About a month ago, after the police had a chat with my teenager, and witnessed her attitude, an officer said to me, "You know, corporal punishment is legal in Virginia." To which I answered, "Yeah, until I leave a mark on her." He nodded his head, yes.
About two weeks later, another pair of officers visited us. When I explained that I was about to loose my cool and beat the snot out of her, one of them said, "You should. Why don't you?"
I've always held strong to my belief that hitting a child solves nothing. And when psychologists point out that "hitting a child teaches them to solve their problems with violence." it makes perfect sense to me.
I didn't respect my birth mother. I feared that she would go off and beat the fuck out of me and my brother. I didn't want that for my children. I wanted them to respect me, for the person I am, the love I show, the morals I teach, and the strength I muster when faced with lifes challenges.
But in the spirit of teaching a child about real world consequences, wouldn't it also be true that if a child physically attacks someone, there will be immediate and painful reactions?
Lets replace the word "child" with "teenager". If a teenager, who was not raised in a home where physical punishment was administered, displays his/her anger by becoming physically aggressive, what would be the real world, grown-up consequence?
Recently, out of curiosity, I searched for a definition of corporal punishment. And then refined it further as it applies to parenting children. Terms such as "due moderation" and "reasonable" came up a lot.
One legal sight defined it as:
While the law has traditionally given broad discretion to parents in
exercising the parental right to discipline their children, the parental
privilege is limited, and exceeding those limits leaves the parent open
to criminal liability. The limits of the parental privilege cannot be
easily defined but rather are adjudicated on a case-by-case basis and
stated in terms such as "reasonable under the circumstances."
That invisible legal line is a tricky thing. No state, that I'm aware of, has provided guidelines for what is and is not battery as it applies to physically disciplining a child.
All of this legal speak scares me to death. I can feel myself about to loose control when DQ puts her hands on me. To this point, I've managed to do only as much as it takes to stop the physical altercation. But when things get heated, I stop looking at her as a child, and only see her as a threat. She out weighs me by 50 lbs and looks over the top of my head. And when Itty Bit is the target, I loose all sense of reality and only see red! I think that is a normal reaction when a mother wants to protect her child. Even if it is from her other child.
DQ has been charged with assault. We have a court date in about two weeks. I'm hoping I can get some kind of definition on when enough is enough.