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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