Saturday, March 29, 2014

[Tripping Your Social Justice Trigger] Spanking

Raising children is filled with these moments where you will be completely and totally at odds with random strangers because of how you handle your children. One of the really hot button issues is spanking. On one side of the fence are these people who passionately believe that laying a hand on your children is not only a good thing, but should actively be done because refusing to do so is denying your child a proper and good upraising. The other side holds that you should never lay a hand on your child no matter what they do because the act of performing violence on your child is such a violation of the parental trust that you do irreparable harm to kid's psychological well being.

I sit in the middle at this point in raising my child because he's not even two yet. Sitting down with him and telling him that he's done wrong does neither of us any good at this time because he doesn't fully understand nor does he care about my reasoning. We could talk till I was blue in the face and he'll still try to put something in the furnace and set the whole house on fire (hopefully not intentionally, but again we're early in his life). So at this time I spank and teach him what not to do. 

Now as he gets older and is more fully able to understand what I'm saying we will be moving over to a time out chair. We'll not be sending him to his room because he's just going to play with his toys. Having a chair where he can't get down and play is the best punishment I ever got when I was a child because nothing, nothing is worse than being in the middle of all the action and not being able to participate.

I know that this isn't normal fair for this blog but I'm a father before I'm a blogger or a gamer; and on this occasion I just needed to get this off my chest. I'll be back to my normal fair tomorrow. 

23 comments:

  1. My boy's 9 months and I hear you. Your blog, post what you like.

    I just posted some parenting tips on my Facebook (http://www.quora.com/Parenting/What-are-some-unique-effective-ways-to-discipline-a-child), and to me they seem like good things to strive for. A friend with two kids responded with some defensive, vehement rebuttals. We all know that good advice goes out the window when the kid is screaming in the supermarket and we lose our cool, and we are all aware of other's eyes.

    I grew up in Canada with a father who didn't hesitate to yell or beat us cause the 'good book' told him so, and it did damage & traumatize me. Now I live in Japan where most people talk very calmly to kids but will not hesitate to spank (lightly) if the kid tries to run into the crazy traffic here or picks up a knife on the ground. I think differentiating between 'lay on hands to show this is dangerous and must never be done' and 'beat because I'm annoyed' is what is needed, and it is hard to tell which is which when you see it out of context.

    Keep your cool, love your child and do your best man.

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    1. "A friend with two kids responded with some defensive, vehement rebuttals. We all know that good advice goes out the window when the kid is screaming in the supermarket and we lose our cool, and we are all aware of other's eyes."

      See that's the thing about any sort of parenting advice: no matter what you say you're going to end up pissing someone off.

      "I grew up in Canada with a father who didn't hesitate to yell or beat us cause the 'good book' told him so, and it did damage & traumatize me."

      How could it not?

      "I think differentiating between 'lay on hands to show this is dangerous and must never be done' and 'beat because I'm annoyed' is what is needed, and it is hard to tell which is which when you see it out of context."

      Absolutely.

      For my wife and me we only spank our child when something is dangerous and must never be done - and never out of anger. And like I said, once he gets a little bit older and can understand more fully we're switching over to the time out chair. Nothing works better.

      "Keep your cool, love your child and do your best man."

      I do, and I am trying. It's all that any of us can do. Thank you for coming by and the link.

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  2. If I have to hit my daughter to get her to do what I want, then I have failed comprehensively as a parent. Any hitting is my failure, and I would no more hit my kid than I would hit my wife or my mother. But hey, if English private schools and military academies have taught us anything, it's that those who suffer are eager to pass that suffering on.

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  3. I've never spanked my daughter, but raising a boy might be different!
    Time out on the "naughty step" was always more than enough. Turns out public places like grocery stores have "naughty steps" too (lowest shelf) if you really can't pull the nuclear option ('that's it, we're going home'). BTW the nuclear option is very powerful. We left the zoo once because she tested us one time too many and she remembers it years later. Never had to pull it again.

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    1. "I've never spanked my daughter, but raising a boy might be different!"

      They really are. I didn't realize how much of a difference there was between the two until my brother had girls. Boys are engines of destruction looking for their next victim, and girls have feelings. They care and boys just don't a lot of times.

      "Time out on the "naughty step" was always more than enough. Turns out public places like grocery stores have "naughty steps" too (lowest shelf)"

      That's going in my bag of trick. I absolutely love that idea!

      "the nuclear option is very powerful. We left the zoo once because she tested us one time too many and she remembers it years later. Never had to pull it again."

      Nuclear option doesn't mean anything yet, but I'm really looking forward to the day when it does - and it's coming soon.

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  4. I've spanked my children but very seldom. I feel there's a huge difference between a spanking and a savage beating. For my older two standing and looking at the wall was a punishemnt far worse (I don't think it was ever over 15 or 20 minutes), they've said they would rather get a spanking as it was over quicker. Spanking is punishment not discussion, it really needs to be coupled with discussion or it's ineffective.
    As kids get older taking away computers and smartphones is pretty darned effective.
    When my brother and I got older and got in fights my mother would send us into each others room as punishment. Being stuck in your siblings oom for and hour or so while your stuff was exposed was a dire situation.

