Most people my age and older came from a household where spanking was allowed. For me, the two-and-a-half years in foster care and the subsequent butt-kickings from boyfriends have me completely “pro-peace.” I am almost incapable of spanking. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve tried it out on Jermahl. When I was raising him with his pothead father (who Jermahl was named for so we’ll call him ‘Druggie’ from now on), Druggie said you’re supposed to beat your kids. How else are you going to teach them? Mind you I was 15 when I got pregnant, and I thought, perhaps, there might be a difference from what I experienced and what he was talking about.
So if Jermahl was acting bad, I would pop him on the hand or the butt. Just once. But Druggie would slap him in the face or kick him. And God forbid I protested, I would get the same in kind. Well, one day, I was out with a friend going to the market. Jermahl just broke out into a tantrum in front the Food Lion market it was sooo embarrassing and I was getting mad. I kept telling him to be quiet and he wouldn’t so I popped his mouth. But he fell over and he bust his lip. I bawled in front of that store telling my baby how sorry I was. I probably looked like a crazy person, hugging him and crying. I will never know if my anger made that ‘pop’ a ‘slap’ or if he just didn’t have the balance (my friend tried to convince me it was the latter), but I refused to spank or pop him for a long time after that.
When he was about 3, Chris (sperm donor #2) and I moved to Houston together. Jermahl was out of control because he had been living with Druggie who doesn’t believe in teaching, just beating. So we tried to just show him love whenever he was acting out. Eventually, it got to be too much, and we decided maybe spanking should be part of his discipline. So we sat him down one evening and told him what would constitute a spanking (screaming, hitting, not listening for the umpteenth time, things like that). Well, Chris’ father used a belt, so he thought we should, too, and I figured, as long we didn’t hit him hard, or directly on his skin, just the idea of it would be effective. The belt terrified Jermahl, though, and it wasn’t teaching him anything but to be afraid of his parents. So we used it about three times and retired it.
I had to come up with more creative ways to punish him. We made him stand in the corner, took away his favorite toys until he earned them back. It all depended on the offense. We found something appropriate for his age that he would understand. But I never spanked him again. Recently, he’s been having trouble with lying. So every time he lies, we have him hold a phonebook up for a few minutes. Depending on the severity of the lie, and how many people he could have potentially hurt, determined the size of the phonebook he was holding up. And I explained to him the reason he was holding the phonebook up instead of being spanked, is that spanking doesn’t teach you anything, it just hurts; but, even though holding up the phonebook hurts, it also builds up his muscles and makes him stronger.
At his house, his dad just gets angry and beats him, punches him, hits with random objects (don’t wory, I’m working on getting him out of there). At school, the kids tell Jermahl he’s a weakling because he doesn’t like to fight. So I told Jermahl, and I truly apologize to anyone this offends, anyone who needs to hit or use violence to get their point across is stunted and stupid, and no one taught them how to use their brain to express themselves, so instead they have to use a fist or a belt or mean words.
Jermahl, who is now seven, remembers the 3 times I used a belt when he was three years old.
I choose to discipline with love and until recently, I’ve been under the firm impression that hitting your child is not love. However, a lot of my close friends use spanking as a punishment for their kids.
One of my girlfriends said, “The corner is all fine and dandy, but my kids will stand in the corner and make fun of me because the punishment means nothing to them. Spanking actually resonates with them and they realize they’ve actually done something wrong.”
Another friend said, “You don’t just start off beating the crap out of them. For my son, when he started crawling around 7 months, that’s when I took 2 fingers to pop his hands when he touched something he shouldn’t. Now that’s he’s almost 2, I pop his butt a few times when he does something he actually knows he shouldn’t. When he’s a teenager, I’m going to punch him the chest. I’m not going to actually punch him the chest, but the sight of my fist coming towards him is going to hurt way more than when I actually touch him.”
My sister-in-law says that with her 1.5 year-old nephew (whom she’s raising for now), when he touches something he shouldn’t, she says no, pops his hand and moves him. And she does this over and over until he gets the idea.
So what do you do? How do you discipline your children? When do you start? If you spank, how do you know you’re spanking them to discipline and not just because you are angry? Obviously, a punishment needs to happen immediately for a child, but if you are angry at the same time, is the discipline as effective? And how do you show your child you still love them after a punishment?
I’d REALLY like to hear everyone’s opinions on this this. What is the difference TO YOU between spanking and beating? And should it happen at all?