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July 11, 2011


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A response from me even though I know this is an old post. I'm pregnant with my first and naturally that makes me review the way I was raised myself.

My parents, especially my father, used spanking as discipline. Hard enough to smart, not hard enough to bruise. Never using implements like paddles or belts. And yes, I think I did 'turn out fine'. I don't even consciously remember most of the spankings.

Except for two situations that were etched in my brain.

The first was getting a spanking for something I had not done. It was not a hard spanking. It did not physically hurt for long, in fact I don't even remember the physical pain. In those days it certainly would not have been considered violent. But I felt violated all the same. By my DAD.

It took several hours of non-stop crying and refusing to come OUT of my room (where I had been sent for further punishment) for my father to realize his mistake. Which he admitted to and apologized for.

But the damage was done, my unwavering trust in my dad was breached, and I STILL can't say it ever really came back. The man who had always been the ultimate source of security had become the man I had to be slightly wary of because he might lash out without provocation.

I'm sure there have been other instances where I was blamed for something I did not do, after all parents are only human, but it is the time I was HIT for an imaginary infraction that stayed with me.

The other incident that stands out in my mind happened when I was a little older, considered too old to be spanked any more (as if a child can be young enough to endure getting hit!). We had company and for some reason the conversation turned to spanking. And I heard my dad, quite chipper, recount how he used to spank my brother and me.

Oh, not hard, it wasn't even the point that it would physically hurt, he said. And then he turned to me and continued: "The point was never that it would hurt, it would just make you feel very humiliated."

Just like that. Humiliated. Of course I remembered how humiliated I had FELT whenever I got a spanking, when I was grabbed, forcibly bent over a knee in a helpless position and delivered several slaps to the ass.

But never once had it occurred to me that that was the POINT. That my dad consciously HUMILIATED me. On PURPOSE. What horrible crimes could I POSSIBLY have committed as a child that would warrant my dad wanting to HUMILIATE me? And that was supposed to be BETTER than just receiving physical pain?

I just sat there with my mouth open, unable (as I still am now) to wrap my mind around what I had just heard.

Do I consider myself to have been physically abused as a child? No. And yes, I did turn out just fine. But these two incidents, which I very much doubt my father even remembers, were defining moments in my childhood. And that is not what I want for my kids.

I know this is an older post but I had to comment. Instead of everyone talking about spanking being a violent act that screws your child up. Why don't we talk about the proper way of using spankings. There are many studies on the use on spankings in proper use and there are no harm in the child's IQ, personality...when parents spank out of anger, they are in turn teaching their child to hit while angry and teaching them its ok to express anger that way. If you are someone who spanks there should be a simple sentence of letting them know their behavior has gotten them one. And when the child and parent are cooled off that is the time for spanking. And it should only used after repeated offenses. Too many parents spank when they are hot headed and that is when in creates negative environments. So please study in full both sides. Too many kids are head of their houses these days. Not to mention lack of respect or adults. For some reason adults are putting their children on the same playing field as them. Now they all think they are initialed.

When my kids are still being disobedient I stopped spanking them as part of discipline. I didn’t find it very effective so I stopped and I did observed that they became rebellious. When I did a softer approach of disciplining the kids they were able to understand things better. It is really amusing that different kids need different approaches.

Kristen wrote: "I think McMama said it best: It's OK to do something to a child that would be absolutely unacceptable if it were done to an adult? Hmmm..... "

I changed my childrens diapers, breastfeed them, given them baths and any number of things that parents are required to do, but would be unacceptable if it were done to an adult.

Kristen wrote: "I've given them a piece of my mind in a way that would melt the Pope's ears off."

Do you truly believe this is acceptable treatment of an adult?? or only your children??

Here's a thought, maybe YOU should do better

When you strike a child...you are teaching them to resolve a conflict with violence. Period.

I was spanked as a child and I must say I cannot forget some of those events. It left me physical scars at the time and to this day I still have emotional scars. It hurts that it was done by the person I love the most in the world (my mother). I turned out ok. I never rebelled against my mother. I was (Am not) a drinker, drug abuser, sex addicted, nothing like that. I’m a married and respected mother. I have a full time job, I’m a college graduated working on her MBA, I’m just a normal person.
However those memories hunt me. They angry me so much and I’d rather not to think about them, because I cannot and will not hate my mother. She did out of anger. She was a mother of four at the time, doing everything by herself. She was overwhelmed and that’s the way she was raised and the only way she knew how to discipline my sisters and I. Funny thing, she doesn’t remember (or chose not to remember) any of that.
I have a two year old daughter that drives me crazy. She knows how to push all the wrong “buttons” and boy I sure don’t have much patience with her, but I have not hit her and I plan on not hitting her ever. I don’t want my daughter to have the same memories I have of my childhood. There are better ways to discipline a child. Try consistency! No means no regardless of how much your child cries and don’t “hit” and “pet” at the same time. If you punish your child (other than physical aggression, I hope), don’t go on apologizing or buying presents out of guilty. That’s what confuses a child.
I’m against spanking. I see as abuse! It’s nothing but a bigger person taking advantage of its size and strength.

