Any sets of parents where one spanked and one did not? (long)

I do not quite know how to start this thread. Lookng for some advice from parents with differing ideas on child discipline/punishment and how they worked it out. That is, one parent that spanks and one that does not.

My wife grew up in a family, greater family, general environment and society where it was the norm to immediately go on a verbal offensive when even very mildly rebuked, contradicted or otherwise made defensive. Get loud and in the face immediately. Automatically escalate something very minor into a knock down drag out argument. This is the norm in China and a by-product of just too many people, the cultural revolution, truly mind boggling competition for just about everything, etc. etc. I got whacked as a kid. The vice principal at my elementary school kept a ping pong paddle with holes he drilled through them for administering whacks. I do not think it is a real effective method myself.

The two of us have reached a working accommodation regarding each other. Can not say I enjoy the outbursts, but they are greatly toned down in both vitrol and frequency from when we first met 8 years ago. It has helped me learn to pick my battles, when to keep my mouth shut, control my temper and generally be a more patient person. That is fine, and I have no major issues.

We now have a 21 month old daughter. She is either teething or entering the terrible twos or both. China Wife will often yell at China bambina for doing something. It is an automatic response. The volume ratchets up. I very calmly ask her to please not yell or be so loud. Usual response but not every time is to be loud at me. I like to think that China wifes outbursts are lessening in both frequency and volume.

The Chinese use stock phrases when a child has earned displeasure. One such phrase, “I do not like you” was uttered very loudly and repeatedly not 10 minutes ago. I gently suggested that China wife change it to “I do not like what you did.” I got a very even handed and icy “I do not want your suggestion.” Okay, well, that is progress, she did not yell at me to shut up.

China wife also believes that some child behavior should be punished with a literal slap on the wrist, or several. She knows I do not like this. I am trying to cope. I suggested, and this was agreed to, that if a spanking does occur, then it is quick, clear cut for the reason, done without anger, over once the punishment is finished, and never ever a game. And never a game means it has to hurt. It can not be misconstrued as anything but punishment.

I have seen literally dozens of cases where some poor child here in China is misbehaving, parent(s) warn the kid, maybe a few very light slaps on the wrist that make it a game, and then when the child is really hitting his stride and having a great time, parent then hauls off and whacks them really hard (to what the child must imagine comes out of the blue during a joyous game). I will give an example I saw. Mom was carrying her daughter, maybe 2 or so. Daughter kept grabbing Moms glasses. Mom shouted “no” a few times. Daughter kept grabbing glasses. Mommy slapped the wrist a few times, and daughter just giggled and kept grabbing the glasses. Mommy hauled off and whacked daughter hard, put her down in the grocery store, and told daughter she “did not like her, and was going to leave her.” Poor girl just howled with tears and fell to the ground.

Like I said I do not believe in spanking. But if you are going to spank, at least make sure it is something the child understands on her level. That means simple cause and effect. The child did some sort of cause (whether they understand, can control it, reflects bad parenting is a seperate issue) and the parent came back with an effect. It stings, and most clearly not a game.

Again, any parents out there where one believed in spanking and one did not? How did you work it out? How did you keep it from wreaking havoc on your own relationship? Did you get the other to meet you part way and if so how? Did you just accept it? Please note I am not asking for someone to take sides either for or against me. I am very much interested in other parents in a similar situation worked things out. Thank you.

I’m not a spanker either, at least not with my kid. My wife asked me yesterday when our midget was throwing a tantrum “When do you spank?” I don’t know that I’ll ever be comfortable with it. I’d much rather try and reason with her or make my mild disappointment obvious than to instill some physically painful negative reinforcement. Others might have their valid reasons for spanking and I’m not going to harbor any opinion on that but to me if I ever had to spank it would be because I’d failed to reach a more thoughtful and effective method of discipline. The few times I’ve wanted to spank I quickly realized the weakness was in me, not my child. I don’t expect this sentiment to be popular with everyone, again it’s just what works for us.

Good luck China Guy. You have a serious case of world’s colliding on your hands. From one point of view, I am on your wife’s side. This is from the assumption that China Bambina is going to grow up and live in China. Then she needs to be able to compete, deal with and understand Chinese life. From my American perspective I side with you as this seems a good way to have said Bambina grow up dysfunctional and cranking out Amy Tan-esque novels about her strained relationship with her mother.

We’ve gone through similar things in the Oleth household. Mrs. ShibbOleth is of Thai/Chinese descent. But Thais don’t yell, they are more passive aggressive. Our biggest cultural clash is that she should discipline the children at all. Seems that’s my job and I initially didn’t cherish the role of being the heavy. sigh But we’re getting there. Thais also don’t show affection directly, usually just by throwing money at the children which is there way of telling them that they love them. (and they wonder why the most recent generation is turning heavily to sex and drugs…)

I’m afraid that there are no easy answers to this one. Sounds like the path you’re going down will probably work out. Good luck.

I would just like to recommed any books by T. Berry Brazelton.
Yelling at babies is so sad.

