Thursday, September 4, 2008

My wish

I wonder.

Does every person who has been blessed with the responsibility of a child wish, at some point, that there were an all-inclusive "Owner's Manual"?

Seth is our utmost delight. I doubt we will ever know a greater joy than to raise him (and any subsequent siblings he may be blessed with).

But he is trying us right now.

Oh, I doubt it's intentional. But it doesn't change the reality.

And I wonder: do we know what to do, and when, and how? (And I'll confess, my focus tonight is on the matter of discipline.)

I read a message board post earlier this evening about a mother who spanked her eight-month-old daughter. Now granted, I know NONE of the details, and what was in the post was only one person's observations, but the responses were overwhelmingly fierce:

"What a horrible mother!"

"That poor baby -- she doesn't even understand 'no' yet, now she has to process abuse!"

"You need to report her to CPS, pronto!!!"

And I have to pause.

I doubt it is a secret that Jim and I believe in the benefits of a loving (yes, loving) spanking. A firm swat to the behind when said child willfully disobeys. And that's all I'm going to say about that at this point, because Jim and I need to have some more "make-sure-we're-on-the-same-page" discussions before I can proclaim a concrete Gregory family mandate.

But the question that is holding me captive tonight is, when does a child's behavior shift to willful? I am confident that many of Seth's actions are now intentional, but I'm not sure that at 9 months, they are willfully defiant.

If they're not, what is the most effective way to protect him? Because, really, isn't that what a reprimand would be about anyway?

"No, that's HOT!" = I don't want you to burn yourself.

"Don't chew on that!" = I don't want you to be electrocuted.

"No, don't eat that" = I don't want you to choke.

"No, you may not have M&M's, Suzy Q's, and chocolate pudding for breakfast everyday." = I don't want you to get sick. (Obviously, this is for later. Seth hasn't been asking for M&M's yet.)

And if his behaviors (the "bad" ones, not all) ARE already his sin nature rearing its ugly head, what then? Does he understand "no"? He definitely listens when we speak it to him firmly. He'll even pout some times....but just as often, he just gives us his goofy grin. If he doesn't understand "no," than is our only recourse going over to him, physically moving his hand/removing from his mouth/pulling his body away from the no-no, and hoping that he somehow "gets it"?

I don't know.

I just don't know.

And that's why I wonder:

Does every person who has been blessed with the responsibility of a child wish, at some point, that there were an all-inclusive "Owner's Manual"?


Sara said...

In one word, "YES!" We all wish that we dive into the brains of our children at one point or another. We all doubt our methods numerous times, sometimes numerous times in one yesterday at my house. What's funny is just when you think you have it figured out, the child changes & that form of discipline doesn't work any more. And what works for one child, may not work for your second. It's a long, hard road but just thinking what you & Jim are thinking right now, shows that you're on the right path. *hugs*

amy (metz) walker said...

I don't have the owner's manual for sure, but I do believe in, like you said, disciplining in love and I definitely think that kid's can be willful at even such a young age.

Actions equal consequences and I don't think Seth would be scared by a light swat when he is doing something wrong or dangerous. We learn by association...and he'll definitely get the picture.

It is weird admitting that I think this way out loud b/c it sounds horrible but I really do believe in it. I got spankings...and I definitely needed them!

Katherine@Raising Five said...

Funny how decline in the use of "un-PC" methods of parenting correlates remarkably with the rise in number of really badly behaved kids. Makes one ponder.

Just wanted to stop in and say hello and thanks for introducing yourself! Seth is a cutie pie! And I know I'd like you because I love a good Sonic Cherry Limeade! I'm looking forward to getting to know you!