I grew up in a family where spanking was a regular form of discipline. It wasn’t frowned upon in our community and it was popular with most families around us. “Spare the rod, spoil the child” was a real belief.
I grew up thinking spanking was normal and appropriate. It struck fear in me. I’m not sure if it ever corrected my “bad” behavior but it definitely gave me a sense of fear to not do the wrong thing. Or at least to not get caught. Did it make me WANT to do better? Not really. It brought a feeling of anger when it happened. Frustration. Shame.
Oh, so much shame.
If that is the best way of correcting bad behavior then maybe it was the right way to discipline.
Now I am raising kids of my own. Kids who misbehave, constantly. Simply because they are kids.
I am now faced with understanding discipline from the view of a parent. Spanking was brought into my own parenthood. In fact, spanking is still expected in much of my community as a way of disciplining.
There has always been a deep down uncertainty of continuing the traditional way of discipline in my own house. But it is how I was raised, it is how my husband was raised, and it is how many expect us to raise our own children. Even after discussing it with my husband and talking about the different points of view, we both agreed spanking would be used for discipline when necessary. We made one rule: we wouldn’t spank out of anger. Only to help correct behavior.
That sounded right.
As my little one grew up and began to misbehave as expected, I used diversions and time-outs. When she misbehaved further, as toddlers do, I got upset. I decided then it was time for that spanking. When disciplining toddlers you can’t discipline them one hour later. They won’t make the connection. You have to do it right away. That is what I did. I spanked her and sent her to her room.
I didn’t spank out of anger. I spanked because she misbehaved. But I WAS angry. Because toddlers who misbehave rile me up. So is that a gray line?
It’s not black and white.
After more times of spanking out of discipline, not anger, yet doing so while I was upset and frustrated and sometimes truly angry, I realized it is more black and white than I thought.
Where is the gray area? Don’t we teach our kids not to hit? And then we give them a spank on their little bum to set them straight.
Can we BE more confusing?
One thing we all know about discipline is the need for consistency. Well, how is it consistent to spank our child because he hit his older brother? Ironic. How is it consistent to spank our child when we are constantly trying to teach kindness and respect? How is it consistent to spank our child when we want them to know our arms and hands to be ones of compassion?
At times spanking feels like the easier option and that can make it feel like the best option for discipline. But discipline is not easy in any way. The easy way out rarely is the right way.
The truth is, you aren’t going to spank your kids into being nicer human beings. Your probably going to do that through attention, patience, and care. That all takes TIME. Spanking is quick. That swift move of your hand as it smacks their little bum. Then it’s done. You don’t have to think about it anymore. Done.
Kids need discipline. They need to be trained to be kind and loving humans. But they need it through the time we give them. Not with a quick fix.
Discipline is love. Discipline is teaching our kids to be humans that respect, show kindness, and care. We don’t do that by spanking it out of them. We do that by giving them the respect that we wish them to give everyone around them.
I get it. I understand why parents spank and I understand why it is considered a solid form of discipline in some families. No judgment here. But after experiencing it myself, using this form of discipline for my own kids, and after truly taking time to think about it and work through it, I’ve decided it’s not for me.
I challenge you, too. Is your form of discipline encouraging your children to be the best humans they can be? Or is it simply correcting bad behavior out of impatience and fear? Take time to consider the realities of the way you discipline.
Take time. Then make your own informed decision. Whether it involves spanking or not, make sure you have the right goal in mind. The goal to teach our kids how to be humans who are loving. What this world needs the most for the next generation is love.
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