Wednesday, February 8, 2012

call it what it is

So I don't mean to go all Negative Nancy on you again, nor am I someone looking to pick a fight with other parents.  However, let's get one thing straight here: spanking is a cutesy name for beating.

If you spank your child, you are beating him.

I belong to many mother/parenting Yah.oo! listservs.  I think they are phenomenal resources from finding out where to buy a gently used Ci.ty to the best infant swim classes in the area to listening to advice on infant b.m.'s.  <---Yep, I went there.

Recently, a mother sent out a plea to her fellow mothering comrades.  In sum: My 3 year old is batshit crazy.  He won't listen.  I'm out of my mind.  What do I do?

E-mail responses were sent directly to this mother with an anonymous compilation blasted out to the entire group.  I read every. single. response.  Why?  Well, I knew something was going to rub me the wrong way, and who doesn't love a little argument within one's own mind and then a relevant blogpost?  

I digress.

Here is the most stunning, stop in my tracks, find the husband, sit him down on the couch, read and scowl response that I came across:
We spanked/ spank ( typically developing) daughter. (we also have a daughter with Special needs but she is not spank-able YET). When she was younger we spanked a lot more than we do now. We used a wooden spoon and called it Mr. Ugly. We would say, "do we need to get Mr. Ugly?" It was a nicer way in public than saying I am going to spank you or you need a spanking. When we thought she was old enough to be spanked I took her to the store to buy the wooden spoon and explained to her that this will be used to discipline her. We always spanked her bottom (it was hard at times as she would thrash around). you want to make sure that it does sting a little or they won't get the message. This punishment worked works for us. What we have learned is that you have to be Consistent. If you are not consistent then the child will figure out ways to get what they want or get away with bad behavior. you can say over and over.. I am going to get Mr. ugly... ditto ditto.. you have to just do it!I had a harder time being consistent in public. I would take my daughter to the truck and use Mr. Ugly. (yes I had to carry a smaller one in my purse for a while).We took a Dr. Dobson study on Discipline. it really helped us! I do not have many friends that spank. They use time out but feel that this way of punishment has worked for us. http://www.beliefne Family/Parenting /2005/02/ Do-Not-Spare- The-Rod.aspxA funny not... when at friends home and they are using a wooden spoon my daughter was for a while terrified as to why it was out of the drawer and being waved around! :) look mommy... Mr. Ugly..... :)

Wow.  WOW.  Mr. Ugly?  Wooden spoon?  Terrified child?  Under what circumstance does this necessitate a smiley face!?!?

I am deeply distraught by the fact that this parent not only found this behavior acceptable, but adorable!  She even states that they may most likely will use this same tactic with their younger child; a child with special needs no less.  In times like these, I am so thankful that the compilations to such questions are anonymous because it would take all of my willpower not to retaliate on this individual.

Now this is where I ask a question.  
However, none of this is up for discussion in my view point. 
It is what it is: TRAGIC.

How would you respond in such a situation?  
Would it be appropriate to blast out another response to the entire group, 
condemning spanking beating?


Kelley, Brendan and Baby Brix said...

I'm just going to call it like it is too, it does look like you are picking a fight with other parents. Beating and spanking are two different words, two different connotations. I know many people who were spanked as children, but none who were beaten, including myself.

Emily said...

If you want to be truly appalled, follow the link she posted in her reply. There is a whole, deeply disturbing, culture of "Christian" child-rearing that relies on the Biblical injunction against "sparing the rod." (And ignores the "God is love, Christ is merciful and kind" part!) It is frightening - systematic notes on how to buy rubber hosing and use it to beat your very young babies/children. It's like a torture guide. Look up "To Train Up a Child."

E @ Life on a Quilt said...

Kelly - Thanks for your response. I will agree with you that they are two different words and, perhaps, two different connotations. But, please answer this.

Are they two different actions?

And, still to clarify, I am not looking for a fight. Hence, the blogpost and not the "reply all" on the listserv. I am more looking for a dialogue.

E @ Life on a Quilt said...

Emily - I saw Mr. (not sure how else to refer to him, but an expert I will not!) Dobson interviewed on a news program a few months back. Unfortunately, some of the individuals employing his tactics actually beat their children to death! I don't know how anyone could/will/should excuse this type of treatment to children. (((shudder & tear)))

Kelley, Brendan and Baby Brix said...

Yes, they are absolutely two different actions. Where you spanked as a child?

I was. I knew I deserved it too. I was told why I was being spanked, given some swats on my butt and then held and hugged.

Unfortunately, spanking doesn't always look like it did in my home. Some people may truly beat their children and try to cover it up by calling it spanking.

In my opinion, spanking should be a last resort, not a punishment that is doled out for anything. I won't be carrying a spoon around in my purse.

Kelley, Brendan and Baby Brix said...

PS..I really like your blog..I don't want us to get "mad" at each other or anything either..I respect that you have a different opinion on this and I'm not trying to change your mind, just discuss. :)

E @ Life on a Quilt said...

Kelly - I'm sure Brixton will thank you for foregoing "Mr. Ugly" in the purse! :)

I agree that not all spanking looks like that which the mother (including the link) describes. I was spanked one time as a child - I remember it clearly as do my parents. Whether I deserved it or not is up for debate. Could there have been other ways for my family to handle my misbehavior? We will never know but my guess is YES...

