This week we’re tackling an incredibly sensitive and divisive subject: spanking as a form of discipline. Four women have agreed to share with us the reasons why they chose to spank their children, or why they opted not to. This series is not meant to convince anyone that spanking is either right or wrong, but rather to give us each the chance to hear from mothers who have chosen different from us. It also gives us the opportunity to thoughtfully reflect on (and possibly re-evaluate) how we’ve chosen to parent our own children. Read yesterday’s installment here, and check back throughout the week to hear from more mothers and read their stories.
I’ll never forget the first time I felt like I REALLY lost my temper as a parent. Surprisingly, it was two and a half years into being a mom. I was 6 months pregnant with my second child, and my oldest was almost three. I was tired. No, I was exhausted. All I wanted to do was chill. Two and a half year olds don’t quite know the definition of that.
He refused my idea of a book and cuddles on the couch. Instead, he wanted to basically terrorize the house and me all in one swoop. My stress level went from zero to sixty quick.
Before I knew it, I told him if he didn’t calm down and start listening that I would spank him.
“What’s that?” he asked. Remembering this moment now, almost 5 years later, I laugh. But it was not funny to me at the time.
It was in that moment I was reminded of why my husband and I intentionally do not spank our kids.
To me, spanking is an aggressive and reactive form of discipline and one that I don’t want to bring into my house.
I was never spanked as a child, but my husband was.
His mom would actually go one step further by using objects like wooden spoons. When I learned of this I was worried. Worried that it would mean he would be pro spanking once we had kids.
Turns out, it was the complete opposite.
It’s interesting because when he talks about it, he doesn’t say, “when my mom spanked me…” He says “when my mom hit me…” He had a supportive, two-parent, fairly normal upbringing. And even though the spankings they used were only on his rear and done in the “right” way (I feel it’s important to clarify this because they were not physical beatings), there is a definite negative relation my husband holds even into his adult years when this comes up. He didn’t reach some “light bulb moment” where he became supportive of this form of discipline and believed it to be effective.
I don’t find that to be particularly healthy.
When I was pregnant with our firstborn, we talked about spanking. Despite each being brought up differently when it came to this form of discipline, we aligned easily on the decision to not bring that into our house.
This topic is a big one and pros/cons can easily be found. I have friends who do spank. When I’ve asked them how they came to the decision, most of them say it’s very dependent on the type of child and for their kid they feel it’s effective.
I am more on the mindset that it’s enforcing a lesson with aggression. My kids have done things that have scared me half to death, like letting go of my hand in a busy parking lot. I’ve seen other kids be immediately spanked for things like this. I understand it being a way to immediately enforce that a behavior is wrong and should not be repeated. But I also strongly believe it’s giving a green light to let aggression or emotion out in a physical way.
Kids should be disciplined. I am not a “free spirited” parent who believes kids should not have rules, structure and consequences.
I just don’t believe in bringing physical reaction into the rules, structure, and consequence of my household.
Moms, I know parenting is more challenging than we ever even imagined. Nobody and nothing can prepare you for it. We are given authority as parents to raise our kids how we see fit. That is a beautiful thing.
Though, sometimes I would love a manual.
Do you spank as a form of discipline in your family? Why or why not? Differing opinions are always welcome, but kindness and respect are expected when commenting.