My neighbour smacked my child
Yes, it takes a village, but is it okay for other people to use physical discipline on your child? This mom thinks not.
My neighbour smacked my child. True story. And now I’m left with a conundrum. Am I being petty for feeling irked or was she out of line?

I’m not saying he didn’t deserve disciplining, but discipline doesn’t equal smacking and certainly not when it involves someone else whacking your offspring.

I can’t help feeling that a boundary was crossed; one that I didn’t even know was there until she crossed it. And so the incident continues to churn around in my mind like an unwelcome stomach bug on a long bus ride. Was she right to do it? Am I wrong to think she’s off sides? 
The incident in question involved my 5-year-old pushing my neighbour’s  5-year-old off a step.  Her landing was soft, on the grass, and she didn’t hurt herself. No blood, no grazes, no broken bones. She mostly got a big fright and I guess her mom did too. Thus the smack.

The mother looked so mortified and I was so shocked, that I didn’t even think to point out that my two sons play the ‘pushing’ game all the time. Into the pool, off the step, you name it. Normally, the rules of the game are that the pushee knows that the pusher is about to push him, which in this instance wasn’t the case. Not really playing by the rules, I know, but he’s 5 and I guess he thought all families play the pushing game.

To add insult to her injury, I gave her my stamp of approval by smacking him too. In retrospect, I did it to make a show of disciplining him but in truth I’m generally more the non-smacking type. Not through any lofty ideals of violence begetting violence, but because I genuinely find it doesn’t really help at all. 

Though no apologies are forthcoming, I think she realizes she may have overstepped the mark as she recently alluded to it taking ‘a village to raise a child’. Mmm, I thought sourly, until it comes to ‘raising’ your child.

You see, I have a sneaking suspicion that if the situation was in reverse - that is to say if I even dared lay a finger on her child - I would come home to find an ugly lawyers letter on my kitchen table. It also irks me that she didn’t bother to ask my son why he did what he did.

Rules of conflict resolution No. 1: Get both sides of the story. She just assumed her child was blameless. She could also have chosen to diffuse the situation, but instead took an alarmist approach which incites, um, alarm?

Since then, I’ve asked myself the question many times. Would I want to smack the child that hurt my child? Hell yes! Would I actually do it? No.

Nowadays I watch them closely as they play. Partly because I’m horrified that my son may have intentionally pushed her to be nasty, but also to observe what may have provoked him. Mostly, they interact well and I’ve realized that too much time has passed for me to reconcile the riddle. Indeed, if my neighbour saw no reason to apologise initially, it’s doubtful that she’d see my point of view now. But actually I’m kind of thankful, because should there ever be a repeat scenario, I think I’m better prepared to deal with it.

Would you smack a child that hurt your child?

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