Thanks To My Dad, I Never Spanked My Children

Posted on July 14, 2011 by


Just Don't Do It

In a recent post on motherhood uncensored, some startling statistics on spanking from the 90s were cited. BTW, the author was not pro-spanking. She re-told an uncomfortable tale. Which made me wonder, are we obligated to step in when a parent is losing it on their child? I think so.

I’d even go further and assert that as a culture we’d be more likely to intervene if a dog owner was hitting their dog. Than a parent their child.

In this outraged state; me imagining dogs being rescued and toddlers beaten, I decided to check how much we’ve evolved since the 90s when 70 percent of college educated parents admitted to spanking. Turned out, in 2011 parents are still swatting and whacking and spanking their offspring. I didn’t find a percentage. But, I found all sorts of blogs with people spewing the virtues of spanking.

I was aghast. And, as a recovered social worker (I’d run screaming from the vocation to avoid the fatigue and upset snooping around in other people’s problems created) I was astounded. I thought that in the world of people and their problems spanking was passe. I thought we’d made some progress.  I forget that Obama in the Whitehouse does not mean we’ve got it all figured out.

The problems with spanking are exponential.

Spanking hurts both physically and mentally. Spanking creates shame and teaches fear. Spanking doesn’t correct the behavior it was employed to correct. Because we don’t retain information when we are being hit. We survive.

Spanking is a gateway punishment to different forms of abuse. It leads to dragging and twisting and intimidating and threatening. Once you’ve spanked your kid, you’ve got to up the ante in order to get them to behave. Once spanking loses its novelty? Then you’ve got to get crazier and freakier and more horrible.

Case in point: my father was a spanking fan. His spankings were concocted of pure frustration and anger with a splash of resentment on the side. Eventually, he had to pinch and glare and insult because, you got it,  once spanking was no longer a novelty, I was no longer satisfyingly terrified. I was resigned.

Spanking is bullying. A bully doesn’t like the object of their bullying to be unafraid.

When I was four years old, we lived in an apartment building. The basement was a maze of clothes lines and storage boxes. I would pedal beyond the dryers toward water tanks, and when I did, my father would roar up behind me and tear me off the bike before driving his point home with slaps. Yep, here I am old enough to forget about it, but I remember. I’m not walking around all damaged (I suppose you could find some naysayers), but I do walk around knowing that I don’t believe in spanking.

Other than the basement example, I don’t remember the reasons I was spanked. I do remember that being spanked hurt. I also remember an utter lack of power. When a child is spanked, they are waiting for the adult to calm down. I remember waiting. And that my friends, is a crappy way to pass your time.

One does not spank teenagers. But, for the record, when my kids were little and I could have spanked? I did not. If I had used spanking as my chosen form of communicating distaste for their behavior, I’d be in serious trouble with teenagers. They constantly break rules, push rules, ignore and trample rules. I’d be perpetually chasing them around with my hand in paddle-mode.

When we spank children we abuse our power. Period. So, just don’t do it. Instead, twist your own forearm and shout into your own face. See how it makes you feel. And then, sit down in a boiling pot of water, bare-assed. That should cure any skeptics. And one more point from my soap box — if our job as parents is to be our children’s first teachers we must do so with love. Peace starts at home. Truly.