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Hitting: Is Retaliation Ever in Order?

By Rebeldad Brian Reid

Last week, DaddyTypes stumbled across an absolute gem of a first-person piece from 1972, a New York Magazine piece that gave a comprehensive assessment of NYC playgrounds and the tolerance for hitting at each park. The piece is of the opinion that there isn't anything wrong with a little hitting, as long as you are observing the unwritten rules of the given playground: It's verboten at 85th Street, it's boys-only at 91st street, and you're not to hit kids you don't know at 68th Street.

As a parent, this is a completely foreign concept for me, but I have dim memories of a fair dose of playground violence from my younger days, often tacitly endorsed by parents who believed that while aggression was generally bad, administering a bloody nose in self-defense was an excellent way of keeping the peace.

The New York piece spells out that theory of parenting clearly:

Aggression is a fact of life, according to our ethic, and we bring children to the playground partly to ween them from the kindly benevolence of home. We've even been known to cheer quiet victims when they finally slug back.

In the past 30-odd years, the pendulum has clearly swung toward ensuring the children retain the "kindly benevolence of home" no matter where they are. I've yet to set foot on a playground that didn't have a zero-tolerance approach to physical violence, enforced by all parents as part of some unspoken pact.

Yet even that silent agreement among caregivers doesn't translate immediately into a peaceable sandbox. There are always kids -- some of them bullies, some of them just energetic and curious kids looking to provoke a reaction -- that will grab, push or hit on occasion. The response is usually immediate: the parent (or, if the parent is oblivious, any caregiver) intervenes before any retaliation happens.

No one doubts that it is not acceptable to have 5-year-olds throwing punches, but the dilemma -- to think in 1972 terms -- is whether instant caregiver intervention is the best policy. Is there ever a good reason to wait a split-second or two to see if the "quiet victim" really does slug back? Or is an immediate call of "use your words!" the best approach? I'm torn on this one, because while I find the culture of violence in this country repulsive, I really am sympathetic to the idea that the most important thing a child can learn is to "fight their own battles." The question is how literally to take that phrase. Thoughts?

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

By Brian Reid |  January 29, 2009; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Behavior , Discipline
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Comments


"I've yet to set foot on a playground that didn't have a zero-tolerance approach to physical violence, enforced by all parents as part of some unspoken pact."

LOL! This is coming from a sports fan! No physical violence indeed.

Brian,

Just because you haven't seen something doesn't mean it doesn't exist. There are playgrounds where the parents/nannies yak on the phone all day and have no idea what is happening with their kids. And, gasp, there are playgrounds where there is no supervision of any kind.


Posted by: jezebel3 | January 29, 2009 7:22 AM | Report abuse

I think hitting still goes on. Not as open and honest as in the 70s. But kids find a way to bully each other.

Sometimes non physical bullying is worse than a punch in the nose.

I will encourage my children to act non violently. But I won't be surprised to hear there is some hitting and shoving going on.

When my daughter was 2, one of the other kids in her day care bit her. She bit so hard, my daughter had a bruise on her leg.

After my daughter stopped crying, she marched over to the girl that bit her and slapped her. I was horrified. I tried to talk to my daughter, and at age 2 it is pretty pointless, but I was surprised at the day cares reaction. They just felt it was no big deal that my daughter hit her back.

Yes, we want kids to fight their own battle within limits. Bullies can do some serious harm and sometimes adults need to step in. But a little pushing and shoving is very normal. Not that we should encourage it. We just shouldn't over react to it.

Now if I hear my kid fought back, I am not at all surprised. To a certain degree it is human nature.

Posted by: foamgnome | January 29, 2009 7:40 AM | Report abuse

foamgnome

"After my daughter stopped crying, she marched over to the girl that bit her and slapped her."

Your daughter is a future SCOTUS justice.

Posted by: jezebel3 | January 29, 2009 7:44 AM | Report abuse

I'm surprised to to read this article. Not because hitting and shoving go on (of course it does) but that some parents are so blase towards it. Parents need to intervene. This doesn't stunt the child's "learning to deal with things himself" growth, but in reality helps him grow by learning that some things are not acceptable. Children's brains are not developed enough to control their urges and that is our job. This is probably the reason I was tortured as a child by bullies because their parent's felt we could just "work it out" or refused to pull the wool from their eyes and see that their child was indeed an aggressor. Please don't sit back and allow bullying to continue.

