Wednesday, April 24, 2013

We choose NOT to spank. Here's why.

This last weekend, I came across a great article about alternative 'disciplinary' tools to use in place of spanking and, being that we're a family who has forgone spanking, I shared it on my page.

I was not expecting to get the reaction I did.

It was not good.

I was floored. Really?? I'm a bad mom because I don't want to hit my kids? Are you kidding me?? Are we still that primitive? Sure, your parents may have spanked you. Maybe your grandparents used a switch on them. That doesn't make it okay. At all.

Times change. We learn new things. We change and evolve. So should the way we raise our kids. We aren't sending our daughters off to get married at 12 and 13. We don't reserve education for our sons alone. We have learned the brains of infants are much more malleable than we had ever believed possible. Science has proven that sustained physical punishment has caused brain damage. Yes, brain damage.

Don't believe me? Here's an example of what Dr. Laura Markham, a clinical psychologist specializing in relationship-based parenting, has to say about spanking.

"A 2012 study reviewed the previous two decades of research and confirmed that children who are spanked have less gray matter in their brains, and are more likely to exhibit depression, anxiety, drug use, and aggression as they get older. The only positive outcome that's ever been shown from corporal punishment is immediate compliance; however, corporal punishment is associated with less long-term compliance. Corporal punishment has repeatedly been linked with nine other negative outcomes, including increased rates of aggression, delinquency, mental health problems, and problems in relationships with their parents."

Read the whole article for yourself here. No, really. Read it. Even if you do believe me.

Think about it like this; childhood is preparing you for adulthood. If you're repeatedly being hit to gain your compliance, what are you likely to do to get others to comply with you & your desires? You just might try hitting them...

I was rarely spanked as a child but I was never really taught how to properly deal with my anger, anxiety or any negative emotions. I learned early on to bottle shit up and I can clearly remember having anxiety attacks as young as 7 and 8 years old. My mom didn't deal with "bad" feelings well and I followed in her footsteps but worse, even. 

My mom and I have only had a few physical confrontations but in my book, one is too many. I remember the first time she ever really hit me and the damage it did to our relationship. My dad was much more of a 'presence'. He hated spanking me; he came from a very abusive family and he felt that spanking was a slippery slope. 

I feel the same way. 

I have anger issues. I have had to learn in adulthood how to deal with my "bad" feelings in a positive, healthy way. It is hard. When I am stressed out, distracted, busy, I get angry faster than I normally would. I'm pregnant and hormonal and that makes it even worse right now. I'm a yeller and a "loud talker" and I can be scary. Straight up.

Moms are not supposed to be scary.

Moms are supposed to be soft and cuddly and occasionally tough but always filled with love, understanding and comfort. 

If I believed spanking was an acceptable form of parenting and punishment, I can see myself using it as an outlet for my anger. I said it and I mean it. I can see myself taking my anger out on my kids through spanking. 

And that scares the fucking shit out of me. 

It should. It's not right. It's horrible. The idea that I am so angry and incapable of dealing with that anger that I would resort to hitting my kids to get it out is disgusting to me and a very real problem for a lot of parents. 

We are here to teach these kids and we are obligated to do better for them than our parents did for us. It's the only way to keep getting better. It's the only way to grow as humans, emotionally & mentally. We are not the primitive cavemen we once were because we learned.  We learned to make tools, to farm & cultivate food. We evolved. We became smarter. 

Aren't we smart enough to see the damage we cause when we use our hands instead of our words? Our kids are smarter than we realize and they are more than capable of thought. They can understand right from wrong when it's explained to them. When they are shown there are consequences for every action, good and bad, they learn. They become capable of thinking for themselves and they make better choices because they see the benefits. 

I want my boys to grow up strong, confident and full of love and self-respect. I don't want them to question themselves or their worth because someone tells them they aren't good enough. I do not want them to be fearful of anyone, at any time. I want them to feel powerful enough to speak out when they see wrong in the world. I want them to stand up for themselves when people treat them badly. I want them to know that love is unconditional; I want to teach them they don't need to be someone else's idea of perfect to be loved, that being themselves is perfect enough. 

I choose to parent in ways that don't resort to physical or corporal punishment and I ask every parent out there to at least look at the other options available out there. It's about being the best parents we can be, right? Don't we owe it to our kids to change if changing is what's best for them? 

I think we do and I hope I'm not alone. Next Monday, April 30th, is Spank Out Day, USA. On this day, parents, guardians & caregivers are encouraged not to hit or spank & to seek out other forms of punishment. Programs are available nationwide; at churches, schools and other community outlets. Sometimes, they're even free or have low-cost options. You can find a link to the Spank Out Day, USA website here

For one day, give your hand, and your kids' butts, a rest. It's only one day. 

Here are a few more links to some articles, websites and books I find useful:
How to handle your anger at your child

Positive Parents

Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids

Parenting with Love & Logic

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