I was spanked as a child. I was a well-behaved youngster who needed little discipline and was generally obedient and respectful to the best of my ability. I can probably count the number of times I was spanked on my fingers. I was not scarred for life by this ordeal, I am well-adjusted, and I have never reacted by being violent to others. To all appearances, I am a testament to the value of the practice of spanking.
And yet, I oppose it. Vehemently.
This was not always so. For most of my life, I assumed that spanking was a generally useful practice that taught kids to expect consequences to their actions. It promoted personal responsibility, I was told, and enforced respect. I fully expected that I would spank my own children (hopefully not often). I further expected that children who were not spanked would likely be unruly, disrespectful, and lack a sense of responsibility and self-control.
However, as I began to reassess the value of the authoritarian parenting style that I was raised with (which did NOT leave me well-adjusted) I began to confront my perceptions of spanking as well. What lessons had I really learned from these punishments? Were the changes it wrought in my behavior actually positive? Or can I contribute my good behavior primarily to other parenting methods instead?
I clearly recall how the punishment was carried out. I was informed of my error and I would generally apologize. My mother would accept my apology, but if the error was severe enough, she would indicate that I was to be spanked as a punishment. I would be told to fetch the big wooden spoon from the kitchen and I would go into her bedroom. She would close the door and tell me that she loved me, but she needed to do this anyway. I would be told to bend over and she would strike my backside with the spoon. Generally, I would feel humiliated enough that I would not want to cry in front of her, so I would hold my tears in as long as possible. However, before long, I would always give in and cry out, and my mother would hit me only one more time before setting the spoon aside and then holding me. She would tell me again and again that she loved me and calm my tears until I had stopped crying. The punishment was now over.
By the standards of most spanking advocates, my mother did everything right. She never left marks or bruising that I was aware of. I was no longer sore within 5 minutes of the spanking or so. The punishments were always coupled with loving words and assurances that I still had her affections. And yet, they did me absolutely no good. Indeed, they taught me several lessons that were quite counterproductive to my moral and ethical development.
Spanking did not teach me to accept consequences; it taught me to avoid them.
Spanking causes pain and humiliation, but more than anything, it causes a fear and dread. Most children will avoid that fear at any cost. Sometimes this meant behaving well to avoid punishments. But at other times, when I had either misbehaved or simply made a mistake, I learned to try to silence my conscience and hide my misdeed rather than owning up to it. As a clear testament to this, I recall an incident when I was probably only 4 or 5 years old. I had just been playing around in the bathroom and somehow ended up getting toilet paper strewn around the floor. I left the mess behind when I got distracted by something (I was a very absent-minded child) and it was discovered later by my mother. She called the whole family into the bathroom and asked who had made the mess. I distinctly recall a pang of fear as I considered the possibility that an admission of guilt could result in a spanking. I wanted to tell my mother that it was me and to apologize for it, but the fear was too great. Instead, thinking myself very clever, I asked “what will happen to the person who says they did it?”
"Nothing except they will have to clean it up," she responded.
"Oh, well in that case, I did it."
And there lies the first problem with spanking. I was fully willing to take responsibility for my mistake and even make it right by cleaning up the mess I had left. But while the threat of physical pain and humiliation was held over my head, I shut my conscience off and was ready to lie. And lie I did, about the glass bowl that I broke years later. I was never found out.
This is not a productive result of a training method that is intended to INCREASE personal responsibility. Reasonable consequences that allow the child to make up for the mistake that they made are much more likely to be effective. That leads me to my second lesson.
You can’t make up for your mistakes; you can only suffer for them.
Now, I will be the first to admit that there are plenty of mistakes in real life that cannot be fixed. Sometimes you just have to deal with the consequences. But even so, approaching every mistake with this defeatist mindset is a sure way to destroy your life. A healthy person approaches every mistake with an openness to correcting it, or at least making the best of it. Anytime we fail at something or harm someone, our response should be to say “I am so sorry… how can I make it better?”
But spanking was a discouragement of this kind of thought, for me. I was not spanked often, but when I was, it was always a sign that my crime must have been too grievous to make right. Apologies, offers to fix things, attempts to ease the damage that I had done were useless. All that was left for me was physical punishment. Pain would atone for me. I could not atone for myself.
