Fourteen years ago when my husband and I were preparing for our first child, we felt we already had several tools in our toolbox. Both of us worked with children and youth, and we felt prepared for parenting. We decided early on that we would never spank unless we were completely out of options.
As our bright, sweet, bubbly firstborn entered the terrible fours (yes, he was a bit delayed in his toddler rebellion), we were surrounded by a community of people who believed in “controlled spanking” with hugs and grace afterward.
As we decided to homeschool and our family grew quickly through new births and adoption, I found myself becoming very triggered, as did my husband. There were clearly traumas—both childhood and adult—that he and I had no idea were buried so deeply within us.
We were (and are) very relational with our kids.
We’ve always talked about poor choices (and our unconditional love through them), read to them, hugged them, and given them tons of positive physical attention and affirmation. We encourage them to grow and improve in their decision-making. We’ve grown in our knowledge of gentle and trauma-based parenting despite the fact that we’ve had dry times of little to no outside support, which is true for so many parents.
Unfortunately, there were times in a season not so long ago, that we also grew in our frustration. This resulted in yelling, pops, and spanks out of sheer exasperation over their behavior . . . parents we never imagined we’d be.
I have been depressed over this season. I have been so, so ashamed of myself. I have lived in this shame while I’ve gotten up every morning and continued to love and nurture my kids.
I now believe, for our family, that spanking should never be the answer, though I still greatly respect and acknowledge those who have a different view.
I’ve not spanked for quite some time, and I never plan to again.
I see the difference. Our kids have gone from awesome with some minor behaviors to still awesome with close to nil.
The pain of this season has been difficult for me, but God is good.
We recently met with all six kids and confessed our awful behavior, our brokenness, and our desire to do better. I am so thankful for the relationship we have with our children and the other tools we’ve employed. They were so gracious, sweet, and ready to forgive.
I look forward to a long future of being a better momma to those with whom God has entrusted me.
If you are a mom who struggles in these ways, I want you to know I don’t doubt or question your love for your little ones.
Motherhood is hard and can be so isolating. Yes, we all can be better and guilt is a bear, but be kind to yourself. God has entrusted these precious gifts into our care knowing that we have our own trauma. Sometimes, we don’t even know it’s there.
It’s never, ever too late.