I was spanked and yelled at as a kid. As an adult I remember the yelling much more than the spankings. The words my mother used against me out of anger were and still are more hurtful than any spanking.

To all you spankers, swatters, ..., or whatever PC term you want to use that lets you sleep at night: SPANKING DOES NOT WORK LONG TERM! When your kid hits adolescence and is taller than you, what are you going to do then? In college I could tell which ones of my friends were disciplined this way - they were the ones who acted like they were let loose out of their chains and acted up by binge drinking, wild sex, and drug experimentation. And I'm referring to kids with intellectual parents....

By spanking and using other such abusive discipline methods you are robbing your child of the opportunity to develop internal discipline. I never felt compelled to act out when the risk of punishment wasn't there, because I set the rules of what was and what was not acceptable behavior. I did so because I internalized my parents values.

Parenting is a lifelong deal, it has to work for much longer than beyond toddler years.

Okay so I was spanked as a kid, and I turned out just fine. ;) That said, my "spankings" were mainly just the tips of the fingers - so it was the fear of spanking rather than anything else. I still hated it.

And something to think about: discipline (or in this case, punishment) needs to be related to the transgression to be effective. The last time I was spanked, I apparently asked, "Do you feel better now, Daddy?"

So clearly, not making a link between the transgression and the punishment.

I understand that every parent/child relationship is unique, and therefore, I am not trying to compare mine to any others’. I’m simply offering some insight from my own childhood. My dad spanked me when I was disrespectful and/or disobedient. He would pretty calmly place me over his knees, and smack my ass until he felt he had punished me enough. I’d then be sent (sobbing and stinging) to my room. He’d come in a short while later to apologize and talk to me about why he had hit me and how I needed to change my actions to avoid future spankings. To those who do spank as a normal practice, this may very well sound like a completely rational method. To me (one who has admittedly lashed out at her daughter and worked hard to get my temper under control to keep it from happening ever again)? I was as confused as can be and don’t hesitate to state that my father’s and my relationship was abusive. When he spanked me, I felt like a piece of shit. HE may have felt better once he apologized and read a story to me to try to show me his love, but I never meant it when I told him I understood why he hit me. And to this day, some 20 years since he last hit me, I still feel fearful of him. Call it cliché, but I ended up in a few abusive relationships, and I do believe I learned that behavior from the relationship I had with my dad. I was the queen of defending my man with a “But he apologized” after he’d lash out at me verbally. It took a lot of therapy and a LOT of work to get myself to where I am now. Work that maybe could have been avoided.

I know parenting is hard, and children challenge us to no end. I just hope for your child's sake, that you are really doing what’s best for the kid in the long-run, as opposed to what works for your immediate gratification.

I spank my kids. I don't do it in anger and I make sure I explain it to them later in a calm fashion.Its also not what I resort to first. Im very cautious to express love to them physically and thru my words and thru actions.

I think it is a personal decision that each person has to make. There are stories of folks who say they were "messed up" b/c they were spanked. There are folks who say they were fine even though they were spanked.

In my conscious I struggle with alot of parenting choices presented before me. If I hurt my children in some way, I humble myself and go to them apologizing. I attempt to balance the discipline and the love in my relationship with my kids. This is a topic that we can argue back and forth about forever but if you have worked with your children and you know your child you decide what works the best in teaching them. I see results when I spank. Results that I don't see when I try another form (or several forms of discipline.)

My kids draw near to me despite me spanking them. I believe at this time I have a decent balance of love and discipline. I'll reevaluate frequently and figure out what discipline technique is the most effective for my children. They may not always need or respond to this and I'll change it.

I believe in respecting children. If I want my daughter to grow up and be a person who does not believe that physical aggression is a resolution, then I have no choice but to find positive non-aggressive disciplinary methods. After all, she might not remember a spanking at age 2, but she will at age 5 or 9. I think sometimes we forget about that. We aren't just raising children, we're raising adults. Adults who remember that when they were learning how to treat other people, learning how to express frustration, learning how to find solutions to problems - they learned violence.

I always thought that I wouldn't have problems with spanking and to be honest, I don't really negatively judge people who do. I think that people are trying to find means of disciplining their children that work for them. But now that I'm a parent, I do think it's wrong. I understand why people do it and I realize that it's a social norm and I refuse to condemn people for something they've been indoctrinated with from a young age, but it has surprised me to find that spanking offends me in a way that I never thought it would.

I'm evidence that positive non-aggressive discipline can work and work well. My parents never spanked me. I hope that one day my children can all say the same and that we can be living proof that there are alternatives. Every child is different, every family is different, but still. Nobody needs more violence in their life.

I remember being spanked twice as a child. I still remember it. But what I remember more is the feeling of indignity, the threat, the sense of betrayal from the people I love most in the world.

My parents are good parents. I love them with every ounce of my being. But I believe that this misstep is what fractured our relationship and gave me the sense that as a teenager, I couldn't actually go to them when I needed them. My parents were not a safe place as they had always verbalized. And I needed a safe place as I grew up.

