Friday, April 28, 2006

To Spank Or Not To Spank?

(All emphases by Always On Watch)

A little email I got today, reproduced below in its entirety:

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FCPLEASE 04.28.06
The Fairfax County Public Library
Events, Activities & Services E-Letter

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DISCIPLINE
You may remember experiencing "corporal punishment" as a student in school. Although Virginia is not one of them, 22 states still allow spanking by U.S. public school teachers today.

Spanking in the home is another story, and it has fierce opponents and supporters. On one side, activists propose making it illegal for parents to spank their children. On the other side, an ABC News poll found that 66 percent of respondents approved of spanking.

April 30 is Spank Out Day USA. The library takes no position on the subject, but offers these books as a starting place to explore child discipline options:

Discipline, the Brazelton Way by T. Berry Brazelton.

Supernanny: How to Get the Best From Your Children by Jo Frost.

The New Strong-Willed Child: Birth Through Adolescence by James Dobson.

Nanny 911: Expert Advice for All Your Parenting Emergencies by Deborah Carroll.

Discipline That Lasts a Lifetime: The Best Gift You Can Give Your Kids by Raymond Guarendi.

Laying Down The Law: The 25 Laws of Parenting to Keep Your Kids on Track, Out of Trouble, and (Pretty Much) Under Control by Ruth Allen Peters.

Have strong opinions about spanking? Comment here.
I got plenty of spankings when I was a child, up until the age of twelve or so. Technically, what I received was not a spanking but rather what my mother termed "the hickory switch," though our switches came from the huge forsythia bush at the far south-end of the front yard. My father disciplined me only twice, on one occasion when I threw a temper tantrum in the Sears store and on the other occasion when I hit the dog and made her whine out in pain. In short, my father left the discipline to my mother.

I clearly remember waking up in the morning and asking myself, "How far can I go today?" Each time I acted up, my mother tried to reason with me and to avoid the corporal punishment, but to no avail.

What made my behavior truly perverse was that my mother had a serious heart condition, of which I was well aware because of her many trips to the hospital. Often, after had I provoked Mom to switch me, I got worried as to whether or not I had hurt her health and, on those nights, awakened in the wee hours of the morning and sneaked into my parents' bedroom to check on Mom to see if she was still breathing.

Finally, I realized that my mother was going to remain consistent and that I was making a fool of myself, so I stopped agitating. All the torment for both Mom and me abruptly ended, and the decision to behave was a conscious one on my part. Within a few years of my reform, she and I had some good laughs over my bull-headedness. Until the day she died, my mother and I were best friends, and I had a singularly unrebellious adolescence.

Analyze my childhood behavior if you like, but what I'm really interested in is your view on the corporal punishment of youngsters, both at school and at home.

52 Comments:

At 4/28/2006 12:22 PM, Anonymous Mustang said...

Spare the rod, spoil the child? I think that there are occasions when a swat on the fanny is an appropriate and indicated reaction to child behavior, but on the other hand, I think that what brings this issue to the forefront are instances of physical discipline that go "too far."

For example, appropriate self-defense, in its legal definition, means that one is permitted to use such force as necessary to secure one's own personal safety. When one surpasses "appropriate" self defense, then one may be sugjected to legal prosecution.

One thing is certain: we do not need (or want) the government telling us how to raise our children because, as we have seen in the past 20 or 30 years, the government will be not hold itself accountable or responsible for those who were raised without discipline and who turn out to have serious behavioral problems.

Parents must be permitted to discipline their children, but it goes without saying that there must be accountability for those who step over the line.

