Should Parents Spank Their Children?
Back in my day, spanking was an accepted form of child discipline. If you disobeyed your parents or committed some serious malicious mischief you could expect a trip to the old woodshed. Let it be known I became very familiar with ours as my father was a firm believer in corporal punishment.
Although it was the accepted norm of the times, many self proclaimed experts today question the effectiveness of spanking. Some view it as a barbaric anachronism left over from an unenlightened era while others hail the practice as a necessity or miracle cure.
So, the question becomes, should parents spank and administer punishment or not. Unfortunately in today’s world the decision may have already been removed to some extent from their jurisdiction. New laws governing certain aspects of child discipline are being written almost daily…most well intentioned to protect minors from over abusive guardians.
But is this a good thing or just another form of government intervention to impede a parent’s right of correcting their offspring? This is a difficult question having many answers depending on individual circumstances and how parent’s themselves may have been raised. Even schools have been admonished for using the legendary “Board of Education”.
I vividly recall statements my father made about his upbringing. “My pop would’ve horse whipped me!” was one of his favorites. Such remarks can leave lasting impressions on a child. However, in my fathers’ case he was being truthful…which explains some of his child rearing techniques to some degree.
There’s no question, in his time, chastisement was stricter and more harshly administered. But, studies show parental disciplinary methods are usually copied by children and instituted into their own families becoming a vicious cycle.
MY FATHER'S CASE
This was true in my father’s case. Frankly, when it came to parenting, he was incompetent to say the least. This isn’t meant to infer he didn’t love his children…he just didn’t know how to raise them. After all, he hadn’t had a very good role model. So, he improvised using knowledge garnered from his own experiences. Unfortunately, he had joined the military at a young age and he borrowed from that.
Therefore, my siblings and I experienced many strange punishments. Many of the things he did in the name of discipline would have had him incarcerated today…although I don’t believe he ever meant to deliberately injure any of us. To his credit, he was an excellent provider. We never wanted for any of life’s basic necessities.
Here are a few examples of his that should never be repeated. My younger brother, Mike, would continuously run off, never staying where he was told. Dad’s solution was to put him in an army duffle bag, hang him on the wall in our walk-in closet and close the door, leaving him there for hours. It never worked, like most of his approaches.
I want to reemphasize I don’t believe Dad meant to do us any physical harm although some things he did caused lasting mental scars. Such as holding our head under a shower, using only hot water, or handcuffing Mike and me to a radiator and telling us later he couldn’t find the key. And some of the whippings he administered left bruises and welts. The results of this disciplinary style accomplished obedience from us but it was done more out of fear than love.
Man And The Mule Analogy
There was an analogy he used to tell us about a man and his mule. It seems a man was having a problem getting his mule to move. A passerby stopped to watch for a moment and then left. Minutes later he returned with a 2X4. Walking up to the mule he clubbed it over the head. The mule immediately followed his owner. The moral of the story was "First you have to get the mule's attention"!
Fortunately, in later years he discovered the serious mistakes he had made. My parents became managers of a home for sexually and physically abused children. They both also became devout Christians. Before Dad passed away he had become the exact opposite of his former self. His children have all forgiven him for his mistakes and love him.
Physical measures were just one form of reprimand we endured. Much more destructive in my case was verbal abuse…of course at the time I didn’t recognize it as such. “Stupid”, “dumb”, “idiot”, “retard” and a host of other like names were commonly used in reference to me. I don’t consider this as being the best means of instilling a sense of confidence in anybody.
For instance, at about 14 years old I was taking a summer school class in oceanography. I became very enthused about making marine biology a career. His response to this information was, “You’re not smart enough to do that! Pick something else.” That remark took the wind out of my sails. To this day, I still have issues with self esteem and confidence.
It’s too bad kids don’t come with a manual. In lieu thereof some parents have opted for biblical and scriptural guidance. “Spare the rod and spoil the child.” has been a popular philosophy. But it has many detractors among the ranks of highly educated intellectuals who view themselves as recognized “experts” on the subject. How many of them have raised children? Don’t be surprised to discover many of them haven’t.
The only way to answer the question of whether to spank and discipline children or not is to weigh the evidence. Compare adults of today, who were products of so called “new age” techniques and how they turned out with those who were brought up the old fashioned way. What about today’s marriage statistics? Are moral values lacking? Do they have problems telling their kids no?
Now, look at your prodigies. Could it be it’s time for a trip out the old wood shed?