So no. I will never spank my children. And I will remind myself to use my words. And I will remember that I am the place of safety and compassion for them. I am the one who is supposed to truly listen, even if it means sacrificing my time, my money and my mental space.

I would have been the crazy woman to get in that mother's face and/or call the police. I probably would have ended up with a black eye.

My parents spanked me and boy, do I have problems! Who the hell are these people who turned out fine?

But I remember when I was pregnant and I asked my husband how he felt about spanking and his response made me fall in love with him all over again. He looked at me in shock and asked if I seriously considered hitting a child. He asked it carefully, like maybe he was reconsidering his lifelong commitment to me.

And his very shock made me realize that I wanted to do better. That I wanted to be the kind of mother who didn't hit her kids. And I am. Even if there are times when I want to kill them.

Let me just correct myself only to say that I have never nor will I ever spank my children with anything other than my hand. That is the only difference between myself and my parents.

I understand that this is your blog and you are allowed to say whatever you want about anything you want. In addition, I am so glad that living in the United States of America we have the freedom of speech! That being said, who are you to judge people that do spank? I'm not judging people who don't spank because I'm not the authority of anything! I say we all do what works best for our families and leave it at that!

I love what carosgram wrote in their post!

P.S. I was spanked and sometimes with a belt and you know what, I'm happy to admit the reasons for being spanked were always stated to me by my parents before the punishment and after the punishment. So I always knew why I was getting spanked and I have to say I still remember most of the reasons for getting spanked and I'll be dang if I didn't deserve it! They then followed up the spanking with a discussion as to what I could have done better and the choices I could have made that would have been the right thing to do. They also followed it up with telling me that they love me and that they want me to grow up to be a decent person who knows right from wrong and good from evil. I currently do the same thing with my children and if you don't like it then so be it! I firmly believe that by the age of 4 or younger our children should understand what we do and don't expect out of them. We are not our children's friend, we are the parent and we are responsible for helping them to become the kind of adults the future of this country is going to need!

Oliva : Because with my specific child, all of that minus the spanking DOES NOT WORK. She doesn't care. The physical impact of the spanking, for whatever reason, is the point when she understands that she is being punished for her misbehavior and then does better going forward. Like I said - we didn't just decide we wanted to hit our kids one day. We finally figured out what works with our kids and spanking is part of it.

Monica : No. I was spanked as a kid. So was my brother. We never felt ridiculous emotions attached to being spanked, just a realization that we should not do that again if we didn't want to get spanked again.

So many intense motherhood (parenthood) issues out there... Am I the only adult out there that was spanked, and can not recall any of the 'shame, injustice, etc.' emotions that were supposed to envelope me? All I remember feeling, is 'oh crap' and 'I won't be doing that again'. Then again, my spankings weren't generated out of anger or the feeling of being smacked around. I think 'spanking' is too broad a term, and I certainly would have preferred spankings as a child to the screaming that I observed from other parents. I'm the mother of a baby now, so this post doesn't refer to what I am doing or not doing as a parent, but the thought of a general 'you did it wrong' to my own mother is pretty funny...but not. I can see why blanket statements, especially when it comes to parenting, rarely make for successful arguments.

Kai "No. I'm going to give her a warning. And when she does it again, I'm going to hold her in my lap and make her look me in the eyes and tell me what she did wrong. Then I'm going to spank her because it's a punishment and it sucks but she's three. A single swat on the butt with my hand, not hard at all, will immediately get across the point that what she did was unacceptable. A few minutes in time out then some snuggle time with Mom to hammer home the point that she messed up, she was punished, and now it's over. Mommy still loves you."

So, why not all that minus the spanking? If you are already doing a talk and time outs, the spanking is unnecessary.

I've spanked or slapped each of my kids a handful of times. With my oldest two there were accidental slaps when they bite me while breastfeeding (I won't bother to justify by qualify them as swats...I was ashamed of myself regardless) and I spanked them on purpose when each of them went through "running into the road and laughing" phases.

The other day, I lost it when my girls were screaming at each other in the car and wouldn't keep their hands to themselves. After 20 mins, I turned around and swatted my 2 yr olds hands. As I felt like the world's worst mother, she melted down, and I carefully pulled off the road. I unbuckled after parking the car car, and apologized to her, then to my other two children for losing my temper, yelling, and hitting my youngest.

I do not consider myself a spanker but I have spanked or hit them. With my youngest I've grown more and learned more and have a greater arsenal of tools so I've "lost it" less with her. I can withstand a greater amount of screaming and tantrums before I lose it.

But, I still do.

So, yes, spankers and screamers need to do better. But I want to acknowledge that most parents are doing their best-even when some days our best is pretty shitty. We do our best, and then try and do better.

Thanks for the post, Kristen. I needed this one today!

Really? I'm going to talk out her actions and discuss punishment with my three year old?

No. I'm going to give her a warning. And when she does it again, I'm going to hold her in my lap and make her look me in the eyes and tell me what she did wrong. Then I'm going to spank her because it's a punishment and it sucks but she's three. A single swat on the butt with my hand, not hard at all, will immediately get across the point that what she did was unacceptable. A few minutes in time out then some snuggle time with Mom to hammer home the point that she messed up, she was punished, and now it's over. Mommy still loves you.