 
At 4/28/2006 12:37 PM, Blogger nanc said...

i was perhaps the most obstinate child on the planet. but it was because i was right and the adults just didn't know it yet. my mother would beat me with anything handy and even once hit me so hard because i wouldn't cry, she broke her pinky finger and had to go to the hospital - when she came back into my room where i was ordered to stay until her return, she came in, held her bandaged hand up and said, "have you had enough?" i replied, "have you?" she commenced to whup the snot out of me, but some of it must've remained.

what made her angriest was the fact that she could not make me cry and she'd say, "i'm going to beat you until you cry." i'd say, "have at it."

she's a tiny woman - 5'1" or 2" and has always weighed around 100#. later in life, my own father told me of how my mother was physically abused as a child and i attribute that to her overreacting with her own children.

i do not engage in corporal punishment with my children out of anger or if i've not warned them in advance that they are headed that way. my husband has rarely if ever physically disciplined them. kids need a swat every now and then, especially if they've put the life of another or their own in some sort of peril. discrimination is key.

i get so upset when i see someone cursing and hitting their child in public i could cry. my kids get the "wait until we get to the car" look. usually straightens them out in a hurry and they're more well-behaved than they were several years ago.

if a parent is going to use corporal punishment - first let the child know why; then after their swat (i only give one) let them know why again and tell them of your love for them. children crave discipline.

nanc-the bossy one

 
At 4/28/2006 12:45 PM, Blogger Elmer's Brother said...

I prefer this

 
At 4/28/2006 12:50 PM, Anonymous the merry widow said...

I believe spankings should be applied in the face of deliberate in your face rebelllion(don't run into the street.) Then apply a long hug and explain that it was the behavior not the child being disciplined. Typical childish behavior, forgetting, clumsiness, immaturity usually only needs a reminder or reparative action. Knock the glass off the table because of klutziness just requires paper towels and a sweeping up of pieces! Then a thank you for a good job of cleaning up!

tmw
p.s.See Nanc, not a skillet in sight! Saved that for my husband, he knew better!;->

 
At 4/28/2006 1:07 PM, Blogger nanc said...

e.b. - ah, yes, the good old time out. that can be very effective. for pre-teens and teens, send them to the bathroom for a half hour with a good book. that way the water's there if they need a drink; the loo is there if they just want to sit or sit and read - works great for this age group.

honest to G-d story tmw - when i was about five, my mother and (real) father got into a knockdown dragout and my mom hit my father in the head with an iron skillet and knocked him cold - although she had most of the bruises and cuts when the cops came (neighbor's called them) - she was the one who had to go to jail. although they commended her for sticking up for herself (my father had a reputation as town drunk and womanizer) - she had to pay for HIS indiscretions!

yes, i have a colorful family...

 
At 4/28/2006 1:08 PM, Blogger nanc said...

p.s. they used to be colorful, now they're mostly old.

 
At 4/28/2006 1:12 PM, Blogger Iran Watch said...

I don't have any children but I know my father believed that "spare the rod, spoil the child". I think as long as it's done judiciously, parents have the right to spank their children but if I do have children, it's not for me.

 
At 4/28/2006 1:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

...just so long as it's "rare".

-FJ

 
At 4/28/2006 2:33 PM, Blogger Elmer's Brother said...

My wife and I have always use corporal punishment for open rebellion. If they are just being kids...e.g. they are playing and knock over a plant there is no spanking they just have to clean up the mess. I feel this is a Biblical principle as God often spanked or chastised Israel and us for open rebellion.

 
At 4/28/2006 2:36 PM, Blogger Elmer's Brother said...

We also made sure the child knew what they were being punished for, never did it in anger and we often prayed beforehand. We stopped using corporal punishment by the time the kids were 10 but to be honest we taught them young and as they got older we had to use it less and less.

 
At 4/28/2006 2:58 PM, Anonymous the merry widow said...

I think that is key, start early, be consistant, love 'em and later on discipline becomes internalized.
Nanc- My daughter is the same as you, she NEVER cried except when angry or frustrated!
True story here, a woman I worked with's brother married thier foster sister. E.'s Mom said I know my son when she gave E's foster sister an iron skillet. After 4 boys, alot of disrespect, cussing and womanizing, E's sister in law had enough and swatted him upside the head. The cussing, womanizing and disrespect stopped cold! They had a good marriage until he was killed in that plane crash in Labrador, all army guys.
A friend of mine's father in law gave her a wooden rolling pin as a wedding present, said cause he knew his son, she never had to use it, but she still has it! There are a "few" knotheads in this world who need a little help clearing thier thinking patterns!

tmw

 
At 4/28/2006 3:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

...and if it's at school, they'd better get my explicit permission first.

