Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Explain it to me
Today's NHBPM prompt is to write about something taboo. I believe this fits the bill.
I am writing this with full knowledge that this is a highly sensitive and often polarizing topic for many parents (and people in general). I have no desire to offend anyone. But I, truly, do not understand.
Why is it okay to hit our children? Explain it to me.
Why are a a tap or a pop or quick slap on the bottom acceptable? Why are these locations okay, but no where else? Where is the line that differentiates between spanking and hitting? Or is it just semantics? Explain it to me.
Why is it okay to use your body (or an implement) to attempt to change a child's behavior? And where is the line between what's acceptable to use, and what crosses some imaginary line? Is, as the old law said, anything smaller in diameter than your thumb okay? So, then, is it alright for my husband to use something bigger than what I'm allowed to use, you know, because his hands are bigger? Explain it to me.
What is it about the relationship we have with our children that gives us permission to hit them? Is it okay to do so with a spouse? Is okay with your subordinate at work? Is it okay for a police officer? Is it okay with someone else's child? Explain it to me.
Where is the line between spanking and abuse? In my state, line between legal and illegal is leaving a mark. But what constitutes a mark? Is it a mark if it turns red for a moment but is gone a minute later...15 minutes later...2 hours later...a day later? Does it cross the line when the same exact action that causes a mark on your child, leaves no visible one on my brown-skinned boys? Explain it to me.
Does it really matter if you spank your child in anger or when you're calm? It is scarier for a child to be hit by a parent who loses her cool and does so out of anger, or by a perfectly calm and seemingly rational adult who knows exactly what she's doing? Explain it to me.
Why is it that you having been spanked growing up and now being a healthy, functioning adult justifies spanking? There are many things that happen to us as children (parental substance use, death of parents, molestation, etc...) that we don't say are "okay" just because we survived them. And we certainly would never say that it would be okay to perpetuate those patterns with our children. Why is spanking different? Explain it to me.
There are many things in life I don't understand. But our societal belief that it is acceptable, and at times expected that we hit our children is at the absolute top of my list. Explain it to me.
Today's Lesson: In my professional and personal experience and opinion, corporal punishment teaches children that it is permissible and acceptable for bigger people to exert control over smaller people, and that using our bodies in a violent way is an acceptable way to get others to do what we want them to do. Physical discipline does not help activate a child's internal locus of control. It instead teaches a child to be behave only when the parent is watching. Spanking does not teach a child to respect his parents. It teaches her to fear them. And the two are not at all the same thing. One is necessary (respect). The other is not (fear).