Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Dear Carolyn: My husband and I have a toddler who has never been spanked. We have differing views. Hes old-school and thinks kids need a spanking occasionally. I both abhor the idea of hitting my child and fear I might take things too far if I dont draw a bright line in the sand that our family doesnt hit. Im not a violent person and I have never gotten in fights, but I used to really take my younger sibling to task when she got on my nerves.
We did discuss this pre-child, but we remember the outcome of that conversation quite differently (which probably signals its own set of issues). Any advice? Hes not someone who finds the research says compelling.
That in itself is cause for concern. The research is an idea that warrants skepticism, certainly, because it has been used to justify all kinds of contradictory things over the years. Still, taking a dismissive position is different from being skeptical. That has more than a whiff of his thinking his way is right and everyone else science, you can stuff it.
And thats a problem especially when it comes to raising kids, for two main reasons: (1) He is not a sole parent, hes a co-parent, and he doesnt get to act unilaterally. If he wont take anything you care about into account, then hes starting out your childs emotional education by undermining half of his/her emotional world. Thanks, Pops.
(2) Kids personalities, temperaments and needs arent one-size-fits-all, and an arrogant or overly certain parent is going to miss the fact that being flexible can sometimes be more right than being right.
I realize this is all warning and no advice so far, but the warning is why its time to tell him you feel very strongly here about the spanking issue in particular, and the need for compromise, flexibility and mutual respect as co-parents in general. Say youd like to reopen the topic with him. This isnt about getting your way parents will disagree on things its about getting your due respect. Spell that out for him, too.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Chat online at 10 a.m. Fridays at www.washingtonpost.com.