We did not arrive at this discipline method because we thought "Eh, screw it, let's hit our kids!" And we don't discipline all our children the same way. What works for one does not work for another. This actually creates a changed behavior. And no, I'm not going to keep trying ineffective methods on my child. This is not some touchy feely democracy. She is the child, we are the parents, and we are in charge. We make the rules, she obeys or there are consequences. Every single time.

Abuse and beatings and punishing out of anger are one thing. A rational system of discipline that actually works for my kid is another. I don't tell you that you're doing it wrong with regards to your marriage or your children. Don't make blanket statements about everyone else's situation.

I agree that there is no justification for spanking. It only teaches children to communicate through physical aggression/hitting. If you choose to discipline through fear, the only thing that will work is to keep upping the fear. Really sticking to giving other consequences is harder. But, it's the right thing. Don't take the easy way out and spank. Be a parent and help your child learn lessons through other logical consequences (loss of privileges, re-paying, etc.) Could you imagine if, as a grown-up, you made a mistake or did something wrong and you got hit/spanked/slapped for it? No! You have to pay a fee, or lose out on something and deal with your bad choice. Help kids learn how to deal with bad choices early on so they become adults who can take responsibility for their actions rather than harbor anger, blame, or aggression for bad things that happen. WHEN YOU SPANK, YOU GIVE YOUR CHILD THE OPPORTUNITY TO BE ANGRY WITH YOU AND FEEL SORRY FOR THEMSELVES, RATHER THAN ACTUALLY LEARNING FROM THEIR OWN MISTAKE.

I peed my pants every time my dad spanked me. You read that right. He would put me across his knee sometimes hours after my offense and, bare-hand to bare-ass, spank me until I would pee myself.

I respect my babes and it pains me to admit that I've given my now 8 year old a few whacks on her ass when she and I were both at the end of our ropes during her toddler years...and I still have a bad taste in my mouth. Christ, I might as well just lay it all out there. I have REALLY lost my shit with her when times were at their worst. She would throw things, scream like a wild child, hit me, bite me, and I just couldn't handle her. I would have to use a little too much force to get her into time-out, sometimes sitting behind her pinning her down until she calmed down. I've screamed in her face. I've slapped her little hands when she hit me. I've HATED every second that I've lost myself. I've grown as a mother and eventually learned how to remove myself (and any dangerous objects) from her to allow both of us to calm down enough to talk, even if it meant I'd hide in my bedroom while she screamed bloody murder, pounding on the door telling me she hated me. It has been HARD. But sooo much better.

My husband and I have differing opinions regarding how to teach a child to respect their parents. I'm already preparing myself mentally to combat him when our 8 month old starts, um, displaying her independence? He was beat as a child, and while he doesn't condone what his parents did to him, he makes comments here and there that lead me to believe he thinks a spanking is enough to let the child know they should fear their parent and will teach them not to error again. I think he's wrong. You can't fight fire with fire.

Tough subject. Great post Kristen. Really. Thank you.

How do you know that wasn't the child's first spanking? How do you know the mother took the child's pants down? My kids can scream and cry when I give them the look, so you may think I just beat the tar out of them, but in reality I just told them they will be going to their rooms when they get home. Like what happened yesterday.

I really hate this idea that only the dumb South still does certain things. Of course there are no bad parents in other areas of the country. Not the point, but a pet peeve.

If you don't want to spank then don't spank your kids. What I don't get is we have these articles complaining about the way kids act, then we have other ones about how we shouldn't do this or that when disciplining. So what is the perfect discipline course of action that we all can use to avoid being judged in public. If someone were to come up to me and tell me that my discipline tactic were abusive (and this doesn't refer just to spanking, some think timeouts are abusive) I would hand them my kids and ask them to deal with it. Only I know what works with me kids and I had to go through a trial and error to get there. But you go ahead and feel smug about how much better a mother you are than me.

spanking is an old/traditional way of disciplining
no way am i going to spank my baby

I wouldn't smack a dog around; I'm sure as hell not going to hit a kid.

This is a difficult one for me. I have spanked - twice in my daughter's 8 1/2 years. And regretted it each time.

Both times, it was me losing my composure, being at the end of my rope. And having been hammered by family and friends telling me that they would have "tanned her hide" for her behavior. And so she got a swat. Not multiple swats, just one open-handed swat.

And yet both times, once I was able to get past the massive guilt, I was able to deconstruct how we got there, and realized that I could have deescalated the situation, but for whatever reason - too tired, too stressed, too whatever - I didn't have the resources to do it. So I let those folks' words get in. It won't happen again.

What shocked me the most was that I was the kid who got beat. With the buckle end of a belt, with a set of plates over the head, with a broomstick. I swore I would never be that dad. And yet, I lost it.

We all hit that wall. I now know how to get around it. And my daughter won't learn that hitting is the right way to deal with things.

