If there is one important lesson that parents can teach their children it is the lesson of morality, or learning right from wrong. Of course there are many ways in which parents can educate and discipline their children to grow up to become the best people that they are capable of being. However, there is one form of discipline that I find counterproductive. That form of discipline is spanking. Now of course you might be wondering why I am even discussing this topic in the first place since I am clearly not a parent to begin with? Well, that might be true, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t voice my opinion on how I believe children should be raised especially as I start to consider how to rear my own family one day.
Something that helped cement my opposition to spanking was from observing a unique climate within an overnight camp that I went to a few years ago. In the previous camps I attended as a child, whenever the young campers would talk loudly and goof off, the counselors would yell at them to be quiet when trying to get their attention. I can remember getting shaken up and when bringing it to my counselor’s attention they’d usually say something like, “I’m sorry but that’s the only way that we can get your attention.” Flash forward many years later, I was caught off guard by the fact that none of the counselors at Maine Arts Camp screamed in order to get the attention turned on them. So I asked my counselor this question to which he said that the reason they don’t yell is because it shows a sign of losing control. That statement has always stuck with me for in my eyes, when I hear about a parent spanking a child, I perceive these parents as lacking patience as well as persistence from being prone to losing control. To me, a good parent is someone who doesn’t resort to desperate measures even when their child is throwing the biggest tantrum and acting way out of line to the point where the parent is beyond fed up. Tying back to my previous point about being shaken up, I’ve always wondered how people don’t grow up to fear their parents as a result of getting struck for being disrespectful as children. When I talked with my karate instructor about what it was like to be disciplined as a child, she said that she turned out OK from being smacked for disrespecting her parents. To be quite honest, I do question whether that is true or not because I know that had my parents used physical forms of punishment on me I would probably show some fear and greater resentment at this point of my life towards them and feel uncomfortable being in their presence. I’ve always felt that spanking does walk a fine line of potentially becoming abuse and that sometimes the parent can take it a bit far when they are using physical means of discipline on their child. While there is nothing wrong with a little tough love, I do believe that there are other ways that you can communicate the same message without smacking your child in the butt.
During my childhood my parents never hit me any time I exhibited bad behavior. Instead, they would firmly reprimand me, yell if I push their buttons too much, or point their finger for emphasis purposes. And while at the time I felt that the punishments were unfair, looking back and having reflected on all the penalties that I had to deal with when I got in trouble, I now realize that these punishments are a lot fairer and more effective than being physically struck. What exactly were these punishments you may ask? Well typically I would be forced to have a time out which meant that I’d be placed on the stairs or in my room to think about my behavior, with the loss of privileges being a last resort punishment. Now I would like to add that I know that there are people who do turn out okay from being spanked as children but I will reiterate that it is definitely a form of discipline that I personally frown upon and will never use on my own children, regardless of how rude and disobedient they might be.
In stating my views on such a heated controversial topic, I would like to say that despite any conviction that I may have, I know that it is not my place to coerce parents to discipline their children a certain way. I understand that everyone raises their children differently and that some of you may not agree with what I have to say. With that in mind however I do want to provide some fresh perspective on this highly debated form of discipline, as I do wish that more people would consider the messages that they are teaching their children especially if you tell them violence is bad but then you hit them for talking back.