Having children means the government will have a foot in the door of your home. Even if you avoid government schools and send your kids to private school or you homeschool them, all it takes is for someone to report being concerned about your children to get the government involved in your home, even if there is not even a hint of abuse or neglect of your children. It can be someone in your extended family. It could be some stranger in the parking lot of a supermarket. It could be a neighbor.
Even if the police or social workers, after getting into your private life, determine everything is fine for your kids, there will now be a file and a record of them having gotten involved, and you're on your way to losing the benefit of the doubt.
The recent high-profile case of a National Football League player apparently repeatedly striking his young son with a switch is an extreme case. I'm not talking about something as extreme as that. How about a light swat in the tush with an open hand? Some people consider that abuse.
So there's the...
- spanking vs. spanking is abuse
- spanking with your hand vs. spanking with an object, like a wooden spoon, with the thinking that your bare hand should only be for love
- hot saucing vs. hot saucing is abuse (hot saucing is putting a drop on your finger and sticking it in their mouth)
- soap in the mouth vs. soap in the mouth is abuse
- time outs vs. time outs are not effective
- count to three vs. counting to three tells them that they have two freebies in disobeying
- tough love vs. tough love is abusive
- removing their door vs. removing their door is abusive
- keeping them from playing outside ("grounding") vs. kids must be allowed to play outside
We hear over and over again (and I agree) that it is a parent's obligation to discipline their children and raise them in such a way that they'll be good citizens, neighbors, employees, friends, and spouses. But some of the childless people screaming that the loudest are also the first to report a parent as abusive if they attempt to control their child.
I have been confronted three times (so far) about how I was handling my child in public. I won't get into details, but it doesn't involve striking the child, yelling at the child, sticking anything in their mouth, any foreign object, or anything intended to cause pain or embarrassment. Any pain my children had was of their own doing in response to what I was doing - they had full control over whether they were in pain or uncomfortable. In one case, my child was literally trying to run off in crowded airport while I was trying to hold our bags and wait in place for my wife and other child to return.
I do not think it is a coincidence that each of the three times I was confronted (and my children have acted up many, many times in public, so this isn't something that happens every time) it was by a woman.
We, as a society, want our husbands and fathers to masculine, except when we don't.
I don't want to be arrested, and I don't want my children to be taken from me. Nor do I wish to give up any of my "free" time for mandatory parenting classes.
So... since I am a father, is there a way to avoid those risks?
Yes. It is called... letting my children do whatever the hell they want. Sure, people around us will be irritated. Yes, that would quite likely result in my children becoming horrible, awful adults. But you know what? I'd rather THEY deal with the criminal justice system in the future than have me deal with it now. I'm selfish that way. (Oh, there's a third alternative, you say? Please, write a book. It can join the ranks of the millions and millions of others that claim to tell parents the right way.)
It can literally be a crime (at least in my state) to control or discipline your child even if it doesn't hurt them or humiliate them. But there is no crime in letting your children grow up undisciplined. The risk is that they may seriously hurt someone (including you) or damage expensive property while you are still legally responsible for them. However, if you make it through their childhood and you completely cut them off once they turn eighteen or, if before then, they get emancipated, you're off the hook. It makes life easier on you, too. You just... let them do whatever once they have refused to comply with your statements. Other people around will look at you as a horrible parent, but some of them would be looking at you as a horrible parent if you actually tried to make your child do or NOT do something, and at least this way, they can't report you.
You may think this post in tongue-in-cheek. I'm not so sure it is. At some point, you have to protect yourself.