Don’t be afraid to correct your young ones; a spanking won’t kill them. A good spanking, in fact, might save them from something worse than death. Dear child, if you become wise, I’ll be one happy parent. My heart will dance and sing to the tuneful truth you’ll speak. Proverbs 23:13-16 (The Message)
What is the statute of limitations on child abuse? My children are all over eighteen now and fairly successful young adults. Does that prove I wasn’t so bad? If I tell you a story, will you promise not to call Child Protective Services? I’ve been teaching a parenting class at church. I tell them all this is a “Do As I say, not as I did” class for I was far from the perfect parent. As we have been discussing parenting techniques and God’s plan for us as mothers, I’ve dredged up the failures I made as a mom. I hope they will learn from my mistakes. It also serves a good purpose, reminding me and the class of my humanness and keeping me from prideful lecturing. There is no way I can be self righteous with memories of being “Mommy Dearest”. It even brings levity into a serious subject. Such was the case this week as we began our lessons on discipline. We started with some questions designed to remind us that discipline is 75% training and only 25% correction. All the talk about not using discipline while angry, choosing appropriate styles of correction, using spanking when it is necessary while taking into account a child’s age and maturity, and letting our children suffer the natural consequences of their disobedience just made me feel like a hypocrite. All I could think about was my guilty conscience and a story that we can all laugh about now, but caused me great angst at one time. In our house, we used a small plastic pancake turner as our spanking tool. Youngest son was a hard child to raise, always rebellious and defiant. He was often the recipient of the spatula’s paddling. Several times a week, sometimes, several times a day as a matter of fact. I did try not to discipline in anger, but it was hard when he would spout off even while getting spanked. He would wiggle around and try to pull away. Sometimes, he would exclaim, “That doesn’t hurt!” I cannot remember now what he did one time, but I was so angry that when I reached into the drawer of kitchen utensils for the pancake turner and my hands grabbed the metal BBQ spatula, I didn’t even think twice about using that instead. However, that was one of those times when he wiggled out of my grip and instead of landing on his butt, the spatula hit him in the middle of his back. Harder than I planned. I got his attention, but immediately was sorry. I was sorrier when the next day; he had a bruise on his back in the shape of the BBQ grill spatula complete with spaces for the holes. Come to think of it, that may have been the last spanking he got. I still believe in spanking when it is appropriate, but also think there are other more effective methods of discipline when parents learn to be proactive rather than reactive.