To Spank or Not to Spank? The Decision We Made and How We Made It
My Roots in Spanking
Spanking has always been something that I accepted as a way to raise a kid because that’s what the people I grew up around did. It’s just the way it was. My aunts and uncles spanked our cousins. The public school I attended gave “pops”. Most people in our community thought nothing of it.
“He needs his a**whooped”, was common to hear amongst parents from our community. Sometimes that statement was milder, sometimes it was harsher, but it was the norm. Parents took off their belt and popped it, asking, “Who wants it first?” You knew to straighten up or else. Few questioned: To Spank or Not to Spank? in my life.
A Friend’s Story
I remember in high school, my best friend told me her parents never spanked her. I made a big deal about it at the lunch table, and I shared what she told me. No one could believe it. We wanted to know how she got punished.
Later, I even asked her parents about it. Her mom said they spanked their other children some, but by the time their last child came, they found it unnecessary. She turned out just as good as the rest of us who got spanked. I share this story because I cringe at how big of a deal I made that they had never hit her.
I Question Spanking
The older I got, the more I started to question it. I went back and forth. I would cringe about it, but when I was somewhere and a kid was acting up, my immediate thought was that the kid needed a spanking.
I’ve thought back to my spankings, and I contemplated whether they benefitted me. I’m not sure, but I know that sometimes I wasn’t doing right because it was right. I did right out of fear. When caught doing something wrong, I was dead set on convincing my innocent. I got sneakier and would most often break rules when out of my parents’ company.
The Verses Christians Look To
The Bible says:
- Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish them with the rod, they will not die. Proverbs 23:13-14
- Whoever does not discipline his son hates him, but whoever loves him is diligent to correct him.Proverbs 13:24
- A child’s heart has a tendency to do wrong, but the rod of discipline removes it far away from him. Proverbs 22:15
- Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.Proverbs 22:6
I studied the Bible Dictionaries, and the main use for the definition of a rod in these contexts is “a figure used for punishment.” I continue to pray that I can discern what I am supposed to do. God knows my heart.
Articles I took into consideration:
The Biblical Approach to Spanking: https://www.focusonthefamily.com/parenting/effective-biblical-discipline/effective-child-discipline/biblical-approach-to-spanking
5 Myths of Biblical Spanking: https://religionnews.com/2014/10/03/5-myths-biblical-spanking-taking-text-literally-land-jail/
When I became pregnant, Chris and I had several conversations about our thoughts on spanking. We finally decided that we would spank for safety reasons such as if the kid ran out into the street, if we had to keep repeating ourselves, and a few other reasons, but we didn’t want it to be our go-to disciplinary action.
Our Family Experience With Spanking
Fast forward, Jock started to walk and pull-up, and he got into things. I told him no several times, and then if he didn’t listen, I swatted his hand. He cried like I broke his arm. The guilt I felt was tremendous. I had several conversations with family members who spanked, and they assured me that there would be guilt. They also told me it hurt me more than it hurt him, so don’t worry so much.
As Jock got older, the disobedience became brow-raising at times, and eventually, I spanked his bottom as did his father. The behaviors I spanked for continued. Momentarily they stopped, but after a day or two, they reoccurred and sometimes worse.
From the first time I spanked, it overcame me with such guilt it was nauseating. It led to sleeplessness. Just the thought of hitting this human I loved unconditionally was not resonating well with my mama soul. The drama spanking brought to the situation was not the answer I was looking for.
Each time I would spank, I would bring up the guilt to Chris. Each time he spanked, he would bring up the guilt to me. We would be up at night questioning if it was the right thing to do, and each time the conversation pretty much ended in, “Yeah, but how are we going to get him to obey?”
Like most topics Chris and I questioned, I started to Google, and what I found out about spanking alarmed me. I became more startled when I realized how I automatically believed something was OK because those around me partake in it. I also found in many articles that Southerners spank more often than any other part of the United States.
Related: 10 Reasons to Stop Spanking That Are Backed By Research
Another fact I took into consideration and the driving force behind me trying to quit spanking was and is the facts about the frontal cortex.
Read: 7 Facts About Your Child’s Prefrontal Cortex That Are Game Changers
For starters, the frontal cortex finishes developing around 25 years of age. I hoped to read around age 40, so I had an excuse for some of my pathetic choices.
