Category Archives: temper tantrum


When did disciplining your child stop being a thing? It often occurs to me that a lot of parents appear to be afraid of their children, when really it should be the other way around. I remember growing up I had a deep seated fear of my parents. I have to preface this with stating that they weren’t abusive or unnecessarily cruel. However, if I misbehaved, God help me.

And the punishment always fit the crime. Whining and general brattiness got no more than a slap across the face. Failure to stop, or anything more serious and my mother would not hesitate to remove the strap from her purse and put it to good use. A few times I tried resisting, or worse, swatting her away, but I quickly found out that was useless and then my father would have to become involved, holding me down for prolonged discipline. My point in sharing this is that most people reading this today are probably totally freaking out right now thinking I was maliciously beaten. And really, I wasn’t.

I am not sure how I feel about corporal punishment. I have swatted my children a few times for general brattiness, and I have physically removed them from stores and other venues kicking and screaming while being shoved in the car, but I have never used things on them, or slapped more than their hands. But having had experienced more than that, I can’t say it scarred me for life, or really did anything to me.

I am in no way saying that what my parents did is the answer to anything, but I can’t help wondering at what point the relationship between parents and children become so skewed.

What prompted this post was a trip to the grocery store. A woman was there with her daughter that looked to be about 3 years old – only a few months younger than Ally. The child wanted something and the mother said no. Then the child started crying and the mother said no. Then the child started screaming and the mother handed her the item she wanted. All the child learned was to scream louder next time.

I don’t know what the woman’s discipline tactics are since all I saw was an isolated event, and don’t even know all the details. I guess what bothered me was that she appeared to have no authority over her child. I think I would have had less of a hard time with this if she had let her child continue screaming. Not how I would have handled it, and yes, a screaming child at the grocery store is annoying (yet not the end of the world), but she would have exerted some control in the situation.

This happens all the time, so what exactly happened in the last thirty years to invert the parent/child dynamic? And I totally mean “invert” because there have been several occasions where the parents actually seemed to be afraid of their children, doing, saying, or giving in to *anything* just to pacify their angry child. And this is why I began this post by discussing corporal punishment. I am well aware that it is not just frowned upon, but in some cases illegal, but there seems to be correlation between the decline of corporal punishment and the increase in undisciplined children. Just an observation.

If I were to slap my daughter at the store for throwing a temper tantrum and not heeding my warning to stop, someone would surely call CPS. When my mother did it, not only did no one flinch, but it was practically expected. I was never big on temper tantrums (wasn’t really part of my personality, and I learned very early on that they would not grant me anything), but should I have done it, it would not have only been acceptable for my mother to take matters into her own hands, quite literally, but any other adult in the vicinity. We were living in New York, I was about six, at the grocery store playing with something I should not have been playing with, and one of the store attendants took it away from me, swatting my behind in the process. My mother hadn’t seen what I had done, but because the lady was upset with me I must have done something wrong so I got a strong glare from her just in case I even thought of doing anything else. Seriously folks, if you think hitting your own child in public is bad, try doing it to someone else’s these days. Blood bath in aisle five….

But aside from actually touching someone else’s child, you can’t even verbally discipline them. Somehow that is not okay. They are someone else’s precious jewel, can do nothing wrong, and if the mother didn’t see it, then it obviously didn’t happen. When I was a child I was never asked if what the other person said was true. If someone went to my mother and said I did something, it didn’t matter if I had done it, could have done it, probably did it, or thought about doing it, because as far as my mother was concerned, I did it. That too instilled fear in me because while I had some control over the things I did, I had absolutely no control over what others told my mother. However, my punishments were brief, and I learned to just take them and be done with it. My parents didn’t believe in taking things away, grounding me, or withholding anything. I got the strap, and I was done. Cookies anyone?

By the time I was seven I never had tempter tantrums, behaved exceedingly well in public, addressed people correctly, was getting perfect grades, kept my room clean, and hardly if ever talked back to my parents. In other words, I had the fear of God in me (or my mother’s purse strap… same thing).

Again, I don’t know if physically punishing children is an answer to anything, and just because it worked on me does not mean it will work on all children. Not to mention there are surely other parents like me who will practically cry at the idea of *really* hitting their children, and that wouldn’t do well for anyone. But seriously, when did child discipline of any kind just stop? And is it coming back any time soon?

They Have Had Enough

I was totally going to blog about Petrarch, Ovid, and Spenser, and yes there is a connection. I just read an amazing article that a friend sent me, and I have all sorts of things to say about it. But I will reserve that for another day. I am exhausted. Instead, I will tell you about my children which are equally as fascinating as Ovid I am sure.

Children like stability. When they begin getting shuffled around, especially when they are little, it is hard on them. My children are still too little to understand the days of the week, and every morning they must ask where they are going, who is picking them up, and at which home they will be staying. This is very stressful for them, and since, as I said, they don’t understand how the days work, they also don’t understand that certain things happen *every* Monday, and *every* Tuesday, etc., nor do they know when Monday is.

To aggravate matters, my crazy schedule demands even more shuffling around. On the days I work until ten at night my mother picks them up from school, and they spend the night at her house. You don’t have to be a parent to realize that picking them up after work at close to eleven at night, pulling them out of bed to drive them across town, only to get them back into bed close to midnight, and then yank them out just a few hours later is a bad idea. Not only does my mother spoil them rotten in the evenings, when morning comes, since she has nowhere she needs to be, the children get to sleep in until they naturally wake up to the smell of fresh eggs and honeyed toast (where were my fresh eggs and honeyed toast growing up?).

Needless to say, the next morning when they must return to being brutally awakened before dawn, they are less than pleased. Not to say I am brutal about it, but I think any time someone must wake that early the process is rather brutal.

Poor little things get schlepped back and forth between three different houses, sometimes two in the same day, and it is not difficult to see that they have begun acting up. They are exposed to different rules, expectations, bed times, routines, and even clothes. They are confused, perhaps even angry about it, but as I explain to them, this is just the way things are. Because I don’t know what else to say.

And how can I expect two small children to adopt my “it is what it is” mentality that took me decades to hone? Because for me it wasn’t so simple. It is what it is? Oh no! I willed, and forced, and contrived, unaccepting of circumstances, no matter how much out of my control. And I was a grown woman!

Yet while I make leeway for dissension, I can’t help but explain that temper tantrums and tears will not solve problems, make the week move forward any faster, change the course of where they will end up that evening, or help them spend any more time with whichever parent they happen to prefer at the moment (after force bathing Ally and threatening Ducky with a sponge, I don’t think I am going to make Favorite this week).

Also, after having been made to walk about six blocks to Starbucks, they are, to say the least, disgruntled. Tonight they were supposed to see their Nana… but instead, because I have the day off from work, they got taken around town. To show their appreciation Ducky threw himself on the ground as we were crossing Wilshire Blvd (huge intersection), and instead of trying to help me pick him up Ally decided she would throw down her juice cup and stand there as I wrestled with them across the street, essentially stopping traffic for about five minutes at what would normally be rush hour in the middle of Los Angeles.

I think they have had enough of their mommy right now.