“[HerMelness], we must be able to to tell the difference between spanking and child abuse. The two are not the same!! No one and I mean no one should abuse a child. Physically or mentally. Spanking is not abuse. Spanking is a way to get and keep control over our children.
“What do you do when your child misbehaves, [HerMelness]?”
This was the question asked of me by Mr Wendell Jordan Sr., he of the often thought-provoking blog I Love Being A Dad and, specifically, following my comment on his post “Positive Parenting: Spanking Is Good!!,” and from which I have just quoted.
So, first, Wendell, (may I call you Wendell?) my apologies for the tardiness of this response.
Reading your post again reminded me that control was the consistent thread running through your published thinking on discipline, lest our children “don’t behave, are rude and are completely out of control.”
That word again.
And originating from an ‘old school’ culture, I get that.
I was raised where children were not in control or ruled households because they did not yet have the knowledge or experience to do so. I was raised where spanking was a disciplinary tool for parents, teachers and any other adult with fiduciary responsibility and, admittedly, I don’t recall ever thinking that what was happening was child abuse but more how much a spanking was going to hurt.
A spanking didn’t make me think about anything other than the spanking.
Although, I do recall spanking wasn’t the worse punishment inflicted upon me. No, that was a quiet talking to by my mother who often disciplined me by making me reflect on the consequences of my actions on myself and other people. To really think about the damage my decisions had caused.
Granted, I wasn’t quite Jesus’ little helper after the talking to, but it did make me…think. Moreover, and profoundly, I recall the why on most of the occasions my parent had to discipline me in those talks and carried those teachings and learnings into adult life. Again, not much recall about the reasons for the spankings.
Spanking does not work.
In a child’s mind it merely represents a clean slate where there is an implied tit for tat contract. I mess up. You hit me. Debt settled. Forgotten.
Where is the long-term learning, discipline or controlled behaviour management in that?
But what if the child is too young to reason with, or the child is in that often lauded ‘emergency’ situation and in danger of hurting themselves?
I would offer that those are perhaps two of the worse times to spank a child since these are the times where we need to be in the most control of them, the situation…and ourselves.
Spanking a child advertises that we are not disciplined; that we are out of control, since it is not possible to spank reasoning into a child too young to be reasoned with, and certainly unreasonable to rescue a child from harm and then inflict violence upon them.
A word which brings me to the other reason I stopped spanking my children.
I substituted the word ‘spanking/smacking’ for ‘beating’.
And ‘child’ for ‘person’.
That particular rose by any other name did not smell as sweet.
I could cite any amount of occasions where another person was out of control, in danger of hurting themselves or impossible to reason with.
It would not occur to me to become violent and beat them.
And that person would not haul our arse into a courtroom with the phrase, ‘I was given a light tap on the tush, m’lud.’
What do I do when my children misbehave, Wendell?
I treat them like any other person.
MISs Make It Stop!