Spanking vs. Beating: Where is the line?

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?


7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Pamela
    Aug 11, 2012 @ 12:52:23

    Hello! Dropping by from SITS sharefest:)
    This was an extremely interesting post to read and made me think a lot! I have a 9 month old, so disciplining her in the future has definitely come up and what tactics we are going to use.

    I know for myself, when I was little, I had spankings, belts, and twisted ears.
    I can’t say that I won’t ever spank my child, but never will I take a belt or some other object to her. There is definitely a difference between a spank of discipline, and when you’re just thrashing on your child.

    I think severely beating your child, hitting them constantly and over and over, or making them bleed, would never be appropriate for any punishment.

    I want my children to learn what’s right and wrong, but I also want them to understand forgiveness and respect. I also know I’m an example, and would hope they can see that I mean business, but also love them in the end.

    I also think as they get older, I hope to implement lessons into disciplining. For instance, if they steal, or do something totally disrespectful to someone else, they will have to own up to what they did. Admitting what you did and facing those you offended can be harder than anything else, but id make them do it as part of the punishment. it would hopefully show them that it’s a lot easier to do the right thing than to do the wrong thing.

    It’s a touchy subject, and definitely a difficult one to address or find the right answer to. Regardless of how one chooses to discipline their child, I do know that the beatings and calling them horrible names as a means of discipline is something I wouldn’t ever want to do to my child. Then it starts to become more about relieving MY anger and frustration, rather than actually teaching my child what’s right and wrong. We need to remember why we discipline in the first place and that we are raising a human being and trying to teach them.

    Thanks for such a thought provoking post!!


    • Lady Bevil
      Aug 11, 2012 @ 13:15:29

      Thanks so much for responding!

      “I also think as they get older, I hope to implement lessons into disciplining. For instance, if they steal, or do something totally disrespectful to someone else, they will have to own up to what they did. Admitting what you did and facing those you offended can be harder than anything else, but id make them do it as part of the punishment. it would hopefully show them that it’s a lot easier to do the right thing than to do the wrong thing.”

      That’s my biggest concern. You are absolutely right. We have to show them right from wrong. I forgot about the name calling. I think that’s one of the worst beatings of all. It breaks down a child like nothing else when their parents belittle verbally.

      Thanks for dropping by, Pamela 🙂


  2. Kim
    Aug 11, 2012 @ 15:32:45

    I find this post very disturbing…so much, in fact, that I don’t know whether or I should actually comment or not. However, here I am. Personally I feel that under no circumstance is it okay to hit,spank, or slap a child. EVER! I have two children and they are by no means perfect…they do naughty things just like every other child out there….but there has NEVER been a situation that has come up over the last 6 years that would warrant them getting spanked. They have gotten their favourite toy taken away, T.V privileges taken away, a special outing that they were looking forward to taken away, sent for a time out, or sent to their room. They have never been smacked, hit, slapped, or spanked…and they NEVER will. If you are using brute force to discipline a child then what does that teach them? What it teaches them is that is using brute force is the right way to rectify a situation. If Mommy does it, then it must be okay. Which it isn’t!

    I want my children to know that honesty, integrity, empathy, kindness, and love is a much better way to be than someone who goes through life hurting others. As you said yourself at the beginning of your post….when you are raised being spanked, etc. for some reason it makes it okay to do it again to your own children. I don’t believe it is.

    Obviously you are allowed to raise your own child the way you see fit….but, I really hope you have a change of heart in your idea of what you feel is justifiable discipline. And please, please, please take your child away from his father….from the sounds of it there is nothing good coming out of that relationship. It is doing way more harm than good. From what I have read here, I can almost guarantee you that your child would be much better behaved for you if he didn’t have the influence of his father around. I have a feeling that deep down you know what is right, or else you wouldn’t be posting this for everyone to read. For the love of your child, and for the love of yourself do what you know is right.

    I truly hope that I haven’t offended you in anyway. But you seemed to be asking for advice, and I felt the need to share some wisdom (if you want to call it that). I wish you all the best!


    • Lady Bevil
      Aug 11, 2012 @ 15:45:58

      Hey, Kim. Thanks for coming by. I think you misunderstood me. I, personally, do not condone spanking. I tried it when I was a new teenage mother and discovered it wasn’t for me. I personally am with you on how to discipline. The question is, what about everyone else, because people seem to think it strange that I don’t believe in spanking.

      And I am in court trying to get custody away Druggie. He is a horrible person. It’s just making a judge see that. Jermahl is a sweet well-behaved child.

      You haven’t offended me at all. Thank you for sharing your opinion!


  3. Chelsea S.
    Aug 12, 2012 @ 06:15:02

    Spanking, to me is open palm on the hand for younger kids, on the buttocks for older ones. Beating, is using other than your hand such as a tennis racket, or using your fist to the face. I think spanking should be a private matter, then it’s acceptable. But not acceptable if you embarrass your child out in public places.


  4. momrunnerblog
    Aug 18, 2012 @ 12:56:49

    Hi! Linking up with you today through the Sharefest! So glad I commented when I did because I can already tell I’m going to be coming back to your blog! We have this conversation at my house often. We do spank but only under some very clear conditions, and not the kind of spankings you could call beatings. My husband comes from a similar background as yours, mine is very different. I believe it’s truly a matter of what works for each parenting situation and family. My daughters know that a spanking is the last resort at our house. It rarely has to happen, which I’m thankful for!


  5. barefoot_med_student
    Aug 18, 2012 @ 15:35:11

    I was spanked as a kid and although I resented my parents for it often, I do remember that it didn’t hurt thaaaat much… it felt more humiliating. My parents always reminded me afterwards that they loved me and didn’t enjoy punishing me. I don’t know if I’ll spank my kids one day… but I enjoy the insight your post offers.
    Visiting via SITS Sharefest 🙂


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