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How My Son Changed My Mind About Spanking

Photograph by Twenty20

I may not be very popular for admitting this, but we spank at our house. I was spanked as a child and I never thought anything of it. We're Hispanic. That's how we discipline. When my husband and I began discussing children and disciplining options we both agreed that we would use spanking as a last resort with our kids, but never ruled it out completely. We also discussed how we would spank and when. We thought we had it all figured it out. I can't say we've been perfect in our spanking methods, but we've always tried our best.

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And then one day we were hanging out at home with our kids. I don't remember how we got in the conversation, but my four-year old son said he wanted to be a daddy but he would never spank his kids. That stopped me dead in my tracks. He hadn't been in trouble that day, so I'm not sure why that was in his mind. A few days later I decided to bring up the subject again.

"Liam, when you have kids are you going to spank them?"

"Nope. I'm never going to spank them. I'm just going to let them sit in their room."

"Why don't you want to spank them?"

"Because I don't like it."

Maybe spanking is the easy way out. Maybe it doesn't really work.

I have to say, that really gutted me as a mom. Obviously I'm not just going to stop doing everything my son doesn't like. He also dislikes eating vegetables, taking baths and putting his seatbelt on in the car. I'm not going to stop making him do those things simply because he doesn't like them. But when it comes to spanking, am I wrong? Should my husband and I revise our policy on spanking?

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A few weeks ago I had dinner with a group of women. One of them started telling us stories about all the creative ways her mother used to discipline her. I was in awe! Maybe spanking is the easy way out. Maybe it doesn't really work. I mean, what is my son learning when he gets spanked? To fear his parents? To dread discipline every time it comes his way?

I can't say I'm completely against spanking. I think there's a right and a wrong way to do it. I think some children respond well to spanking while others don't. As for me and my son, I think we will hold off on the spanking and try other discipling methods. Something we can all feel comfortable with and that will hopefully have a long-lasting positive effect.

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