Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Belts, Children and Discipline.

I have been thinking about writing this since I read about the beating of 18-year-old Yaman Sankari at The Uppity Brown Woman. It seems that Sankari's family discovered that she was having sex with her boyfriend and their response was to beat her.  Her whole family has since been arrested and charged though they all deny that they have assaulted her.

This story triggered some very horrible memories for me.  You see I am no stranger to the belt.  For many years I was unable to even hold a belt in my hand because of the memories that it triggered in me.  I somehow have blocked out the sounds of my own screams but can regularly hear that of my brothers in my mind.  He was beaten more often, and more vigorously than I simply because he was male. 

Of course the beatings were always initiated by some wrong that we had done but regardless of the so-called disobedience no person should be beaten with a belt, much less a child.  The last time I was beaten I was 14 years old but I remember it like it was yesterday.  I remember the horror, the shock and the betrayal that I felt.  I have not forgiven it, and will I never forgive it for all the days of my life.

I cringe when I hear comics making jokes about catching a whippin.  It has become a regular shtick for some to turn this into a laughing matter.  Sinbad, Eddie Murphy, and Chris Rock all have comedy routines in which they speak about being beaten as a child by their mothers and the audience laughs as though this does not create lasting damage.  When you hit a child with a belt it is physical abuse. Many in the black community (though this happens in all communities) believe that this is an appropriate form of discipline. They scoff at time outs, and groundings because of course that isn't "real" punishment.  Is the point of discipline to teach consequence for actions, or to permanently damage a child? 

When I look at my own children, especially my oldest I know that if he were forced to endure what my brother or I lived with, it would break him.  I love both of my children and would never inflict this kind of pain on them.  It is  no excuse to say that you didn't know any better, or that this is the way you were raised, repeating the wrongs that were committed against you is continuing the legacy and cycle of violence.  At some point this needs to stop.  If you were beaten as a child then you know the pain, don't pass it on to your own children.  A child should never have to fear that the hand of the parent approaching them is going to deliver pain.  Yes they need to respect you, but when you beat them, all you illicit is fear and not respect.  Ask yourself as an adult why you deserve to exist without being beaten and a child does not? What makes your body so inviolable other than the fact that it has existed longer?

I will tell you as one that survived this kind of violence that it will stay with me all of the days of my life. When I think about it, my heart races and my hands begin to shake.  My body fills with such a rage that I cannot put words to it.  I know that my parents did what was done to them.  I understand that for them, this is what discipline meant but I cannot let it go.  I have intellectualized this to death but the end result is that the pain is and was real.  It was never a laughing matter for me and never will be.  It stands like a dam between us and will forever remain.  When you think about discipline and being tough on your children, I beseech those of you who think the belt is the way to go to think again.  You are violating your child and every other good thing that you may do will be overshadowed by this.  Most of all know that it does not get forgotten despite the fact that many have turned this into a joke.  Love and physical violence do not go together. Discipline does not need to rise to the level of abuse. Finally, love your children enough to respect their physical beings.  No one deserves to be beaten with a belt.


Debateur said...

Great article. I plan to run an article on spanking for debate in the next week or so.

Danny said...

I think I kinda disagree with this: "When you hit a child with a belt it is physical abuse." I certainly agree that discipline with a belt can go too far and become abuse but I don't think that it is abuse from the get go.

In some cases an ass whoopin is the only thing that will get a disobedient child to act right. Now that does not mean that you have to ball up your fists and fight like you're a bar but I would say that it falls under tough love.

I think your post is a good explaination of why a parents thinks/says, "This is gonna hurt me more than it hurts you." just before beating their child. You don't want to hurt your child but at the same time you know they need to learn the lesson they refused to learn any other way.

Ojibway Migisi Bineshii said...

Abuse is abuse. For most of my childhood I witnessed physical abuse towards my siblings. Verbal and emotional abuse towards my Mother. I often ran away, hid from them and prayed to heal the situation. To say I was never abused is wrong. Vicarious abuse is often worse than the physical, emotional and verbal abuse because of the helplessness one feels as a child hearing the yelling and seeing what they see. Thankfully my family has been one of the rare cases to fully and miraculously heal. A lot of damn hard work spiritually and personal inner work brought us to live in a more peaceful manner in our lives.

Your post although brings back hard times for me will help me write what I need to get down on paper today. Whether it is talking about healing the effects on Native American annihilation and genocide or family violence-which is all the same.

