I have heard this statement so many times and it is utter, downright, complete and total, ridiculous bullshit.
This is not to say I’m perfect. I have five kids, and sometimes they drive me up the wall. I’ve whooped them all before, and it has never helped in the long run.
See, the problem is that children listen to people that they respect. Respect can not come from violence. Sure, they may listen to you, but listening through fear is not respect. I’m learning this as I go. I cut out spanking them completely several months ago, and have steadfastly kept with my vow since then. Something interesting is happening:
They listen to me more and more every day.
So, what the hell did I do, besides whoop their ass? I mean, according to so many people in the U.S. it’s absolutely essential to raising a child. So how are they listening when I removed the fear. I’ll tell you, it’s a totally crazy idea, I can’t believe it works, so here’s one weird trick to have perfect kids. Are you ready? It’s amazing!
Gain their respect.
How? By talking with them, not to them. By having a conversation, not a lecture. They may get in trouble, and you may not be happy with them, but why aren’t you finding out why they are sad? Why aren’t you asking them, and letting them tell you why they are getting into shit? Why can’t they just chill out for a little bit, and then talk with you? Why does the punishment have to be physical violence?
My daughter, B, is quite sensitive. I admit, it gets frustrating. She cries over many, many things, and it’s hard to tell her something that goes against what she wants or that admonishes what she does without her flipping a lid and screaming louder than a howler monkey in heat. So, she sits out on her bed, and when she’s calmed down enough to talk, we talk. The more I’ve done this, the more she’s transformed from banshee to human. It’s quite nice really. Spanking never, ever worked, and I’m further convinced every day that it isn’t, as a whole, functional. Not just less functional, but not functional at all.
But Ivy, it worked for me! I got my ass whooped and I turned out fine. My parents used a : belt, switch, spoon, hand, paddle, ruler, live chicken…
I feel really bad for the chicken that had to sniff your butt remnants as it was being knocked senseless, flinging from your mom’s hands between air and ass, but even with the voyeuristic chicken whooping, it wasn’t that that made you respect her. I know there are underlying things. What about the times she cared for you while you were sick? That one time you decided that jumping off your roof was the sweetest idea ever, and you subsequently landed in the hospital with your shin sticking out of your thigh? How about when your partner dumped you the first time, remember that heartache? Remember how she soothed your sadness, and reminded you that yes, it hurts, but it will be okay? What about all the little tiny things that added up to worlds worth of love, shown through other ways? What about that favorite meal of yours that she still makes when you come over? “You know, it was the only thing you would eat for a month.” She says for the millionth time, still, all the warmth of love in her tone and the sprinkles of joy in her laugh.
It wasn’t the fact that she spanked you. Those were flawed times. You done fucked up, sure, but she could have handled it better. It doesn’t make her any less wonderful, people are beautifully, amazingly and perfectly flawed, nonetheless, she was wrong. I’ve been wrong.
It’s time for us to make it right. It’s time to gain respect, not force pseudorespect. It’s time to understand the inner working of our child, instead of shoulding them into the existence we want for them. Give your children the paintbrush to their lives, and let them show you who they are. You have to work with them, not against them. That doesn’t mean no rules or punishments, it means more conversations. It means setting up an atmosphere where they feel comfortable and coming to you and saying “mommy, daddy, I need to talk.”
And when they say those precious words, I urge you to listen. No matter how made it makes you (I got drunk at a friends, and we had sex, and I don’t know how I feel about it), or completely ridiculous it may seem (you know that kids show that annoys you? My other parent let’s me watch it), listen to them, let them express to you who they are. They should be able to confide their greatest achievements and gravest mistakes. You became a parent, whether it was by accident or by choice. A parent is the rock for their child. You can decide whether you are going to use that rock for them to hold on to as the river rushes over them, trying to take them away over the cliff, or you can use the rock to beat them with, until they’re broken enough to submit. It’s your choice, and it’s a difficult one.
Which will you choose?