A mother had her kids taken away from her when she was taken to court for spanking her child. But was that really fair? I don’t think so – especially since I spanked my own kids as they were growing up.
Yes, I am one of those parents who spanked their kids. I will probably be totally lambasted by admitting that, but I ask you to keep reading before commenting.
While the majority of the punishments we doled out to our children were along the lines of a time-out or taking a favored belonging away, spanking was on our list of acceptable punishments. Of course, the number one rule was that spanking was not to be done in anger, something that was very challenging to adhere by, and ultimately caused us to avoid spanking as much as possible. We knew that if we spanked in anger, we would be using the punishment as a way to get out our aggression than to turn around the negative behavior they were being punished for. So it was used sparingly and for infractions that needed to be spelt out plain and clear to a child that wouldn’t fully comprehend a long, drawn-out lecture as an alternative.
And, of course, the only thing we spanked with was our hand.
Both my (ex) husband and I had been spanked as a child, making this form of punishment a familiar choice for discipline. I can’t say I was scarred by the experience of being bent over a knee and given a swift paddling for hurting my sister, saying a bad word, or sassing my parents back. I don’t even consider it abuse. It was just the way things were done in those days. And believe me, it caused all of us to think twice before doing anything wrong that our parents might catch us and then pull out the almighty hand – or worse, the belt or wooden spoon.
There was one time that my sisters and I were bouncing on the bed with one of our friends, making ourselves go higher and higher. We were having so much fun that we never noticed my father rounding the hallway to stand in our doorway. I had just gotten through telling my friend for some reason that spankings never hurt me. I have no idea why I even told her this, but I had to eat my words as my dad yanked me off the bed and had his hand walloping my butt in no time flat. As I cried elephant tears, my unscathed friend innocently pointed out that she thought spankings didn’t hurt me. I kind of liked her less in that moment….
When my ex and I became parents, spanking was well on the way of being considered unacceptable as a punishment. But many were still on the fence. We were one of those families. We didn’t view spanking as the most positive form of discipline, but didn’t completely rule it out (obviously). While I ordered every Positive Discipline book I could lay my hands on when my terrorist son was a toddler, the spanking punishment still hung out as one way to correct misbehavior. But because of society’s view on spanking, we knew not to spank in public. It wasn’t because we were ashamed of spanking, it was more because we didn’t want someone misconstruing our discipline as abuse on our child and taking our kids away from us.
I had a friend with a very rambunctious 3 year old who took off running in a crowded local store while they were shopping, terrifying his mother as she frantically searched for him. When she finally caught up with him, she let him know how scared he had made her, giving him two swats on his diapered butt. Another shopper witnessed this and immediately called the police, and my friend was almost in danger of losing her son.
Rosalina Gonzales, a Texas mom recently in the news, actually did lose her child, along with the child’s siblings. Her mother-in-law had taken the two year old to the hospital when she noticed red marks on the child’s bottom. The action landed Gonzales in court where she not only lost all three of her children, but also faces five years probation, as well as having to pay a $50 fine to the Children’s Advocacy Center and attend a course of parenting classes. Let it be noted that “prosecutors described it as a ‘pretty simple, straightforward spanking case’, and said Gonzales didn’t use a belt nor leave any bruises.” Let it also be noted that Texas does not outlaw spanking as outlined on the website for the state’s attorney: ‘Texas law allows the use of force, but not deadly force, against a child by the child’s parent, guardian, or other person who is acting in loco parentis. Most parents do, in fact, use corporal punishment at least occasionally, and most do not, in fact, consider it abusive.’
But the judge had some very stern words for Gonzales regarding spanking.
‘You don’t spank children today. In the old days, maybe we got spanked, but there was a different quarrel. You don’t spank children. You understand?’
In the meantime, all three of her children are now in their grandmother’s care until the judge has deemed Gonzales “capable” of caring for them.
Nancy French, a writer for the National Review, is speaking out against what she deems an unfair sentence for Gonzales, asking those who use spanking as a form of discipline to speak out. “I’ve spanked all three of my kids, and they aren’t raised yet,” French says. “Spanking is far less emotionally manipulative than twenty nagging reprimands, it’s fast, and it’s certainly effective.”
These days, my view on spanking is much different than it was when the kids were younger. It’s possible I have an easier time making that decision since my kids are older and long past the age when I felt spanking was necessary. But I do believe if I were raising young kids today, I would prohibit spanking from entering my house. Truth was, spanking did little for me when I was younger except to make me fear the punishment rather than learn right from wrong. And I know it was the same for my kids. Spanking may have been a quick way to get the message across, but I don’t really believe it was effective. I can see now that it’s not impossible to break away from the spanking habit and find another form of punishment that is just as, if not more, effective as a way to discipline and turn around negative behavior.
But I still can’t believe that spanking should put a family in danger of being torn apart.
What’s your take on spanking as a punishment?