Before now, I haven’t wanted to touch this subject with anything short of a yard stick. I feel it is time though, and so I will say thank you in advance for your openminded consumption of this work.
Seth has just been caught writing on the walls for the second time today after being told the first time that it is never ok to do so. His mom, a loving parent, takes him over to “The Chair” and calmly tells him that he disobeyed her rules and has to be spanked. Seth protests, fearful of what’s to come. His mom persists though, perhaps because of religious beliefs or following her own childhood experience of parenting. A swat on bare cheeks and some tears later, what reasoning do you think Seth is left with?
“I’ve done something wrong, and bigger, stronger, Mom has hit me for it. Fault equals physical punishment or pain. Might is right. Hitting is a solution towards others disobeying my wants.
Which of these possible understandings do you think is productive for little Seth? I am personally familiar with the argument that physical punishment is a solution in the legal system, though in the form of retainment and or death. I’ve also heard someone justify it by explaining the pain could be more severe if they didn’t follow my instructions.
I will go ahead and say that I know plenty of fine people who were raised by the hand. I don’t believe it is a ruining factor, but certainly an unnecessary one brought on by cultural pressures of time and social obligations. If there was another way, one that risked nothing but time for showing love, would you try it? For my wife and I, the answer is simple. The reward of secure, love promoting individuals, sharing a life with us is just one priceless benefit.
We’ve found that kids understand much more than we tend to give them credit for. They yearn to fit into the family group, and very much feel when they don’t. With this in mind we try very hard to approach our two year old with respect, showing displeasure not for her, but for the undesirable action. Through words, not pain, we relate to her the best we can why we disliked what was done. The better part of the world works this way, not by swatting one another.
Why then would I want to show my children anything different, when what I want most for them is to find understanding for how cooperation peacefully works in the world? I want them to experience first hand how respect breeds benefits for all, not just some. How else can we lead but through example?
As parents we know all too well if we do something, our kids will repeat it. It merely makes sense to me, not to teach that course of action.
You guys know I love an open conversation, so let me know how you feel and thanks for hanging out.