Why not condemn all spanking (including a swat) so as not to fuss with a gray area which may/may not be a classified as a true beating?

I suppose that I may never be convinced that responding in a physically aggressive manner is superior to anything else. Lastly, I must ask, because our parents did it/our friends' parents did it and we turned out well - does it make it right? I know we base a lot of our assumptions on experiences...does this mean that they need to be our reality? Just a thought. :)

E @ Life on a Quilt said...

Kelly - Ha! And I totally agree with you (again), about loving your blog and not wanting to argue. Just engage in a little "intellectual" parenting discussion! I want to help others be challenged, but I want you to challenge me as well!

J.o.s.e.y said...

Violence begets violence.

Violence is not the answer.

There is ALWAYS a better way to discipline than to use violence.

We were never spanked as children (5 of us) - we had to think about what we did wrong, come back, give a heartfelt apology, explain why we had disappointed our parents like that, and explain what we would do in differently in the future to not hurt them (or our siblings, etc) again. I tell ya that was a LOT harder and made us think a LOT more about the bad action than a swat on the butt.

My husband and I are in total disagreement on this FYI... I'm curious to see how things develop as Stella grows up. I will seriously lose my shit on him if he ever spanks her.

Kelley, Brendan and Baby Brix said...

I guess I take issue with having someone else (not you, just society in general) telling me what I can and can't do in regards to raising my child (obviously within limit). The danger in saying a swat is also a beating is that it could take the emphasis off of children that truly are being beaten. When will it stop? What if one day you find yourself grabbing your child's arm harder than normal? Is that considered beating him?

In terms of doing things like my parents, I see your point. I am making quite a few changes that I consider more important than spanking, things like being supportive of Brixton and making sure he knows I'm proud of him. Those things lacked a bit from my childhood and I feel like they did more damage than spankings ever did.

Instead of relaying on spanking to punish, I'm much more interested in education and teaching to avoid the problems in the first place.

mama foosa said...

my parents spanked their first 3 kids (myself included) and decided that wasn't the best method of discipline by the time my little brother came along 10 years later. they'll tell you they had FAR fewer discipline issues with him. They're the first to admit that they were wrong in spanking us.

I believe we're all doing our best to raise little people who we'll send out into the real world to make a positive contribution. it's a hard job. my problem with other parents choosing that it's OK to spank their kids is it's really showing them that violence is necessary and acceptable. that's not creating the type of society I want for my son.

I have two close friends with 2 year olds - one spanks and one doesn't. The boy who is spanked is flat out mean to my child. He's sneaky, he kicks, he hits. When you hit your kid, you're showing them it's ok to hit others. That's not ok with me.

Lina said...

Yeah, the reference to Dr Dobson was what terrified me. I grew up in a household that used many of his philosophies, though my parents were very loving...and I was an angel child who was only spanked a handful of times. Whether it's a beating or not, to me it just comes across as forced subjugation, which rarely begets respect. I don't think you should necessarily lay into the group (or to one person, anonymously), but perhaps you could find a link refuting the one she included, and just post "in the interest of fairness, here's another viewpoint"?

(Also, I feel it's worth noting that the I'm-not-spam word is "relax"!)

Sarah [] said...

Hey you! I don't have any advice...I don't know what to say! But I kiiiiiind of agree with you on the spanking. I wouldn't go so far as to call it "beating", I agree with Kelley...I think they have 2 different definitions, but I TOTALLY get where you're coming from! I, for one, do not believe in spanking. I think it's the adult's way of getting out their aggression and frustration on their child(ren). I also believe that it teaches the children that when *they* are not getting their way, or that *they* aren't happy with something, it is okay for *them* to hit someone, which is not cool, IMO. I for one, will never spank my child(ren). I think that time outs are more effective for discipline and there's no shame in doing a time out in public. My husband, on the other hand, was spanked on the RARE occasion that it was really warranted and feels that it would be okay to do it to our child(ren) if really need be, because as a child he really learned his lesson when it was bad enough to warrant a spank on the bare bum. I've told my husband that if he really wants to spank our child(ren), he'll be the one doing it...and I really can't see him doing it! My SIL spanks on a regular basis for discipline, and I don't find this effective for ME when I'm babysitting him, because I will not spank my nephew. Oh all these debateable topics, hey!

Songbook said...

I don't believe in spanking at all. I think that it can look better in some homes than others, but if you just draw the line, then there is no room for making a mistake and crossing over into "beating." Oh, this just makes me sad. I think any and all violence in the home is completely wrong.

Sarah and Derek said...

I've enjoyed reading all your comments! My husband was NOT spanked growing up and I was only probably 2 times. I generally got the really strong arm grab and a talking too. At this point, I plan on not using spanking and think that there are much healthier ways to punish a child. I do agree with Kelly though that spanking and beating are very different terms.

Taylor said...

Gosh! Spanking is such a touchy subject. I, personally, don't want to spank my children. I was spanked occasionally as a child and I honestly don't think it accomplished anything. I was beaten by ANY means. I lived a very happy, healthy, loving life, but I was one of four children and we definitely got into trouble! My parents reserved spanking for when we were downright TERRIBLE. But, like I said, I didn't learn anything from being spanked. I was never afraid of it. I just don't believe it's effective.

I do think that spanking and abuse are two separate things. How parents decide to discipline their child is their decision, just so long as they understand it has the potential to scar their relationship with their child permanently.