy books. Never looked at "What to Expect When You're Expecting" or whatever that series is. Can't stand how anxiety-inducing it is.

On the other hand, my husband is not a reader and never looked at any of those. However, I have frequently seen him model things that I do with our son and ways I talk with our son. (It sounds funny to hear some of my words and phrases come out of my husband's mouth!)

Actually, that might be an interesting blog topic -- how does your spouse or your child's other parent affect your parenting style? I'd be fascinated to hear...

Posted by: Rebecca | December 14, 2006 10:09 AM

Great start! (And no, no book deal. I'm not even trying to drum one up. Where would I find the time?)

Army Brat: I'd love to post your thoughts on the manifesto page. May I?

(And for those of you working on comments now, please let me know if I can re-publish them as part of the project. Thanks!)

Posted by: Brian Reid | December 14, 2006 10:10 AM

Brian, I have to disagree with you on your #9 about not ever hitting kids. I know you have doughters, but boys are different. to Exercise your #10 and show My annoying son I love him, I punch him on the arm. This is the way I show him affection. My wife doesn't understand, it's a Father - Son thing. Kisses from the daughters though!

The "Does That Hurt?" Game: (For boys only)

1. Lightly punch your kid on the arm or smack his leg.

2. follow this up immediately with the quesdtion, "does that hurt?"

3. If he answers "Yes", smack him again, call him a whimp or a sissy. Game over!

4. If you have a boy anything like mine, his ego will answer "No way". This gives you intrinsic permission to smack him again and ask, "Did THAT one hurt?"

5. Repeat until he hits you back.

6. Yell "OUTH! THAT HURT!"

7. Attack back, turn it into a wrestling match.

8. Once you have him pinned, tickle him until he says "Uncle".

9. If he will submit to saying "Uncle", he will say anything to get out of it. Hint: Make him say things like "I'll take out the trash." and "Yes I'll get you a beer.. without shaking it up first."

10. Always shake hands at the end. I also tell my son that the game will have to stop permanently the first time he wins which will probably come within the next 5 years. And the last thing I tell him, that if or when I'm no longer around, that he gets the role of being the protector of the family.

Posted by: Father of 4 | December 14, 2006 10:10 AM

Parenting books are awesome...for kindling, doorstops, frisbees, weight training, booster seats, fixing that table wobble, package stuffing....

Definitely a useful tool for your kit.

Posted by: RIF | December 14, 2006 10:13 AM

Father of 4 - you are back!!! :-) (smiley face)

Posted by: Product of a Working Mother | December 14, 2006 10:14 AM

Never wake a sleeping baby. (for anything!)

Posted by: Fred | December 14, 2006 10:21 AM

I too find that books can be helpful, not necessarily as prescriptions for what to do, but as some indication of what to expect.

An example of this is the "Your ???-Year-Old" series by Louise Bates Ames. It was written in the 70's, and some of the opinions about spanking are out-of-date. However, I have found the descriptions of the developmental stages to be fairly on-target. While individual children do have individual personalities, many behaviors are common for each age. Understanding common issues for each age helps me to view some less charming behaviors in context. I am able to respond more calmly and effectively with this understanding.

Each book in the series has a chapter on the appropriate birthday party for the age, complete with timeline. I have found these guidelines right on target and have had very fun at-home parties for my daughter. I've been to too many awful birthday parties with too many kids, activities better suited for older kids, etc. These books are worth a look for the birthday chapters alone.

Posted by: Another librarian mom | December 14, 2006 10:22 AM

OK. The first manifesto is up at http://www.rebeldad.com/LewisManifesto.html

Keep 'em coming!

Posted by: Brian Reid | December 14, 2006 10:23 AM

parenting books can be useful provided you realize that they are not carved in stone. books on how children develope have been really helpful to me. they helped me to realize that a particularily annoying behavior of my son's was totally age appropriate. he wasn't doing it to annoy me he was doing it because that was his age.

Posted by: quark | December 14, 2006 10:25 AM

Bonjour, comment allez-vous ?
Let's have some fun today, ok?

I don't agree with 9) Don't hit children. Ever.

I see 2yr old toddler in high chair throwing bowl on the floor. Mom says no. He willfully rebels to push the limit. Mom picks it up, says no. He throws it down again. He's testing you. 5 times repeat. Time out, warnings, all don't work. You know what works, a slap on the hand. He cried, he stopped, he does not do it again.
One slap on the hand is all it takes.

If you say 1) all kids are different, then you should expect that not everyone's kids responds to your kind of correction. Some kids need one slap on the hand when everything else is not effective.

My dad slapped me once on the face, only once in my entire life. I always remember it. He warned me not to go to the construction site. I was 13, I disobeyed and snuck over there. I threw rocks and sticks which hit my brother under the eye. When dad found out, he gave me that one slap, and that set me straight. I am glad he did not give me a sissy punishment like time out or grounding or take away privileges.

Posted by: Thierry | December 14, 2006 10:25 AM

Parenting books are most helpful to the author. Everyone else, your mileage may vary.

Posted by: Thierry | December 14, 2006 10:27 AM

Father of 4

1) Treats daughters and sons differently - what's that?

2)Tells son that he "gets the role of being the protector of the family" what's up with that? Can't your wife protect your family?

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2006 10:28 AM

Thierry,
Are you saying that you have only been punished once in your life? That explains it then.

Also, I would not have slapped you. I would have slapped your mother for having you.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2006 10:28 AM

Never hit a child? I hope that doesn't include spanking. Just like you said above, some things work for some kids and some don't work for others. I can't stand it when the self-glorified, saintly-type of parents say things like "I would NEVER spank my child." Well, good for you, but trying to sweetly tell a rambunctious child to stand in the corner for a time out ain't gonna work with some people. When and where did this country decide to incarcerate parents for giving a spanking? A LOT of us were brought up that way and nothing scared me straight more. The legal system and outspoken parents need to back off. My parents and I have a wonderful relationship now and I agree with them having spanked me when I was young...I was a handful sometimes. It's the parents' decision to figure out what discipline is right for their child. So please don't try to impose the no spanking ever rule on people. We'll just end up resenting you for it. It's ok to share your opinion, but this is mine and I'm sticking to it.

Posted by: Helcat | December 14, 2006 10:30 AM

"Manifesto" is a tad grandiose, don't you think? You're posting opinions from strangers, some of which are good, bad, all of which needs to be adapted to the individual child because they are all different. A manifesto is a decree published by a government or political party. It is not an appropriate description of parenting opinions coddled from the internet wasteland.

Posted by: Mr.Honda | December 14, 2006 10:30 AM

HOw about - giving your kids material things does NOT make up for your absence.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2006 10:34 AM

- Agree with #9. How can we teach children violence is NOT ok if we we hit them?

- Sometimes I think that the most important thing we can do as parents is to forgive ourselves for the little things we all screw up. For being the last parent pick-up at school, for forgetting to bring snack to school, and all the other little things that cause so much anxious moments. Our kids WILL still love us and it won't hurt them long-term.

- NEVER forget that being a parent is an amazing gift.

- Our job as parents is to raise loving, responsible, and thoughtful adults. This is one that sometimes makes the 6th time-out of the day a little easier.

Posted by: Army brat too | December 14, 2006 10:36 AM

"Thierry,
Are you saying that you have only been punished once in your life? That explains it then.

Also, I would not have slapped you. I would have slapped your mother for having you."

I have been punished many times, but slapped only once, and it was effective.
As for the second comment???!
Did I say something so terrible that you need to slap my mother for giving birth to me? REally..... tell me what was so bad in my earlier comments? I can apologise if I said something to offend you.


Posted by: Thierry | December 14, 2006 10:41 AM

Not to be a curmudgeon, but What most people think is "common sense" is the approach with which they are most familiar. I wish MORE parents would listen to a wider variety of parenting voices and experts -- not that a parent should implement every idea he hears about, but there is a benefit to considering new ideas. IMHO, an excess of parents tend to thoughtlessly parent in precisely the same way their parents raised them, including spanking, engaging in demeaning behavior, letting their kids ride on their laps behind the steering wheel ala Brittney, enforcing the clean-plate club. Perhaps if they opened their minds and ears, they'd realize that there are alternatives, and that they are free to parent in the best way for their individual kids whether or not it's the way their parents would have parented. Whether or not to circumcise or formula-feed one's children come to mind as practices that were "common sense" thirty-years ago. Most of us would agree that informed parents may make different decisions about either or both of those topics than their parents did on those same issues.

Information is a good thing if we control it and it doesn't control us.

Posted by: NC lawyer | December 14, 2006 10:44 AM

Thierry - je t'aime

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2006 10:44 AM

How about teach your kids to respect other people's values and beliefs by doing so yourself?

I see nothing wrong with Father of 4's game with his son. I have played it many times with my brothers and nephews, never my dad though.

Also, why can't he tell his son to protect his family? Why is that so offensive? It's traditional, yes, but why is it offensive?

Posted by: scarry | December 14, 2006 10:48 AM

Think we could make a distinction between child abuse/violence and wrist-slapping.

There is no justification for child abuse. Parent who does it goes to jail.

Wrist-slapping has its place when done as a last resort, with parent in control of emotions, and only 1 slap. The first slap is for the benefit of the child. Subsequent slaps are for the parent to vent, and should not be done. By all means use timeout, rewards, withdrawing privileges, etc. My personal favorite is writing lines (when they are older).

I know this topic is very controversial and bringing it up on this blog especially will take a quick turn for the worse. People here aren't willing to budge but they will tear your arguments and then you as a person to shreds for opinions like this.

Posted by: Mr.Honda | December 14, 2006 10:49 AM

How about adding, "It's okay to say NO to your kids" ? I think a lot of parents would benefit from that.

Posted by: JennyK | December 14, 2006 10:50 AM

Brian, this is awesome! It was just what I needed to read right now, thanks for your thoughtfulness.

And I am totally with you on the parenting books - I am an avid reader and turning to books for help with something is pretty much an automatic reaction for me, but I have come to despise most parenting books. I agree with those who say there is some practical stuff that is useful, and some "tools in your toolkit," but so much of them is just dogma and opinion that makes you stress out about whether you and your child are "doing it right." Even the ones where the general philosophy appeal to me make me crazy with some stuff. So I do still look to them occasionally for ideas of things to try, but my advice to new parents is to go easy on the books and listen to your heart when it comes to knowing what's right for your child.

Posted by: Megan | December 14, 2006 10:51 AM

NC,

It is a bit presumptive to write that parenting behaviors including "spanking, engaging in demeaning behavior, letting their kids ride on their laps behind the steering wheel ala Brittney, enforcing the clean-plate club" are engaged in thoughtlessly or are wrong. Whose to say informed parents would choose to act contrary to your wierd and arbitrary "wrongs"?

I feel pretty informed. I have done the lap drive thing hundreds of times in our neighborhood.

Posted by: I did it again | December 14, 2006 10:51 AM

1. Parenthood isn't brain surgery so stop making it harder than it really is. If you can't control your kids, you shouldn't have them. And they should be under your control until they are 18 years old. If you've done your job well, then you shouldn't have to worry when they leave home.

2. Verbal abuse can be more damaging than physical abuse. These are the parents who will be murdered in their sleep by their teenaged sons.

3. Don't reward your kids for disobeying you. Case in point -- I was at a yard sale/flea market several years ago. A grandmother brought her grandson to a table near where I was standing. The kid had a chip on his shoulder from the get-go. The table had lots of glass items on it, dishes, glasses, picture frames, knickknacks. So the kid kicks the table leg and glass rattles.

The grandmother said 'Stop kicking the table.' Kid kicks table again.

Grandmother says again 'Stop kicking the table.' Kid kicks table again harder.

Grandmother repeats 'I told you to stop kicking the table.' Kid kicks table again, really hard. The vendor was getting a little pissed by this but didn't want to yell at the kid in front of grandma.

Then grandmother says 'They have ice cream cones over there. Let's go get some ice cream' Off they go to get ice cream after the kid has disobeyed her several times. In her mind she was getting him away from the table, but in his mind he was being rewarded for disobeying her. Some day when that kid is being hauled away to the Big House in handcuffs he's going to wonder why.

Posted by: Lurker | December 14, 2006 10:55 AM

ARE YOU FROM MASSACHUSETTS?

I like the nod to wicked smart. Agree with Jenny - It's ok to say NO to your kids.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2006 10:56 AM

to I did it again. That's not what I said. I said that these are behaviors many parents engage in without thinking or considering alternatives because "that's how my mom raised me and I turned out okay." What I'd like to see more of is parents sizing up the risks and the alternatives and reaching a thoughtful decision, as I'm sure you have, which runs along the lines of, "you know what in this instance it makes sense to put Suzy on my lap because I'm driving in my neighborhood back from the pool going 5 miles per hour, and it's a heckuva lot of fun for both of us". The key is to think, to consider different approaches, to appreciate that those different approaches might not be the ones your mom used, and not to merely parent, rinse, repeat.

Posted by: NC lawyer | December 14, 2006 10:57 AM

"Off they go to get ice cream after the kid has disobeyed her several times. "

should have spanked the kid instead.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2006 10:59 AM

"If you can't control your kids, you shouldn't have them"


Huh? already had them. what to do now - give them away?

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2006 11:00 AM

It's a good list, but I also disagree with you on parenting books. For example, they have given me strategies so I don't feel like I *need* to spank my kids. A couple recommendations for parents who are spanking now and would like to stop: "1,2,3 Magic", and any book by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka. Basically, the problem with spanking, IMO is that it doesn't teach kids what they need to know to learn to control themselves.

My suggestion for rules:

Don't treat your kids like a lower form of life-- take their interests and concerns seriously, and they won't feel like they have to sneak around behind your back to do what's important to them. (I'm not saying you always say yes, just that you legitimately try to meet their needs/wants when you can).

Model being an interesting person-- show them there's more to life than work (professional and household), and that they can pick up new hobbies and skills through out life.

Posted by: YetAnotherSAHM | December 14, 2006 11:00 AM

Don't get your parenting advice from a blog.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2006 11:01 AM

NC,
Fair enough, but then should we also consider alternatives to such behaviors as reading to our children, hugging them, playing catch with them or giving them timeouts, instead of mindlessly doing those things because our parents did them?

The context of your examples (I felt) had the presumption that they were wrong, and that no rational parent would engage in them.

Posted by: I did it again | December 14, 2006 11:02 AM

I believe that spaking is appropriate for situations in which there is no second chance for a mistake e.g., running in the street - I spanked both of my children for running into the street because there is no margin for error. I need them to obey this rule and I don't have time to wait until they are old enough to understand the real consequences. In a two year old mind, that is impossible, but a two year old can learn, if I run into the street, I will get spanked.

Posted by: moxiemom | December 14, 2006 11:11 AM

Spanking children shows children that losing your temper is ok - spanking/beatings/screaming are just parental temper tanrums... and reinforce exactly what we are trying to stop. I think that as adults we should be able to control our emotions!

We are not perfect, and every once in a while we may "lose it", but parents that say spanking is an effective form of discipline are just using it as a cop out! Being a good parent takes time and patience.

Posted by: single mom | December 14, 2006 11:12 AM

My rule no. 1: give up any notion of perfection, and accept that whatever you do, it will be wrong. And yet your kids will in all likelihood turn out fine, despite what they will be sure to tell you are your egregious faults and failings.

Rule No. 2: Trust your instincts. I think this has to trump Brian's Rule No. 3 sometimes, because doctors are human, like anyone else, and make mistakes. Yes, you need to have trusted, knowledgeable advisors who can tell you not to worry about every little thing. But no matter what they say, if you're still not comfortable, go with your gut.

Two of my biggest regrets as a parent were when I violated Rule No. 2. The first time it meant my daughter stayed in a horrible preschool for several extra months because I believed she was just "going through a phase" ("phase" = extremely bad teacher). The second time it meant 48 hrs of gut-wrenching worry watching my son fighting to breathe, ultimately ending in the emergency room, because the on-call doctor over the weekend brushed it off as "just a virus."

Rule No. 3: Remember that you are the adult, and act like it. A 3-yr-old pitching a tantrum is a developmental stage; a 30-yr-old has no excuse. And frankly, it doesn't work -- if you yell and belittle and hit whenever your kids act up, they might shut-up short-term, but long-term, you're teaching them that that is how people should behave.

Corollary to Rule No. 3: Always remember that you are your kids' idol. They want to be you, and will watch you every second (usually when you think they're paying the least attention) so they can learn to do and act and be just like you. So be the person you want them to be.

Posted by: Laura | December 14, 2006 11:14 AM

...And they should be under your control until they are 18 years old...

Ha! Obviously, lurker has not had teen agers and probably not any kids.

Posted by: Fred | December 14, 2006 11:15 AM

*yes, you can publish this*

I have a vital one to add - let your kids know that as long as they grow up to be good people, you don't have the final say in what they become, but love and support them anyway.

My parents let me know that they loved me, no matter what path I took, and even though I went to undergrad school for theatre, I got my MBA and now have a great job. Friends took the opposite path (business school first because their parents insisted) and ended up miserable and are now thinking about changing careers.

We're using that with DD (my partner has the same philosophy) and even though it's looking like we're going to have a queer daughter who wants to be in the military, which is the last place she *should* want to go all things considered, she knows we love her, support and respect her decision, and want her to go Air Force or Navy like our respective families have. :-)

Posted by: RebeccainAR | December 14, 2006 11:15 AM

Mr Honda - I don't agree with the one slap rule - unless you are talking about slapping children in the face (which I don't really agree with). My husband was brought up with the question "How old are you?" when they were getting spanked - and they got a spank for each year. By the time they were 5 or 6 they didn't get spanked anymore. We've employed a similar tactic.