No one in our house hits. Parents dont hit. Kids dont hit. We dont hit. I can see the cases where kids ran into the street and Im sure there are other gray areas but as a general rule in life, dont hit and dont put up with people who hit you. I was hit as a child. I am not *fine* and I still can not look my mother in the eye. And to the "retired principal" above, my children are very respectful, hard working, passionate and most importantly- kind and honest. These things are accomplished not in spite of my parenting- as my life has been, in spite of the parenting I received. I am not afraid to have my children angry with me and I am not trying to be their best friend. I am their parent but I do that with love and respect and the result is profound and brilliant. Violence begets violence and Im thrilled you are no longer tending to children because I suspect your attitude and the likes of you has more to do with the issues we are seeing in our youth today. Where is the sense of personal responsibility in a bunch of scared kids? Consequences and fear are not the same thing.

I was spanked as a kid. A lot. My dad was methodical spanker (ie "You failed your test. We don't allow failures. Go get the belt."). It was better than my mom. She would just lash out in anger (ie "Don't use that tone." :Slap:) I have a distinct memory of her bragging about her spanking to other parents (also spankers) about how I wasn't crying enough, so she had to get something harder to make sure I learned my lesson.

My issue with spanking (beating, hitting) is that, at least my case, it wasn't a teachable moment. It was simply me upsetting them and them acting out. There was no discussion. I also remember when I was around 8yo sitting on a bench at the park and wondering how I could love my parents when I scared of them sometimes.

I refuse to hit my kids. I never want them to wonder that.

Nothing brings out the scanctimommy in me like a parent hitting a kid in public. There are ways to earn respect and assert authority without hitting. And if you think there aren't, you're not trying enough.

Carsogram, I mostly agree with your assessment about some kids today and the rampant entitlement. That said, you seem to be confusing correlation and causality. I think as an educator you would know that you can't deduce "Children are no longer spanked. Children are no longer respectful. Therefore, spanking will lead to respect."

Yes, well pardon me for saying that an adult who spanks, who was spanked as a child, didn't "turn out just fine." Someone who is "just fine" does not physically assault another person.
I was not spanked as a child. I turned out better than "just fine". I don't spank my daughters. They are turning out far better than "just fine. They have always treated other children and adults with respect.
I run into more adults I think could benefit from a few hard smacks on the ass than childen.

Leone - As someone who has yelled, yes, even screamed at my kids, I'm pretty certain that it's not equatable to hitting your kid. And if it was, I feel terrible, awful, and apologize, making it a learning moment for me and the kids. Even so, I do strive to do better. I don't see spankers writing blog posts about feeling bad, about making apologies, and about trying to be better parents.

From what I can tell here, serial spankers not only don't think there's anything wrong with it, but they don't feel bad nor do they apologize.

I think McMama said it best: It's OK to do something to a child that would be absolutely unacceptable if it were done to an adult? Hmmm.....

I find it a little odd that you have such a stance on this considering your own admissions of "losing it" and yelling at your kids on a very regular basis. So in your view being spanked ten times in your childhood would cause more damage to you than being yelled and screamed at a couple times a week? I don't understand the logic there.

I don't condone spanking, but I also don't understand how screaming at your kids is any better. I'm just surprised because I often feel you try to find a common ground on issues and are not usually so judgemental.

So if the spankers should "Do better" shouldn't the screamers too?

carosgram,......... The short version of my thoughts on your comment boils down to a reprehensible and ugly attitude from a person I'm supposed to trust with my kids.
You should never have had daily access to children so you could "shame parent" them. Incredibly arrogant attitude you have towards people as if we are all obligated to parent as you think we should. I do not send my children to a secular school to be parented. I send them to be academically educated. I'm certainly glad you have retired and are no longer part of the problem with public education today.

I don't know if I'm going to be able to articulately respond in a blog comment but, essentially, I don't think I agree with you. I'm not saying that I think spanking is a 'valid' form of punishment -- and I agree with you that spanking 'not' in the heat of the moment is certainly more problematic than the flip side -- but I also don't think that one or two spankings always have lifelong, negative repercussions. I can remember the 4 times I was spanked and while I don't necessarily think I "deserved" it (that would be a much too simplistic justification) as a parent I can understand how my father & mother "got there". I recently spanked my child and blogged about it. I'm not proud of it and I don't want to do it again. That said, I don't think I'm a horrible person and I have all these 'meta-emotions' surrounding the act that feel so educated suburbanite entitled. I don't know how to explain it better than I did on my blog so I'll forward you a link. I'm not saying that I think people *should* spank and I'm not saying that I was in any way justified in my actions but I think that as parents we have to have a level of empathy for when parents lose their cool (within reason, of course).

I'm fairly certain I'll be paying for some level of therapy for my daughter when she gets older - just from the string of words I can put together in the garage or when I'm really really REALLY f**king pissed off at her and the neighbor kid for destroying our house. However, I've never resorted to spanking. I feel awful enough if I've had to yell at her.

I won't attempt to defend spanking, but I get it. I got my ass beaten many times when I was growing up. I'm not going to be a hypocrite around my kid. She's watching, she's listening, she's learning. She can be reasonable if I simply treat her like she wants to be treated - like I would want to be treated. I wish as a kid that my parents would have spent more time with me. Frankly, if there is one thing I've learned its that the spankings, the ass-chewings, the groundings...none of that made as much of a difference to me growing up as the impression my parents made when I actually had their attention. Even as I completely spilled soda all over my mom's smokes in the front seat of the station wagon we were riding in...

