Ang's FamilyLast night was an unbelievable night. My 10yo daughter Megan accidentally put her hand on a stove burner that had been cooling down after being very hot for a period of time. Dh thought she was fine, and just wanted her to go to bed. We tried that. She said her fingers were hurting worse and turning white.
We ended up in the ER all night treating second-degree burns on her left hand, three of her fingertips. She is glad it is her left and not her right, she is right handed. But she will have to stop teaching herself chords on the guitar for a while I think. Dh was tired and he knew we would be in for a late night, and he'd rather I not make such a fuss. I don't think he believed it was as bad as it was. But after the conversation we had I am about to talk about, he wouldn't fight me.
My 3yo Ashlyn was visibly upset by my older daughter's pain, before we tried going to bed. I don't think my dh caught on. She was then playing in the sandbox on our back screenporch (it was late, she was tired and upset) and she bit her little 1yo brother. Her daddy immediately grabbed her and spanked her butt and sent her to the corner.
I then said that is it. No more. From either of us. He was defensive at first, but I had to talk him through it. I reminded him of a conversation a few weeks ago he had with Megan, saying that he hates to spank her and sometimes she just needs her reset button hit. I reminded him that he said that "Mommy doesn't like spanking, she read all these books when you were a baby, about time out and other things instead. So it takes a lot for her to let me spank you." I reminded him of the conversation last week where I said Ashlyn is already lying, in fear of getting spanked or punished. I think just knowing Megan gets spanked causes her to be afraid. I told him that we spanked because we simply didn't know what else to do. That we have been wrong about a lot of things, like school and obedience and punishment, and that it won't continue.
I told him that he didn't know the 3yo's personality as well as I did, and that upset him. I had to rephrase it to I know her temperament differently than you do. And I never wanted the day to come that she would get spanked, just like with Megan.
He wasn't in the car the day before when this child, my 3yo cried for 45 minutes that she didn't like my sister (her favorite aunt) anymore because she didn't like a toy she gave her. Instead of berating her for being a selfish brat, I let her go on and on until I understood what she was saying. She meant she thought she liked her, but she must not since she treated her badly, and she was upset that she acted that way. She felt bad for acting like she didn't like her, that's why she cried that she didn't like her for 45 minutes.
I spanked Ashlyn once a few weeks ago and immediately hugged her and apologized. I knew it was wrong. I knew that allowing spanking with Megan to continue was wrong. I hated it. He thought it was necessary. I made him take her out of sight of the other kids, it wasn't fair to upset them.
Why I let it continue as long as I did, I'll always regret. Just like I'll regret forcing her to go to school as long as I did. I still lose my temper and yell and scold, but it gets better every day. I am not the tyrant I used to be. I knew being yelled at and verbally berated was wrong and hurtful, that's how I grew up. But it seemed to be the programmed response in me.
It has taken a lot to change those reflexive behaviors, and a lot to admit some of it on an email list. But if it can help break the cycle for someone else or show how much a simple homeschooling method can change lives, I have nothing to hide.
The fact that my daughter somehow still trusts me, knows that I love her, and doesn't want to escape me and go to school is more than I can wrap my mind around. Our family is growing stronger every day, sometimes by trial, but we help each other get through it. Wow.
April 17, 2003
Click here to e-mail Ang
I think your story was very inspirational. You're brave to share and I commend you for the difficult changes you're trying to make. And for your dh for understanding and trying to change too!!
I know how terribly hard it is to undo. I've regretted every time I've lost my temper and I STILL fight the urge to swat a child into submission. Sometimes the head knows things that haven't sunk deep into the heart yet. Anger from childhood still haunts me and rears its ugly head at the damndest times.
Hang in there, you're doing great.
More Parenting Issues for Unschoolers