One more thing on spanking - it works for some kids and not others - like most things (RULE #1). My oldest was devestated when she got spanked, needless to say it only happened a few times. She got the point and just the threat of a spank stopped the behavior. My youngest could care less - you could spank him all day - he might cry - then he'd do the exact same thing all over again. We joke that he has no nerve endings in his behind. Take something away from him to curb his behavior and he listens. Different strokes for different kids.

Posted by: cmac | December 14, 2006 11:17 AM

cmac,

Wait until they are teen-agers!

Posted by: No name | December 14, 2006 11:20 AM

I was spanked (not beaten) on the rear end when I deliberately disobeyed my parents in crucial situations, and I turned out just fine. I don't believe violence is good or any of that bad stuff. Too often parents try to be their child's friend and not their parent. Each to their own, I suppose, but I do choose to exercise my right to spank my child.

Posted by: DC | December 14, 2006 11:21 AM

And yes, I'm from Massachusetts. Go Sox.

Posted by: Brian Reid | December 14, 2006 11:22 AM

Lurker might as well say, "I'm not parent, but I play one on a blog."

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2006 11:22 AM

DC

How can it be verified that you turned out "just fine"?

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2006 11:30 AM

DC

How can it be verified that you turned out "just fine"?

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2006 11:31 AM

I have a question about people's thoughts about yelling. That is by far my biggest weakness. I lose my temper and yell at my daughter much more often than I would like. I don't mean screaming at the top of my lungs, more just raising my voice. Usually what I yell is a repeat of whatever I am trying to get her to do, like, Put that down or Let go of the cat's tail. Sometimes I'll also say something like, You have to learn to listen to Mommy. When I say no you need to stop. Stuff like that. But as soon as the moment is over, my anger clears up right away and I hug her and tell her I love her and explain more calmly why I got angry. When I hear other people say it's never ok to yell, I feel horrible, but I also have a hard time believe that other parents of two year olds don't do this type of thing too.

Posted by: anon for now | December 14, 2006 11:31 AM

Re: Massachusetts. I knew it - most progressive men are from the northeast. For what it's worth, I do not like the Dice-K nickname already bestowed on our new showstopper.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2006 11:31 AM

It's important to have the "nukyuhler" (this is DC, after all) option of spanking to discipline children. Of course, if you:

1. go into a rage and spank your child
2. need to spank them daily, weekly, or even monthly
3. spank with an implement other than your hand

realize that you are probably the problem, not your child.

Posted by: Bob | December 14, 2006 11:34 AM

to I did it again. Precisely. If we are secure in our ability to decide what's best for our kids, and if we really want what's best for our kids, We should be willing to put our most significant parenting behaviors, at least (I don't feel the need to put much thought into whether 1% or skim is the optimum milk-fat content, for example) on the table. Or to state differently, if we only put on the table for examination behaviors we will re-christen "perfect" (should we promote healthy eating?) or "absolutely unacceptable" (should I smoke pot in front of the kids and their friends?), where's the opportunity to improve our parenting or reach a better decision -- better for us, or for this child, or for this situation? I'm not condoning or condemning practices determined by individual families to be appropriate for their families. I would like to see more parents cast a wider net for information so that their decisions consider more options than the ones in the bucket that contains, "how my parents raised me" and "how your parents raised you". If they end up considering and rejecting a variety of alternatives different from their experiences, at least they will have thoughtfully done so. Reasonable minds can differ on a whole host of such decisions.

Posted by: NC lawyer | December 14, 2006 11:35 AM

yes, some parenting books are just worthless - dobson's dare to discipline is just a right wingnut's scree against every thing dr spock wrote. some are very good & some are medicore. what works with one child will not necessarily work with another. what works one day/week/month will not necessarily work when child is older. the more resources i have the better i am able to parent my child.

i agree that saying "no" can be a good thing unless you're saying "no" just to prove to yourself that you're a parent that can say "no".
be the parent not the friend.
be the adult.
let your child experience what i call the law of natural consequences. bad choice = bad consequences.

Posted by: quark | December 14, 2006 11:39 AM

Not really a rule but remember you are not in it alone. I think in our society today people feel so isolated and think they need to single handedly raise their child. I listen to teachers, day care workers, friends, neighbors and family for ideas. Be flexible. And remember no one ever raised a perfect child.

Posted by: foamgnome | December 14, 2006 11:39 AM

Too many parents do it to vent get out their frustrations. Too many parents spank one minute, but are inconsistent in discipline, so that it never means anything to the child. Too many parents go overboard and abuse their kids using spanking and discipline as an excuse. Spanking teaches kids that it is okay to lose your temper and resort to violence when you have a problem. At best, it sets a bad example, at worst, it can be abusive. In any case, even in cases where the parents think it works, there are other, less violent methods of teaching children to behave.

Posted by: spanking is wrong | December 14, 2006 11:43 AM

anon for now, the problem isn't that you yell at your child, it's that you lose your temper. If you need to raise your voice to emphasize what you expect from your child, it's what I call effective communication. If you get angry at the same time though, for 1 thing the child, even a 2 year old, will learn to manipulate you by your own anger. And that's one of the last things you want in a relationship with anybody.

Posted by: Father of 4 | December 14, 2006 11:46 AM

RebeccainAR, your comment should definitely be part of the manifesto -- focuses kids on making decisions that are right for themselves and not because they are rebelling or channelling their parents.

Posted by: NC lawyer | December 14, 2006 11:50 AM

anon for now

You are all over the place, yelling and then hugging. In the end, the hugging is rewarding your child's bad behavior.

When my kids were 2 years old, I didn't do much yelling, but I did say NO! many, many times. My daughter's first word was No.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2006 11:54 AM

Rebecca in AR's post is now up as a manifesto at http://www.rebeldad.com/manifesto.html. Again, if you'd like me to share your thoughts on the manifesto page, please make that explicit.

Posted by: Brian Reid | December 14, 2006 11:57 AM

I think that I can boil my manifesto down to three words

1 teach
2 listen
3 love

Not in that exact order, which of course needs to be arranged by situations...

Posted by: single mom | December 14, 2006 11:59 AM

I have a few more--
Children are not dogs. Don't try to "train" them.

When you screw up, take a deep breath and move on-- address recurring problems but don't waste time and energy beating yourself up over the past.

Posted by: YetAnotherSAHM | December 14, 2006 12:03 PM

It makes me sick when I see parents on the subway or grocery store, going bananas, screaming at kids, and smacking them.

It is just about the lowest thing in the world- a full-grown adult hauling off on a child.

I have interviewed a woman who killed her toddler. She broke his neck when she smacked him with a power ranger toy to discipline him for spitting food on the floor. She was still shocked when I spoke to her hours later, not realizing how the "accident" happened. She claimed she hit him one time. I don't really know what happened, but it was awful.

Say what you want about the shrinks and the "experts"- I think they got this one right. Hitting a kid damages that kid and invites the adult to loose control of themself.

Posted by: Silver Spring | December 14, 2006 12:06 PM

Is there something wrong about treating my sons differently from my daughters?

I tell my oldest son that he is next in line behind me for the protection of our family. He needs to look out for his mother, sisters, and little brother.

1. It makes him feel good to be important.
2. It gives him a sense of responsibility to his family.
3. It sends the message to him that he is growing up and is expected to gradually take on more of a leadership role as he matures.

I think it's a good thing. It builds his confidence in his own self and makes him feel needed and loved.

Posted by: Father of 4 | December 14, 2006 12:14 PM

"I have a few more--
Children are not dogs. Don't try to "train" them."

Husbands on the other hand....

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2006 12:18 PM

Father of 4, you're doing the right thing by instilling that sense of responsibility on your oldest son. Some of us still believe that the protection of the home falls under the purview of men, and that is fine.

Posted by: Mr.Honda | December 14, 2006 12:20 PM

Children are not dogs. Don't try to "train" them."

Also, the ivisible fence is apparently frowned on by DCFS for use with kids. FYI

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2006 12:22 PM

"Children are not dogs. Don't try to "train" them.""

yeah, and don't use a leash either. i've seen too many leashed toddlers walking behind mom in the mall.
i almost wanted to look for a license tag.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2006 12:29 PM

"My husband was brought up with the question "How old are you?" when they were getting spanked - and they got a spank for each year. By the time they were 5 or 6 they didn't get spanked anymore. We've employed a similar tactic."

That's barbaric.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2006 12:32 PM

"Some of us still believe that the protection of the home falls under the purview of men, and that is fine."

This is the kind of attitude that makes women subservient to their sons.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2006 12:39 PM

"My husband was brought up with the question "How old are you?" when they were getting spanked - and they got a spank for each year."

This sounds like vicious mental torture - what were his parents thinking? What were you thinking when you agreed to this? How could you marry a man who used this method?

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2006 12:41 PM

To: No name: see DC's comments:

"I was spanked (not beaten) on the rear end when I deliberately disobeyed my parents in crucial situations, and I turned out just fine. I don't believe violence is good or any of that bad stuff. Too often parents try to be their child's friend and not their parent. Each to their own, I suppose, but I do choose to exercise my right to spank my child."

Personally, I can wait for the teenage years. I don't plan on spanking them when they are 13, as a matter of fact we don't really need to spank anymore.

To spank or not to spank is so subjective. I know a couple kids (including my 15 year old nephew) that could have used a few good spanks when they were little - maybe the teenage years WOULD be a little different. Using "words" to correct a kid is great - but they learn they can manipulate their words easier than their actions.

Posted by: cmac | December 14, 2006 12:41 PM

Posted by: | December 14, 2006 12:41 PM
Thanks for the goading. I know you like to play this little game all day with various posters. Is this how you get your jollies?

Name yourself then you will be taken seriously.

Posted by: cmac | December 14, 2006 12:44 PM

"Also, why can't he tell his son to protect his family? Why is that so offensive? It's traditional, yes, but why is it offensive?"

1. I think it is inappropriate to lay that kind of heavy burden on a kid when they are not old enough. Kids take those kind of remarks to heart and can be anxious over what they feel they should be doing.

2. It is offensive to the wife because it assumes she is not a capable adult in charge of taking care of the family. It is putting a young son in a position of importance over his mother that he has not matured into yet. It will lessen her in his eyes.

Posted by: CJB | December 14, 2006 12:44 PM

This spanking debate could go on forever.

I personally favor a few good whacks when making love.

Posted by: Thierry | December 14, 2006 12:48 PM

"I have a few more--
Children are not dogs. Don't try to "train" them."
We got a puppy this week and I have been thinking about how much they are the same as small children. Praise for good behavior, redirect for unwanted behavior and lots of love and affection.

Regarding yelling at children - parents help set linguistic patterns for their children, do you want them yelling at you because you have modeled the behavior and they assume it is the accepted way of communicating? If your two year old isn't listening to you, go to them and move them (redirect) to an appropriate activity.

Posted by: KS | December 14, 2006 12:49 PM

CJB would prefer to raise a bunch of sissy boys. When confronted with an intruder, they will cower behind momma sucking their thumbs while she swings a frying pan.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2006 12:51 PM

This spanking debate could go on forever.

I personally favor a few good whacks when making love.

Posted by: Thierry | December 14, 2006 12:48 PM

Too funny. Watch out - you may get the "subjugation of women" tirade from a certain poster.

Posted by: cmac | December 14, 2006 12:54 PM

Single mom:
No, spanking a child or screaming at them are NOT cop outs or showing them that losing your temper is ok. They are disciplinary tactics that some people chose to employ. Have you not read any of these other posts?? Different strokes for different folks! Quit trying to make people believe parents are bad for spanking or yelling. Apparently Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris had sweet little patient parents who never lost their cool and simply gave timeouts to their kids. Obviously that is not the best form of discipline for everyone, now is it???

Posted by: Helcat | December 14, 2006 1:08 PM

Brian, you can use my 11:14 post if you want.

F04, your 11:46 comment on yelling was so right-on -- and something my husband doesn't seem to get. He says, "how the [bleep] is provoking me so much that I yell and scream a 'payoff' that she would want?" He doesn't quite get that it's all about the power and control -- he is the most powerful person in her life, and she knows that if she pushes this button over here, she can make him go ballistic. Which means in her mind, she controls him -- but only by bad behavior. (to be fair, I'm working on this, too -- it's not all just about him)

The best thing we've done is the "1-2-3 Magic" approach. There are really no new concepts in there, but the key for me is that it MAKES me impose a minor consequence before things escalate to the point where I lose my temper and yell. So many times you just want to get through something -- let's just get out of the store, let's just get out the door, let's just get dinner on the table -- and you don't want to provoke a tantrum or take the time for proper discipline, so you tell yourself you'll just ignore this little thing this one time. But that almost guarantees that the little stuff will build and build and build until you can't ignore it any more and blow up. The 1-2-3 Magic approach basically imposes a framework that forces me do something early (whether I really "feel" like it or not), which tends to nip things in the bud most days. It basically helps protect against lazy parenting.

Anon for Now, we ALL struggle with yelling. But it sounds like you are reacting out of frustration and guilt -- completely legitimate frustration with a young child, then guilt that you lost your temper. Been there, done that -- and from my experience, it definitely sends mixed messages and makes your child feel insecure, because she never knows which mommy will show up. The best thing I can suggest is to be proactive, not reactive --plan out your response in advance, so you know if (when!) she does X, you'll do Y. Then when X happens, do that immediately, before you get to that feeling of overwhelming frustration -- and do it completely unemotionally, just matter-of-fact. Then, when it's done, go on as if nothing happened.

1-2-3 Magic is one framework for that sort of thing that works with some kids, but there are a lot of other resources out there for other ways to accomplish the same thing. It's not perfect -- we're constantly tinkering to try to stay one step ahead of her -- but it has really helped us take the stress level in our house down quite a bit. And the side benefit is, once my daughter figured out that she wasn't getting the huge yelling payoff anymore (in, like, 1 day -- freaking miracle), her behavior improved tremendously -- the vicious cycle became a virtuous cycle (until the next developmental stage, that is. . . .).

Posted by: Laura | December 14, 2006 1:12 PM

Brian, one more.

11) When all else fails, call SuperNanny!

Posted by: Thierry | December 14, 2006 1:17 PM

I have interviewed a woman who killed her toddler. She broke his neck when she smacked him with a power ranger toy to discipline him for spitting food on the floor. She was still shocked when I spoke to her hours later, not realizing how the "accident" happened. She claimed she hit him one time. I don't really know what happened, but it was awful.

I bet she got away with it too.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2006 1:19 PM

Laura
I second the 1-2-3 Magic approach. I thought the book was slow reading because it was 90% it's own advertising, but once I got past that it put several techniques together nicely. For my money motivated 6 year old, I skip the time out and take a quarter off his allowance when I get to 3. Takes almost no time or energy and has been effective so far.

Posted by: KS | December 14, 2006 1:23 PM

I think the most important thing for a parent to have is self discipline. It takes a lot of self discipline to properly discipline children. It takes consistency for any discipline approach to work and that requires a lot of self discipline on the part of parents. It takes self discipline not to freak out when there is fecal matter on your new wallpaper. It takes self discipline to sit and do algebra for 3 hours a night until your kid gets it. There is so much fun to raising kids, but if you want to have a happy, balanced, successful kid YOU need to be disciplined before you can expect them to be.

Posted by: moxiemom | December 14, 2006 1:27 PM

note for the record that the poster "DC" is not the same as "dc" - I say this only to avoid confusion when I post in the future if we end up contradicting one another. that being said, as a child-free person, i'm sitting this round out.

Posted by: dc | December 14, 2006 1:28 PM

Helcat - please do some research on the affects of physical discipline on children... the results are not promising. Treating your child with respect and dignity, teaches them to do the same with others. What does hitting teach - your parents are not grown up enough to control their rage?

How would you feel if your supervisor slapped you around a few times when you did something wrong at work? Would you feel motivated to do better work? Or be resentful and either leave or try to get back at them?

Also, nobody can make you feel anything... it is your choice to accept or reject it. I was expressing my thoughts, as are the rest of the people here. Luckily mine are supported by the academy of pediatrics :)

Posted by: single mom | December 14, 2006 1:31 PM

You've got to make sure you're thinking about the same think when you say "spank". To some, it means 20 whacks for the most trivial infractions, done by a raging mad parent. To others, it is a rare occurrence and done under control and clear explanations.

Here's a link to a USAToday article on CEOs that were spanked. Interesting.
http://www.usatoday.com/money/companies/management/2006-10-08-spanking-ceos-usat_x.htm

Some excerpts:
USA TODAY interviewed about 20 CEOs over three months and, while none said they were abused, neither were any spared. Typical is General Motors (GM) CEO Rick Wagoner, 53. He got an occasional "whack in the fanny," while growing up in Richmond, Va., but said he had it coming and that it probably had no influence on his life as a high achiever.

"Very, very rarely," said Cisco Systems (CSCO) CEO John Chambers, 56, the son of two doctors

Some CEOs had more heavy-handed parents. Dave Haffner, CEO of Fortune 500 manufacturer Leggett & Platt (LEG), says he was familiarized with his father's belt about six times a year."I received the belt when I deserved it," said Haffner, 54

Is there some connection between corporal punishment and corporate leadership? Most CEOs believe spankings played little or no role in their success but usually could cite important lessons learned. "I'm disciplined, detailed and organized," Haffner says.

a 1998 Gallup Poll found that 55% of parents agreed with the statement "A good hard spanking is sometimes necessary."

