written with guest blogger Paida Chikate
It had been an hour since the 6pm lights had come on – they signaled the end of my play time. That meant I was late, for the second time that week. I guess I was subconsciously testing my limits and I was sure I would get away with it again this time. But as soon as I walked into the house, I felt a kind of peace that I had never felt before – the calm before the spanking. Suddenly, my mother’s palm greeted my face so hard that I felt it when she peeled it off, like a handprint in a mold of clay. There were no words after that, just a paralyzed look on a young girl’s face. From that day on, I was home at 5.30pm. Who knows, her watch could be 30 minutes ahead! Better safe than sorry. No, better safe than spanked!
The above is a true account of one of the many spankings that I received growing up in Zimbabwe. In our household, that was the punishment for bad behavior. As a former student in the American educational system, I have come across a number of people who are not in support of the spanking of children. They prefer the “time-out” method, which entails sending a child to his/her room after he/she has done something wrong so that they can think about what they have done. The parent also gets a chance to ‘cool down,’ before explaining to the child how or why what they have done is upsetting. Many parents and parents-to-be swear by this method of discipline.
Personally, I highly doubt that I would be the person I am today had it not been for many a spanking. But people still go so far as saying that spanking is child abuse, and that everyone should use other, far more effective ways. I agree that there are many ways to raise a child, but this is one that I believe works when used correctly, and when done out of love. I really believe this because I know that all my mother and father do is love me and they would not intentionally hurt me. I can actually say that they spanked me out of love. Likewise, my children will be spanked when they are naughty. I turned out pretty well myself, and I think they will too.
I know many people will still disagree, so the following are responses to a few of the concerns that they usually have (including some questions that they do not ask).
1. What is spanking ?
In this case it means all forms of physical discipline – hands, a belt, a plastic ruler, etc.
2. How often is it done?
I can recall two cases in my life, but there were probably a few more. It does not have to be done often if done right.
3. Is it not child abuse?
I was spanked as a child, but even then I still knew kids who were abused by their parents. I won’t insult those kids by claiming that I was abused. It’s as insulting as saying you grew up poor because you never went on vacations.
4. Does it work?
Yes, it works if done right, and I think I turned out alright. (Many people who support time-out also admit that spanking only doesn’t work IF not done properly).
5. Are you not teaching your children to be violent?
I think there are far more effective ways to teach your children to be violent. The American Psychological Association defines violence as an extreme form of aggression. I don’t think slapping the hand of a child when she is about to place it in a fire is violence.
6. Spanking causes a child to fear his/her parent.
Most people who say this were either never spanked as kids, or they were abused by their parents. For people who were actually spanked properly, this is one of the most ridiculous of things. Yes, you fear doing something wrong. That doesn’t mean you live in fear of your parents – unless of course you ALWAYS want to do something wrong.
7. Aren’t there better ways?
For me, no. Not only is spanking a great deterrent for bad behavior, it also teaches respect for authority. True story.
8. How do you know when to stop, or how much is too much?
If you’re teaching a child how to play a sport, or a musical instrument, or how to do a school assignment, can you tell if you’re pushing too much? Well then, same applies to spanking.
9. Isn’t spanking a bit primitive and old-fashioned?
Until they create a laser belt, or a belt that plays jazz music, it will remain primitive and old-fashioned.
10. At what age do you stop spanking?
The frequency drops dramatically with age. It usually stops completely by the mid teens. Of course, I’ve heard 20 year olds getting spanked, but that was at college parties.
So there you have it. Most people who are against spanking have the wrong idea of what spanking looks like. All they see is a big, menacing, angry parent shouting at the top of her voice and mercilessly destroying a child’s behind with a cowboy whip everyday of the week, or this:
Now this is shameful.