-FJ

 
At 4/28/2006 3:43 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

I cried freely and always screamed, "You're killing me!" Didn't work, of course.

I knew what I was getting switched for, but the causes must have been some kind of backtalk because I don't recall doing much of anything terrible.

 
At 4/28/2006 3:55 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

My mother's dismay while she was switching me was always apparent. Mom told me when I was older that she used the switch because she knew that she wouldn't break any bones that way. Also, I don't recall her ever being enraged when she switched me.

Later I figured out that her sadness must have stemmed, in part, from the fact that her own father, a binge drinker, used to beat her nearly senseless. She left home and went to live with her mother's parents when she was about 10 years old. I've heard that Dad's father was abusive, but the family didn't much talk about it. I think that Grandpa was strict but that most of his abuse was of the psychological type. My father was quite cowed into submission and wouldn't say a word in his own father's presence for fear of being ridiculed. In other words, my mother's father and my father's father crossed the line which Mustang mentioned above.

My obstinate nature puzzled my grandmother, who told me that my mother never needed spanking. I very rarely acted up in front of anyone but my mother. But I clearly remember one time when I did so and in front of my grandmother. I got the lecture and must have paid attention to it because my behavior changed shortly thereafter.

I got the ruler across the knuckles a few times in school--no spankings. My offense? Talking during study hall. But my parents gave the school carte blanch as far as discipline was concerned, and I knew it. Maybe that's why I behaved well in school.

 
At 4/28/2006 4:32 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Nanc,
ah, yes, the good old time out

Didn't work with me. I liked reading too much.

My grandmother SHOULD have hit her husband with a skillet and knocked some sense into him. Maybe he wouldn't have died at such a young age, either by his own hand or at the hand of another--conflicting stories on that.

We both have colorful families, I think.

 
At 4/28/2006 4:43 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

TMW,
explain that it was the behavior not the child being disciplined

Very important! Somehow, even with all those switchings, I never got the message that I was bad. Obviously, my behavior WAS.

 
At 4/28/2006 4:43 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

EB,
Funny link! That kid's expression says it all.

 
At 4/28/2006 4:50 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Mustang,
Parents must be permitted to discipline their children, but it goes without saying that there must be accountability for those who step over the line.

And that accountability should be for the children as well. For example, my cousin's 16-year-old daughter once jumped her mother from behind and bit her. My cousin is a tiny thing, but she knows how to defend herself, and she did so. Then the girl called 911 and said that her mother was beating her. The outcome? My cousin was accused of needing anger management! The daughter walked around strutting, though she eventually got her wings clipped. She's 21 now and on the West Coast--apparently happy with her new lifestyle and bending everyone's ear as to how her mother abused her.

I guess that every family "has one."

 
At 4/28/2006 5:19 PM, Blogger American Crusader said...

I've never used spanking or any form of corporal punishment on my daughter, but I believe it's a parent's right to decide on how they want to raise/discipline their children. As long as it doesn't cross the line into abuse.

 
At 4/28/2006 5:39 PM, Blogger nanc said...

i was spanked twice at school by the time i was nine - in front of the entire class. once for hurling a goodly sized rock at a bully at the bus stop causing a bloody goose egg on his brow, and the other time for insulting the teacher in front of the class. can you believe it? moi?

which goes to show all of us - physical abuse at the hands of our parents and teachers is not in direct proportion to how we treat our own children. sometimes it shows us how NOT to treat our children.

a.c. having reared a daughter and having one at home - girls don't usually need a swat as much as boys. of course - there's me, the exception to the rule. i tell my kids "i forgot MORE than you'll ever know!" why does everybody at my house just nod and smile alot...

 
At 4/28/2006 7:08 PM, Anonymous the merry widow said...