CEO Jack Welch wrote in his 2001 memoir, Jack: Straight from the Gut, that his mother, Grace, was the disciplinarian in the family. When Welch skipped altar-boy practice, she whacked him with a shoe.

She found that most CEOs had tough disciplinarians as parents

None said there was a direct correlation between spanking and success. "But they respected authority. It wasn't a joke to them. They feared their parents but loved them as well. Their parents would follow through with a spanking. Today, there is no follow-through

Turner gives credit to corporal punishment for his success. He says he wasn't a bad or malicious child, but he was difficult and needed to learn self-discipline and to focus on a goal. "I certainly wouldn't have done that if I had grown up with Mary Poppins."

Straus says it comes as no surprise that CEOs who were spanked express great affection for their parents. It's not just bad parents who spank.

Posted by: Mr.Honda | December 14, 2006 1:33 PM

Love your top 10, Brian. Really great. Agree with everything you wrote.

Glad so many people like parenting books, but I'm with Rebel Dad. Most simultaneously bore me to tears and make me feel like a terrible parent, with a few exceptions such as Blessings of a Skinned Knee; How to Talk so Children Will Listen; Happy Baby, Healthy Sleep Habits; How to Get Your Kids to Eat But Not Too Much; and Anne Lamott's Operating Instructions.

Find it funny that those of us who disdain parenting books are writing about our parentings tips!

Also re: the big subject of SPANKING. When my husband and I were dating and having serious discussions about being together for all eternity he asked me what I thought about spanking. I told him that it didn't really turn me on but I would try it if he wanted to. He said, "I meant spanking KIDS, not you."

Posted by: Leslie | December 14, 2006 1:33 PM

"We got a puppy this week and I have been thinking about how much they are the same as small children."

Right on! I learned some parenting techniques watching the family cat give birth and care for her kittens. The gentle nudges, the firm hand, the endless correction until the lesson was learned.

Posted by: Liz | December 14, 2006 1:38 PM

>"Some of us still believe that the protection of the home falls under the purview of men, and that is fine."

>This is the kind of attitude that makes women subservient to their sons.

Not spanking when warranted is the kind of activity that makes women subservient to their sons. If you fail to establish authority when they are young, they won't respect you when they get bigger & stronger than you.

Posted by: Atlanta | December 14, 2006 1:38 PM

I think Brian's list is great - but I also think parenting books are tools and not the "textbooks" they seem intended to be. I'd like to add:

11. If you make a threat, follow through. If you make a promise, follow through.

12. Natural consequences are the best teachers.

13. If you make time to LISTEN to your children, they will tell you just about everything (probably not directly, but they will tell you).

14. Model a healthy marriage - communicate honestly and fairly and kids will learn to do that too.

15. As a divorced parent and child of divorced parents, and as tempting as it often is, do NOT badmouth the other parent. Kids are adept at figuring out the bad stuff, there's no need to tell them.

I don't know how many of the posters are parents or children of divorce, but one of my balance challenges is the sharing of the children and balancing two families. I'd like to see the blog address this topic.

Posted by: Stacey | December 14, 2006 1:43 PM

I have 3 boys. They are rambunctious as caged horses. They play-fight, wrestle, do tackle football. They are marksmen with the bow and pistol. The oldest is in the military and I can count on one hand the number of times I have spanked him in his lifetime. He is disciplined, motivated, loyal, respects authority, sacrificial. I raised him to be a man, not a sissy. He will do his duty to God, his family and his country. At home, he will be the one protecting his family, not his wife. She will sleep safe and secure under his love and protection.

Posted by: Dan | December 14, 2006 1:50 PM

"Not spanking when warranted is the kind of activity that makes women subservient to their sons. If you fail to establish authority when they are young, they won't respect you when they get bigger & stronger than you"

This doesn't make sense. Is spanking the only way to establish authority? Is every son bigger and strnger then their mother? Does every son who was not spanked not respect their mother?

Posted by: Liz | December 14, 2006 1:50 PM

OK, say you're right and spanking teaches children that people resolve problems with violence.

What's wrong with that? Ultimately, that's the way the adult world works. If an adult breaks the law (analagous to a child breaking the "rules") the police come and enforce against him. And they don't use time outs, hugs, and 1-2-3 magic. If you don't agree to come to jail peacefully, they grab you and take you against your will. If you've seen the police work, that can be (justifiably) pretty violent.

Aren't you teaching your children a valuable lesson regarding respecting authority and rules (and disputing them at the proper time and place -- not by simply breaking the rules) when you spank?

Of course, I'm ruling out any abusive behavior and simply talking about a judiciously administered swat or two on the bottom.

Posted by: STL4 | December 14, 2006 1:51 PM

Mr Honda, I read the article and it was pretty funny. But I have to say if you took any cohort regardless of profession in that age group (50-60 year olds) in the US, you would probably find the majority were spanked. I think it is a function of the generation versus the profession. But I have to say the article was a bit funny. I can't imagine all these big wigs talking about childhood spankings.

Posted by: foamgnome | December 14, 2006 1:53 PM

another #11 - learn how to shoot a one-raised-eyebrow look. You know, the one the disciplinarian teacher used to shoot at you when you misbehaved. The one that would make you stop what you were doing without anyone saying anything. I am still working on it, but my mother has a great one.

Posted by: lca | December 14, 2006 1:54 PM

"Not spanking when warranted is the kind of activity that makes women subservient to their sons. If you fail to establish authority when they are young, they won't respect you when they get bigger & stronger than you"

I disagree. I think all you convey is that you are spanking them because you are bigger and stronger--i.e., you are a cowardly bully who will stop spanking them when they are old enough to react.

Posted by: aging mom | December 14, 2006 1:57 PM

Can anyone speak to how you manage different discipline styles between families and caregivers. I'd love some advice on how to do that? The pre-school seems a little lazy in that department.

Posted by: Momof3 | December 14, 2006 1:57 PM

I don't think this has been posted already -- it is an excerpt from a David Brooks op-ed piece in today's New York Times.

"Later, [Calvin Trillin] writes, 'When it came to trying to decide which theories of child-rearing were highly beneficial and which were absolutely ruinous to the future of your child - a subject of considerable discussion among some parents we knew - we agreed on a simple notion: your children are either the center of your life or they're not, and the rest is commentary.'"

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2006 1:58 PM

ICA - funny about the eyebrow or what I call the look - it still stops me in my tracks when my father shoots ones at me. It is a sort of, I am not going to deal with this now, but wait until we get home and your will get an earful.

Posted by: single mom | December 14, 2006 1:58 PM

CJB

Sorry but I disagree with you on this one. All families are different and if this works for father of 4 and his family great! My father was almost killed in a mining accident when I was 5 years old. You can bet your butt that he told my brother to take care of me and my mom on the way to the hospital.

I don't think it makes me any less of a person or subservient to my brothers. In fact, my mother and I have both of them wrapped around our little fingers. I don't think that when men tall their sons to take care of the family that they mean it in a way that warrants keeping them in the house, uneducated with an apron tied around their waists. I know my father always meant don't let anyone mess with your sister. I don't consider it a bad thing, I feel lucky knowing that I have two very strong men who are always there for me in times of need. (ten if you count my dad, husband, and nephews)

However, you are free to disagree, and like I have said before, I don't subscribe to the prominent form of feminism that is sometimes displayed on this board so maybe I am the odd one afterall.

Posted by: scarry | December 14, 2006 1:58 PM

"Not spanking when warranted is the kind of activity that makes women subservient to their sons. If you fail to establish authority when they are young, they won't respect you when they get bigger & stronger than you."

That's bull. We're not neaderthals, and there is no reason to think that you cannot establish authority without violence. My husband and I have never hit our son, and he still understands that we have authority over him. Plus, since we have never modelled hitting for him, he does not resort to hitting when he is frustrated or angry. He uses his words. It takes more work and imagination to discipline a child without hits and smacks. But it can be done. Hitting is the punishment of choice for those who are too lazy to come up with something better. And just because previous generations did it is no reason to continue it.

Posted by: Emily | December 14, 2006 1:59 PM

The USA Today article cracks me up - what a weird thing to try and correlate, especially without comparing to the general "rate of spankings" across the population. Also, I'd say that children attaining corporate success may not be a strong indicator of parenting success for a lot of us - I'm a lot more interested in my child being loving, kind, thoughtful than I am in him being a CEO. I don't know what kind of men those CEO's in that regard, and what kind of fathers, husbands and citizens they are.

Posted by: Megan | December 14, 2006 2:00 PM

Like Leslie, I loved the book "Operating Instructions" by Anne Lamott. I give it to all moms-to-be at their baby showers and reread it myself from time to time.

Brian, I really like your manifesto! I think I would only one items to it. Don't threaten a punishment you won't carry out. If you say to a child "If you hit your sister one more time, we will not go for ice cream tonight", you'd better be willing to follow through (even though you really, really want the ice scream)! And the consistency thing is a big one for me.

Also, I don't really care for Dr. Phil, but something I once heard him say has stuck with me and I always try to remember it: children should be able to predict with 100% accuracy what will happen when they disobey a parent's rules. I don't know if 100% is possible, but my husband and I both aim to communicate the rules (repeatedly) to our children and follow through as promised -- or threatened. :)

Posted by: WorkingMomX | December 14, 2006 2:00 PM

"OK, say you're right and spanking teaches children that people resolve problems with violence. What's wrong with that?"

Using violence to resolve problems:

Spousal abuse
Child abuse
Elder abuse

On and on and on ....

Posted by: DZ | December 14, 2006 2:01 PM

anyone remember the wooden spoon?

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2006 2:03 PM

Leslie - I just spit out my tea reading your post. I'll have to ask my husband how he feels about spanking!

I completely agree with Brian about What to Expect, but only in hindsight. I read the book cover to cover while I was pregnant and felt like a huge failure because I wasn't following all the "rules." Any book that makes you doubt yourself or your parenting skills should be ripped up and tossed aside!

Spanking, well that's a lightning rod topic isn't it? I can see spanking a child in an emergency or dangerous situation - like running into the street. But spanking a 2 year old for dumping stuff of the highchair??? Wow. My two year old is a sponge. He watches everything we do and he wants to do everything Mommy and Daddy do. If we spanked him, or even swatted him on the wrist, he would turn around and do it to his little brother, the cat, and the kids at daycare. Great lesson. If your 2 year old keeps dumping the dish off of the high chair, TAKE THE DISH AWAY!

Brian - I'll add to your manifesto (feel free to post on your page):

11. Don't feel guilty about your parenting choices. If you want to work, do it and be proud. If you want to stay home, do it and be proud. What's best for you is best for your family.

12. Learn to say "I'm sorry." We all make mistakes and teaching your children by example to take responsibility for their actions will be invaluable.

http://lawyermama.blogspot.com

Posted by: Lawyer Mama | December 14, 2006 2:04 PM

I totally agree with the idea that you not reward children for misbehaving. There are more than a few totally annoying people out there who got that way because negative attention was the only kind they'd ever get.

I also think never hitting your kid is the best way. Of course I hit my kids now and then. But you know what??? IT NEVER DID ANY GOOD. I wish I'd had more self-control. Then they would have modeled something worthwhile.

Posted by: RoseG | December 14, 2006 2:05 PM

To Working Mom X: You bring up an item that, in retrospect, should have been on the list. Thanks!

Posted by: Brian Reid | December 14, 2006 2:06 PM

"I have 3 boys. They are rambunctious as caged horses. They play-fight, wrestle, do tackle football. They are marksmen with the bow and pistol. The oldest is in the military and I can count on one hand the number of times I have spanked him in his lifetime. He is disciplined, motivated, loyal, respects authority, sacrificial. I raised him to be a man, not a sissy. He will do his duty to God, his family and his country. At home, he will be the one protecting his family, not his wife. She will sleep safe and secure under his love and protection.
Posted by: Dan | December 14, 2006 01:50 PM"

God Bless you Dan, sounds like you have some fine sons. My husband is one of 3 boys and your parenting style sounds pretty familiar. One thing - there is nothing wrong with women learning how to defend themsleves when husbands aren't home. Marksmenship applies to even the fairer sex!

Posted by: cmac | December 14, 2006 2:07 PM

ANyone else's mom use the ear pulling and/or Spock pinch on the shoulder? Remarkably effective!

What do the "non violent" parent tell their kids to do if someone hits them? We told our son - you don't ever hit anyone else first, but if someone hits you, you are more than welcome to hit them back.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2006 2:08 PM

"Not spanking when warranted is the kind of activity that makes women subservient to their sons. If you fail to establish authority when they are young, they won't respect you when they get bigger & stronger than you"

Umm, wow. I kinda figure my 1-yr-old son WILL be bigger than me one day. Which is reason no. 1 why I DON'T want my authority over him to be based on my physical ability to pick him up and smack his behind.

If you want to establish your authority by spanking, that's your choice. But if you think that's the only way to do so, then I'd suggest you have a chat with my 85-yr-old, 5'2" Granny, who is far and away the most effective disciplinarian I have ever met -- despite the fact that I can't ever recall her even yelling at me in anger, much less spanking. You just don't mess with Granny (to this day, I still quake when someone calls me by all three names, because that was a SURE sign that I was in big trouble).

Posted by: Laura | December 14, 2006 2:08 PM

"I feel lucky knowing that I have two very strong men who are always there for me in times of need. (ten if you count my dad, husband, and nephews)"

Its the age old problem - a woman's fate is linked to the strength, wealth and status of the men in her life. Does it occur to you to feel "lucky" that there are very strong women who have always been there for you?

Posted by: Trixie | December 14, 2006 2:10 PM

I sure do remember that wooden spoon. I have shown my sons an identical spoon and they were shocked to hear I had been hit with it several times growing up.

We have never spanked our sons, but the older did receive a few swats when he was a pre-schooler just to get his attention. We used to grab his shoulder, not enough to hurt, but enough to make him stop what he was doing. My younger son would obey just with "the look." We rarely yell at them, and, honestly, they almost never do anything wrong. They are now 12 and 9, and we call them young men. They rise to the occasion and our expectations.

Posted by: Bethesda | December 14, 2006 2:10 PM

corporal punishment has its place. i have lived in many countries. the standard punishment is jail time plus 10 lashes of the cane. now this 'aint your momma's feather duster. It's a 1-inch thick, 7ft long pole of fury. after a good dose of whup @ss, the criminal isn't so ready to reoffend.

see in america, criminals get jail (just like time-out) but get a gym, tv, privileges. they come out and reoffend. it is like your enlightened parenting style. spare the rod, spoil the child.

i am not talking about child abuse, but like the other poster said, "a judiciously administered swat or two on the bottom." is effective disipline.

Posted by: Thierry | December 14, 2006 2:11 PM

anyone remember the wooden spoon?

Nope

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2006 2:11 PM

When I was 10 someone hit me on the playground, and I responded 'well, that was a mature response', I got hit again by the same kid who was really mad and then insulted...

I only learned the lesson of not hitting back because several months before that I hit back and got a detention along with the kid that hit me (little did I know at the time it was pre-adolesent flirting). I was told that 'two wrongs do not make a right' and it was important to be the mature one in a conflict (which I was not quite sure what that meant).

I hope that my child will not hit back. At her school they teach to tell the children to use their words and respond "I do not like that", "please do not hit my body", and/or "that is not nice, please say sorry"... keep in mind that this is a Quaker school

Posted by: single mom | December 14, 2006 2:14 PM

"At home, he will be the one protecting his family, not his wife. She will sleep safe and secure under his love and protection."

Unless your son's going to be at his wife's side every waking and sleeping moment, I hope you expect that his wife has the sense, knowledge and ability to protect the household as well. Otherwise, their kids are only safe when Dad's home.

Posted by: to Dan | December 14, 2006 2:14 PM

The problem with a 5 year old kid or one around that age is that for some reason they think they can get what they want by resorting to physical methods. Not all are that way, but when a child spits or throws food in your face, or punches you in the groin when they pass you after being called in from playtime, they are the ones who introduced the violent behavior. They started it, It's up to YOU to finish it.

I, for one, will not be pushed around by a 5 year old spoiled brat.

When it comes to all other disobedient behaviors, like stealing cookies, backtalk, I think other methods of correcting that kind of behavior are far more effective than spanking them.

Posted by: Father of 4 | December 14, 2006 2:17 PM

Singlemom:
My research has been done. Just because you chose to read only the research that supports your plight doesn't mean the majority of it is backing your opinion. Just read Mr.Honda's post right below yours...there is plenty of "research" showing the benefits of both sets of discipline. Is this your way of trying to say, "nanny nanny boo, I'm better than you?" I'm not buying it. People! There is a difference between a thwap on the rear and child abuse. Being given the "fish eye" didn't work for me. That simply told me "Gee, if this is the worst that will happen to me, well I'll just keeping doing A or B and I can take the consequences." A thwap on the butt put me in my place. Smacks to the face or other body parts never happened...that is crossing the line. I just want to laugh at people who continue to believe a spank to the bottom is promoting violence or acting like a bully. I can't take these people seriously.

Posted by: Helcat | December 14, 2006 2:17 PM

Trixie,

That is not what I meant at all and anyone who posts regularly here knows that I value strong women and that I am one. I make almost as much money as my husband and way more than both of my brothers. I am not basing my self worth on any of the three things you listed. However, there have been times in my life that I needed my dad, brother, and husband much more than I needed my mother or sister and vice versa. I don't think that is bad and I am not going to apologize to you or anyone else for feeling that way.

