Saturday, June 6, 2009

I Never Spanked My Children

I have never spanked my children and I'm so fucking proud.

My husband and I discussed it when I was pregnant. It's weird, you know. You date, you go out and have martinis, you meet each other's friends and eventually parents, you get pregnant and you find that you've never really discussed parenting choices.

What do you think about discipline, I asked him. Like spanking. You'd have thought that I asked him what he thought about launching our children into space for sport. "Spanking?" he asked and got quiet. "No spanking." He didn't grow up in a spanking household. His parents had been spanked, in a way that I am guessing most unindicted parents don't spank these days and they broke that cycle right down. So to my husband, the idea of spanking was foreign. And repellent.

Lest there be any confusion: I don't have particularly "easygoing kids". They have acted out in public. They've had tantrums. They've thrown things, they've told me that I am the meanest mom, they've done things that are not safe and I have never spanked them. Nor do I think that I particularly excel at parenting. But I am proud that I believed in the no-spanking rule enough to live it.

There were times that I wanted to spank my kids. There were times when I wanted to tell them to shut the fuck up, just shut up and bend to my will. I haven't done that, either, at least not out loud.

I've never spanked my kids because for me, it's a parenting cop-out. I disagree with the "I am stronger than you are and I can hurt you" lesson that it sends. More than disagree with it, I hate it.

I've discussed this issue a lot with friends who grew up in spanking households and who feel that spanking taught them limits. Interestingly, none of them is spanking their own children.

So that is my official reasons. My secret reason is that I have a temper and I know it and I never wanted to test it with corporal punishment. I knew that you are not supposed to spank children when you are angry, and yet that was exactly when I'd want to spank. I bet that's when most spank. Not when they're calm and reflective and saying "this is hurting me more than it is you". Because if your hand is hurting that much, then your kid's rear is way too bony.

I've been thinking about this a lot recently. We are entering my children's birthday season. In the next month, they'll turn 11 and 8. And I know that they have never been hit by their parents. Which is pretty awesome.


Blogger The Panic Room said...

I hate the idea of spanking, but I love the idea of fist fighting your Dad when you turn 13.

June 6, 2009 at 8:30 PM  
Blogger PsychMamma said...

100%, totally with you! My husband sometimes says that he thinks we need to spank her, but then he says, "You do it" b/c HE doesn't want to. Ha! He's convinced that HE would have been a juvenile delinquent if he hadn't been spanked, but doesn't like the idea of spanking J anymore than I do.

As a psychologist, I also know the data that's out there that shows spanking is NOT more effective than other methods of discipline. It is, in fact, less effective in most cases.

So we're riding the no-spanking train, and I'm glad it's the choice we made.

June 6, 2009 at 8:44 PM  
Blogger Priss said...

I don't disagree. I was most often spanked when my father lost his temper. It wasn't often, but I never forgot it. All it taught me was that he was bigger than I was.

Have I spanked? Yes. When a child is about to do something dangerous and a yell doesn't work, a quick swat gets their attention... because even though it doesn't hurt them, they stop and ask me, "WTF?!?!"

I've found that taking away privileges that they earned through good behavior, then allowing those things in return for good behavior works much better. I also speak to them on their level so they understand that yes, I am being mean, but I have good reason. No, it doesn't make me feel good to do it. Guilt is powerful when it's backed by sound logic.

And I also speak to my kids as people. Not accessories or pets. They've responded so well to that. All three of them. Surely that stands to show that in general, it works for a lot of kids. Lecturing them is a bigger punishment... I've been asked by my own child for a spanking instead.

So yeah. Mommy's long-winded lectures on life, responsibility and disappointment are worse than physical pain. I am a horrible parent.

June 6, 2009 at 8:52 PM  
Blogger teachmama said...

I like this post. I like it because it's true--and hard to read for me, who works HARD every day to discipline in a way that my father did not, one that is safer and less scary.

Thanks for sharing. You should be proud.

June 6, 2009 at 9:26 PM  
Blogger Scary Mommy said...

I don't do spanking either. I do, however, sing "shut the fuck up" in my head. It seems to help control my rage.

June 6, 2009 at 9:29 PM  
Blogger SweetPeaSurry said...

I grew up with 'swats' not a hard spank but a stinging tap to the rear ... my siblings also raised or are raising their kids this way. I don't think any one of us has become a stark raving lunatic for being 'swatted' on the behind growing up.

I could go either way on this. Often times, I feel talking is overrated though.

June 6, 2009 at 9:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good for you -- you made a committment, and you stuck to it. In my opinion, it was the right decision, too -- we aren't spanking parents. For now - and hopefully always - a stern word, calm explanation and sometimes just plain yelling (not the best, but you know...) works just as well, if not better.

June 6, 2009 at 9:55 PM  
Blogger Jen said...

We don't spank our kids either. For the reasons you listed and also because it makes me sick to my stomach to see my children in physical pain. I don't think I could handle being the one to actually cause that pain. I couldn't do that to those little people who look to me for comfort, love and protection.

