My mission today is to look at this misconception that “physical discipline” and lack of “fear” of parents by kids is to blame for all of the violence within society. That younger generations no longer respect the sanctity of life because they never had fear of theirs put into them by their parents. I’ve seen what I think, is this alarming opinion being shared across the internet. I’m going to be more blunt than usual, and tell you that I believe that is a load of BS. Don’t stop reading! I am not degrading anyone’s parenting style or denying that kids who were spanked growing up or given the belt did not grow into exceptional adults and parents themselves. I’m only going to share an alternative. An alternative that I was lucky enough to grow up with. An alternative that is by no means easier, but I believe, more effective. An alternative that requires parents and children to think, feel, and decide how they want to act.
I am 28 years old. Old enough to be raised in a time when parents could get away with more than they can now. I grew up in a household with 2 parents (thankfully) and 4 other brothers (madness most of the time). I cannot remember a single time in my life that I was hit by a parent. Or a single time that any of my brothers were. This includes the widely accepted spanking. Not a single time. Believe me, it was not because we didn’t deserve it.
Instead my parents employed on us from a very young age a strategy that involved us thinking, and considering the toll of what we did wrong may have had on the other person. I remember many instances of deep penetrating eye contact with my parents after I made a mistake. Many hours of conversation discussing what I could have done better (most times when I would’ve preferred a spanking just to get it over with). This strategy was not easy for my parents. It requires much more patience than a swat on the head.
For instance, when I was young we lived on a busy road. While being babysat I decided to go out in the front yard and get the attention of the cars driving by with some juvenile gestures. Once my parents heard about this, instead of hitting me, they sent me to shovel pea stone for a couple hours. Reminding me to think about how I was representing the family with those gestures.
Another example of this is when my older brother and I got into a fight in the kitchen. Like any set of brothers fist fights or wrestling was common. However, this time I was sick of getting beat up by him so I employed a weapon. I hit him right on the back with a broomstick. He fell to the floor and before he could regain himself and potentially murder me, my mom interjected. He and I had been squabbling pretty badly for the last week. Finally, she had enough. She sent us out near that same busy road to hold hands and look at each other in the eyes while saying ten nice things about the other. It was the most embarrassing, but effective parenting tactic I’ve seen employed. I will never forget that day.
Again, this is not a judgement on those who applied/apply a little physical reprimand on their kids. It is a call to consider alternatives. It is a request to STOP with the opinion that current kids need more physical discipline in their lives. Perhaps the current state of our youth can’t be explained by something so simple as a lack of spanking. Just as I believe spanking requires less effort than real emotional connection. I also believe that blaming societies current state on such shallow ideas is an injustice to our youth.