When I was growing up, Mom handled the small infractions with a stern “No!” or “Go to your room!” If that wasn’t enough, then Dad would take care of the situation. That meant he would lay down the law in a man to man sort of way so that I would come around to his way of thinking. If I had done something very wrong or was still being uncooperative, then a spanking was in order. This was the most severe form of punishment he dished out and was reserved only for the worst behavior. I can remember being spanked only four of five times in my life.

My dad never was home very much when I was a kid, but when he was, I knew things could get unpleasant. He isn’t a bad guy and I wasn’t cowering in fear when he got home, but his spankings were enough of a deterrent that they kept me (mostly) out of trouble through the week.
I do believe spankings can work if they are used fairly and appropriately. China Guy made a very good point when he said that the child must understand that they did something wrong before they are spanked. Like anything else, spankings can be overused to the point that they are no longer effective.

China Guy, I am not a parent, but it sounds like you are doing fine.

China Guy, if your wife is a good mother (e.g. she is affectionate and loving most of the time, she pays attention to your child, she makes sure your child is fed well, clothed and loved), then try not to be so judgmental. You are both doing your best. If the worst your wife does is yell too much, your daughter will turn out just fine as long as the negative reinforcement is balanced by plenty of love and affection.

When it comes down to it, there are many ways to discipline a child. I think the way I raised my kids is good, but I also recognize that other people – even people who I don’t agree with – have also raised pretty good kids. So my advice is to relax.

One thing I have told my son over and over is “your dad & I only agreed on one thing, that you’re a terrific person. and we didn’t even agree on what makes you a terrific person”.

When we were still together (only up to when our son was 18 months old), disagreements were many. He was a fan of ‘let him cry himself to sleep’, since dad worked nights and refused to help out on the nights he didn’t work, I figured that negated his vote (ok, so maybe there’s lots of excellent reasons we’re divorced)>

I knew I would be divorced the day I heard him slap our son when he wasn’t cooperating with bath time. There was a big red hand print on Ben’s back. That was the last of it.

The dad believed not only in spanking, but planned spankings, as in “you did something bad at school 2 weeks ago, I’ll see you in another week and then I’ll give you your spanking”, didn’t matter that I’d already meted out some sanction for the misbehavior. (FOrtunately, he’d often forget it, so, when he dropped Ben off, he’d say things like “Oh, I forgot to give you your spanking, I’ll give it to you next time” :rolleyes: )

What I can tell you is: when Ben was able to verbalize stuff, he admitted a couple of things:

  1. That while he loved his dad, he had problems dealing with him.
  2. That he didn’t mind the ‘spankings’ since they were over in a second and he didn’t have to think about it at all, but the punishments I came up with made him think before acting out.
    It’s difficult to come up with comprimises in the situation you’re in. Perhaps, a discussion about how tough it is to deal with whiny/grumpy kids, giving her (mom) more of a break, therefore she wouldn’t be around it as much???

It’s especially tough, since it can appear that you’re in essence saying “the way you were raised was really screwed up, and we shouldn’t do this to our daughter”

China Guy

what books are around written in Chinese which deal with childraising? Are there any that you could both read (written from an American or a Chinese perspective) and then use that as a starting point for discussion?

My kid’s childcare teacher is mainland Chinese and she is amazingly calm and patient with the kids. OK she does things which make me blink at times. Primafloret the Younger chooses to squawk rather than use words when people upset him so she sat there one afternoon dripping water on his head to get him to respond with words rather than squawks. It worked.

I think you’re dealing with a culture clash rather than a one parent smacks and the other doesn’t.

thanks for the replies so far.

Yes, most certainly there are cross cultural issues in addition to the standard ones. Much of my wife and my relationship revolves around some of these cross cultural issues.

Getting counciling on either our issues or our child’s issues is pretty much impossible. You just can’t find qualified people that understand both cultures well enough to mediate. One of the joys of an international marriage.

China wife is a great mother. We just disagree on some of the disciplining and caving into temper tantrums. I specifically asking if others are in the same boat, and how they reached an accomodation?

My mom spanked us, my dad never did. He would send us to our rooms or take away privileges, but he never laid a hand on us. My mom yelled a lot and was definitely the heavy. My dad was much mellower. The result? By high school, my mom could yell and storm all she wanted and I didn’t care, but a simple “I’m very disappointed in you” from my dad could just crush me. YMMV.

I’m also a little lost on where you all live, but I know that if you live in a place where just about darn near everyone is raising their kids in that manner, it’s a much different experience than if you are the only ones on the block doing what you are doing.

I also know that verbal exchanges can be just as painful and at times even more painful than the physical exchanges, because it is so easy to replay in your head the things that are said to you.

I don’t know the answer, but a book on child development might not be a bad idea in general - it’s very helpful to have a guideline and also know that you are not the only people in the world going through what you are going through.

Are there any bicultural churches(if you are church going people?) Sometimes it helps to find other couples in the same situation.