I wasn’t sure how to title this blog. I’m not sure how I will approach this blog. I wasn’t sure whether I would even write this blog. But these thoughts are swirling through my head and I need to get them out. So here I go.
This whole Adrian Peterson thing has once again started a social media frenzy of people weighing in on spanking. I’ve read a lot of articles. Spanking is child abuse. Spare the rod spoil the child. It makes my head hurt. Apparently we’re all experts here. We all have psychology degrees and know what’s best for everyone else. Also, we apparently have to choose a side on this. We’re either supposed to declare unequivocally that spanking is wrong and a form of child abuse…or that if you don’t spank you are indulgent and spoil your kids. I will let you know right now…I fall under neither camp (or either camp…whatever. My grammar has always sucked eggs. Whatever that means.)
I could tell you my thoughts and defend a side. I could point out that reacting to a child hitting by turning around and hitting them back seems like nonsense and illogical. I could point out how most kids turn out well-rounded and respectful without ever receiving a spanking. I could also turn around and point out that no..I don’t spank my husband. But I also don’t put him in time out, ground him, or discipline him. That yelling at kids can also be abuse but that doesn’t mean to avoid abuse we would never talk to our kids. Or that hitting itself isn’t hurtful…it’s my sons favorite form of affection (he will walk up to me, tell me he loves me, and give me a good “love punch”). But we’ve all heard it all. Back and forth and back we go. We keep trying to show that we’re good parents by the form of discipline we choose.
Which brings us to the crux of all my thoughts. I think the truth is soooooo much more difficult than what style of parenting we choose (yes, I do believe spanking is a form of discipline and not abuse. No, I don’t begrudge those who think differently…you are entitled to your opinion and undoubtably have well thought out reasons behind it. Yes, that was probably a run-on sentence but I refer to my “grammar sucks eggs” comment). The truth is more difficult to define, and more difficult to achieve. Abuse is so much more than an action. It is created by who you are as a parent. It is created by the environment you have made, the love (or lack of love) you show. It’s created by your heart. It’s easy and safe to declare to yourself (and maybe others) that I’m a good parent because I’ve never yelled. Because I don’t spank. Because I do spank. Because I’ve followed the rules I’ve chosen. But what environment have you created is really what is essential.
My example…I was spanked as a child. I’m not justifying spanking by using the old anecdotal “I was spanked and turned out fine”. It’s not just that I turned out fine. It’s that growing up, my home was the only place where I felt truly safe. School, even church, were filled with those who were mean or cruel. But my home was my safe haven. Spanking didn’t create or destroy that safe haven. My parents were the ones to create that haven, through their day to day patience and love for me. They were open with me. I could tell them things and not worry about anger or extreme reactions. I knew that every single time my dad got mad at me that 10 minutes later he would be knocking on the door and hugging me. I had always done something that deserved his anger, but received his love and comfort…every single time. It even became a problem because when I got married I would get angry at my husband for not coming to me when I was upset. Because my dad had been so good at that. My mom was patient…constantly and consistently there for me. When things went bad she defended me. She talked about the difficult topics and didn’t shy away from them. In short, I don’t remember much about their discipline style. I just remember how my home felt. The joy and sorrow that were openly shared with each other. I just remember feeling safe in a way I’ve only ever experienced with my husband since leaving home.
So I don’t care if you spank or if you don’t. I do care about who you are and what you are to your children. What environment to you create? I’ve read comments about people saying spanking turned their home into a place of fear. I would say that it wasn’t the spankings that did that. I’ve seen similar environments where spanking wasn’t used…but emotional abuse was. Or even emotional distance. I’ve seen parents who have turned spanking into abuse. Who have created a reign of terror in their home. They are abusing their kids. It’s easier to say that you are a good or bad parent based on a certain discipline style. It is so much harder to actually address your heart. Why are you disciplining you child? Why do you react the way you do? To actually pause and think and pray over your decisions.
I will be going back to avoiding Facebook. Because to be honest, when I read other people telling me how to parent, I have discovered a troubling trend. When I react to situations…it is now with the thought of how it would look to other people. No longer do I think of my child and their needs, or God and what he is guiding me to do. My home is much more peaceful and full of joy when I only include two other people in the decisions of my children. God and my husband. I will continue to pray each day that God would shape me and my husband into parents that make our home a haven. A home that gives my children a glimpse of what heaven and the fellowship there will be like.
I respectfully request that you refrain from debate in the comments section about spanking. Whether you are for or against it, those comments will be deleted. I’m not technologically literate enough to figure out how to disable comments at this point (and just a tad bit lazy) so I’ll be doing this the old-fashioned way and trusting you. Thanks.