Posted by: lafilleverte | January 29, 2009 8:06 AM | Report abuse

lafilleverte wrote: "Please don't sit back and allow bullying to continue."
I don't think anyone is advocating bullying - the issue is more the reaction to the aggression. As the dad of 3 girls under seven, I am one that will wait to see whether/how my girls will respond. Or, at the times they are the aggressors, whether the "hittee" will respond. If my girls hit someone then they can't complain if they get hit back (biting is very different though).

Posted by: overed | January 29, 2009 8:19 AM | Report abuse

I think a little child-to-child violence can sometimes be a good thing, but as a parent I think you have to say that it's always bad.

Some kids miss all verbal and behavioral clues and a shove, push or slap from a peer "gets" them the message.

But it's not something that children should come to rely on. For one thing your child will be in hot water at school and schools being the way they are will pull you, the parent, into the pot as well.

So I say, NO. No hitting!

It will happen and I might look the other way, but I would never ever tell my child to hit another one.

Posted by: RedBird27 | January 29, 2009 8:26 AM | Report abuse

I'm usually in the "no hitting" camp, but there's one kid my 3-year-old hangs out with that's just a bully. She hits, she shoves, she tackles, she pulls hair, and all the while her mom looks on making a few "no" sounds, but mostly just offering namby-pamby excuses for the kid's aggression. I've been working on teaching my kid to walk away or to tell her to stop (instead of just screaming), but there are times when I do wish she'd just haul off and hit back. I'd never, ever tell her to do so, but I can't say I'd be angry if she got even just once.

Posted by: newsahm | January 29, 2009 8:34 AM | Report abuse

Were the "nurses" in the article professional nurses?

Posted by: jezebel3 | January 29, 2009 8:34 AM | Report abuse

I would love it if my oldest girl would stake out her territory and hit back sometimes. If she is getting poked, slapped, or hit, it is usually her little sister, and she will just sit there and take it. But someday it might be on the playground or in class. Her next instinct is to retreat and seek mom or dad. I've told her to use firm loud words first, and then take action to prevent further aggression such as taking a step away, but if the aggression persists then she should hit back. But she never does. Sigh.. must be that quaker indoctrination.

Posted by: bog1 | January 29, 2009 8:35 AM | Report abuse

An excerpt from my own life concerning hitting. I have taught my son to protect his younger sisters. When he was 6 a playmate with a slight heart condition purposely threw a ball hard at his younger sister hitting her in the head knocking her down and causing her to cry. My son socked this boy and threw him to the ground. His mother came to me complaining and to chastise my son. I told her I approve of my son protecting his sisters and she better straighten out her son before more of the same happens to him. They no longer played together which was fine by me.

Posted by: jameschirico | January 29, 2009 8:37 AM | Report abuse

At what point is it OK to defend yourself? If an adult comes up to another adult and punches him or her it is perfectly reasonable to fight back in self defense. I want my children to defend themselves or their sibling if they are hit. Sometimes running to a teacher or parent is not an option. For example, if a child has another child pinned to the ground. The child that is pinned can not run away. They have to know how to respond. Someone may not be watching at that split second.

I always want my kids to stand up for themselves and for the weak. They know that if they hit another child first they get punished. But if it is in self defense there is no punishment. I do not want my child to ever be in a situation where they hesitate to ever defend themselves. Whether it is from a playground bully or an adult that is trying to harm them I want my kids to respond in a way to protect themselves and their friends. I want confident children that can speak and act for themselves. Not someone that runs home when they are 25 because they can’t handle the real world. Life is tough. We protect our children, we teach our children and we love our children. The goal of a parent is to raise a child that is thoughtful, hard working and can stand on their own two feet. They is the job of a parent.

Posted by: sloboda75 | January 29, 2009 8:41 AM | Report abuse

I'm going to be a parent in the next eight months and this article piqued my interest, bringing back some memories. Some of my best friends in school started out because of a fight or pushing and shoving contest. Why? We gained a mutual respect for each other.

Kids see weakness and try to exploit it, whether they're a bully or not. I've seen kids knock into others by accident and they typically have the idea that it was an accident. But when faced with a bully who pushes them down, the strong do survive. They get up, push the bully back and go on their way. If it escalates into something more, then both have to be removed and play continues. However, both of the kids that want to be playing are sitting on the side, watching everyone else play. A good parent would then make their child apologize to the other and go back to playing.

So I guess you could say, a child on a playground is a lot like hockey. A fight will break out every now and then, and it's good for the herd. Children exposed to that kind of nature will learn to adapt to that kind of nature. I'm scared for those who protect their children to the point that when faced with adversity as teenagers, they don't know how to handle it.

