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On anger, discipline, and the New York Times.

By Alice Bradley

First and foremost in the news this week: parents plus wealth times typical city congestion equals another New York Times slam-dunk! In one of the non-newsiest articles ever to belch forth from the New York Times, we find out that on the Upper East Side, chaffeurs (excuse me–hired drivers) are dropping off well-off nursery school kids. Who’d have thought?!
No, really, this is news. Because all those cars are annoying, you see. Cars get in the way! News!
Despite a strongly worded request from the 92nd Street Y nursery school’s director to either park or drive around the block, the hired drivers continue to idle their limousines and luxury sedans each morning, double- or triple-parked in front, blocking traffic (and not doing any favors for the environment) as parents escort their children into school.
While it’s true that the drivers should maybe toodle around the block a couple of times while they’re waiting for the parents, I have to ask, this is news? Idling cars? I want to march down to the New York Times right now and ask if they don’t have anything better to write about. (I mean, I hear a war’s on!) Lucky for them it’s face-shatteringly cold out there. Instead I’ll just post my favorite quote, uttered by the co-author of The Manhattan Directory of Private Nursery Schools about the increasing number of chaffeured kids:“It’s very in-your-face. But that’s the population they engender. How do you think they got a retractable playroof?”
Not by offering sacrifices to the leprechauns who live in your compost bin? I’m doing it all wrong.
But if the New York Times fills you with rage, for your sake, repress it! Verbalizing that anger of yours is not only unladylike—it will kill you. According to (probably male) scientists, women who vent their rage and frustration are more likely to develop blockages in the heart arteries. Instead, recommend scientists, you should tamp that anger down, way, way down, where it will fester and, slowly but surely, in some other non-heart-related way, kill you. (N.B.: Scientists didn’t actually recommend that).
I didn’t even know we’re supposed to feel anger. Last I heard, we were only permitted emotions that involve the need to cuddle, an urge to organize recipe files, or the desire to watch Grey’s Anatomy. I need to re-read my manual.
Even if you’re still expressing your anger, try not to take it out on your child: another study published this week shows that spankings are a bad idea. A research team at the University of New Orleans in Louisiana studied the effects of corporal punishment on 98 children. Their conclusion: Hitting doesn’t help, and most often hurts. In fact, the research team failed to find a single positive effect engendered from hitting. According to Reuters, “children on the receiving end of a slap can learn that when they are upset and angry they hit, rather than understanding their behavior was wrong and that they need to do better.”
Finally, reader Brandi sent in the following news item: when a toddler had a tantrum on an AirTran plane, airline officials issued their own time out: she and her family were kicked off the plane. At first glance this seems like harsh punishment, but consider: the three-year-old girl began her meltdown as the family boarded and was still in full freak-out mode fifteeen minutes after the departure time. What’s an already-delayed airplane staff faced with 112 inconvenienced passengers to do? Put the kid in cargo hold?

Alice Bradley
About the Author

Alice Bradley

Alice Bradley was a regular contributor to Alpha Mom, writing about current events as they related to parenting. You can read about her daily life at her personal blog, Finslippy.


Alice Bradley was a regular contributor to Alpha Mom, writing about current events as they related to parenting. You can read about her daily life at her personal blog, Finslippy.

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  • melody

    January 27, 2007 at 12:44 am

    Published “studies”…May I have please have the cash spent on most of these? I could give them the same conclusions free.
    And I am so with you about the kid on the plane. 112 versus ONE 3 year old? Get off the plane princess.

  • Rhonda

    January 27, 2007 at 1:30 am

    Rules are rules. If an adult were making a stink and refusing to buckle up so they couldn’t leave the runway, they’d kick him off too.
    When my daughter was smaller and more tantrum-prone, I had to leave a number of restaurants and stand outside with Screaming Mimi while the other adults in our party got to stay inside and have pleasant conversations. Did I hate it? You bet. Did it feel unfair that I had to be outside? A little, but it was all part of teaching consequences and being considerate of others. Those parents might feel similarly singled out (especially since the plane left without them), but it comes with the territory.
    I wonder whether the airline would have been similarly gracious (or even more gracious) about refunding/rerouting them if the *parents* had said, “I’m sorry, we have to get off this plane because our kid isn’t cooperating.”

  • Fresh Mommy

    January 27, 2007 at 1:37 pm

    I was on a plane and seated in the same row of a 4 year old who wouldn’t get into his seat and buckle up for landing. He was traveling with a grandmother who had no control over him. I had to get out of my seat and stand in the aisle while he kicked at a pregnant flight attendant who was trying to get him back into his seat. He was a terror. So, yeah, off the plane.

