Is the state of Delaware really banning spanking? Not exactly, but in theory, sort of.
Governor Jack Markell, a Democrat, passed Bill 234 last month, which contains an ambiguous phrase that I have conveniently copied and pasted for your convenience:
(j) “Physical injury” to a child shall mean any impairment of physical condition or
That’s why Bill 234 is controversial.
Because let’s face it: Spanking causes pain. That’s basically the whole point.
So it’s possible this bill could be interpreted that a parent could be breaking the law by causing pain to their child, via spanking.
How should we feel about that?
Immediately thoughts of “Oh no, now Big Brother is going to try to keep me from disciplining my own child!” come to mind.
The lines begin to blur regarding discipline and child abuse. What if other states adopt a similar bill?
When I hear a story like this, I remind myself what the root of it is. It’s not about whether or not spanking is wrong or right.
It’s about giving the government control over personal issues like this.
The question isn’t about spanking. The question is whether or not you support a “hands off” approach to government or a “decide what it is right for us, government” approach, instead.
Personally, I don’t believe in spanking. I raise my son with a strict, consistent method based on time-outs and taking away privileges, followed by clear communication with him explaining A) why his behavior merited the discipline and B) that I love him, then I hug him.
However, I support a parent’s right to spank their child. Because after all, who am I to stay that my method is better than spanking?
That’s not my call. Nor is it the government’s.
(Can you tell I’m a Libertarian?)
So as we approach this important Presidential election next month on November 6th, keep this mind:
You are voting for a political party and their ideologies, more so than a particular man.
I am convinced that the best way to get someone to stop nagging you with their wrong opinion in regards to unsolicited parenting advice is just to simply smile and respond with, “You may be right.”
If they still go on rambling in an attempt to convert you, just said it again; this time raising your eyebrows and smiling even bigger.
You can even throw in peripheral phrases like “I think I might have read a blog about that recently” or “I’ll have to check that out.”
We live in a time when “I don’t agree with you” translates to some people as “I hate you.”
So if a person is already passionate about a polarizing parenting topic that I either A) already have a strong opinion on or B) am indifferent about, I’d rather just move on as quickly as possible to the next conversation topic, as opposed to becoming the next victim of a parenting extremist‘s solicitation speech.
Sometimes it’s just too much hassle to admit with someone that you disagree with them.
I don’t mean to sound like a person without passion and conviction. Because I am very passionate about the things that matter to me; likewise, I am extremely indifferent about the things I don’t care about or care to change.
“You may be right” is clever because it is also undeniably true.
No matter how firmly set I am in my opinions and stances on things like the kind of food I feed my kid or how I choose to discipline him, I could easily be wrong.
I am aware of that at all time. Whether the experts and scientific research support my view or not, still, I may be wrong.
Therefore, the other person with a different perspective as mine may very easily be right.
How arrogant of me to assume that I’m right most of the time about stuff. Or even half the time.
I might as well just assume, at best, I’m only right 49% of the time.
Granted, I want to be right, but I overanalyze stuff a lot.
Like when I half-jokingly wrote a post about hand-cuffing my son on the way to time-out.
It just seems weird to me that in the eyes of parents like me who are “non-spankers” it’s okay to discipline your child by physically restraining them by exiling them to time-out, as opposed to physically striking them.
Everyone has their own approach to it that they feel most comfortable with and find to be the most effective. But I’m for certain that no parent disciplines their child in secret hopes of making them suffer indefinitely for their offenses.
Instead, we want our children to mature and become less selfish. We want the best for them. By doing so, we make the world a better place.
So here’s something I think is messed up about us as adults: It’s way too easy for us to want to see other people cursed and suffer when they offend us, rather than them being blessed and enriched.
If someone cuts us off in traffic, they are automatically a jerk who deserves to be flipped off.
No matter how good of a person they may be outside of that single moment. Forget about how hard they work for their family and how they help others out of the goodness of their hearts.
For cutting us off, they become labeled as idiots who have no hope of redemption.
In fact, in that heat of the moment, the thought of that person being redeemed is absurd. It’s natural and easy to generalize them into an evil and moronic imbecile who intends to make your life hell; or at least annoying.
Simply said, we want that person to suffer. Who cares about forgiveness, redemption, or reconciliation.
And then, for all we know, the next day we coincidentally see them at the gas station and they say to us, “Excuse me, but you dropped this.”
