Posted by: babbo | May 23, 2008

Equal Rights for Kids: DON’T HIT!

In a previous post, Tired of Being Exhausted, I touched upon the topic of hitting children (see excerpt to follow). In an effort to advocate for children’s rights, I felt this topic deserved a post of its own.

“If you made a mistake at work, what would you do if you were reprimanded with a spanking by your boss? If he or she took you into their office, bent you over their lap, and spanked the crap out of you? Yes, the sicko’s are probably drooling over this thought  but for the purposes of this blog please disregard any thoughts of your boss being incredibly hot, or any desire some of you might have to be spanked.

Would this be acceptable behavior? Or would you have your boss arrested for assault?”

The answer seems pretty clear. So why would anyone think it’s OK for parents to hit their kids? What makes it acceptable to hit a child? I don’t understand, nor do I see any advantages to hitting when there are plenty of other things you can do to teach a child a lesson other than their taking away their dignity, and yours.

We can reason with them, give them a time out, take away TV, a favorite toy, etc.

Reasoning seems to be the most productive avenue to take (both for the short and long term). It teaches without threatening. But it doesn’t always work, and kids need to know there are consequences if they continue to act out.

But hitting? What does that accomplish, other than stopping the unwanted behavior? Does it address the root of the problem? The child’s frustration, disappointment, fatigue or whatever it might be?

Kids are going to make mistakes. Sometimes they’ll do something bad intentionally, sometimes because they just don’t know any better. But raising children to live in fear of violence & punishment simply creates adults who live in fear. Is that the kind of adult you want to create? One that never fulfills their potential because they’re too afraid of making a mistake and getting punished?

When a child is hit, what have they learned? To refrain from doing something because they’ll be hurt by mom or dad if they do. Wouldn’t you prefer your kids stop doing something because you’ve TAUGHT THEM that it’s wrong? Isn’t it better to help them attain a solid moral base instead of striking them like an animal?

In the effort to stop a behavior for the short term, what long-term damage is being done?

The Hit List

Hitting = violence
Hitting = instilling fear instead of understanding and love
Hitting = creation of resentment
Hitting = disrespecting
Hitting = hurting
Hitting = teaching children to cope through violence, instead of compromise and communication
Hitting = part of a power struggle, it’s all about control
Hitting ≠ teaching (at least not in a positive way)
Hitting ≠ tough love; it is an easy way out for a parent
Hitting ≠ caring

In this battle for control, the child is seeking it and the parent is looking to maintain it. It’s a fine line that is difficult to walk. But at the end of the day how we treat our children is instrumental in who they become as adults. Do you want to create an adult that is successful and strong… or subservient?

The bottom line is that hitting children is wrong. Period.

And remember, you are not alone…

Related links:
Equal Rights for Kids: Don’t Hit, Part 2
Stop Yelling Daddy!
Equal Rights for Kids, Part 1: Let Your Kids Decide


Responses

  1. Let me see if I correctly understand what you said… Hitting and spanking are the same thing? I suppose lovemaking and rape are the same thing, too? After all they look and sound nearly identical to a casual observer. Certainly you are merely parroting some psychobabble summary you heard on Oprah; or are you speaking from your own personal experience?
    If you have recognized issues within yourself that preclude you from the ability to distinguish between hitting and spanking, then “Good on ya” for avoiding crossing the line. But to paint all parents with the brush of one’s own shortcomings? More thoughtful journalism is in order in that case.
    I really am curious how one could hold such a feeling based upon the non-sequiturs you use to support your post’s claim.
    Would your daddy brain be willing to engage my daddy brain on this subject? Not for argument’s sake, but for the sake of your kids. I perceive that you might unknowingly be compromising long-term parenting goals for short-term convenience.
    Seriously, you can’t throw out something as controversial as you did today and not expect to have to support your claims.
    Email me if you prefer to be more private. Let’s commit to enlightening one another about this sensitive subject.

    Blessings

  2. Kevin, thank you for your response. I’d like to address some of your points.

    Yes, I consider hitting and spanking to be the same thing. Is spanking “the same” as a full-fledged beating? No, but beating a child with a hanger & spanking are both still acts of violence. One is just more severe.

    Comparing hitting and spanking to love making & rape seems illogical, and quite a stretch. In the case of spanking & hitting, they are the same! It’s a game of semantics you are playing.

    Obviously rape & love making DO NOT sound the same. Lovemaking is consensual, rape is not. Spanking is not consensual. I don’t know any child that asks to have his ass slapped. It is one person BEATING on another, plain and simple.