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    1. "When my brother and I got older and got in fights my mother would send us into each others room as punishment. Being stuck in your siblings oom for and hour or so while your stuff was exposed was a dire situation."

      Your parents were brilliant.

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    2. Stealing this idea, oh wait, one kid...

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  5. Is your child allowed to hit you when you are elderly and unable to defend yourself?

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. Why would the ability to defend one's self be a factor?

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    3. Because a child can't. They depend on their parents or guardians for protection. There are better ways to communicate with your child than smacking them. Also, just because they're not talking yet, doesn't mean they don't understand you.

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    4. How many kids you have? Whic cause and effectt is better: being warned and caught in the act and. Being punished with a spanking or being warned and found as a crispy lump of charcoal that isn't going to communicate?

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    5. I have two, a 6-yo and a 2-yo. If the 2-yo had been the first, there wouldn't have been a 2nd. My oldest is calm, laid back, never gave us a moment's trouble. I know a lot of parents say that, but having had the opportunity to spend close time with in-laws and their kids, not to mention the comparison with the youngest, I know it's true. We never had child-safety locks, never had to pay attention to where we laid things. She just seemed to go out of her way not to do anything that would get herself seriously hurt. Perhaps we were just lucky, but that's her story.

      The 2-yo, on the other hand, taught us that those screaming, raging kids in the supermarket you're so worried about yours becoming...not always the fault of the parents. We love our little one, but she's the complete opposite of her older sister. Soon after she learned how to walk, she had already figured out that moving stools around might give her greater access to the cookies on the counter. Worse, she wants to emulate her big sister, and so stretches far beyond her limits to keep up.

      She wants what she wants, and she will wail and screech until it happens. Or, better stated: until it doesn't happen. We just don't give in to her. She's gotten better in a relatively short time, and while we still plastic-wrap and lock everything that's within and without of her reach, we sleep easier at night.

      So, when I say I understand the exasperation of having a screaming child in the supermarket, I also understand "fuck those who are looking down on you about it". Seriously, you're willing to do permanent psychological damage to your child simply because people are looking at you while the child screams? Are you not man enough to simply ignore it and remove your son from the situation?

      I don't know about yours, but hitting is the 2-yo's response to not getting her way. Are you older than 2? If you are, then act like it and be the adult. You don't want your child setting fire to themselves in the incinerator? Then, make sure the child doesn't have access to the incinerator. Can't figure out how to do that? Find someone who can. You're the adult. Be proactive. Be the adult.

      Timeouts are effective, even at 2 and even when the child is a willful hellion, but you have to be the adult. When your son gets up (and he will), you put him back. When he gets up again, you put him back. When he gets up again, you put him back. And, so on. Eventually, he will give up and ride his time out. He also will be less likely to get up for the next one. My 2-yo knows, when she's in timeout, she's to stay there. It didn't take long, and it didn't take a beating (trying to play it down by calling it spanking is cowardly. At least man up and admit you're beating your child.)

      Did I come off as mean? Are you mad at me now? Good. You asked the question, I'm not sugarcoating it. Parents who beat their children are lazy and destructive. It's the amateur's solution to parenting. It's for the parents who aren't willing to put in the effort of being a real parent. Be the adult, act like the adult, raise your kids like an adult. EVERY piece of evidence-based research shows beating your children has long-term effects, and no amount of anecdotes can refute that...

      ...which brings me to those of you looking to reply with the tired canard of "Well, I was beaten as a child, and I turned out OK!" I'll give you the same answer I give everyone else: please provide me with a better example, because universally every person I've ever met who has made that statement is someone I wouldn't want my children to grow up to be. I seriously doubt you'd be the exception.

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    6. Okay, I try really, really hard to stay out of these discussions because they bring up stuff I'd rather not think about, but I have to throw in my two cents. Speaking as someone who was actually beaten as a child, yes being beaten does have very bad long-term effects on the child. That said, also speaking as someone who was beaten as a child, there is a major difference between being spanked and being beaten.

      When a parent beats a child, it is because the parent has lost control. The parent doesn't really care if the child learns a lesson, the parent needs something to make them feel in control of a situation and beating the crap out of their kids is a way to do that. When a child is being beaten, it isn't because they want to put something in a furnace or because they're throwing a fit in a store. People who say that are lucky enough to have never been beaten in their lives.

      When a child is beaten for "throwing a fit" in public, that beating doesn't take place in the store and the "reason" for the beating is not to correct behavior. It is because the adult in the situation felt out of control, and probably embarrassed. The beating almost always takes place someplace no one else will see, usually with a lot of "Don't you EVER embarrass me like that again(s)!" thrown in for good measure. These beatings usually consist of a weapon, like a belt or a strap, and often escalate into punching and kicking.

