I was recently reading a post on Stay at Home Motherdom which really bothered me. It was a good post, but one comment bothered me. Go ahead, take a peak and come back. Here is the comment that really bothered me.
I am so grieved for those who misinterpret "spanking" as corporal
punishment because there is a HUGE difference. HUGE. Many of America’s
problems today stem from "the Dr. Spock" generation of un-biblical
discipline. For a more balanced view, may I suggest "Shepherding your
child’s heart" by Tedd Tripp. There is a time to spank and a time not
to. There is also a huge difference in spanking properly and spanking
in anger (unproper and unbiblical). There is a huge difference in
spanking and "hitting". If we claim to be Christian parents, we can not
pick and choose which parts of the bible we believe. We either believe
it all or none.
As most Americans raised in the 70s and 80s, I was spanked. Most adults my age were to varying degrees. While I believe there is a large difference between child abuse and spanking, I am not so naive to assume that spanking is neither hitting nor corporal punishment. The wikipedia defines corporal punishment as "… the deliberate infliction of pain intended to correct behavior or to punish. Historically speaking, most punishments, whether in judicial, domestic, or educational settings, were corporal in basis." (so this commenter is wrong, IMHO about misinterpreting spanking as corporal punishment) (and don’t get me started on the cheeseburger issue. If you eat cheeseburgers, and G-d forbid, BACON cheeseburgers, then you are so picking and choosing which parts of the bible to believe)
That’s what I also define corporal punishment as. I disagree with using it. Ever. When I look back at my personal experiences, I often forget the transgressions, but I remember the fear, humiliation and the pain. I have made the decision NOT to use corporal punishment in our house.
While trying to conceive, I ran into the Midlife Traveler. She was bright, funny and a great on-line friend. She moved to Boston while we were both pregnant. Her daughter is exactly one week older than Soleil. She introduced me to a web forum, Mothering dot com. The over granola people turned me off, but the moderate people attracted me. I was not going to be an "attachment parent" who would shun plastics and feed organics to my co-sleeping, breastfed child. But I did enjoy the discussions on discipline. (and for the record, Midlife Traveler and I don’t always agree on our parenting techniques, but we do agree to respect each other’s choices.)
The phrase used there is "Gentle Discipline". I have stolen this phrase and use it myself to describe how we raise our children. We discuss things. Even at 6 months old, we could start gentle discipline. It was easy at first. Distraction. Start with distracting the child from a dangerous situation. As Soleil grew older, we worked out consequences. We use both logical and natural consequences.(This is an okay link to describe the differences..sorry I don’t have a better one).
When Soleil took a marker down the hall and into the bathroom, coloring the wall, the tile and the tub, I had her help me clean it. When she stepped on a game after I asked her not to and it broke, we threw the game away as she cried. But she understood that it was her own fault that it broke. We try to use natural consequences for most things, but in obvious cases, logical consequences are needed. When hitting one’s sister is involved, we can’t allow the other child to turn around in hit them back (although I had secretly rooted for Soleil to smack Luna back a few times). Instead, we tend to the hurt child and ignore the child that hit. Then we explain (again) that hitting is not tolerated in our house.
We use "quiet time" in our house as well. Sometimes, life gets too much. We recognize this in babies and say "oh, he’s overstimulated", but fail to note that over stimulation never goes away. We just learn how to cope with it. One of the coping mechanisms we have taught is to take quiet time. Each child is allowed to declare quiet time and they can shut themselves up in their room. We also will suggest quiet time if things get too crazy. I don’t quite consider it a time out because it is not enforced and not timed. It is time for the child to be in a calm, comforting location to reset and get ready to come back to the chaos.
I have been known to use timeouts as well. These usually involved holding Luna in a bear hug to prevent her from hitting someone. These are short, but not desired. We do a LOT of toy time outs. If a toy causes a fight or is part of a rule being broken, it goes in time out for 10 minutes or a day.. This falls under a logical consequence.
All of these techniques involve correction. Ways to slow down and think about what is going on. NONE of them involve pain. Sure, there are days when a slap or smack comes to mind, but I don’t do it. I get those urges, after all, the kids do drive us nuts. But I don’t act on them. I ask myself "How will this help the situation?" And in truth, the answer is always "It won’t" Because I would hurt my child. and then I would hurt. It would not teach them what is acceptable and what isn’t. It would teach them "it’s okay to hurt another person when they don’t do as you tell them". Or "mommy is bigger and can hit me" Or "I am scared mommy will hurt me"
My kids are not afraid of me. I never want them to be afraid of me. But almost every person I have met who was spanked as a child describes fear as an emotion associated with the discipline they received.
I know there are studies* that show corporal punishment can lead to adult violence. In an academic setting, that’s a good argument against. But in a parental setting, the best argument against this is "I don’t want to deliberately cause my child physical pain. There are other ways to teach them and pain is not one I want to use".
Another thing that I think of is the elderly. We hear horrible cases of elder abuse. I know of few people who would say "Grandma just needs a quick smack on the butt and she’ll stop eating cookies at night". But children are not held in the same respect as the elderly. Some of our elder citizens have the mental capacity of children, but we don’t hit them to teach them. We treat them with respect and guidance. Sure, they are past the time of learning for life. But doesn’t every person deserve respect for their body and self?
I don’t expect everyone to agree with me. I do want to layout what we do and WHY.
and if there is a parent out there who can explain why you MUST spank your child to be a Christian parent, please please email me or comment. I just don’t get that logic.
*An excellent website that describes both points of view can be found here. Some of the studies are included here. Gotta love those Canucks!