However, thanks for trying to make something more out of my post than what was intended.

Posted by: scarry | December 14, 2006 2:19 PM

some people are slower (dumber?) than others and need the swat... sounds like you were one of them

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2006 2:19 PM

Actually, it is patently obvious to me that you and Mr. Honda were spanked as children. I can tell from your postings that there is a thinly veiled hostility underlying most of your postings.

Posted by: To Helcat | December 14, 2006 2:20 PM


people her aren't going to give an inch.

they will keep arguing their position.

don't waste your breath.

Posted by: SpankMe! | December 14, 2006 2:21 PM

"At home, he will be the one protecting his family, not his wife. She will sleep safe and secure under his love and protection."

Yuck! Are there really women who will marry under these terms? What happens when the husband's eyes go and his guns are useless? I sleep safe and secure because I live in a safe neighborhood; nothing to do with having a man in the house. Haven't you ever heard of single moms?

Posted by: Joy | December 14, 2006 2:21 PM

Poor scarry, now the femi nazi's are going to get ya!

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2006 2:25 PM

My younger brothers were occasionally spanked for their misdeeds. I remember once they were planning a Saturday outing to the lake. They were going to ride their bikes and go fishing, but they were not allowed to go that far by themselves. One of them said, "If dad finds out, we'll get spanked." They both thought about it and decided it was worth it, so they went anyway.

Posted by: Emily | December 14, 2006 2:26 PM

I think that the comment was more figurative then literal on being able to sleep safely at night. It sounds like this man is very proud of his son, and raised him to be a man. We may all have different interpretations of what that means, but and to this father he points out the traits he focused on providing; but his son could also be sensistive, a great father, and a wonderful friend. That married a woman that can take care of herself!

As a single mom, I do it everyday, but it does not stop me from time to time to wish for someone to take care of me - or the problem at hand (because I am tired, frustrated, etc). I hope this does not make me any less of a woman, or diminishes my daughters views of me as a stong woman and role model...

love and be loved... pretty good lesson.

Posted by: single mom | December 14, 2006 2:28 PM

I only have a few, but you're welcome to publish them if you wish.
I'm not a parent, but I was a child. These are some things my parents did right.

1. Let your kids teach you who they are. Be okay with the kid you got, and don't waste time trying to make them into the kid you wish you got. If she tells you she's going to be an electrician, help her to be a really good electrician--don't try to make her into a doctor.

2. Let them have darkness. Ghost stories, sad stories, deaths of pets or older relatives: these are like vaccinations against the later and greater hurts they will face. They need to learn early on that they are capable of being brave.

3. They may look cute and sweet and little, but in their own heads they're life-sized, and so are their friends and enemies and desires and hurts. Take them seriously. Weigh their suggestions. Understand that these little situations will become patterns and metaphors for big situations.

Posted by: worker bee | December 14, 2006 2:28 PM

Helcat and single mom - The Academy of Pediatrics is not raising my child, I am. If I followed all of their guidelines my kids would live in a bubble.

I got spanked a few times as a kid, as did my husband, neither of us ever had anger management issues as a teen or adult. The only time I slugged someone was in college and it was self defense.

I love how people equate beating a child to a swat on the behind. I have seen people berating and humiliating their children in public, talking to them like they are idiots - so much for using words. Verbal abuse is a much bigger problem.

Single Mom: Do you have specific research that shows spanking correlates to spousal and child abuse? If so - please provide it. We would be a nation of thugs if it were true - as corporal punishment was standard in schools up until the "age of enlightenment" - the 1960's. Today I guess it is ok to have little Johnny and Susy using profanity and teasing and cajoling other kids to do bad things - since they are just "using their words to express" themselves.

Posted by: cmac | December 14, 2006 2:30 PM

Poor scarry, now the femi nazi's are going to get ya!

Posted by: | December 14, 2006 02:25 PM

Guess what, anon at 2:25? Scarry is confident enough in her very reasonable opinions that she attaches at least some form of name to them, and doesn't feel the need to insult posters who subscribe to varying points of view. You might consider following her lead.

Posted by: NC lawyer | December 14, 2006 2:30 PM

Helcat - I am sorry that you feel that way. BTW I was only hit once or twice while growing up, and really do not have hostile feelings towards you or anyone else for that matter.

I just feel sorry for the kids that you are hitting because you do not want to take the time to learn other (perhaps more effective) ways of getting through to them.

Also, as for the article you are referencing - my response is - not all smokers get cancer, but if you smoke your liklihood increases.

Posted by: single mom | December 14, 2006 2:31 PM

I agree that many parenting books do little to improve parenting and much to increase stress. Here's one on that very subject: "Parents Who Think Too Much Why We Do It, How to Stop" by Anne Cassidy (Published by Dell Trade Paperbacks, 1998) The question on the cover asks "Are you listening to the 'experts' instead of trusting your instincts ... and your heart?" I recommend it.

Posted by: Capitol Hill Mom | December 14, 2006 2:32 PM

Father of 4

"They started it, It's up to YOU to finish it. "

Real mature.I take it you are referring to the kid you hung the "Annoying Son" label on, great idea. Since he has been annoying since at least almost the beginning of this blog, this has been going on for a while and your methods are not working.

Your son's behavior is not normal and he is obviously crying for help. Just as you did when your parents beat you with a leather strap. You seemed to have learned nothing. Your whole family probably needs big time counseling.

Posted by: George | December 14, 2006 2:37 PM

How about "Soy Toy"?

Posted by: go sox | December 14, 2006 2:37 PM

To: ToHelcat:

Wow...was that your form of name calling? Way to go! Sounds like someone needs a thump on the rear!

Posted by: Helcat | December 14, 2006 2:37 PM

single mom: "I just feel sorry for the kids that you are hitting because you do not want to take the time to learn other (perhaps more effective) ways of getting through to them"

That is so condescending. You espouse a "to each his own" view them slam someone else's legitimate choice. Just state your opinion and leave it at that rather than try to sound like something you are not.

As for being hit on the playground, I have taught my kids the 1, 2, 3, rule. 1. Tell them to stop 2. if they keep it up - hit them back 3. Wait for the sissy to go cry to the teacher/parent because all bullies are sissies.

If a school has a problem with self-defense they will have a lawsuit on their hands.

Posted by: cmac | December 14, 2006 2:40 PM

Yes, I could have predicted you would respond with some kind of violence.

Posted by: To Helcat | December 14, 2006 2:41 PM

Singlemom:
Well then we both feel sorry for each other, I guess. And, I never said spanking is the only form of discipline I use. It is one of many options, trust me. Also, I like how you changed my word spanking to hitting. You are trying very dramatically to make the spankers out there sound like monsters. Thank goodness there are rational people who know this is not the case.

Posted by: Helcat | December 14, 2006 2:43 PM

Are people seeing how these posters like Singlemom and ToHelcat (different from the actual Helcat) are attempting to demonize the spankers? Please take the time to actually read this sentence: Spanking does NOT equal hitting or violence. Please spare us all the drama! If you consider a thump on the rear to be violence, then you obviously need to watch a few more action flicks or just turn on the nightly news to get a better sense of the difference, and a reality check.

Posted by: Helcat | December 14, 2006 2:47 PM

spanking good
violence bad

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2006 2:51 PM

Two thoughts on spanking:

I was in Best Buy the other day with a girl friend looking at stuff. A 10-year-old boy ran up to me and hit me (kinda hard) on my leg, waited a moment, then turned and went back to his mom, who was an aisle over. I was so shocked I didn't do anything. Now, after some thought, if that happens again, I'll take the kid to his mom and tell her what he did. This may get the kid yelled at or hit, or may get me yelled at or hit, but at least will teach the kid that not all grownups don't mind when you hit them.

Also, my parents live in a small town in Texas (outside of Austin) and they have a very highly-regarded school system, because it (unlike the others) uses corporal punishment. My parents, hippies that they are, were horrified when they first found out.

Posted by: thoughts on spanking | December 14, 2006 2:52 PM

You just keep digging yourself in deeper. In addition to the damage that's clearly been done to you by your parents' spanking you, you watch too much TV and have become immune to violence. Hitting someone (lightly or otherwise) IS violence whether you choose to define it that way or not. Study after study backs up the idea that spanking children does nothing but harm to them. And case after case before Child Services in every state shows that in some cases, it kills them. How do you KNOW that you are capable of telling when you cross the line? Why take the chance?

Posted by: To Helcat | December 14, 2006 2:53 PM

What you call it is semantics: Spanking, smacking, hitting, whipping, beating, etc. It all boils down to the the idea that you are using violence and physical pain as a form of punishment. Yes, there are extremes. A swat on the butt is probably not as bad as a beating with a belt. But where to draw the line is a very subjective thing. Some people think that using a belt is appropriate. Others, like me, think it's barbaric. And if we were to agree that a mild swat on the butt is not abuse, who is to say that taking away priveleges, like play dates or tv or whatever the child really enjoys, is not more effective? Just because something may not rise to the level of abuse does not mean it is a good idea.

Posted by: Emily | December 14, 2006 2:55 PM

Spanking is defined by Merriam-Webster as

to strike especially on the buttocks with the open hand

To strike : HIT

Look it up.

Posted by: To Helcat | December 14, 2006 2:56 PM

If I were to spank my toddler when he misbehaved then he would spank his little brother when the baby "misbehaved". Possibly with his baseball bat. So I eschew spanking.

Regarding sons protecting their families: The most useful thing anyone ever said to me was my boss' wife, years ago, regarding being afraid of a fire while asleep at night. She commented that before she went to bed she would mentally review her escape routes from the home, make sure the phone was next to her bed, etc. It begat in me a continuing habit of preparing for emergencies by practising possible situations in my head and reviewing the options while my mind is cool. I think women should protect their kids every bit as much as men. The real world is not like "Walker, texas ranger" where you can kickbox every intruder.

Posted by: m | December 14, 2006 2:56 PM

Emily - It is not semantics. Your assumptions that spanking is the only form of discipline I or Helcat or whomever use is only to frame your argeument in a "violent" way. Spare me the lecture.

Posted by: cmac | December 14, 2006 3:00 PM

Anonymous said "Some of us still believe that the protection of the home falls under the purview of men, and that is fine."

This is the kind of attitude that makes women subservient to their sons."

That is such an unfortunate attitude. I hope you can understand that acts of providing and protecting can come from a sense of responsibility and love. I feel the need to protect my family (wife, children AND parents), and I don't expect them to be subserient to me (and their not, believe me!)

Your comment just seems really knee-jerk to me, you associate a son wanting to provide for his mother (or even just perceive that he is) as an assault on motherly authority ... any insecurity issues there?

Posted by: Balt Dad | December 14, 2006 3:02 PM


I second (third, fourth, whatever we're up to) the recommendations for 123 Magic and for logical consequences. 123 Magic is great for imposing consistency on the parent, and for draining discipline of its anger/ emotionality. The consequences to the child of persisting in an infraction are absolutely clear and sure to follow, not negotiable. It has worked wonderfully for me, as a parent who prefers flexibility, rationality, and openness in responding to my kids, as a way to signal that negotiation and flexibility are over, that whatever the issue is they are now being told not asked, and I expect compliance. Because I always follow through, starting "That's 1" cues them to comply, and it's very rare that they don't (after the initial testing phase, years ago). But then again, I don't impose rules or cease-and-desist orders unless they're merited; I believe a kid's life should be structured to include many more yeses than nos.

I guess in my manifesto would be never say no reflexively, but ask yourself 'why not'? (This may have come from Penelope Leach; obviously I'm in the camp that thinks if you pick and choose your parenting books, you can find great resources to better understand, nurture, and manage your child; and I second the usefulness of ages and stages information.) If a child's want is harmless and only requires a little rearrangement of expectations on your part, stay open to it and try to follow your child's lead. Give kids power and agency in their lives as much as possible. But when you do say no, or impose a rule, prepare to enforce it every time it arises; be sure it's worth fighting for, especially at ages/stages when the fighting's likely to turn into a power struggle (the usual 'choose your battles').

Also, recognize that your child is not you, and may need a different kind of parenting than you needed or personally prefer giving. You shouldn't strive to be the best parent but the parent your child most needs at the moment. This may not always match your personality/overall approach to life (for example, a flexible parent may have a child who craves and responds best to rigid structure, or vice versa).

I'm a non-spanker as well. For the running in the street problem, it's a classic struggle, and takes a long time (at least with my first, it was probably an 8-month long battle of wills at 3-4 yo establishing her willingness to abide the rule). But natural consequences work just fine --- 'If I can't trust you to hold my hand in the parking lot, I'll have to carry you. It's my job to keep you safe. Can you hold my hand or will I carry you?' A spanking is hardly more immediate or dissuading than picking up the child and restraining them if they break free. (And it's the restraint they're fighting, if it's escalated to a power struggle type issue.) Unlike spanking it's immediately relevant - restrain yourself or mommy will restrain you, because you must show restraint to stay safe around cars. Spanking has no connection to staying safe; it's just a one-size-fits-all imposition of might makes right, obey or be hurt, that is more about the power relationship than the need for self (or external) discipline.

Posted by: KB | December 14, 2006 3:02 PM

"Spanking does NOT equal hitting or violence."

THis is silly and completely undermines your position. Spanking is by definition hitting a child, and it is violent. If you want to say it is a controlled level of violence and therefore acceptable under certain circumstances, that is one thing, but don't deny what it is. And then be prepared to accept what you are doing - showing a child that violence and hitting are, in certain circumstances, an appropriate response. And pray that you can teach them WHEN it is an approrpiate response so they don't seriously hurt or abuse other people in their lives because they don't have better coping mechanisms and don't know what else to do.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2006 3:03 PM

I'm not digging myself into anything. Stay thickheaded if you want. It's your prerogative. But trying to grasp at straws and make me out to be an abuser or someone who was abused is comedic really. It's become humorous to me to read all your posts about the damage I'm doing to my child. It's a riot. You all should take this act on the road!

Posted by: Helcat | December 14, 2006 3:04 PM

Emily: "who is to say that taking away priveleges, like play dates or tv or whatever the child really enjoys, is not more effective?" And who's to say that's not abuse? In twenty years people will be talking about how barbaric time outs are.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2006 3:04 PM

Here is one study on spanking with indicates that it only results in long-term bad behavior in kids: http://www.cnn.com/HEALTH/9708/14/nfm.spanking/index.html

cmac - I was not lecturing you, and I believe it is semantics. Even an occasional spanking is violence. If you went up to an adult and hit him, even lightly, you would be accused of assault and battery.

Posted by: Emily | December 14, 2006 3:05 PM

I don't understand why there is a lack of good teachers out there when so many of you or so obviously qualified to teach the right way.

Posted by: Helcat | December 14, 2006 3:06 PM

Oh please, ladies. don't get your panties all bunched up when we ask the sons to protect their families. we're not saying women should cower in the corner defenseless while rambo jr takes on the bad guys. by all means learn to defend yourself and care for the family. that is being responsible.

i read the posts again and not a single one said anything about women should be defenseless. you are adding stuff that isn't there and... arguing about nothing!

Posted by: Thierry | December 14, 2006 3:07 PM

"I have 3 boys. They are rambunctious as caged horses. They play-fight, wrestle, do tackle football. They are marksmen with the bow and pistol. The oldest is in the military and I can count on one hand the number of times I have spanked him in his lifetime. He is disciplined, motivated, loyal, respects authority, sacrificial. I raised him to be a man, not a sissy. He will do his duty to God, his family and his country. At home, he will be the one protecting his family, not his wife. She will sleep safe and secure under his love and protection."

This is the kind of d**k-waving that our president is so partial to. Look where it's gotten us.

Dan's little speech reads like a Chuck Norris film script -- all Hollywood, no real life.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2006 3:07 PM

cmac at 2:40 I said the same things to my kids. The 1,2,3 rule works. I had one additional flavour. If you are going to hit someone (as per #2), hit them well. I believe my semi-permission gave them the confidence needed to avoid fighting in the first place. They didn't have to worry about being stuck between a rock and hard place rules-wise.

and you people confusing spanking with hitting baffle me.

And yes, I do remember the wooden spoon.

Posted by: dotted | December 14, 2006 3:09 PM

Actually, I didn't realize that you did have a child until this posting. I'm sorry you find this humorous. I find it deadly serious. Perhaps you should reread
Silver Spring's posting at 12:06.

Do you realize how scared your child is when you spank him/her? I'm guessing you're what -- 2 or 3 times taller than your child. How would you like it if someone 15 feet tall spanked you? Put it in perspective, and for your child's sake, please stop it.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2006 3:11 PM

"3. They may look cute and sweet and little, but in their own heads they're life-sized, and so are their friends and enemies and desires and hurts. Take them seriously. Weigh their suggestions. Understand that these little situations will become patterns and metaphors for big situations."
I wholeheartedly second this. Treat your kids with respect and they will learn what respect is and how to show it. Taking them seriously is a great way to do that. When your kids know you think of them as people and not idiots or robots, they respect you more and eventually understand that you have their best interests in mind and aren't just being mean when you say no. (Granted this takes a while, but it's a lot easier to continue a habit of respect that began before they could talk back than to start one when they become old enough to really hurt your feelings)

I also agree with the poster that said kids should know what to expect from their parents. Be consistent and keep your word. Kids love to push the limits, how on earth are they going to figure out what the limit is if you keep changing it on them?

