About a week or so ago, a friend confided in the privacy of a chat, that she had slapped her daughter during an argument. Slapped her “a few times”. (Her words). Slapped. Her. Daughter.
No. I just wrote out what I know about Louise* and her story, but A) it isn’t my story to tell; B) I only know about her story that which she has shared; and C) this post is only about the slap and my reaction. So I deleted it.
Suffice it to say that Louise is making a huge change in several areas in her life. One of her daughters has been acting up – lying, promiscuity, possibly drugs – and this is all completely out of character for the daughter. So they have been fighting a lot.
Last week, Louise joined the chat and said “XXX and I has a HUGE fight last night. Everything came to a head. We were yelling at each other and I slapped her. A few times…. but the result was XXX”. Again, that’s the big part of what you need to know.
All the other women in our chat were “Oh, I’m sorry you have to deal with that.” “Teenagers are hard.” “You did the right thing – she needed a wake up call and you got her attention.”
I? Remained observant in stunned silence.
- I was never slapped by my parents, as a child. I was spanked, but rarely.
- I don’t have any children (that I know about), so I cannot put myself fairly in her shoes.
- The magnitude of the changes Louise is making would make anyone crazy, I would imagine.
I was going to write this post the day it happened, but I couldn’t. I wanted to marinate in her actions, and more importantly, my REACTION to her actions before I wrote anything.
My response to Louise at the time was something like: “I have to be honest. I’m struggling with the slapping portion of your story. I AM NOT JUDGING YOU, but I’m having a hard time with it. I’m glad you got XXX to open up and talk though.”
But who am I kidding. I did judge her. I think I still am. I haven’t been able to pinpoint exactly what it is about “the slap” that has affected me so profoundly. I’m not a mother. I don’t know how bad the argument was. I don’t know the degree to which XXX was acting up.
I mean, I know how frustrated I get with my cats. But really? They’re cats. I know it’s not the same thing, by any stretch of the imagination.
I reached out to my friends at The Band to get their perspectives. They seemed to be as shocked/horrified/disturbed about it as I was. Not that that makes my reaction right. (BTW, are you with The Band? You should be.)
So, your turn.
If someone told you this, how would you react? What do you say? Am I blowing this out of proportion because I don’t have the parental-perspective?
2012/02/29 at 8:33 am
It’s instinct to react physically when we’re scared and I can’t imagine anything more frightening than thinking you’re losing your baby to a self-destructive lifestyle. In the same manner that we wouldn’t condone her actions, I don’t think we can judge them either. She sounds like she needs help and support from friends and perhaps professionals to help deal with this situation. I’m glad she is reaching out to you and others she feels comfortable with.
Many hugs to you both.
2012/02/29 at 1:58 pm
I almost didn’t write this post. But I’m glad I did. This was one of those events that made me question my reactions. These comments have been great.
2012/02/28 at 11:16 pm
I still don’t know what to say: from my child-free self, I want to be all “violence is never the answer,” but Mo has a point – I don’t know (and can’t until I’m in that position).
2012/02/29 at 1:55 pm
She is right. I have no idea how I would react. Thanks for this.
2012/02/28 at 3:59 pm
This is a tough one. We went through a really ugly phase with my youngest step-son—drinking, meth, lying and stealing. Honestly, I understand the impulse to slap. Unless we’re in that mother’s situation, it’s unfair to judge, especially, because I’m sure she feels bad enough about it already. The best thing is to be a good friend to her.
2012/02/28 at 6:48 pm
This is what I mean. I am not a parent. I would love to get all self righteous and say I would never do that. But I can’t say that. Thank you for your perspective. xo
2012/02/28 at 9:41 am
lady, perspective itself changes with situation, that too is different for each. so no use trying to put urself in her shoes and try to feel the reaction.. better try to counsel her
2012/02/28 at 6:50 pm
You’re right. Thanks for that.