Yeah, I'm not a parent yet, and no I don't have the parent side of experience, but I do remember what it was like as a kid and what it's like now as a supervisor of youth. There are some teenagers out there who've been faced with adversity in their lives from parents leaving to moving a lot to personal problems and those are the teenagers who are the hardest workers. They learned at an early age how to "deal with the bully" while those who were protected, don't understand why they're not allowed to sit on the counter then start crying when you tell them to get down.

Aggression, like everything else, is good in moderation. Too much, like everything else, is a bad thing. The key in this situation is to moderate and pay attention. Step in if needed and show your child what its like to take charge of a situation and be a leader, not someone yakking on the phone.

Posted by: dj1123 | January 29, 2009 8:41 AM | Report abuse

Look, I don't think that anybody wants their kid to resort to violence, but if we're realistic, it's going to happen. Bullies exist.

My son is still a bit too young, but my plan is to teach him as I was taught: Offensive violence won't be tolerated. Period. Defensive violence is NOT a first resort, but it is an option to deal with continued provocation. And he will have some explaining to do afterwards (i.e., that he doesn't automatically get a "free pass" for defensive violence).

Posted by: commenting | January 29, 2009 8:58 AM | Report abuse

Parents may need to intervene but parents should not "hover" over 6-year olds playing. It is so sad for me to see the playgrounds these days that have the same number of parents as children. What's the fun in playing when your parents are there to inspect everything? Fine for a 3-year old perhaps, but not a 6-year old. When I was young in the 70s, we played on the streets and parks without parents hovering everywhere. Sometimes there were fights and sometimes someone would get a parent involved. My parents taught me how to handle a bully (disengage but hit back if necessary) and I learned a great deal from it.

Posted by: Mina1 | January 29, 2009 8:59 AM | Report abuse

My #1 rule for my sons is - No hitting girls. Not even if they hit first. I've told them dozens of times that they will not only go to jail for doing it, but commiting a violent act against a woman is a label that will stick to a man the rest of his life. I've also taught them that it is best not to even touch a girl unles they have her permission.

Boys are different. Pushing, shoving, wrestling, rough play is all part of determining who gets the honor of being named King of the Hill or the "queer" in Smear the Queer. All is good with this, however, when 2 kids lose their temper and start going for blood, it's definitely time for an adult to step in.

Posted by: WhackyWeasel | January 29, 2009 9:15 AM | Report abuse

Most of the time, except for in extreme cases, if you are bullied it is because you won't fight back. Bullies are cowards, so if you fight back they move right along.

I think that both children the hitter and the hittee need to understand that for ever action there is a reaction. If you hit the wrong person they will hit you back and if you stand there and take it you will be taking it your whole life.

Posted by: supersonic1 | January 29, 2009 9:15 AM | Report abuse

Brian, I do find it interesting that you're such a big fan of the most violent of the big professional sports,and yet you claim to find the "culture of violence" "repulsive." I can't quite reconcile those two points of view, quite frankly.

(Your favorite sport tolerates fighting as a legitimate outlet for tension, even though it's "punished" with a short stint in the sin bin.)

All of my children were taught never to start anything, but to always defend themselves. Defending could take one of several forms, but sometimes physical violence is appropriate. The world in which they grow up is not as nice as some would want.

I'll put it in the starkest terms. I'm the father of three daughters. Suppose one of them were being sexually assaulted. Do I want them to only respond "stop. Violence is wrong. Can't we talk this out? Use your words, please." Or do I want them, in certain circumstances, to respond with all the crotch-kicking, eye-gouging, biting and martial arts they can muster?

You make your choice. I know how my daughters have been raised.


Posted by: ArmyBrat1 | January 29, 2009 9:16 AM | Report abuse

Children mimic the behavior of their parents. Show me a child who hits to solve their problems and you will be able to trace that behavior to a parent or guardian who has no self control.

Posted by: barbnc | January 29, 2009 9:17 AM | Report abuse

since when is defending yourself referred to as "defensive violence"? I teach my boys to defend themselves and each other and to stand up for others being picked on, up to and including "defensive violence".

Posted by: john_nj | January 29, 2009 9:18 AM | Report abuse

Thanks you john_nj. That is the truth of it. And to some of the other non-violence posters. I hate to say this, but bullies and other bad guys often look for easy targets. They look for people who are not going to fight back. My guess is they would pass right on by armybrat daughters 1,2, and 3 and go to an easy target. I think defending yourself is all about self control and self preservation.