Brava! I'm still early in this parenting thing, but I am trying my absolute hardest to find alternatives to spanking. Yes, I was spanked and I turned out fine, I still want to do better. I want my daughter to do what is good and not misbehave because I taught her respect/proper behavior and not because she is afraid of me.

I've been surprised at how quickly my hand raises to swat her at times. It does feel reflexive in the heat of the moment. This is all the more reason for me to soak up all the ideas of gentle discipline and practice, practice, practice. I do not want to be a mother who hits her kid (spank, schmank-it's still hitting) and then expects her not to hit.

Thinking about the "spanking because the child is doing something dangerous" thing. I think we need to give our kids more credit for their intelligence and comprehension. When my 2 yr old started to dart away in the parking lot or get too close the street, I started out telling "No, it's dangerous." Well, of course she didn't get that. So I changed it to, "Cars can't see you and they will bump your head. It will hurt." She understands bumping her head it hurting, so this made much more sense to her. Now when she doesn't want to hold my hand in the parking lot I remind her about the cars, and she'll grab my hand and tell me "Bump my head. Hurt." I'm also teaching her to stop and look for cars, and she's already starting to get that.

So spanking because of danger? Maybe. If the kid has done something repeatedly. But maybe we can think of a way to explain it in terms they understand before resorting to spanking.

@carosgram - I personally don't believe that spanking had any connection to character in previous generations.

Make no mistake - I'm in the fight of my life for the hearts, minds, and souls of my children from the materialism that pervades our culture right now. I discipline, I correct, I encourage my children to consider others while they are considering themselves - and I do this without spanking.

Well stated. Bravo. I agree with you.

So, Kristin, is there really a way to do what you have suggested that works consistently (and preferably permanently)? As in ...one that doesn't encourage and promote hitting, instill fear, involve shame, or change the dynamic in your relationship...

I haven't discovered the magic yet and am about to lose my mind...and I only have one! LOL.

Aside from the 'swatting the hand that is about to touch the hot stove' situation, I truly do not understand hitting as discipline -- and spanking is just a nice way of saying hitting. I completely understand the *urge* to hit, but actually doing it? Or worse yet, methodically planning to do it? No way.

As Bostom Mamas said above, I model the behavior I expect - and hitting to change behavior or express anger or to punish is not what I want to teach.

As a retired elementary principal I want to say that kids today are not 'just fine'. In fact I have never met a group of more privileged, entitled, spoiled and self centered people in my life. They have no idea of sacrifice for others, that 'it is better to give than to receive' or that they should be considering the feelings and desires of others. They see themselves as the center of the universe and are consequently disrespectful of their parents and other adults. I do not blame the children for this. I blame parents who are unwilling to do what is right because they don't want their children to be angry with them. They are unwilling to make the hard choices that mean your children may be unhappy or have hurt feelings or feel blue in order to make them do the right thing. I believe we have made a grave mistake in making sure we never shame our children. I want people to feel shame when they do the wrong thing. I want them to avoid doing the wrong thing because they do not want the consequences of making that choice. While your parents and/or grandparents may have spanked they did instill values and habits that made you and/or your parents successful adults. They made you people that other adults wanted to be around. If spanking is what made the difference, well then I for sure won't condemn it.

Spanking doesn't have to be violent. It doesn't even need to be "hard". It gets their attention and changes behavior and I'd do it again if my kids were still young. I never spanked when I was angry so it wasn't viewed as aggressive by my children. They are older now, and don't flinch like abused kids when I hug them.

I'm sure you correctly interpreted the sounds from the bathroom stall, but in my case, my son (at age 4 or 5) gave ME a very loud slap on the arm, when we were having a disagreement near the sinks in a public bathroom. Then a lady walked out of a stall, and I was so ashamed that she might have thought that I had given HIM a loud slap...

So everybody, if you hear a slap but don't see it, just remember it could be the kid slapping the mom, not the other way around! My son went through a stage where he would hit or kick me or his big brother occasionally, but luckily he never hit or kicked anyone else.

