“Max do you want a spanking?” his grandmother asked. “Yes, please.” He replied.
“Go get the belt.” She said.
“Why?” He asked.
“Why do you think?” She replied.
“For your waist?” He asked innocently.
Max and Myles have never been spanked, or as we say in my family, “whooped.” They do not know the visceral fear that accompanies spankings with a belt: Fear that instantaneously causes one to tear up in anticipation of the sharp, stinging pain inflicted by the repeated hoisting of a belt high into the air prior to quickly and furiously descending upon delicate skin.
My dad was a pastor: He studied the Bible, taught the Bible, and lived in conformity with the bible. He believed in order to ensure we grew up to be productive, God fearing adults, he had to discipline us in accordance with the saying, “spare the rod, spoil the child,” (a truncated version of a verse found in Proverbs). My dad’s “rod” was a thick, brown, leather belt nicknamed “Bruiser.” Dad would brandish Bruiser while warning my siblings and me that we were “cruisin’ for a bruisin’.” We knew this meant we had better quickly alter our behavior or get a spanking.
I was a strong-willed child; therefore, I often faced the wrath of Bruiser. I talked back to my parents and Bruiser appeared; I talked back to my Sunday school teacher and Bruiser appeared; I talked back to my aunts and Bruiser appeared. My siblings also received spankings for various infractions; oftentimes, I cried on their behalf and pleaded with my parents to “spare the rod.” I cringe when I recall those spankings: they were painful; they were demeaning; they were dehumanizing, and yet, they were a normal part of my youth.
The frequent “need” to resort to corporal punishment for similar infractions belies the argument that spanking is an effective method of discipline. However, many parents in my community unquestionably repeat the cycle of spanking; after all, it is passed down through generations and its virtues extolled in many pulpits. I believe other forms of discipline can be more effective, less traumatizing, and result in happier childhoods. Ironically, many of my attributes that were being “corrected” remain with me today: On occasion, I still question authority and relentlessly argue my points of view.
Fortunately, my siblings and I grew up to be successful, productive citizens; however, I refuse to give any credit to spankings. I believe we would have been successful and productive anyway. Who we are is a reflection of the exemplary lives our parents exhibited; their guidance and commitment to teaching us Christian morals and values (minus the corporal punishment); and their determination to expose us to a myriad of experiences and opportunities. Their love for us and each other was immeasurable.
I want Max and Myles to be young men who make me proud. However, the cycle stops with me. I will not resort to corporal punishment to teach them right from wrong. Instead, I choose to guide and discipline them through alternative means. My “rod” will help steer them in the right direction minus the pain.
Were you a product of spanking? Are you glad you were spanked? Will you spank your own children? Why or why not?