The last spanking that I can remember occurred when I was probably 9 or 10. I had gotten distracted while doing my morning chores before school and started goofing off. Again, absent-mindedness and distraction were common themes in my childhood… and adulthood for that matter. My mother always required that we start homeschool at precisely 8:00am. When my goofing off led me to miss that deadline, I was due for punishment. My mother came upstairs and saw me laughing with my sister while I fidgeted around with the bed I was supposed to be making. She scolded me angrily and told me that I was already late for school and my bed wasn’t even made yet. Startled, I apologized, told her I had lost track of the time, apologized some more, and then offered to make my bed faster. She did tell me to finish making my bed. And when I was finished, she said, I should come downstairs for a spanking.
That was always a heart-wrenching feeling. It didn’t matter if I was sorry, or if I promised to do better, or if I made my bed on time for the rest of the week, or if I even offered to make hers for her to make up for it. I had sinned, and the only proper punishment was physical pain. Indeed, forgiveness could not be obtained from my mother until she hit me and made me cry. It seemed unjust to me, but more than anything, it was heartbreaking for a young child. I truly wanted to make my mother happy and to do right by her. But, when spankings became involved, there was no way to make it right anymore. It was only my fate to accept the pain in order to be forgiven and returned to my valued place in the family. That is a horrible lesson to teach a child. It is also a dangerous lesson, because…
Spanking teaches children that violence and humiliation can be deserved.
I have never been physically abused by anyone. I suspect I am quite lucky in this regard. However, I have physically abused myself. And when I did, I thought of it as a method of atonement. Can I trace this mindset reliably back to my parents spanking me? Perhaps not. I suspect that many other factors played a greater role in my self-destructive habits, including sheltering and authoritarian principles. However, I think it is likely that the mindset instilled in my by using spanking as a punishment was a contributing factor.
When I was 23 years old, I came out to my family. I was already in graduate school on the other side of the Atlantic from my parents. We spent many hours discussing the topic of homosexuality on the phone, arguing over scriptures and opinions, and often crying over harsh words and cruel remarks. Despite all of this, I felt compelled to come home for a Summer to try to talk to my parents face-to-face, help them come to terms with my sexual identity, and heal the family wounds.
Instead of offers of peace, however, I was met with militant efforts to fix me. My access to the internet and phone were restricted, I was shamed into being silent about what was happening, I was harangued and bullied daily by my parents, and I was blamed for “destroying the family”. I honestly believed every accusation they threw at me, and I began to feel I had made myself too worthless to be redeemed. I couldn’t make things right. So, I decided I deserved to be hurt.
I restrained myself from causing too much damage, largely because I didn’t want my family to be able to recognize the marks. I would kick my shins against the end-table in the living room to raise welts and bruises. I would scratch at the skin on my stomach, upper thighs, and arms to make myself bleed. I felt like I deserved to hurt; I deserved violence. I deserved their humiliation. I deserved their emotional abuse. All of it, I deserved.
And why shouldn’t I? My family had always taught me never to let anyone hurt me, always to respect myself, and always to stand up for myself. But yet, they crossed those boundaries repeatedly when I was a child. I was taught that there WERE situations where violence, humiliation, and a lack of self-respect were deserved. Those were the situations when I had been bad. I was a bad child. I deserved pain. Is it so hard to imagine that these toxic thoughts could have carried over into my adulthood? Is it possible that I was horrifically susceptible to abuse by my parents because of some of the lessons that corporeal punishment taught me? I think it is likely.
Let me offer some fundamental pieces of advice. You should always be honest enough to own up to your mistakes. You should always try to make those mistakes right. And you NEVER deserve violence or humiliation… not from anyone else, and not from yourself. I think most people would agree with the statements above. But then, if I truly believe these things, why would I advocate for a form of punishment that taught me the opposite?
I do not believe my parents abused me as a child. They were loving. They were faithful. They were gentle. They were wonderful parents, in many ways. But their choice to spank me was unwise. It didn’t ruin me. It didn’t cause me to become violent or socially repressed or less intelligent. But it was not healthy. We need not talk in extremes in order to still condemn a practice that is teaching children unhealthy lessons. I can do better than the last generation. I will not spank my children.
A large majority of sadists/masochists were subjected to corporal punishment as children; it could potentially cause those particular kinks. I belong in the minority in that I was not; I have never been hit as punishment before. I only found out that these things happened through being a masochist anyway, and ever since I have been fuming about it. I hope that it will be banned one day; in America as well as completely in England (and everywhere else). Thank you for having the bravery to write this. As I myself prove, even if these problems weren't caused by cp, spanking is completely unnecessary in the bringing up of children; it simply causes unnecessary pain for the child.
