Sunday, October 18, 2009

Parenting and other sins

It seems just about everything we do with our children is causing them harm these days, doesn't it? Let them watch 10 minutes of Dora warbling away so you can have a shower, oops, you've stunted their IQ. Don't let them see a TV until they're 16, oh, you deprived them of so much educational opportunity! Smack them, you're a monster, don't smack them, they'll turn into little monsters themselves.

Is it just me, or have we lost our common sense? We are so desperate to "get it right", that we'll listen to anyone with an opinion, regardless of whether they have any expertise or, more importantly, any children themselves.

One of the hardest things I had to get used to when I had my Gorgeous Girl, was that loss of confidence in myself. I went from someone who was very good at my job, had clear opinions on pretty much everything, and felt capable to take on anything. Then I had GG and realised that I knew nothing. My most important job, and I had no qualifications, no experience (Irealised quickly nieces/nephews and friend's kids do not, in fact, give you a "taste" of parenthood) and no confidence in my ability. Luckily, I quickly regained my confidence that I was the best person to take care of GG, and I like to think I've done a pretty good job so far. She's certainly so delightful it makes it easy to think so.

I'm also lucky in that I have a lot of family support, and that they've respected the parenting decisions I've made, even if they haven't agreed with them. Big lucky there.

Trolling around on the internet (where I do all my important research), I noticed something... In our grandparents era, strictness was Godliness. Babies were to conform to a sleep routine, play mostly by themselves in a playpen or cot with just a few basic toys, and believe it or not, formula was seen as a scientific improvement on breastmilk. Then the pendulum seems to have swung the other way, and it was the complete opposite, feed on demand, and it better be breastmilk, sleep in a family bed, wear your baby in a sling and be at their beck and call within seconds of every whimper. Phew.

Could it be that this pendulum is still swinging, even if the arcs are getting smaller? When will we get to the middle ground, where parents feel they can make decisions about their own family and others will say "Great, glad it works for you." Obviously, some decisions are never OK - smoking when pregnant, abuse, driving drunk and getting 3 yr olds high are always going to be big no-no's, but really, is a bit of TV really so bad for kids? Will every child who has been allowed a bit of ice-cream be obese at age 30? Will a smack on a nappy-padded bottom by a loving parent really scar you for life?

I'd love to hear what you think...



  1. It's wonderful to a see a parent who has common sense. I may be slightly biased but I think GG is a gorgeous, delightful, confident child who knows she is loved. I thought I was a little 'past it' to be getting involved in blogs etc ( I feel like I have only just figured out emails!!)but I can see the appeal. Anyway, Quixotic, keep up the good work - parenting and blogging. And no, a smack on a nappy-padded bottom (and sometimes even a non-padded bottom) given in love and discipline will not scar a child for life. People need to relaize there is a big difference between a smack and abuse(although I don't think a wooden spoon is necessary).

  2. Excellent post Quixotic!
    Disciplining kids at every age is definitely a necessity both as a responsibility (of being a parent) and as a demand to teach them as part of the growing process.
    Touching over the delicate issue of smacking them with a wooden spoon or not. Well, I was never (it might sound surprising, but is true)ever smacked or spanked as you may call it when I was a kid. Though being disciplined and good at manners ( and everything else parents expect from parents) was expected from us as well.At times we were scolded.

    Having said that, I wish to convey, that though teaching kids what is right or wrong might be really challenging and seemingly impossible, but there are definitely more alternatives to get them understand your point than a smack.

    But a smack given in love will definitely not scar a child and should not be considered as an offense(in my opinion).


  3. Okay...I was intrigued when this report came out...and thought it was a crock of shit. I work with children and adolescents and am one of the people that talk about parenting to some of my clients' parents. However, not letting kids watch TV at all is a bit over the top. Some of the parenting stuff is out of control. I don't see any harm in a smack every now and then. Physical abuse is one thing and is totally different from smacking with your hands. I sometimes think that the kids that never get smacked and always get their way do turn into little monsters. And are then sent to me to fix. Sigh.

  4. Thanks very much Chatterbox and Psych Babbler for your comments, especially such well-put ones! This is my first foray into the blogosphere, and I was THRILLED to receive your feedback. :)

    I actually agree with you both, there are other, better ways of disciplining kids, but there is a huge difference between a smack and abuse, and I don't think a little smack damages otherwise well-loved kids.

    And hke - yes, you are biased. Maybe I'm a good Mum cause I had such a good example. :)


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