Being a Patient Parent is a Virtue

There is something to be said for the drama that always seems to come up at family gatherings. No matter what is going on, it never fails that someone will disagree with someone else or that some kind of conflict will erupt. Tonight was no different…

It was the usual “let’s all get together to cut so and so a birthday cake.” The invitation really did not strike my fancy as I am exhausted from working two consecutive six day work weeks. However, duty called to I dragged myself to the event and played nice. Everything went surprisingly well and, despite some minor bickering here and there, the evening was a success.

During the moments of bickering, I tuned out and started thinking about how different my parenting style as compared to the parenting styles of my siblings. Now, we were all raised by the same mother and father so you wouldn’t expect that we would all be raising our children in such different ways. Of course, I just observed and did not comment whatsoever. We all know how touchy the subject of parenting is among most parents.

My sister and I have always disagreed on the issue of  “spanking.” She believed that it is appropriate to spank children in certain situations while I believe that spanking should be avoided at all costs. Generally, I try to put my children in “time-out”, take away some of their privileges, or sit down and discuss the problem and the behavior with them. This is not to say that I am “Mother of the Year” because I lose my patience sometimes and maybe don’t respond in the most positive and productive way. Exhaustion can really do that to you.

My brother is also very strict with his children and agrees with my sister on the spanking issue. This is surprising to me because our parents were strict disciplinarians who were a little hard on us and definitely spanked us. You would think that we would want to move as far away from those parenting techniques as possible. Yet, both of my siblings do believe that some spanking is appropriate when it comes to parenting.

In my brother’s case, I think a lot of this also has to do with gender due to our culture. He believes that boys should be taught to be tough and not to exhibit any kind of emotion. Crying is considered taboo within the confines of these archaic beliefs. Personally, I think this is all ridiculous. There is no scientific proof claiming that men are less likely to be manly if they cry when they skin their knees as children. I think that it is more important to raise sons who are all around good men. Being a good man sometimes means crying or showing some other kind of emotion.

Believe me, I am no perfect parent, by any means. I do know that children need to be nurtured and loved in order to blossom. They also need boundaries in order for them to learn responsibility and have some kind of structure in their lives. Spanking is not going to force them to submit to your will as their parent. If anything, it is going to cause them to be more rebellious or defiant.

My sons are no little angels but you can definitely tell that they come from a Nuclear Family that is pretty well rounded. Perhaps, this is the reason why I am a little detached from this whole “to spank or not to spank” issue. The truth is that my children are pretty well behaved and I don’t really have to repeat myself all that often for them to respond to me. Another parent might tell me that they have to spank their child in order to get the message across. Of course, people don’t usually tell me this because they know that I am a state mandated reporter of child abuse in the state of New York.  All teachers are state mandated reporters. Even if I suspect child abuse of any kind, I am supposed to call it in to the State.

My experience as an educator and a mother has taught me that there are easier and better ways to communicate and connect with children. They really love talking to me and sharing all their secrets and ambitions. You sometimes have to step back in that moment of anger and think about getting down to business. Patience seems to be the number one prerequisite for maintaining good professional relationships. This patience is also imperative to continuing good relationships between all types of friends.

The next time you lose your cool and reach out to strike, think about how violence doesn’t solve anything or change any situation. Also, try to think about how brutal and invasive it is when another human being desecrates your temple by hitting or striking you. We don’t like having our private space, as adults, invaded at any time. Yet, we, as a society, continue to solve most of our problems through violence. It seems to transcend time and space. We have learned so much and yet so little…

So, short of the occasional hand tap, I will continue to refrain from hurting my children. It is so much easier to love them, talk to them, show them, guide them, cherish them, and help them. Those are the memories, from their childhood, that I want burned into their memories, not the sting of a slap…

© 2009 – 2013, Tough Cookie Mommy. All rights reserved.