Posted by: supersonic1 | January 29, 2009 9:26 AM | Report abuse

If someome physically bullies my kids, damn straight I want them to hit back. Call it "violence" if you want to, I call it self-defense. My kids are taking karate so they can learn how to defend themselves when they need to. Half of being able to walk away from a situation is having the confidence to know that can fight back if you need to, but you don't have to prove anything. But if someone pikcs on my kids, they are learnng to respond appropriately, and in some cases that means hitting back.

Posted by: dennis5 | January 29, 2009 9:27 AM | Report abuse

I have to agree with those in favor of self defense - from personal experience, the advise from my father ("if they touch you, make sure they don't again") was much more useful than the "talk it out" from my mom. I am teaching my daughters that hitting is a last resort, but if you need to, use it. Plus, they will be trained in some type of self defense once they are older. I would rather have my child suspended than in a coma after a severe beating.

Posted by: alina2002 | January 29, 2009 9:37 AM | Report abuse

"Show me a child who hits to solve their problems and you will be able to trace that behavior to a parent or guardian who has no self control."

barbnc, I don't think I could disagree with this more strongly. Yes, a child who hits to start things and torment others might be the child of a parent with no control. But a child who solves a problem by hitting back WHEN APPROPRIATE demonstrates the highest form of self control. Well said, john_nj.

Posted by: ArmyBrat1 | January 29, 2009 9:38 AM | Report abuse

Boys naturally find the physical limits of what is allowed, and check each other physically a lot more than (most) girls do. There used to be a lot of acceptable ways to get that aggression out - that serious need for deep pressure input, almost. When I was a little girl, there was a daily game of tackle keep away on our school playground: talk about your ground-in grass stains! It was fun. Sometimes somebody would get hurt, or get angry, and try to strike out in anger. That is how you learned where the line was, and how to diffuse your own fights.

Nowadays, can you imagine a running game of tackle *anything* being permitted at school?

Since you asked for personal input, I let my kids wrestle, roll, push, and generally get pretty physical WITH EACH OTHER only. We have the following rules (loosely enforced, frankly - they know when they have earned a slug for saying/doing something out of bounds): no hitting, no kicking, don't leave a mark. We strictly enforce no biting, no throwing things, no weapons (meaning, you don't get to wield your nerf gun as a club).

They are siblings. I find that if we get some of the aggression out at home, we have less of an issue on the playground. And learn the limits without getting hauled into the school counselor's office. Good goals, all. ;)

Posted by: badmommy | January 29, 2009 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Lessons for moxiekids: Don't ever hit first, but once someone hits you, you have my explicit permission to hit back!
Special lesson for moxieson: No hitting girls, defend your little sister.

As an aside, when I was in jr. high, a boy pulled down my sweat pants in gym and I punched him in the face. Due to the school's no hitting policy, we both got in house detention. My father didn't fight the in school discipline, but did not discipline me at home (which he ususally did when I did something wrong at school) and he told me and the principal that if that boy or any other boy ever did something like that again, I was to punch him in the face again! I love my daddy!

Posted by: moxiemom1 | January 29, 2009 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Hit(ting) happens.

I don't allow my kids to hit each other, but if there was a physical fight at school or something, it's probably only natural that a person would defend himself/herself in a physical way. If someone came up to me and started hitting me in the street, I'm not going to stand there and say "hey, no hitting". I would fight back, while trying to get someone to help me. I think it's unreasonable to expect something different from children, just because they're children.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | January 29, 2009 10:01 AM | Report abuse

This is a fantastic discussion, and I have to jump into -- not surprisingly -- on one point: my love of hockey.

The only place that tolerates fighting is the North American professional leagues, and even there, there is some logic: fighting -- with its own complex code -- is seen as a deterrent against dirty play (take a cheap shot at Ovechkin and you'll have to answer to Brashear). So the fighting itself doesn't bother me, though the whole role-model thing gnaws at me. There *are* a lot of kids watching.

As for me, no league in which I have ever played as a child or adult has tolerated fighting (hell, I've never even played in a checking league), and I've never seen an outright effort by anyone to injure someone else. I've seen far, far worse on the basketball court.

