CNF (the magazine, not the movement) just posted an unusual call—unusual in that it is last-minute—seeking stories exploring experimental boundaries. Deadline: June 4th. (I am making up that means they didn’t get what they need yet.) They urge writers to explore the loaded value of the words experimental and boundaries.
In context of our conversation about verbal abuse, one brave soul confided: “I spanked my daughter when she wouldn’t behave, and it worked. I’ve decided to keep spanking her.”
Certainly, spanking your child could reduce, even eliminate, whatever behavior is:
- driving you nuts;
- embarrassing you in public or in front of relatives; and/or
- preventing you from doing what you want to do, finally, for ten minutes, finally, to yourself.
Yep, spanking might work. While they are young and small.
The problem is, a child is destined to grow. Their sense of self and their personal power will strengthen. Each and every hit lays down a layer of fear on the child’s part, fear that is matched or exceeded by anger. Compile those layers like a lasagna, and the child is likely to:
- short-term take out their anger on smaller siblings and/or friends. This does not make for a child who is asked back for playdates. This makes for a lonely child; and
- long-term realize she or he no longer fears you. Good luck to you, in those teen years.
So let’s stop whacking them around, shall we? When I want to smack a child, I make sure to put the child in a safe place and keep at least ten feet between the little shit and myself. I keep the distance until I can again see that child as acting their age in response to a situation set up by the adult in charge.
Should I be the alleged adult allegedly in charge, I apologize.
K. from Seattle asks: You’ve mentioned having “epically screwy” parents. Sometimes I think the reason I’ve never married is because I would never want to subject a spouse to the unpleasantness of interaction with my family. What is your relationship with your parents now and how does that affect your relationship with your husband?
My Dear K,
I am tempted to think of you as Tommy Lee Jones in Men in Black, the first “old guy” I ever found sexy. I will refrain.
It is entirely human to respond to dysfunction by avoiding any connection with anyone or any thing that might bring about more dysfunction; marriage being one of them. Too bad it means you might die lonely.
My relationship with my parents is governed by clear boundaries. My relationship with my husband is affected when I let slip my boundaries. Good boundaries are the reason my marriage is not a repeat of my parents’. Good boundaries are the reason my children can be descended from the mentally ill and the pedophilic without me having to worry that they will be similarly afflicted. Good boundaries are the reason you can trust I am not fantasizing about Tommy Lee Jones when I said I wouldn’t.
I can’t say enough about developing good boundaries. Here is where go when I feel them slipping.