Monday, June 6, 2011

It's like Living in Crazytown....

Sometimes, something on the Mamaworldforum makes me think that the world is not spinning correctly on its axis and all is not right.

Yesterday a woman asked a question about a friend. The friend had a child who was smearing poo on everything, and after the third time, she gave him an ice-cold shower to teach him a lesson. The question at hand: was this effective discipline or abuse?

Duh, this seemed like a no-brainer. At least to me. Ice cold baths and showers are used as means of torture, just in case you were wondering what my answer was. Even runners who do this voluntarily to relieve swelling call it torture. (And the runner in the blog I've linked into had a cup of tea and warm clothes on at the time.)

So, my mind was blown repeatedly as mother after mother chimed in saying that this was effective discipline, not abusive in any way. "Genius" and "brilliant" were used to describe this quick and immediate remedy. No, the child never did it again, so I guess that means it works, right?  Out of 52 responses, 5 people 'didn't know', 18 of us felt it abusive, and a whopping 27 felt is was justified. And then, the qualifiers came out. "It wasn't abusive if she only did it for the time it took to get him clean" or "it's not like she rubbed it in his face or made him eat it" (whaaaat?!) or "there's no way your friend's water was too cold, stop judging". Other moms copped up to the fact that they had done it too. It couldn't be abuse, because it worked right?

The saddest post of all came from a woman who had been treated horribly by her parent. At the age of one and a half or two, she had been given an ice water shower by her parent, and while she 'wasn't sure' if it was abuse, she wasn't able to take a shower until she was 20.

Do I need to go on? Probably not.

Two seconds later, on a different thread, another poster wondered about her neighbors, who fought loudly, constantly, when their very young kids were home. Should she get a hold of the apartment manager or the police? So many posters suggested she not 'waste the time of the police'. Ah, yes, best to let young children deal with mommy and daddy screaming at each other all on their own. It's mindboggling, the lack of personal responsibility some people seem to have.

So, yes, it's a bit like living in Crazytown, seeing these grown human beings turn their faces away from ugliness, excusing it, qualifying it, not wanting to get involved. Which makes me wonder: what is the purpose of being the adult if not to protect the child? Why are we given the sense to understand what's right and wrong and knowingly choose to look away from the wrong, or dress it up as virtue and strength and 'old fashioned no-nonsense parenting'? In our years on the planet, haven't we learned anything about how to treat other human beings? Aren't we supposed to know better? Aren't we supposed to be the parent, the person who our child loves and trusts best?

Forgive me my rant. It's too personal for me, I know. I think about how many kids who fall through the cracks because of this attitude-- "the kid drove the parent to it". I've heard this excuse more times than it is healthy to remember, even from my own parents. Looking away, not reporting abuse when we see it, is cowardly. There's no other word for it. Just cowardly. It's hard to call the police on a neighbor. I know, because I've had to do it. But it has to be done. And we, who have the guts and conscience, will have to speak out. Even if we are called meddling or judgmental or any other host of derisive names. We, who will not make excuses for other adults, but expect them to act like adults. I will keep speaking out, even if it makes me incredibly unpopular. These little ones don't have a powerful voice, but I do. Even if I'm the last one here in Crazytown to do it, I'll keep hollering.

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