Monday, February 8, 2010

The Progression of Spanking

In my last post, I wrote about the dad who was sentenced to 45 days in jail for spanking his son bare-bottomed and hard enough to leave bruises.

This got me thinking about the potential progression of corporal punishment. Many people see no issue with a light swat on a diaper-padded bottom. My question is, what do you do when the light swat doesn't "work" anymore? (In other words, when it fails to yield the behavioral results you were hoping for?) Do you find a more effective way to teach your child? Some people do. But others spank harder, use an object like a wooden spoon or belt, or even start removing layers of clothes so the child will feel it more.

Here's the thing. Even if you start out only using mild physical punishment, the boundary has been crossed; you have told yourself that it is acceptable to strike a child. So where do you draw the line? How far will you let physical punishment go before it's too much? And what will you do when you realize it isn't working the way you'd hoped? I wonder if the dad in this news story has always spanked his kids in the manner described in the article, or if things progressed to that point over time?

I've heard plenty of people say that you should never spank in anger, and while I agree with that, I simply cannot wrap my mind around how a parent could hit a child if they were not angry. When I am calm, I can think of several better ways to handle a situation. It is only when I'm angry that I feel the impulse to spank. (I don't do it, though.) And maybe it's just me, but I find something downright creepy about the thought of a totally calm, rational parent spanking a child. That just doesn't make sense to me.

So this is what I wonder. If there is an element of anger involved in spanking, and if there is the potential for the severity of the punishment to increase over time, why even start down that path? I can't speak for anyone else, but that is one of the reasons why I quit spanking. It was impossible for me to spank without anger, and I could see how the situation could easily escalate, especially with anger involved. And so I sought out methods of discipline that were more effective and respectful-- and not only do they work, they work much better than spanking ever did. I deeply regret the time of Elijah's life when I spanked, and I will never do it again.

I understand that not everyone struggles with anger, and not everyone will increase the severity of the spankings they give their children. But I also think the potential is there, and that is scary. Why not just choose better discipline methods? I am not trying to be rude here... I just truly, honestly do not understand why a person would choose to spank a child if there are better options.

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