Hmmm...I am not an advocate of spanking, but I definitely defend it. I realize we will have to agree to disagree because I don't intend to change your mind about the issue, and I'm certain you will not change mine. Here's the thing...if you equate spanking with hitting, fear, shame, violence, etc. you should not touch spanking with a ten-foot pole. The reason I say that is because the purpose of spanking is not to take out your frustrations on your child. It is not meant to mold philosophies or build strong relationships. It is not to use as the only means of correcting behavior, but that is its main purpose. I don't believe spanking should be the ONLY form of punishment, but there are times it is best. I do not believe spanking is for every child, every adult, or every household. And I think blanket statements with ALWAYS and NEVER speak to a level of understanding because we are all different. I can't say with certainty that there is anything that affects all individuals in the same way, except maybe the need for oxygen and water to live. I am concerned that some people think it is more acceptable to hit a child out of anger (note: that is NOT spanking, even though some may call that spanking) than to have it reserved as an option for unacceptable/harmful behavior. Discipline has to do with rules and routines that you and your partner establish with your children from birth until they leave your house. When those rules are established, so should the consequences. Children should know in advance that spanking is a possible consequence for specific behaviors. If they choose to engage in behaviors that will result in a spanking, then you have taught them a valuable lesson about choice. "If you don't want a spanking, don't do what it takes to get a spanking." I would not make that an option for an aggressive child or a child with a high tolerance for pain because spanking would not be effective for either of those types of child/temperament. I could write about this for a while, but I will end by asking you to consider perspective, relativity, and opinion in relation to experience, history, cultural background, and family structure. OH! And Emma, the reason spanking is unlawful if it leaves marks and bruises is because it indicates you as a parent leaving the realm of correction and jumping into being out of control (abusive), which is what can happen if you make it a habit to "spank" when you are angry.

I recall spanking Boy Child one time. It was the perfect storm of everyone being tired, husband out of town, coming home from a fun dinner with friends, and late. I wouldn't change the radio station song because Girl had asked for the song. He freaked out. He yelled at me, called me stupid repeatedly, kicked the back of my seat in the car, and was totally out of control of himself. When we got home he was hitting me, yelling at me, again - calling me stupid, and COULD NOT get himself together. I couldn't think of anything else to do.

I spanked him one time, and it was as if it snapped him out it. We were able to calm down and go to bed.

I felt like an absolute useless, mean, nasty, turd of a mother.

I haven't laid a hand in anger on him since. I never ever will again.

I was rarely spanked as a kid, never abusively, but I can still remember the fear and feelings of total injustice I had then.
I didn't, don't, won't spank my kids. To me , if you resort to spanking, your kid just won that battle. I do not want to live in a house where I regularly use physical violence against my loved ones. I know every other method of discipline is long, and screamy, and takes forever but I'm content with my decision and as I have "old" kids now and I clearly see the benefits of not spanking long range in our present relationships. None of my kids resent or are / were afraid of me. No matter how justifiable my father's spankings "may" have been, I was afraid of them/him and often did NOT understand why I was being spanked.
That said ? I HAVE, indeed, used corrective physical discipline in situations when the kids were too little to really get the message. Like the stove knob fascination and running into the street ...One stinging pop on the hand or thigh and done.
The counter argument that screaming, or vocal abuse is worse holds no water. None of that sort of thing is discipline ...it's just adults losing it due to frustration.

I'm with Emma.

The EXACT same situation, with a two year old who darted two blocks ahead of me, would run faster laughing if i chased, as i started to catch up, when he was half a block ahead, he ran into a one-way street here in DC, turned around and laughed. Just as with Emma's child. As I was running towards him praying that he wouldn't laugh and run some more (at 7 months pregnant), all I could picture was a car swooping him over right before my eyes. As he was laughing.

I caught him, dragged him back to the sidewalk and whooped him three whacks, dragged him to the car (now 2 blocks away), strapped him in, got in the driver's seat and we were both crying and sweating and he promised to never do it again. And he hasn't. THAT. was the only time I've spanked.

I don't regret it too much, seeing that he lives and breathes with us still. There was no other way to impart the seriousness of the offense to my mind.

But I'm not a spanker, and I get freaked out when an acquaintance I know spanks her kids as one of those calm calculated punishments and also adds in the "jesus is not happy with you right now."

I get the whole, "toddlers can't be reasoned with, I've tried everything else, I dont want my kid getting hit by a car," thing. I get "accidental" reactionary spankings that happen once (I once slapped my 3 year old's hand after he hit me- I was in a really rough spot emotionally and it was completely reactionary and I felt AWFUL). But methodical spanking? Two things there - I think I was actually hit between one and three times as a child. But it was a constant threat. The spanking itself may or may not be damaging but it's the sentiment that goes with it. What if you boss, instead of discussing your shortcomings, writing you up, whatever, calmly spanked you? Maybe hard, maybe not. No belts or paddles even, just a flat hand? What if your husband did it when he didn't approve of the way you spoke to him? (and I'm not talking bedroom play here ;))

We would find it completely unacceptable as a form of discipline in adults. Why would we subject our children calmly and rationally to that sort of fear, shame, and potentially physical pain? Why is that ok?

I don't understand why respecting our children and treating them like people is such a taboo concept to so many people.

Thank you! I avoid the spanking topic because I get too flustered to be eloquent. This is perfect.

I was never spanked (that I can remember), I do vaguely remember it as a threat but that is it. I have never spanked my kids. I have slapped a hand or two and instantly regret that and immediately use it as a teaching moment that mommy is not perfect and that sometimes I get frustrated. But that hitting is never right.

I don't think hitting is ever the answer. My kids are pretty good, but time-out works for us and I think that is because we only use it for things that are serious. they know they are in trouble if they have to do to time-out and they hate it.

I have had moments where I have yelled way louder and with more anger than I should or was needed and I can see my kids doing the same...seeing them emulate what I do gives me pause. Wouldn't spanking just teach them that hitting is okay? It sends a mixed message--do as I say not as I do and I don't think that's good for raising well adjusted kids.