They hand to you your debit card which slipped out of your wallet. You thank them; neither of you even aware of the incident the day before.
We discipline our children to help them, not privately wish bad things upon them. Yet we so easily want to judge and punish those who slightly offend us or have the opposite view as we do on a political or parenting issue that doesn’t even personally concern us.
By the way, if you live in Nashville, I’ve probably cut you off before on the road. But only because you seemed to be going slower than you actually were, but I realized it only after I had already pulled out in front of you.
Oops. My bad.
Here’s a quote from my favorite song right now, performed by 10th Avenue North:
“Why do we think that hate’s gonna change their heart?
We’re up in arms over wars that don’t need to be fought
But pride won’t let us lay our weapons on the ground
We build our bridges up but just to burn them down
We think pain is owed apologies and then it’ll stop
But truth be told it doesn’t matter if they’re sorry or not”
So by going the time-out route, I am ultimately saying this to my child:
“Instead of me physically punishing you by smacking you on the butt with my hand or a fly swatter or a paddle, I am going to socially separately you from the society of this house.
Sure, it will only be for about 2 minutes since you are about 2 years old, but you will despise it.
You will be separated from the people you love the most and who love you the most. You will be contained in your crib, which has bars like a prison. Your freedom will be temporarily be taken away.
I intend to punish you psychologically, which will in turn hopefully help to discipline you.”
Granted, I always explain to my son why he is being sent to what I call “Baby Alcatraz.” He has to say he is sorry to the person he hurt and/or offended.
I hug him afterwards and remind him that I love him. Then I say something like, “Okay, now let’s have a fun rest of the day.”
This past weekend, my sister, her husband, and their 13 month-old daughter came to visit us here in Nashville from two and a half hours away.
Though my son doesn’t have trouble sharing his toys in daycare, he evidently does here at the house. Because as he kept reminding his younger little cousin, the toys she was playing with were “MINE!”
He ended up pushing her down on the floor and hitting my sister really hard on the shin with a TV remote.
Needless to say, I escorted him upstairs to Baby Alcatraz. Twice within 20 minutes.
During that dramatic escapade, I thought to myself, “Why aren’t I arresting him with plastic toy handcuffs when I do this?”
Maybe it would help drive home the point that he is not permitted to use his hands to hurt other people.
Is “arresting” your toddler with play handcuffs really so horrible of an idea? Whether you spank them or put them in time-out, you’re still punishing them in the process of discipline.
I want to avoid physically striking my child, though I’m obviously okay with physically restraining him. What would be so bad about putting him behind bars and handcuffing him on the way there? Seems consistent to me.
Having to discipline your kid is weird and annoying anyway; are toy plastic handcuffs during time-out really so awful?
Stop me from buying plastic toy handcuffs to arrest to my son for time-out. Or support the absurd idea.
There’s this classic look my son now gives me at least once a day. It’s the “Am I in trouble for this?” look.
Like when he decided to color the dog in one of my wife’s magazines, as opposed to one of his coloring books. Or whenever he squeezes a toy too hard and hears it creek, thinking it’s about to break.
What’s funny is that this look of his always catches me off guard. He never makes the face when he should.
He will stand on his Leaptop (toy laptop) or chew the rubber tire off an old Hot Wheels car of mine or throw a piece of food in the middle of dinner without any fear.
Despite the fact I have regularly scolded him for all of these things.
If you’re a regular reader of The Dadabase, then you know that one of my biggest “parent peeves” is when a parent warns and threatens their child but then doesn’t follow through with the discipline.
Well, I definitely follow through. My son knows to expect time-out or having a toy taken away from him; according to the crime.
He’s at a stage right now where he’s learning the patterns of what I will and will not accept as proper behavior. So some of these “things Dada won’t let me do” haven’t been firmly enough established.
Jack learns through trial and error. And so do I, in regards to what I’m okay with.
But what’s interesting is that the only things I will discipline him for are the things I’ve already instructed him against at least once.
My son knows that coloring the the coffee table with his crayons is not okay. He knows to get his Sesame Street coloring book to use as his canvas. So even when I gave him my wife’s magazine to color a dog in an ad and said, “Jack, let’s color this dog blue,” it still seemed too much like something he wasn’t allowed to do.
So he gave me the ”Am I in trouble for this?” look.
He and I will always be figuring these things out as we go.