      Spanking is something entirely different. I was lucky enough to get out of the situation I was in as a child. My mother and grandmother had their own brand of "punishment." It consisted mostly of writing essays and sitting in time out. Every once in a while, when I did something REALLY bad (like tying a sled to the riding lawn mower and having my sister and I giving each other rides while she was at work) I would get spanked. The spanking is something entirely different. I broke a rule that I had previously been told not to break. There was a serious discussion in which the reasons I was about to be spanked were expressed- and may I say that 100% of the time it was because someone, mostly me, could have been seriously hurt had things gone wrong- I would be spanked.

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    7. A spanking is not a beating. A spanking consists of a couple of swats to the butt. These swats are not done to torture the child. The adult does not "rear back" and "give it all they got" while spanking a child. For me, the spanking was more effective than the time outs, not because it hurt (to be honest, they rarely really hurt) they were effective because I knew I had broken the rules big enough to draw that consequence. I knew even while I was being punished that I was safe and that no matter what I did, I would still be loved at the end of the day.

      I have a child, and I try not to spank him. If you spank a child for every little thing, the spanking becomes a reflexive punishment. That said, I think the punishment should suit the "crime." If my son talks back to me, refuses to do what I say, or throws a fit in public, he will never be spanked. Time outs, or a someone said earlier the "nuclear option" can handle that. If my son does something that can cause major bodily harm to himself or others, I will spank him, lightly. The goal of a spanking isn't to hurt him, it is to let him know that what he was about to do could have hurt him. I don't want him thinking "Mom hurts me." I want him to think, "If I try to lick the light socket, I'll get hurt." When he gets old enough to understand and participate in a meaningful discussion we will have those before the time outs and/or spankings. But no matter what, my son will never know what it is like to be beaten. And I think that people who have no experience with actual violence need to watch what they say before they start comparing parents who obviously love their children and want the best for them to people who take out their own insecurities on their children.

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    8. There's a huge difference between a beating and a spanking. Adults that aren't judgmental sanctimonious jerks know that.

      As a parent of 3 kids I have this to say this to the parents of the screaming brat in a store: leave the store, no one needs it, the other parents don't need it, and the other kids don't need to see it. We are all trying to be members of a civil society, if your kid can't manage it yet, leave them at home they haven't earned the right yet.

      Any adult who spanks a kid becasue they have been embarrassed or simply annoyed is pathetic, the kid has gained the upper hand.

      I have a friend who worked as a nanny for years and she disapproved of spanking for any reason and then she had her own kid. She admitted to me a couple years ago she had spanked her son a couple times because there wasn't another option that worked and she apologized for earlier confrontations.

      My own father was beaten a little too much as a child, sometimes when we were spanked he'd break down crying and we'd feel a hell of a lot worse. The man never injured us in any of spankings we got and in all honesty my brother and I knew we would get off light if a spanking was the punishment.

      Spanking is an act of punishment and discipline and it should be as clear to the kid as possible why it's happening and how it will never happen again. The reason should have little to do with the ego of a parent.

      I know the difference between a beating and a spanking. A school friend stumbling down the street so badly bruised it was hard to tell who he was hadn't just been "spanked" and thankfully his grandparents knew the difference and took him in kept him away from the mother who had betrayed her child.
      The friend of mine who hanged himself at the age of 14 because he was bullied at school and home never had a chance becasue of the beatings he received at home that happened behind closed doors.

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  6. Sanctimonious, good word. See a lot of it in your post. So, you think there's a difference between a beating and a spanking? With your being an adult, I can see how you'd think that. Unfortunately, you're not attacking an adult, you're a full-grown person attacking a small child. To that child, it's not a spanking it's a beating.

    I appreciate you all making the points for me. Once you've gotten to the point that a beating is the only solution, are you implementing that final solution calmly and without anger? Of course not. That's why you see it as the only solution. The nanny example is perfect. It shows a woman lashing out in anger at children because she was unable to get her way. She reacted exactly as a 2-yo would, and shouldn't be allowed to be a nanny.

    You don't know the difference between a beating and a spanking. Your examples show that.

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    1. Pardon me Charles if you care to delete this I'll understand. I wanted to lash out just now in reaction to "The Spoonman" who imagines a caring parent would "attack" their child but realize now that would be feeding someone who feels the need to assault strangers and pass judgement on a very limited sampling and that would be pointless. It would be much better if I just gave such a person a timeout in my mind's eye and dismiss their vileness as the fleeting toot of flatulence it is.

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    2. No, that's fine JDJarvis.

      I'm just done with the hyperbole being thrown out over this subject. Spanking your child is not the same as abusing your child and to equate it as such is to trivialize all the people who are actually abused. I fully understand that The Spoonman feels strongly on this subject but the way they're going about it is not only offensive but outright irresponsible.

      I welcome a discussion on anything I post on this blog, as I think I've proven, but I'm done with this bit of extremism.

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