Renee said...

@Danny Your commentary is exactly why I considered closing comments for this particular post. This is not a debatable issue it is abuse There are plenty of ways to teach children without resorting to violence. All this teaches a child is that when you cannot get your way the solution is to hit. It teaches that bigger people have the right to hit smaller people and leaves the child angry and confused.

Danny said...

Yes I agree that there are ways to teach children but at the same time there are some children that are determined to be disobident (and I'm talking those fakes on those afternoon talk shows either I'm talking the real hellions).

I used to feel the same way when I was getting those beatings as a child. I agree that sometimes parents are too quick to reach for a belt but physical discipline automatically equals abuse?

leaves the child angry and confused.
Very true. And that anger and confusion is not resovled properly it can lead to disasterous results.

Octogalore said...

I usually like to have more interesting comments but here I just cannot add anything to what you said. Kudos!

Renee said...

@ Danny can I hit you if you do something I don't like? Can I take a belt to you and hit you until I am too tired to swing my arm? I'll bet the answer to that is no and therefore the same applies to a child. Age should not make violence acceptable.

mzbitca said...


These "real Hellions" probably were created and often times when people say other things don't work is because they give up on them way to quickly. A beating solves the problem quickly and also gets your frustration out so it's easy to see why parents resort to it. But it is NOT the way. It is physically humiliating for children and humiliation does not every lead to good development...yes they may listen to you....but what other lessons have you thought them to take into the world.

icefroggy7 said...

There's "beatings" and there's "spankings". I was taught the difference very early and fully expect to continue the "spankings". "Beatings" are just that, a beating. I suspect this is where your definition comes from. Spankings, on the other hand, are a smack or belt across the backside.

It does not teach that big people get to hit little people, though I can see how it could be skewed to fit that definition. It's teaches consequence. It teaches responsibility.

I suspect your position, and subsequent anger over it are the result of your experiences. They are not mine and I don't look back on my experiences with a belt with bad feelings at all.

Danny said...

@ Danny can I hit you if you do something I don't like? Can I take a belt to you and hit you until I am too tired to swing my arm? I'll bet the answer to that is no and therefore the same applies to a child. Age should not make violence acceptable.
I get what you're trying to say but to answer that whole question would take this topic WAY off course. But this: "hit you until I am too tired to swing my arm?" is most definitely going too far and is abuse. A few hits is nowhere near the same as hitting until your arm loses feeling.

I will say that a BIG part of my thoughts on this comes from the, "Spare rod, spoil the child." mentality of discipline. However I do think that the rod should should only be the absolute final-all else has failed-there is no hope for another way-last resort.

nia said...

This is a painful topic for me also. Where I'm from in the Caribbean, beatings are an accepted way of life. Children are beaten sometimes for the most trivial things, it will break your heart to see.
I was beaten extensively at my school by the teachers. Not because I was bad behaved (I was the quietest child ever), but because I got my school work wrong. I could not grasp Maths properly, and whenever I got my sums and numbers wrong, it was lashes with a strap, a cane, a ruler, a tree switch you name it. In front of the entire class.
I grew up to hate Maths and to avoid any complex calculations or jobs that involved numbers whenever I could.
I know that not only black people beat, but I do believe that, at least in the caribbean, it has a lot to do with our colonial past. If I ever have children, I will never lash them. I have many friends today who, thankfully, never lash their children. And those children are the most well-behaved, mannerly children.
What the elder generation does not realize is that the adults who were beaten as children are now causing a lot of crime and indiscipline in Caribbean society today. Obviously this so-called form of discipline does not really work.

Renee said...

@Nia I understand you.. My family is from Antigua. Your may have a point about the link between the beatings and colonialism. I further believe that the entrenchment of this kind of punishment in the black community has much to do with our history of slavery. Thank you for sharing I know that it is painful. Every entry on this topic has been triggering for me.

Sandalstraps said...


You've already taken some flack for your comment, so I'll be gentle. However, in light of your comment, I'd like to ask you a simple question:

Under what conditions is it permissible for a caregiver to use a weapon on a child?

That, after all, is exactly what whipping a child is: turning a weapon on them. Whether that weapon is a belt (the literal example) or a rod (the metaphorical example), any instrument designed to increase the pain and physical damage of an attack is a weapon. When a belt is wielded as a whip, and used to inflict pain on a child, it has become, by definition, a weapon.

