In striving to become more gentle and less… well, traditional, of a parent the first discipline method that we got rid of was spanking. I know that this can be a heated discussion for many, but hear me out. Yes, spanking does stop undesirable behaviors. But not for the reasons that parents who are pro-spanking think.
1. “I never spank in anger, therefore it is alright because I won’t go overboard”– Well, I can assure you that many serial killers also committed their violent crimes in a calm, cold, and calculated manner. So does that make it alright?
2. “I was spanked as a child and I turned out just fine” – No, you grew up fearing the touch of your parents and learned that when someone does something that you don’t like, it is ok to hit them. Sure, you were “well-behaved” on the surface. But you continued the cycle of violence and you are justifying why you deserved to be hit as well as your children.
3. “Nothing else works!”– So when your husband does something you don’t like, you hit him? What about your co-worker, your boss, your dog in fact? You are not allowed to hit any of those people or things and somehow you manage to work things out with them…. Why is it ok to just turn to hitting your child to get your message across? You can try finding out why the behavior is occurring in the first place, removing the temptation to commit the crime, try to find a different way of explaining why you are displeased. There are many, MANY ways to communicate with a child without hitting or using negative reinforcement. In all actuality, true discipline happens when there is mutual respect and trust to the relationship. If your child doesn’t trust you to not hit them, they will not confide in you nor respect you.
4. ” I know the difference between spanking and child abuse!”– In the ’50s it was socially acceptable to slap and spank your wife. Now it would be grounds for not only being arrested but having a restraining order placed against you. It used to be alright to kick your dog, whip your horse, and hit your maids. None of these things are acceptable today, they are all considered abuse.
5. “Spanking works!“- No, it doesn’t. Sure, it works short-term. But long-term spanking actually causes more issues. Violent crimes, teenage pregnancy, substance abuse… these are all products of a spanking society. When you spank, you break the trust your child has in you and soon enough they either rebel or grow immune until you have to go overboard to get a reaction.
6. “It is because of a lack of spanking that kids today are so bad.”– Contrary to what the media would have us believe, we are still a spanking society and treat children as if they are disposable property. We do not respect their opinions, do not trust them to do anything on their own, and expect behaviors that are not age appropriate. The states that have the highest crime rates are also the states that have the highest use of corporal punishment. Did you know that in the schools where shootings have occurred, all but one used corporal punishment?!
7. “The Bible tells me to use the rod”– This argument is in the media spotlight right now due to impending cases against the Pearls. These Fundamentalist Christians have taken a text written in love and used it to justify the abuse of thousands of children around the world. (They also wrote a book regarding wives, where they are counseled to endure abuse because it glorifies God to suffer in silence.) Hana Grace Rose Williams died May 12, 2011. She was only 13 years old, and her adoptive parents beat her with plumbing line, locked her in the closet for days on end, forced her to live outside, and starved her until, in her weakened condition, she succumbed to hypothermia in her own back yard in Sedro-Woolley, WA after being put outside in the cold rain. Her parents were followers of the Pearls book, “To Train Up a Child”. No where in the Bible does Jesus tell parents to hit their children, in fact, he tells everyone to treat others how they wish to be treated. The rod in question is a metaphor for a shepard’s staff, which guides and gently leads, and most importantly protects the sheep from predators. When taken in this manner, the phrase “spare the rod, spoil the child” would really mean that if you don’t protect and defend your child, you hurt them.
No matter the situation, there is never a reason to hit your child. There is always a better solution or a gentle way to help your child understand what you would prefer they do or not do. Please understand too that this is not an overnight parenting technique that you can master right away. Habits are hard to break, but if you are more mindful of your reactions and actions around your children it is a good start! Happy parenting!!