By Jackie Saulmon Ramirez | September 12, 2012
Last week I read an article by Sarah B. Weir about physicians in Canada (in the CMAJ-Canadian Medical Association Journal) calling for a ban on spanking and tossing out the law that has allowed it to continue for 120 years. The comments at the end of the piece were rigid and full of fire on both sides. Why does this debate continue so strongly? Are there any other solutions?
The answer to ‘why’ is from my own personal opinion and experience and everything I have read backs me up.
(1) Parents feel they have a right to spank or hit their child and they want to call it discipline. (Discipline means ‘to teach,’ so what is this teaching?) This is supposed to be a free country and some feel if they give up or lose their right to spank, then they might be at risk of losing other rights like perhaps gun ownership or maybe free speech. Not true! Our military might is alive and well and would be the first line of defense if any entity stood up to encroach on any basic rights.
(2) “I was whipped and I turned out alright!” Myth! The article (attached) states scientific reasons this statement doesn’t hold water and my own reasoning supports this but in a different direction— the parents are the fallibility here. I’ll give you a couple situations… In one a young mother wants to get her child to mind or to behave and follow the rules. She doesn’t know the child doesn’t have the needed self-control yet so when the child continues to misbehave she hits a little harder, and then harder still in order to try and get compliance. This same young mother, in her endeavor to get the child to mind her, whips the child again— but this time loses control herself. She whips the child till she can no longer raise her arm and stops. The mother’s lack of knowledge about child development has exhausted her almost killed this child. Should this mother be given permission, even encouraged to spank? Child abuse is the gift that keeps on giving— generation after generation.
In talking about rights, those of the child are completely ignored by the very parents wanting to continue spanking. It almost seems as if they are more concerned about their rights to hit than in their child’s right to grow up healthy in mind, body and soul. At what age does the child gain the right not to be hit?
A few weeks ago a very dear friend of mine posted a pseudo-noble comment that feigned being proud of being spanked as a child. Naturally I couldn’t ‘Like’ it or just let it go so I posted the facts about spanking and child abuse. My friend and I debated back and forth the validity of comments and discuss the abuse we experienced as children, comparing our stripes and bruises well into our teens. There were around fifty posts between us! We calmed down and we remain friends because we did support each other at a terrible time in our lives. Finally we calmed down and my friend showed me the latest photo of her last granddaughter just three-months-old. She was so sweet looking and what a smile! So I asked my friend, “At what age are her parents planning to start spanking her?” Maybe that wasn’t nice, but look folks, spanking is not nice either! I would be so thrilled if the parents would of this baby would think about not spanking now, long before any damage is done.
Solutions to spanking? There are as many solutions out there as there are blogs on the internet! There are several excellent spank-free parenting options readily available to every mom and dad if they are willing to do a few clicks and read. It is never too late to stop spanking and never too early to decide on an alternate parenting method. All you need is the will to change.
For me the answer was Parents Anonymous. I took the little blue book home from my first meeting and read it through. It asked that parents commit to non-violence when they joined. Could I raise my girls without spanking? I studied and reasoned whether this would help me or not. The next week I took the plunge like a sinner to baptism and I was born again. Like a smoker going cold turkey I knew there would be no going back and that pledge was exactly what I needed to see me through. Twenty-three years later I know I made the right decision.
Jackie Ramirez has been with Parents Anonymous of New Jersey, Inc. for more than twenty years, giving and getting support. Jackie writes these ‘Reminders’ for parents who attend the online support groups. The groups are found at www.pa-of-nj.org every Wednesday 9 p.m. and Thursday 12 Noon. To receive the ‘Reminder’ send her an e-mail at: ParentRap@gmail.com.