So, under what circumstances is it permissible to do this? Under what circumstances is attacking a child with a weapon (and, no matter how controlled the attack, that is still an accurate description of the act of wielding a belt as a whip and beating a child with it) a permissible disciplinary act?

I ask, because, absent some really compelling (and detailed argument), I can't see how the act described here is anything other than child abuse.

Renee said...

Your post is so spot on Renee! I am no stranger to the belt, and it made it easier for me to accept things that were worse when I was growing up. My mother went through a phase of what can only be described as abusive. There is a long long post in my head on that, but I fear to write it b/c she reads my blog, and I have forgiven her. That was part of breaking the cycle for me. When we are beaten (anything more than a single swat on a backside w/ a hand is a beating, and it is described that way by law in some states) we tend to beat. I went to a lot of therapy and pain as an adult to make sure I don't do that to my child. When she was too young to understand words a single hand swat on a diapered bum were used in instances of possible harm (running into a street or parking lot), but now that she is older rational discussion and a system of point outs works best. Violence begets violence. It is never OK to hit a child. It teaches them that hitting is the way to get what you want."

That was an incredible post, and it makes me sad to see people justify whipping their children. They need to read some Dreikurs or some Adler b/f resorting to that "spare the rod" bullshit.

Renee said...

The above commentary was e-mailed to me by Ouyang, and I posted it because she was having difficulty posting it herself.

nia said...

I think what parents or adults who favor corporal punishment might need to ask is: Does the child become disciplined and well-behaved because of the beatings, or IN SPITE of them? Maybe another form of discipline would be just as effective. But for many parents and adults, beatings are the only form of discipline they themselves ever experienced as children. So they tend to feel it is the only form that really works.

daedalus2u said...

I have 2 boys, 15 and 19. Never have I spanked or laid a hand on either of them. The oldest is now 10 inches taller than me. The only circumstance that I can imagine spanking either of them, is if either of them laid a hand on their gf/wife, or on their children. Under those circumstances I would physically intervene and stop it.

Being abusive is not a choice I will ever allow my child to make. I don't care if they are 5, 15, or 50. If they choose to be abusive, they are not sufficiently mature to be allowed that autonomy.

sardonic sister said...

I am a social worker. If a hit leaves a mark, it IS abuse. (even when it doesn't its still abuse, but the law is flawed...)I know that being hit with a belt will leave marks, and even scars.

Thanks for your article, Renee. I can commiserate.

Danny said...

You've already taken some flack for your comment, so I'll be gentle. However, in light of your comment, I'd like to ask you a simple question:
I appreciate the like touch but I have to say that the flak hasn't been that bad. I made a comment and everyone is reacting to what I'm posting here and not resorting to childish attacks and namecalling. My many thanks for this discussion folks espcially you Renee for putting up with me.

Now back to the topic at hand. Sandalstraps you question (comment 13) is a serious breakdown and it makes perfect sense. Until reading that I was justifying using a belt by how many hits and hard said hits would be. But your explaination takes it back to the simple fact of the matter that simply weilding a belt is wrong. I can dig that.

Comment 16 has me thinking as well. nia says that many parent resort to beating because that was the only form of discipline they ever knew. True but it doesn't explain my difficulty in seeing things clearly here. The reason that is so is because I myself recieved beatings as a child but not very often. So that begs the question: Why do I think beating a child is a sound method of discipline?

I think the answer is this: When I was a child I felt that anger and confusion (that Renee mentioned in comment 4) when I was beaten. When I became an adult instead of analizing that anger and confusion I simply shrugged it off as, "I was a child then so I just refused to believe those beatings were right. Now I'm an adult I can see they were right." Problem is I didn't see it I just blindly believed it.

Quite a bit to digest. Have I told you lately that you have a good thing going here Renee?

cmasmilz said...

"Problem is I didn't see it I just blindly believed it."

Also, if you weren't traumatized by being beaten, it is easier to shrug it off as an adult. I mean, by calling it abuse when you aren't traumatized by it feels intuitively wrong and critical of your own parents. I think a part of the problem is that our society, at least most of our societies, are so immersed in violence that, as an adult, it is so easy to "swallow" it as not very damaging. Perhaps your parents did not use the belt to displace their own anger and frustrations, maybe they had rules. Maybe they had "levels" of punishment where if you did something really "bad", you'd get five hits from the belt. I don't think that most parents have that much control, if my guesses are true. I think that most do lose control and with the message that beatings are not damaging, it really only takes one bad day, one moment of not thinking clearly, to permanently scar a child, emotionally. I have found that any kind of abuse usually leads to the person hating the world or hating him/herself.

