Wednesday, September 25, 2013

How I'm not the Boss of My One Year Old

This is in response to the post, How to be the Boss of a One Year Old.  I figure it would be appreciated if I didn't slam a combox but rather posted my responses here.

First let me say I appreciate that this is how you do things and that you think it's fine that others do something different.  Most people write posts with the intention of saying "you're a bad parent if you don't do it my way."  I'm only writing this to offer a few constructive criticisms and considerations.  That's it.

Bill Cosby often jokes that his wife is "the boss."  I've always found this phrase funny as in comical but in real world applications unsuitable.  


Well if you mean boss as in charge of things.  Sure.  I am.  And yes, I have to answer to God and the government if I don't do my job well.  And yes, I can be fired from it.  But what about my house makes it a Fortune 500 company?  By this logic if I'm the boss than my children are my employees or subordinates.  I mean is my one year old earning his keep?  If my one year old is my subordinate does that mean I can fire him?  And what would firing my one year old look like?  Would it be turning him out into the cold?

So see me being the Boss is strange to me.  I'd rather think that the Catechism gets it right when we are called the primary teachers.

Oh, DF.  You're being too stiff

Perhaps I am.  But it's an attitude shift when you view yourself as Boss-parent versus teacher-parent.  I mean what does a boss do anyway.  Give directions of what to do.  But a teacher-parent is there to teach a child morality and independence and yes, not to touch Fabrige eggs (although I would move the egg because I don't believe one years have quite the impulse control capabilities or memory of older children).  Bosses do some of that too.  But you remain under a boss (unless you move up in the company).  My children aren't going to leave exactly.  They will always remain my children and in some ways under my tutelage even as adults.  It's called being a mentor.  Can bosses do that?  Some do.  It depends on the job.  Teacher is a very specific thing., not so much.  You can even "be your own boss."

Physical discomfort is how God chose to discourage certain behaviors. It's bad for me to burn myself or eat a whole pie, so God made it physically uncomfortable for me to do those things. So, I think it's appropriate to use a similar technique for my children who are too young for other punishments to be effective.

That I don't think is theologically correct.  If God chose to discourage behavior with physical discomfort that would not explain 1) that children who are born without that ability are somehow able to learn not to touch hot things 2) Jesus endured physical discomfort but yet, he is God and perfect.  Why would he need to be discouraged from certain behaviors?  and 3) I wasn't aware that God was the God of punishment but rather justice and mercy and love.  It sounds more like physical discomfort is for punishment rather than being about protection.  Because children who feel no pain have to be taught how to protect themselves from things they can't feel.

Why do young children need punishments in the first place?  If they are too young to be effective, why inflict them?   Why is only physical punishment the only appropriate recourse?  Can't redirection be equally as affective given their development?

Just curious...

As for spanking we all know how I feel about that one.  I disagree with it entirely.  It's not logical to tell my 3 year old not to hit his brother and than hit him back as punishment.  I will also say that I base how I raise my children on both experience and science.  It's just logical for me.  There are numerous studies that say that children who are spanked are more aggressive not less.  There are studies that suggest that children who are spanked are more likely to be depressed as adults.  I'm sure you've read some.  But I just wanted to bring that up.

Now people can claim all they want to, but I can tell you being spanked as a child does damage to you as an adult.  This is first hand knowledge.  I can also tell you that my children, who are not spanked, are normal children.  They get into trouble and they also are affectionate people.  They understand right from wrong in age appropriate capacities.  I don't demand of my children more than I think they can handle.  It's a complete fallacy for people to assume that children who are not constantly punished or spanked turn into horrible mass murderers or are disrespectful children.  I'm not saying you said that.  But a lot of pro-spankers believe that.  So I wanted to say that upfront before people start saying junk like that.

I appreciate that you talk about your very personal life.  I just wanted to offer an alternative view as I believe every parental decision should be made with discernment and looking at all sides of the equation. 


