Mom Confession: I Will Never Spank My Children

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Mom Confession: I will never spank my children
Love taps, that’s what I hear people call them sometimes.

Oh, it’s nothing, just a little smack on the behind. He doesn’t understand anything else. Spanking stops the problem in the moment. It isn’t really hurting her.

Momma, I know you’re doing your best. But I wish you could look into the heart of that child you’re handling so roughly, and see that it’s not helping.

It’s our job as parents to mold these delicate pieces of clay, not throw them into the furnace before they’re ready. 

Nearly two decades ago (1998) the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) looked at the research and wrote a joint statement discouraging parents from spanking their children. Then in 2017, they updated their policy, now recommending that parents do not spank their children at all.

Child in corner Mom confession: time outStudies conducted in the 1990’s discovered that spanking is no more effective than a non-violent form of punishment such as a time-out. When you think about it, social isolation is a better teacher anyway.

If you won’t share your toys, others won’t want to play with you rings truer to real world interactions than, If you won’t let your brother play with your toys, someone will strike you

In fact, corporal punishment can confuse and frighten a child so much that they don’t understand the lesson at all. It isn’t too surprising that spanking actually backfires when used in an attempt to curb aggressive behaviors.

The number one reason my parents spanked me was for hitting my sister. I understand why they did it—when one of my children is too rough with the other one it makes me so angry I struggle to control myself, too.

But now, as an adult, I do control myself. Because that’s what I’m trying to model for my children, self-control. Scientifically speaking, it’s more challenging for me not to spank my children than for people who were not spanked as children. It makes perfect sense—being spanked as a child is shown to lower impulse control and of course we model the parenting styles we’re shown.

And I hope all of you who were spanked (roughly 70% if you’re a Millennial like me) turned out fine. I’m gonna show you my heart and tell you that I’m not fine. I’ve healed my childhood wounds, but maybe acknowledging this one is a way for me to fade the scar. 

I fit the profile for someone psychologically affected by spanking. My self-esteem fluctuates wildly with my most recent accomplishments (and failures). It takes me a long time to trust other people, especially if they remind me of past situations where I felt powerless.

Just the fact that I sometimes feel the impulse to spank my children—knowing everything I know about the damage it does—breaks my heart.

Generational curses are hard to break, because we have to acknowledge that the people who love us didn’t do everything perfectly. But it’s not their fault, seriously. They didn’t have access to the same information that we have now. And just like no one would slap on a fresh coat of lead-based paint in a nursery, we need to stop spanking our children.

Even if it means doing the hard work of acknowledging that we are not fine. That we can love and respect our parents and still raise our children differently.

Boy in Time outWe have a motto in our house: no one hits you, and you don’t hit anyone.

Please consider adopting it for your family, even if you have spanked in the past. You can always choose to change your mind! 

Please, look at the overwhelming research which shows spanking does damage to your child. In addition to increasing aggressive behavior, spanking is also associated with more mental health problems, low self-esteem, and a negative relationship between the child and the parent. 

I know you wouldn’t read this if you didn’t truly, deeply love your child.

But then ask yourself what message spanking sends them: that the people who love you most will sometimes physically hurt you?

Please don’t think I’m pretending to be perfect. I raise my voice sometimes without meaning to, I hurt feelings that I didn’t notice were already tender.

Another thing I tell my kids is: We all make mistakes. Because I’m not here to show them how to be perfect, I’ll never accomplish that. I’m here to show them how to say they’re sorry, move on, and do better going forward.

Talk to your pediatrician about corporal punishment and alternative methods. Our generation knows better. We can do better, too.


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