I also hope that it will eventually be banned. There are other ways to parent which have been proven to be more effective.
This is a great argument! My story is similar, I was no abused and I love my parents. But I to have a memory of lying to avoid spanking I also do recall saying something along the lines of this to my mother after "running away" in reality I walked home from school without telling anyone what I planned
She dealed out her punishment of taking stuff away and making me write a 5 page paper about why going some were without telling someone is not a good idea. A some point she said something along the lines of "What if you had been hurt?!" Now being upset that she didn't 'understand' that I was trying to be responsible I replied "I'm in trouble both ways right? So obviously if something bad happened to me it would be my punishment. Its not that different is it? One way I get this, the other way I would get that." To me my logic was sound, its just a different punishment you get one or the other. I distinctly remember my mother suddenly going crazy with comments like "how could you say that?! Its not the same!" I being 12 could not comprehend this and even though a few days after saying it I realized that maybe I shouldn't have said that it still made since to me. My regret was more of; causing my mother to start another rant.
But I still supported spanking. I was a A, B student, focused, typically quiet, liked veggies and fruits, for all intents I was a well mannered child. So I of course looked at children who were not spanked and how unruly they were, F,C,Ds messing around in class and so very loud. That was the difference I saw in them, they were not spanked. I was not yet wise enough to understand that I was that way because at a young age I was never sat in front of a tv and told to be quite and then left alone with no interaction, I was not permitted to listen to vulgar music, I was rather insolated from other children that might have been bad influences, and I lived with people who loved veggies and reading and all of that.
My point being that this took me down my rather limited memory lane and I just had to fav this because of how true it is.
So, I have to admit that your title alone left a bad impression upon me. I went into the article with a very negative opinion of what I thought I would encounter. To be honest though, this is by far the best argument I have ever seen against it. It's definitely changed the way I've thought about spanking. Yet, I'm sure I will still end up using it in certain situations. Although I went into the article with a negative impression, I finished quite impressed. You should totally write more when you have time. =]
I hope you're doing well! <3
I haven't seen you in forever either! I'm about to go read your journal so that I know what's up in your life. In my life, I'm sitting around on the couch having a lazy day, since Chels is gone for the weekend to see her folks. I have a job right now teaching Math at a career college, and my tutoring is kicking back in now that that Summer is over, so at least I finally have a little extra paycheck on the side. I'm also preparing to apply to gradschools and retake the Physics GRE in hopes of getting into a PhD program next year. I'm both excited and a little nervous. My problem is, I'm having a hard time finding schools to apply to. It's so frustrating, because I found a program I really, really love in Montana, but I'm not willing to attend school there for potentially 5 years when their laws prohibit any form of marriage or union. I can hold off on the piece of paper for a while when it's just Chels and me, but within 5 years, I might want to have a family. I'm just not willing to have kids involved if I don't have legal protections in case anything happened. So, basically, I'm in the position of "go to the school of your choice or have a family in the next 5 years, but you can't do both." It kinda sucks. Right now, that's leaving me with one option: University of New Hampshire. I'm still looking, but haven't scared anything else up yet.
On the bright side, I'm still planning to propose. I've started working on designing a ring, and if I can get it made by the last weekend in August (big if) I will probably propose then since we're going together to our favorite spot to spend the weekend. It is a little island off the coast of NC that you can get to on a little ferry. There are no cars or anything else... you just hike over the island to get to the beach carrying anything you need with you. As such, there's hardly anyone there, and the place is just so beautiful and wild. I'd love to ask her there. We'll see if that works out.
Things with my family are a little not great. I haven't seen them since May, which is fine with me. They have been asking to see me since then though. They asked if we could plan a day-meeting somewhere in between their place and mine, so that neither of us has to make the full drive and we could just hang out somewhere for a day or so. I was quite agreeable to this and went ahead and offered a date (this weekend) and told them a good place to meet. And then, all of the sudden, they decided they didn't want to because of "several reasons". They now want to go on vacation to the beach somewhere, and they want to spend the night, so they want to do it after labor day prices go back down. They are inviting me along if I want to go, but after this month, I can't until October because of GRE and other things I have going on this coming month. It stung a little since I thought the whole point was for us to be able to see each other, but whatever. I guess that makes things easier for me. So, probably I'll go see them sometime in October and I am going to have to set an ultimatum for them if I've proposed to Chelsey by then: they need to stop expecting me to censor her out of my life if they want to continue to have a relationship with me. I dunno how well that's going to go over. I'm bracing myself for perhaps losing them altogether, but at this point, we don't really have a relationship anyway. On the other hand, if they start wanting to make a better effort then I might have to deal with them more, and that's going to be stressful. Still, the discussion needs to happen. I'm not going to edit my partner out of conversation for the rest of my life; that's just childish and stupid.