Danny said...

Perhaps your parents did not use the belt to displace their own anger and frustrations, maybe they had rules. Maybe they had "levels" of punishment where if you did something really "bad", you'd get five hits from the belt.
Almost to a T. My actually did have levels of punishment. They didn't just reach for the belt as soon as I got out of line. Beatings were reserved for the most severe of things.

Hilary said...

My husband, who is a teacher, argued with me in the beginning about whether or not we were going to use physical punishment on a child. He has slowly come to agree with me that it doesn't work. Some of the best proof of this is at his school. The worst kids are all spanked or whipped by their parents. Some of the worst of the worst, when their parents come in to the office at school, they take their belts off right there in front of the principal.

Look at any journal research on people in prison. They were much more likely to be hit as children than people who weren't.

I strongly disagree that this is an effective form of discipline, an appropriate form of discipline, or that it is the only form of discipline some children can understand. If it is never appropriate among adults, how can it be appropriate for a child? What age do you get to when someone hitting you no longer teaches you a behavior lesson? The age where you can hit back?

Hitting teaches a child that the strongest person in the room wins. It teaches them that stronger people can hurt weaker people and it can be right if they think it's right. It teaches children that violence is an answer, if you can rationalize it or if you are angry enough.

I have talked with many parents about this, and my own sister in law uses a paddle on her two year old (which I consider child abuse as much as hitting with a belt). Most of these parents don't wait until a certain super bad infraction, and hit in a calm manner, in control of their emotions. Most parents who use hitting as punishment hit in a rage and end up hitting almost every day.

Not good discipline, and not a good life lesson for children.

Tracey said...

This is a wonderful post, and I couldn't agree more with: Ask yourself as an adult why you deserve to exist without being beaten and a child does not? What makes your body so inviolable other than the fact that it has existed longer?

As a former teacher who has taught junior high, I have seen so many kids hitting each other, and I just don't know how we can expect to truly teach that hitting is wrong if adults who are supposed to be role models are engaging in that behavior by hitting their children.

AR said...

Ask yourself as an adult why you deserve to exist without being beaten and a child does not? What makes your body so inviolable other than the fact that it has existed longer?

Short answer: I don't.

Long answer: I think that judicial corporal punishment really needs to be looked into again. Pain is the most powerful behavior-altering mechanism Earthly organism have, being refined over billions of years by the fact that things which hurt are bad for you. It also has the advantage of being a much more intuitive punishment. A person can only imagine prison in the abstract, until it happens to them, but the threat of pain is the most easy to grasp concept in the universe.

Why throw away such a useful tool? In practice, we did so because it came to be considered cruel and unusual, but how could anyone believe it to be anymore cruel than incarceration? Being locked away for years can destroy communities and lives. Hell, it's hard enough to get a job after being a homemaker for 5 years, and a person is supposed to get back on their feet and away from crime after being in prison for that long? Ridiculous.

And even if I personally were found guilty of a serious crime I didn't commit, I only wish I could ask for 40 lashes instead of a prison term. It would still be a miscarriage of justice, but I wouldn't be torn from my family to serve the sentence.

Sofhal Jamil said...

I dont find any reason that using belt to make our children to be more dicipline, to be more etc. Chilren is not for you to be beaten!!! Loving them!!!

Ashley said...

AR: I strongly believe that pain is not at all an effective form of discipline except in the most rudimentary case. For instance, pain will teach you to not stick your hand in a fire, but it will not teach you to respect other human beings.

Logical consequences are a much more direct form of discipline that bypasses the "currency" of beatings. So, as an example, 10 year old is running around the house and knocks over a lamp. You could beat him, or make him purchase a new lamp. One teaches him that a broken object leads to a broken body, the other teaches him the value of the object and why you should be careful.

Which one's more appropriate, and more adult-like?

mzbitca said...

The fact of the matter is that children have very different emotional coping skills than adults and you can never truly know how your child is dealing with punishments. Hitting creates a very dangerous situation. Yes some kids bounce back and do not truly have it affect them but that is not always true. A really good book to read about abuse and how it affects children is "Trauma and Recovery" by Judith Herman. She has done amazing work with abuse victims and has a very feminist view of the world in general. I was hit as a child and although I have moved on from it now there were times when I was terrified of my mother...did it prevent me from misbehaving..yes, but it created a lack of trust with my mother that I kept internally and that I have now been able to move past.

