Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Spare the Rod?

My very best web friend, April tagged me with this meme (which, okay, I don't even know what that means, but I get the idea), and to answer the question with one word, YES. But that isn't entirely true, either. I grew up in a home filled with violence, so for me spanking or otherwise striking one of my children is never my first instinct, yet I cannot in all honesty say I have NEVER spanked any of my kids. I have a clear memory of actually chasing Sam around the table with a wooden spoon when he was about three; I didn't catch him and we ended up laughing about it, but the intent was there. I have also been known to give them a swat or two on the bum, more as an attention getter than any real attempt at discipline. In my mind, though, spanking means using force and proving to your children once and for all that you get to do what you want to do because you are bigger and stronger. It doesn't involve teaching them a lesson as in "This is not okay and this is why," it just teaches them that hitting in order to make someone do what you want them to do is okay.

And to be totally honest here, spankings did not teach ME anything as a child other than to try harder to not get caught. I often did not know exactly what I had done to need spanked for, so felt, most of the time, like I was walking on eggshells and tiptoeing gently areound land mines, because there did not seem to be rhyme or reason to the spankings. I didn't-DON'T-want my children to feel that way, unsure of why they are being punished and therefore growing up feeling like everything they do is wrong.

My youngest is not quite two. Time-outs work, telling him the same thing over and over while redirecting him works. I can't see how spanking him would help him, say, learn that screaming and hanging onto my leg to get my attention is not appropriate, or that climbing into the dryer is not safe. The older one, my 8 year old, does things that make me WANT to spank him, but he is also old enough to be sent to his room, or have his Game Boy taken away, or be forbidden to take part in a party. And the oldest two? To be frank, they are both bigger than me, and I cannot even imgaine trying to use physical means to try to either discipline or control their behavior. What they have to deal with are consequences; my daughter did not show up at home far past the time she was supposed to be there, so I called the police to go get her. My son once cleaned up his room by shoving all of the freshly washed and folded clothes under his bed, so he was given one outfit of clothes to wear for a week. Maybe not perfect, maybe not the way someone else would do it, but it works for us.

That said, I don't believe that people who DO spank should be considered abusive. There is a line that all of us should never cross, and I am not referring to that type of person. But I do know a lot of really great parent with really great kids who DO spank. I think it all comes down to being the best parent you know how to be, and doing what works for you.

1 comment:

April said...

I'm your best friend? That gives me the warm and fuzzies :)
I'm with you - consequences. I don't look down on people who spank, but I just think there are always better ways.