Erica is a writer, editor, wife, and mom. She has always found employment with an English degree and she excels at nurturing children and animals but struggles to keep houseplants alive. Erica currently writes at SidewaysQ.com

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When Discipline Becomes Anger & Creates Fear

I was perusing Facebook this morning, reading many variations of “I’m snowed in with my kids,” when I saw a news piece posted by a friend.

Hot Saucing on Dr. Phil

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZaR0yA_QZ7M

This mom was on Dr. Phil, asking for help disciplining her child.  It was part of a “Mommy Confessions” segment, so I assume she knows she’s gone too far if she’s feeling the need to confess.

But still, my blood ran cold.  There are several things on my mind.

This woman adopted this little boy from Russia.  She chose this child, and now she’s choosing to show him anger and pain.  It would have been very typical for him to experience pain and abuse in a Russian orphanage.  He should not have that sort of life when a family chooses him and vows to protect him.

I have several friends who adopted children from Russia, and it’s not easy.  The kids have a really hard time trusting, loving and connecting to their families.  It’s frustrating for everyone.  It’s a major decision to take on these children with obstacles which must be met with love, love and more love.

The fact that this boy was adopted from a non-English speaking country speaks volumes for his behavior.  If you were seven, raised in an orphanage, adopted into a new country and trying to learn English, wouldn’t you be frustrated and rebellious?  The entire idea of trusting people is foreign to this boy, and then he enters a house where…well, I don’t see a feeling of trust when I watch this video segment.

Also, the mom only states consequences to his bad choice rather than repeating what a GOOD choice would be.  She might have tried this approach 50 times without success, but that’s just part of parenting.  Repetition and consistency even when you feel insane.

Now, I admit that I’ve spanked my kid.  To me that’s different because it comes after he’s been openly defiant…after many warnings, a time-out and a talk about choices.  Then comes a calm spank followed by a hug.

Mother comforting child

Have I felt out-of-control around my kids before?  Yes.  I don’t think any parent questions that feeling.  But it’s what you do in that moment that matters.  Don’t react with children in that moment.  Walk out the front door and cry for five minutes.  Or call your partner and say, “Come home now.”  Or send your kid to his room until you can work out a calm plan of action.  Acting on out-of-control is a bad choice.  Hm, I wonder if hot sauce will make an out-of-control mom snap out of it.

What I see in this video is fear by both the mom and the boy.  Maybe this is what gets me, because I think everything bad in the world comes back to Fear.  Maybe she’s fearful of failure or of not being in control.  The boy is now fearful of his family but I don’t think that will motivate him not to throw pencils at school.  Lying?  Hells yes.  I’d lie, too, if I knew hot sauce and a cold shower were waiting for me.

Watching this video reminds me that closed doors hide a lot of junk.  I know about a baby girl whose family beat her to death with rocks (they were convicted), and about a little deaf boy whose parents left him in soiled pants for days as punishment when he wasn’t potty trained (my mom gave him clean pants every day, but this was 20 years ago before people got authorities involved in “private” matters).  These stories are in the news and they’re also hidden from public eyes, all over the world.

My prayer is that this mom doesn’t go to jail.  I hope she receives counseling.  I hope the boy receives a new home, whether it’s literally a different home or, even better, his current home with a new heart.  I hope in twenty years he looks his kid in the eye, asks for the truth, deals with him calmly and gives many, many hugs.  I hope he trusts.  And loves.  Loves.  Loves.

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Comments (5)

  1. Pingback: Have You Spanked Your Child? « « TodaysMama TodaysMama

  2. Cara O. Hartman 02/07/2011 at 9:22 am

    All done with good special effects yuk..But when a local police deputy turns up the film takes a weird turn a turn for the worst..After starting out as a regular horror the deputy turns out to be a comedy character which immediately confuses things. The most uncomfortable being when a girl with the infection skin peeling off is shaving her legs in the bath shudder .But the appearance of a redneck lynch mob the predictable events leading to a messy shootout and an ending which just seemed to keep on going made me pretty glad when the ordeal was over..

  3. Erin Collard 02/04/2011 at 7:00 am

    That’s heartbreaking. Any child struggling with reactive attachment disorder is simply going to burrow deeper into his terror and grief with horrible treatment like that. What are we doing to our kids?

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  5. Jenn 02/03/2011 at 2:35 pm

    I first heard about this woman and her choice of punishment — forcing him to swallow hot sauce, take cold showers, etc. — from my mother the other day, and my summarized feelings are equivalent to your blog post title. Essentially, she isn’t disciplining… she is coming up with consequences that are motivated by her anger, rather than by a genuine need to discipline her child. I get anger, I get frustration, but as parents and caretakers we CANNOT allow those feelings to influence the consequences we give to our kids. When we do, *this* is the result. Like you, I hope she isn’t jailed, by I do hope that she receives mandated counseling ASAP.