Monday, August 20, 2012

Still Crying: Why I Don't Spank

This post is from a reader named Elizabeth.

I was spanked as a child and it taught me a lot. I remember one particular incident very vividly, even now, more than thirty years later. I remember screaming and running in fear from my mother, who was chasing me through the house with a wooden spoon. I remember weighing up whether I was more afraid of the dark, more afraid of running outside without permission, more afraid of running onto the road – but I was most afraid of my mother. I remember that she grabbed me around the wrist and I fell to my knees in terror. I remember saying that I was sorry, that I would never do it again. I remember that she brought down the wooden spoon on the back of my legs hard enough to break it. I remember screaming and crying until my throat was sore.

What I do NOT remember is why. I do not remember what the lesson was, what the reason for the spanking was, or what it was that I was promising never to do again. Whatever the reason, it was lost in the overwhelming fear, stress and pain of the moment.

I do not want them to have these memories, or to learn to flee in fear from me. I want to teach them, not terrify them. Most of all, I want them to know WHY. Not just to look both ways before crossing the street because I will spank them if they don’t. I want to feed their natural empathy with others, not whip them into mannered automatons.

I remember very clearly being spanked. I remember what I learned from it. This is why I choose not to spank my own children.

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  1. crazy enough, this is almost my exact memory. except insert a belt, another sibling and a a locked door. i do remember the infraction however, and it was an infraction i never committed and i don't know who ever did it, and today there isn't even evidence. apparently someone had drawn dots on the corner wall in blue/red crayon/colored pencil. faint almost unnoticble dots. and we were taken into the room. and confronted, told to fess up by mom, and neither of us would fess. and honestly i DIDN"T DO IT which is why i didn't fess up. and i got whooped. well she grabbed me first then my brother and i ran and scrambled to unlock the door and i just remember hiding in the closet so i wouldn't get spanked. (new big house). i remember the fear and the rage inside me and my supressing it, i remember the fear and the screaming and the upset. so yeah. i've been there before. you aren't alone. and i agree we shouldn't spank children

  2. I didn't have this exact experience, but I was spanked. I remember the fear, terror, and anxiety. It was always a solemn occasion, with the parent sitting there, outlining what I had done wrong, then wrapping it up with "and you're going to get a spanking". I can't remember any of the infractions, but I can sure remember the fear and that awful feeling when I would try to say I was sorry and it wasn't good enough, or when I would try to protect my sore bottom from more blows, only to have them order me to move my hands out of the way. I can still feel it to this day, physically and emotionally. I'm 32.

  3. I had the exact same experience with my mother. I fled in terror, she had a wooden spoon, she hit me so hard it broke. And like you, I cannot remember a thing about what started it. But the memory doesn't fade. My trust in my mother is very weak. While I do not think she would hit her grandchildren, I don't trust her enough to chance it.