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BEAT IT
Reading several people's blogs/journals about their childhood with angry fathers made me realize once again how lucky I was. My family wasn't spectacularly dysfunctional, and my dad didn't start drinking until I was a teenager. Or at least I didn't notice the effects until I was a teenager. My parents were spankers, within the limits of reasonableness, until I was about 5-6, then I don't remember being spanked except once, and I deserved it. Seems like everyone got spanked in the 70's :)

We were living in Nebraska so I would have been somewhere around 8-9 years old. We had new neighbors and they had a kid, and we were planning to go over there for dinner or just to hang out. However, my sister and I had been so totally obnoxious at some point during the day that my dad grounded us and we weren't allowed to go. It was summer and a beautiful evening and my sister and I were SO jealous and angry that we didn't get to go (probably because my brother did) and we wanted to meet the new kid. So, while my parents hung out with the new neighbors, right across the street, on the lawn, Sarah and I hung out by the back screen door, where we proceeded to howl and cry at the top of our lungs for about a half an hour, until we saw my father get up from his lawn chair and make his apologies, before turning to come back to the house. We scrambled for our bedrooms. Let me just say, we thought it would be an excellent way to revenge ourselves upon our uncaring and hardhearted parents for leaving us out of things. Bad idea.

The punishment was 50 smacks with a wooden spoon. Each. Nowadays, I think this was horrible, and even then it was like the end of the world, but I still think we deserved it. I don't remember who did the spanking and doubt it was done with any real power behind it, since neither of us was crippled or beaten senseless or anything. I'm pretty sure we didn't actually GET all 50 and I KNOW we never got another spanking. But it definitely made an impression.

After that, we got stood in corners as punishment. Talk about torture. You couldn't sit. You could only slump. Even 15 minutes standing in a corner feels like an hour. If there were two of us being punished for something, which was usually the case, we'd be put in opposite corners where we could occasionally, when dad's attention was elsewhere, sneak our heads around and make faces at each other.

In Sweden, you're not allowed to spank or hit a child. Somewhere, not so long ago, I read an article written by a child psychologist who compared various disciplinary styles to the animal world. Apparently, the majority of the world practices the CAT style of discipline: reaching out a paw and swatting a disbehaving offspring, and then returning to what you were doing without making a big deal out of it. However, in Sweden, she said, the DEER style of discipline is dominant now, because of the laws restricting physical discipline. When a young deer is misbehaving in some way, or engaging in inappropriate behavior, the mother turns her back and ignores her child. It might work for deer, but in humans, the typical response to be ignored is to double your efforts to get attention, and the quickest way to do so is by misbehaving.

I hear a lot of expats in Sweden complain about how rude some Swedish children are and how wild they can be, and why don't their parents DO anything about it? (and I'm guilty myself) There isn't much they CAN do. The kids are growing up knowing there is nothing their parents can do to stop them, essentially, no matter what the children do. I'm in agreement that hitting your children, even as a disciplinary measure, isn't the answer, but I'm not so sure the opposite extreme is, either.
 thoughtful
mood: thoughtful
music: Madonna—Live to Tell


Comments

Reminds me of a spanking I got about 1957, which even today makes an impression on me. One of my little girlfriend's parents had a cabin by a lake and they invited me to go with her for the week-end and go boating and such. For whatever reason, my parents said no, and I was so angry, I went out in the back yard and sat down and proceeded to pull out the grass by the roots. By the time my father came outside, I had pulled out a patch of grass, leaving nothing but bare earth, that was probably about 12" around. My father was very proud of the yard and garden and worked very hard out there. When he saw what I had done, I was taken inside, turned over his knee and given probably 12 smacks with the flat of his hand on my butt. My parents were actually quite humane for the 1950s and we were never hit anywhere but on the buttocks with the bare hand, no hairbrushes, belts, switches and other things that some of my friends got.

well, this WAS an exception. We never got hit elsewhere or with things either. :) The idea of you sitting in a patch of bare earth with a pile of uprooted grass beside you is too funny. The look on your father's face must have been priceless.

I'm with you. I got spanked and don't feel any worse for the wear because of it. I do think there are better approaches, but my parents did the best they could with the knowledge and information they had. I do think child discipline is something completely non-existant in Sweden and it's a real shame. Children know they are in control here and they take full advantage of that.