Well, I did have a situation come up after Ben died. Each of mine tried the smart mouth intimidation trick! Both were bodily shoved into a corner and slapped once, never had anymore intimidation tried. Since my son is 6' and I am not, my point was to let him know that I was NOT going to be frightened by his size, after that he has been wonderful. No A.C., I didn't hit very hard, it was the lack of fear that got the point across. Neither one has given me trouble since! A single mom sometimes has to react hard and fast, especially with boys. Am I happy about it? NO, but I was in a position where I had to act immediately.

tmw

 
At 4/28/2006 7:21 PM, Blogger MissingLink said...

Nothing wrong with spanking as long as it remains spanking.

Whether some people should have children is another question.
Once again the lawmakers try to create "one size to fit all" rule.

 
At 4/28/2006 8:01 PM, Blogger Elmer's Brother said...

TMW,

Sounds like you did just fine.

 
At 4/28/2006 8:55 PM, Anonymous the merry widow said...

Thanks E.B.- It wasn't fun and I'm still miserible about it! It was 2 yrs. ago, but neither one even dreamed of calling me in for abuse with the authorities! That impressed me, I could have been in very deep doo-doo! But my 2 realized that I did it out of love! Not only do they respect me, but they also trust my opinions because they also know it's about thier well being not my comfort. I'm blessed to have a very tight relationship with both, one's a 15 1/2 yr. old girl! Turned out well for all involved.

tmw

 
At 4/28/2006 8:57 PM, Anonymous the merry widow said...

By the way, school and home run into each other when you homeschool! No conflict of phylosophies!

tmw

 
At 4/28/2006 9:11 PM, Blogger Elmer's Brother said...

yes we homeschool ourselves

 
At 4/28/2006 9:12 PM, Blogger Elmer's Brother said...

yes we homeschool ourselves

 
At 4/28/2006 9:47 PM, Blogger MonicaR said...

I don't think spanking should be illegal but agree with many that there is a line that is crossed by some parents.

We were beaten and it didn't do US a damn bit of good! Oh no - we were bad and kept getting badder. The beatings we were given were insane though and my father really would lose control with rage.

As a result I have never, ever laid a hand on my girls and neither has my husband. I don't take any crap from them either though. If they are acting up there is a consequence - usually loss of a privilege. We started with time outs when they were about 2 and progressed to losing their chewing gum privilege at 3 (because they weren't allowed to chew gum until 3..). The way they went on and on about losing their gum privilege - you would think we WERE beating them. It shocked and amazed me at first. LOL! I thought - dang! Ya don't have to beat them, not anywhere near that...

Anyhoo they are still young, but being grounded seems to be quite painful to them. We rarely have to employ that because they really are good girls. We appreciate and respect their differences - but again - no crap!

 
At 4/28/2006 10:17 PM, Anonymous the merry widow said...

Each child is different, the wise parent understands and tailors thier correction methods! If you have raised 2 sweeties, you are indeed blessed! My daughter would never cry, soooo other methods were used. My son, all you had to do was tell him he was getting spanked, he came unglued! FYI-I found if my 2 were fighting(still works now) have them do a chore for the other, like make each others beds, or pick up the others toys. Worked wonders in slowing down, if not stopping those horrid sibling altercations! Last one my daughter made her brother his favorite cake, now he owes her a pair of dress shoes! It gets more fun as they get older, but does cut down on the noise level.

tmw

 
At 4/28/2006 10:44 PM, Blogger Lawman said...

My dad spanked me some when I was growing up. And I'm okay with that. I can honestly say I deserved most of them. I thought my dad was the worste person on the planet. Then I had kids of my own. All of a sudden, dad wasn't so bad. Certainly not perfect, but not all bad either.

I agree there should be severe penalties for those who cross over the line into blatant abuse. I've seen children with broken bones, deep cuts, burns, and scars. Who knows what kind of emotional damage they've suffered. One or two good swats on the buttocks should be acceptable. Breaking a bone or causing burns isn't.

I like the idea of taloring discipline for each individual child. It works wonders for mine. The oldest falls all to pieces if you take his skateboard away. The little one could care less. He'll find something else to occupy himself. One good swat on the backside usually straightens him out. Ya gotta figure out what works best for both you and your child.

