Spare the rod. Save the child.

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Yesterday I re-posted a link on my Facebook page to The Center for Effective Discipline’s Spank Out Day.  Honestly, I almost didn’t re-post it because I thought it rather unnecessary to tell people not to spank for two reasons.  1) Most people don’t spank anymore anyway.  2) People that do spank know there are better options but are sometimes too angry to control themselves.  I thought it would be silly to even bring it up.  We’re all working on doing better everyday, right?  Wrong.

I’m glad I did.  Because I was wrong on both counts.  Apparently spanking is still considered an appropriate means of dealing with what parents deem as behavioral issues with children.
no-spanking

I’m feeling pretty judgmental on this issue today and, after careful consideration, feel absolutely certain that there is no grey area here.  I’ve trotted around it in my head trying to think of a kinder, gentler way to help people to understand why it’s unnecessary and positively damaging to spank children.  There isn’t one.  Because people who spank feel absolutely entitled, if not obligated, to do so in order to raise obedient little soldiers.  So I’m going to say it really loud- STOP HITTING YOUR KIDS!

We could go on about peoples considered as lesser throughout our history being subjugated to the will of the dominant sector- yes, as recently as women who were punished routinely by their husbands (completely within their rights) for any manner of ‘wrong’ doing.  But parents who spank don’t hear this because of their determination to raise an obedient child.  Children do not have the same rights as other groups in the eyes of these parents and, indeed, in the eyes of the law.

We could talk about issues of perpetual violence and detrimental associations between love and violent behaviors.  But parents who spank will say that this was how they were raised and they love their parents and turned out well.

We can talk about linguistics and the fact that spanking is a soft word that parents use to alleviate the guilt associated with the words ‘hitting’, ‘abuse’, ‘violence’, ‘control’ which are all more appropriate words to describe the actual act being committed.  But parents who spank will say that the motivation behind spanking is different.  They are not hitting their child out of anger, they are hitting them out of love.  (Now say that last part again in your head.  Do you hope to be loved that way?)

We can even cite literature that shows that physical punishment is completely ineffective in creating the behavioral change the parent seeks.  What it incites is fear and any manner of deceit in order not to get caught again.  Spankers say it works because they see less of the behavior.  Might we be hopeful that this is because the child has sought out a more supportive environment and is spending less time with the abusive parent?  We can hope but given that children of ‘spanking age’ are usually in their very physically dependent early years, I doubt it.  But it’s not because the desired lesson was learned.  What is internalized by the child in these encounters is to live in fear because those who love them also inflict physical, psychological, and emotional harm on them.

Hitting is only one of many (a few more: time out, isolation, humiliation, withdrawal of affection, taking away personal items/’priveledges’) overt and damaging methods of controlling a child.  Simply replacing hitting with another method of control is not the solution.

The hard part here is NOT learning a new skill to use in these situations but changing the way in which we view them and our children.  It is changing the way we view the traditional hierarchical family dynamic to one of trust, appreciation, support, and true love (not this wacky, power struggle, abusive cycle kind).  And guess what?  You will never need discipline or punishment because what you have created is a respectful home community in which your wisdom, care, and love are appreciated because they are communicated in ways that are clear to the child’s heart and mind. This article- Why we don’t punish our son. Ever. – nailed it in my opinion. Thank you, Jillian Lauren, for rocking me to sleep last night with the pull I needed back to MY reality- the one in which my children communicate openly with their parents and each other and difficult situations are met with compassion and problem-solving not violence, guilt, and shame.

Having support in parenting is monumental and generally people parent the way their parents did so the support for change is definitely not coming from there.  When we know better, we do better.  Here’s some great literature for reconsidering and healing the parent-child relationship:

Connection Parenting by Pam Leo
connection parenting
Parenting for Social Change by Teresa Graham Brett
parenting for social change

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HB #19- True Freedom

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News
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