Edited 3/5/2013 with updated information at the bottom.
I recently read something about spanking our children and it being a gray area. That for some children it works for, but others it doesn’t. Just another so called “Mom War” I guess. But here’s the thing that so many people seem to forget: It’s illegal. Yes, you can get arrested for spanking your child.
Now of course generally speaking that’s not going to happen unless you leave a mark on your child. A little swat on the hand to keep your child from touching the hot stove, no big deal right? He needs to learn the stove is hot and he could get a boo boo, so why not? Well, how about because you’re sending mixed messages. It’s not the stove your child is associating with pain, it’s you.
You see the line between spanking and abuse is so easily crossed. And you can say all you want that you won’t cross that line. Or you can say I was spanked as a child and I have this deep profound relationship with my parents. I respect them for it. But you know I’m not aware of any studies that prove that the majority of children who were spanked in their childhood came out the other end just fine. However, I have heard of the damage spanking can do to a child and can do to a relationship. Just because you didn’t come out of your childhood with any battle wounds doesn’t mean your child won’t. And I don’t know for me it’s just why take the chance?
To me it’s black and white. Spanking in any form is bad discipline but teaching is good discipline. There’s never a gray area in spanking. There’s nothing to battle. It is illegal plain and simple.
Let me put it to you this way. What if your child’s teacher spanked your child? Would you be okay with that? I mean it happened all the time in schools for our parents. Especially Catholic school. We don’t accept it now though. Just like you can’t spank your boss, coworker, neighbor, friend, spouse, or stranger walking down the street why would it ever be okay to hit your own child even if it’s in the name of discipline? Why do we get that kind of power over our children? Plain and simple we don’t. Just because we gave them life does not give us the right to strike them for any reason. It doesn’t matter how old they are or how much you reason it away it’s illegal.
Our Kids Are So Disrespectful These Days
Yup, kids have no respect in many cases. Is that because they aren’t being spanked? I don’t think so at all. It’s because they aren’t being taught respect. My children respect their elders. They have been taught how to behave. They have been given clear cut expectations. And they obey, not because they fear me or my husband, but because we talk to them about their behavior and take the time to correct them when they go wrong.
Yes, my children are not perfect. Neither am I. I will admit I get very angry and sometimes have a hard time controlling my temper. Sometimes Mom needs a timeout.
Spare the rod and spoil the child doesn’t work either. We need to spare the rod and teach our children. It’s not easy. It takes work. We work at it everyday. Climbing on furniture is an expectation that my children are aware of. We don’t climb on furniture. It’s not done at home and it most certainly is not done at someone else’s house. Dinner is eaten at the dinner table and we say please and thank you. These are all daily activities we do at home and our children are growing up learning how to have respect for themselves, for others, and for others belongings.
Our children do not fear us and they definitely let their hair down at home and get lax in how they talk to us. We correct by modeling how they should have said it. There is no reason that I can see that hitting in anyway is an appropriate form of punishment for my children.
I Will Do Better
My parents didn’t discipline us in the same way their parents disciplined them. We got spankings. Occasionally with the belt. My brother got it more than I did and I learned real quick to not cross them, but not because it was right but because I didn’t want to get hit. Things got bad with my brother to the point where there were knock down drag out fights by the time he was a teenager.
And do you know what it taught my brother? It taught him that it was okay to use his little sister as his personal punching bag. I was smaller and weaker than him and an easy target.
I will not do that to my children. Just like I put my children in car seats for longer amounts of time and like I make them wear a bike helmet when they ride their bikes.
It’s not that I think my parents were bad parents. They did better than their parents. My mom grew up with a neglectful mother who used to leave her standing outside of a bar with her little brother and sister for hours on end. She never did that to me. She also never made me kneel in uncooked rice or hit me with whatever was handy for whatever reason. My parents did the best they knew how and now that there’s more information available about the affects of spanking, riding in a car without a car seat, riding a bike without a helmet I know that to keep my kids safe I have to listen to that and do better than my parents did.
I would think they would want that for their grandchildren. It’s not about not liking things about my childhood. I had a decent childhood and I know my parents did the best they knew how. And now I will take what I learned from them and do better than they did and my children will do even better by their children.
Just as we have laws telling us to keep our children in car seats and wearing helmets there are laws against striking children. There’s just no ifs ands or buts about it, it’s illegal.
So the next time you go to spank your child (if that’s your thing) I hope you think is it really for the best or is there another way you can get your lesson across without using physical violence.
Are you a spanker? Do you still think it’s okay to do?
*I just want to add that while I know the entire premise of this blog post is to say spanking is unequivocally illegal and that’s why you shouldn’t do it, I should note that every state varies in their definition of what constitutes actual abuse making it illegal. While physical discipline in most states is allowed there are states which do not allow it at all and some where interpretation of the actual law can vary depending on who you speak to because of very broad terminology.
So if you’re hell bent that spanking is the best way to discipline a child, then I strongly suggest you check the laws in your state. Don’t be too surprised though if the law allows for reasonable force to be used, you end up in jail because of it. I have seen it happen.