I just read a blog written by a mother who grudgingly admitted to spanking her child on occasion. She said that she doesn't do it often, but sometimes she is just so frustrated, and at the end of her rope, that she doesn't know what else to do. She ended the blog by describing how she's starting to use the "1-2-3" method for her toddler, mainly to help her gain self-control in her toddler-management skills.
This mom has shared a very personal and possibly embarrassing side of her life, and I admire her courage.
But (contrary to popular opinion) there are people who spank without being out of control. Without feeling ashamed. Without regretting their parenting technique. I am one of them.
It seems that in parenting circles, those who parent with logic and consistency, and spank, are often shouted down by the "spanking is always an out of control violent act" mobs. This is unfair. Spanking in love needs to be defended.
(Disclaimer: I am not claiming to be the perfect mother or have all the answers to everything, but I do not have any guilt or qualms about the way I discipline my children.)
I was raised in the most loving home imaginable. I never once doubted, in my entire childhood, that I was valued, loved, and wanted. I was also spanked. Possibly 5 times. I don't begrudge a single time. My parents were absolutely consistent with their rules, and in a case of intentional, willful disobedience, the offender was marched ceremoniously up to the den, and proper punishment was doled out: we were informed of our crimes (which we knew ahead of time, of course), spanked once on the bottom with a pancake-flipper, given a chance to apologize, forgiven, and comforted lovingly.
Guess what? I look back on those times as a display of love. My parents cared about helping me develop self-control, and I am incredibly grateful for that. My sister and I benefited greatly from our reputation as some of the best-behaved kids in town (we got extra invites to play with friends because our good behavior rubbed off on them). And, contrary to what some psychologists may insist, we never once got confused about whether "hitting was okay" in our home. We knew it wasn't. We knew being spanked had nothing at all to do with hitting. We had fewer violent tendencies than the Dalai Lama.
Now, my experience does not mean that all spanking is okay, oh no, no, no. We lived in an atmosphere of constant love and affirmation, and we never once feared our parents. This is not the case in many homes. Parents who lose control, threaten, yell, storm, have tempers, and spank in that attitude have absolutely no business doing it. They give the rest of us a bad name.
But I'm tired of hearing that all spanking is done in anger, or that it is always harmful to children. I have yet to see a valid study where loving, gentle spanking in a Godly, tender environment was separated into a different category from hitting, smacking, and abuse, and still yielded screwed-up kids. All anecdotal evidence I have seen indicates the opposite: all my close friends were spanked when they were growing up. The ones who were raised in loving homes look back fondly on their childhoods and respect their parents for disciplining them. The ones who were raised in violent or fearful homes recall feeling fearful and angry about the spankings. Both were spanked, but the atmosphere of the home and the attitude of the spanking were the key factors in how the child responded, not the spank itself.
I have given an idealized remembrance of my childhood spankings. Now, here is how it happens in our house. We have committed to spanking only in case of willful, intentional rebellion. We do not spank for "childish irresponsibility" or annoying behavior. Only if we look at a child, they look at us, we tell them what needs to be done, they fully understand, and they intentionally do the opposite. There is no yelling involved. There is no bargaining, begging, or bribing. There are not third, fourth, and fifth chances. Willful disobedience - "If you do not obey Mommy, you get a spank." - spank. We then talk about what happened. We make it an event - a memorable unpleasant consequence occurs when willful disobedience occurs.
We don't have a problem with hitting in our home. We don't "smack" to get a kid's attention, we don't do "If you shove him, I will show you what it feels like to be shoved." Spanking is clearly not hitting in our home, so there is no confusion. It is a totally separate event, a very clear feeling on the bottom, not a random act of angry violence.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying spanking is for everyone. My husband and I are blessed with very laid-back, easy going temperaments, and we don't have any trouble controlling our tempers in the home. I think there is something to be said for the Holy Spirit's power to provide supernatural self-control in child-rearing, and if you don't possess something akin to this, spanking is probably not for you either.
That's the problem, isn't it? The world at large has no clinical way to measure the grace and self-control given by God, so they assume it's impossible to spank a child in love. Well, it's not. I can testify to it. And if you can too, then please, don't feel guilty for spanking done in love, gentleness, and a fully rational state of mind.
I know this can be a volatile topic, but I'd really like to hear your thoughts on spanking (for and against!) Am I way off base here?