When I was a kid spanking was not only acceptable but expected. My sister, brothers and I knew that if we screwed up, broke the rules or were rude to our parents (or anybody really) we would get spanked. It wasn’t only us, every kid on our street knew they would get the same treatment from their own parents (I’m pretty sure every kid that I ever came into contact with back then knew the same damn thing!)
One day, a few years ago, I overheard my neighbour and his daughter having an argument. I don’t remember what it was about at all, what I remember was standing on my deck hearing this young woman tell her father to “F–k off!” She then proceeded to walk away down the street. My first thought was, “That kids needs a good spanking!”
I’ll tell you, if that had been me I would have gotten smacked twice at least! Once for using that word and again for walking away from my dad, possibly another time for being rude (regardless of what words were used!) The thing is, I think that I would have deserved it. There were three of us on the deck that day, when we heard and saw what happened we just stared at each other thinking, “I can’t believe it!”
I’m not sure how, or when, this big change in “accepted” discipline strategies arose. Probably when I was in my teens and not at all concerned about the latest research in child rearing but I believe that we have gone too far. Children these days get a “time out” or, newer research says, “time in”. Kids get sent to their room (complete with video games, televisions, cell phones, etc.) as punishment. Tell me, where is the punishment in that? How are kids to learn that their behaviour is unacceptable when it is responded to with hugs and uninterrupted screen time?
The experts now say that violence begets violence. How are our children supposed to learn that hitting is not okay if, when they hit someone, we hit them? While I do see the logic behind this question (and have no idea how to respond!) I also see that people of my generation, who were spanked as children, have a healthy respect for authority, are generally polite and often will think of others before themselves (or if not before, then a really close second!) These days, I see children being absolutely wretched to their parents, friends, community and schools and I would be willing to bet that they were never spanked. They never truly learned the idea of consequences for their actions and therefore act as if their behaviour doesn’t have an impact on everything and everyone they come in contact with.
I absolutely condemn abuse, especially abuse of a child. I think that we have forgotten that there is a difference between a beating and a spank. When I was spanked it hurt! It was supposed to hurt, it was meant to get my attention and make whatever lesson I had just learned a memorable one. It was not meant to physically wound or scar me, and it was certainly never meant to send me to therapy for years and years. It was a spank, that’s it. I learned to follow the rules, listen to my parents, respect my elders and work for what I want, if learning those lessons came at the cost of the occasional red butt then I still think that I got the good end of the stick…or shoe…or wooden spoon…