Let me be honest – I’ve been spanked before. I can actually recount the number of times I’ve been spanked, and though many people will say, “Well I was bad and so there was consequences to my actions”. Does that genuinely warrant a whopping? Ass beating, spanking however you want to call them.
WHAT MADE ME WANT TO UNLEARN MY CHILDHOOD?
I’ve seen it everywhere. Giving a kid a slap on the hand or butt or, even worse, their face. Family members asked to strip to their thinnest clothes and beat with a beat relentlessly. Hit with brooms, wooden spoons, shoes, cords, branches. You name it, it was used. When I had a child, I knew I did not want or need to instil fear to have them respect me. When I enter a classroom, I gain respect by giving respect, and I expect that same concept to work on my own kids (I mean, it worked on hundreds of other people kids)
But If I can have the patience to not beat down someone else’s kid (cause let’s be honest… we’ve seen it happen), I can indeed extend the same PLUS MORE patience, grace and mercy to my own children.
There are some essential questions to consider when looking at the issue of spanking:
IS IT OKAY TO WHOP YOUR CHILD?
There is no debate. Spanking is ineffective and wrong.
Some common arguments for the acceptability of spanking include the patriotic opinion of ownership. “He is my child and I can parent him in any way I see fit.” While this is primarily true because you do not “own” your child (ren), they’re a loan to you no matter what you’ve been told or how your child has exited your body. There’s nothing correct about hitting your child, and it’s no different than child abuse; at the end of the day, you do not have the right to violate his body.
Childism: a prejudice against children on the ground of a belief that they are property and can (or even should) be controlled, enslaved, or removed to serve adult needs.
Religion is another argument sometimes cited for the legitimacy of physical abuse in the form of spanking. If we read the book in the original language, we would find that it doesn’t necessarily state “Spare the rod, spoil the child” is not in the Bible… Sorry to break it to you, but beating your children is not in the Holy Bible. Maybe the enslavers bible (which is who/where that ideology stems from) but nowhere in the Bible does it say, “Spare the rod, spoil the child.” It does say! Proverbs 22:15 Folly is bound up in a child’s heart; the rod of discipline removes it.” Doesn’t equal beat your kids with anything shaped or similar to a rod – it means teach them and discipline them so that a rod (that’s typically steel/copper) won’t be moved.
SO WHERE DOES THIS COME FROM? AND WHY DOES THE BROWN COMMUNITY EAT IT UP?
Reality can be formed through language. If you want to take a historical look at all ethnic countries in the world, they have mostly been colonised. Colonisation included harsh treatment, including slavery. With the American Chattle system of slavery, we see the worst forms of beating. However, this abuse was always a part of the world, even throughout the Biblical ages. It’s why Moses runs away from the palace (he kills a guard for nearly whipping a woman). Now, just because it may not look like a classic slave whip, a belt sure it built very similar to one and even worse if your parents found another object to use toward you. This historical form of abuse was a way of absolute control, stripping a human from their freedom and literally letting them know I will and am controlling you. Now is that the example you want to display to your children?
BUT I DON’T WANT DISRESPECTFUL KIDS?
So you don’t want a human? If every time you had a bad day and something beat your ass will that change the fact you had a bad day? Negative behaviour isn’t something to fix, especially not with a “spanking”, whopping, beating etc. It doesn’t solve or change the initial problem, which is behaviour. It simply makes your children more capable of hiding that behaviour from you. As an educator of 10 years, I have seen and heard it all, but one thing I’ve listened to the most is “Oh not my child, he would never do that” or “They are such an angel at home, are you sure you have the right kid?” Yes, we do, and it’s your fault. I don’t mean (I do) to sound too harsh, but who else are we to blame? If your child is learning from you, what are you teaching them by putting your hands on them?
WELL, I WAS HIT AS A CHILD AND I TURNED OUT FINE…
Did you, though? Your lack of trust, accountability, constant state of fight or flight and abandonment concerns are not typical. Humans are resilient, especially children. Many children have endured severe trauma, abuse and all kinds of experiences that are not in anyone best interest, and some of them did turn out fine. Many of them do not. My mother would say, “We never had xyz, and we all turned out fine”. Just because it was expected doesn’t mean it was correct or even okay. You are not the same person as your child. Each of your children will be vastly different, containing varying attributes of risk and resiliency within them. Just because you walked away from physical abuse and a parenting style based on fear does not mean that your child will. I’m the eldest of 3 siblings, and we are each incredibly different; it’s hard to imagine we all lived and were raised by the same person.
“If by fine you mean functionable in a trauma based society, then yes, we are fine … People get raped, too, and can still have relationships, kids and go to work everyday, but those things are no measure of ‘fine.’ … Ask almost anyone how they are and if they insist they are ‘fine!’ I can almost assure you they are not fine … Fine is a word of settling.”professor philippe
Social feedback is a powerful force. If a woman posted on social media that her husband had hit her, she would not receive a flood of, “It’s okay. He’s human. He’ll say he’s sorry and then you can just move on. He’s trying his best.” We would say, “No, that is NOT okay. It is unacceptable to treat a human being you love that way. He needs to get help right now.” So why do we say the former every time a woman posts that she hit her child?
“When a child hits a child, we call it aggression.Haim G Ginott
When a child hits an adult, we call it hostility.
When an adult hits an adult, we call it assault.
When an adult hits a child, we call it discipline.”
WHAT DOES PHYSICAL DISCIPLINE TEACH?