  1. As a marriage and family therapist, I like and believe in what you say Maria!
    I also talk often with my clients from the framework, that one of the most important things they can give to their children is a great marriage; with that in mind I have written a little, inspiring book for couples, just released last week: "A Short Guide to a Happy Marriage." You can take a look @ or @ borders, amazon, barnes&noble.;
    I think you would enjoy it!

  2. Hi, Sharon. Thank you so much for lending your expertise on this topic. I'm sure you have a vast knowledge of family dynamics. I will check out your book when I get a chance. Good luck to you in all your endeavors.

  3. In all honesty, I was spanked at times, now I said spanked, not abused, and I spanked mine. I nor my children have any memories per se of this. The memories that stick out in my mind are this: Mom hit me, this is serious, when the topic comes up, like now. Otherwise, I don't think of it. What I do remember is the wonderful relationship my parents had and still have, the family, the friends, the fun, the love. My mom being my best friend then and now. My kids remember the same. Now, when my sisters and I our my sisters, cousins and I talk or even if friends are involved, the times we were spanked, are actually laughable. Certainly nothing traumatic. "Hey, remember the time Aunt L. chased C around their apartment and the whooped her butt?" Spanking was not done out of anger as some tend to think. It was simply the choice of discipline. Run in the street, expect your butt to be smacked but good. It happened to me, I did it to mine. I was not mad when I did it, I did it to make a point. As my grandmother always said "better they should cry, than you should cry." I believe that. Kids get over a spanking in a heartbeat, no lasting horrific memories, just laughing about it as an adult. However, at the time, if mom gave you a smack, a spanking, you knew she meant business, it was serious, and you DO NOT do that ever again. I too, didn't have to say anything to my kids twice. They too were well behaved. However, ONCE, my daughter thought to call me a name and, it's not what you say, but HOW you say it that matters. She said it in a way that warrented a good smack. That ended that. She, like me, now laughs about it. No harm done, however, at the time, she knew it meant business and never pulled that again.

  4. Doreen, I appreciate your honesty. I'm not really that much of an objective opinion on this subject because my upbringing included some harsh discipline that I would not repeat with my own children. I don't think that all parents who spank their children are abusive. However, I am totally against using spanking as an exclusive way to discipline your children. It does not seem like this was ever an issue in your family.

  5. No, it was not. In fact, we rarely needed to be disciplined as kids and I rarely had to discipline mine. We basically were told what was expected before something came up, i.e., "we will be going to dinner, you will sit quietly, you will use your manners, you will not get out of your seat, you won't ask when we are leaving, when we decide to leave, you will be informed." Of course, they got used to this, knew the ropes and I'd simply have to say "we are going out to eat, behave." Most often, if for some odd reason, someone started to do something that they never did before, all my mom had to do or I had to do was give "the look." The kids know "the look" and know to stop. I said things once to my kids. But that's because I didn't play games. It made my life and theirs much easier. That's how my parents were and it's how I am. So many times I was in public with my kids and we were having a great time, all of us laughing and having fun, and everyone around us was miserable. The kids were moaning or complaining or crying or throwing a tantrum and the parents were miserable. And whose fault is that. The parent's fault. If you don't allow that nonsense, you will have a better time and it benefits the kids and you. I did NOT allow temper tantrums, period. Hence, my kids did not throw tantrums. My grandmother always was amazed with people who would deal with such nonsense. She came from a family of 9 kids. You didn't throw tantrums, ever, at any age, for any reason. End of story. LOL They all grew up, happy, healthy, normal, law abiding, devoted, loving, and productive members of society, some war heros. Imagine they accomplished all that and never once threw a tantrum as a kid.

  6. We are totally in agreement about tantrums and misbehavior. One of the first things that my husband and I spoke about before having kids is that we hated seeing young children throwing tantrums in public or being rude or impolite. That is something that we pride ourselves on, we always receive compliments, wherever we go, about how well behaved our children are. I understand that children have bad days sometimes or get tired, however, throwing full blown tantrums outside, or inside for that matter, is unacceptable. We just give our children "the look" or whisper stern words in their ears at even the hint of that kind of behavior.

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