Posted by: rebeldad | January 29, 2009 10:05 AM | Report abuse

In continuation of my previous post, I want to add that there's a huge difference between self defense and trying to solve a problem with violence -- for example, two idiots fighting over a girl or boy. I'm traditional enough, though, that if your sibling gets into a fight in front of you, I think you ought to step in and defend them.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | January 29, 2009 10:07 AM | Report abuse

I come at this from the flip side of most: I have a girl who does more stereotypically "boy" stuff (while wearing her pink princess costume, of course!). She is big and strong and physical, but doesn't realize how intimidating that can be to other kids -- and she veers a little too easily toward hitting when she gets frustrated.

So for her, my biggest concern is to keep her from turning into a bully -- which means that we do jump in fairly quickly if and when she goes over the line. We've done a lot of longer-term stuff, like working on impulse control and words instead of hitting, and getting her into karate for the mental self-discipline. And that's made a HUGE difference (we haven't actually had a hitting incident in a couple of years). But still, as with most kids, the most effective approach is just to take away the privilege when she steps over the line -- so she hits, end of playtime, period. Which means, yeah, I do step in quickly if/when that happens.

The boy, on the other hand, is one of those kids who never rises to the bait; he's usually very happy to play with whatever his toy is, and it takes a lot to rouse him -- and once he does get mad, it usually passes just as quickly. Him, I'm much more inclined to let work it out on his own, because I'm pretty sure he's not going to instigate -- and if he reacts, it's probably justified. Especially when his sister is involved. :-)

Rough play is a different issue entirely -- I think it's great for both of them. They are really physical kids who love playing chase, tackle, tickle, etc. We just make sure the setting is reasonable (like, say, limiting the size of the potential fall, no tackling on concrete), and pretty much let them go at it. Of course, the corollary is that they don't get a heck of a lot of sympathy when they get bumped and bruised (more along the lines of, "yeah, but did you have fun doing it?").

Posted by: laura33 | January 29, 2009 10:17 AM | Report abuse

WhackyWeasel (and others) bring up an interesting point -- the double standard for boys. I was definitely brought up not to hit girls, ever. (While my big sister took full advantage of that, that's a story for another day...)

But what to do now? If women are equal -- and they are -- isn't that hard to reconcile? How do you justify the rule that “she can hit you, but you can’t hit her” in this day and age?

John-NJ, et al. -- Uh... hitting back is violence. It might be justified, but it is still violence.

Some people just like to be offended, I guess.

Posted by: commenting | January 29, 2009 11:09 AM | Report abuse

"I think a little child-to-child violence can sometimes be a good thing" RedBird...that line made me laugh. It's not something you read everyday, especially not on this blog.

I think several people here have made good points. There is a difference between offensive and defensive agression. Most adults would fight back, so why hold children on a playground to a different standard? I like the idea of the waiting period when observing an agressive act on the playground. If it's your child agressing, then some peer correction will teach them the lesson more than mom's no. If your child is the victim, maybe it will give them a chance to stand up for themselves. I wouldn't turn a blind eye...just that moment of hesitation to see if kids can resolve the issue themselves. Perhaps parents are quick to jump in at the playground though because of the embarrassment of being the parent of "that" kid. For some I think the embarrassment impulse jumps in before they have a chance to think of what lesson their child might learn...I know with my first I felt that way.

Posted by: mlc2 | January 29, 2009 11:11 AM | Report abuse

I used to teach children's tae kwon do classes. One of the things we brough up regularly was when/how/why to use your martial arts training when you weren't in class or at home practicing.

We always encouraged parents to talk to their children regularly about what is "ok" in your family. Is it ok to respond with a punch after the 1st physical attack? the 2nd? It depends on the family, but if you're going to sign your kid up for classes so they know how to hit effectively, you also need to make sure they know when it's ok to use that skill in self-defense.

Posted by: JHBVA | January 29, 2009 11:38 AM | Report abuse

One other thing - I will always jump in if there's a major age difference (on the playground, etc.) If I see a 6 year old pushing 2-3 year olds on the play ground I will step in and say something, stopping the behavior until/unless the older child's parents step in. It's too easy for little kids to be seriously injured if the big kids don't realize how much stronger they are than the little ones.

Posted by: JHBVA | January 29, 2009 11:40 AM | Report abuse

I can't say that I have seen too much 'child-to-child' violence when our kids have been playing with others.

We have had reports of SS pushing other kids in line at school. I suspect that is a result of his desire to be first. We have literally had him run over his sister (which has resulted in her crying) to get in or out of the car first or to get to something else first that he wanted.

I have instituted a few things like... whoever asks for something gets it first. So if SD asks for a banana, he can't just grab it from her or me because he has decided that he now wants one too. He needs to let her get hers first then he can get his. I find it totally weird that those few seconds that he has to wait is absolutely earth-shattering to him.

