I've struggled with writing this blog, for fear of the backlash, for a week now. I first went to a closed group on facebook looking for support and found judgement and condemnation. Last night, as fate saw fit to send me a kind and loving shoulder to lean on in the form of a BFF, I found the strength to be true to myself and confidant in my parenting choices.
It started last weekend. After weeks of Nixon's behavior getting worse and worse, I'd finally had enough. We had tried everything: time outs, taking toys away, no tv time, taking everything away, talking to him about his behavior, rewards for good behavior. Nothing worked effectively. His behavior in public was becoming horrific, despite our repeated removing him from the store to the car as soon as he acted up.
I finally had to make a decision I didn't want to and I fought desperately to avoid: I had to use spanking. But, I wasn't going straight into it, I was going to give warnings, chances to avoid the spanking and then only one spanking. I never spank out of anger. NEVER! If I can't rationally sit with Nixon and talk about why I spanked him, I won't do it. Spanking is not a means to control him, its a means to help him learn that his actions have consequences.
Over that weekend, Nixon got a handful of spankings. Every single one of them, he got his warnings, continued to go about doing what he was doing, and got the resulting spanking. He gets a swat on the bottom, enough to make him realize we mean business, but I'm not aiming to leave marks on him.
The one that really bothered me, and I felt made me "that" mom, happened Sunday night at the grocery store. Nixon was asked to help us do the shopping and stay out of the cart, without his PSP. A first, but I want him more connected to us and paying attention to us. He was doing really great for half the trip, he loved picking out the cats canned food! But, the empty frozen food aisle seemed to be a sirens call he couldn't resist. He slowly started to stray down the aisle, warning 1...started running down the aisle, warning 2....full-on bolted down the aisle, no more warning. He came over to me as soon as he saw me holding up 3 fingers, he knew what was coming. I realized there was no one around, I popped his ass right there in the ice cream section! His tears started, Mac and I took a couple minutes and calmed him down, talking to him (still in the frozen food section) about why he got the spanking and how he could avoid getting another one. He calmed down, and stayed right next to the cart with me the remaining time in the store.
Am I proud I'm spanking my child? No. That's not the point of this. The point is, I'm parenting my child in a way that works for him and in doing so I'm putting my own personal conflicts behind me. It'd be easy for me to use my abusive childhood as a reason to not spank, and I admit I never intended to spank at all. But the more head strong and imaginative Nixon gets, the more difficult it is to punish him effectively. Time out became a time for him to play with his imagination. How do you tell a child to not play with his invisible friends, if he's staying in his time out area? He's not breaking the rules, he's being quiet, and doing his time, he's just having conversations with his "friends". You can't break a child's imagination. He was looking at the wall, like he was supposed to. He knew why he was in time out, he'd tell me why he was there. It just wasn't effective.
The point is, since I made the decision to actively parent Nixon and use spankings, he's listening and paying attention. Last night we went to the airport to pick up Franny. Her flight came in around 1030pm, which is about an hour to an hour and a half past Nixon's normal bedtime. I was dreading it thinking he'd be a tired monster.
I was wrong. He was a delight. Held my hand, listened to me, sat next to me while Franny grabbed her bags. The only time he got a little upset was when he had to stop playing with Aunt Franny because we reached the parking garage.
A complete and total turn-around from a couple weeks ago.
He's not a changed kid, he's still the same, but he knows to listen and do as he's told when asked because there are consequences. The warnings are enough now.
I don't expect everyone to agree with my parenting choices. But I'm damned sick and fucking tired of being made to feel like a bad parent because I am being a fucking parent! I'm doing everything I can to help shape Nixon into a productive member of society and I'm not aiming to ruin him like I was ruined by abuse. It's a fine line, but I'm walking it with my head straight and my shoulders back. I want Nixon to know that his actions have consequences. It took only a few spankings for him to grasp that. I haven't had to spank him in 4 days now. I'm not saying spanking is the answer, but I'm also not going to let my child act up in public or set the rules at home because I'm too afraid to spank if that's the effective method.
I can't expect Nixon to be a strong individual in himself, if I can't be a strong role model as a mother.