Monday 19 March 2018

If you can't beat them, bribe them to behave

Facing into the long summer holidays, what's a parent to do to keep the peace? Try 'negotiating', writes Carol Hunt

What is "reasonable chastisement"? As a parent of two children who have very little planned for their annual two months' holidays -- bar driving me completely around the bend -- perhaps it would be useful to know if we are all to get to September without the help of social services.

Seemingly there is a common law that recognises a parent's right to the use of "reasonable chastisement", but for the life of me I can't find any definition of what is actually allowed. And anyway, if I dared to even threaten the use of "reasonable chastisement" on either of my two, they'd threaten me right back with a call to Childline, an appointment with an expensive lawyer and an email to Amnesty International for good measure.

This is my own fault, of course. On the rare occasion that I gave a child a smack on the bottom, I was so overwhelmed with shame afterwards that I grovellingly apologised to them and swore never to raise a hand in their direction ever again. Sometimes I still get tempted, of course, but I just take a long deep breath, count to 10 and remind myself that violence breeds violence. Then I put myself on the naughty step while my kids run rings around me.

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