Yes, let’s go there.
I love my kids. No, scratch that – I adore them. I would easily and quite literally give my life for them if necessary. I go without sleep for them, I go without food for them (or at least delay it if they need to eat first), I go without other luxuries and sometimes necessities so they don’t. I live, breathe, and die for my children, and I am 99.9% sure they know it deep down. Every single day I make decisions and sacrifices on their behalf, even if they aren’t convenient or easy fo rme.
I love my children. I love who they have been – as little beings growing inside me and gaining their sustenance for life from my body, I love who they are now – ever blossoming with their minds growing daily through different experiences and senses, and I love who they will ultimately become – a functioning, well-adjusted, intelligent and happy adult who brings as much to others (or more) as they do to themselves.
I spank my children. (GASP – but wait, I thought you just talked about how much you love them? How can you possibly spank your adored offspring and claim you love them?) I told you we’d go there, and indeed, there are moms/dads/”experts” out there who will look at me – and any other parent who can express something similar to the above two paragraphs – as if I have a third eye and am ready to sign up for the Fourth Reich.
But hold off on the judgement there, pards. It seems to me there are questions to be asked of any “spanking parent” before assumptions are made (which, let’s face it, is the easier and more self-righteous path to take) relegating me to the bad parents side of the scale.
Remember how I said I love my children? I mean, I went on and on about it and pretty much outlined the extent of my dedication and feelings for them. I love that they are part of me and my husband. I want so much for them: to be and feel loved, to be and feel secure, to be and feel important. My husband and I both strive to create an environment for them as close to that as possible.
Now enter the part about discipline. It’s a HUGELY integral part of child rearing. The implementation of consequences to one’s actions… talk about your basic tenet of life. From the moment a child can begin to sense they can perform an action or engage in a behavior which leads to effects or results, they begin to learn about positive and negative consequences.
Yes, so what about those negative consequences? Time-outs? Yes, those are a daily occurrence (mostly) in our home. Raised voices? You bet, a raised voice carries a lot farther and more emphatically, often giving the child pause before they continue what they are doing (and sometimes it averts them from danger if the parent can’t quite teleport over to their exact location in time). Removal of possessions/privileges? Definitely; it’s an excellent way to convey to our son (and now daughter) that they’ll miss out on something they enjoy because they weren’t heeding repeated warnings and direction to disengage in unwanted or perilous behavior. Spanking? ….
Ah, here we go. Now somehow we allegedly leave the realm of rational parenting and enter a deep, dark world of… abuse? Power trips? Violence? Perhaps… if we were talking about anything more than a swat on the hind end with one’s fingertips. And yes, as a last resort to every other approach we take to getting our son’s attention when bad or potentially dangerous behavior is involved, we will give a spank on his bottom to let him know the situation is serious enough to warrant it. We never spank hard enough to where our hand is hurting after giving the swat, and we never spank using anything other than our hand. We also hug him and talk to him immediately before and after (letting him know the spank is coming, and then reaffirming again why he was just spanked after being warned it was coming).
Now, I get that not all parents spank in love. I get that sometimes a parent will spank out of anger, frustration, or even rage. I get that such spanking is not acceptable, and as angry or frustrated as our son can make us, we always strive to discipline him out of a place of love and concern for his well-being and growth… whether we are giving him a time-out, removing his froggie blankie for a while, or giving him an ultimate swat.
It comes to this (finally, right?): my job as a parent is to help my child grow into the adult I talked about before — the one who is well-adjusted, confident, intelligent and happy. I’m doing my very best in this mandate. I want him to one day be able to walk each day with a healthy portion of reasoning, logic, consideration for himself as well as for others, respect for himself and for others, and always knowing his parents loved him enough to care about how he would function when he is finally on his own. My job as a parent is not to avoid tears at all costs, to condone destructive or dangerous behavior or choices, or to be a peer my son does not respect or heed as a figure of authority when it comes down to what is most important.
Parenting, as anyone who is one can vouch for, is one tough gig. It is most certainly the toughest one I will ever experience, and it is definitely the most rewarding. At the end of my life, I hope to sit with my son and look back on the love and life we experienced together as parent and child. I am confident with every fiber of my being we will both see clearly that I never failed him in the department of loving him. If, at that time, anyone would like to interview him for a case study, I’d love to hear if he is in any way dwelling on “that one time when Mommy spanked me for trying to touch the stove burner for the fifth time.” Have at it.