Another thing I would add is, a kid is just a kid. When they don't listen, when they don't do something the way you want or right when you want it, they're not neccessarily being contrary or doing to make you mad, sometimes they just don't get it. (Sometimes they are misbehaving on purpose, but not always.) Your six-year-old is not capable of the same tasks your eight-year-old is and your three-year-old can't stay up as late or go without a snack as long as your six y.o. can. Know your kids and know their limitations.

Posted by: B | December 14, 2006 3:11 PM

That posting above was for you, Helcat.

Posted by: To Helcat | December 14, 2006 3:11 PM

When my daughter was born, and I started to do differently than things that my mother did with us - either because it is what I read in regards to health/development, or just changes that occured in parenting over the past 30+ years she'd often say "well you survived".

I agree that parenting advice seems to change almost daily, someday 1-2-3 Magic may seem barbaric to even more enlightened parents than we are (or perhaps in 30 years we can just create genetically perfect children to avoid the problems in raising them). We will be in the same situation as our parents one day and say "well you survived".

I just try doing my best to focus on the type of person I would like my daughter to become (not talking about careers, sports, music) but a happy and contrbuting member of society... my parenting style reflect this.

Posted by: single mom | December 14, 2006 3:12 PM

Brian, I love No. 4. My god would it make a difference if I followed it more often! "Me" time is so important, and really, a happy parent goes a long way toward having a happy child. When I'm in a great mood, my son giggles more.

Posted by: writing mommy | December 14, 2006 3:12 PM

I don't understand how someone can say spanking isn't hitting. I can understand the argument that because spanking is a moderated, controlled hitting it is not abuse and it is ok in some situations, but it's still hitting. And for the record, I'm not demonizing those who spank - I haven't spanked my child and I probably won't, but I can definitely relate to posts like moxiemom's saying there are situations where it might be necessary. But if I do I'm not going to deny that it's hitting.

Posted by: Megan | December 14, 2006 3:14 PM

Here is Dan's original post:

"At home, he will be the one protecting his family, not his wife. She will sleep safe and secure under his love and protection."

NOT HIS WIFE

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2006 3:15 PM

"Spanking does NOT equal hitting or violence."

Hmmm. How does this work?

If you spank without hitting, what is that -- a pat on the rear?

Spanking IS hitting; hitting IS violence. Ergo . . .

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2006 3:16 PM

Does that mean that he won't be protecting his wife? Is she not part of his family?

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2006 3:16 PM

to anon at 3:11
The kid should be scared and then be scared straight. Amazing what one tap will do. It is a tap, not a huge smack.
And yes, the kid feels bad...usually because they were caught.

Posted by: dotted | December 14, 2006 3:17 PM

a "tap"? What, with one finger on the kids shoulder - yeah, that's great display of authority, come on, you use your hand and you smack the kids butt, it's a hit, not a tap or it wouldn't do anything. good grief, if you're so uncomfortable recognizing what you're doing, then maybe there is something wrong with it.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2006 3:20 PM

"Emily - It is not semantics. Your assumptions that spanking is the only form of discipline I or Helcat or whomever use is only to frame your argeument in a "violent" way. Spare me the lecture."

This post makes no sense. Can anyone decipher it?

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2006 3:22 PM

The problem isn't a man feeling the need to protect his family it is the idea that you tell your son, a child (and in father of 4's case I don't even believe his eldest child) that if something happens to the dad the son needs to protect the mother. In other words because you are the male you need to protect the females and even though those females are adults or older than you; you are automatically responsible because you have a y chromosone, you must be more capable or why would I ask you to protect your mother, she won't be able to do it herself even though she is the adult, and your sisters aren't asked even though they are older, because they're girls. Now tell me how this helps raise boys who respect women as equals.

Posted by: Divorced mom of 1 | December 14, 2006 3:22 PM

"any insecurity issues there?"

Balt Dad --

Don't think so. I don't have kids.

The point I was making is that giving young boys a sense of "protectiveness" over their mothers -- while certainly a feature of many cultures around the world -- also grants them superiority over their mothers. In other cultures, this usually results in subservience on the mother's part and dominance on the son's.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2006 3:27 PM

About spanking: I would like to add that my own father spanked me only one time, when I was quite little, and he has always said that it "broke [his] heart" and he could never do it again. I really think this was one of the greatest lessons that could have come from the event, for *both* of us. (And I cannot at all remember (nor can he) what the spanking was orginally a consequence for.) "Using your words" really is better for both adult and child.

Posted by: about spanking | December 14, 2006 3:29 PM

I just kick the dog instead of spanking my child.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2006 3:31 PM

to anon at 3:20
You don't have a clue about what you are talking about. the idea is to scare them straight. Is clapping my hands hitting myself? Of course not. It is the noise that does it. Cup your hand and clap. You are making mountains out of molehills.

Posted by: dotted | December 14, 2006 3:32 PM

I am surprised that so many take offense to FO4 (and others) who rear their sons to have a sense of male responsibility. This is not a political issue--most of my friends are liberal (as am I) and consider ourselves to be feminists (as we define it). We are all decisive, strong women who are perfectly capable of and willing to stand up to anyone who tries to cross us or the people we love. We also could provide for and protect our families by ourselves quite well. You might say we have "attitude." But we all have husbands (or are looking for them) who can and want to protect us and our families and raise their sons to do the same. I can't imagine raising our son not to have the same strong sense of male responsibility that his (also socially liberal) father has. I don't think this minimizes women or suggests that a woman can't take care of herself. It doesn't make a man some kind of troglodyte. For some of us, part of being a strong man is doing what he can to protect his family. And the vast majority of men I know well always want to rise to that challenge, and teach their sons to do so as well. They protect us in certain ways, and we protect them in other ways. Nothing wrong with that--and BTW, for my feminist sisters, IMO, abdicating that responsibility lets men off the hook.

Posted by: what a mighty mighty good man! | December 14, 2006 3:35 PM

Dotted, I think you are being disingenuous with the statement that spanking is to make noise and get the child's attention. If that were the case, why not just clap your hands or buy yourself a whistle or something. Surely there are better ways of making noise than spanking.

Posted by: Emily | December 14, 2006 3:36 PM

My friend uses the same water spray bottle on her kids that she uses on her cats. It really works. She doesn't have to spray the cats or kids anymore, as soon as they see her reach for the spray bottle they behave (ok, as much a cat can behave).

Posted by: Thea | December 14, 2006 3:36 PM

"Now tell me how this helps raise boys who respect women as equals."

Right on target, Divorced Mom of 1!!!

Beautifully said.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2006 3:37 PM

yes, clapping your hands is hitting your hands together, what is so hard about this concept? And clapping involves more force than tapping, hence it makes noise and tapping does not. I'm not making mountains out of molehills, you don't even know where I stand on spanking, all I'm saying is it's stupid to try to say it's not hitting as a way to justify it instead of acknowledging what it is but justifying it for other reasons.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2006 3:38 PM

"But we all have husbands (or are looking for them) who can and want to protect us and our families and raise their sons to do the same."

Not all; I don't know anyone who thinks this way.

"They protect us in certain ways, and we protect them in other ways. Nothing wrong with that--"

There is a lot wrong with that!

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2006 3:41 PM

I know an Asian woman who shaved her daughter's head as punishment (for being out too late with friends and not calling her mother). There are many forms of abuse I guess. But this lady thought the punishment was quite appropriate.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2006 3:42 PM

"But we all have husbands (or are looking for them) who can and want to protect us and our families and raise their sons to do the same."

Not all; I don't know anyone who thinks this way.


She was talking about herself and her friends, so your rejoinder doesn't say much.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2006 3:42 PM

'fighting' over semantics as usual.

my kids are fine though. oops, one just came home and wants a hug. I guess all you no-contact people don't want to allow that either.

But cmac's rules of order do work. As much as you want to live in fairy land, they work in the real world.

Posted by: dotted | December 14, 2006 3:43 PM

mightymighty...
--who rear their sons to have a sense of male responsibility--

just curious what the difference is between a sense of 'male responsibility' and a sense of 'female responsibility'

Posted by: DadOf4Dogs | December 14, 2006 3:43 PM

Our family rottweiler is great protection against intruders at night. In reality, he just might kill the intruder by licking him, but to strangers, he is big and scary and most people who aren't familiar with him are pretty wary of approaching him. So he is our protector, and no, I do not feel subservient to the dog.

Posted by: Emily | December 14, 2006 3:44 PM

"I just kick the dog instead of spanking my child."

Hey a**hole! Comments like that infuriate me, and make me question your right to breed in the first place. People who abuse animals rarely stop there. And if "it was just a joke" I'm sure you wouldn't like it if someone beat your kid under the same lousy excuse. It's people like you that make me feel ashamed to be part of the human race.

Posted by: please | December 14, 2006 3:45 PM

Although I probably should since I cook for him, clean up after him, pick up his poop, and cater to him in ways that I don't for anyone else. Maybe I am subservient to my dog after all.

Posted by: Emily | December 14, 2006 3:46 PM

just curious what the difference is between a sense of 'male responsibility' and a sense of 'female responsibility'

Because God forbid there would be any difference at all, right?

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2006 3:50 PM

I only have one child but at 19 he's turned out pretty darn good. I don't know if it's because I'm a great parent (just me, sadly dad is out of the picture)or if I just got lucky. He's getting good grades in school, working part time and regularly calls his old mom to make plans to hang out or go to lunch. I was a pretty laid back parent. I'm not much of a disciplinarian. I tried to model the proper behavior. I always thought that spanking was a poor example and unnecessary (though I have done it a couple of times). My son has never hit me nor am I aware of his having hit anyone else except a kid that was bullying him once in 3rd grade. I don't think it makes much difference in the long run if you spank them occasionally or not, but I can't believe that spanking adds anything of value. I believe the most important thing is the overall relationship you have with the kid. It should be based on mutual respect, trust and love.

Posted by: Melt | December 14, 2006 3:51 PM

Last year my son's kindergarten class had a repeatedly disruptive boy. He'd cuss, talk back at teacher, punch other kids, break their stuff. Once he charged the teacher and hit her. After a whole school year of warnings (red, yellow, blue light), timeouts, no recess, sent to principal once a fortnight, parental conferences, counselor intervention, even suspension, he's still as disruptive this year. The district is still trying to do their 123 magic.

Growing up in Asia, it was routine for teachers to call up the disruptive boys (the girls were always good) to the front of the class and administer a knuckle-hit with a ruler. It works wonders. In rare cases, someone would get sent to the principal and he'd always come back in tears with a couple of red lines across his back thigh. There were very few discipline problems in school.

Posted by: Mr.Honda | December 14, 2006 3:51 PM

Divorced Mom, I'm raising my son to respect women, not as equals, but as members of the superior sex.

And by expecting him to one day take on a role that he sees me living out, I'm hoping that he will at some point, if he so decides, find a wife who he will love, honor, cherish and take on the responsibility of protecting his own family... just like his father before him.

Posted by: Father of 4 | December 14, 2006 3:51 PM

'fighting' over semantics as usual

exactly! Saying it isn't hitting is a semantic argument that doesn't address the substance of why spanking is or is not ok. If you think its ok because its controlled, not done in anger, doesn't appear to have long-term negative effects, and is the best way to get through to your child in particular circumstances, those are all fine substantive reasons in support of spanking. Saying its ok because its not hitting is a dumb semantic argument that avoids addressing the real question. That was my point all along.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2006 3:51 PM

YOu know what's the best? The mom in Target whose 3 year old is beating the s*&t out of her while she pleads with him in a whiny voice saying "Tommy, please don't hit mommy, that' hurts mommy" (pout). Makes me laugh everytime!

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2006 3:54 PM

//"I just kick the dog instead of spanking my child."

Hey a**hole! Comments like that infuriate me, and make me question your right to breed in the first place. People who abuse animals rarely stop there. And if "it was just a joke" I'm sure you wouldn't like it if someone beat your kid under the same lousy excuse. It's people like you that make me feel ashamed to be part of the human race. //


Geez!!! It was a joke! Ha Ha!
Wound up too tightly? Maybe you need to hang out with Thierry and get some loving.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2006 3:55 PM

Father of 4

"And by expecting him to one day take on a role that he sees me living out"

I'm curious as to how you live out the "Protector role" without your sight. Not questioning that it can be done, just wondering how.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2006 3:55 PM

--Because God forbid there would be any difference at all, right?--

Why should there be? What is there about being a responsible adult that has anything to do with gender?

Posted by: DadOf4Dogs | December 14, 2006 3:56 PM

"I'm raising my son to respect women, not as equals, but as members of the superior sex"

Oh Puhleez, Fo4, can you cut the BS? You know I generally like you, but I find the superior sex crap really irritating, especially because it is nonesense. It is pretty evident that you have some sexist tendencies in you, so at least don't be a hypocrite and pretend women are superior when your other actions and words pretty much belie you.

Posted by: Emily | December 14, 2006 3:56 PM

It sounds to me like your wife is the one you protects and takes care of you!! Where would you be without her?

Posted by: to Fo4 | December 14, 2006 3:58 PM

"Geez!!! It was a joke! Ha Ha!
Wound up too tightly? Maybe you need to hang out with Thierry and get some loving."

I get plenty of that, thank you. And can you not read? I don't care if it's a joke. It's not funny. We have such a societal disregard for other beings around us--it makes me sick. And joking about it only perpetuates the behavior. So please, think next time before you post a "joke." Perhaps YOU need to learn from Jokester.

Posted by: please | December 14, 2006 4:00 PM

Father of 4

"I'm raising my son to respect women, not as equals, but as members of the superior sex"

Then why isn't your wife, or your oldest child, who is a girl, being groomed to be the next protector in your family? They are members of the SUPERIOR sex....


Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2006 4:00 PM

Not getting much work done today.

As I was getting my cup of coffee I remembered a talk show that I saw a few years back with parents that followed the biblical saying (that I remember only a little of) - "spare the rod, ....., the child". They were saying that it was OK to spank/hit/tap their child only if it was done with another object and not their hand - because it was in the bible. We all believe in different things as best for our children, be we should all be honest enough to call it for what it is.

I will start by saying that I will use good old catholic guilt with my daughter. I was reading a parenting magazine with a friend and they were discussing teaching children empathy, and we both chose the "how would you feel is so and so, did that to you" response - and were shocked to read that it was not the right one!

Posted by: single mom | December 14, 2006 4:01 PM

The kids who are disruptive, hit their teachers, parents or other kids are learning that violent behavior some where. Something is wrong there. If you're implying that a good spanking would teach those violent troubled kids NOT to be violent trouble kids that kind of defies logic. I would guess that most kids who exhibit that type of behavior are getting plenty of spankings at home.

Posted by: Melt | December 14, 2006 4:01 PM

You guys lay off the blind dude FO4.

Blind people are perfectly able to protect the home. In fact, in Texas there is even legislation to permit blind people to hunt.

Posted by: Thierry | December 14, 2006 4:03 PM

The blind dude Fo4 is full of bologna, and his blindness is no excuse for it. So go ahead and dig in. He deserves it.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2006 4:05 PM

Melt, I have never hit my DD (age 3). Neither has her father or her day care providers. In fact, an adult has never hit my child. But occassionally my DD will try to swat someone. I always hold her hands and say in a firm voice, "no hitting." My point is kids do learn to hit whether they were ever "spanked" as a child. I think one kid on the play ground tries (the adventurer) and the other kids catch on this is not cool to hit but it gets you results if your the hitter. And before you know it the whole darn preschool class is hitting one another. I really think it is just a stage kids go through. Like I don't think kids who bite were bitten by a parent.

Posted by: foamgnome | December 14, 2006 4:06 PM

How does the blind guy protect his home?

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2006 4:07 PM

Father of 4

"And by expecting him to one day take on a role that he sees me living out"

I'm curious as to how you live out the "Protector role" without your sight. Not questioning that it can be done, just wondering how.

This is a low, low blow.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2006 4:08 PM

On the "Spare the rod, spoil the child" thing, a good friend of mine (who is a church-going Christian) told me that the "rod" referred to in the phrase is the rod that shepherds use to guide their animals, which they do not by hitting, but hooking their noses and guiding them in the right direction. Thus, she said, the phrase actually refers to showing children the right path, not to corporal punishment. Furthermore, she contends (and perhaps Etymology Buff is here and can enlighten us?) that the word "discipline" is rooted in disciple, which implies learning through loving guidance, and not violence.

I thought that was interesting, since so many people point to that phrase in support of corporal punishment. But I can't vouch for it's accuracy, I've never investigated further.

Posted by: Megan | December 14, 2006 4:09 PM

I was at the grocery store the other day, and was watching a woman with her 8 or 9 month old. The baby was sitting in the shopping cart, reaching for candy, so the mother picked her up so that she couldn't reach. The baby then put her mouth against her mother's cheek, and initially it looked like it was a kiss, and I was thinking, aaww, isn't that cute? Two seconds later I heard the mother cry out and realized she had been bitten in the cheek. It was kinda funny actually. Boy, I had forgotten how challenging those baby days can be.

Posted by: Emily | December 14, 2006 4:10 PM

I get plenty of that, thank you. And can you not read? I don't care if it's a joke. It's not funny. We have such a societal disregard for other beings around us--it makes me sick. And joking about it only perpetuates the behavior. So please, think next time before you post a "joke." Perhaps YOU need to learn from Jokester.

You're the one that is not funny. LIFE is a joke, and in the proper context, everything can be made fun of, so stop being so dramatic and join in on the fun - you'll be a lot happier. (and no animals were hurt while typing this response, feel better??