June 6, 2009 at 10:02 PM  
Blogger Kate Coveny Hood said...

I always admire consistency. It's not exactly one of my parenting triumphs...

June 6, 2009 at 10:07 PM  
Blogger Crazy K said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

June 6, 2009 at 10:07 PM  
Blogger Crazy K said...

After 2-3 warnings, my 4 year old gets a "spank on her coolie". It's light enough to really not even be spanking, but also enough to get the point across to my preschooler who seems to be turning 14 in September with her attitude and back-talk.

I won't smack my child after a certain age. At that point, it will have to be hard enough that it will be uncomfortable for me.

I am a first time mother learning as I go and well, my kid is pretty freakin' awesome and I usually never make it past the 2nd warning before she rights her misbehavior.
She is beyond polite in public, always says please and thank you, and people pull me to the side just to tell me so. (I tell them to hang as a fly on the wall at Casa Crazy because she can have some superb meltdowns)
I think I am doing something right.

June 6, 2009 at 10:13 PM  
Blogger Pseudo said...

My kids are three years apart, birthdays both in June, girlis the oldest.

I guess I'm on the fence here. We did not spank much, a swat here and there though. I will say the nicest kids with the most self discipline I teach have been raised with discipline and chores. The most irresponsible and willing to blame others for their mistakes have no chores and very little consequences.

June 6, 2009 at 10:40 PM  
Blogger Everyday Goddess said...

No way, no spanking. One of the most horrible things my daughter ever said to me about her dad was that he spanked her while she was away at his house.

I go numb with rage to this day to think of that motherfucker laying a hand on her. There is never a reason for an adult to slap a child. No reason ever.

June 6, 2009 at 11:04 PM  
Blogger Kirsten said...

Violence is never the answer. Or is it violins are never the answer?

We have never spanked our kids. Not that I haven't wanted to. But I hate bullies and I never want my kids to be afraid of me.

June 7, 2009 at 12:03 AM  
Blogger bernthis said...

would never ever touch my kid, ever

June 7, 2009 at 12:44 AM  
Blogger OHmommy said...

i spanked my 3rd child today.

she bit the middle child right in the middle of her stomach and drew blood.

i lost it. and spanked her. i think i will blog about it.

June 7, 2009 at 12:59 AM  
Blogger Fancy Schmancy said...

I really liked this post. My son is about to turn 15, and I can count the number of times I've spanked him on one hand. I remember every single time, and he probably does too. You're right that each time it was done in anger, but also out of fear. Fear that he had done something that scared me so much for his safety that I wanted to make sure he remembered the punishment as a deterrent to that behavior. If I could go back, I would have done things differently. The thing is, with children and with life, you don't get those second chances.

June 7, 2009 at 2:47 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I admire you for that. I however, was not always so cool-headed. They got spanked. But they also got love and kindness. They got raised with a sense of morality, they know right from wrong, they are respectful and over all great adults.

Did the spanking help? I don't know. Did it make me feel good about myself? Not particularly.
Not excusing my behavior in any way, but my kids are 11 months 2 days apart.

My husband was on the road for the 1st 3 years of their life. It was VERY stressful and I was not one to ask for help.

Do I regret my actions.. yes. After reading your post.. it made me reflect. I am glad you are a wise parent

June 7, 2009 at 7:46 AM  
Blogger mo.stoneskin said...

I pretty much agree. I was spanked a couple of times in 'the right way' by my parents but my wife experienced the other terrible extreme. The really terrible thing is when spanking out of anger is the norm.

June 7, 2009 at 8:32 AM  
Blogger Christy said...

That is totally awesome Markinka. We have a no spanking rule here too - for all the same reasons as you. We want to lead by example - AND not teach violence!

June 7, 2009 at 8:54 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

Spanking is rampant in the south. And many times it is used inappropriately. I have had many, many parents ask me to paddle their children - and I will not do it.

As for me, my children each got one or two spankings. Not something I'm proud of but for these wild boys, it seemed to work when talking did not. For the most part, talking and loss of priveleges worked miracles. Since I was a single mother for most of thier upbringing, I was very tough on them. I didn't want any excuses for them being a screw up on my dime.

Great post! If I could do it all over again, I wouldn't have spanked. But I did the best I could do at the time I was doing it.

June 7, 2009 at 9:20 AM  
Blogger pam said...

Awesome. This post should be in the 'Parenting 101' handbook that should be given at the hospital.
They don't give those? Well huh?

June 7, 2009 at 9:46 AM  
Anonymous Andrea's Sweet Life said...

I was a nanny for a family who was very religious and followed the "Spare the rod, spoil the child" parenting technique. There was a chart that I filled with smiley and frowney faces for their behavior, and, you guessed it... they got a SPANK with a wooden spoon for EVERY frowney face on that chart, at the end of the day (and that's because I refused to spank them).

It taught me a lot - for one, as I've mentioned to you, I've never spanked my kids. It's not that we have a rule about it, it's just that... spanking has never felt like the right course of action. I told you that witnessing cruelty from my child my send me over the edge, but I think you're right - in that case, I'd be spanking in anger and that would be the right thing to do, either. Punish cruelty with angry spanking? NO.

