Spanking: Screw It
Despite my liberal Democrat ways, I'm not violently opposed to spanking. (No pun intended. Or maybe it was.) I think there's quite a difference between "spanking" and "beating to a pulp," and when parents object too stridently to spanking, we're opening ourselves up to arguments over semantics rather than arguments over disciplinary styles.
It's not just that I don't want to send a message that violence is the way of the world, or that I don't want to be a hypocrite and spank my child to teach her that hitting is wrong, although I don't want to do either of those things. There are a thousand arguments against spanking, but the strongest is still this: It doesn't work.
I grew up in a spanking household, as did almost every single friend I had in my small town. There is one family I can recall who had a no-spanking policy, and everyone thought that was just a little bit weird. Spanking was a normal part of childhood in a time when corporal (thanks, Average Jane) punishment still hadn't been entirely obliterated from schools. We all got spanked and lived to tell the tale, and I can't think of one friend who came away with either physical or psychological damage from normal spanking.
But it still didn't work.
My parents spanked more when we were younger than when we were older. I remember clearly being spanked and more clearly watching my sister get spanked. I remember being very angry with my parents for spanking even when I wasn't the one in the hotseat. I didn't feel guilty for my crimes -- I just felt angry that someone was going to spank me.
After the spanking phase, my parents turned to pick-your-punishment and grounding/privelege removal. These techniques were far more effective with me, because I made a clear connection between my parents and authority. I realized with these new punishments that they truly were the boss of me, and they could take away my precious telephone and television whenever I misbehaved. Spanking = angry at them. Privelege removal = angry at me.
My husband pretty much agreed with all of my reasoning, and so we've never spanked our daughter. We did time-out when she was a toddler, putting her back in the corner over and over and over until she blew herself out and snurkled for us in apology.
As she's grown older and tested us more, we've been tempted at times by spanking, especially when the shock value seemed important to nip a new form of naughtiness in the bud, but instead we resorted to upping the disciplinary ante. I remember the first time I took away her My Little Ponies. They sat on top of my dresser, staring down at her, and she wailed as though her heart would break, but she got it: I am the boss of her.
In the end, spanking and all, I learned to obey my parents out of respect and not fear. That's my wish, above all else, for my daughter. I want her to respect me. And for that, I have to learn to control my temper, too. Spanking just seems a little too easy to do when you're still angry. I can toss a pony on a dresser a little too hard and nothing will come of it. I can't imagine how I'd feel if I made that mistake while spanking my girl.
What do you think?