With the Pope’s recent comments about spanking in mind ~ he says it’s okay to spank children, as long as it’s done with dignity ~ I thought I would give my two cents about how discipline has evolved since my childhood. But first, a little background.
My parents believed in spanking. Just ask my brother. If we stepped out of line, we knew what was coming. How many times did my mother spank me? Once. Why? Because that one time was enough for me to know what would happen if I pushed the boundaries. After that spanking, all it took was “the look” from my parents and my sister and I both knew it was time to quit. Unfortunately, my brother never really learned when to quit.
By the time it was my turn to be a parent, things had changed. I admit to spanking my kiddos a couple of times in their lives, but I quickly decided that I wasn’t okay with that form of discipline. Furthermore, my kiddos never needed spanking because, for the most part, they behaved ~ apart from the usual sibling squabbles, of course.
Regardless of one’s parental attitudes, I firmly believe in the right to choose how we discipline our children. Every child is different and what works for one family may not work for another. My parents had more power than I have. They did what they thought was best for my siblings and me. How they disciplined us may not have always been the right or wrong or best way but they did what they did without the fear of being challenged. We, as parents in today’s world, have a lot more to worry about when it comes to disciplining our kids.
For example: if the kids of my generation cursed, we got a mouth full of soap as punishment. If we didn’t eat the food that was on our plates, we didn’t eat, even if that meant going to bed without dinner. If we were disrespectful of our parents, we had to suffer the consequences. In today’s world, if my daughter had her mouth “washed out with soap” because she dropped an f-bomb, it would be all over social media and “go viral”. I would probably get a visit from CPS, wondering what was going on. The same with sending my daughter to bed without her dinner ~ if she took to social media and exaggerated the fact that she went to bed “starving”, CPS would pay me a visit to find out why I wasn’t feeding her. I have never put soap in my daughter’s mouth nor have I sent her to bed without her dinner but, the point is, how are we supposed to ensure that our children learn the same values we learned if we are fearful of raising them the same way our parents raised us?
I believe that, when our power [to wash our children’s mouth out with soap for cussing or send them to bed without dinner because they refuse to eat what’s on their plate] got taken away, doing so created bigger problems. Because we still have the same problems with our children cussing, refusing to eat and being disrespectful to us but we now also have to watch how we now deal with those problems. Nowadays, everything has the potential to be “abuse” until it’s investigated further and determined to be abuse or not and, in the meantime, good names are ruined, regardless. We, as a society, can’t have things both ways ~ we can’t have our power to discipline our children taken away and still be expected to raise well-rounded adults who have a sense of morals. When our options are limited out of fear, don’t be surprised by the fact that we are merely protecting ourselves from the possibility of false accusations put out there by an angry child who wants revenge for not getting what s/he wants.
Perhaps Pope Francis (who I happen to think is the most awesome Pope ever) is, in his own way, trying to help us parents take back some of our power. Every parent should have the power to choose how to raise their children. Not everyone believes in spanking. Not everyone believes in the gentler approach. Whatever we, as parents, believe or practice, as far as discipline is concerned…whatever we, as parents, choose to pass on from the lessons, mannerisms or morals that our parents taught us, we should be able to do without fear of repercussions. Normal parenting practices shouldn’t be challenged. Save the investigations and resources for such children who are truly in abusive situations.
Thank you for listening. Your comments are welcome.