Generally though, I am not in the habit of publically promoting the use of smacking or spanking when dealing with children. I am voicing my thoughts now simply because I am tired of a one-sided view, an un-equal debate and the growing sense that parents who smack should not publically admit the fact.
I am tired of the slew of blogs, quotes and Facebook likes and shares of pictures, depicting a small child, with fear clear on her face, writhing from the clutches of a mother whose arm is raised in full-swing ready for a beat down. She has malice and violence in her countenance. With slogans like ‘abuse’ and ‘violence’ attached.
I smack my children.
I am not that mother.
I am tired of smacking being referred to as ‘beating’. I heard a friend refer to a mutual acquaintance recently as being a strict parent… someone who has rules and if the kids doesn’t obey then you belt em and belt em until they submit.
I smack my children. I smack them more than once in given situations.
I am not that parent.
I have heard the argument that “spare the rod & spoil the child” is the Biblical foundation for physical punishment as discipline, that this proverb is the only leg us ’child-beaters’ stand on.
I do not subscribe to this view. I do not smack because I view this verse as a biblical command to physical intervention in behaviour.
Firstly, the proverb should not be taken literally, since in obvious translation it would require physical discipline by the use of a ‘rod’ or stick. In this instance, the proverb is saying that sparing a child from consistent discipline (however it is administered) will lead to a child without boundaries or a ‘spoilt’ child.
The verse is advocating the use of discipline in parenting.
So why do I choose to use physical punishment?
The Bible is clear in my responsibility as a parent. One of the responsibilities as a parent is guiding your child in character, which leads to behaviour. I need my children to understand the consequences of their behaviour, I would like them to grieve their sins and I try to place the weight of their decision upon their shoulders.
Sometimes this is achieved through conversation- shedding light on the ramifications of their actions. When my 6yr old consistently sharpened her pencils on the floor, I took her aside & explained how her inability to listen to me, to consider my request had hurt me. I told her that I felt hurt that she was leaving mess for me to clean up, disrespecting my role and hard work as homemaker. She understood, I could tell she was sorry, I could tell the lesson was learnt.
Sometimes it is time-out, the loss of a privilege or something is taken away. Sometimes it is a smack. When my 4 yr. old goes out of boundaries, I call her back and remind her. When it happens again, I will smack her. Why? Because I need her to listen and respect my rules and boundaries. I need to her to learn that it is not ok to disregard them because it will have consequences.
Can she understand that the consequence may be the neighbour’s dog? The cars on the side-road? The snakes in the long grass? No, although we have discussed it, it is beyond her momentary reasoning to understand. She knows not to go out of bounds because Mum will see & she will get a smack.
SMACKING IN EXCLUSION
Now, I am not blind. I know there are other forms of discipline. Very good ones.
I use lots of different forms depending on situation. I note the impact of discipline in my children and order our lives respectfully. With my 4yr old you have to be very careful about explaining the impact of her behaviour on others – she will hold onto such guilt it is heartbreaking. I need a form of punishment with her that does not burden her unjustly.
I resent the general implication that because I smack my children I am an un-thinking and un-creative parent. That I am mindlessly hitting my children when they do not fall into my imaginary line.
SMACKING IN ANGER
I can get angry at the behaviour displayed by my children at times… but anger does not have an active role in my parenting. I am committed to not yelling at my kids. I do not speak in haste, especially when hurt or angry. I am committed to an endeavour not to speak words which will scar little hearts entrusted to me. I will never speak to my children about a lack of moral character, degrade their importance or I pray, give them reason to think I am disappointed with their part in my family.
If I am careful with words, does it not also follow that I would be careful with my hands?
If my children required any discipline, they are told as much. If I need, they are sent to time-out whereby I can take time for self-control. I never smack (or discipline) without explanation. I never smack without restoration and I am confident that my children are not in fear of me, my temper or unsure of my reaction.
I do not smack in anger and I resent the general implication that smacking is for my benefit, my pleasure or as a result of my emotions.
SMACKING FOR BLIND OBEDIENCE
There are specific behaviours that, in my house, call for smacking. And yes, one is disobedience.
If there is wilful and defiant disobedience from my child, they are punished.
Obedience seems to be perceived as a negative quality in a child these days? That somehow obedience as a character trait is evident of a broken spirit, a crushed imagination, of forced inferiority or regime-style parenting.
I don’t get this, for one; Ephesians 6:1-4 and also….Christ calls us to trust and obey. I do not obey my Saviour and God out of blind fear. I do not obey as a mindless robot, from a broken and crushed spirit.
Obedience in my children is not blind.
I explain to them the reasons behind my rules, the need for my boundaries and the reasoning for my decisions as a parent. My 2yr old is entitled to ask me ‘why’ when I set a rule. I allow it. There are no rules for which there are no reasons. Some are simple, (don’t touch the stove, it will burn you) some are because I, as their parent, am uncomfortable with it (No we won’t listen to this song on the radio, I don’t think it is suitable for you to hear).
Do I also require obedience at my word – yes.
I need to know that if I call stop to any of my children, at any age. They will know to hear me, to listen and to obey with immediacy… because they respect my authority, my position and right to command their halt.
It may have just saved their straying onto a busy street, or getting lost in a shopping centre.
It may have just saved them from playing with scissors left out by a sibling.
I do not smack my children to instil fear into them, enabling blind obedience of my command. I resent the implication that I am a source of fear or terror in any of my children or that my desire to see obedience and respect from them is tyrannical lust for power and superiority.
SMACKING IS ABUSE
I smack my children. I do not use it as my main form of punishment, nor do I think it is a last resort.
I do smack to hurt them, why else bother?
I hurt them to teach them a lesson, to protect them from greater harm and to punish grievous and intolerable behaviour.
I do not smack for my own pleasure or a personal desire to inflict pain.
I do not smack to vent, out of frustration or thoughtlessness.
I do not smack because ‘I survived being smacked and a couple won’t harm em’ – because I have never thought of doing anything else or considered/researched forms of discipline.
I do not smack to ‘put them in their place’, to demean, demoralise or instil fear.
I do not think, in any situation, I have abused my children through discipline.
The case is argued, isn’t the right to physical safety something a child deserves? Yes.
They have the right to safe boundaries. They have the right to expect respectful and safe treatment from their siblings. They have the right to live in a household where they have no fear of physical abuse. My children do not fear me. At times, they mourn the need for punishment and I have seen them mourn physical and non-physical punishment with equality.
I provide these to my children through resourceful parenting, through techniques and strategies.
One of which is smacking.
So yes, in response to the trend of anti-smacking propaganda that is flooding the parenting circles, yes I smack my children.
But I resent the implication that I do not discipline my children with grace.
I resent the insinuation that I do not teach my children with compassion.
I resent the intimidation of words like, abuse, threats of lower IQs and warped personailities.
I resent the intonation that I have authority without love, method without thoughtfulness, boundaries without imagination, respect without relationship, obedience without trust and parenting without overwhelming love.
Such exaggerated and degrading portrayals of the parent who smacks… it hurts me.
Please consider that.