These controversial posts always make me nervous. Mostly because it's hard to have these kind of conversations when you're not sitting with the other person, relaxed on the couch or on a big comfy chair at Starbucks.
There are bound to be disagreements. Some people might take what I have to say personally, emotionally. Yet still, I feel like it is important to write these things. After publishing, I will hesitate - a little knot in my stomach.
But you know what? I am always SO glad after I publish and the comments start rolling on. Because I really do wish people would talk about the hard things, that we could have these deeper discussions in a respectful manner.
So, today I venture into this terrifying territory once again - to share my heart.
Today, I am sharing why my husband and I choose NOT to spank. I should emphasize here that I am not presuming to know what is best for your family. I am simply sharing what we do and why we choose to do it that way.
Below are seven reasons we choose not to spank:
1. Spanking teaches the wrong lessons. My husband and I have thought about it and talked about it and thought about it some more. And no matter how hard we try, we always come back to what spanking really teaches: "If you do something wrong, I am going to hit you." I don't like that message. At all. In fact, I don't want my kids to ever see me hitting - them or anyone else. That is not an appropriate or healthy way to treat another human being. Regardless of age or stature.
2. Spanking doesn't teach the right lessons. Kids who are spanked may indeed be well-behaved. It may seem to "work" on the outside, but it doesn't deal with the heart of the matter. Kids who are spanked learn "if I do ACTION ABC, then I get spanked so I better not do that again...or, at least, I better not get caught doing that." Spanking doesn't address the real issue or give positive alternatives. It doesn't encourage kids to think for themselves.
3. Spanking takes advantage of a child's stature. Kids are little. Adults are big. So adults tend to use their "advantage" to attempt to force children into their way of thinking - instead of modeling, discussing, letting natural consequences occur, etc. In a sense, it devalues kids. It assumes that kids aren't smart enough to be given boundaries and to learn from their mistakes.
4. Spanking undermines the parent/child relationship. As mentioned above, spanking may appear to "work" when children are very young, but I think that - overall - hitting produces bitterness and erodes the firm foundation of love and security that the parent/child relationship should be built on.
5. Spanking is, too often, done out of anger. We know a couple who chooses to spank their kids who manage to do it unemotionally, without screaming or shaking. But they are the exception. In fact, I think they are the only couple we have ever met who are able to separate their anger from the spanking process. Most parents spank rashly, out of frustration: "don't you dare speak to me like that!!!" (whack, whack, whack). Which leads me to my next point...
6. Spanking can lead to abuse. People who spank get used to hitting. If it isn't working, they might spank harder or give more swats. If a child is stubborn, the parent might exert more force. The reality is that child abuse is a very real thing. According to Childhelp, a report of child abuse is made every ten seconds in the USA (and that's just what is reported). Almost five children die everyday in our country as a result of child abuse. More than three out of four are under the age of 4. And you know what? I'm not okay with that. We shouldn't live in a world like that. Maybe all spanking isn't abuse, but a lot of it is. And the simple fact that so many children are abused - every day, every second - should certainly make us all pause and consider the implications of our actions.
7. Spanking is bad for adults. Violence is never becoming. It is frightening. For the one being hit and the one doing the hitting. When I even consider the possibility of hitting my child (which I have never done, by the way) - if I get that picture in my head - it scares me. Because that is not who I am. That is not who I want to be. I want to parent with grace, with forgiveness, with gentleness. Does that mean that I will let my kids run wild and do whatever they want? No. It just means that I will choose not to exert physical pain on anyone - particularly little children, particularly MY children who mean the world to me.
Because here's the thing. I make a lot of mistakes. Every day. I'm not always the most "well-behaved" person. But when I mess up, I don't get hit or slapped. When a friend or my spouse does something appalling or embarrassing, I don't smack them around. So, why would I do that to someone who is small - a child, the most vulnerable among us? Well, I wouldn't. I don't. Not now. Not tomorrow. Not ever.
NOTE 1: For more information on this topic (including why "hitting is actually not Biblical"...), read Dr. Sears' excellent article, "10 Reasons Not to Hit your Child."
NOTE 2: This post primarily outlined what we don't do. Stay tuned for some of our thoughts on positive parenting practices...
Image credit: flickr, brtsergio's photostream