To Spank or Not To Spank: That Is The Question ...by Bill Knell
Like most parents I struggled with the dilemma of spanking when my first child came along. I read a lot of material on the subject and even took parenting classes along with my wife. Both of us were motivated by a desire to do what was best for our child. After all that, we were still split between the two schools of thought concerning punishment for children. Should I spank or not? The answer did not come easy and my wife and I decided it should be a personal decision for both of us.
I considered a lot of things in making my decision. On the one side, there are those who say that spanking is a temporary and unsatisfactory measure to alter a child's behavior that seriously affects their self-esteem and personal growth. On the other side, there were the traditional and religious arguments that say things like 'spare the rod and spoil the child.' More than a few people from the spanking side of the argument believe that any parent who doesn't spank is a coward that is going against the natural order of things. They claim spanking helps to break a child's will and make him or her more obedient.
There were always stories in the media about extreme cases of spanking or corporal punishment that caused a child to be injured or even killed. In almost every case the parents were obsessed with the notion that there kids were bad, evil or just naturally disobedient. I couldn't see myself or my wife ever taking spanking to that kind of a physical extreme, but hearing about those incidents brought to mind my own childhood experiences of being spanked.
I have been told that it is unwise to use your own youthful trials and tribulations as a consideration or deciding factor in how you will parent and raise your children. Despite that unwritten rule, I couldn't help but recall what spanking meant to me. It didn't happen very often, but I did get spanked a few times and those experiences were memorable. The first spanking I can remember happened when I was in first grade. We had a substitute teacher on one occasion that, for whatever reason, truly hated me.
The teacher kept calling out my name all day. She said I was talking or doing something else wrong and that just wasn't true. In fact, I was the quiet kid who barely spoke a word all day and never got in trouble with anyone. Despite my objections, she called my mother on the phone and reported her version of my evil behavior during that school day. My mother believed her and decided to correct my actions with a spanking.
When I got home, she made me drop my pants down to my bare bottom. After I bent over a bench, she proceeded to spank me in a very painful way that brought me to tears. I remember that incident like it happened yesterday. It did not cause me to have low self-esteem because I didn't do anything to deserve the spanking. It did cause me great physical and emotional pain, and much embarrassment. I had no brothers or sisters and was very shy. I did not like removing my clothes for anyone, including my parents.
My mother was in no mood to listen to my side of the story, but I decided that she needed to hear it anyway. After I told her my version of things, she dragged me up to the school to see if the substitute was still there. My mother made it clear that if I was lying, another spanking was coming in my immediate future.
The substitute was still in my classroom finishing up some paper work when my mother and I walked in. She smiled and put on a real show for my mom. She stuck to her story about my behavior and was as convincing a liar as I have ever met anytime in my life. As we walked out of the classroom door, I could already feel the fear of the pain and embarrassment that my next spanking would bring. Instead, God delivered an angel to rescue me in the form of a classmate named Maureen.
Maureen was quiet and I always thought that she was a lot like me. On the day of the spanking incident she just happened to be sitting near the entrance to the school with her mother. They were waiting for someone to pick them up. As I passed by Maureen, she could see that I was upset. I was really surprised when she spoke up and asked if I was alright. Once my mother realized she was a classmate of mine, we stopped briefly so that my mom, Maureen and her mom could exchange greetings. During those brief moments I told my classmate what happened.
Maureen was stunned and told my mother that I never talked in class and confirmed that the substitute had been on my case all day. My mother looked surprised, but she saw the honesty in my classmate's account of what really happened that day and believed her. I knew my mother well enough to know that no apologie was going to be coming my way. I was just happy to have avoided another spanking. She did call the school the next day to file a complaint against the substitute. It didn't do any good, but my regular teacher was upset when she heard about the whole adventure and that substitute was never used for her class again.
I can attest to the fact that my spanking experience was traumatic and left me with the inability to trust anyone, including my mother. I was not better off for it in any way, shape or form. After considering all the information that I have read and my own experiences, I decided that I would not spank my children. My wife came to the same conclusion on her own. I still believe that the decision to spank or not is a personal one that should always be at the discretion of the parent or parents. My children have grown into responsible adults and I couldn't be happier about the way they have turned out and they did it without being spanked.