This post isn’t an easy one to write. In the age of social media, everything we publicly support as parents is up for judgment and debate. We are constantly on trial by a jury of our peers, even if our sentence is only fielding harsh comments or knowing in our hearts that the other mothers are “whispering” about our choices. However, being comfortable with your parenting decisions sometimes includes sharing them so that you and other mothers may feel a little less alone.
Our house is a spanking house. Go ahead, arrange your thoughts. Celebrate that someone else is with you on the spanking train. Let out a sigh of exasperation and wonder why parents continue to choose this for their child. People are rarely on the fence about this issue, so feel free to skip the rest of the post and leave the comment you’re already writing in your head. OR you could read the whole thing and adjust said comment as necessary. 🙂
My husband and I are a parenting team. We make decisions about parenting together, from whether or not to sign up the big boys for fall soccer to the best way to handle a two-year-old’s new fascination with taking off his shoes every second. When it comes to discipline, we make it a point to be on the same page. There are many tools in our discipline tool box, but the most powerful one is consistency. We are close to fanatical about trying to make sure the kiddos know what to expect from us whenever a behavior, good or bad, calls for consequences.
I mentioned a tool box. In our box, items are always being added, adjusted, or taken out, depending on our children’s ages and current behaviors. But we do have a few standards: Wait it out, redirection/distraction, talk it out, time out/time away, and spanking.
The order I put these in is important, as they reflect our preferences in discipline techniques. Not every issue can be solved by waiting it out (wouldn’t that be awesome though?), and so on and so forth, but we definitely start with the least intrusive possibilities. We’re big believers in allowing children a chance to figure out things on their own because there are lots of beautiful natural consequences this world provides that are great teachers.
However, there is that pesky little item at the bottom of the tool box. It gets rusty, as we don’t use it often, but it’s there. The big guns. The “we mean business” end of the box.
Let me be clear. When I say spanking, I mean a specific number (normally the same number as the child’s current age) of forceful, openhanded smacks on a clothed and often diapered bum. That is how I define spanking. When we spank, we intend shock more than pain. Surprise. Attention grabber. When we spank, we intend to send the message: “THIS IS SO IMPORTANT.”
Spanking always comes with a discussion before, after, and often, another one later on. The message is important. We reserve spanking almost exclusively for safety related offenses: Running into the parking lot, unbuckling a seat belt, any car behavior that is distracting enough to a driver to be unsafe, tipping furniture over, etc. You get the idea. Safety is a different ball game. There are rules, and then there are rules that can have natural consequences that are awful to deal with. And that is when we play the spanking card.
Right now, spanking works for us. Our kids are still young. Our oldest two are almost four and our youngest just turned two. They understand what spanking is about. If you ask them, they will tell you that they get spanked when they are making unsafe choices. (Seriously, even my two year old will say, “Not safe.”) At this age, we still spank. I am not sure at what age we will stop, and I sincerely hope that it is one of those things that goes away naturally, that I wake up one day and realize “Wow, I can’t remember the last time I had to spank someone.”
Yes, I have read studies on spanking, both for and against. This is not a decision we made lightly. We weighed the pros and cons. My husband and I were both spanked occasionally as children, so our experiences also played a part in our decision. We choose to spank. Others do not. We have our own criteria for this particular punishment. Others have theirs. Do what works for you and your family, and that may vary even among your individual children. As long as your children are happy and healthy, I think YOUR parenting choice is a great one.