AR said...

Well, if you're talking about disciplining a child for breaking a lamp, that's another matter entirely. I wasn't even addressing the issue of parental discipline, but merely the claim that adults necessarily regard pain as an inappropriate punishment for themselves.

Scott said...

To steal a line from a show that is starting to bore me, the best and only way to discipline a child is to out wit, out last and out play.

It takes a lot of patience to bring up children.

Removing things from their rooms that they hold dear, has proved somewhat successful IE: Playstation/tv. My eldest son is now on week 2 of no playstation/TV in his room and there has been some improvement in his behavior.

A parent also has to learn from their own mistakes, you have to actually follow through on said punishment, which I have been guilty of not doing in the past. Once the kids learn that you aren't messing around, they will show some improvement.

We as parents have to remember that it is programed in their DNA to be bad, to push the envelope because they don't know any better. It is up to us the parents to educate them and correct their mistakes. The best education for all humans, big or small is learning from your mistakes.

When you whip a child with a belt and it happens often enough, they learn that that behavior is acceptable and sooner or later they start to display this with either their siblings, friends or both. They pretty much learn how to be a bully.

Bryant said...

This thread has induced some pretty intense flashbacks of childhood belt spankings. Was that abuse?

uppitybrownwoman said...

This was an excellent post, as usual! I had been thinking about writing about something else involving my childhood, and this post connected how I was disciplined as a child to how it affected my mental health. I think I'll be writing on that soon...

Physical marks or not, the child remembers being hit, and sometimes, dare I say most of the time, does not understand fully what just went down. My body remembers a lot of the trauma I've experienced in my life even though my brain doesn't remember it all. My mother used to hit me with a bare wire on the legs to discipline me. When I did something that she did not approve of, it was a wire to the legs or a belt to the arms. They were not "severe" beatings. A few strikes. A lot less than what she received as a child.

The last time she hit me was when I was eight (thankfully earlier than a lot of people). It was the first time the belt left a mark. She had hit me because I didn't want to go to school and was generally being a brat about it. I suppose when she realized that maybe the belt was "actually" hurting me, she stopped.

There is no way for an adult, whether or not they feel traumatized by their parents' corporal punishment, to be certain that their children won't feel emotional pain or confusion.

Renee said...

@Bryant I believe that hitting a child with a belt is abuse. I believe that hitting a child is abuse. I am sorry that you found this thread triggering. I should have written a trigger warning on it. I found it disturbing myself, for the memories that I have been dealing with today and some of the commentary.

elle said...

My cousin just sent me a post--her first--about discipline issues. Her niece has come to live with them, has become a bit of a handful, but my cousin, to my understanding, refuses to spank. With that off the table, she's searching for truly effective discipline and not "pressure release for the adult."

How much more effective disciplinarians could we all be if we started from the spanking-is-out position?

jessilikewhoa said...

my half sister is 15 years older than me. when i was 7 she finally snapped and i stood watching in amazement as she straddled my father on the couch strangling him, finally big enough to fight back and stop taking his shit. only when his face started to change color to purple then blue did my mother finally intervene. he had bruises on his neck for weeks. what stopped an earlier intervention was our collective memories of the abuses he perpetrated, even at 7, even a child, i was not upset with my sister, somewhere in my flesh i understood her actions. later that year he snapped on me for the first major time, punched me in the head when i didnt start my homework right away. thats when my mom and i left. its 20 years later and i still dont have contact with him, nor does my sister.

an adult that uses violence on a child is an adult who gaurantees that the child will not respect them, and may eventually walk away from them for good. when you hit your kid you only serve to harm yourself in the end.

in contrast, my mother treated me with respect and actually talked to me about the things i did wrong, explained why they were wrong. she is my favorite person alive and in my opinion the greatest parent ever. spending my adolescence with a parent who respected me and treated me like a thinking feeling human being kept me from ever getting into any serious trouble and from acting out in unhealthy ways.

