I’ve lived in the South for a number of years now. Before I had kids, I was convinced that the only way to keep kids in line was to spank them. My husband and I vowed to never be the kind of parents who “spared the rod”. Yes, I even quoted the Bible, a verse that I had never even read in the original until many years later.
Once I had my first beautiful child, that all changed. Suddenly I couldn’t bear to think of breaking out the belt for the offense of sneaking a cracker. Remembering the parents who’d told me to “whup” my child, I tried to follow the advice. And after all, in the South, there isn’t much room information on alternative ways of parenting. You either spank or… Have bad kids. I was never offered the idea of gentler parenting so I had to pull together ideas for myself.
My saving grace was the internet. On it I was able to find like-minded parents from other parts of the country and world, and some who, like me, were from the South but looking for a way out of the cycle. I finally found out that not everyone spanks and that there are indeed, different ways to parent that result in happier and healthier children. From these parents I learned that often, not spanking leads to children who will actually talk to you as teenagers instead of shutting you out.
I learned that spanking isn’t the only way. In fact studies have shown that spanking increases the risk that if a child is molested he or she won’t tell. Not to mention the damage that it does to the parent/child relationship. Children put their trust completely in their parents, their love is pure and unadulterated. Spanking kills that, it instills fear where there was once love. The “respect” that it brings is not the respect of one person to another it is the fear of a dictator. As history has taught us the people suppressed by a dictator most often eventually rebel and overthrow. Even when they do not, the dictator is constantly fighting the rebels who have a never ceasing attack against the dictator and his followers.
There are so many options to spanking. Some operate under the gentle discipline form of parenting. Others use tools such as time outs. The best thing to do is to follow your instincts and treat your children as you would like to be treated yourself. Remember that everyone grows older and one day your life and well-being may be dependent on these very individuals that you have so thoughtlessly “punished” today. Show them the courtesy and respect you’ll want to be shown then.