A recent study published in The Canadian Medical Association Journal has brought the hot topic of spanking to our news stations, Facebook, and Twitter. There are polls asking if spanking should be illegal in Canada. There are quotes and facts being passed around and opinions given freely. So, I am jumping in to The Spank Debate today and I'm going to tell you why I used to be pro-spank and how I became anti-spank. More importantly I am going to lay out the desperate need for parental education as opposed to legislation.
Why I Was Pro-Spank
I was born the first child of a young couple in their early 20's. Although I have a lot of memories that involve spanking I grew up very confident of my parents love. My dad was most often the disciplinarian of the family and he would always sit with us after a spanking and tell us that he loved us. By the time my brothers came around, six and nine years after I was born, Dad had matured in his parenting and discipline beliefs and switched from using a belt to using a soft-sided ping pong paddle. He also set a limit of 3 swats and always on the butt.
So, I grew up thinking that in order for kids to be well-behaved they needed to be spanked. It's how good parenting was done.
How I Became Anti-Spank
In 2010, at the age of 35, a tiny human was laid naked in my arms. His blue eyes gazed up at me and my heart was forever knit with his. As my husband and I spent the next few months getting to know our new son we started talking about how we, who had always been Pro-Spank people, were suddenly feeling like we never wanted to hit our kid. I started seeking out information on effective discipline for each stage of life. Of course, the only discipline needed in the first year was self-discipline and as long as I kept a simple schedule of sleep, eat and play all was well in our world. Meanwhile, my Anti-Spank ideas were becoming more concrete. It was a combination of educating myself about the possible negative long-term effects, common sense and this intense love for my child.
Then my tiny human became a little monster and I was blindsided by feelings of frustration that were just as intense as my feelings of love. Parenting is not the romantic picture that I thought it was. Not that I thought it would be easy, I just didn't think that it would be a nightmare. I had over 5 years of experience as a Nanny and I knew that there would be rough days. I didn't know that those days could last for weeks. I knew that my child wouldn't be an angel and would need consistent discipline of some sort. I didn't know that I would feel like I just might lose my mind.
I didn't know that sometimes I would really want to spank him. This is what has firmly put me on the Anti-Spank side of The Spank Debate. I have realized that spanking, for me, would be the easy way out, and it would always stem from me being angry that I couldn't control someone who I thought should be controlled.
Some of the best moments of parenting, laughing with your child.
Education Vs. Legislation
Last week after a really tough morning of mothering a toddler I threw up my hands and said, "I am not equipped for this!" Then I got in the shower and cried. It is easy to be firm in my stance as an Anti-Spanker but it is not so easy to figure out what works instead. There are no easy answers! This is why I think education and support networks for parents is what we really need to be looking at and discussing.
I don't think the question should be about making spanking illegal. The question should be how can we encourage intentional parenting. We should be pushing education about why spanking is detrimental. We should be talking about the 80 studies that show violence and bullying being linked to spanking. We should be talking about stress, anxiety and other long-term effects that spanking has on children. And most importantly we should be equipping parents with other tools. We should be talking about how to develop support networks for parents who feel like they are at the end of their rope. It is not enough to legislate, we need to educate or parents will continue to spank.
I would love to hear your thoughts! Comment here, add your blog to the Blog Hop, and join the conversation on Twitter. #TheSpankDebate