    I don’t watch Oprah.

    As far as convenience, I can assure you that taking the extra time, and making the effort to teach my children in a non-violent way is ANYTHING BUT convenient. But they deserve to learn in a way that does not riddle them with shame; that does not teach them that violence is a means to an end.

    My long-term goal, as clearly stated in my post, is to help give my children a solid foundation so they can be healthy, fully functioning, HAPPY adults. To me, hitting does not fit into this equation.

    What do other people think? Where do you stand on this issue?

    Peace,

    Joey

  3. Hey Joey,

    I also responded to the original post about this as well…I agree that most children that I have met do not seem to learn that much from being spanked and the behavior continues. What does this say…well it says that parents may have to find other creative venues to get the behavior of their child in check. I do not believe that parenting through fear is ever a viable option… at the same time…I know that in the most extreme cases of disobedience mt parents gave me a swat and it is something that made me come to attention and see that my parents meant business… so I guess for me, in some situations a swat may assist in getting the point across…though I am not really for it overall… it is definitely hard.

  4. I don’t want to start a debate or tread on anyone elses opinions, and I always feel it is the right of the person alone to choose whatever decisions they make, so as long as they can deal with all repercussions to those actions, whatever they may be.

    With that said, I do believe spanking of any kind is counter-productive to the development of any child at any age. I also believe that there is always a better way to handle any situation, and if the parent would stop for a moment, realize objectively what was going on, there would probably be no reason to spank in the first place, considering it is more of a reflex action to one’s own emotion, and not used as a tool for learning.

    Not to mention, the more it happens and the older the child gets, the less effective the disicipline becomes, thus making it a “thing” to do when a child misbehaves, serving little to no purpose.

    Children will remember tiny moments that may seem trivial retrospectively, but will stay with them for the rest of the lives, ultimately effecting them and their decision making through adulthood. Counter productive spanking is not likely something that will be essential to their development.

  5. Hitting is definitely wrong. Spanking I think is pointless. I raised my kids without hitting or spanking them. We used “time outs” to correct behavior. They are now teens, and very happy, healthy, social. Other parents and adults often comment how well adjusted my kids are, how great it is that my kids will talk to adults and have something to say, how my kids don’t have teen angst or anger issues – all of this even though their mom and I are divorced. I attribute it to us respecting our kids as people while we raised them. Spanking is pointless. Hitting is wrong.

  6. I’ll respectfully disagree. Spanking was an integral part of our discipline process. It wasn’t the basis of what we were doing, but it was an important element, especially done properly. I hestitate to comment on this, not because it’s such a sensitive subject, but because it’s not something easily handled in a small space.

    Of course, “properly” is problematic and the tendency is to assume “you” are doing it right. Let me be clear; I was spanked as a child but it was often done in anger and we learned how far we could push it with my parents before they were angry enough to spank. Sure, we learned some right and wrong, but we also learned just how much we could get away with. That is not what my wife and I wanted for our daughters.

    From the time a baby is born, his or her focus is on getting what it wants. She doesn’t “reason” about this; but she exerts her will to be fed, to be changed, to be with mom, to be allowed to sleep. This is natural and acceptable. The infant’s will grows stronger, and does so faster than his capacity to reason: “I want” is easier to grasp than “If I do this it will make extra work for other people” and selfishness becomes more ingrained.

    We stressed first time obedience with our kids from the time they were toddlers. That means they had to do what they were told the first time, not wait until Mom or Dad said it the third or the fifth time. (This requires discipline from the parent as well as the child; perhaps more!) Correction had to be sure and consistent, and the consequences direct. Minor pain is effective when part of a comprehensive process. You do not get angry, yell, whack ‘em and leave them crying and assume you’ve accomplished anything except to vent.

    When discipline was required we would take the child to a separate room, making sure that we (my wife or I) had first exerted our own self-control so as not to be angry. We would calmly explain the infraction (at an age-appropriate level), cite why it was wrong (tied to the 10 Commandments or a Biblical principle) and why we wanted them to know the difference, and that there are many consequences of misbehavior, some of which can be catastropic. We would then demonstrate a relatively minor, but clear, consequence (generally 1-3 swats, always with a switch, never a hand and always on the rump, never on the hands, arms or in the face). We would then hold them as they cried, and talk about how God made a way for us to get right with Him when we’ve disobeyed, and we would pray together as they asked for forgiveness and we would tell them how much we loved them and how much we hoped for the best for them (just like God). Everyone would be smiling and back to normal by the time it was over, a process that could take 20-30 minutes. Also, that particular incident would never be mentioned again; once it was dealt with it was over.

