1/25/07

To Spank Or Not To Spank? That Is The Question.

Yes, that's my big arse....Bry took this lovely shot in the summer.
Objects on your computer screen are
larger they appear.


Growing up in the archaic 1980's, my backwoods, mountain-dwelling family thought it was ok to have a "stick" that was about 1 1/2" thick, with names written on it. The names being that of myself and my cousins. See, our moms were all single-moms, who dropped us off with my grandmother everyday, so we were brought up with our grandmother as a second mom & cousins who were more like siblings.
My grandmother always had it wedged way down deep in the space between the cushion and the side of the chair. If you saw her rooting, you knew you were in for it.
Anyway, that stick scared the bejeezus out of me. I avoided the sting of the stick on my little tooshie at all costs. Now, I wasn't the picture-perfect child/granddaughter/cousin/girl. But, the stick helped me to think more creatively, i.e. sneakily. Whatever I was going to do that was wrong or bad had to be done at just the right moment. And under the perfect circumstances so as not to be seen, heard, caught or inevitably, hit with the stick.
My recollection of events was that I got a "licken" probably once or twice. So, it obviously made quite an impression, as I can't recall for sure how many times I was struck. I was influenced more by the absolute presence of the stick. I'm not sure if that made me a little bit more smart, or a little bit more stupid.

I remember the first time I spanked Connor. I thought I was going to die. I was almost ready to call DYFS on myself. It was totally reactionary. And Connor was pretty little. He kicked me really hard, and without even thinking, I slapped his leg.
Yes, his leg had the tell-tale fingerprints, the redness, and slight welt. I have never felt so awful in my whole entire life.
That being said, I really try not spank my kids. I try to rely more on Behavior Modification and time-outs. I'm the type of parent, whose kid when standing on top of the coffee table, is warned that they may fall, but I'm not going to remove them or spank them. If they fall, they will understand. That's not to say that if something completely and utterly dangerous were going on, I wouldn't intervene. But I'm more of the school of thought that experience is part of the learning process.

It's been in the news lately, that spanking may be outlawed. I'm not really sure how I feel about this.

Take for instance Tuesday. I was speaking with the director of the preschool (who happens to be my dearest, best friend) at pick-up time. Gracie runs away from me toward the parking lot. I call to her to come back. Now she thinks it's a game. I run after her, which makes her even more engaged in the game. She starts to run into the path of an incoming mini-van. I grab tightly a-hold of her arm, give her little, diapered heiney a quick smack. I show her the van, the street, and explain that she could get hurt.
As I walked away, aware that I had witnesses to the spanking, they could see the tag number of my car, if they so wanted to report me.....that I just spanked my child in broad daylight. It wasn't a beating. It was somewhere between a love-tap and a full-on spank. But there were witnesses. And it is quite possible, that I could have offended someone enough for them to point authorities in my direction.

You think I'm crazy? Ravioli has people on his case-load for hitting their kids.

Why I don't condone beating for beatings sake. Or that spankings the main form of discipline, I do find that in the case of immediate danger, a light spank is, or can be, called for.
Maybe I've got it all wrong. I mean, I think the powers-at-be are trying to protect children who are in harm's way.
But what about the rest of us who are just moms and dads who love our kids enough to not want them hit by a car, to touch a hot stove, or to put their fingers in electrical sockets? Does that put us in the criminal category??

7 ripples in the pond:

Ravioli said...

To be honest, I do not have anyone on my caseload for spanking their child. Those on my caseload for domestic violence against their kids, crossed well over the line. I mean, using belts or striking in the face. And they all say "all I did was spank my kid!" No one says, yeah, I crossed the line.

Slackermommy said...

I'm a spanker but not the kind that I think most of us grew up with. I call those a whooping. I do one pop on the bottom or back of the leg with my hand. I use it mostly for dangerous situations and like you I have spanked my kids in front of strangers and I don't care. I have nothing to hide. I don't abuse my children but sometimes a spank is way more effective than a time out especially in a dangerous situation. Spanking is my last resort. Sometimes time-outs don't work or in my house they can become a game. Once my kids get to be 5 or 6 I rarely spank because taking away t.v., friends, or the computer is quite effective. I think it's a shame that people want spanking outlawed. I mean really, do they think people are going to stop? No, we'll just become closet spankers. It seems children were way more behaved when I was growing up. Discipline has gotten to lax and we tend to overindulge our kids. My kids do not have near the kind of respect for adults that I had as a kid. I'm not condoning the whoopings I got as a kid but I often think that so many parents are terrified that they'll get reported for disciplining their kids. I trust that social workers can figure out that a kid either got just a spanking or is being abused. I'll get off my soapbox now. Great post.

Oh, The Joys said...

I'm more of a one popper too - and not very hard. I'm going for the startle effect not the hurt. Like "Hey! Snap out of it you crazy toddler child!"

Tabba said...

'Zactly...

Joker The Lurcher said...

i'm a no-spanker. i have never hit my son. i'm glad that my husband and i discussed this before he was born. we decided that if we hit in anger we were likely to hurt him (we both have serious tempers) and if we hit in cold blood it was weird.

as it turned out, with our son being autistic, we would have been spanking him for things he could not help - like running away from noise or wasps even if it was into the path of a car (we just held his hand to keep him near us).

my view about all this was affected by being hit as a kid. my dad hit me quite hard - not spanking but really hitting like you would hit a grown man. once i broke a bit of furniture when i fell on it. i was not going to do that to my kid.

i think we all find our own way with this stuff.

Pippajo said...

I firmly believe there is a difference between a swat, a spanking and a beating, with only the third being abusive. We both swat and spank our children (well, not My Girl anymore cause she's too old), but we use very stringent guidelines.

First, we NEVER spank in anger. If we're angry, we wait until we've calmed down first. Swats are different, like smacking a their hands away from something or popping them lightly on the back of the head as a reminder to knock off whatever it is they're doing.

Second, spankings are always reserved for willful defiance, never for childish irresponsibility or accidents. Spankings are for when we are sure they clearly understand the rules and are making a willfull decision to defy those rules. They have to have been made aware of the rules, how we expect them to obey them, and what the consequences will be if they don't. If there is any problem, we talk things out with them until it's all clear. We never spank them without first making sure they know exactly why. And when the spanking is over, we hold and cuddle them until they stop crying and tell them how much we love them. We tell them we love them too much to allow that kind of behavior.

That being said, we do not swat or spank our kids in public. We feel it's too humiliating. We don't spank them in front of extended family or even each other. We reserve it for the privacy of their rooms. If we're out and they do something that warrants a spanking, they're told they're getting one as soon as we get home. If we have to, we leave immediately to head home (like the time My Boy threw a super-duper-kicking-and-flailing tantrum in Target).

This seems to work very well for us. Our kids have never been angry or confused after a spanking and, really, we haven't had to spank them very often. But I understand the fear of being "turned in" (another reason I don't spank or even swat them in public).

So, I guess I say, "Spank" but with care and caution. I think it's rarely the parents who put this much thought into things who are abusive.

Funny, as I'm typing this, "Nanny 911" is coming on and all I can think as I watch some of these kids is, "Boy, they could use a darn good spanking!"

Great soap-box topic!

maggie said...

I'm a spanker but never like I got. I will spank on the bottom usually with clothes on. and to be honest my love spanks when we are tickling and fooling around are harder than spanking spankings. I have never slapped their face or used a belt. I agree with slacker mom. Once you can reason with a kid at 5 ish you don't have to spank. TV punishment is much more effective. My kids are now 12 and 7 and I can't remember the last time either got a good beating. I mean spanking.