March 7th, 2013 § 1 Comment
My Mom sent us to fetch a stick for a spanking. By the way, don’t ever do that: It’s rough enough getting a spanking; don’t make ’em look for the instrument. Don’t make ’em dig their own grave. I was digging around in the closet looking for the most benign “rod”. “Hmm … too thick. Nope. Too thin; whipping effect. Mmm … nah, heavy.” My brother, who has always been much better at “facing the music” got tired of the search and grabbed the squared off stick. “Hey, hey, no no no, not that one. That one’s got edges man.” He walked right past me, and my sniveling protest with a look that said, “Let’s get this thing over with.”
Those edges sure hurt. And they left a mark. Years later my Mom told us about how she was chastised by my Dad for being too harsh. My Dad! Yeah, correcting my Mom for being too harsh. You think you know a guy …
I tell this story to illustrate an important point: For a parent, it’s not just about the what; it’s also very much about the how.
So, here’s a run down on how we went about it. Please do not read this as the “right way” to discipline your child. Like I’ve said before, every child is different, each family unique. You have to figure this out. This is an offering of how one family went about it.
We did not use our hands, not even the slap on the wrist. We decided that they had to feel it without even the remotest chance of injury. Something with some weight, but not too heavy; something hard, but rounded. In the end we went with a good sized, rolled up magazine, taped with packing tape.
Once the decision was made to spank, we escorted them to the same spot in the house. This did two things: 1. Reminded us of procedure 2. Gave us time to cool off. Once we got to the spot, we took a moment to assess whether we were at the risk of administering the spanking in anger. If we were, we left them at the spot to go cool off some more. (This happened a few times, but amidst their cry for mercy, our anger subsided quickly in most cases)
Before spanking, we took a moment to ask them if they understood why they were getting spanking. We had them tell us why they were getting one. On the occasion when they did not know, we told them. After we saw that they understood, we spanked them.
It was important for us to move through this Pre-spank routine as quickly as possible. Of course without compromising the steps. We felt that the anticipation was worse than the spanking itself, so we tried to minimize their time in it.
We held them by the upper arm, asked them to look away, and gave one, firm swat to the bottom. We thought one was enough to get the point across. And firm because the whole thing would be meaningless unless they felt it.
After the spanking, we re-affirmed our love for them. Communicated that though it is difficult for us to do, that it is our responsibility in love to discipline them. We briefly reviewed what led to a spanking, and taught them to make an apology. After accepting, we embraced. Once we left the spot, we treated them as though they had not done any wrong. It was forgotten. Often within minutes, we were back to laughter.
Finally, we determined that we would not spank beyond the age seven. With our three kids, it was mostly tapered off around five. Our reasoning was twofold: 1. We wanted the effects without the memory of it 2. At a certain age, spanking becomes humiliating – leading to anger.
Fathers, instilling discipline in your child is your job. It certainly encompasses more than teaching right and wrong, introducing them to the concept of consequences. It’s a long, demanding part of our job, so much so that it is tempting to neglect it. I urge you not abdicate the seat of responsibility that only you are able to occupy. If you do not, someone else will. And that someone will not love your child the way you do.