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My husband and I have sons ages 8, 7, and 4. We’ve always had different parenting styles, and in particular we disagree on spanking. I think spanking is appropriate for some situations, but my husband thinks it’s appropriate in every situation. I have talked with him about trying things like warnings or timeouts before spanking them, but he sees no reason to use alternative methods of discipline when spanking is working “perfectly fine.” I’m not asking him to completely stop spanking our kids. I just want him to at least try methods other than his hands to teach right from wrong. Is that too much to ask?
We humans are creatures of habit. If we find something that works, we tend to stick with it. Both the overall approach to discipline and the specifics relating to rewards and punishments are extremely personal issues. Apparently the two of you have managed well enough balancing your different approaches for eight years. While many parents would consider your husband’s approach too strict, he is not the first to use a spankings-only system.
Some misdeeds are more serious than others, and a parent who responds to every problem with spanking faces two risks:
* First, while children do not enjoy punishment, in their hearts most of them understand that actions have consequences. However, they also understand fairness. And if the children find the punishment for a relatively minor act of disobedience too strict, they may become resentful of all rules and punishments. This attitude can cause serious problems as the kids age.
* Second, if you spank for even the smallest of offenses, your children may simply get used to the punishment, and it will lose its effectiveness over time. When a child reaches the point where the prospect of 10 licks won’t faze him, it becomes more difficult for you to punish him for anything, and you lose your ability to deter future insubordination.
Bottom line: While the potential risks are real, they will not be realized in every household, and creative parents can mitigate them even when they manifest. Your husband’s conduct may not cause any problems at all. And when you find a punishment that works the first time, the temptation to stick with it is strong. By all means, talk to him and suggest alternatives. But if your biggest problem with the man revolves around his use of a strict disciplinary code that effectively prevents disobedience, you’re ahead of the game.
My daughter’s father is absent from her life (his own choice, poor excuse). We both planned our daughter, then split when I was pregnant. He was abusive. He’s never paid a penny toward my little girl, including birthdays and Christmas. I feel he should be made responsible, and the biggest reason for making him pay child support is a reminder of her existence. But I’ve managed so far to provide for her by myself. Should I make him pay child support?
If your sole reason for seeking child support is to punish the girl’s father, then don’t do it.
I generally advise single mothers to seek child support. Men who father children should demonstrate some responsibility for their care, and most single mothers need the money. But if you have the finances to go it alone, and child support would represent more of a punishment than anything else, you have little to gain by insisting that he pay.
Obviously, you don’t like this man and don’t want him in your life. You didn’t mention how he abused you, and for the purposes of this answer, I’ll assume you have complete confidence that he would not abuse your daughter if he got involved with her upbringing. However, if you insist on child support, you must be prepared for him to insist on either visitation or partial custody. If that concept bothers you, don’t seek support. After all, just as you are entitled to support, he is entitled to contact with his child unless you can present a very good reason why the courts should keep him away.
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