Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Parenting Dilemma: Spanking

I know parents, and people in general, have strong, even passionate, opinions about spanking as a form of discipline. I have not been opposed to spanking when used removed from emotion and in conjunction with an explanation. Recent experiences have begun to change my mind, though.

Spanking, if used at all, should only happen when the parent has stepped back from the situation and chooses, rationally to use a spanking to discipline. I recently read in one of my parenting magazines a statistic that astounded me. It said parents who spank are more than 50 % more likely to move on to more severe forms of corporeal punishment. Shortly after reading that I had an insightful conversation with a neighborhood mom.

I mentioned spanking Sammi for some reason and she responded that she did not spank, anymore. She had found that when she spanked her son it was easy to give in to that anger and spank maybe harder or more times than were necessary. Her words resonated with me. I have cut spanking out of my discipline for very similar reasons, especially once Sammi was potty trained and no longer had the protection of a diaper on her bottom.

It's hard to admit that I have a temper and I'm not perfect. But facing that truth head on has changed the dynamics in our home. Sammi still gets in trouble and I still get frustrated. But now we each take a time out and come back together to talk about it. Sometimes I don't think time-outs are very effective, but as I look back on it, neither is spanking. I'm a better mom as I learn to control that anger and not give in to it. Don't get me wrong, I've never gotten to the point where my reaction was abuse, but I could see how easy it would be to fall down that slippery slope and become part of that statistic, being more than 50% more likely to use more severe forms of physical punishment.

So while I may not be opposed to spanking itself, I am wary of the consequences for the parent of spanking. I don't want my children to be afraid of me or my temper and the only way to ensure that is to cut out anything that allows me to give in to my anger. I think the next component of my discipline that needs work is my scowl. I want my children to remember my happy eyes, not my wrinkled-up forehead!


Amy Webb said...

Thanks for this good post on an often controversial topic. You make some great points and there's actually quite a bit of research to support many of the things you mentioned.

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