  1. I agree with most of what you said. As for anti spanking, I think there's spanking as a form of discipline and spanking in anger. How would you teach a child not to run in the street or touch a hot stove. I understand redirecting for younger children but when a child is about to touch a hot stove my first reaction would be a hand slap. Better they experience the sting of my hand than the burn of a hit stove.

    With that said I have an autistic daughter where many forms of discipline would not work with her. I absolutely agree that redirection is what is best for her and many other children. I also feel that it's silly to worry what your child thinks if they get spanked because they hit their sibling. You don't need to defend your actions to a child. You are the parent and sometimes that means you do things as a form of correcting poor behavior. You are spanking out of correction or discipline not to intentionally hurt someone because you felt like it or because they took a toy. A child hitting another person is completely different from a parent spanking as a form of discipline.

    I also really think you should be careful with the research or studies you found on the harm spanking does to children when they become teens or adults. Yes I'm sure some people who were spanked as children have emotional issues as adults but I think it's the type of spanking. Spanking as abuse and spanking in correction are very different. When I was spanked as a child, my mother always made sure we knew the reason and she would always reassure us of her love for us.

    I think Like Mother Like Daughter says it so much better than I can in regards to spanking. Like I said I definitely agree with most of your post and I spank as a last resort and never in anger. I always use time outs or redirection as a first option.


    1. Love your questions. Truly.

      I asked myself the same questions when I knew spanking was not for us. And Dr. Sears answered it. To give a brief summary, you save screaming for imminent danger situations. Sears yells "Freeze" when his children start heading to the street for example. He and his wife also teach his children the differences between cold and hot.

      These sorts of strategies have worked wonderfully well. One of my youngest child's first words was "hot." If he tried to touch something hot, I would just say it was hot and then move him some place else. If I have one child, we follow the "you have to either hold my hand or let me carry you" when in the parking lot. If I have two, the youngest automatically goes from the car to the stroller. The older one, who is three, used to be a big runner, but now all I have to do is give him instructions. He was taught early on to watch for cars. And if I tell him to stay close or hold the stroller, he will. He actually lets me know if he sees a car. It sorta was a game for a while.

      Autistic children come in all shapes and sizes so if a parent asked me what to do, I would tell them to talk to their child's pediatrician, or therapist, or teacher. I'm not a child psychologist but even if I were I wouldn't diagnose over a computer since I can't make any observations.

      I always worry about what my children think. Their feelings matter. They are people. I'm their parent, the one they should be able to come to when they need to deal with their feelings. Otherwise who are they going to if not me? Someone who may not have their best interests in mind?

      And I do have to answer to them as an adult. They may ask why when thinking of their own children.

      Plus how is a child supposed to know the difference? Hitting looks like hitting to me. My oldest likes to wack his brother over taking a toy. If I wacked a child for taking a toy and then took it back, isn't that the same thing? What's the point of spanking if not to intentionally hurt someone? Doesn't spanking inflict physical pain? I'm confused.

      A lot of people bring up the "correct" way of spanking. My parents weren't abusive people. I can't for the life of me get how intentionally causing pain doesn't have any residual affects even if only for the short term. I also can't understand why people would use it when there are so many other alternatives. Daycare centers don't even use it anymore. Entire nations have outlawed. They seem just fine without it.

      I suppose the largest question I have to ask is why? Why do you want to cause some physical pain on purpose? Do we hit the elderly? the disabled? each other? Why should it be any different for children?

  2. It just sounds like we have a profoundly different worldview here. I consider that God gave my children to me on purpose, and that I therefore have a duty and responsibility to love and care for them and keep them in order, in much the same WAY that a boss might take charge of a company. But to read a lot into a particular word choice that was based on a funny Mickey Mouse comic I happened upon doesn't seem all that useful.

    I think children are damaged by willful neglect and lack of love, never by calm and loving discipline. My children are loved. They are also really well behaved, which affords us the ability to do some really fun stuff as a family. But mostly they are happy and well adjusted and loved.

