I grew up in a house where spanking was in fact part of the discipline. It wasn’t like what the media has turned it into. We were born in Europe to European parents, where spanking was part of the culture. In fact if parents didn’t “spank” their children, than they were seen as spoiling them and their kids would obviously turn out rotten.
The spanking that had occurred in my house involved smacks to the butt. They were never pre-planned, or formal in anyway, and were probably used more often as a threat than in actual occurrences. I should also add that I am the second born in my family, and the spanking that I had received as a child was probably a lot less than what my older brother had, being first born.
My parents had raised my brothers and I with a lot of rules, probably way more rules than what will exist in my own home, but not all of those rules, if disobeyed, would have resulted in a “spanking”. Both my parents were the disciplinarians, and we typically did not like disobeying either of them, but of course the scarier of the two was my father. He had a roaring, impulsive temper and my older brother and I were mainly scared to be disciplined by him, because if he was to discipline us, it meant that we were in “big trouble”. ”Big trouble” did not mean that my father would take out a belt and beat us, “big trouble” didn’t leave marks or scars, or bruises, but did leave us terrified at the thought. Come to think of it, I remember being more afraid of the actual confrontation, rather than the spanking.
Whenever we did fall out of line, my parents had always taken the time to talk to us and explain to us why we were being disciplined. We were NEVER disciplined by both of my parents at the same time. If one was going to be the disciplinarian, than the other would remain at our side, protecting us from the “spanks”, comforting us if we cried, and encouraging us to apologize for the bad behaviour. My parents were and still are a great team, I think.
My parents had my younger brother years later when we were already settled in Canada, I was eleven and a half, and my older brother was seventeen. As our life had changed, I think the way my parents had handled discipline had to change as well. I think there were very few times, if any, that my younger brother had gotten spanked. However the fear of “big trouble” had been in him just as it was in us, and he would try to avoid it at all costs. If my father were to just raise his voice, my little brother was already on the floor crying, so therefore “spanking” was not really necessary for him. Over the years my father’s hard anger had softened a lot and “spanking” by either of my parents didn’t really happen that much, but one rule that never changed in our home, and would probably result to a spanking if disobeyed, was that of disrespect. Disrespecting our parents, siblings, elders - these were completely unacceptable. My brothers and I, had always been mannered and taught to be courteous to others, and I think part of it may be because we were afraid of “big trouble”. As well, our parents had many, MANY conversations with us about respect, before during and after disciplining us, which probably contributed to how we had turned out. I grew up part of a generation that did fear their parents, but also had learned to respect them, and although maybe spanking wasn’t the best choice of discipline, nonetheless we had learned that our actions and behaviours had consequences.
After spanking hit the media front and centre, it seemed that it had become the worst form of discipline ever imagined. The image behind spanking was one that was gruesome, where children were coming to school (if at all) with scratches, bruises, being beaten for behaviour that could not possibly have been so bad to result in such a cruel punishment. Spanking then wasn’t looked at as a disciplinary action that had occurred occasionally when a child fell out of line, but rather as an abusive situation that occurred daily where a child was not safe in their own home. I remember when spanking had hit the news openly, I was in grade five, and I remember having to attend assemblies at school, having our teachers talking about this at carpet time, where suddenly we had to be aware of the abuse that could be upon us, in our own home. I feel like the way this was thrown out onto my generation, was a little confusing, as despite the fact that it was meant to protect children from harm, it had also given children a whole lot of power, where suddenly, children could make their own parents afraid of them. Parents were now being threatened by their children, that if they were to try to discipline them in any way, they have the right to “call the cops” on them.
What is the result of all of this? An abundance of parents that have become afraid to discipline their children. I don’t think this was the intention of bringing light to spanking. I think the point was to create a safe environment for children, and for them to be aware of what a safe environment looked like. It was not to take away discipline. Parents need to discipline their children and not be afraid of them, and there are plenty of ways to discipline them without having to spank them. However spanking is still a tool that many parents use, which I think is based on their own culture, belief, and upbringing. But many parents are not comfortable talking about it, as it has become a taboo topic in our society.
I think discipline is something that needs to be planned ahead of time and defined in every home. I think parents should have rules and limits for their children and these should be guarded with consequences, that are realistic and seen through if broken.
If you do decide to use spanking as a disciplinary tool, I recommend visiting these 4 questions that you should ask yourself before implementing them.
1) What would spanking involve?
2) Is this an actual disciplinary tool or a result of your own impulsive anger, discomfort, irritation?
3) Is there no other alternative disciplinary tool that you could use instead?
4) Would it really be affective in disciplining your child to better behaviour?
This blog is meant to be a conversation piece, what are your thoughts on this topic?