Dear Annie: My wife and I have two toddler children. When my son was a year old, my wife began to hit him as a form of discipline. I strongly objected and this led to many fights between us. This wasn’t the only problem. My wife is verbally and emotionally abusive toward all of us.
After many arguments, my wife finally agreed to stop hitting my son only to do so again later. This pattern repeated many times. She says she has no way to discipline him if she can’t hit him, and what’s worse, her entire family agrees with her.
Now that my daughter is a year old, she has begun to hit her, too. I’ve shown many times that disciplining the children by putting them in their room works. But that’s not good enough for my wife. With so much support from her family, I can’t get through to her.
I’ve called three domestic abuse hotlines, but each person there told me they are strictly for abused women, not children. English is my wife’s second language. There are cultural differences between her family and mine, and I understand this is how she was brought up, but I don’t want my children raised this way. Please help. – Hawaiian Black Eye
Dear Hawaiian: It will be very difficult to convince your wife that the way her parents disciplined her is not appropriate, especially with her family nearby undermining your efforts. First, it is your responsibility to keep your children safe from harm. While spanking is acceptable for some households, if your wife is hitting, slapping, punching or using belts, brushes or other instruments, you may need to get the children out of the house when she is upset with them. Then be sure your wife understands that, if someone sees her hitting a child, she could be reported for abuse and the children could be removed from the home. With that incentive, contact the Children’s Advocacy Project at the University of Hawaii Department of Pediatrics (cap4kids.org/hawaii) and the Hawaii State Department of Health (theparentline.org).
Dear Annie: I have a close friend who visits a few times a year. Is there a polite way of telling my friend not to read the newspaper on the toilet? – Not Appealing Now
Dear Not Appealing: You have several choices: You can tell your friend to please not take the paper out of the kitchen before you’ve read it. You can buy an extra paper on those days when he visits. You can get up early enough to read it first. You can stock the bathroom with interesting magazines. You can tell him point-blank that you don’t like handling the paper after it’s been in the bathroom. Pick one.