    1. Yes, I suppose we do. I see that God entrusted my children to me. They aren't my property. They are His. I have to ultimately answer to Him. My job is to just to teach them. I think often times parents view children as property that belongs to them. They get wrapped up in whether others view them as a "bad parent" for behaviors that children are creating. What I mean by that is there is this whole blame game if your child turns into a drug addict or even if your child throws a fit in the grocery store. I have no real control over how my child feels or thinks or any of that. Heck I have bad days too. Parents shouldn't disillusion themselves to think they have that much control over their children or that their children can't have bad days. So I follow a gentle philosophy. My kids are human; they make mistakes. I let them and in turn they learn from them.

  3. I found your blog on Catholic All Year. We parent much the same way as you do...I try very hard to be gentle in my discipline. I fail everyday...but that style of parenting comes most natural for me (and my kids are still generally well-behaved and I can take them anywhere, etc.)

    1. Thanks for commenting. I fail too. But then I remind myself that that's part of it too. Teaching forgiveness is so important and what better way than to model it.

  4. I too see myself as my children's teacher. I really don't understand why so many Christians cling to physical discipline as if one can't be a Christian without spanking.

    On how to teach a child not to touch hot things? My husband and I drink hot tea almost 24/7. From as soon as our children could reach out we would say "No, hot, owie!" and mime a pained face. They got it. When my oldest was a little over a year old he saw his first open fire. He started running toward it and I said, "No! Hot! Owie!" and he stopped dead in his tracks with a look of fear on his face. Hitting a child, no matter how controlled the situation, is hitting another person, plain and simple. My child is a whole human being, not an extension of me.

    Also, I read somewhere that parental spanking followed by hugging and comforting can lead to bedroom spanking fetishes in adults. When children are young they are forming neural pathways and they will end up equating spanking with emotional connection. Just something to think about.

  5. So.....I did my own blog about this topic. Here it is.

  6. I know this is an old post, but from a mom of six, I want you to know that you are right on. I can't imagine ever slapping little hands, or punishing a toddler or a baby (because I still consider a one year a baby!) by putting them in a crib to cry till they are "happy". Thanks for speaking out, it makes me sad that others are following this misguided advice. (And BTW, I had six kids, all different personalities and they are good kids-kids who respect others, even at a young age. Kids who have never gotten into trouble at school not even once, kids who know how to behave well in church and do so, etc.) They would never hit someone, and if they saw a little one crying they would want to comfort them. I've had kids spread out in age and I can't imagine what my older kids would do if I slapped their little siblings hands, or set them in a room to cry-what a sad environment to live in.)

  7. I realize this is old, but I felt compelled to say something. As a parent, I am more along the lines of Kendra. However, there are different ways of parenting and you should do what you feel is best for your kids... That being said. Kendra expressed that she doesn't think you're wrong if you do things differently than she does. I found your response not only disrespectful but also it felt like you read her post ready to argue since you looked way too deeply into the use of the word "boss." I just thought you should know how you sound.

    1. "I realize this is old, but I felt compelled to say something."

      Yes, this post is old. The child in question is now five years old.

      "As a parent, I am more along the lines of Kendra. However, there are different ways of parenting and you should do what you feel is best for your kids..."

      Yes, there are. This was the point of the post. Rather than writing a lengthy post on her original blog post, I wrote my alternative point of view here.

      "That being said. Kendra expressed that she doesn't think you're wrong if you do things differently than she does."

      This was not the impression. I had been reading her blog for a long time and this was one post among many lecturing Catholic women on how to raise children. Over time she realized that it sounded like a lecture rather than offering an insight into how she parents so she hasn't really written much in this style.

      " I found your response not only disrespectful but also it felt like you read her post ready to argue since you looked way too deeply into the use of the word "boss." I just thought you should know how you sound."

      Very well. Perhaps I could have privately stated my views to her about the tone of her writing. I could have let it go, but I didn't. It doesn't matter. I thought I was respectful in that I didn't turn her combox into a boxing ring, but decided to state my view point and let it go. She was free to read or not.

      I'm not sure why four years later (or so) you think I should know how I sound. Odd.


I love to read your thoughts. Thanks for sharing!