Do I really want to talk about this? No, I don’t because it scares the crap out of me. That was my first thought. When I mentioned writing about this topic to some of my friends and family members, they didn’t think it was a good idea either. Spanking is a highly controversial subject and I could be opening myself up to a lot of criticism from a lot of sanctimonious people.
Disagreement I can handle but I don’t need or enjoy confrontation, hateful rhetoric, or drama–my kids give me plenty of that at home! However, I’ll never be able to escape judgmental people while writing this blog unless I’m 100% politically correct all the time. I don’t want to be so sensitive in regards to what I can and cannot talk about when it comes to parenting that I end up writing about nothing at all. I don’t think it would be fair, just for the sake of making everyone comfortable, to leave out a particular discipline technique that many parents have used in the past and many still use today.
O.K. (deep breath here), let’s do this.
I was spanked as a child but not very often. The few times I was, I learned my lesson and then the threat of a spanking alone kept me from misbehaving. “You three girls were pretty good,” my mom kindly tells me, “nothing like your children. You girls never talked to me the way your kids talk to you.” Yep, I know mom, so please fix them! She can’t though, no one can. She’s given me loads of advice and we have breakthroughs now and then but my kids’ talent for naughtiness remains a mystery to us all.
Even if we’re all out of ideas, at least my mom is still able to soothe me and temper my feelings of helplessness when the kid shiz hits the fan. She loves her grandchildren dearly but even she prefers to love and spoil them one at a time. Who wouldn’t? My kids are charming little cherubs when you give them some one-on-one attention. Put all three together though–watch out. Freakin’ savages.
Although I was spanked occasionally as a kid, it really wasn’t some phenomenal, life-changing event. It was a big enough deal where it sufficiently sucked so I would not be eager to repeat that same disobedient behavior again. The truth is, I had an extremely happy childhood. My parents sacrificed everything for their three girls and we always knew how much we were loved by them. I have a beautiful relationship with both my mom and dad today.
I know that I was lucky and not everyone had it so great. Good or bad, the sum total of our own childhood experiences likely shaped how we currently feel about spanking. I understand that and I am not advocating for or against it. I can only speak about it as it relates to me and my own perception of it.
A spanking was a spanking and it wasn’t unusual for a kid to get one back in those days.
When I was seven years old, I stole a piece of gum from an already open pack at the grocery store and then lied about it. I never would’ve been caught if my younger sister hadn’t been enthusiastically chomping on her piece of gum while riding next to me in the backseat of the car…thanks, sis! We were spanked when we got home, it stung for a minute and then it was over. I’m pretty sure I never lied again and I know I never stole again for the rest of my childhood.
Looking back with all of the benefits of hindsight, I still can’t pinpoint anything about a minor butt-whup that would’ve had a negative impact on my life. In fact, it was likely quite the opposite. I was taught right from wrong and knew the consequences. I was taught moral values and the “Golden Rule.” I was taught how to love and that I was loved. It was that special mix of good parenting along with living in a world that was a little more carefree than the one we’re living in today. I’d say I was a darn-near-perfect kid, right up until my teenage years.
Talking about spanking today, however, is a completely different story.
You have to be very careful because it is not the norm anymore, it’s the exception. Just talking about it is as nerve-wracking as sneaking downstairs in the middle of the night on Christmas Eve to do that jolly thing you do. You have to tread lightly over this subject, like a ninja.
Those parents out there who do spank occasionally and judiciously don’t talk about it. Good parents trying hard to do the right thing in regard to how they discipline their children don’t want to be lumped into the same category as parents that go too far and abuse their children. That is the elephant in the room ladies and gentlemen, and that is why people shy away from even discussing spanking at all.
With that said, I’d like you to consider the most challenging moments you’ve had raising your younger children. Out of curiosity, have any of your kids climbed onto the kitchen counter and pulled knives out of the butcher block to use as drumsticks (and not because you were a neglectful parent by any means but maybe it happened within that split second you permitted yourself to run to the bathroom to pee quick or maybe–how dare you–you grabbed a load of laundry out of the dryer)?
Better yet, has your child ever grabbed the Kitchenaid blender stick and told his three year old brother to put his finger into the spinning blades (miraculously not chopping anything off but causing several bloody slices and serious pain to the poor baby, not to mention almost giving his horrified mother a heart attack)? What was that, you can’t relate? Hmm…here, this next one might be more common… Have you ever tried putting your hotheaded, sassy daughter in a time-out only she refused to go and relentlessly talked back while you tried desperately to drag her 65 pounds of stubbornness onto the time-out rug? If so, did the idea of a butt-smack ever cross your mind as your final recourse for dealing with this type of behavior?
Because of those strong opinions out there and the cult of meanness that is so pervasive in our current society, especially online, I would actually be terrified to admit that I have ever tried spanking my children. I would never say that a smack on the bottom might have been used if the child refused to go in a time-out or kicked his brother in the nuts because his brother wasn’t sharing the Nintendo Switch. Even if spanking would be a last resort to discipline my kids when all else failed or their naughty behavior was so extreme, I will only concede that I’ve entertained the idea.
In any case, I’m guessing that had I ever attempted to smack my kiddos little tooshies, they would probably laugh at me and say it didn’t even hurt. Meanwhile, I’d be holding my throbbing hand behind my back, wondering how it had totally backfired to such a painful degree. My kids might even be smart enough to pad their backsides with wadded up Kleenex and I would walk away confident I had made my point while all along they were just fake-crying those crocodile tears.
Some of my kids are really quick and I might have to catch them first. This could possibly lead me to chasing them out of the door only to bang my knee into the doorframe. I might actually get some kind of hairline fracture or something like that although I wouldn’t realize it until the swelling went down and I was left with a small bony bump on my knee forever. Thank goodness that sort of thing has never happened to me, right?
Let’s say I got lucky and I was able to catch one of the bigger ones. I would bet that it would most likely turn into a ridiculous wrestling match and by that point, all parental credibility would be tossed out of the window. No doubt it would take close to five minutes to get that toosh-target within my sights and chances are, by that time, my energy would already have been depleted and I duly would have lost that disgraceful battle.
I say this because my middle child, now in first grade, is very small for his age but he is a competitive gymnast with a six-pack and unbelievable strength. He likely got his small stature from his five-foot one-inch mama but his mama is not working out at the gym nine hours a week like he is. So, if he knew the thought of me spanking him had crossed my mind, he’d be sizing me up right then and there. A mischievous smirk might appear ever so briefly across that child’s face because from his perspective, game on.
In theory, I’m sure some spankings would hit the mark, but I don’t think the eventual outcome would outweigh the challenges to get there in the first place. I probably wouldn’t feel very good about either and the social stigma associated with it would likely make me feel guilty as hell. My husband is in the same boat as I am, we’re both floating on a pool of uneasiness with this one.
Now, I know many amazing parents that have had success spanking their littles when appropriate and believe me, they have raised kind, respectful, and well-rounded children. I think if children are raised in a home filled with faith, love and happiness and a smack on the bottom is done to teach them a life lesson rather than done out of anger, I can see it being a useful tool. It needs to be a decision that both parents can agree on and carry out in a safe way. If either parent feels wishy-washy about it, it’s probably not going to be the best choice for that family.
For me and mine, the idea of spanking is just too complicated, both emotionally and physically. I am crossing it off of my list and will continue on in pursuit of sanity without it. One day, I hope to find the knowledge necessary to tame my wildlings.