Back before you were of disciplining age, I was no skeptic of parents who refused to spank their child; in fact, I passionately mocked the idea of discplining without spanking.
I vehemently disagreed with Super Nanny’s approach.
“Time out? Yeah right. Like that does any good,” I would think to myself.
I believed that “non-spanking” was part of a liberal media agenda which led to uncontrollable children and even, overall, a higher crime rate for the adults who were not spanked as kids.
Then I changed my mindset. I stopped looking at opposing groups of people as “wrong” or “right,” based on their opinions. I stopped feeding into the polarization of America, based on our divided cultural leanings and preferences.
(Even to the point I now think Republicans and Democrats are equal. I realize it’s heresy to both sides to say that, though.)
But it’s true that I use to totally stereotype parents who didn’t spank their children.
I assumed that if a parent didn’t spank their child, they definitely didn’t effectively discipline them. Or it meant, in theory, they didn’t really discipline them at all.
Something that always kept me close-minded to the concept of discipline without spanking is a Bible verse (Proverbs 13:24) that I had always interpreted in a preconceived way:
“Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.”
I always took that to mean “the rod” (or the paddle, etc.) exclusively equalled discipline. In other words, I thought it would be impossible to properly discipline a child without ultimately resorting to spanking. But now, I read that verse differently:
My interpretation is, “It’s better to spank your child in an effort to discipline them, than to not discipline your child at all. But the main thing is, that you do discipline your child- not necessarily how you discipline them.”
Therefore, I totally don’t care how other parents discipline their children. I used to, but I’m way over that.
What I do care about is how I discipline you. And for Mommy and I, that means not resorting to spanking. For us, that’s what we feel is right for our family.
Again, I have completely neutral feelings about how other parents discipline their kids. I have no time to think or care about that. None of my business or concern. Complete Libertarian approach.
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.
According to a recent poll here on Parents.com, 81% of parents have spanked their child at least once and 22% do so on a weekly basis.
That amazes me! So many, huh?
In our overly politically correct society, sometimes I feel like we can be expected to believe that the only ones who endorse spanking are the wacko, ultra-conservative religious cult members who are ultimately featured on a creepy episode of NBC’s Dateline.
It doesn’t help that the book To Train Up A Child is currently being linked to fatal child abuse cases; no matter how much the book actually had to do with the abuse.
Therefore, we evidently must leave it to Super Nanny to show us the right way to discipline our children: putting them in “time out.”
I was spanked as a child; like most of us, I assume. (At least 81% of us, right?)
Yet, arguably, I’m a pretty normal guy. I’m not psychologically traumatized nor am I an abusive husband or father.
So I say, spanking is harmless when not excessive. But here’s my question: Is spanking necessary?
Honestly, I don’t know yet: My kid is only 15 months old.
The funny thing is, up until very recently, I was a supporter of spanking. But after several talks about it between my wife and me, I updated my opinion on the issue.
Here’s what I would like to believe:
That if A) I am properly setting practical, not legalistic, behavioral boundaries for my son, B) I am consistently following through with discipline (from “time out” to having privileges taken away) every time he breaks the rules, C) I am clearly and positively communicating with him why he is being punished and D) I am assuring him that no matter what he ever does he can never cause me to love him any less, that it will never come down to the last resort of me having to spank him.
It seems to me that if I do A through D and none of that works, then hitting my child with my hand or a wooden paddle or a belt wouldn’t resolve the issue any better.
But hey, I’ve said before that I have this habit of every 5 years realizing what an idiot I was 5 years ago, so maybe this is just another classic example of me opening my big mouth and being a naive idiot again.
Who knows? Maybe I’ll truly be part of that 19%, the minority that doesn’t spank my child. I definitely plan to be.
No matter how polarized or politically correct our society is on this issue, I think here’s the heart of it: We believe in the importance of disciplining our kids.
Back in April 2010 when my wife was pregnant with our son and I was still “pro-spanking,” someone made a $5 bet with me that I “won’t have it in me” to spank my child when he gets older- that those big watery eyes and that quivering lip would cause me to cave.
I wonder if this means I lose the bet now? It’s not that I don’t have it in me to spank him, because I do. But I think my alternative plan will be just as effective.
After all, we can’t assume that the 19% of the people out there who were “unspanked” as kids are the ones keeping our prisons full, or at least earning 15 minutes of shame on the show Cops.
Does it really make a difference in the end whether a child is spanked, as long as the child is A) loved and B) disciplined?