I have been a "fan" of the "Circle of Moms" page on FaceBook for a few months now. I don't check it frequently unless something interesting comes up on my home page, and yesterday the issue of 'alternatives to smacking' came up.
This one got my attention like a slap across the face (pun intended). Smacking? To me, that is not really the same as spanking. I've explained to my son the difference, to me, between hitting and spanking: one you do as a result of a fight or to be mean, the other you get when you have misbehaved. He seemed to understand this with no problem. I will say it right up front: I spank my kids. Not every day, and not for every little thing. But when it's warranted, they get spanked.
One mom on the chat that followed boldly told everyone she thought that spanking was a result of lazy parenting. That sort of stuck in my craw for the next 24 hours as I thought about her words. To automatically assume everyone who spanks is lazy is downright ridiculous. Nor can we say that people who don't spank aren't disciplining their children. They're just choosing to do so in a different way. I mean, that would be like someone saying of a formula-feeding mom, "Oh, you're just a lazy parent because you don't breastfeed." Can you imagine the scene after that one? (Probably, because I'm sure we've all been in the midst of that debate before.)
Whenever the subject comes up, I make the point that all kids are different - some do not need to be spanked, some do. It depends on the child, on the parent, and on the situation itself. There's only so much talking, reasoning and cajoling you can do with a defiant, headstrong 3-year-old who thinks she owns the world and is taking names. (Perhaps some of the people who are the most against spanking are the ones who never had a kid like this.)
I can use a couple of examples just from the people I'm close friends with. Granted, you can't really compare - because, again, every kid is different and so are we, vastly, as parents. There's the couple whose kids would routinely be rude to other adults, talk back to their parents and even openly hit them in front of others. I was horrified, as were my children, looking on with perplexed expressions on their faces.
Then there's the couple who don't spank and don't really need to, because their children would never dream of doing something so forward as causing an ounce of trouble of out fear. Irrational fear. Of everything. Although it is with a slight smile that I now know the youngest, another Fellow Princess Who Sometimes Think the World Revolves Around Her, is a bit of a screaming handful in public places. I am always interested to see how mom handles such incidents, but never do because they retreat to the depths of their house before anyone can so much as glimpse an altercation.
And there's the couple who placate their young daughters with toys, candy, whatever it takes to avoid a meltdown. I have rarely heard mom raise her voice to them, and she doesn't have to, because there is usually some gooey treat or new toy waiting on the horizon. I asked her one time what she would do when they turn 16 and want a car/pony/large sums of cash, and she said she didn't know, but knew she had created a monster. At least she is willing to admit it.
But, I realize, I can't really compare these children to my own. They are all different: unique personalities, situations, and age ranges. I think the dynamics of birth order and gender have a lot to do with it, too. So when someone says parents who spank are 'lazy parents,' it really cheeses me off, because my kids aren't the same as your kids. And I'm not the same parent as you. And probably few of our situations and family dynamics are the same. Since those things are all different, why shouldn't our approach to discipline?
For us, I know the spanking formula sometimes works and sometimes doesn't. I think it's an evolving thing, dependent upon their age and the situation. I am hoping we can move past it, because really, it's not like I enjoy it. But again, when you've reached the end of that invisible rope and nothing else is working, a spank might be just the thing.
In the meantime, I've unsubscribed myself from Circle of Moms and will now search for the "Moms Who Feel Spanking is Sometimes Necessary" group instead.
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