I agree with you. :) Although, I do have to say that child discipline isn't completely non-existent, because my kids are extremely well-behaved (in public) and we don't spank them :) It's a fine line all the time though when it comes to discipline. We feel very much that we are only in control because they're still too young to know the difference. Another year or so and that will no longer be the case.

I was hit occasionally as a child, but I don't think I ever deserved it. Or at least I can't remember it ever being a punishment - it was something Mom did when she couldn't stand us anymore. It could be our fault, or it could be that she'd had a lousy day at work.

I think the most efficient form of punishment I've ever encountered was disappointment. There were certain adults I just didn't want to disappoint; the sad expressions on their faces were enough for me to go "I'm sorry! I'm sorry!" My first teacher was like that, and my parents definitely are. But I think the problem is that it only works with certain people whose opinions really matter, and a parent/teacher/other adult who doesn't have that presence doesn't stand a chance.

>it was something Mom did when she couldn't stand us anymore. So true! That's one of the hardest things about being a parent sometimes, that immediate feeling of: IF YOU DON'T STOP IT, I'M GOING TO STRANGLE YOU!! and the only thing that makes you feel better is a good swat. Although, since ultimately, it DOESN'T make you feel better, it's never worth it.

I agree that disappointment only works with the people whose opinions matter to the child. It's certainly effective when it DOES work, though :)

I was never spanked. I was slapped once when I was 4, for trying to show my mom I could run faster than an 18-wheeler, though . . but I think she was on autopilot when she did it. I did beat the truck, but it was a stupid idea on my part ;)

My husband on the other hand, was spanked fairly often, by his mother . . yes, even in Sweden. So it does happen here.

We both turned out okay, I think ;) and neither were out of control kids (obviously he was more, since she resorted to spanking, but it was mainly for things like hanging out in barns with alcoholic bums when he was 5, and continuously playing on railroad tracks). A lot of people are posting about this lately, so I might just have to write my own. I personally don't like spanking, and don't plan to use it with my children, but I think that there needs to be a little leniency, because some kids just don't seem to respond to anything else (like in my husband's case).

You raced an 18-wheeler when you were FOUR and beat it?! You and my daughter would get along great! Although I'd probably slap her too, if she did such a thing! Your poor mother!! :) :)

I can't remember when the laws restricting spanking children were put in place here, but I'm pretty sure it was after our generation was out of childhood, so I'm not so surprised about your husband getting spanked as a child. Nowadays, it's pretty much unthinkable here. What in the world was he doing at age FIVE hanging out with alcoholic bums?! That just cracked me up!

Well it was more racing it by running across the street in front of it, not racing it side by side ;) I even said *Look momma, I can run faster than that truck!* before I took off.

The barn story . . Fredde's family lived in a small town and he was allowed to wander around at a very young age (too young in my opinion). There was a barn nearby on some land and Fredde liked going there to play with his toys, until one day his mother went there too and found Fredde sitting and talking to a drunk guy, who had taken up residence there. Fredde was giving him advice and trying to get the guy to stop drinking . . he had been visiting him every day for a few weeks. The guy was apparently harmless, but Fredde still got a spanking for not mentioning it earlier ;D

LOL! I repeat, YOUR POOR MOTHER! :)

I was spanked, once, as a kid. I don't remember when or why, just that it did happen once, and I didn't do whatever caused the spanking after that.

They're as lax about disciplining dogs here as they are about children (and criminals, too, for that matter). Once, last year when he was still a puppy, I caught Pelle doing something he knew he shouldn't have, red-pawed. I was furious at him, and lifted him up by the nape of his neck (like how a mother dog carries her puppies), and as I carried him home that way I got a dirty look and a comment from a person walking by.

Today Pelle is one of the most well-behaved and -trained dogs in our neighborhood.

Go figure.

I only remember about 4 or 5 spankings as a child, but I was pretty hard to handle as well. The funny thing is, both my younger brother and I got the lion's share of spankings in the family because we were too dumb to know better. My father was not the most patient of men with children anyway, and the other two learned how to play him, while the middle sister would just about have hysterics at the thought of spanking, so that was her discipline. But my brother Brad and I were more of the, "Go ahead and hit me, see if I care" type of kids, which shows both brain damage on our part and BAD psychology in dealing with my father, who just said, "Okay" and did it. I think each child needs to be assessed for what works best and oftentimes, when it's your first or second, you just don't KNOW. We don't come with instruction manuals. What worked more than anything with me was being put in my room with the door closed. It just killed me not knowing what was going on out there when I wasn't present. You could beat me black and blue (not that that ever happened), but lock me away from the action, sheer agony for me.