Having witnessed over-spanking, I just can't find a good reason to spank my kids.

June 7, 2009 at 11:54 AM  
Blogger LTYM said...

I'm with you. I've never done it.

I read an interesting article last year that said a study found that kids who grew up being spanked often confused pain with love, since their parents were the ones hurting them, and that some of them practiced S&M as adults.

Don't know if there's any truth to that, but it was an interesting thought.

June 7, 2009 at 12:13 PM  
Blogger Momo Fali said...

Way awesome. Good for you!

June 7, 2009 at 1:02 PM  
Blogger Joanna Jenkins said...

I'm with you. No spanking-- which is easy for me to say since I don't have any kids of my own. But the kids I do spend time with-- It's very easy to see which ones get spanked at home and which ones don't. The ones that get spanked immediately cringe away from adults in arm's reach, when they do something wrong, or think the MIGHT have gone something wrong. It's an interesting dynamic. god for you for sticking to your commitment!

June 7, 2009 at 1:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am also a non-spanker. My son is still only two, but I feel pretty strongly about it.

I don't for a lot of the same reasons. I also just don't want to teach my son that violence is the answer. I want to teach him that there is a better way to interact with others.

June 7, 2009 at 2:10 PM  
Blogger Stephanie Meade Gresham said...

Super post. Why go around trying to teach children to be kind to others and "no hitting" if we're just going to smack 'em every time they piss us off?


I prefer to reserve my hypocrisy for later in my daughter's childhood when I really need it.

You know, like "don't drink until you're 21" and "wait to have sex till you're married or in love".

June 7, 2009 at 8:31 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I guess I have to say that I am neither proud nor ashamed that I have spanked my boys. It is certainly something I wish I hadn't felt I had to do, but it worked for the the dangerous behavior (running away into the street/parking lot) that they were reveling in.

I think that it really depends on the kid and the parents. I had just a couple spankings as a kid (one of which was a laughable experience at the hands of my enraged mother and her "switch") that I still feel I totally deserved. I'm not sure that any of my kids will even remember getting a spanking. Maybe I'll do an interview with them for the blog and see if I can't excise some of the demons.... :)

June 7, 2009 at 9:37 PM  
Blogger for a different kind of girl said...

My kids are 11 and 7, and we have never, ever spanked them. We never talked about how we'd react to them when they got in trouble, but having grown up in a house where my mom would spank us and then my dad would repeat it again when he got home, I knew from a very early age that I'd never make my kids feel like I did when the punishments were necessary. There's no gain in making a child feel that small.

June 7, 2009 at 10:34 PM  
Blogger the mama bird diaries said...

Hitting is never acceptable.

June 8, 2009 at 12:47 PM  
Anonymous LadyFi said...

Spanking kids is illegal over here.. thank goodness!

Now - when it comes to spanking adults however...

June 9, 2009 at 10:17 AM  
Blogger Issa said...

I am fully with you on this. My parenting skills may be lacking sometimes, my kids are not perfect angels by any stretch of the imagination. But I've never spanked them. Now, I will say, I was never spanked, so to me, it is a foreign thing.

Once or twice though, which each of the girls, I thought about it.

June 9, 2009 at 1:47 PM  
Blogger Birds said...

We didn't call my mother "The Beastmaster" for nothing.

I can't remember every time she said I love you, but I remember every single time she laid a hand on me or my siblings.

Don't spank your babies they will remember...

June 9, 2009 at 6:44 PM  
Blogger Susan said...

You can hit my kids if you want.

June 9, 2009 at 10:52 PM  
Blogger ^_^ said...

I figured a lot of people would agree with this....

Spanking is fine. I've noticed that most people who don't spank have kids who embarrass them in public and who don't AT ALL respect them. I understand that "kids will be kids" but that's just an excuse for having bad kids who don't know how to act because their punishment is "time out" or a meaningless " candy for you!".

I agree that spanking when you're angry is definitely wrong. That's about all I agree with in this post - not that it matters to you.

It depends on the child. Some children should be spanked, and some actually consider "time out" as serious punishment. The point is to RAISE children, and that requires so much more than just feeding and clothing them.

There's so much more to say on this issue, but maybe I'll just blog about it.

Who knows.

June 11, 2009 at 8:35 AM  
Blogger Marinka said...

Leslie--Of course the point is to raise children (or to rear them, as the case may be), but the question that parents struggle with is what is the best way to go about it.

I get that the "kids will be kids" refrain is infuriating and it is when it is used as a blanket excuse. But sometimes adults forget that kids ARE kids and have unreasonable expectations.

"Bad kids who don't know how to act because their punishment is a time out" does not apply to everyone. With some kids time outs are exceptionally effective.

In my experience, spanking kids doesn't make them respect you--it makes them fear you.

I hope that you do blog about it and let me know when you do. I'd love to read it.

June 11, 2009 at 9:29 AM  

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