 
At 4/28/2006 11:21 PM, Blogger nanc said...

precisely, lawman. like i said our two girls have never needed the swat as much as our son. it is a fact that boys respond more to the physical and girls respond more to thought.

i remember hating "the talk when your father gets home" talk. i'd take a beating every time if i could have.

 
At 4/29/2006 1:17 AM, Blogger MonicaR said...

Oh! I like that one about the chores. Thanks and I'll be using that one! I agree with both of you that a swat on the butt may be called for.

 
At 4/29/2006 1:30 AM, Blogger Elmer's Brother said...

our son sbsolutely hated getting a spanking but my daughters didn't quite care as much s he did

tmw you are right my 3 children are different and their discipline had to be tailored to the individual child, my youngest daughter all you had to do was look at her

 
At 4/29/2006 2:12 AM, Blogger Mr. Beamish the Instablepundit said...

You ain't been humbled until you're told to cut the switch that you're going to be lashed with, and you don't come back with a big one.

When disciplining a child, it is important to remember that sufficient force can tranform a sternum into a heart-piercing projectile, so always punch in the stomach.

just kiddin :)

 
At 4/29/2006 8:00 AM, Anonymous the merry widow said...

I think that's why G*D created fannies! A safe convenient area to apply the "board of education to the seat of learning"! Myself, I HATED "the talk" as applied by my Mother! She could go 2-3 hrs. without repeating herself, every eviiiilll deed from the time I could walk was dragged out of the grave and shoved in my face! I try to keep short accounts with mine, there is nothing so discouraging as being beat down verbally by corpses. Ugh! I try to keep each infraction seperate and deal with that one only. I also, hey I'm human, try to not scream, occassionally though nothing seems to shock self absorbed teens as a yell in the face. Only have to do that about every 6-8 months, wakes them up so you can discuss your displeasure. Since I don't cuss, one word gets thier attention, my secret weapon as it were. They start scrambling then! Mostly I just tell people how wonderful they are (it's true) and how blessed I am to have teenagers who don't give me headaches! It gets back to them and then they try to out do themselves. Peace reigns.

Good morning all and G*D bless you with a wonderful day!
tmw

 
At 4/29/2006 8:08 AM, Anonymous the merry widow said...

Lawman- I used to work in a private childrens shelter, dear G*D in heaven the horrors that people commit on the helpless. I used to go home, hug my 2 and cry! I would get so angry that I had to ask G*D to help clear some of the memories! There were good things happening, but... You read the "blue book" on each child with horror, then watched that child act out, it could be frightening. Getting past what they did to themselves and others, yet still show unconditional love. Most of the time they didn't recognize it for months or years! Some never got it.

tmw

 
At 4/29/2006 11:40 AM, Blogger nanc said...

a couple of years ago, after open handed swatting my son once on the rear, he said to me, "mama, we learned in school that if you hit a child you could go to jail." i took the phone and handed it to him, where i proceeded to rant, "please, by all means - call the sheriff because i could use a couple week vacation in jail, but of course you and your sister will end up in foster care (their father works out of town during the week) with people who will be able to stand you even less than i do. here, would you like for me to dial the number - PLEASE SAY YES! i don't know how much more i can take!" i even mustered a few tears.

they thought i had lost what was left of my mind and NEVER used that one against me again. oh, and they read the books about dave pelzer and realized the err of their ways.

 
At 4/29/2006 12:38 PM, Anonymous themerrywidow said...

Nanc- I always used the "do we need to go to the bathroom and DISCUSS this?" Funny, we never did!

tmw

 
At 4/29/2006 1:44 PM, Blogger Brooke said...

True story:

My Grandmother is the nicest and calmest person on the planet. Seriously. She has never had occasion to discipline the grandkids (or great-grandkids) with anything more than a heart-breaking "I'm really upset and disapointed by you."