Zen Ventures said...

all i can say is OMG! "my mother treated me with respect and actually talked to me about the things i did wrong, explained why they were wrong. she is my favorite person alive and in my opinion the greatest parent ever. spending my adolescence with a parent who respected me and treated me like a thinking feeling human being kept me from ever getting into any serious trouble and from acting out in unhealthy ways. " - I wanna quote this because our moms are always there for us no matter what! in spite of their own weaknesses, they still are the strong fortress that we can find shelter on. I know that experiences as tragic they maybe if used to challenge life to be a better person, will always make you the winner!

*sorry I got carried away :) Anyway, I came here to say Hi and to be of acquaintance...


daedalus2u said...

This may sound a little bit over the top, but what children learn by being beaten is that violence is an acceptable method of getting what they want in a relationship.

Boys learn that if you are bigger and stronger than someone, if they don’t do what you say you can beat them up. That includes other guys, but also their GF, SO and ultimately their wife (if they every have one).

Girls learn that if you don’t obey someone who is bigger and stronger than you, they will beat you up. That includes their BF, SO and ultimately husband. If a girl is beaten by her father, her conceptualization of men becomes that a “real man” will beat you if you get out of line. A guy that doesn’t beat you isn’t a “real man”, he is a wimp.

When do you want your children to learn that violence in a relationship isn’t an acceptable method of getting what you want? As children when you can just tell them and show them? Or as adults when they learn for themselves that it doesn’t work? Boys by hurting someone they care about and maybe going to jail? Or girls by being hurt badly enough to need medical care?

Roxie said...

I respect everyone's experience here and how it shaped them and their opinion..however, I resent comments like "it teaches the child...." because I was spanked as a kid and I never felt as if I was abused or taught violence or that it was alright to hit other people.

My parents had rules, they had levels, they had explanations, conversations, and there was never any righteous attitude in their punishments. They did say to me "This will hurt me more" and I believe them. Spanking wasn't the "go-to" punishment

Sure, I was angry when I was spanked, but what kid isn't angry when they get disciplined at all? But I was never confused about it.

They truly believed that Bible verse about the rod..however, they used other non-physical punishments and groundings more than anything else.

Do I think I'll spank my kids? Probably not. I don't really think it's necessary. Of course that's assuming I'll have kids at all and I find that a stretch.

Danny said...


Roxie said...

I attended a private Christian school for one year where they did practice paddling. The paddling never, ever hurt, as that wasn't the point.

They used it to talk about what you did, why you shouldn't do that, and as public humiliation..as it was always humiliating to be called out to get paddled.

However, I would still be extremely uncomfortable to put that kind of authority in someone else's hands.

August said...

I find it interesting when people make comments like "hitting is the only way to make my child understand that they've done something wrong." It's uncomfortably similar to the excuses that some people make for beating their spouses.

August said...

And what about when the kids get old enough and decide that they would rather hit back than just take it? It seems to happen often enough. Whose fault is it really when that happens? Is it the child or the parents who escalated the issue by bringing violence into the equation in the first place?

rachelcervantes said...

I don't want to derail this thread, but I just have to say to Danny -- you're just plain wrong. I get what you're trying to say. It's what you were taught. The Bible even backs it up, doesn't it? But it's just wrong. I'm a psychologist. I could cite study after study after study to back me up. I won't though, because your mind is not about to be changed. At least not now.

My last whippin' with the belt was when I was 15.

My two children are 8 and 12. Physical abuse has never been necessary.

Lisa Harney said...

Among many other things, my mother's ex-husband liked to dole out the beatings with the belts, and like jessilikewhoa says, I didn't respect him at all, and walked out as soon as I could.

I also really appreciate the statement that using a belt is using a weapon.

Renee said...

@Lisa yes a weapon to inflict even more pain and reduce the pain of the parent. Of course the parent does not want to hurt their hand delivering the so-called spanking.

Danny said...

Nice stance rachelcervantes. It would be nicer if you weren't coming in about 20 posts after I said that I was the one that had a lot of thinking to do. But nice indeed...

I won't though, because your mind is not about to be changed. At least not now.
How nice of you to do decide for me that I don't want to change my mind right now. I didn't realize you took classes on being a mind reader in med school.

rachelcervantes said...

Oh, it does look like I owe Danny an apology. And it is hereby delivered, sincerely and humbly. I did miss that and that was careless of me. I hope you will accept it as there is nothing more frustrating than showing an open mindedness and then being scolded for it.

Yup, I screw up on occasion. This is one of 'em.

Danny said...

Its all good rachel. Mistakes happen. If it makes you feel any better I would happily trade your mistake on this thread my misunderstanding of beating as discipline for children.