  • dorothy

    January 27, 2007 at 4:11 pm

    I was just talking about that airline thing with a friend of mine at lunch. At first we were angry at the airline, but then our husbands showed up for lunch and were all, “Dude, just pull your kid out from under the seat.” And we were like, “Duh. Good point.” While we’re not spankers, we’re not against forcible car-seat buckling against the child’s will, done with love, of course.

  • Daria

    January 28, 2007 at 11:05 pm

    If you are going to kick someone off the plane with a child get their bags out of the plane for them.

  • ozma

    January 29, 2007 at 2:36 am

    The women in my family, we are DEAD. Alice, you are awesome but you always find the facts that will haunt me later.
    I like this quote: “The key is to have a lot of different forms of punishment depending on the age of the child,” said Frick, who reported his findings in the Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology.
    Damn! How many of these are we going to need? Dozens? Hundreds? Thousands?

  • slouching mom

    January 29, 2007 at 3:40 am

    What cracks me up about the Times piece is that the parents want all the credit for dropping off their kids at preschool (versus having the nanny do it), but that they don’t want to do the work that drop-off might involve (like doing their own driving, or walking, or busing, or training).

  • Ashley

    January 29, 2007 at 9:38 am

    Ha. The silly things that qualify as ‘news’.
    And some of these ‘studies’ remind of the time I saw a feature on the evening news that stated that the ‘5 second rule’ is not scientifically sound. (The 5 second rule, for those who don’t know, is when you drop food on the ground and as long as you pick it up less than 5 seconds after its touched the ground, its ‘safe’.)
    This was on the evening news. They researched this. They paid people to tell us that food dropped on the ground is going to be dirty.

  • Matt

    January 29, 2007 at 9:57 am

    You had a manual – damn, no wonder I keep screwing up! I gotta see if I can find that thing.
    heh, heh – another good one, Alice.
    But seriously, as a million mile flier and a parent – I have every sympathy for mothers with sick/tired/normal fussy kids. That’s life. But when a child is throwing a continuous, loud fit and cannot be contained in a seat – that requires something extra – either from the parents or the airline. This is also a safety issue. If the parents can’t control the child, anything can happen.

  • Melanie

    January 29, 2007 at 10:11 am

    I plan to refrain from getting angry completely now, in order to save my heart and arteries. I’ll just calmly pop Xanax. And when my son misbehaves, I will be too doped up to even think about spanking.

  • Vikki

    January 29, 2007 at 11:06 am

    Thank goodness I live in the midwest where there is plenty of wide open space for our limousines to idle.
    In regard to the airplane thing…I’m not an authoritarian parent but there are times when you just have to take the bull, er, kid by the horns and bend them to your will. This was one of those times. We had to do this to our 18 month old last summer and we all lived.

  • Debbie

    January 29, 2007 at 12:08 pm

    I can totally understand the airline pitching ’em off the plane; It’s sad they couldn’t get their bags or whatever, but the only thing I can say about that is “Well, if your kid hadn’t caused the problem, you wouldn’t have a problem, would you?”
    Far be it from me to offer parenting advice to anyone — but I do know that My Mom raised three of us to know that there are certain situations where scared-into-silence is the only acceptable response.
    Now, what about those parents who refuse to remove their screamers restaurants or theaters?

  • Kirsten

    January 29, 2007 at 6:30 pm

    Okay, I’ll admit that I’m a twenty three year old with no kids, but I’m definately with the airline on this way. Parents, kids are a decision and a commitment. If you never want to have to deal with a tantrum, never want to deal with your kids inconveniencing you, never have to deal with your kid inconveniencing other people, then don’t have kids. And yes, that counts even when you’re tired or busy or in transit. It sucks for you, but you, unlike the other airline passengers and employees, signed on for that.

  • Kristin, Augie and Joel's Mom

    January 30, 2007 at 10:04 am

    Call me too midwestern. Please. Too much money is not good for you. It reminds me of the family who sent their nanny to their kid’s Parent-Teacher Conference.

  • Her Bad Mother

    January 30, 2007 at 6:07 pm

    I find that limousines get in the way of my Hummer. I’m thinking of just using the copter to get the kid to preschool. Do they have landing pads next to that retractable playroom roof?

  • Amanda

    February 7, 2007 at 1:05 pm

    It is absolutely no coincidence that these reports coincide. Spoiled rotten, no discipline, uncontrolled temper tantrum. Does anyone else see a connection here?

  • EOMama

    February 9, 2007 at 7:15 pm

    Kirsten, if you ever sign on to be a parent, I hope you’ll post about your experiences here. Especially your experiences dealing with a toddler on an airplane. I recently survived an airplane trip with my two toddlers, and it was GOOD TIMES. Yeah.