Anyway, that's what's up in my life. I hope you're also well! I'm going to go read your journal now. All the best!
Designing a custom ring? Oh, I can help you with that! You can have Chelsey make it! She does a ton of custom work. I wish I had photos of the very wide range of it that she does (she only seems to have one men's ring up here right now...), but you can start by looking here: www.etsy.com/shop/shiningdarkl… Hopefully soon I will be able to update her website with a nice gallery of all of the work she's done, not just the ones currently for sale. If you want examples of something more specific, just let me know. You can contact her through Etsy and ask about designing whatever you want and for a price quote. She will do up some little sketches for you, get your approval on one, and make it. If you're interested, tell her I sent you.
Thank you for the compliment! I need to get some more pictures of us. There are pitifully few, and it's a little awkward with facebook because people might flip shit if they see us together but... I'm past the point of giving a damn anymore. I don't do much on facebook lately except argue with some of my old homeschooling peers, haha! It's quite entertaining.
I'm glad to hear you're with someone new that you really like. Your old girlfriend sounded like a pain in the ass (no offense, but she did...) so I'm happy that you've found someone less passive-aggressive and more mature. Good luck with the whole seeing your mother thing. My mom just emailed me asking when she can call me. I'm thinking "umm... can you not?" Ugh. I just don't like dealing with the family. Good luck with the paper. I hope it turns out well! Write back when you get a chance!
The ring that I'm thinking of would most likely be an engagement and wedding ring combination. When the two parts are joined together they would form a heart around the center stone. She has some neat stuff on there. For the ring I would either go with white gold or standard gold with a diamond as the main stone. Or, if for some reason I wouldn't go that route, I have an uncut ruby that I would like to sometime get cut into a heart shape and put on a ring.
No need to thank me, you're both beautiful and shouldn't be afraid to hide it. =] The only time I spend on facebook is just to see if I have any messages or notifications, otherwise I'm never online for extended periods. I just keep it to keep in touch with people I care about and to keep tabs on a few individuals as well.
The old girlfriend certainly was a pain and more trouble than she was worth. I was just too blind to see it for so long. But I'm happy now and Megan doesn't try to play any games or do anything that irritates, annoys, or angers me. My mom should be working for the majority of the time I'll be there, and it is more of a trip to pick up stuff I need than to visit anyone. Hopefully it goes well then, but we'll have to see. And if you mother and e-mail, why not just tell her that is the best way to communicate, that you're usually too busy for calls? That is what I would try.
OH! And since you brought up the paper, I might end up not even doing it. Less than an hour ago I received the acceptance e-mail from the WI Department of Corrections saying that I have been selected to continue through the Correction Officer selection process. The next steps will be medical (Sept. 10) and physical (Sept. 11) testing. So that just made my night. I'm basically guaranteed admittance. So yeah, I'm happy.
If you are interested, you should definitely email her about the engagement/wedding band. She's done engagement/wedding combos before, and I'm sure she could tell you better than I could what it would take to make what you want, what sized stone you might want, what the price range would be, etc. When the ring is separated, what would it look like? I'm curious. Would the stone be in the V part of the heart on the engagement ring, and then the wedding band would have the double-humped part? Also, do you plan to give it to someone soon?
Yeah, I would also generally think that saying "email is the best contact method" would be best... except that I've only said that a million times by now. >__< They generally accept it for a while and then start pressing with "well, if you're schedule is better now, how about we set up a time to call?" I rebuff again and, in a little while, they start questioning again about "when can I call you?" like they didn't hear me. I'm frustrated as hell by it because it feels so passive-aggressive to me. Like "we know she doesn't want to talk, but let's just keep bringing it up innocently until we eventually wear her down." I guess it's sorta working. I don't mind talking to them sometimes, but only if I know exactly what we're going to talk about, so I can be sure the conversation won't derail. It's less stressful for me that way. I'd rather just email. Also, if I'm talking on Skype, I have to be in another room from Chelsey or they might freak out if they see her. It's stupid as fuck. Oh, look! She wrote me back saying "I just want to call because I miss you and want to talk to you sometimes, so I guess I'll just call you whenever and see." *sigh* She clearly isn't leaving the option of NOT calling open. Well, I'll tell her to give me HER schedule so that I can call at a time that is good for me. This also means I'll be prepared and doing things on my terms, and thus will not be as stressed out about it.
