What sobering posts over on the “Parenting Beyond Belief” blog – called “spare the rod (and spare me the rest)“, and “responses to “spare the rod”. He talks about how many people, like James Dobson with Focus on the Family, use the bible to support spanking and different views on this. As I recently mentioned, I can’t stand Dobson or FOF. I worry about messages being spread still today, and that good Christian people (like my friend who is a new mom) might buy into because they do like FOF and Dobson.
My parents didn’t agree on much… but, they did both believe in spanking. I have to say that my brothers got it worse than I did… but none of us ever got it that bad. I wouldn’t say either my mother or father was “abusive” in their spanking methods, but I realize that’s a relative statement and matter of opinion.
I do have vivid memories of my father threatening “the belt”, although, he never used it. He DID spank with an open hand, though… not very often… but, enough that we believed we would “get it” if he threatened it. Usually, he only had to threaten it, and not do it, but we knew he WOULD if we didn’t listen. My mother was more sporadic. She’d whack ya with anything in her hand, usually a wooden spoon, if you weren’t listening. But, she must not have hit us very often or hard, because we were not as afraid of her. She’d save the important spankings for my father to dish out. They both believed that was part of his fatherly duties. The old, “wait until your father gets home!” thing.
One of the more common threats that my Dad use to say was “I’m going to rip your arm off and beat you over the head with the bloody end of it!”. Ironically, this was NOT something scary, but rather something my brothers and I found humorous. We knew he meant it sarcastically. He had a bit of a warped sense of humor (as do I). This saying did, however, use to scare our friends when they heard him say it. But, my brothers and I would just laugh and say, “aww… he’s only kidding…. he always says that… and look – we still have 2 arms”. No, we were more afraid of “the look”, or the threat of “you’re gonna get it!”.
I do remember witnessing my brothers getting spanked… never with a belt… and never bare bottomed… but always dramatic. Often, if one of us got in trouble, we all did. And, usually he started with my oldest brother. I was usually hysterical just from watching my brothers get spanked while waiting for my turn… and, probably because of that, and the facts that I was younger and a girl, my dad would barely swat me, if at all. This is something my brothers still like to throw in my face about what a faker I was to get off of spankings LOL. But, I really wasn’t faking. It really was traumatic just to watch and wait.
My oldest brother would always try to act tough, and to not cry… and so, he’d get spanked the hardest I think… until he DID cry. Spanking is all about breaking that will and humiliation, isn’t it? So, ironic… now that I think about it, being taught NOT to cry… and then punished harder for NOT crying. ?? (I never really thought about that before now… but, wow… that’s pretty screwed up! ? ?)
My other brother, would go the dramatic route. Running around screaming and yelling “no no no!”… until my father could wrestle him over or force him to come and get it. Because he was already screaming and crying (moreso out of anger and frustration and for the pure drama effect, I think), he didn’t get spanked as hard. Except for the time he put a book down his pants… and when my Dad hit that with his hand, he was really mad.
Then there was me. Watching and waiting… trying not to cry, but failing miserably at times like this… obediently going over when called without trying to run… and, I must have looked so pitiful, that my dad couldn’t/didn’t really spank me most of the time. A couple times, he shut the door so my mom and brothers couldn’t see, and he whacked the bed or himself instead of me for sound effects… and told me to not tell (my mother) that he didn’t spank me.
This leads me to believe that he didn’t always want to be “the enforcer”, but did feel like it was his job… and like he needed to do it to make my mom happy sometimes. Which also leaves me feeling a bit bitter and resentful…
Looking back, I can not think of a time that I feel these spankings were really beneficial. I have a hard time remembering what any of them were even for?? All of the memories that I DO have of important life lessons, or times I DO think I learned something good – had absolutely nothing to do with being spanked.
I admit to having spanked my first child a couple times… which was more like a swat on a padded butt… and nothing like the “proper spankings” described in the post at PBB. Each time I did, I immediately felt guilty and regretted it. Each time I did, I was completely frustrated, upset, and/or scared when I did it. Like, when my son was at the defiant 2 year old age and liked to say “no” and run away as most 2 year olds do. One day, though, he almost ran in to oncoming traffic as I called him and chased after him. When I caught him, I was both relieved and upset, and it was almost a reflexive swat that I gave him. Part of me thought it was just the normal and right response. Like it was something I ‘should’ do, or ‘had’ to do… “for his own good” (ugg… I am wincing at that saying as a I type it). Once I calmed down, a bigger part of me just felt it was wrong.
I am glad that I felt that way, and that I did not continue to use spanking as a form of punishment. I realized there were other ways…. better communication, and if necessary threats and punishments (time outs, no more TV or Computer, no treats, etc.) that I could follow thru on more easily, that were also more effective and obviously the better choice.
It’s funny, we do not spank our boys now (ages 5 and 10) and we do not go to church. My boys are also probably more concerned with doing the “right” thing , and “being nice” than most of our friends kids that go to church every Sunday. I’m not just bragging here, and I know I’m bias – but, I can’t think of ANY kids we know that have better behavior or attitudes than our boys. Sure, our boys and aren’t perfect angels – but, I tell you what… they are genuinely GOOD kids. You might not believe me, but, this is not just my opinion. We constantly have have friends and family tell us how they are impressed by how well behaved our boys are.