I have even done more radical things such as pushing back. His sister is not anywhere near as big as him so her pushing back can be completely ignored. The last couple of times that he has run me over to get somewhere, I have pushed back which actually got him to pause in his rush.

Posted by: Billie_R | January 29, 2009 12:00 PM | Report abuse

Commenting - I wasn't offended at all, ‘defensive violence' just seems to have a negative connotation and to me ‘self defense’ is a better description.

Posted by: john_nj | January 29, 2009 12:20 PM | Report abuse

"How do you justify the rule that “she can hit you, but you can’t
hit her”"

Legally speaking, women are a protected class of citizens in the United States. As a father trying to socialize his sons to grow up and be decent husbands themselves the "don't ever touch a girl without permission" is safe, sound, and solid advice. OK, they say that it's unfair, but my rebuttal to that is "You go through life as a female, give birth to a few babies, then come back to me and tell me what "unfair" is all about."

Also on this subject, I 3rd and 4th the recommendations of previous posters to sign your child up for karate/tae Kwon Do if he/she shows an aptitude for either being the victim of bullying *OR* being the bully. For the timid, she will learn self-defense and self confidence, thus in turn, not be the target of bullying behavior. For the bully, he will learn when it is acceptable to apply the disabling techniques. the clause "never use force to obtains selfish needs" is in the creed that they recite before each practice.

Posted by: WhackyWeasel | January 29, 2009 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Legally speaking, women are a protected class of citizens in the United States. As a father trying to socialize his sons to grow up and be decent husbands themselves the "don't ever touch a girl without permission" is safe, sound, and solid advice. OK, they say that it's unfair, but my rebuttal to that is "You go through life as a female, give birth to a few babies, then come back to me and tell me what "unfair" is all about."

Posted by: WhackyWeasel | January 29, 2009 12:37 PM | Report abuse


Gibberish.

Posted by: jezebel3 | January 29, 2009 12:42 PM | Report abuse

What I have an issue with is how schools (including my daughter's middle school) dole out equally harsh penalties to children involved in a fight, even if the child was attacked unprovoked and was only defending themselves. The current penalty for any child involved in a fight at my 11 year olds school is 5 days suspension.

My daughter has had bullying issues this year, but is neither physically small nor shy when it comes to standing up for herself. She has been taught to never take a swing or kick at another child EXCEPT if they physically attack her. In that case I tell her she should do whatever necessary to prevent herself from being harmed. Don't go off and gratuitously beat the snot out of them, but do what you need to to get them off and show you will not be an easy mark. Don't throw the first punch, throw the last. I have even told her principal that this is what she is taught at home.

So what happens if one of the schoolyard bullies actually becomes physical? Should my child lay their like a leaf and let the other kid pound her while waiting for a teacher to intervene (which could result in serious injury) vs. defend herself and risk a suspension that would also result in her failing that quarter? I don't think she should have to make that choice.

Posted by: vegmom | January 29, 2009 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Brian apparently lost his balls a long time ago. Getting him to write about the male view of parenting is liking seeking sex advice from a eunuch..........

Posted by: pwaa | January 29, 2009 12:55 PM | Report abuse

"My #1 rule for my sons is - No hitting girls. Not even if they hit first. I've told them dozens of times that they will not only go to jail for doing it, but commiting a violent act against a woman is a label that will stick to a man the rest of his life. I've also taught them that it is best not to even touch a girl unles they have her permission. "

You should also teach your daughters that hitting men is a bad idea. Some men will beat the living hell out of them. Once you raise your hand to punch you are no longer a lady but a combatant and may very well be treated as one, so becareful......

Posted by: pwaa | January 29, 2009 12:59 PM | Report abuse

WW writes "Legally speaking, women are a protected class of citizens in the United States..."

In terms of employment/housing/other discrimination, yes. In terms of assault and battery, no. The laws of assault and battery protect men, too.

BTW, I'm not saying that you're wrong. I think that it's an intellectually interesting question. And one that, if faced squarely, can lead to some interesting conversation.

Posted by: commenting | January 29, 2009 1:03 PM | Report abuse

I was not offended either. You raise your kids and I will raise mine. If your kid hits mine, my kid will hit you back. If my kid hits yours and your kid just stands there, then my kid will be in big trouble when they get home. I do not condone hitting first, I just think you should stand up for yourself.