Posted by: to please | December 14, 2006 4:11 PM

When my son was 2, he was a biter. Where on earth did he learn that from? Not tv, not daycare, not parents. When my other son was 3, he was hitting my hand when I took something away from him. He didn't learn that from me or tv or anyone else either.

Point is, kids will hit even when they weren't spanked or hit themselves.

Posted by: Mr.Honda | December 14, 2006 4:11 PM

I think lots of people on this blog have sexist tendencies, but it is acceptable when they are against men.

Posted by: scarry | December 14, 2006 4:11 PM

The phrase "spare the rod and spoil the child" is not actually in any translation of the bible. But it is misinterpretation of another phrase in the bible that refers to discipline and the rod.

Posted by: foamgnome | December 14, 2006 4:13 PM

"I'm curious as to how you live out the "Protector role" without your sight. Not questioning that it can be done, just wondering how."

"This is a low, low blow."

Why is this a low blow? Father of 4 has talked about a lot of ways he manages his life, including sex. Why is this off limits?


Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2006 4:13 PM

"Now tell me how this helps raise boys who respect women as equals."

Right on target, Divorced Mom of 1!!!

Beautifully said."

I understand what you're point is, but let me try again ... I am not talking about a neanderthal vision of protection and subserviance, I am talking about caring actions (whether they be parent/child or among siblings). Raising a child (in F04's example, the oldest male child) to believe that he/they have a RESPONSIBILITY to provide and care for their loved ones is a POSTITIVE trait. It does instill a respect of others. It is a respect through caring for them and wanting to do what ever you can to be of assistance to them. Do you really believe that that is a bad thing? When a son is told, "hey, take care of your mother for me" it is NOT a license to diss her. It is a responsibility to ensure that others needs are met in addition to your own. Is the mother capable of handling that on her own? Sure, in most all cases ... but if you have FAMILY why would you want to? Reach out to your children, involve them.

You are unfortunaltely getting defensive and spiraling this down into traditional gender roles. I don't care whether it is my son, daughter or dog ... they need to be instilled with a sense of caring and rsponsibility (yes, and service) to their family. I do believe that it has to be equitable, and not necessarily based on gender ...

Posted by: Balt Dad | December 14, 2006 4:14 PM

Augh, my son was a biter for a while too - thankfully he seems to have stopped and has never bitten another kid. But it was awful for me for a while! He also is good about not hitting, he's very verbal about things that make him mad, which I think is awesome and I totally chalk that up to luck. Pushing, on the other hand...

Posted by: Megan | December 14, 2006 4:15 PM

" I am talking about caring actions (whether they be parent/child or among siblings). Raising a child (in F04's example, the oldest male child) to believe that he/they have a RESPONSIBILITY to provide and care for their loved ones is a POSTITIVE trait. It does instill a respect of others. It is a respect through caring for them and wanting to do what ever you can to be of assistance to them."

What you describe is lovely, I think the question is why would such a responsibility be limited to the eldest male, and not something that should be instilled in all family members?

Posted by: Megan | December 14, 2006 4:20 PM

Raising a child (in F04's example, the oldest male child) to believe that he/they have a RESPONSIBILITY to provide and care for their loved ones is a POSTITIVE trait.

It would be a positive trait if he told all the family members to take care of each other in the event of his demise. But the fact that he singles out the oldest male as the caretaker implies that the wife is somehow incompetent because she is femaile... same thing for the oldest daughter whom I think is older than the oldest male. Don't you get that? The oldest male is being given this honor not because he is most qualified, but because he carries the y chromosome. Fo4, by doing that, is dissing the women in his family, even if he means it in the most benevolent paternalistic way. The attitude he has toward them is condescending, notwithstanding all the "superior sex" crap.

Posted by: Emily | December 14, 2006 4:21 PM

My dad used to tell us to "Listen to your Mother". I can't imagine him telling us "Take care of your Mother".

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2006 4:23 PM

To foamgnome, you may be right. I guess I was mainly thinking about the earlier poster who described a school aged child who was violently disruptive and even struck the teacher. That poster implied that the kid just needed a good spanking, but a child that disruptive and violent probably has more serious problems than anything that could be fixed by a spanking (if spanking ever fixes anything). Basically, I guess my child rearing philosophy boils down to "modeling" the desired behavior and treating the child with respect. I can't imagine a scenario where spanking a child is the best response, especially an older child who can have priveleges taken away, etc...

Posted by: Melt | December 14, 2006 4:24 PM

Heh, Emily...that story is both hilarious and a little terrifying (says the woman with a cat that bit her so severely she had to go to the emergency room). I always forget that babies that young already have a sense of their abilities to avenge themselves when someone does something they don't like.

Actually, that makes me think of something that is tangentially related to this spanking debate (a tangent to the tangent, if you will). Today, we tend to think of respect as a somewhat foofy concept, somewhere along the lines of 'I validate and stand in some measure of awe at the contents of your being.' In Talionic societies, respect was more of a description of what followed after making an assessment of another party's ability to whack you ('whack' in the killing sense, but stick with me). Though those societies operated on an eye-for-an-eye basis, they placed a much higher value on human life than we do. It's cheap here - hit someone with your car, pay a higher insurance premium. Compare to Iceland, c. 1000: hit someone in the head while riding your horse through a field, pay them in several sheep lest they have a chance to hit you in the head in return.

It's just funny to me that people often frame their arguments for and against spanking in terms of respect - the word has changed quite a bit in its relationship to the use of physical force.

Posted by: pastryqueen | December 14, 2006 4:26 PM

"What you describe is lovely, I think the question is why would such a responsibility be limited to the eldest male, and not something that should be instilled in all family members?"

alsjfosnfosnfosfn

Sorry, was just banging my head against the keyboard after reading that....

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2006 4:28 PM

What does "foofy" mean?

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2006 4:28 PM

foofy - touchy-feely, loosely-defined at the edges

Posted by: pastryqueen | December 14, 2006 4:29 PM

How about running in front of a car? How about riding a bike in a dangerous fashion?

There are cases where a spanking is appropriate. See moxiemom at 11:11am. she had it right.

And anyone who thinks clapping is hitting themselves can't be reasoned with.

Posted by: dotted | December 14, 2006 4:30 PM

Why are you banging your head against the keyboard? I thought it was a very good question?

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2006 4:31 PM

"Sorry, was just banging my head against the keyboard after reading that...."

Why? Fo4 said it was something that the responsibiltiy was to his SON, some other poster is referring to this as "male responsibility" - the whole discussion is around the idea that is somehow the SON's obligation. But Balt Dad is trying to say that it is something that is not based at all on the son being a dominant male, so what's the deal?

Posted by: Megan | December 14, 2006 4:34 PM

I find the clapping thing rather foofy. I clap (my hands together), and even growl to get my child's attention - but never spank.

I also clap at the end of a concert or performance to show my respect and appreciation. I do not think of it as self abuse

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2006 4:34 PM

There are many other aspects of "protecting the family" other than standing by the front door with a gun and thwarting off burgelers.

there is financial protection for one, not to mention emotional depression, as well as general maintenance of the house hold.

Emily, Ok, Ok, so I'm a BSer, but an honest one though.

As far as females being the superior sex, I figured this one out around 12 years old when I got hit with these things biologist call hormones. I know what's worth living for... and what's worth dying for...

Posted by: Father of 4 | December 14, 2006 4:34 PM

And anyone who thinks clapping is hitting themselves can't be reasoned with.

So if clapping isn't striking your hands together, what is it? And did you skip the entire rest of my post about all the reasons for spanking that are legit? Saying it's not hitting is just plain wrong and dumb and makes it sound like you're lying.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2006 4:35 PM

Some definitions of "clap" from dictionary.com:
-verb (used with object) 1. to strike the palms of (one's hands) against one another resoundingly, and usually repeatedly, esp. to express approval: She clapped her hands in appreciation.
2. to strike (someone) amicably with a light, open-handed slap, as in greeting, encouragement, or the like: He clapped his friend on the back.
3. to strike (an object) against something quickly and forcefully, producing an abrupt, sharp sound, or a series of such sounds: to clap a book on the table.
4. to bring together forcefully (facing surfaces of the same object): She clapped the book shut.

I keep on seeing the commonality as being "to strike" and "to bring together forcefully." Sounds a lot like hitting to me.

Posted by: Emily | December 14, 2006 4:36 PM

My dad used to tell us to "Listen to your Mother". I can't imagine him telling us "Take care of your Mother".

To Anon, OK ... here's an example of twisting the meaning of your post, as you have mine.

That's a fair point, but my father rarely told me that, because it wasn't NECESSARY. If you were only able to respect your mother when your father ordered you too, that's kind of sad.

I don't infer that is what you meant, but please ... ask, don't tell, and give a well reasoned opinion of why you believe something, and we'll all get along a little better and more productively.

Posted by: Balt Dad | December 14, 2006 4:37 PM

So what if spanking is indeed hitting your child? The ends justify the means in my book.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2006 4:38 PM

I also clap at the end of a concert or performance to show my respect and appreciation. I do not think of it as self abuse

AUGH! It's NOT abuse, it IS hitting two hands together. HOw else would it make noise? The whole point is that saying spanking is not hitting is:

1) Not true (and dumb)
2) Not important or a good justificaiton for spanking

Syaing that spanking is not abuse involves other SUBSTANTIVE explanations, such as 1) it is done in a controlled manner 2) it is not hard 3) it is limited 4) it is not angry blah blah blahy.

If you can't come up with anything other than it's not hitting, you need to think more and spank less. Good grief.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2006 4:39 PM

"there is financial protection for one, not to mention emotional depression, as well as general maintenance of the house hold"

And why are these things more the preview of your son as opposed to your daughters?

Posted by: Divorced mom of 1 | December 14, 2006 4:39 PM

I am curious-for those that believe that men do not have a special responsibility to care for and protect their families (and I mean a man, not a child) do you still believe that when it comes to low income families? Or do you wonder how and disdain the fact that a father could leave his partner and children to fend for themselves? Are you impressed with the women who find themselves having to do it on their own, or do wonder why they didn't choose men who want to protect them?

Dadof4Dogs-interesting question. No time to respond now, but I will.

Posted by: what a mighty mighty good man | December 14, 2006 4:39 PM

So what if spanking is indeed hitting your child? The ends justify the means in my book.

FINE, then focus on explaining what the ends are when you explain why you think spanking is ok, that's my whole point!

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2006 4:40 PM

"there is financial protection for one, not to mention emotional depression"

Fo4, you meant to say emotional protection, not depression, right? Or was this a Freudian slip? Plus, does your wife not also work and provide emotional protection to her family? When you were being ganged up on after your blog, I remember she came on to defend you. So you cannot take the credit for being the sole protector, when in fact it sounds like you get as much as you give.

Posted by: Emily | December 14, 2006 4:41 PM

arguing about nothing again on this blog.

it's really silly to see some of these women get off on the stupidest tangents, split hairs, and argue over minutia.

it must be pms because you sure as heck won't see men dishing cr@p like this.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2006 4:41 PM

fo4 - I've been laughing at what they're trying to throw at you. You're doing right by my book.

oh wait...is throwing violence? oh no!

Posted by: dotted | December 14, 2006 4:42 PM

" But Balt Dad is trying to say that it is something that is not based at all on the son being a dominant male, so what's the deal?"

To clarify and be fair, I am from a family with all male children (2), so that is my refernce point. But "take care of your mother" can and should be implied to children of all genders. Why, for goodness sake, do you interpret that as standing watch at the front door with brass knuckles and a gun? I took care of my mother and siblings in a lot of ways, as they did for me.

Fortunatley that never involved defending our home ... but I would have.

Posted by: Balt Dad | December 14, 2006 4:42 PM

OK, let's start another devisive issue. Sharing. I never was one of those parents who forced my kid to share everything. He was an only child so it didn't come up often, but if we were having company I would give him a pre-brief that part of his responsibility as host was to entertain his guests including sharing some of his toys, BUT if there were a particular toy he just couldn't bring himself to share, he better put it away and not bring it out while the company was there. I got slammed for this by another mother who said I should make him share all his toys whether he wants to or not. I thought she was full of it.

Posted by: Melt | December 14, 2006 4:44 PM

Balt Dad, you're right by me.
ignore the b!tches.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2006 4:45 PM

To: Father of 4

I do understand the way you're raising your son, and I believe chivalry is an excellent value to instill in your kids. If your wife and daughters need or want protection, and their strengths lie elsewhere, that's fine--but I hope you're not of the mindset that a daughter could not fulfil the same role if she was suited or required.

Chivalry is the obligation of the strong to protect and assist others (and this is not to imply that the people being protected/assisted are weak, but only that the chivalrous person makes the offer).

As the oldest kid I too was raised with the responsibility of deputy family head. ie, if something happened to either or both of my parents, it would be expected that I would step in. I'm a daughter. I'm also the most suited, of my siblings, to take on responsibilities such as being the executor of my parents' wills or being their power of attorney. I'm also the one most likely to be able to physically protect them in the unlikely event of some kind of attack. I was raised to take some pride in this role and it does bug me to think that some other kids, naturally protective and responsible kids, might be discouraged from taking this responsibility just because they are girls.

On the other hand I do not think less of anyone, women or men, who prefer to take the role of protected rather than protector. We can't all be lions.

Posted by: worker bee | December 14, 2006 4:48 PM

"But "take care of your mother" can and should be implied to children of all genders. Why, for goodness sake, do you interpret that as standing watch at the front door with brass knuckles and a gun? "

I don't, really, but since you incorporated F04's decision to only suggest this to his eldest son, I questioned why that would be given the way you explained it. Personally, all this talk about whether the mom, dad or son can and should protect the family makes me think about the movie THe INcredibles, and how awesome the mom was at taking care of them all. Shallow, no?

Posted by: Megan | December 14, 2006 4:49 PM

Been off the blog for awhile now - cool project, Brian! I agree w/ lots of the points made so far, especially "always follow through, whether with a threat or a promise". If you say you're going to spank your kid if he/she does that one more time, then you damn well better spank him/her! (Sorry, I actually don't really want to get into the spanking debate.) One of the things that sort of waxes and wanes for me depending on my son's phases is the notion that it is not my job to be his best friend. I think we all want our children to like us and think of us as friends, but that is not the most important part of the job. It is to guide and mold my child into a successful human being (loved the story about the shepherd and the rod!), and it will matter more whether he respects me than likes me.

Posted by: TakomaMom | December 14, 2006 4:49 PM

On the protection note, there have been crazy men in my life and my brothers have "protected" me from them. If that makes me weak, less of a person, or makes my brothers sexist in some of your eyes, so be it. More than likely, it means I've made a few bad choices.

However, I just don't think that my 100 pound mother, sister or even myself, could have thrown the crazy boy who was fixated on me down the steps of the front porch with the enthusiasm of my brother. Nor do I think the fear of my mother, sister, or myself, could have kept him at bay the way my brother did.

Sorry, but as tough as I am, I am still just a 130 pound girl.

Posted by: scarry | December 14, 2006 4:51 PM

"it must be pms because you sure as heck won't see men dishing cr@p like this"

Actually, it seems like a lot of the discussion today DID involve men. Of course, they were also smart enough not to resort to the time-honored defense of "it must be PMS."

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2006 4:51 PM

On parenting, I can offer this thought on parenting from my Dad (Father of 8--still can't fathom how he managed that!), when I asked him what he had learned while raising us.

"You're a genius/Solomon-like in wisdom until the kid reaches 13, then you're an idiot/fool until they start having to pay for their own toilet paper/toothpaste. Then you're a genius again...."

***WARNING! Generalities start now! Please don't point out exceptions to the rule (I know they exist), or that my points aren't universal. I think there is still some value in offering the following.***

As for the comments today, agree and was amused by the Fof4 (especially original) posting about his son. Scarry, you are not alone in how you feel. I thought at least some of you ladies picked big strong men as mates in part because even in this modern age, we offer a sense of protection, someone that would fight for you if need arises. Most of us men consider that their duty to their families and to society.

Someone said yesterday (been away from the boards, and read the firefighter topic just a minute ago) that men are scared of feminists. If being a feminist means the above sentiment is now wrong or too un-PC to be considered proper, then I suggest something has gone seriously off track with it. Chivalry and gallantry are still noble and self sacrificing qualities in my mind, and offer the male mindset a higher calling than just the self gratification usually offered today.

That I would die to physically protect my wife and kids if I had to is the part of myself I most admire. I think that my family knows that truth at some level is something that offers them some comfort. Don't most of you women think/hope? your husbands would do the same?

If strict equality/feminism/PC means we deny the best parts of our male or female natures, then some might argue we have lost more than we have gained...

Posted by: Texas Dad of 2 | December 14, 2006 4:51 PM

Melt, I think that's a great idea that I will try implementing myself! I think it's silly to expect little kids to be able to share everything - when they're a bit older, they can start to understand the idea, but a 1 year old? Especially since it's not like we're a big sharing culture as adults. Even if we try to model that for our kids as parents, that's more an exception than the rule in our society.

Posted by: Megan | December 14, 2006 4:54 PM

Thank you Texas dad of 2,

Big hugs from your Irish girl on the blog.

I just don't get the hostility towards some of the men on this blog.

Posted by: scarry | December 14, 2006 4:58 PM


CMAC,

I don't spank, and I tend to view spanking as coming with so much baggage and riskiness it's hardly worth resorting to.