Physical discipline teaches your child to fear you; to associate you with intimidation and your touch with pain. Every time I get to the spanking portion of the parenting curriculum with a Parenting Group, someone always brings up the scenario of a child running into the street as a cause for a spanking. “I don’t spank but if my child runs into the street, I give him a swat so he knows I am serious.” Try to imagine the situation from your child’s perspective. What your child learns if you hit him when he runs into the street is to not run into the street while you are there watching. He learns to fear you, not the cars in the street. Like I said above – your child simply learned to hide things better from YOU not learn better.
Research tells us unequivocally that children who are spanked will likely be aggressive children, lacking in empathy, and grow to be more depressed and anxious adults. “The more children are hit, the more anger they report as adults, the more they hit their own children when they are parents, the more likely they are to approve of hitting and to actually hit their spouses, and the greater their marital conflict. Even controlling for baseline antisocial behavior, the more 3- to 6-year-old children were hit, the worse their behavior when assessed 2 years later.”
As Brown people living in a world where it feels like our children are being taken from us every day it can seem like the only way we can “Set them straight” is to hit them into submission. However, we all know that does not work – if it doesn’t work for adults, what makes you think it’ll work for a child? They’re just little adults. However, with the fear of police killing innocent brown men and women, our kids being unduly punished for simply being melanated it may truly feel our only source to ensure we don’t have kids that are “running” the streets is to hit them into a correction. But how many people do you know who are in jail, gangs or prison and got the worse of the worse in beatings? How many friends have you’ve grown up with or around that got beatings and fought in school all the time?
Getting hit does not stop anything – in fact, it increases the chances of a violent, unstable adult who does not know how to use their words because it was never taught to them. Here are a few articles that provide scientific proof and details of spanking and the link to our ever violent societies [Link] There was a recent study [Link] confirms that “when children are disciplined using harsh physical punishment like spanking, they are at higher risk of depression, anxiety, substance abuse and other mental health problems – even if they aren’t otherwise abused or maltreated.” [Link] “The more children are spanked, the more likely they are to defy their parents and to experience increased anti-social behaviour, aggression, mental health problems and cognitive difficulties, according to a new meta-analysis of 50 years of research on spanking by experts at The University of Texas at Austin and the University of Michigan.”
SO HOW DO I CHANGE?
First, we have to target the why. Why do we truly believe in hitting our children with work or changing their behaviour? If you’re trying to change behaviour for example hitting (which is ironic) how would hitting your child, while telling them not to hit others make sense for them? Now I don’t believe in “Do as I say, not as I do” because I’ve tried that on my students and they still blindly do what you do. So since we know that works, what else might help? Well if you’re in a restaurant and your order is wrong is beating up the waiter and chef going to make your order correct? No. It’ll land you in jail. But the point is when you want something done, correctly you use your voice. In 10 years of being an educator, I’ve raised my voice 1 time and I got a sore throat immediately after. My body is not built for that and since my students never heard me yell my children won’t either. It doesn’t get through anyone, I mean do you listen when someone is yelling at you? Or do you ignore, get angry and give them that energy right back?
We have to work through past trauma – many of us having these conversations were hit ourselves as kids and make them as reasonable even though we know they aren’t. If you are experiencing any mental blocks due to past trauma, make sure you work through those before you give birth. If you and your spouse are having disagreements, get on the same page before the baby is here. Ray of Hope Counseling Services can help you mentally prepare for birth and beyond by offering individual or couples counseling. If you are looking for therapy Peachtree City, or anywhere else in Georgia, they are the company to call. They accept insurance, meet you where you are, and help you work through life changes.
WHAT TECHNIQUES COULD I USE TO REPLACE SPANKING THEN?
Parents often seek specific strategies to the plugin, the foundation of a violence-free childhood is a parent-child relationship that is based on love, trust, and respect. Parenting techniques like I messages, logical consequences, and time-ins and -outs are all examples of disciplinary tools that can help teach your child what you want him to learn.
If your child runs to the street, instead of spanking, say, “Danger! When you run into the street, I am scared because you could get smashed by a car (pointing at cars) (I statement) (look scared). Danger (pointing at the street)!”
Then, and here’s the most impactful part, “Let’s try again” (replay). Take him back to the point where you were both together, and walk through the situation again, making the safe choice. Run toward the street, then stop abruptly at the curb. Point to the curb and say, “Stop!” (make it fun).
If you feel a consequence is necessary, you can continue with a logical result, “We now have to spend the rest of the afternoon inside the house because I cannot trust that you will make safe choices outside and I must keep you safe.”
Now every single time you are about to step off a curb, you both stop abruptly and say with a smile, “Stop.” Doing that routine will make it second nature for him to stop at the curb.
As your child gets older, you can expand it to “Stop. Look left. Look right. No cars.” to equip your child with the skills to navigate the world more independently.
Responding to a child running to the street in this way will teach this child that running into the street is scary, not safe. It will not be tolerated in a way that enhances your bond, respects your child as a human being, and empowers him to make better choices in the future.
You’ve read this article, and now let it simmer. Allow it to ruminate and shift assumptions you have held for a lifetime. Revisit details when you sense dissonance, and embrace the change that leads to growth. Commit to providing a childhood free of violence at the hand of the one your child needs to trust most. That is not just evolution for your own personal journey of self-actualisation (becoming your best self) and for your children, but the world. Then share this article. Be a change maker that shifts the tide for humanity’s future. I want a new generation of heart-full children.