Posted by: supersonic1 | January 29, 2009 1:04 PM | Report abuse

"I have taught my son to protect his younger sisters."

Have you taught your daughters to protect themselves? I generally don't approve of hitting, but everyone should know how to fight effectively. "Fight" in this context means not only knowing how to fight, but also how to get out of a situation you cannot win, and when to fight (last resort, obviously). A good teacher will teach students how AND when to fight, and not discriminate between sexes. Little girls and women won't always have big brothers, spouses, or other benevolent males around to help them, and they should learn how to protect themselves too.

Ideally, as the child grows up, "fight" evolves into concepts like awareness, confidence, and listening to one's "danger" instincts.

It would be great if we could take the "kindly benevolence of home" out into the world with us, and we should strive to do so anytime we can. However, sometimes the world just won't stop pushing, and you have to push back, or become a pushover.

Posted by: Monagatuna | January 29, 2009 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Girls can and do exhibit unprovoked aggression to boys. Responding in part depends on the circumstances, but if it involves force or threat of force, a boy may have no other choice to respond in kind. Whackyweasel, no amount of injustice to women over the years will allow me to let my son have to take abuse. My feminist wife agrees with me.

Posted by: Dadat39 | January 29, 2009 2:40 PM | Report abuse

"In the past 30-odd years, the pendulum has clearly swung toward ensuring the children retain the "kindly benevolence of home" no matter where they are. "

Dunno about that, Brian. You should know that your personal experience does not equal science. But chivalry - never strike a woman - that is women of certain classes - and fathers & husbands & nobility usually get a pass - goes back to the middle ages.

Posted by: jezebel3 | January 29, 2009 2:44 PM | Report abuse

When I was in middle school, there was a kid on the bus who constantly would hit me and/or my younger brother. parents tried to talk to the school about it, but they wouldn't do anything. without specifically ensorsing anything, Dad made it clear that he couldn't be on the bus and the school doesn't care.

so, the next day, when he went to hit me, my younger brother tripped him and I popped him in the nose. got hauled into the office. whole bus testified "he fell." never touched us, or anyone else again.

Posted by: NoVAHockey | January 29, 2009 3:14 PM | Report abuse

so, the next day, when he went to hit me, my younger brother tripped him and I popped him in the nose. got hauled into the office. whole bus testified "he fell." never touched us, or anyone else again.


Posted by: NoVAHockey | January 29, 2009 3:14 PM | Report abuse


Self-help.

Posted by: jezebel3 | January 29, 2009 3:20 PM | Report abuse

fr newsahm:

>...I'm usually in the "no hitting" camp, but there's one kid my 3-year-old hangs out with that's just a bully. She hits, she shoves, she tackles, she pulls hair, and all the while her mom looks on making a few "no" sounds, but mostly just offering namby-pamby excuses for the kid's aggression....

How about just NOT letting your kid play with this little brat? Problem solved.

Posted by: Alex511 | January 29, 2009 3:51 PM | Report abuse

When my son was in PreK (!) he kept getting bitten by another boy in the class. He didn't do anything because he had been taught not to bite, hit, etc. At some point, apparently, my husband said to him: If you tell anyone this, I will say I never said it - but if he bites you again, go and hit him. So the kid bit, my kid hit, it was over right then and there. We don't know exactly what was going on, though...
My son's in kung fu classes now and he's doing great. NOt necessarily because of this particular incident, but he's always been small for his age, and the physical stuff he was always on the other side of the bell curve for, etc...so it's been GREAT for his physical development *and* his confidence.
Last week, I took the kids to the park and I was talking to someone or something, and apparently my 3 YO hit some kid - so the other mom went and said something to him about no hitting, etc. And I was grateful for that. It was entirely appropriate, my kid was doing something wrong...someone should tell him that there's someone watching him.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | January 29, 2009 4:00 PM | Report abuse

"How about just NOT letting your kid play with this little brat? Problem solved."

Sure, just run away and hide. Do it your whole life.

Despite what some of my earlier comments may imply, I'm not big on getting into fights. But there comes a point when you decide what you're going to do. If there's a bully at the playground, you can decide to avoid that playground and go elsewhere. But what if there's no other playground - you've denied yourself/your kids the pleasure.

And what about when it happens at school? Do you drop out of that school and go elsewhere? What if there's NOT another school?

Bully on the sports team? Just drop that sport - you don't need to play it anyway.

Bully on the job? Quit the job; find another. Find another career.

Bully in the neighborhood? Move - heck, you didn't care about that "dream house" anyway.