Alright, I'd better head to Chels' work to grab lunch before I have tutoring! I'll catch you again later!
I'm still working on the separation details for the ring. Even when separated I want the engagement portion to look nice and not as though it is incomplete. I'm not exactly positive which section would hold the stone though. Every time I think I have something, I change my mind again.
I definitely know how you feel about the family issue. Megan met my mother and father a week ago. I would be content to never see my father again, and my mother is working on pissing me off beyond repair as well. Eh, family.
Heheh, yeah, it took me about 3 months to come up with a design I actually liked for that ring I just had made. I kept drawing things and thinking "that's kinda cool, but it's also kinda stupid" and then repeating (apart from the many times I drew something that was just awful). It's tough when you're trying to design jewelry for a jewelry designer! I'm sure she could have made something even better, but I wanted it to be something I made (after getting a feel for what she likes) because she admitted that she really didn't know what she'd want in an engagement ring either. I think she will prefer not having the decision on her part. I suppose a lot of girls would rather make that choice themselves, but not Chels, heehee.
Good for Megan for surviving meeting the family. Things with my mom are going okay, I guess. I've talked to her a couple of times and she really wants to get together and discuss all the shit that went down two Summers ago that pretty much destroyed my family relationship. She also wants to know why I never want to come home or see them for very long. I am happy to give her answers, but she doesn't like them very much. I suppose it must hurt to hear your daughter tell you that she doesn't feel safe in your house and she doesn't feel safe spending too much time with you and she still gets fucking night-terrors for a week or two before she comes to visit you because the thought of it is just so fucking stressful. But you know... I don't feel bad. Because I'm the one that ended up all fucked up thanks to them, and if they want to know the truth, I'm not going to pretend. Actually, I welcome a chance to talk it over with her because it irritates me that she thinks that "there's no way we could have known to do any different" which is utter bullshit. I'm sorry, but if your kid tells you "I need you to please take me to the doctor because I'm having strong suicidal urges that are getting hard to control" that's a BIG-ASS RED FLAG that you should try your best not to make things worse... not say "oh, it's spiritual oppression because of The Gay" and keep on doing what you're doing. I'm pretty sure that officially makes them ineligible to play the ignorance card. Maybe something productive can come out of the conversation. It might help me get past some of my bitterness at least. I have forgiven most of what happened, but I'm still bitter and angry. And I still don't trust them for a second.
Anyway, I am going to get ready to head out to the beach! Chels and I are going to a little remote island that you can only get to by ferry or boat, with no cars or buildings or anything (besides a bathroom facility). It's always pretty private and absolutely beautiful. I'm going to propose sometime down there. Gotta figure out how to hide the ring though! Haha! I'm excited. It's a real treat for us to get out and do something fun these days. I can't wait!
However, the problem with teaching children that they cannot atone for or fix their mistakes, and the problem of "deserving violence" still remain. I do not think that spanking is necessarily HORRIBLE in every circumstance, but I do believe that there is always a better way... one that holds less risks to the child's well-being and future sense of self.
Thanks a ton for reading and commenting!
Haha, your method of resisting makes me chuckle. Glad she got the message to give up!
Well she had to give up, if she would have make a routine out of it she would look stupid today, since I'm taller and stronger, I would not feel a damn thing XD
I'm rambling now, though. I'm sorry your parents were so mean about you coming out. It sounds like something my father would do.
My mother was never cruel about it, but I still will never spank my children. It just isn't necessary, and I don't want my kids to expect violence from me. Ever.
Yeah, same here.
It always did confuse me a little that my mom would say things like "I don't want to do this" but then she'd do it anyway. I certainly never doubted that she loved me, but it just seemed strange and mysterious that she would love me and not want to hurt me, but then feel obligated to do it anyway. It sort of fell into the category of "things I will understand when I am older" because I certainly didn't understand then. Now that I'm "older"... I have decided it is bull. Haha!