Kelly - posted on 10/07/2010 ( 7 moms have responded )
Okay, the parents in question are not "abusive" or even out of line. They use "traditional" discipline methods --spanking, yelling, taking away of privileges-- and are basically very, very authoritarian. This is very common and accepted in my area; I would be the oddball.
Their son (7yrs) is having major behavior issues at school. He was suspended this week for causing major disruption to the classroom, refusal to follow directions, repeated disobedience, and, the kicker, "humping" a bookbag, which they wrote as "inappropriate gestures." He was suspended twice last year for similar problems, and several times in preschool, as well as two summer programs. As for the humping thing, everyone is horrified (Bible belt here), but I am confident he was just imitating his dog (who is not spayed b/c they breed, but are not breeding this year.....so she humps things).
He has ADHD and is currently not medicated. I support her in that, he has been on medication before, but it did not help much. Her mother is pressuring her to put him on meds again. I agree that meds could possibly help, but I know they will do nothing if his parents do not get to the root of the problem. I gave her tips on handling the ADHD, but the bigger issue is his need for attention and more guidance. For me, discipline should be guidance, and I don't know how to broach that subject without offending her.
As I said, VERY authoritarian, "you do what I say b/c I said to do it and you don't ask questions." The child has no way to express himself. I think his mom knows this b/c she keeps looking for programs to put him in that will allow him to express himself, but really all she needs to do is let him do it at home. The mom and dad spend very little time actually interacting with the children. It is not that they don't love them, or that they don't like to spend time with them, I just think they don't know what to do. They consider good family time sitting on the deck watching the kids swim, watching a movie together, or watching the kids play a sport. They don't play WITH them, ya know?
Basically, the only true interaction they have is the parents pointing out what the kids should NOT do. They neglect to tell them what they should do instead, like the boy acted out b/c he wanted attention and he wanted to tell a joke (okay, a lot of jokes), it would be better for her to tell him what to do instead when he feels like he needs attention or wants to tell jokes, but instead, she focuses so much on the "punishment" and telling him what he did was wrong, that they never get there. The boy just feels like it is bad to be himself.....if that makes since.
Which brings me, at long last, to my question. How can I talk to her w/o offending her? She is open to ideas, she is looking for advice, but she seems to discount me when I tell her she needs to stop focusing on punishing him and focus on teaching him instead.
You ladies were always very supportive and non-judgmental when I was transitioning from spanking to PBS, so I was hoping you could give me some pointers on how to talk to her in an encouraging positive way, like you guys spoke to me...Thanks for any input! Sorry for the book....