When I do something wrong there are consequences, but at no time am I ever punished in the real world with a beating and that is what spanking is--it's violent and demeaning and takes the humanity away from the child. it is important to teach children about consequences, but there are a myriad of other ways that don't require physical violence.

I was spanked as a child and sure I turned out fine, but all that spanking really taught me was to be afraid of my father. And on some strange level, even as an adult I still sort of am. I don't think a parent wants that kind of relationship with their child. I may have behaved because I was afraid of punishment, but I would rather my children behaved because they understood why misbehaving was inappropriate not because they were afraid of the consequences, nor would I want them to fear me.

I've certainly in anger been tempted to spank, but I wouldn't. Though I must admit I've yelled many more times than I wish I had.

Very odd...just this morning Laurel was asking me about spanking. And if I know any parents who do that to their kids.

Part of my response to her is something I would throw out for parents to consider... we're always telling our kids to not hit and to use their words. Shouldn't we model the same behavior?

To clarify from my side: I was responding to your specific comment about people who spank when calm - from my point of view, the time I spanked when calm was far more justifiable than the time I spanked when angry.

I don't want to get into an argument, but your post seems to be against all spanking, even the one (or two) offs - which is also why I commented, just to say I think there is some grey.

Yes, I suppose I am not 'a spanker'. And I would be horrified if I witnessed what you did. However I think a blanket statement that it is NEVER appropriate is incorrect. My dad being calm made my spankings all the more clear that he was doing it to send the message that what I had done was serious, so I disagree that it's more awful. A lot has to do with the whole picture of the family too. My dad never spanked my brother because his personality was very aggressive and he didn't want to feed that. I really think context is king when it comes to punishment.

Please note:

I don't qualify being spanked twice in your life (or spanking a kid twice, for that matter) as saying you are a spanker. See the reference in my post.

I'm talking about people who identify spanking as a viable punishment for their kids on a systematic basis.

Babs - I'm with you. I was spanked all of 2 times and only ever for actively defying my parents on safety issues. I know that whatever it was I did then, I NEVER did it again. 90% of the time our punishment was either time out on the church pew in the hall (the worst because you could hear the activity around the house but not actually see it or be a part of it) or no tv for a set period of time. Spanking, in the right context for the right reason with an age appropriate message accompanying it will have a place in the raising of our children as well.

In response to your response to Babs - me, and I don't regret it.

I have hit my son twice in his life. The second time was out of anger and frustration, and I immediately knew it was wrong and vowed never to do it again. And I haven't, even though I have felt the urge a couple of times since... I have instead walked away, and then when I was calm, looked for better ways to get my kids to change their behaviour (and worked on tools for my own patience too).

The first time it was a very calm "I don't know what else to do" moment. Then 2, my son was repeatedly running out onto roads. I tried everything I could think of to stop this, but he thought it was funny to be chased so he kept doing it. Then one day he ran out onto a busy road, and turned to laugh at me as I was calling out for him to stop. I was truly scared for his life if he kept up with this, and had already thought about trying spanking, so I did it. There on the spot, not viciously, one tap - where I was not out to punish or wanting to hurt, but very serious about wanting this behaviour to stop. He never ran onto a road again. Obviously, I can't say 100% for sure that it was being spanked which stopped him... but if it was, I'd rather have a living spanked kid (who doesn't remember the incident now) than a dead unspanked one.

I also would have been sickened to witness what you witnessed at McDonald's, and I would never go around promoting spanking, but even so I don't think the issue is always so black and white.

We don't spank here. There have been a few times when I wanted to, but realized I would be acting out of pure anger and that is NOT the time or way to act. Time to take a breather.

Now my Hubby works in child abuse. He has to counsel & investigate any allegations. The legal rule is you can hit/spank your kids all you want but you cannot leave a mark. Crazy, huh.

There's got to be a better way.

Yes, Babs, I'm aware, and I actually think that's worse. Who calms down, thinks it through, and then decides to hit their kids? It actually makes MORE sense if you're pissed off.

In Africa, spanking is very common. Especially in the rural areas where it's pretty much normal. The educated urban folk are the ones who are sharply divided about the issue.

As a mom who very occasionally spanked hands for reaching onto the stove, I wonder if you simply can't imagine spanking without anger. My dear friend who was abused as a kid will never spank where as I, who was spanked a total of two times in life, reserve that form of punishment. My dad had a very calm way of administering spankings and only did so if it was an issue of safety. (At age five I walked two streets over and stayed at a friend's house until sundown, the other time I tied a rope around our dog's neck and tried to pull her up to my treehouse.) I absolutely support any parent's right not to spank, but did want to let you know they can happen without anger.

I'm with you. That being said, I may have threatened it once. When she was doing something completely and totally dangerous.
I was spanked, and I was also hit, in the face. I think they are related. Violence, in any form, is wrong. It doesn't work, it just leaves scars. I barely have a relationship with my dad, and that is one of the big reasons. No amount of "therapy" he goes to will change that.

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