And to be fair I was a bit snappy in that reply...

daedalus2u said...

To those who resent being told what children might learn from being beaten, different children will learn different things from watching and experiencing being beaten by a parent. I think it is extremely presumptuous of anyone to decide in advance what lessons a child will learn from a specific experience.

In the breaking a lamp example, if the child is beaten, will the child learn that lamps are more important than children? That if someone breaks something of yours you should beat the crap out of them? That you shouldn’t run in the house? That if you do break something you should run away to avoid being beaten? That you should lie and blame someone else?

Children learn much more from what they observe than from what they are told. If they are told not to lie but observe people lying all the time, which lesson do they learn? If they are told not to steal but see people stealing all the time, which lesson do they learn? If they are told not to beat up people that are weaker than you, but see weaker people being beaten up all the time, what lesson do they learn?

When I am with my children, I behave exactly as I want them to behave. If a cashier gives me too much change by mistake, I correct the cashier and give the excess back.

sparkle said...

something that's become apparent to me while reading this post and the related comments: each person who's commented here has a particular amount of privilege that even allows them to be here talking about this. we all have access to the internet, whether at work, home, the library, a friend's house, whatever. maybe there are socioeconomic issues that play into physical punishment being used as discipline. as the blog owner and another sista mentioned, they're the products of fresh-off-colonialism parents from the caribbean. i definitely understand that.
for me, i see a lot of mothers and fathers (or other caregivers, like siblings) who lack one major thing: patience. they may have zero understanding of the way children (small children especially) function. when katt williams gave his thoughts on black folks publicly beating their kids, he wasn't really wrong. he said, "your child is three years old; he's supposed to like skittles!"
there's a lot of misunderstanding. some of us are treating our kids like really unfortunate consequences of sex. others of us think that love is compulsory in parent-child relationships regardless of a connection between the two. how many of us (urbanites especially) have seen someone who appears to be barely 2 decades older than the child of whom they are in charge? & how does that manifest itself? slamming the child into a chair, yelling, being disengaged from the child when something big-person-specific is going on, etc. smacking the child, beating the child really seems to be the easiest way to release that pressure. the pressure of being exclusively responsible for a little person who is fully and totally dependent upon you. that's a lot if you don't even feel like you have your own life together.
that may not be the case with our parents' generations, but it's glaringly obvious with these younger parents in our communities. the same systematic lack of education, the systematic removal or lessening of resources, the cyclical violence & other ills, in my opinion, help create a toxic environment. add to that the violent society in the united states (this whole country was built on the backs of ppl controlled by violence AND land stolen from folks with epidemics and slaughter) and i think you pretty much have a prime environ for the "kick ass first ask questions later" approach to parenting i've become accustomed to seeing.
this is NOT to say that there aren't exceptions.
this is NOT to say that we can't teach each other differently, especially by relating to what exhausts caregivers.
& real rap, it's not anyone's place to determine what another person's experience was or was not. renee, i could tell from the very tone of your writing in this post that you were exposed to something that in pretty much every circle would be considered abuse. levels of punishment, explanations for punishment, etc. are always a good idea no matter what your disciplinary approach is. there is no way to determine how punishments will affect your child.
but the bottom line is this:
the master's tools will not destroy the master's house. those of us who are the descendants of slaves are likely aware of the way that public humiliation & usage of weapons (whips, flip flops, shoes, ping pong paddles) tie directly into what happened to many of our ancestors. it's not a coincidence. this system did not belong to our ancestors; it belonged to those who were in charge in the days of chattel slavery. period. & i think if more of us are able to think of it that way (not just those of us who have the luxury, like myself, of talking about it on the web), we may be able to change some things.

nia said...

Sparkle said:
"As the blog owner and another sista mentioned, they're the products of fresh-off-colonialism parents from the caribbean. I definitely understand that."

I def. agree with everything you said in the post above. I just wanted to clarfiy though that the lashes I described in Comments #11 were from my school teachers and not my parents.

Rachel said...

Thank you for writing about this - it is something my husband and I have been talking extensively about recently. We do not have children yet, but are thinking about it, and I am firmly against any physical punishment, including the "spankings" that so many don't consider abuse. I want to make sure we are in agreement before I even think about tossing the birth control. So much of it seems to be about breaking through habits of thinking - for example, I think "spanking" is a word people use to minimize the act and I insist on the word "hitting" instead.

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