This is a loaded topic, and possibly one I should be steering clear of. People tend to feel very strongly about their views, and it’s easy to offend someone unintentionally. But as it’s come up in the comment section of my blog recently, I thought I’d address the subject.
First off, let me state that the kind of spanking I write about, the kind of spanking I fantasize about, is purely of the adult variety. Meaning even if there is age-play involved (one person pretending to be a child or being treated like one), it’s understood to be between two (or more) consenting adults.
I understand that people have fantasies based on being punished when they were children, and sometimes they discuss/write about those experiences. I have read (and enjoyed) series which were about boys or girls who were disciplined by an adult figure in their lives, and as long as it was clear the interest was purely parental (i.e., not sexual), then I have no problem with that. I also realize other people write sexual stories about younger-than-adult individuals being disciplined — I am not going to pass judgment on them but I personally don’t have any interest in those types of stories or fantasies.
Regarding the subject of disciplining children, whether one’s own or in a classroom situation, I feel the issue is not at all black and white. I always feel impatient when I read people posting things like “they should bring back paddling in schools” or “if more parents spanked their children there would be less problems with youth today.” It even bugs me when I read posts on how Lindsay Lohan would be straightened out if someone just took her over their knee, etc. While I totally understand the frustration and the desire to dissipate that frustration with a good walloping, the fact is that IT WOULDN’T WORK.
I don’t mean it wouldn’t work because “violence is never the answer.” I don’t necessarily feel “spanking in any form is harmful violence.” It totally depends on the context and the individuals involved. (And btw, when I say “spanking” I am referring to an open-handed swat, on the buttocks or thigh, which is very limited in intensity and done more to gain attention and reinforce a strong statement. I’m not talking about whaling on someone with a belt.) Do I believe you can raise a happy, well-adjusted and well-behaved child without ever spanking her? Definitely. Do I believe you can also raise a happy, well-adjusted and well-behaved child if you have to give her a pop on the rear once or twice? Yes, I do.
I happen to believe the key to raising a happy, well-adjusted and well-behaved child doesn’t depend on whether you spank her or not. It depends on providing a host factors, and discipline is only one of them. Furthermore, “discipline” doesn’t always mean spanking or yelling or even time out. Consistency and limits are more important than how harsh a punishment is applied. Paying attention to a child’s needs (and this is NOT the same as making your life revolve around your child, which I believe is harmful) is vital. Studies have shown even negative attention is better than no attention at all in regards to a child’s self-esteem. But positive attention is obviously the best, and people shouldn’t have children if they’re not prepared to spend the time necessary to raise them right.
Setting a good example is more important than endless rules and lecturing. The best way to teach a child to respect others is to show her respect in how you treat her, and demonstrate respect in how you treat others. I had a friend say to me once, “I never respect elders automatically…they have to EARN my respect.” Well, I don’t agree with this either. I believe that every human being should be accorded respect automatically, unless they demonstrate they don’t deserve it. And I come from a culture that accords respect to elders, because they usually have gained wisdom simply by the fact of being on this earth longer.
I’m not saying everyone who is older is wiser — of course there are idiots in every age group. And if someone treats you badly, regardless of their age, you should try to avoid them. But the simple act of living takes fortitude and courage from all of us, and since we never know what other people are going through or have gone through, we should respect their experience…unless we’re shown otherwise.
Giving your child love and support and reinforcing her sense of self-worth is extremely important. But so is teaching her manners and patience and how to deal with setbacks. We’re not doing our children any favors by giving in to them because we want to be liked, or to be their friends. If we truly love them, we will do everything in our power to make sure they grow up to be independent and self-reliant and able to deal with the tough times. If we truly love them, we will make sure they grow into likeable people, rather than spoiled brats, because life is a lot harder when everyone hates you.
We need to be stern when necessary, loving whenever possible, and dependable. Kids want and need limits — even when they rebel they need to know you will be consistent and firm. They need to know their actions have consequences — both positive and negative. Because that’s the way the world works, and the sooner we teach them that the more successful they will be in negotiating it.
If you love your children you will teach them to appreciate all they have to be grateful for, big and small things, because it will make their lives that much richer. You will teach them to laugh, because the whole reason for us to be here is to have joy in our existence. And you will teach them to have compassion, because that is the way to evolve into our highest selves.
You can raise a successful adult with or without spanking. But you can’t raise one if you don’t provide a safe, consistent, loving environment. The bottom line (pun not intended)? For the most part, I think spanking works best between adults who enjoy it. But if you are going to discuss spanking children, then there’s a whole lotta other stuff that should come up in the dialog first.