She was the same way with my mother, who had a notoriously smart mouth. One day, my mother and she got into a disagreement, and my mom crossed the line. Grandma hauled back and gave her an open-mouthed smack across the face, as hard as she could, for the first time ever. Mom went to the bathroom and laughed, despite how much it hurt. When grandma asked how she could laugh, she said, "'Cause I guess I had that coming!"
A few years later she got into a minor car wreck and had to have an X-ray to to a laceration. Turns out she had an old hairline fracture of the jaw right where she got the slap!

I was spanked only twice by my father, and frequently by my mom until about eight, when I figured out that spanking wasn't worth the cost of backtalk.

I spank my kids for open defiance (which is a lot for my 2 1/2 year old!) but never very hard or excessively. I think just the thought of mom spanking is worse than the act.

With my four-year old, a "Do you want a whuppin'?" is usually enought to stop sass right in its tracks!

 
At 4/29/2006 5:41 PM, Blogger nanc said...

i guess i figured a spanking was worth having the last word in every situation. messed up her mind.

 
At 4/30/2006 10:26 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Nanc,
i guess i figured a spanking was worth having the last word in every situation

My mother still didn't let me have the last word.

 
At 4/30/2006 10:27 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Monica R,
Each child is different, the wise parent understands and tailors thier correction methods!

Good parenting, huh?

 
At 4/30/2006 10:29 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Lawman,
My dad spanked me some when I was growing up. And I'm okay with that. I can honestly say I deserved most of them. I thought my dad was the worste person on the planet. Then I had kids of my own. All of a sudden, dad wasn't so bad. Certainly not perfect, but not all bad either.

Funny how that works, when the discipline doesn't cross the line into abuse.

My mother tried taking things away from me. But we didn't have all that much, and she wouldn't cut off access to my books or to the piano. Books and the piano were what really mattered to me. Curtailing my use of the phone and the bicycle had no result. I was nearly incorrigible, I suppose.

 
At 4/30/2006 10:32 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Merry Widow,
Myself, I HATED "the talk" as applied by my Mother! She could go 2-3 hrs. without repeating herself, every eviiiilll deed from the time I could walk was dragged out of the grave and shoved in my face! I try to keep short accounts with mine, there is nothing so discouraging as being beat down verbally by corpses.

I can hear it now! My mother let the past lie, but I wouldn't. I'd bring up everything, until I finally figured out that my strategy wasn't working.

 
At 4/30/2006 10:34 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Missing Link,
Whether some people should have children is another question.

I've seen a lot of parenting-failures. And a lot of successes too.

In general, many of the incorrigibles and low-achievers in our schools have unfit or absent or indulgent parents.

 
At 4/30/2006 10:41 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Beamish,
You ain't been humbled until you're told to cut the switch that you're going to be lashed with, and you don't come back with a big one.

Been there, done that.

 
At 4/30/2006 1:53 PM, Blogger nanc said...

one thing i know about teen girls - take their hair dryers and curling irons or make-up away for a week and you'll see a marked change...it's not pretty.

 
At 4/30/2006 3:16 PM, Anonymous the merry widow said...

If you don't drown in tears or go deaf from the wails of dispair!

tmw

 
At 4/30/2006 4:04 PM, Blogger Warren said...

" Beamish,
You ain't been humbled until you're told to cut the switch that you're going to be lashed with, and you don't come back with a big one.

AOW,
Been there, done that."



Grandma had a switch bush!
Good thing bambo doesn't grow around here!

AOW, did you get my last Email, ((vis, avatar(s))

 
At 4/30/2006 5:58 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Warren,
Yes. I've responded.

 
At 4/30/2006 6:00 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Nanc,
one thing i know about teen girls - take their hair dryers and curling irons or make-up away for a week and you'll see a marked change...

True for most girls today. The curling iron wouldn't have mattered to me, but the eye make-up would have back then.

Of course, my switchings came to a stop at age 12, before my make-up days.

TMW,
Weeping and gnashing of teeth!!!

 
At 4/30/2006 6:19 PM, Blogger MissingLink said...

AOW,
low-achievers in our schools have unfit or absent or indulgent parents

My point exactly.

 

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