Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Spanking: A Thing of the Past For Our Family

My daughter pretending to cry.
Recently, I was talking with another mother as we watched our children play.  As moms often do, we started discussing and comparing horror stories of past mischief our children have gotten into.  The conversation soon turned to punishment.  When I mentioned that I no longer spank my children, though, the other woman gave me a look like I just proclaimed that I’m into animal sacrifice or believe I was once abducted by aliens!

No, I am NOT a push-over parent.  I don’t allow my children to run free unchecked.  My children aren’t constantly getting into everything or tearing the house apart.  In fact, they are the exact opposite.  My son and daughter are well behaved, and I get compliments all the time whenever we are out about what good children they are.  So why do some people react so strongly and negatively that I have decided spanking is not for my family?

Of course, my children still act out and get into trouble periodically, as normal children do.  But I have learned that using time outs and revoking of privileges for undesired behavior and offering rewards for good behavior work far better than spanking ever did, especially for my son.

Growing up, my parents put fear into me and my little brother by spanking us with their hands and my father’s belt.  This is how discipline was dealt out on both sides of my family for generations, and it just continued from one generation to the next.  I know my parents meant well, but I can still remember the pain, humiliation, fear, and hopelessness like it was yesterday.  I also remember the tears and the worry as I would lie in my bed at night wondering if my parents might actually hate me.  Although this spanking played only a part, my difficult childhood made me decide pretty young (around 13 or so) that I never wanted to have children of my own.

Obviously and thankfully, I didn’t stick to my vow to never become a mother.  Nevertheless, my childhood is always present in the back of my mind, and it is ultimately what made me decide over 2 years ago that spanking was out for me and my family.

My son, who is now 6, was quite the temperamental toddler.  He would have temper tantrums that would make the most patient parent exasperated!  In desperation, I tried spanking him, but he’d scream louder.  I’d spank him again, and he would throw things in his room.  I’d spank him even more, and he’d start slamming doors.  As a single mother, his tantrums were starting to wear at my nerves, and I was feeling overwhelmed beyond words.

Then one day, he was demanding that I take him to his father (who had disappeared from our lives).  When I told him that I couldn’t my son started hitting me and telling me that he hated me.  I was so hurt by his words and angry at the world for suddenly being forced into single motherhood that my temper snapped.  I grabbed my son and went to put him over my knee to spank him (as my parents always did), but the sheer fear and shock on his face made me physically ill.

I was becoming just like my parents--what I had always feared and hated--and I cried.  I hugged my son close to me, and we cried together.  I told him that I loved him and that I understood that he was hurting inside because his daddy had left.  I told him that it hurt me too to not know why his daddy had chosen to leave.  But I promised that I’d always be there for him and never leave.

From that day on, I decided to no longer spank my kids.  It has been a hard journey learning to parent differently than what I was raised to do.  I have slipped sometimes and doubted myself many times along the way.  Yet, seeing how my children have become so well behaved and how my son has grown to be a happier, much more mellow boy has made the struggle so worth it!  I have become a happier and more positive person and parent as well.

Ultimately, I will never go back.  Other parents can ridicule me or think I’m insane all they want, but I know what is right for me, my children, and my family as a whole.  I have seen the positive changes in myself and my children, and I’m happy with the results of my new parenting technique.  That is what truly matters!


  1. I agree with you. My son is 3 and he is very physical and plays rough, often hitting. I can't justify in my mind spanking him when I am working on teaching him that hitting is not ok. It's like you can't hit, but I'm going to wail on your tush?

    1. I couldn't justify it either, Sarann. The more I spanked my son, the more physical he'd get with me and his little sister . . . and the more defiant he would become. It was worthless as a discipline measure and it made me feel worthless as a mother.

  2. Love this. You are doing a beautiful thing for your son, and for his children in turn.

    1. Thanks for stopping by! And yes, it makes me feel good knowing that I broke the ugly cycle. Now I know those generations after me have a much better chance of never taking discipline too far!