As many of you know, I volunteer for Parents Anonymous of New Jersey, a leader in the prevention of child abuse. If you have read many of my posts you will also know that I struggle with anger/rage issues. For me, the commitment to non-violence parenting was both heartfelt and life changing.
Last week, while eating lunch and killing time on social media, I ran across a post by a woman I knew as a well-educated and kind person. The post sent my anger through the roof in a flash, insinuating that she was proud to have learned “respect for others” through her parents spanking her.
My parents spanked me as a child. As a result I now suffer from a psychological condition known as “Respect for Others.”
In effect, the post encourages people to spank their children claiming it teaches respect for others. When I have seen this in the past there were many people who seem to agree and it saddened me. I could not let this pass without challenging her to re-think that post. Here is what I posted:
I never re-post these things encouraging hitting because some parents can start out spanking and are not able to stop. It is also possible to teach respect and manners without the use of violence; my girls are living proof. Think of this poster the next time you hear about a child that was beaten. I was a mom with anger/rage issues; if I got started I would not be able to stop.
After posting (venting) I felt somewhat relieved; I spoke respectfully using “I” messages to state another perspective. During the day as other people commented or ‘liked’ the woman’s post but I did not look until the end of the day. When I reviewed the comments I found something surprising; instead of people agreeing with the post, they had taken a similar stand against it. To me it reinforces the fact that when one person stands up, it gives others the courage to stand up for what is right too.
“Don’t believe in teaching respect with violence!”
“Absolutely disagree. 99% of the times I was hit, I did not deserve. I was also smacked as part of group punishment when they couldn’t figure out who was lying. Children are not worth less than adults and must be accorded the same rights. For being smacked (among other things) I’m now mostly estranged. Parents need better support and we all need better education of life matters in schools, not just the obsession with exams and grades. my respect for elders was severely damaged by my elders taking to violence to win an argument. They couldn’t win with reason so chose a totalitarian option.”
“Don’t agree with corporal punishment. There are better means of deterrance and protection.”
“Surely you are aware that increase in rudeness disrespect and downright ignorant behaviour have no connection with discipline being made a criminal offence.”
“Both parents being forced into full time work does not help. There used to be a term “latch key kids”. Now kids are supposed to be handed over to carers almost before they have gotten to know their parents and high pressure schooling to follow. No wonder there is a “generation gap”.”
They got it; they understood the point: Spanking is not noble and teaches nothing except that if you are bigger you can use violence to get your way. We tell kids to stand together against the bully and the same principle worked here: People do not have to go with the flow; one person can make a difference.
One of the beliefs of people: “I was spanked (whipped, hit) and I turned out alright.”
People love their parents (even abusive parents) and we make this up to rationalize the confused feelings that have become blurred over time thinking, “I love my mother and father so those spankings must have been good for me.”
Parental myth: “I only spank lightly with little taps.”
People who are frustrated or angry cannot judge correctly how lightly they are hitting. Emotions dull judgment so that they literally are not in their right minds. Knowing that, do you think it is acceptable to encourage someone like me to hit a child?
And my favorite myth: “If I don’t spank my child they will be spoiled.”
‘Spoiled’ behavior comes from poor parenting skills and acting out as a result. Spanking is a parenting tool used by parents who do not know other, less violent options or choose spanking because of other myths.
As members of our larger community, that village that raises the child that was spoken of so often, I would challenge each of you to stand up and speak the truth about those social media posters. Tell them this:
“Spanking children does not teach respect for others; calm, non-violent discipline does.”
Jackie Saulmon Ramirez has served as a volunteer with Parents Anonymous® of New Jersey, Inc. for more than twenty years, giving and getting support. Find her blog here on her contact page.