Two mommies? No spanking.

26/11/2007

On Friday my SO came home and told me that she'd had a chat with Frances's mum. We had been expecting this for quite a while, since Frances's mum happens to be English-speaking too (US or Canada, no idea at this point) and since she'd overheard us speaking English, and we'd noticed her too (one does tend to stand out in a pack of Flemish-speaking mothers).

So the discussion launched and at some point, she asked my SO: 'so who are you?' My SO answered: 'I'm V's mum'. At which point Frances's mum fell silent for a minute, and then said: 'who did you say?'

I should explain here that we both bring our little one to school, sometimes together, most days separately (one of us will go in, while the other is at work/home). Obviously Frances's mum is trying to figure out what's going on: who's the blond one, I thought the dark-haired one was the mum...

Likewise, on one of our first visits to our pediatrician's practice, the paed ended the visit with: 'are you the nanny', and then turned all kinds of interesting shades of red (I never noticed that colour does really rise up in your face when you turn red) as she realized her blunder. This is usually inevitably followed up with the 'I have a lesbian friend, my niece is a lesbian, I have other lesbian couples in the practice, etc.' although we have yet to be confronted with the 'I am a lesbian myself' answer.

At any rate, it will be interesting to see if Frances's mum has a lesbian in her closet ;-)

Continuing on the subject, after school, many parents and their children conglomerate in the play area near the school, conveniently located in front of a café, which serves delicious hot cocoa. Zoe's mum happened to drop by our table, and out of the blue said: 'It must be nice to be two mummies.' I was momentarily flummoxed by that statement, but she immediately followed it up with: 'You know, it's quite different with a man around the house. They have a different way of dealing with kids, they're less present, less hands-on.' So much for the 'new man': I guess he hasn't landed at Zoe's house yet.

Which brings me to my next parenting subject: the debate is currently raging in Belgium on whether pedagogical spanking should or should not be prohibited.

As could be expected, most parents feel that their behaviour should not be dictated by the law, whereas the lawmakers' objective is to basically try and reduce child abuse.

Personally, I think there's a long way from one spanking to child abuse (i.e. daily boxing of a child's ears, etc.). That said, I remember being shocked when one of our daycare caregivers slapped one of her twins. I knew that she would never slap my child, but the mere fact that my munchkin was subjected to seeing that and the look of complete non-understanding on V's little face as she witnessed that incident, is still an issue for me.

As a mother of a 3-year old, I can vouch for the fact that there are times when a child can literally drive you insane with indecision and tantrums. Toddlers are the original Vickie Pollard (yeah but, no but).
But I'm always reminded of the episode of Desperate Housewives in which Lynette berates Bree for slapping her children. Finally she has to admit that it did have an effect, using the threat of a spanking from Bree to keep her children in line, without actually spanking herself.

I think that there is a very fine line when it comes to physical discipline: my cousin firmly believes in it (he's a hardliner); but where does the spanking end, when does it become humiliating, when does it influence your memories for life, and does it achieve the desired result. Considering that most people find themselves having to spank again (i.e. it becomes a routine punishment), I have a feeling it doesn't. So we continue down our path of negotiate, explain, compromise, no spankings, and wing it. Because although there are a gazillion parenting manuals out there, the only one that will work is the one endorsed by both parents, which is invented as you go along, through practice.

So here's to a new week of parenting pitfalls.

3 messages:

Siegfried said...

Yeh, spanking is a grey area. Not sure how I feel on the subject. We were hardly smacked as kids. My brother's boarding school had the cane; mine didn't. I'm sure there are other ways to get the msg over, but, I don't condemn those that do do it, so long as it's not excessive.

Lula de Montes said...

I was never spanked either. I was punished twice at school that I can remember and both occurrence are still engraved in my mind.

Mind you, some days even the time-out won't work... So what does one do when faced with a teenager, I wonder?

Siegfried said...

Pray ;-)

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