Tommy: Some people need a Parenting 101 lesson

Tommy Tucker, WWL First News
November 06, 2018 - 12:04 pm

I’ve been with WWL for almost ten years. Acquired from the Oldies station for a conditional 2nd round pick, I've been lucky to be around and work with THE BEST OF THE BEST. One of the first things I learned was that things are not always black or white, right or wrong, up or down. I also discovered there aren’t just two sides to every issue; there are often four, six, eight or more. That has made me tolerant and willing to entertain opinions that disagree with mine. I also realized that I don’t, and quite frankly can’t, know everything. I rarely dig my heels in and refuse to listen to another of those many sides to an argument. Today was one of those days.

How it all started:

The American Pediatrics Academy has come out with their strongest anti-spanking statement to date. They say it is harmful to children and can, in the long run, affect both their social and cognitive skills. Some people believe it; some don’t. I personally believe the dynamic is different for every household. I also believe that, absent abuse, that it’s the parents’ business and nobody else’s. It is a personal choice and parents have to decide what’s best for their family.

As for my personal feeling about spanking, I was never spanked; and I always used reason, instead of corporal punishment, from the time my daughter was old enough to understand that which we were discussing. I could also never imagine doing anything to intentionally cause her pain. Before she was old enough to understand reason I watched over and protected her. A firm “no” would stop her from yelling or biting. When she cried, I presumed something was wrong, and I tried to figure out what it was and then fix it.

Then she turned two. I used to be the world’s biggest restaurant snob when it came to kids. Whenever a two year old was cutting up at the table next to me I would silently steam, wondering why those parents couldn’t “control” their child. When you become a parent, however, you realize there’s that time between their being immobile and being able to reason that there’s little you can do. You can’t duct tape them to the booster seat. And even if you did it would only keep them still, not quiet.

I don’t think sitting at table in a restaurant is in a two year old’s nature. They don’t want to talk, they shouldn’t care about the wine list and coloring only lasts so long. So when my daughter would begin to get antsy I would GET UP and, holding her hand, walk around to give her a break. Did it disturb my meal? Absolutely. But it wasn’t fair to her to unreasonably expect she’d enjoy eating at a restaurant when she was two or to let her ruin somebody’s experience. I also don’t think it would be fair to strike her when the event at hand ran contrary to every instinct or expectation she had.

It wasn’t HER responsibility at that age; it was MINE. Its called understanding, caring about, nurturing and protecting the most precious gift you could ever receive. It was incumbent upon ME to get up off my behind and occupy her time as best I could. It would be totally unfair to expect her to impose unreasonable expectations upon her because I wanted to eat my hickory bacon burger while it was hot.

A gentleman called in during the discussion this morning and talked about "beneficial pain" and gave the example of "spanking a toddler to teach them not to run into the street." At that point my fuse began burning. I seems to me that would only ENCOURAGE a toddler to run into the street to get away from you. But the issue quickly became larger than that.

Never did I realize that watching a child to prevent them from running into the street would be controversial. I was besieged with texts calling me liberal, insensitive, unreasonable and more that I can’t say here. Some said a toddler can pull away from an adult. REALLY?!?!?! Some said you can’t always watch them. REALLY?!?!?!?! Is there really ANOTHER side to the toddler running into the street argument? REALLY?!?!?!?!

Here’s my thing. When you have a child you sign away a lot of your rights. Your most important duty from then on is to PROTECT, NURTURE, EDUCATE and GET THEM READY TO LEAVE THE NEST. To be clear you can’t always watch what you want on television, you may not have time to read, you can’t get hungover because a child doesn’t understand why daddy’s “sick” every Sunday morning. Your time is no longer your own. BUT THAT’S NOT BAD! I found that spending time with my daughter was better than ANY other experience I could have had. Now that she’s twenty two my only regret is that I couldn’t have spent more.

One call this morning made me remember something that happened when I was four years old. I hadn’t thought about it for a long time. My family was at the seawall along Lake Pontchartrain. I was walking toward the steps, and I remember my mom telling my dad to "watch him." My dad didn’t yell at me or spank me to get my attention. He held me firmly in his arms against his chest. I don’t think I’ve ever felt more secure or more loved.

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