By Catherine Connors, author of the blog HerBadMother.com.
It was only once, but I still feel guilty about it. We—she and I and her little brother—were leaving a grocery store. She’d been throwing a fit and making a scene and I was doing the best I could to manage her under extremely trying circumstances. As we neared the sidewalk, she pulled away and grabbed the stroller with her brother in it and yanked it toward the street, shrieking in that manic way that is the hallmark of fit-throwing three-year-olds everywhere. There was no time for reasoning or arguing or cajoling. There was no time for shouting or bargaining or threatening. I had to stop her, and I had to do it immediately. So I grabbed her and I pulled her, struggling and shrieking, back to me and I spanked her.
It was the kind of spank that well-meaning parents refer to as a “swat on the bottom.” It wasn’t hard, it wasn’t repeated and it was only meant to startle her out of her fit. It worked. I didn’t like it, but it worked. She stopped and blinked and her lower lip quivered and I said, “Honey, I need you to stop,” and I explained why I’d done what I had. To this day I don’t know what I could have done differently. But I don’t know that that matters. What matters is, I found myself in a challenging parenting situation in which I had to act quickly and the action that I took was one that I had sworn I’d never take and I just have to make my peace with that because chances are that I’ll find myself in such a situation again.
When I wrote on my blog about the incident, I expressed regret that it happened, but I also said I felt that I’d had little choice and that I firmly believed that I needed to forgive myself for it. I added I would be making my best effort, in the future, to resist passing judgment on any other parents who found themselves in similar circumstances. I hoped, I said, that other parents would do me the same courtesy and not judge me.
To read about the reaction Connors received to her blog, and the rest of the article, click here. Have any feedback? Tell us what you think in the comments below.
This article and other hot button topics including infidelity, teaching morality in schools, sex, lying to your kids and how TV and video games are actually good for your kids are all in the April 2010 issue on newsstands March 15th.