Tammy - posted on 06/30/2009 ( 34 moms have responded )
I have read the two previous spanking threads and the common theme I seem to see throughout the posts is that when people say "spanking" they are often talking about VERY VERY different things. You can't really debate something properly unless you can agree on a definition. If the definition of spanking is "beating the crap out of your child" then I think we'd all agree that it's BAD. That is not what ANY of the people who advocate spanking are advocating (I'm sure they would not be publicly admitting it if they did this). Having experienced both actual spanking and abuse and adding that knowledge to having read all of the posts, I would say that most people who AGREE with spanking are actually agreeing with SPANKING as it should be properly defined. Most (not all but the vast majority) of posters who DISAGREE with spanking clearly do so because their idea of spanking is actually ABUSE. I read a post where one lady said she disagrees with spanking because she was "spanked" and then clearly described a scene of brutal abuse. Well, YEAH!! Of course you disagree with spanking if THAT'S what you think it is! If you have only experienced abuse then YOU DO NOT KNOW WHAT SPANKING IS or what it feels like to the child. If you do not know a good and proper definition or guidelines to spanking then you should not spank your child. To try to nail this down better I will offer the following ideas and I welcome others adding to it or commenting on it. I get this definition from personal experience (from both perspectives, the child and the parent), from a lot of reading of parenting books and from knowing MANY people who use spanking in their home. The only comment I DO NOT wish to hear is how all spanking of any kind is abuse. That is an opinion which, while you have a perfect right to have it and live by it, is totally useless to this discussion and, frankly, in contradiction to thousands of years of well behaved, well adjusted children disciplined in this way. I'm really looking to hash out a good, useful definition, not to hear more slanging.
I think it's safe to say that in general:
1. If your memories of being spanked are traumatic to you then you were not spanked- you were abused. I was spanked many times and have little or no actual memory of any particular event, just a general knowledge that I was spanked and that I chose it by continuing behavior that I knew would get me a spanking. On the other hand, my memories of abuse are vivid, traumatic and crippling and I bear the aftereffects in my body to this day.
2. If being spanked caused you to fear your parents you were not spanked- you were abused. (How I have often wished that my children feared me just a little bit! They do not. My mother was a much more devout spanker than I am and the idea of being afraid of her is almost humorous.)
3. If any marks were left on you other than a slight redness that faded in minutes- you were not spanked, you were abused.
4. If you were injured in any way, you were abused.
5. If you were spanked for any and every offense, without any warning or in public then your parents improperly used spanking at best, perhaps even abused you.
6. If you were spanked as a teenager, you were abused. Spanking is totally uncalled for and is borderline perversion after puberty.
7. If you remember your parent as being enraged or flying off into you, you were abused, not spanked.
Proper spanking can involve your hand or a non-injuring object such as a wooden spoon. I have used a wooden spoon and it is nearly impossible to injure a child with one as long as it's used on a clothed bottom. It should be done on a clothed bottom or the back of the legs (if they are wearing thick clothing they won't feel it at all on the bottom) or you might smack their hand or arm to prevent them or deter them from reaching for something dangerous. Any object that can injure a child such as a belt or any other type of striking such as hitting them in the face or kicking them is abusive. One caveat to this: If I had a teenager who was in my face screaming profanities at me I could see smacking them in the face. Thank God, I will probably never have that issue come up since I spanked them as small children and they now have respect for me and would not do that to me!
Proper spanking generally yields these results:
It works. Proper spanking is done infrequently and in diminishing frequency as the child gets older and quickly becomes unnecessary.
While uncomfortable it is not traumatic or terribly painful for the child. They often show penitence for their bad behavior rather than anger at being spanked.
Children who are properly spanked know that they did wrong, know why you spanked them and were not surprised to be spanked.
Proper spanking is never done in any emotion greater than irritation.
Spanking is done for the benefit of the child. It is to teach them a particular lesson- most spanking advocates reserve it for outright defiance, open disrespect or blatant, knowing disobedience. For small children it is generally used to show them a little discomfort in order to deter them from something that could cause them GREAT discomfort, pain or death if they continue doing it. Abuse is done for the PARENT- to vent emotion, to punish/ get revenge, to stop irritating behaviors that are not necessarily wrong, just annoying to the parent.
Adults who were properly spanked as children remember it with humor, remember themselves as having deserved it, admire their parents for disciplining them in this way because they know that it made them a better person. They also usually use this type of discipline, not because it makes them feel powerful or because they're lazy, but because they recognize that it made them a better person and they wish the same thing for their children.
Anyone want to add, subtract or multiply these definitions?