By Alicia Barnes, liciabobesha.com
We don’t spank in our house. Even with a two year old who has very big emotions. We don’t spank, or whoop, or pop, or beat, or yell. There are lots of interesting cognitive and social studies on the negatives of spanking, but I call on my own experiences for why we won’t hit our kids.
1. There’s no other situation when it’s appropriate for someone bigger with a position of power to hit someone just because he did something he didn’t like. I do not agree with husbands hitting wives even if they believe she deserved it. I’ve left a job because no paycheck is worth being yelled at or belittled or feeling threatened.
I do not and cannot tolerate any verbal or physical assault and violence toward myself, so I can’t do it to my kids. I can’t reconcile teaching my son not to hit and then hitting him. I don’t want my son especially to associate it being ok to hit people when they do something he doesn’t like. I especially worry for him as a future black man to know how to control his emotions and physical responses. I hope he learns to talk it out, so I don’t spank. I talk. Especially for my future daughters, I don’t ever want them thinking that they could possibly do something that merited them being hit by someone they love. I want them to view physical violence as a line that should never be crossed by people who claim to love them, so I don’t spank.
2. I was spanked. It didn’t warp me, but it didn’t help me either. The last spanking I got was for not cleaning my room. I was supposed to clean it before I went outside. I cleaned it some but not nearly enough. My mom came home and spanked me with a belt. If spanking worked, I would have never had a dirty room again. Only, it was just a few days later and my room was a mess. I have been struggling with mess and clutter my whole life. I struggled with it before that spanking. I struggle with it now. What I needed wasn’t a spanking. I needed less stuff. I needed guidance. I needed regular routines early on in life and carried throughout. When that belt was hitting me, I wasn’t thinking, “Wow, I wish I had cleaned my room.” No, I was thinking, “This really hurts. Please let this be over soon.”
Spankings, or beatings as we affectionately call them, were prevalent in the houses of my extended family and friends. Despite all the switches and belts meant to mold us into better people and scare us away from bad behavior, there were still teenage pregnancies, there were still arrest records, there was still drug selling and abusing, there was still being held back grades and not graduating, there was fighting in the streets, and now as we’re older I’m most saddened to see wife beating or acceptance of being hit as a woman. Spanking created momentary fear of being hit, not teaching life lessons. Because the punishment just never responded appropriately to the cause, the actual issues were never resolved. I can’t prove it, but it seems like my cousins that were hit the most are the ones sitting in jail.
I’ve been told when my son does something dangerous, I’ll need to spank him so he understands the seriousness of what he’s done. I don’t think hitting teaches him something is serious. I think explaining why something is dangerous, providing the proper environment and then redirection will do a lot more to help him make better future decisions.
I’ve also been told when my son mouths off to me, I’ll understand he then needs a pop. Yet, when some authority figure such as a police officer says the wrong thing to my son, I certainly don’t want him to think hitting the appropriate response. So I won’t spank.
3. Too often spanking isn’t about what the child did wrong but instead is the parent reacting out of frustration. When I look back at some of the spankings we received growing up, it’s evident to me that my mom was tired and we had just worked her nerves. I see these spankings all the time at the grocery store and at the park. Tired cranky parents with tired cranky kids. Suddenly behinds are swatted. The parents are reacting to how the child made them feel instead of what the child actually did. Is it really so awful that your kid doesn’t want to stand in Victoria’s Secret while you look at thongs? Is it really a hitting offense that he began to whine and wouldn’t stand still? A child making me feel embarrassed because he’s bored is not a reason for me to hit my kid, so I don’t spank.
When I think back on my spankings, it’s clear that the one thing they definitely did was teach me to distance myself. I was afraid of my parents. I was afraid of being hit, so I learned to hide the things that were hittable offenses. When I crossed the line, I learned to hide them better. It was easier to hide if I didn’t share, if I didn’t talk. The less they knew about me and what I did, the less likely I would get in trouble. The less they knew my friends, the better. Worse, I learned that hitting was an appropriate way to resolve conflict. For too long I believed that people in particular women could deserve to be hit. I threatened to hit people. I didn’t think I could be taken seriously without doing so. In situations where I didn’t think I could be the dominate one, I learned compliance and hold my head down or else.
These are not the things I want for my children. I want my children to learn to have ownership of and value not only their own bodies but also for others. I want them to talk. I want them learn to work through their problems. I never want them to think it’s ok for them whether they’re 2 or 22 or 102 for someone to hit them, so I will not spank. No, I will not hit my kids.
Mommies, what are your views on spanking?
Alicia lives in a small college town that often challenges her resolve to live as simply and as stress-free as possible. When she’s not working, rereading the same children’s books, cooking, or wondering how crunchy she’s become, she’s busy updating her site, liciabobesha.com. You can follow her on facebook.