This morning on twitter, in between enjoying “The Morning Jones,” tweeting, and trying to squat my way to a bigger butt, 3 tweets from CNN Correspondent Roland S. Martin showed up on my smart phone screen. Martin was promoting “beating a kids ass” (his words) as a form of discipline and, oddly enough, attributing the decision NOT to use violence (my words) as punishment as some sort of liberal linchpin.
Let me say a couple things.
1. I am not a liberal.
2. I do not condone violence whether physical or verbal against ANYONE at ANYTIME for ANY NON-competitive/athletic REASON whether child against child or adult against adult or adult against child.
3. I will not respond to comments to this post although I welcome everyone to contribute. This subject makes me passionate enough to write but too angry at opposing opinions to discuss.
If you want to read a blog post from a mother who does not spank her kids that is both thoughtful and provides appropriate historical context please head to Literary Mama. I think she does a fabulous job juxtaposing physical discipline now and then (during the time of slavery) and also shows that spanking is not “divided neatly across color lines.” Her post opened my eyes to angles of this discussion that I hadn’t been previously aware.
The reason I am writing about this subject is because I am appalled at the number of people who have not taken time to consider their opinion on physical violence as a form of discipline. It’s one thing to have considered the other side and come to the conclusion that spanking is valid and effective, it’s a whole different bag of rocks to go through life mindlessly repeating what yo momma and ‘nem said which I suspect is at the root of many people’s affection for spanking.
There’s enough research and study that proves that spanking is at least ineffective and at most damaging for many children. But even without all that liberal new-agey touchy-feeling-them-psychologists-don’t-know-nothing research, it boggles my mind what part of common sense doesn’t tell you that it’s not okay to hit another person?
For a long time I went around repeating what my momma said, my parents are firmly in support of spanking, although oddly enough, they never really did. I was so afraid of disappointing my parents, in particular my father, that if he raised his voice at me I would break down in tears. Mind you, my parents are not screamers but my dad speaks in a loud and booming voice as a general rule. I can remember one time being 9 years old and my dad called me into his room because of something that I did. I immediately broke down in tears. He asked “Why are you crying.?” (booming voice) And I said “I’m scared.” And he said, “Scared of what? I could give you something to cry about (i.e. a spanking).” I was silent. My dad said, “I don’t ever ever want you to be afraid of anyone, INCLUDING ME. DO YOU HEAR ME?"
My dad is not the advice-giving type…he isn’t one of those fathers that sits around imparting wisdom, so when he says something serious, I listen. Those words stuck with me for the rest of my life. From that point on there wasn’t shit anyone could say or do to make me afraid of them. I figured if my dad, a 6’1 300lb cop who had rescued a few lives and almost had to take a few more felt that I should be brave as a little girl, then dammit I would be brave forever.
As in adult, with my fearless nature more solidified, that experience makes me even more confused about why any parent would want their child to be physically afraid of them. Afraid of consequences…yes. Afraid of disappointing them…sure. Afraid of having their gaming station taken or phone and computer privileges revoked absolutely. Afraid of being physically hurt or humiliated? Ahh, no.
Given the amount of time I’ve spent thinking and discussing this subject with others and the commentary I’ve heard from those in support of spanking I can’t help but feel that there are far too many of us who haven’t given the issue of parenting enough thought. What else could explain the immediate grasp for bible verses and the propensity to mock non-spankers by poo poo’ing timeouts (something that I bet spanking parents haven’t even tried to find out whether or not works.
Not only do people not spend enough time thinking of who they want to co-parent with, they don’t spend enough time thinking about what kind of parent they want to be. I grew up in a household completely DEVOID of violence—no yelling and no hitting. That’s the kind of household I want for my kids and that’s the kind of parent I want to be. It’s also the type of parent with whom I want to raise my children.