Spare the rod? Spare me!

10 Jul

Yesterday, I wrote in my newspaper column about spanking and the fact that it, quite literally, can drive your kids crazy. Well, I stirred a little nest, I guess. I’ve been berated for humiliating my children and been informed the spanking can be appropriate. What do you think?

10 Responses to “Spare the rod? Spare me!”

  1. Human In Recovery July 10, 2012 at 11:34 am #

    I think much of the problem isn’t just a resistance to wanting to learn new ways of parenting, I think much of it is denial about there being an issue of admitting that the stigma of mental illness may be affecting you and your family and that how you were disciplined and choose to discipline your children may contribute to that.

    We know that a lot of “discipline” in many people’s childhoods was actually torture and abuse, physically, sexually, and mentally. We accept and understand that can be a root cause of perpetuating the domestic violence cycle and a factor in the people who wind up committing heinous crimes and suicide. We consider those to be “extreme” examples and fodder for prime-time television and movies, but not something that directly affects what many consider themselves to be, The Average American.

    There seems to be a desire and a tendency to believe that our past and the “old” ways were good and better than the “new” ways and an insular desire to return to the sense of safety and security we once thought we had. If we remove the lens of nostalgia and distorted perceptions and memories from the past, then we have to face the reality that we are all damaged in one way or another from the past and that it’s up to us to face that damage and do something constructive and healthy about it, like learning how to parent without resorting to the tool of physical punishment and harsh words, and pass it onto our children.

    Facing those things means admitting that we, not only were wronged, but that we are making wrong choices and affecting the lives of future generations by our choices now. We Americans, have difficulty doing that. We want to place blame, find the quick fix, and move on. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. My momma made me cut my own switch and I turned out fine, didn’t I?

    Sorry for the rant.


    • jmlindy422 July 10, 2012 at 11:52 am #

      No need to apologize. I found your comment to be well-reasoned and insightful.

  2. societyred July 10, 2012 at 12:53 pm #

    I think your article was right on target and I agree with you and your methods. In your article you gave an example how your disciplining methods clearly work and you provided data indicating that spanking may be harmful. What you did to rile some people up was make them question what they may already have questions about in the back of their minds regarding physical punishment.
    I don’t think there’s a question whether or not spanking alters behavior, it typically does. Unfortunately spanking teaches a child not about right or wrong, but how to avoid pain. The question is, is there a better way to discipline children to achieve the same or better results? Of course there is. The concept of consequences and reason and patience teaches children not just what behavior is expected, but why it is expected. Your children learned a valuable lesson about being responsible for themselves and the consequences of not doing so. At some point when they are older they will talk about that day and laugh and be thankful their mom is so smart and they will hopefully raise their own children with a similar sensible approach.
    Or you could have spanked them and really humiliated them into compliance…then when got older they may have talked about that day but there probably wouldn’t be any laughter involved or warm and fuzzy thoughts…

    • jmlindy422 July 10, 2012 at 3:10 pm #

      Societyred, I don’t recall a single thing I did that I got slapped or spanked for, but I remember some of the spankings and slappings in vivid detail. The last time I was slapped, I slapped back, completely on instinct. It was terrible to see my mother cower and I wonder how she felt when she did it to me.

      I asked my daughter how she would feel if I spanked her for not eating her dinner. She said, “I would hate you.” Then I asked her how she feels when I make her make her own dinner (the consequence for not eating the dinner I made). She said, “I hate you.”

      So, you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t! My daughter doesn’t remember the naked incident, but my son does. He does laugh about it, but his friends laugh even more when he tells them.

  3. nevercontrary July 11, 2012 at 9:34 pm #

    I am the only parent I know that does not spank. I cannot bring it up around any of them because they act as though I am condemning them. So, I just do not discuss it. But me and my father have come to big fights over it. It can be a tough subject.

    • jmlindy422 July 11, 2012 at 10:02 pm #

      My sister got into a huge fight with her in-laws over spanking. My mom, who spanked us, defended my sister. Yay, Mom. Of course, it was probably one of those “I can criticize my kid, but you better not!” things. Most of the people I am friends with don’t spank.

  4. twistingthreads July 12, 2012 at 3:50 am #

    “I will spank you so hard you won’t be able to sit down for ______”. I think a day was the shortest amount of time I ever heard, although week, month, and year were popular, and I heard decade once or twice. The words were always said in anger, the punishment was inconsistent in relation to the behavior, and I could never be sure if the spanking was going to actually take place until the person strode across the room and threw me over their knee.

    My siblings received the same, and we looked, on the surface, like the perfect family. I’m sure my parents thought things were going swimmingly, with their little pool of honor students, the praise of teachers and community members for their well behaved kids with their talents and enrollment in clubs. The truth was we were terrified, that we grew up feeling as if we never measured up, that we all had break downs and still suffer from depressive spells and other issues to this day. Spanking was the only physical manifestation, but I always knew it could escalate. A fist started flying into my face one day, only to stop, hand shaking, millimeters from my cheek. I knew that person was barely in control when they enacted punishment, that it was an arbitrary decision, not so much about my behavior as their feelings. A person who “disciplines” their child in rage isn’t doing it for the good of the child; therefore we have to draw the line between parents who occasionally give a child a spanking when other punishments, withdrawal of privileges, reasoning, or incentives for good behavior cannot regulate behavior and a parent who spanks or hits out of their own frustration. Studies do show that children who are hit without just cause or who are hit out of anger learn to lash out violently at others who displease or “hurt” them. From what they’ve learned, it’s the correct way to inflict punishment and teach someone not to do it again. It’s also a great way to end up in jail, increases domestic violence, and isn’t considered professional work behavior.

    I suppose I’d also have to ask what happens to a child who behaves only because of the threat of punishment. If a child only behaves because they are afraid of being hit, then undesirable behaviors that can be hidden from the person who might be punish them are still fair game. Once they are out from under that person’s roof, they may no longer know how to self-monitor their own behaviors or may not bother to. That is, of course, unless their reasons for good behavior are extended to something beyond the threat of physical punishment enacted by an outside party.

    I am not implying that I am what I am solely because of spanking (thankfully there is so much more to the story, and to my parents, than that), but I don’t think it was used in an effective or helpful way in my family. I don’t think it is necessary, except perhaps under extreme, and hopefully well-thought circumstances, to raise a child into a healthy, well-adjusted adult who is respectful or other people, and I think in some instances it can actually erode the chances of a child growing up to become their best.

    • jmlindy422 July 13, 2012 at 7:54 am #

      Sorry I didn’t reply to this sooner. I wanted to be able to read it uninterrupted and that kind of time is rare around here. I was never punched, but I was hit with a slipper and also got my beatings from a belt. One of my parents said I was lucky I wasn’t hit with a switch, which they got across the back of the legs. I never felt lucky about that. I’m sure I wasn’t spanked/slapped/belted as often as I think I was, but it was often enough that those are some of my most vivid childhood memories.

      • twistingthreads July 14, 2012 at 1:38 am #

        Don’t worry at all. Sometimes I get far too excited (take that as a compliment) and overdo things. I posted this and then stared at the size in horror; it would overwhelm anyone! Must try harder to make most comments and posts more bite-size.

        I never got more than a spanking despite the close call, but “vivid” is definitely the word for memories like those.

      • jmlindy422 July 14, 2012 at 8:10 am #

        Well, I didn’t mean to imply your comment was too long. I can’t go to the bathroom without being interrupted! So, not too long at all.

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