    One immediate benefit was that if I told my daughter not to run out in the road when she was chasing around with some other kids, she would stop when I said “stop” while the others continued into harm’s way.

    No, it wasn’t easy or convenient but putting the time in early soon got the message and the expectation across and greatly eliminated the need for such discipline later. I knew my youngest had the proper understanding when she was 3 and committed an infraction. I told her we were going to have to have a spank and to go to her room where I would soon join her. All the way down the hall she was crying, saying, “I don’t want a spanking” but nevertheless going to her room and assuming her position next to the bed. As so often happened, she couldn’t wait to get through the discipline and repentence part so she could get to the restoration. We seldom had to spank or correct our children after age 3 or 4. They knew the value of what we were telling them and the reasons for why things were right or wrong and could act accordingly and with concern and empathy for others.

    Restoration is the key. I think if you send a child to her room for a timeout, or take something away, they grow bitter and will stew during their time of punishment about Dad, that “big dumb, dummy-head and why can’t I get my way.” They’re not sorry they did what they did, they’re sorry they got caught.

    Ultimately, while we wanted obedience, we also wanted them to learn the proper way to accept correction, realizing that this would save them a lot of trouble later with teachers, bosses and, of course, God. I see a lot of instances today of young people and adults who never learned how to accept correction. Today my daughters (one an adult the other a teen) are stars, respected and appreciated by employers and sought out by adults for fun activities. They are both extremely creative and fun to be around and conduct themselves with wisdom and empathy. Could it have happened without spanking? Perhaps, but I wouldn’t go back and change a thing.

  7. Hello Night Writer.

    I’d like to thank you for the time and thought you put into your comment. What I find most interesting is that your response (and the way you raise your children) is very thought out and not coming from a place of emotion or ego. Some other people who have posted on this topic seemed pretty enraged and defensive.

    Although I do not agree with spanking, I do agree that teaching our children right from wrong is fundamental. Personally, I do not want them to refrain from doing something because they fear a toy or TV show being taken away (or in your case fear a spanking). They need to understand the repercussions of their actions. They need to understand why something shouldn’t be done.

    I commend you for making the process a learning experience where it appears your children always felt loved.

    All we can do is what we feel is best for our kids. I do struggle with ways in which to discipline my boys. My older, 4, can usually be reasoned with unless he’s very tired. My younger boy, 2, is definitely more of a challenge.

    Spanking could cause the same harboring of bad feelings as any other form of punishment. So I don’t think it is a problem-free alternative. Instead of “that dumb dummy-dad took away my Speed Racer toy,” they’ll be saying “that dumb dummy-dad hit me and it hurt!”

    Anyway, we could go on for days about this.

    Thank you again for your comment.

    Peace,

    babbo

  8. You’re welcome, babbo

    I think the key to any discipline, as I touched on, is the restoration part. Whether time-out, with-holding a toy, or spanking, there needs to be the time when the child knows s/he is loved and restored to fellowship with the parent with no further repurcussion or hard-feelings. When my parents spanked me, I often felt as if what I did was still being held against me even well after the fact. I was usually left alone to cry it out after the spanking (and I was never hit or slapped).

    As a Christian, I use the model of God the Father who forgives and restores us when we repent. Taking my daughter through the stages I outlined keeps the process foremost in her mind and she can look forward to the love at the end. Obviously, the point isn’t to beat or terrorize her, but make a vivid but non-scarring or life-threatening object lesson that she can continue to apply as she grows older. The fact is there are unpleasant consequences as you get older from not doing right, whether from a spouse, an employer or the State. Some are physical and others affect our well-being or finances. Spiritually, God will also seek to correct us (not in a lightning and plagues manner, but in inner conviction or by permitting the natural consequences – legal or otherwise – to come into our lives). Instilling a knowledge of and love for what’s right is an important part of the discipline process but just as important – since we’re all going to mess up at times – is to let my children know and experience the forgiveness from God through Jesus so they’ll know they can receive that at any time and any age.

    As a parent, part of the reward for this is having my daughters come to me on their own to confess when they did something wrong before I found out about it, just so they could get the yucky feeling out of their lives. It happens!

    Finally, as children get older, corporal punishment becomes less effective or even desireable. You’re getting into bigger issues of will and rebellion then and the spanking does become more of a punishment and less of an object lesson. I think we all, regardless of age, can use some correction at times (especially when we know what we’re doing is wrong but we do it anyway) – but what we all NEED is restoration!

    Peace to you as well -


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