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I asked Internet Strangers for Parenting Advice

And it almost backfired. 

Half experiment, half parenting desperation, I turned to one of those giant national groups on Facebook where the most you have in common with the other members is that you're all moms. My {just turned} six-year-old has been hitting his barely two-and-a-half year old sister lately. And the other evening he just straight up punched her in the nose. Ugh. Now, I am not the most creative when it comes to punishing my children. So I turned to the Internet to see what other moms would say I should do. I kinda thought it might make an interesting post as well... mom blog owner for you there.

With his sister still sobbing in my lap and him safely sent to his room to calm down and think about what he had done, I gave Facebook a chance to respond. And boy did they. 

The first two people both suggested things that we just don't do as punishment (and that second one, especially, just freaked me out so much I just knew this whole thing was going to be a bad idea):

Yep. Someone suggested I "punch him back." My six year old. Who is about as thick around as a bean pole and can barely carry a gallon of milk in from the car. Yeah. No. 

After a few more responses (most more measured and thought out than the first two), I responded with what I did:

Memphis Moms Blog internet strangers

Honestly, I thought that would be it. But see the bottom of that picture? Where it says "View 7 previous replies"? That is where the conversation took a surprising and interesting turn. Instead of showing you all the screenshots, I'm going to summarize the interaction. Basically, one mom asked, in a refreshingly nonjudgemental way, what I did for punishment. She asked if I didn't spank and didn't do timeouts, what did I do as punishment? Add in the "we already don't do screens except on weekends" thing (which seems to be the number one choice of things to take away), and I can totally get where she's coming from (I guess I'm not the only mom that isn't very good at coming up with creative, logical punishments).

The question kinda took me by surprise. And it took me a while to come up with my answer. Here is what I eventually responded with:

Memphis Moms Blog internet strangers

A few other moms chimed in that I was kinda/basically doing Attachment Parenting. Which I have looked at, but definitely do not follow all of those tenets. (Co-sleeping? No thank you.) But in some ways this is kinda true. But honestly, most of what I don't do are things I have tried in the past and realized it just doesn't work for me or my kids. Like time-outs. My daughter walks around Target, sitting on the bottom shelves in between the products, and proclaims she is "in time out!" I mean, to her it's a game, a joke. I can't use that as ACTUAL punishment. 

So I guess the question becomes: would I do it again? Turn to the internet for parenting advice? And I guess the answer is a firm MAYBE.

On the one hand, there are some bad apples. I mean, advising me to punch my child was maybe definitely not the best advice. BUT, if you surround yourself with people that only think similarly to you, you'll never grow or learn. We choose our friends because we have things in common with them. Internet strangers, by default, are most often very different. They live in different places and they have different likes and interests, so it's interesting to see new and different perspectives. Also, the entire exchange gave me a chance to be truly reflective of my parenting. I was forced to sit down and actually think about the parenting strategies I use. Which is always a good thing that we often just don't have time for as moms. 

Oh, and for those who were still wondering: no, he hasn't punched his sister again.



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