I'm sure this comes from my childhood, when spanking was abused, and administered in anger, as an imposition of will. It inflicted pain; it made me feel my safety in my body could be snatched away at a parent's whim; that unexpected pain could descend any moment if I stood up for myself and pushed too far. But mainly it reinforced dominance; that in the end no reasoning of mine mattered, that submission would be forced, I would have to acknowledge my father was right and I wrong, even if I believed the opposite, even if he wouldn't listen to me. It made me feel powerless, and fueled a smoldering sense of injustice. I think kids emerge in 2 ways from these situations: either they think "ha ha, wait til I grow up, then I'll be the boss and everyone will obey me and be afraid of me;" or they decide it's unjust and should never be inflicted on anyone, and resolve to try to avoid becoming such bullies themselves.

So, now when I assume authority I feel compelled to handle it responsibly, to take kids seriously and meet their feelings and ideas rationally and openly, to value the kids' need to develop self-discipline far far above my place in a pecking order and my ability as parent to elicit smooth, unchallenged compliance. I question my motives and want them to be kid-centered ones, not a lazy or entitled desire for deference, or anger or frustration at having a kid's will balking my own, or being embarassed at public misbehavior.

I can imagine a parent spanking not out of anger, or frustration, or to shut a kid up and assert power. But it's hard for me personally to disassociate it from those issues. I've heard, to make spanking a neutral tool, not an assault or striking out, 'you should only spank when you're not angry.' I just can't imagine myself pushed to the point where I'd spank a child, yet feeling neutral and calm about it. I'd feel frustrated, failed, because other techniques had failed in the face of a balky child. But perhaps someone who's had a matter-of-fact, no-sturm-and-drang, symbolic-not-painful experience of spanking would feel comfortably within their repertoire deploying a swipe with a couple of fingers across a hand, or a pop on a diapered bottom, with a mildness and matter-of-factness that prevents the child feeling assaulted, as I did.

For me that's just so many qualifiers that it doesn't enter my personal universe. I do know there are kids that crumble at the mildest verbal comment (even kind but corrective ones), and some who seem totally impervious to anything, so I can see that spanking unlike the kind I've experienced might be an occasional tool to reach some kids in some families.

This got long, but one last comment on your post: I don't think those opposed to spanking are saying "but verbal abuse is just fine". As I'm sure I've blathered more than enough about, I'm totally against verbal abuse as well, our house is the one with the rule that we don't do or say hurtful things :-)

Usually 'use your words' is just to encourage kids to ask and respectfully negotiate what they need instead of the toddleresque push, grab, hit response. It doesn't mean "now don't hit, but call him a nasty name instead!" LOL, just kidding but that was the impression that floated to mind from your post.

I too really cringe when I see parents rail at, browbeat, or belittle their kids :-(

>I love how people equate beating a child >to a swat on the behind. I have seen >people berating and humiliating their >children in public, talking to them like >they are idiots - so much for using words. >Verbal abuse is a much bigger problem.
>. . .Today I guess it is ok to have little >Johnny and Susy using profanity and >teasing and cajoling other kids to do bad >things - since they are just "using their >words to express" themselves.

Posted by: KB | December 14, 2006 5:01 PM

Arrggh...

As usual, while I am composing my book length posting, much of what I was writing about has already been done, and my posts appears stale even before being offered.

**sigh**

Posted by: Texas Dad of 2 | December 14, 2006 5:01 PM

As for sharing - somethings are very special for a child and they need to claim them as their own and not have to share, unless of course they offer to. especially if it is a lovey. my daughter has two monkey's that she carries around, and it is true sign on friendship when she offers to allow another child to hold them. When she cries and is upset she always knows that they are available to her. I have her share everything else but them. I also agree that as adults we do not just share everything with our friends/colleagues so why should children?

Posted by: single mom | December 14, 2006 5:05 PM

KB,
Your discussion on spanking was eloquent and right on the mark. I agree with you completely.

Posted by: Emily | December 14, 2006 5:05 PM

Hey, worker bee, before it gets too late on the east coast I've been meaning to say all day tht I thought your proposed manifesto additions were awesome, as were your other posts - they all struck me as really thoughtful. Thanks for it!

Posted by: Megan | December 14, 2006 5:06 PM

To Megan, thank you. I tried to use practical real world consequences with my son. Like the mother who critized my sharing philisophy made some comment to the effect that the other kids will think my kid is selfish if he doesn't fess up ALL his toys for sharing. Well, my answer to that is if my son is concerned about being considered selfish, he'll learn to share more readily. That is a real life lesson he'll learn from the other kids. Parents don't need to interject themselves into every little childhood dispute.

Posted by: Melt | December 14, 2006 5:06 PM

OK, have fun everybody! Take care.

And remember, don't take this blog too seriously, ok?

Half of it is BS, the other half is PMS.

Posted by: Thierry | December 14, 2006 5:10 PM

Just a joke, ok?

Posted by: Thierry | December 14, 2006 5:11 PM

Thierry,
Hahahahaha. I guess since you are male, your would be the BS, which actually sounds quite appropriate.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2006 5:13 PM

OK - so it really bothers me when a man says that any strong opinion from a woman is PMS.

What I'd like to respond to men when they get fiesty is - frustrated about your impotence? OK, not really - but PMS comments are condesending

Posted by: single mom | December 14, 2006 5:13 PM

in since you can't be the half that is PMS does that mean you are the part that is BS?

"Just a joke, OK?"

Posted by: To thierry | December 14, 2006 5:13 PM

It seems obvious to me that moms also are willing to die for their families. And protect them in anyway possible. And that boys and girls should be raised to take responsiblity for themselves and take care of their loved ones the best they can, without imposing guilt on them for what they can't do - whether their limitations and the source of their limitations - gender, genes, or bad luck.

If it were true that women chose men to protect them, there would be no married short men, or weak men, or sick men, or disabled men. Yet that's not the case at all. I hope that we all choose the partners that will make us stronger.

Posted by: Tara | December 14, 2006 5:14 PM

kb - You are WAY over-analyzing the whole spanking thing. And no - there are not just 2 ways to come out of being spanked - a monster or cowering. Some people just grow up and are neither.

Please don't ever spank your kids, mainly because you would die of guilt. I however, will survive. And so will my kids!

Posted by: cmac | December 14, 2006 5:20 PM

Single mom, you just reminded me of a funny story. I used to have a boss who could be a real jerk. He was a powerful partner in a law firm, and was used to getting exaclty what he wanted, when he wanted it, how he wanted it, etc. Sometimes, he could be a real a-hat. Well, one day, he was searching for a document that he needed for a conference call, and could not find it on his desk which was piled high with papers. He called me into his office and had me take a large stack from his desk and go thru it to find the document he needed. I took the stuff into my office, and was going thru it, when I found a magazine cut out advertisement for a product called ErectAid. It had a section where if your doctor signed it, you could send it in to the manufacturer for a free sample, and he had cut it out and had it signed by his doctor. The doctor had specifically written "for performance anxiety" on it. I was laughing so hard I could hardly contain myself, but then I realized that I would have to quit if he realized that I had seen his "prescription." So I shredded it in the copy room. After that, I found I was more empathetic with his tantrums, after all, it must be hard to be impotent when your public persona is so powerful and mighty.

Posted by: Emily | December 14, 2006 5:20 PM

Back at you, scarry, from one big Irish Texan. :~) And go read my post on the firefighters from yesterday.

I do find that society on these topics tends to be very hypocritical. We profess that things are fundamentally different in all aspects of male/female roles now, just because in one generation we've decided they are. And many of them are in fact different, for the betterment of us all.

But for all that, you don't undo manhood or womanhood at the deepest levels, regardless of all the high-minded words or intentions of enlightened intelligentsia.

As a closing example, many women say that all they want a partner that will share his feelings and emote, but when they get such a guy they find him wimpy or boring. What we say we want with our PC heads is one thing, but what we more strongly respect and want with our guts is often another story.

Perhaps we'd have a better conversation and less misunderstanding if we were willing to admit truths that aren't PC dogma today.

Posted by: Texas Dad of 2 | December 14, 2006 5:23 PM

Emily, that's a great story.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2006 5:25 PM

I'm on both sides on the "protection" issue. One of the things that I appreciated about my husband back we were just dating was how he stood up for me in little ways. Once at a fancy restaurant, the waiter completely ignored me -- wouldn't even look at me, when I'd ask for something he'd address his answer to my boyfriend, that sort of thing. I understand the old-fashioned "man speaks for the woman in fine dining" thing, but this was just to an extreme (plus never really liked that much to start with). I mentioned it to my boyfriend just as a "gee, isn't that annoying." As we were leaving, he excused himself, walked over to the waiter, and politely suggested that he should have paid more attention to the lady. It made me feel warm and loved that he'd do that, even on something that really didn't matter -- it mattered to him just because it had bothered me.

But I also agree with those who have said that this really shouldn't be reserved as an exclusively male characteristic. In my own way, I try to "protect" my husband. For ex., I know he is not happy with his job. He has repeatedly told me that my working is one of the biggest gifts I could give him, because it gives him the freedom to quit on any given day if he can't take it any more.

It does bug me when people imply that "protecting the family" is the exclusive prerogative of the father and sons. But it's also not about "everyone must have precisely the same role regardless of gender." It's about using whatever skills you have to support and protect the rest of your family where they are weak (like, say, me and public confrontation -- or my husband and patience). Sometimes that may divide along gender lines (my 250-lb husband is always going to be the physical protector, should that prove necessary). But sometimes it may not. So I don't think it's fair to assign that responsibility just based on gender.

Posted by: Laura | December 14, 2006 5:26 PM

To Megan,
Thanks! I appreciate it!

Posted by: worker bee | December 14, 2006 5:27 PM

I have a sincere, non-snarky question for parents who spank: do you hit (strike, spank, tap, whatever term you like) the adults in your life? I'm assuming you don't. Why is it ok to do it to kids?

I'm honestly curious.

Posted by: YetAnotherSAHM | December 14, 2006 5:30 PM

"but when they get such a guy they find him wimpy or boring."

Not me! I married the one I found. I think perhaps we'd have better discussions if we could accept people as individuals and not always try to force everyone into one box or another; which to me also means not assuming that anyone who professes opinions you disagree with is a horrible person.

KB, that was an incredibly thoughtful post. I think that you are right that few adults are capable of following the "rules" of spanking - I know I would not be. I'm sure that if I ever spank my child it will be because he ran across the street or undid his car seat straps (the two examples I've heard from friends as the only times they've spanked) and I'm sure it will be in the heat of the moment. I think for many of us, moderation simply isn't possible and we need to just have certain things not be options.

Posted by: Megan | December 14, 2006 5:30 PM

Dotted: The 1 2 3 rule allows kids to know that they don't have to take it - from anyone. Self-defense should be taught to all children. Take your kids to any martial arts class or school and the first rule is - what you learn here is for your defense. There is no tolerance for kids that want to use their martial arts for provocation.

As for those that can't get over the word spank and hit - just relax - your kids are fine. Kids that are spanked are not forming gangs to attack kids that aren't spanked. I have never seen such an overblown issue by people that are normally espousing the view that "we all are right in our choices" Well - poey on that I guess.

As for Brian's Manifesto - I am not sure if I can read it if it is not balanced. There has been a lot of manby-pamby advise here today and it sounds like a parenting book nightmare. Notice how people say - I can't stand parenting books EXCEPT for this one, oh and this one............

I'm off to spank somone - hopefully my husband - he's been a naughty little boy!

Posted by: cmac | December 14, 2006 5:36 PM

Tara,

For myself, I don't disagree with what you wrote. I caveated that there are exceptions, and many of them, from single mothers to you name it. I'd further it by saying that nothing in nature is more voracious than a mother protecting her young. That wasn't my point, at least.

If you wer referring to my post, I was trying to make the point about traditional maleness traits, and about how those traits are reacted to and judged by woman (even those how don't admit that they do.)

We guys may be dumb, but we are not dumb enough to know that such things don't figure into female conciousness when you are previewing males.

Posted by: Texas Dad of 2 | December 14, 2006 5:37 PM

"we all are right in our choices"

cmac, you don't seem to espouse that policy either, so I'm not sure why you're so upset that a lot of people disagree with you on something.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2006 5:42 PM

Ever wish you could take a sentence or two of a posting back because it reads wrong once it's there, and wasn't what you meant?

**sigh**

Like taking the last sentence off the 5:37 posting to Tara, for instance...

And I said that my postings where gneralizations, not trying to stuff everyone in the same box. Very few things are truly universally applicable. But I never use that as a reason not to evaluate the truth of a proposition offered. Sometimes utility from seeing a trend is there anyway...

Posted by: Texas Dad of 2 | December 14, 2006 5:46 PM

I'm coming late to this, and no time to read the other comments, so please forgive me on that. While I agree in spirit with a lot of this, I do think there are universal strategies that apply to all children. I would have to think about these in more detail to get them right, but I think the big ones are:
-- unconditionally love your child
-- be a parent, not a friend
-- set rules and mean them, and only set rules you are prepared to mean (and don't be mean while doing this, just firm)
-- be consistent, but flexible
-- help your child discover his/her talents
-- tell your child the truth in an age-appropriate way, but don't lie
-- expect everyone to make mistakes
-- praise often and be specific and mean it

I think those apply to pretty much every situation.

Posted by: VAMom | December 14, 2006 5:47 PM


"it's really silly to see some of these women get off on the stupidest tangents, split hairs, and argue over minutia.

it must be pms because you sure as heck won't see men dishing cr@p like this."

Posted by: | December 14, 2006 04:41 PM

I suppose according to this anonymous cretin, Dan, Father of 4, Balt Dad, Texas Dad of 2, Fred, Mr.Hondaand, yes, even Thierry, are sissies, or, worse, women.

Posted by: NC lawyer | December 14, 2006 5:49 PM

to YetanotherSAHM - umm I don't hit the adults in my life because it isn't my responsibility to keep them out of the street and they generally don't run out into the street. Silly question really. I might hit you if you were playing with the gas line under my stove though.

Posted by: moxiemom | December 14, 2006 5:53 PM

Texas Dad of 2, I take your point about the fact that you qualified your posts as generalizations, but what is the utility you get from them if not to try to apply them to all women? And how is it different from trying to force us all in one box? I don't mean this snarkily, I'm really trying to understand why you think it's useful to make broad generalizations to the effect that women don't know their own minds when it comes to what their looking for in a man. Ok, that was snarky, but that really is what it sounds like you're saying and I think you're generally a good guy so I really am trying to figure out what you're after with this.

I have no problem with the proposition that there are a lot of men and women who still look for and value traditionally masculine and feminine traits in their partners - that's fine. I don't think there's anything wrong with that. But why not just leave it at that?

Posted by: Megan | December 14, 2006 5:54 PM

It's a little discouraging and sad to read that KB's reaction to her personal experience growing up, which was clearly an abusive situation, can be construed as over-analyzing spanking. She was obviously not occasionally swatted on the bum, and it's a much different situation than that of the parents who are striving for balance in deciding when or if to use a light spank as a disciplinary tool. For many of us who experienced unpredictable and unnecessary levels of corporal punishment (i.e., leaving shoes on the stairs resulted in being hit as hard as dropping a large encyclopedia on younger brother's head), we aren't going to be able to look at the issue of spanking objectively because of childhood associations. Not that one can't get past it, but for me personally (yes, this is only anecdotal, everyone reacts differently to various experiences), while I feel like I have a very successful adult life, functional relationships, good job, etc, I also have not been able to develop an interest in having a close relationship with my mother, even though she has changed drastically and in a very positive way since I was growing up.

I understand why she was the way she was, but at the same time, I don't call her anywhere near as much as I call my dad (who didn't hit). I know this hurts her, and I try to think of her as who she is now, and not as she was, so that I can be more loving toward her, but ultimately some patterns developed in childhood stick with you. Some children are just more resilient than others in dealing with physical discipline and don't carry any lasting issues about it, while others may end up finding it difficult to have a close relationship with the parent who physically disciplined. As many parents have already stated, each child, even within the same family, can react very differently to a given form of discipline. And as has also been stated, abuse is very different than the occasional pop on the fanny, but some people choose not to go down the latter path for fear of the former.

Posted by: differences | December 14, 2006 5:56 PM

"we all are right in our choices"

cmac, you don't seem to espouse that policy either, so I'm not sure why you're so upset that a lot of people disagree with you on something.

Posted by: | December 14, 2006 05:42 PM

Your right - I don't espouse that policy - therefore I CAN argue when I disagree with someone. If "everyone is right all the time in their choices" how can someone who wants to spank their kids be wrong?

You see the mindset is really - "I'm OK - You're OK - unless I disagree with you then you most certainly are not OK!"

BTW: I vote the anonymous posts be stripped. Name THYSELF - you evil villian!

Posted by: cmac | December 14, 2006 5:57 PM

Men are reknowned for going off on stupid tangents. :~) Some of us are even proud of it.

What I'd offer back to him is that real men aren't anonymous ...

Posted by: Texas Dad of 2 | December 14, 2006 5:58 PM

My dear friend and first-time mother has gone crazy and spent money she really can't afford on every parenting book out there. (Why not use the library, at least!) I don't know that they've helped her much. She seems more confused and more anxious after reading conflicting information in six different books. I wish she would just rely on her other mom friends, a parenting class at the Y, her pediatrian, and her husband's and her own common sense.