When do parents spank the most? When the decision part of our brain is the least developed, ages 3-6, and in the evening time when children get tired. Getting educated on the frontal cortex opened my eyes to the reasons behind some of my son’s misbehavior and the bad decision making. Knowing what children are up against with development and our expectations makes it easier to feel empathy instead of anger.
Our Decision to Quit Spanking
I approached Chris with everything I read. At first, he was hesitant, but we eventually decided that we would not spank. This would be a bigger challenge for me since I was the one staying at home with Jock all day. We made a plan of what to do when he misbehaved, and we began to put it into action.
The articles I used when I approached Chris:
- My favorite article about spanking: https://www.ahaparenting.com/parenting-tools/positive-discipline/should-I-spank-my-child
- Alternatives to spanking: https://www.ahaparenting.com/blog/10_Ways_To_Guide_Children_Without_Discipline
- Some facts about spanking: https://www.parenting.com/article/is-it-okay-to-spank
Sadly-It Was NOT Easy to Quit
This was not, and is not at all easy. I am ashamed to say just how hard it was to not spank. Jock was averaging at least one spanking a week. From the start, either Chris or I broke our word at least 3 times a month for the first three or four months. Then it went down to once a month. Then maybe every other.
At one point we went for three months, and then I spanked. The guilt I felt afterward was immense because I broke Jock’s trust. I told him I would quit.
I am grateful to say that it has been almost 3 years since Jock has had a spanking.
Our youngest, Luke, has never been spanked. When we come upon a negative scenario, and we ask, “Who did this?” Luke never hesitates to tell us what he has done. Jock rarely admits his misbehaviors. Is this a personality difference or is it a scared of the consequences difference? I often wonder.
Related: How to Stop Spanking Your Child
Asking for Forgiveness
Almost a year ago, I was having a conversation with Jock, and I said, “You seem so angry with me. Why is that? What did Mom do to make you so angry?” His response was, “When we used to live at the other house, you would spank me.” Mind you, it had been over a year! I said, “I talked to you about spanking, and I asked you for forgiveness.” He said, “I’m not ready to forgive you, Mom.”
This killed me, but I didn’t blame him. I hadn’t forgiven myself. It bugged me for about 2 days, and what really bugged me is how his little 3-year-old self-didn’t skip a beat before answering. He did not have to think for a second why he was angry with me. I had a further conversation with him.
The next morning after our good morning routine I began, “Jock I want to talk to you about something because it is bothering me.” He asked, “What Mom?” I went back through what he told me about spanking and not forgiving me.
I continued, “I want to say again that I am so sorry for spanking you. The people I grew up with spanked, so I did it too. It didn’t feel good when I did it, so I read about it. I learned that there are many alternatives to spanking kids, and Dad and I decided we would not spank our kids. Can you please forgive me?”
He smiled, “I forgive you, Mom. It’s OK.” I responded, “No, it’s not OK. I think it was wrong, but I really appreciate you forgiving me. Please give me a second chance.” He said, “I will Mom.” I just squeezed him, and I still thank God for his preciousness and grace toward me.
Not to Spank Was the Right Decision for Us
I am so thankful to say, “I am Shelly, and I am a recovering spanker.” I hope this skeleton never comes out of my closet. I admit on hard days of extreme misbehavior that skeleton yanks and twists on the knob of that locked closet door.
Is every day peachy? No, but it wasn’t when I was spanking either. In fact, it was more chaotic and dramatic.
Of all the bad habits I’ve recovered from, it wasn’t the hardest to quit, but it’s the one I’m most proud of quitting. I pray it pays off. If the kids turn out hellions, the spankers can say, “You know she didn’t spank those boys! She should have spanked!”
I do not write this article to sway you one way or the other or judge what you choose. I wanted to share my experience, my research, and the above articles and websites just in case there is a reader who feels like I was feeling. If someone takes something from our experience and turns it into something positive for their family, goal achieved!
GET SUPPORT TO STOP SPANKING
If you would like some support in quitting spanking, email me at [email protected]. Seriously, let’s get on the phone and see how I can make this easier for your family. We are better at things when we do them together and feel supported. Remember, it is stronger to ask for help than to do nothing.
Quitting Spanking Series:
- To Spank or Not to Spank? The Decision We Made and How We Made It
- 10 Reasons to Stop Spanking That Are Backed By Research
- How To Stop Spanking Your Child
- What To Do Instead of Spanking and Punishment
Make it a great day or not, the choice is yours! Remember to have fun, laugh and give God the glory! I love you! SS