Boyfriend spanked my son without my permission. Advice on how to chew him out most effectively?

Hi all, longtime lurker and very seldom poster. I’m a little shy and I feel incredibly awkward starting a thread about this, but I need some advice. I’m sorry I don’t know how to make this any more concise:

Boyfriend and I have been together for 4 years, living together for 3. I have 1 son and he has 2 daughters. We are both very devoted to our kids and work hard to keep a positive dynamic in our blended family. He has his kids 50% of the time and my son’s dad is not in the picture so littledorky is with us 100% of the time.

A little over a year ago, my son’s behavior was a little unruly and he was doing some things (acting out in class, et c) which I found unacceptable. My boyfriend, as my partner, is my sounding board. So I talked to him about the issue, sought his advice, and told him my position on things. Basically, my position was that I thought some of his behavior warranted possible corporal punishment. Here’s the gist of what I said:

     "I'm afraid I might have to usher in an era of spankings to deal with this. I'm not comfortable with you doing it, and I don't know if I'll ever be"

He okd and mmhmmd and understood at the time. Problem solved. Fast forward almost two years later. I work weekends and he has the kids. They have a great time, do stuff, go places, and play together. Last night, I come home from work and things are fine for hours. Then I settle in with my son, who tells me that he did not have a good day because he got a spanking for hitting one of the other kids with a toy hammer (a metal toy hammer !).

After the kids went to bed I told my boyfriend that I was incredibly upset about this, as I had specifically requested he NOT do that very thing. I said that my son’s action was unacceptable but not the issue. That he should have called me, emailed me, or shouted it from the hills. That the fact he didn’t stop to do this says to me he acted in anger when he hit my kid. I asked how he would feel if I did that to one of his kids, whom I don’t even feel comfortable sending to time out. Further, he didn’t tell me, and wasn’t going to tell me, about what happened. Instead, I had to hear it from my 6 year old.

I am the type of person who needs to get something aired out or I stew and it becomes dark and horrible. But last night, I surprised myself because I was so incredibly angry that I thought it unwise to discuss this any further. I mean, I was so angry that when he was very genuinely saying, “I’m sorry”, it was like he wasn’t even talking. I couldn’t even accept that, it meant nothing to me.

We’ll have to talk about it soon. I need him to recognize what he did, not just to littledorky, but to me. But I do appreciate his massive contribution and valued presence in my son’s life. I respect and admire him immensely as a parent and he does care for my son a great deal. I don’t want to diminish that. I just need help working out what to say so that it’s effective. I tend to come apart and ramble or withdraw when it’s a Big Deal. I have prepared a statement:

"I am still very angry and hurt about yesterday. I pretty much said everything I needed to say, but I would like to add this: what you did made me feel that you have no respect for me as a parent. It also made me feel like I can’t trust you with my son. I don’t want to diminish your importance or my appreciation for your part in our lives, but I can’t be with someone who makes me feel this way. I need to know that you hear where I’m coming from and that you take it seriously. I also need to know that this will never happen again. "
I really don’t know what to say to him. Is the above saying it well at all? I’m at work so I may not reply quickly but I will as soon as I’m able. Thanks!

Be delicate and lady like. As in “Touch my kid again wthout my consent and I’ll rip your nuts off and feed them to the cat.”

I’m not sure what I’d have a bigger problem with - him spanking my child or him planning on not telling me about it.

I really don’t know how you should handle your anger. The man is essentially your boy’s dad by virtue of living in the house all these years. you indicated you thought spanking might be appropriate, though you would want to be the one to administer it. You don’t know exactly what transpired, what your son’s attitude was, that made him react in the spur of the moment, rather than wait for you to come home.

I can only say, from my perspective, a quick swat in the heat of the moment may make a better impression on your son as to the danger and inappropriateness of hitting someone with a metal hammer, than a gap of many hours and a calm spanking. I remember very clearly the times I was spanked as a child, and I changed my behavior after each one. I learned my lesson. Seeing how angry I had made my mom, and my teacher, was 50% of the lesson. I simply had no idea how wrong my actions had been until I saw these two women I loved very much react out of fear and anger towards me. I knew I never wanted that to happen again, so I never did anything that stupid again. If they had waited until they had calmed down, and then matter-of-factly swatted me, I doubt it would have had the same lasting impact.

And for the record, we are talking a swat…not a beating. Three quick swats to a clothed bottom. Once with a paddle, once with a hand.

Cut your guy some slack. Unless he beat the boy bloody, I’m sure the child had pushed him past a limit. Your reacting badly to the punishment may set up in your son’s mind that he didn’t do anything so bad, if you don’t think he should have been punished. And he may not learn the lesson the swat was designed to teach.

The timeline in the OP makes no sense. You say you had the spanking conversation a year ago, then you fast forward two years…which I think means you expect the boyfriend to spank your child in November, 2011.

Also think you’re blowing this way out of proportion. He didn’t injure or abuse the child. He spanked the child, with good cause. Maybe he shouldn’t have done that without your consent, but it’s not a huge deal.

Wait, you are willing to spank your own biological child, but not to let your long-term, live-in, effectively co-parenting boyfriend do it?

And you feel uncomfortable disciplining “his” kids?

You do need to talk, but I think it’s an even bigger conversation that you need to have than the one you’re envisioning now.

It’s probably worth talking about whether spanking is an appropriate or effective disciplinary response (especially for hitting), but the conclusion should apply to both of you, not just him.

If you’re not comfortable sharing the disciplinary role with this guy who is apparently serving as a father in every other important way, I don’t know how the two of you and the kids can expect to share a household.

Basically you want to make it clear to him that no matter how long he lives with you, or helps raise your kids with you, they will never be HIS kids and he shouldnt do anything about them that you havent approved. Right?