Hey! Yeah! Where ARE those manuals?! Damn slacker tech-writer!!

Probably wouldn't be any good anyway. You know how manual writers are, they just assume you KNOW certain stuff in the beginning, and all us "starters" are left clueless. Most of us need to start from "Turn on the button marked Power".

Yeah, how do parents in Sweden discipline their kids? Do they discipline them at all? There are an awful lot of times that I think that Swedish parents don't do a thing, either out of habit or because the law says what's allowed and what isn't, and nothing is allowed, so they seem to do nothing. But then I don't think a lot of American parents discipline their kids, either, though I always get the sense that their not doing so stems from laziness or not wanting to be a stodgy authority figure.

I was beaten as a child. Not just spanked, but abused. I don't advocate it, as it just breeds fear. However, a slap on the hand to get a kid not to touch a hot stove? That I have no problem with. A quick slap to the bum? Not much of a problem with that, either. Belt, boards, wooden spoons, or other implements, now those I have a problem with.

Calle had no physical punishment as a child, and tells me that only once did his mother ever hit him, when he was about 14 and called her a bitch. Yeah, I'd say that was deserved, and he knows it was. Beyond that, they seem to have just treated him like a human being and expected him to behave like one, and he's turned out just fine.

I hasten to add that punishment and abuse are two different things, but the problem with the Swedish system is that there is no line drawn. And this is another one of (a long list of) the reasons why I'm not having children.

I can't even imagine what you must have gone through. What's amazing to me is how many people I know who were abused as children and have turned out to be the most caring, wonderful, straightforward, intelligent adults (like you, for one).

>that punishment and abuse are two different things, but the problem with the Swedish system is that there is no line drawn.
I think it's actually more true of the American system, that there is no line drawn between punishment and abuse. The Swedish system actually does draw a line, if you think about it. The line says that ANY physical discipline IS abuse and not allowed.

Most parents I know here have swatted their children at some point, although they certainly don't do it frequently or in public. Discipline tends to take the form of withholding privileges, since that's pretty much all that's left to parents to use. We tend to use a combination of threats, withholding privileges, ignoring behavior, talks and reasoning (which doesn't always work with very young children), time outs, and repetition of statements concerning what is and isn't acceptable. So far, it's working for us. :) But I wouldn't call it easy. Although, I wouldn't think that parenting is easy NO MATTER WHAT.

I also agree that physical punishment is not the answer...and neither is the other extreme. Personally its not that swedish parents dont do anything physical...its that they dont do anything at all (like the deer I guess..haha). Like Sannas parents...it seems they set no boundries and are never consistent in what she is and is not allowed to do. And they are so freaking PASSIVE about everything it makes me want to pull my hair out (mostly when Sanna is only occasionally left with me or us (linus and I) and well quite frankly..I hate it because we DO set boundries EVERY time shes here but since its so seldom this just creates confusion and crankiness for her). There was a time when I was watching Sanna on a regular basis (sara was ill and her father was unavailable). It was tough in the beginning because the lack of boundries and consistency but after just a week of being with me every day her behavior greatly improved but she of course was still allowed to be a child. My idea of good behavior is not sitting quietly because ha...kids are kids and they're not meant to sit and play quietly. Theyre supposed to be rowdy and wild but with (at least I think) limits.

I remember one thing in particular...at Sannas house she can take beverages wherever she wants. Several months ago her coordination was greatly worse than it is now (she was closer to 2 then). Did her parents have a cup with a lid? of course not! haha..Well..when she was here I told her she could have the cup without the lid but had to drink it in the kitchen. She at first greatly protested but after 5 minutes accepted this and all was right with the world.

Im aware this is just an opinion and while being passive and 'swedish' might work for your average swedish parents (or any other parents for that matter) it certainly is not going to work well in this house...err..apartment. (and can you imagine that Linus agrees?!)

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