Monday, January 22, 2007

To Spank or Not To Spank

I was watching the Today show this morning and there is this lady in California who wants to make it illegal to spank a child that is under the age of three. I got to thinking about it and wondered this: 1. Does this lady even have children of her own? I'm guessing probably not, and 2. Who the hell is she to decide how someone should discipline their own child?

I was brought up in a home where I cringed whenever my mother would walk behind me because she firmly believed in the "spare the rod spoil the child" mentality but this bat-shit-crazy bitch took it way too far. I can remember many many occasions in which I got my ass beat by this bscb and had no idea why I had to endure her wrath and there were times in which I probably needed it. I don't condone beating your children, don't get me wrong. My heart goes out to all the voiceless children who are being abused in homes across the world. These are the extreme cases and in that situation it is wrong. What my mother did to me was wrong but it taught me a valuable lesson in how not to be. I do believe that it doesn't harm a child if they are spanked within the proper context and right after they have committed the infraction. This bullshit of "you're gonna get it when we get home" is just that, bullshit. By that time the child has disconnected the wrong doing with the spanking and now it's just a display of them being spanked by their parent for who knows what they are thinking in their little heads.

The real debate is this, we know that about two-thirds of parents in the U.S. do spank their kids at some point, yet most "experts" caution against it. Passions run high: some liken spanking to child abuse; others call it a practical and effective punishment. Some say it will do no harm if used gently and appropriately, while others claim a child will grow up more aggressive and unhappy if he or she is spanked.

I have a 12 and a half year old and I can only go on my experience with him and the experience I had as a child. On the one hand you have my situation, step out of line and get your ass beat. On the other hand you have me and my son, he misbehaved, I spanked (not beat with a belt or switch but usually open palm). He and I are both very well adjusted fully functioning members of society. I decided that the ordeal I had to go through was something that I was never going to put my children through but I didn't have a problem with spanking him when he needed it. You can draw your own conclusions but A1 is a straight A student. He is very well behaved and always has been. I haven't had to spank him but a handfull of times in his 12+ years and I get compliments from friends, family and even complete strangers on how well behaved he is and that he is a joy to be around. I can't take full credit for that because he was born a great kid with an awesome temperament but he's a kid and has done some pretty stupid shit that he needed to be punished for.

A2 is a very active 18 month old and he's already a well behaved little boy. No, I don't spank him per se, but I have swatted his hands when he has grabbed for something that he shouldn't have and now all it takes, most of the time, is a good "aaaiiinnt" from me and he leaves stuff alone or stops what he isn't suppose to be doing. I'm very lucky that he has his brother as an example to go by but he isn't as mild mannered as his bubba. A2 is a little more mischevious and rowdy. But that can be a fun thing as long as he understands he can't just do whatever he wants to do without consequences.

Of course spanking my children isn't the only means of discipline I have used. I don't want to sound like some harsh disciplinarian because I'm really not (disregard the fact that my nephew calls me the Queen of Mean). I've tried time out and that works for about a minute. I've tried to just talk them out of doing something but seriously do you really think a one and a half year old knows what you are trying to explain to him when you are yammering on and on about why he can't throw your hairbrush in the toilet? Personally, I worry much more about consistent verbal criticism than the occasional swat on the butt. The wayward child who runs out in the street must learn that they shouldn't do so, even if they are too young to understand why they shouldn't do so. Explanations can only get you so far in restraining the desires of the young toddler who is going to constantly be testing your limits.

I have found the reward system to work exceptionally well with both of the boys and plain and simple ignoring some behaviors works like a charm. Now that A1 is older I get him where it hurts now and that is taking away stuff. He loses computer privileges and that kills him and now that he has an iPod he'd rather walk the line than see me jamming out to his tunes while he's grounded from it for a week!

So what should you do? It's nice for parents to present a unified front with regard to discipline -- that way the child gets a consistent message, learns the lessons more efficiently, and can't play one parent against the other. Providing my children with a loving home with proper discipline is my first priority in life. I'm not perfect and there are days I wish I could start all over knowing the things I do know but who doesn't? I just think it's a parent's right to choose how they want to discipline their child and crazy to pass laws regulating those choices. Hell, I think it should be against the law for not disciplining your child. Who wants to be around some bratty ass kid that noone can control and is bound and determined to do everything they shouldn't just to get a rise out of their parents?!

“Discipline doesn't break a child's spirit half as often as the lack of it breaks a parent's heart”.