Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Madame Noir Recommends Spanking Children

I will occasionally skim through Madame Noir, though it is often full of so much fail, that it is not  worthy of my time.  Yesterday, as I was skimming, I came across and article by LaShaun Williams entitled, 8 Reasons to Spank Your Kids.  I normally have a non interference policy when it comes to other peoples kids, but I draw the line at abuse and this includes spanking.  The following is the list Williams gave to justify violence.
  1. You have to love your child enough to be tough and do what is necessary to get the desired result. Parent first, friend second.
  2.  To be feared (in the sense of reverence) is to be respected. Your children should be weary of going against your rules. It also teaches them to submit to authority regardless of whether or not they agree.
  3. Our destinies are determined by decision-making. Children have the option to obey or face the consequences, and they need to know consequences hurt.
  4. When you are aware of what is on the other side of making a poor decision, it is easier to exercise restraint.
  5. Every decision has an outcome, good or bad. Just as your reward your child for the good, you must also acknowledge and address the bad.
  6. Children need limits to learn how to grow up with restraint. They will never be able to do whatever they want. Teach them to live by the rules set in place.
  7. Western parents seem to assume fragility rather than strength. Spanking your child properly is not going to damage their self-esteem. Accepting mediocrity and dismissing poor behavior teaches them to indulge in being weak.
  8. Some kids need it, period. When time-out, talking and taking away toys doesn’t work, you have to get that butt.

It seems to me that what the author is trying to encourage is discipline.  Those who have to resort to spanking to punish, do so because that is often how they were punished, and they don't realize that there are many forms of discipline.  They are not thinking about what hitting actually teaches children.  The message that kids internalize is that they have no right to bodily integrity, because they are small and that big people can hit little people at any time.  This is not a good message to teach.

One of things I am continually offended by as a non spanking parent, is that it is considered a measure of how soft I am, or that my children don't have guidelines that they must follow.  I was speaking to an acquaintance of mine some years ago about our commitment not to spank, and was told that my children would end up in jail, because I didn't discipline appropriately. Simply because one does not resort to violence, does not mean that guidelines are not enforced.

I also do not understand how people equate fear with respect.  If a child truly fears you, they don't respect you and their feelings towards you will certainly be ambivalent.  Respect is earned and this is true whether you are dealing with an adult or a child.  Knowing that they can trust you to act in their best interest builds respect.  Children don't naturally want to let you down, they want to succeed and to be happy.  Growing is a learning process, and they are going to make mistakes, but to physically violate their person, for mistakes we know from the onset that they are going to make, is absolutely wrong.

Parents who spank suffer from a lack of imagination.  They seem to think that the only options for discipline are spanking or time outs and if a time out does not prove effective for their child, they assume that the only option is then to turn to violence.  Just as each parent is a unique individual, so is each child.  A good friend of mine growing up was a book worm and loved nothing better than to be in her room with her beloved books. Her mother used to punish her by forcing her outside with no books.   My son hates housework.  He will do it to get his allowance, but he is certainly no fan of it.  One of my punishments is making him scrub the kitchen floor on his hands and knees.  Let me tell you, for him this is a worse punishment than any kind of grounding I could give him.  The upside of all of this, is that I get a clean kitchen floor.  I have also seen that when I praise him after he has completed this task, it gives him a sense of accomplishment.  He leaves the encounter feeling that he has made amends, and that we can move forward together.   Discipline shouldn't end in a negative.  It should accomplish the letting the child know that a mistake has been made, but then allow them to realize that though you may be disappointed, they are still extremely valuable to the family unit.  It should remind them that we all make mistakes, and that we need to pull our part within the family and socially to be considered good citizens.  None of these lessons can be taught with physical violence, because it erodes their self confidence and their worth.

When I see people openly advocating violence against children, I wonder if they realize that we are in a constant state of justifying violence against marginalized bodies.  When women are beaten by their husbands, we excuse it because far too many people believe that she was asking for it.  How is a girl to form healthy relationships, when those that claim to love her the most hit her.  Is it not a possibility that she will equate this form of love, to violence that she may encounter later in life?  What about boys?  Does this violence not teach them that if they are dissatisfied with someone who is smaller, or physically weaker than them, that it is appropriate to hit them for their own good?

We are entrusted with children and as parents, we take a solid vow to do our best, and not to intentionally harm them.  Spanking breaks this vow, and it has life long consequences.  I have written time and time again about by dances with the belt, and I can tell you first hand as a survivor. that I have not forgotten nor have I forgiven.  A big site Madame Noir, would never publish a piece with 8 reasons why it's okay to beat your wife, and the fact that they did so with children, is a testament to just how vulnerable children are in our society.  They cannot vote, they don't earn money and they are incapable of physically protecting themselves. We live in a hierarchy that teaches us not to care about the least amongst us, but our children will inherit this world, and if we have a hope in hell of things getting better, we need to treat them with the love and respect that they deserve.