What spark said. You do realize that the kid your son hit with a metal hammer was your live-in boyfriend’s daughter, right?

Prettydorky, sounds like you’re in a bit of a rough patch. I hope you and your family can navigate your way through it and often it is time alone that can deflate the pressure from the situation.

I hope this thread doesn’t devolve into the Spanking: Pros and Cons debate which usually brings out extremists from the outer fringes. I do have one question though.

You clearly have a very firm stance against corporal punishment. Didn’t your boyfriend know that spanking your kid was going to bring about this reaction?

If the only discussion you had on this matter was more than a year ago which you acknowledge that your boyfriend appeared to be only partially listening to –typical male behavior, of course- you can’t have expected him to know that he had crossed a line you so vehemently hold dear.

I’m not defending his actions.

YET- he might be surprised at your thermal-nuclear reaction if you had never conveyed to him your stance on this very important matter.

I bring this up with utmost respect in what I know is a delicate matter.

I’m sorry you’re upset but I’m not seeing the reason he needed to contact you first. Or for telling you afterward for that matter. He’s the acting father and has been for three years. Unless he beat the child, it seems appropriate for the offense. Hitting other children with a toy metal hammer is dangerous.

Yeah, dorky, I’m with spark and bucketybuck. You call yourself a blended family in your OP, but apparently your son is encountering different discipline from you than from his father figure. I don’t really give a shit why you’re not married, but understand that your live-in boyfriend is, for all intents and purposes, your son’s stepdad.

Consistency is key when parenting children. You’re doing your son and boyfriend both a huge disservice if your son will get different punishments from you than from him. How is he not respecting you as a parent (paraphrasing from your prepared statement @ the end) if he’s meting out the same punishments as you?

I have to agree with some of the thoughts expressed previously. It doesn’t sound like child abuse, the child severely misbehaved and caused injury (or could have) to another child, in the heat of the moment I think most parents would react the same. Also, I don’t think him ignoring it until speaking to you would not have made an impression on the kid.

I see another issue here. “My kid”, “his kids”, you don’t feel comfortable displining his and you don’t want him taking a parent’s role and disciplining yours, even though he is obviously a father figure. This doesn’t sound well-blended to me.

You shouldn’t chew out your S.O., just discuss with him why it bothered you and work out how to deal with these things in the future, but keep in mind “you can’t discipline my kid” is probably not the way to go.

I don’t know about this. Let’s pretend that they’re both the boy’s biological parents for a second. Would it be okay if they had had a spanking conversation in which she had expressed it as a possibility but had big doubts about it, he had agreed, and then he had spanked the kid and not told her about it?
It still wouldn’t be okay. The my kid/your kid dynamic just makes it worse.

You’re being kind of absurd. You have essentially made a household with your SO and as a practical matter he is the defacto authority figure when you are not onsite. You have been living together for 3 years, and he is not a stranger to your son. If disciplining each other’s children is still so uncertain at this stage you really have only yourselves to blame. You need to have some practical real world guidelines for discipline. Expecting him to text or call you for permission to discipline you son every time some immediate and dangerous issue needs to be dealt with is crazy.

If you are really that wound up about your onsite SO of three years and the defacto onsite “dad” for this kid for spanking him for hitting another kid with metal hammer, I think you need to sit down and look at your priorities. A young child who is acting out in a truly dangerous manner, and hurting other kids by striking them is exactly the scenario that immediate corporal punishment should be used. He’s not your housekeeper or your son’s nanny, he’s effectively his dad. You trust him to live with you, make love to you, and share a life with you, but you don’t trust him to know when it’s appropriate to apply corporal punishment?

By all indications in your post what he did was exactly the right thing to do. Your kid was being a dangerous, out of control brat, and had to be stopped and disciplined. Your methods have apparently not worked in getting this kid to behave. That’s you’re winding the drama up to 11, and he’s being set up as the bad guy on this is astounding. The problem is you and your ludicrous expectations, not him.

He did agree not to spank her son, though. If he agreed to something they’d obviously had a serious discussion about, then didn’t follow it, it’s a problem. People decide they don’t want to spank all the time, and if they agreed they weren’t going to do it, then one parent unilaterally decided to spank their child without informing the other, it would probably start an argument in most families.
The fact that he didn’t tell the OP about it indicates to me that he probably knew damned well that she was going to be pissed off. So, rather than defend his actions to her by telling her about it and telling her why he deemed it a necessary spanking, he didn’t say anything, which just makes things worse.

He did make that agreement, and that’s where my sticking point with this is. But without further information, it sounds like it wasn’t a long thought out decision that he mulled over. It sounds like he was in react mode and doing what he felt necessary to protect his bio kid RIGHT NOW. Not that swift emotional reactions are a wise way to parent, but if the situation were dire, I can’t blame him.

What exactly is a metal toy hammer anyway? I would think that a toy hammer would be plastic.

Ditto to what others have said upthread about the relationship between the kids and the parent-figures.

Just for a moment turn this around: If *his *daughter had taken a metal hammer to *your *son in your sight, while the boyfriend was off at work, what would you have done?

I mostly agree with this. I think it would be problematic, in this instance, for the guy not to have told her that he resorted to spanking the kid because this was the first instance when such a sever punishment was invoked (by sever, I’m talking about in terms of what appears to be the OP’s situation, not necessarily spanking itself).

I think he should have told her about the spanking and the offense. I would want to know if my wife spanked our daughter for hitting someone with a metal hammer.

The spanking discussion was nearly two years ago. Presumably the relationship has changed and deepened during that time. Prettydorky, had you all had any other discussion of discipline since then? What sorts of discussions have you had more generally about each other’s roles in parenting the other’s children?