Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Spank you very much

A facebook friend recently posted this:

Let me begin by saying: I got my butt smacked and survived.

Heck, I have a very sarcastic mouth, so I got much more than my butt smacked!  And I still survived.  And I still love my parents.

But I choose not to use corporal punishment with my children.  And here is why:

#1 I don't want my children seeing violence as a solution.

When Thing 1 and 2 get upset and hit one another, one of my first responses is "DO NOT HIT YOUR BROTHER!"  And we make the boys come together and talk through their issues.  We discuss that if someone is doing something to bother you, you should 1. ask them to stop,  2. tell them you need some space,  3. walk away from them if they won't walk away from you,  4. get a grown up.  In that order.

Does it work all of the time?  No.  But it does work most of the time.

But what about me?  I (along with Superman) am their #1 role model.  What do they learn if I get ticked at something they do and instead of talking it out with them, I reach over and smack their hand or whack their butt.  What have I taught them?

My lips are saying "do not hit people when they do something you don't like" but my actions are saying "it's okay to hit people when they do something you don't like."

Is it hard not to spank?  YES!!  Good god!  Lord knows I have a temper (thanks dad!) and when I get mad at them for being little butts, you'd better believe I want to haul off and smack those rear ends!  In fact, a time or two, I have been so upset and frustrated and mad that I have.

But I know in my heart that that reaction isn't right for me.  It is allowing my anger to control my actions, rather than controlling my anger and dealing rationally with the situation.

#2 I don't think it works.

My parents were spankers.  Spankers, slappers, whippers...nothing abusive, but lets just say my butt was no stranger to the hand or another available object (yes, there was a wire hanger incident).  And I even got backhanded across the face a few times for sarcastic comments. (P.S. Moms and Dads, if you yourself are sarcastic, there is a more than good chance that your kids will learn to be sarcastic too.  Heads up!)

But let me tell you this.  Spanking hurts...for a few minutes.  (My parents never really hit me hard enough to cause major bruising or long lasting pain.)  Then it's over.  You go in your room, cry for a few minutes, then pick up a book.  You give your parents the silent treatment for a few hours, but big deal.  Back to life as normal.

But you know what was torture?  Being grounded.  Or being grounded from the tv.  Or the worst of the worst: Having my phone privileges taken away.  Ah man!  I can remember it now, getting a phone call from one of my best friends and hearing my dad say "No, Amber can't come to the phone right now. She is grounded from the phone." Torture!

So when Thing 1 purposefully hit Thing 2 the other day with his new tee-ball bat because "he wasn't moving out of my way and I didn't like that", we didn't spank him.  We took away his bat, put him in time out for 5 minutes while we tended to Thing 2.  Then we told Thing 2 to tell Thing 1 how being hit with the bat made him feel.  And then we told Thing 1 "no baseball for 3 days."  Good grief, the crying that ensued.  You'd have thought I beat the kid with the baseball bat myself.  And over the next 3 days, almost every time he asked to go play ball or went to pick up a bat, ball, or glove, it was evident that this long term punishment effected him much greater than had I done what I really wanted to do (which was spank his little butt!!).


Look, I'm not saying my way is right and the other way is wrong.  Two of my closest friends are some of the best moms I know, and they both spank their kids with no regrets. I would never say about them "oh, they just don't know how to control their anger" or "they just take the easy way out and spank their kid" or "they are teaching their kids to be violent."  We have had discussions about spanking and they have their justifications for doing it, and I have voiced my justifications for why we don't (or try not to ;).  But in the end, we all have to make the decisions that feel right for us and our families.

I would just encourage parents to think thoughtfully about why you choose the discipline measures you choose.  Because if you thoughtfully consider which method you most believe in and feel works best for your family, then that is the right decision!

Oh, and P.S. to go back to the original comment...Superman was never spanked a day in his life.  He was a model kid (a parent's dream!) and has turned out to be an ace teacher, a fantastic father, and committed husband.  So, I refute the insinuation that kids who aren't spanked are undisciplined and not respectful. Superman is proof that you can discipline without corporal punishment and still raise a lovely, law-abiding, rule following, respectful, contributing member of society. :)


  1. Amber- I agree with just about everything you said! And to add, my bff wasn't spanked either and as you know, she has turned out pretty darn good!

    If I had to add one thing it would be that the key to ANY type of discipline is following through. God knows, I'm not the best at this, but I have followed through enough for the Bug to know that I will follow through. Don't give idle threats, especially when they punish you (the parent) as well.

  2. D. Abernathy wasn't spanked either (never, not once), and he is a pretty good, respectful, well-mannered guy. ;)