Posted by: Millicent | December 14, 2006 6:00 PM

Laura, I have always loved your posts. Always the voice of reason. But there have been a lot of great posts by a lot of great people today. (Notice I haven't contributed anything, of course.) I read and appreciate all of them. Keep up the good work! :-)

Posted by: Mona | December 14, 2006 6:04 PM

Megan,

"I have no problem with the proposition that there are a lot of men and women who still look for and value traditionally masculine and feminine traits in their partners - that's fine. I don't think there's anything wrong with that. But why not just leave it at that?"

Oops. Thought I had. That's a fairly succinct summation of what I was aiming at.

If you read more into it than that, or I said it poorly, perhaps chalk it up the rest to one of those "stupid tangents" we guys are known for? :~)

Posted by: Texas Dad of 2 | December 14, 2006 6:05 PM

Differences - See the column a couple days (or a week?) ago about blaming your parents for everything.

Whatever KB'S past I believe this to be the key point in her story - a verbal demand from her father:

"I would have to acknowledge my father was right and I wrong, even if I believed the opposite, even if he wouldn't listen to me."

The spanking intimidated her, but it looks like his verbal abuse was far worse. Sounds like her father was on a power trip to feel big against a little kid. She assumes all people that spank are in the same mindset? Apparently her father did a number on her - and it was not just the spanking.

Posted by: cmac | December 14, 2006 6:05 PM

My husband teaches language arts at a pretty rough school and whoever it was who said that the chronically disruptive kids have that behavior modeled for them at home is dead on. My husband has sat in on so so many parent-teacher conferences where a parent starts beating their child in front of three teachers and an administrator; in one conference, a father started pulling his daughter's clothes off so his blows would land harder (they called CPS on that guy).

The fact that these parents think it's okay to start whaling hard on their kids at school says a lot about them.

Posted by: Lizzie | December 14, 2006 6:09 PM

Texas Dad of 2, fair enough! Sorry to have misconstrued your post, I guess I was just all het up - I better follow cmac's lead and go find my husband and blow off some steam! ;)

Posted by: Megan | December 14, 2006 6:09 PM

cmac, I actually totally agree with you about the verbal abuse aspect of it. To me, it sounds like KB's experience was a combination from being hit as well as being abused. Both are extreme instances of controlling behavior, and that is what she reacted to.

And I did read the column on blaming your parents. For me personally, I don't actually blame my parents for anything, in fact, I think that I have as good a life as I have in large part because of them, and I greatly appreciate everything they did for me and love both of them. However, that doesn't mean that I can force myself to have feelings of closeness for my mother that aren't there, and unfortunately I think that stems from childhood. And for KB, I think all she was trying to explain was that for her, because of her past, she doesn't feel like she can look objectively at whether or not mild spanking would work for her. I definitely didn't mean to imply that mild spanking would lead children to blame their parents for all their woes. I think many kids, myself included, who were hit, understand that when we're adults, we're in control of our lives, but we can still have more visceral reactions to the concepts of even mild physical discipline, even though it isn't really that much of a bugaboo. If that makes sense, and maybe it doesn't to people who didn't experience that kind of discipline (meaning the extreme kind).

Posted by: Differences | December 14, 2006 6:13 PM

Megan--
if you are still interested--and I apologize for taking this long to see your post--it is true that discipline and disciple are related. Discipline is teaching given to a disciple (and of course we still use "discipline" to mean "subject" in an academic sense, too). A "disciple" is someone who grasps or understands, who can analyze: dis- (apart) + capere (to take).

Posted by: Etymology buff | December 14, 2006 6:20 PM

Thanks Etymology Buff! It's like you're a linguistic superhero! I'm getting giddy at the end of the day!

Posted by: Megan | December 14, 2006 6:33 PM

"The oldest male is being given this honor not because he is most qualified, but because he carries the y chromosome. Fo4, by doing that, is dissing the women in his family, even if he means it in the most benevolent paternalistic way. The attitude he has toward them is condescending, notwithstanding all the "superior sex" crap."

I agree, Emily. And "paternalistic" says it all.

Posted by: pittypat | December 14, 2006 7:06 PM

Men....they spend 9 months trying to get out and the rest of their lives trying to get back in.

Posted by: Dazed and Amused | December 14, 2006 7:08 PM

"please ... ask, don't tell, and give a well reasoned opinion of why you believe something, and we'll all get along a little better and more productively."

Balt Dad --

You're new to this blog, aren't you?

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2006 7:22 PM

"it must be pms because you sure as heck won't see men dishing cr@p like this."

There are men "dishing cr@p" on the blog right now, you moron.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2006 7:27 PM

"Why, for goodness sake, do you interpret that as standing watch at the front door with brass knuckles and a gun?"

I think it may go back to Dan's post earlier today. He waxed eloquent (but a little nutso) about his sons, who he raised to be little marksmen and bow-men. Then he got really maudlin about his military son whose family would sleep peacefully at night knowing he was there to protect them.

It was pretty much over the top, but it was the origin of this particular "thread" on the blog today.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2006 7:33 PM

"That I would die to physically protect my wife and kids if I had to is the part of myself I most admire. I think that my family knows that truth at some level is something that offers them some comfort. Don't most of you women think/hope? your husbands would do the same?"

Do you mean, would I rather have my husband die than suffer an attack myself? No. Absolutely not. THAT'S PATENTLY RIDICULOUS.

You've got quite a swagger there, Texas Dad. Here's hoping you keep your gallantry, chivalry, and cowboy boots out there in Texas, where they apparently have some chance of being appreciated.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2006 7:50 PM

"I just don't get the hostility towards some of the men on this blog."

Scarry --

The hostility occurs b/c some of the men on this blog are condescending and paternalistic toward women.

It's the "don't worry, little lady, I'll take care of everything" attitude that these men use to pump themselves up.

If you like that kind of crap, great. But a lot of us don't.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2006 7:56 PM

I like crap! hahah

Posted by: scarry | December 14, 2006 8:01 PM

"You are WAY over-analyzing the whole spanking thing. And no - there are not just 2 ways to come out of being spanked - a monster or cowering."

CMAC --

What the hell gives you the right to dismiss KB's story like this?

Just because you're an insensitive cretin doesn't mean that you can just pass judgment on someone else's history, feelings, and opinions.

Go ahead and be defensive about your own inclination to beat your kids -- you're the one who spanks according to age, right? -- but don't take your shame and embarrassment out on someone who is trying to do right in life.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2006 8:08 PM

"After that, I found I was more empathetic with his tantrums, after all, it must be hard to be impotent when your public persona is so powerful and mighty."

Great story, Emily.

I imagine that a lot of the bluster that folks like your boss exhibit -- the "powerful and mighty" stuff -- may in part be overcompensation for that little problem.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2006 8:15 PM

me cretin, you annoymous blogger

Posted by: spank me | December 14, 2006 8:16 PM

What the hell gives you the right to dismiss KB's story like this?

It is a blog, get a life you loser.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2006 8:18 PM

Hey NC Lawyer,


What you are saying about me?

I am a real man not some sissy. I even know how to use a weapon and was in a war. Now just because I know a lot about breast feeding...

Posted by: Fred | December 14, 2006 8:31 PM

so I post on this blog how I engage and have fun playing strength games with my son, and acknowledge to him that someday he will become stronger than me, and no, I don't wrestle with my teenage daughters.

then I mention how I try to instill family commitment in my son by building his confidence that he will be able to fill my shoes to the best of his ability, if and when the time calls. (I cross busy downtown DC streets in complete darkness, I don't expect to live long)
Of course, I want to pass on the same family values to my daughters, probably even more so. why wouldn't any father want to do this? Especially for the person I love the most?

I celebrate and admire the nurturing component of the mothers on this blog and regularly congradulate them on their pregnancy or when I find out they've made a new addition to their family.

And then, after reviewing the blog for the day, people are painting me out as a sexist father, condescending towards women and hold blindness against my abilities to be a parent.

George, Emily, Pittypat, anonymous, as a collective effort today you have succeeded in making me feel sad, and that's something very, very difficult to do.

Posted by: Father of 4 | December 14, 2006 8:32 PM

"Perhaps we'd have a better conversation and less misunderstanding if we were willing to admit truths that aren't PC dogma today."

In other words, if we all agreed with you?

Not a chance, pal. You're a dinosaur.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2006 8:33 PM

father of 4,

Don't let them bother you. You can protect me anyday and vice versa.

From your posts I think you are a very good husband and father. Also, from your wife's post after the guest blog downer, I'd say that she is not going to take any kind of put downs from anyone, let alone you.

Again, who cares what they say!

Posted by: scarry | December 14, 2006 8:48 PM

to Fred: No! No! No! I thought I was highlighting the absurdity of the anonymous posters, "only the women are bickering and they're all pmsing" bu**S*iT. I certainly did not intend to suggest any lack of masculinity on the part of the posters I mentioned. Apology accepted for accidental insult?

Posted by: NC lawyer | December 14, 2006 8:58 PM

Guys, I think some of the posters need a time out. Too much name calling today. And Melt, I don't think it is wrong about the whole sharing thing. I think even adults think like that. I may not choose to bring out my best bottle of wine when company comes. But I certainly share all the alcohol that is placed on the table.

Posted by: foamgnome | December 14, 2006 9:22 PM

BTW, my younger daughter is in the Air Force and also knows how to use weapons!

And not to generalize but some MEN also like to "get off on the stupidest tangents, split hairs, and argue over minutia." Some times the tangents are the best part of the blog.

So, what you to talk about engorgement or cracked nipples now?

Posted by: Fred | December 14, 2006 9:25 PM

"please ... ask, don't tell, and give a well reasoned opinion of why you believe something, and we'll all get along a little better and more productively."

Balt Dad --

You're new to this blog, aren't you?"

:-) No, I've been a lurker since the beginning ... I guess I just felt like I could contribute to the thread today.

I know many might not see this post as it is at 9:30-ish and people will likely move on to tomorrow's topic, but I do honestly enjoy the blog, as there is a ton of collective wisdom availble here (it does need to be filtered), but unfortunately it sometimes gets lost in the noise.

Posted by: Balt Dad | December 14, 2006 9:30 PM

yea, like the conversation on male lactaton consultnts!

Posted by: to Balt Dad | December 14, 2006 9:32 PM

cmac interprets me:

>Sounds like her father was on a power trip >to feel big against a little kid. She >assumes all people that spank are in the >same mindset?

No, I explicitly said the opposite, that others with different experiences might be able to use spanking as a neutral tool, but that for me personally it was too dangerously entangled with issues of anger and dominance. And when I said I think there are basically 2 responses to such situations, become abusive or resolve to break the cycle, I meant responses to abuse, not specifically to any spanking; that was perhaps not clear.

But I think those who defend spanking as if everyone means the same innocuous thing by it should be cautious. Many of us grow up having that word, in common local usage, mean something much harsher. Insisting the word means only the end of the spectrum you've experienced isn't likely to outweigh the meanings people have grown up with, regionally and familially, and may lend your voice of support to interpretations you would find abusive.

Posted by: KB | December 14, 2006 9:55 PM

My two daughters, now 24 and 21 both say to me that maybe I should have spanked them more for some of their acts. So what do you think of that?

Posted by: to KB | December 14, 2006 10:03 PM

"My two daughters, now 24 and 21 both say to me that maybe I should have spanked them more for some of their acts. So what do you think of that?"

They will probably marry abusive husbands... and like it!

Posted by: Anonymous | December 14, 2006 10:32 PM

kb - If you even get this? Very late indeed. I can not possibly consider every regional, cultural and familial implication when I post on a blog.

If a specific discipline technique is personally dangerous to anyone then I agree - DON'T USE IT, but don't assume the worst about those that can and do use that type of discipline. You too should be cautious. I am not a contributor to a problem due to someone's mindset.

And to Pitty and Emily on their Paternalistic crap - it is laughable. Truly ladies - you take the prize today. Pitty, are your eyes bleeding reading this? Don't stroke out.

Posted by: cmac | December 14, 2006 10:41 PM

God, cmac, unclench.

Posted by: pastryqueen | December 14, 2006 10:48 PM


to KB wrote:

>"My two daughters, now 24 and 21 both say to >me that maybe I should have spanked them >more for some of their acts. So what do you >think of that?"

I think that one sentence gives scarce context or motivation to prompt me to think anything. Umm, congratulations?

I've got this image of you handing out evaluation forms as your freshly grown kids walk out the door, soliciting feedback on your parenting techniques so you may refine them for . . . the next batch of kids? (sorry, handed out too many teaching evaluations lately) Just imagining the context for a just-turned adult to say "no mom, if anything you didn't spank us enough ... ."

I'm clearly too punch-drunk, time for bed.

Posted by: KB | December 14, 2006 10:48 PM

No, no absuive husbands for my daughters. Both are too strong willed and self assertive. They just know that they got way with more stuff than they should have and in early adult retrospect, they understand this.

The one does not even have a bf right now the other's bf is certainly not abusive.

Posted by: to kb | December 14, 2006 10:54 PM


Just to close, to to kb, I'm glad your daughters are happy and self-aware enough to see their own shortcomings in the parent-child dance. If one's to err on one side or another (and that seems inevitable), I'd rather it be, like you, on the side of giving too much freedom, faith and respect than too little. It sounds like you've done a good job getting them to the point where they evaluate good limits for themselves --- and impose them themselves instead of relying on an external limiter like spanking. Had you always played a failsafe role as limiter they might not have grown into that role themselves; eventually the main thing that stops most of us 'getting away with' things is our own conscience and judgment.

Posted by: KB | December 14, 2006 11:14 PM

Pastryqueen - Nice of you to chime in at the end. Who is clenched when they are joining a discussion at almost 11 pm?

Posted by: cmac | December 15, 2006 8:13 AM

Actually, I joined the commenting fray in the afternoon.

Sometimes, the way posters here resort to name-calling and flame-baiting while arguing over (really) whose style of parenting is "better"...well, the irony is just overwhelming.

Posted by: pastryqueen | December 15, 2006 8:35 AM

"And then, after reviewing the blog for the day, people are painting me out as a sexist father, condescending towards women ... "

Actually, I've always thought of you this way, Fo4. But the blindness thing is really stupid. Any man who can cook for and feed his four kids while blind is nothing short of extraordinary. Lots of seeing men wouldn't be able to do that!

Posted by: pittypat | December 15, 2006 10:17 AM

"God, cmac, unclench."

Ha-ha. Good one, Pastry.

Posted by: pittypat | December 15, 2006 10:24 AM

Fo4,
Did not mean to get you down. I stand by what I said, but people are complex, and even though I think you are sexist, I still have a lot of respect for you. Plus, in the end, I really don't know you, do I? My impressions about you just come from a blog, which does not always tell the whole story. So don't take my opinion so personally. Most people don't. In the end, I guess what matters most is that you love your family. And that is perfectly obvious.

Truce?

Posted by: Emily | December 15, 2006 10:26 AM

CJB is a brown belt in karate, trained in advance self-defense, and can take care of herself quite nicely, thank you!

Posted by: CJB | December 15, 2006 11:59 AM

CJB is a brown belt in karate and trained in advanced self-defense. I can take care of myself AND my family, including my husband (who is handicapped).

I feel sorry for your sons, especially if they aren't macho enough for you (which doesn't seem likely).

Posted by: CJB | December 15, 2006 12:01 PM

I just read your 10 truths of parenting. I am now a grandfather with four very grown children (two are mine and two are my wife's). I couldn't agree more with every one of your truths. You said it all. I especially agree with your ninth truth. I know a lot of people don't agree with you on that one, but it's one I've felt, expressed, and lived for as long as I can remember, even before I was a dad and granddad.

I developed a tool for dealing with unruly children to whom I would have loved to give a walloping, but didn't. I count to three. I do it very slowly, sometimes going into halves (e.g., two and a half). I almost never got to three before the offending child does what I wanted him or her to do. Because if I ever got to three, something happened which the child knew was going to be unpleasant. That something was never physical punishment (unless you believe that lifting the child up and removing him or her to a different location is physical punishment), but it was swift, and it let the child know that he or she did something that was not acceptable.

That tool worked and works infallibly, even with our now 6-year old grandson who has attention issues. That's another thing about the tool, it gets the child's attention, fast. All they have to hear is "one" and I've got them. Of course, I say it in a voice that my thirty year old son calls "The Voice." It's not loud, or angry, but it is stern, and authoritative.

That said, I've always let my children know that I love them and say those three words often. I know it's hard for fathers to say to their sons "I love you." I can't ever remember my own father saying those words to me (though I know in my heart that he did love me). But every time I end a phone conversation with my son (he lives three thousand miles away from me), I say "I love you." And he replies "I love you too." I highly recommend it.

Posted by: Joe | December 15, 2006 12:02 PM

Just finished reading EVERYTHING and this was a great day and a half of posts. Probably no one is reading this but just for the record -- fascinating, hilarious, thought-provoking and instructive. And stupid at times too. Not that there is anything wrong with that!

Posted by: Leslie | December 15, 2006 3:23 PM

"God, cmac, unclench."

Ha-ha. Good one, Pastry.

really mature!

CJB, talks in first person, that is funny.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 15, 2006 4:08 PM

PITTY + PASTRY = PITTYPASTRY OR SOURDOUGH

Pitty - glad you think I need to unclench - especially since you made such a dramatic exit the other day over absolutely nothing. You certainly can dish it out but can't take it.

Posted by: cmac | December 15, 2006 4:48 PM

Hi. I agree with Elizabeth about parenting books. I read about 50 of them when my kids were born and I admit I got something of value from all. True, one should try to adapt the advise to one's individual situation but then that applies to all How To books, whether on parenting, management or self- help.

Posted by: Nita | December 16, 2006 1:55 AM

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