Avoiding the problem is sometimes not a bad answer. But sometimes it's a bad answer or it's not an answer at all.

Posted by: ArmyBrat1 | January 29, 2009 4:05 PM | Report abuse

My husband and I have the same policy as a lot of other parents here: Do not fire until fired upon, but once that happens, by all means fight back! Our daughters may still have to eat a school suspension thanks to those stupid zero-tolerance policies they have nowadays (which IMHO serve no purpose except to teach the bully victims that there's no point in fighting back because they're just going to get punished for it the same as the bully), but they won't get punished at home because they defended themselves against a bully.

And I've got plenty of reasons to take that view-every time I got picked on by a bully at my schools growing up is a reason I support fighting back now! My parents taught me that "girls don't fight" as well as the "ignore them and they'll quit" rule (HAH!) and the ever-popular "run away" rule. Big mistake-if those rules were a fire extinguisher, they'd contain gasoline instead of water. All they do is incite the bully or bullies to pick on you even more. Seventh grade was the worst-that was when I used to get beat up by this eighth-grade bully every day for the simple "crime" of getting off the bus at the same stop as he did! He had plenty of weapons in his arsenal, including chasing me down the street yelling obscenities at me, once bending me over the guardrail by the road while threatening to beat me up if I ratted him out, and even blowing up a balloon with his slobber on the bus and letting it blow out in my face (yeah, I know, biohazard). But his favorite tactic was to wait behind me as the bus was pulling to a stop, waiting for that little jerk as it actually stopped, and when it did he'd shove me into the dashboard of the bus, timing it so the bus's forward momentum would help propel me forward. If I waited for him to pass my seat, he'd just stand there and the driver would yell at me to quit holding up the line (obviously no help from him there). Since fighting back was out, I was stuck with writing down the date of every attack and what he did. That was turned in to the principal, and he quit...for about two weeks. When he started up again, they threatened him with being thrown off the bus, and he quit for good.

However, to this day every so often I entertain the thought of just once turning around at the last second before he shoved me and DECKING his butt right smack in the middle of the bus aisle! That would've probably gotten me thrown off the bus, but it would've been sooo worth it!

Once I got into high school and had a whole gang of friends to pal around with, the bullying quit, but elementary and middle school years were a trial thanks to those don't-fight-back rules at home. Fortunately, we're raising our daughters to understand that fighting back is acceptable-heck, in this day and age, it's better to do so when circumstances warrant! Bullies need to be taught that their behavior is not acceptable, and sometimes there's no message that works better than a target fighting back!

Posted by: dragondancer1814 | January 29, 2009 5:07 PM | Report abuse

"There *are* a lot of kids watching"

Sorry, Brian, there's not a lot of ANYONE watching hockey these days. But I get your point.

Posted by: dcd1 | January 29, 2009 5:30 PM | Report abuse

However, to this day every so often I entertain the thought of just once turning around at the last second before he shoved me and DECKING his butt right smack in the middle of the bus aisle! That would've probably gotten me thrown off the bus, but it would've been sooo worth it!

Posted by: dragondancer1814 | January 29, 2009 5:07 PM | Report abuse

It might also be worth checking out where this little charmer is today....

Posted by: jezebel3 | January 29, 2009 5:44 PM | Report abuse

fr ArmyBrat1:

>Sure, just run away and hide. Do it your whole life....

It's not "hiding". It's called being the more MATURE of the two kids.

Posted by: Alex511 | January 30, 2009 9:52 AM | Report abuse

>It might also be worth checking out where this little charmer is today....

Already sort of got an answer to that one, jezebel! Last I heard, he'd had a child out of wedlock with one of my friends from the class after me and later married her. Beyond that, I have no idea...reunion.com requires a fee in order to find out where alumni are now, and we don't have the money for that kind of frippery (not to mention I refuse to get a credit card anyway).

Posted by: dragondancer1814 | January 30, 2009 1:05 PM | Report abuse

It just seemed to arise naturally in my family as I was growing up. We were never allowed to hit our siblings or tease them or whatever. But if a kid outside the family hit us, or our little brother or sister, or insulted our mother etc. - you were expected to do something to stand up for yourself or the family. Not ever to initiate anything, or to be mean in any way. But if someone started it, you were expected to do what it took to make things right - and no more than that. I think an attitude like that promotes a sense of justice in children, and I'm not against it.

Posted by: catherine3 | February 2, 2009 3:49 PM | Report abuse

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