Sunday, May 1, 2011

Confessions of an Army Wife........Discipline

Ok, here it is: I don't hit my kid. Shocking? Well around Baumholder it kind of is.

I recently learned that the phrase "Spare the rod and spoil the child" is not from the Bible but from Samuel Butler's "Hudibras", a 17th Century satirical poem. The poem, like his novel, The Way of All Flesh, was written to expose and denounce violence against children. Ironically, this phrase is now used to justify corporal punishment and other punitive actions against children.
The English version of the Bible pre-1377 don't include the line in the form we now use, but they do contain a similar thought, and this is probably where Butler took it from. In the King James VersionProverbs 13:24, we find
He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.
(At that time, "rod" was the same word as palm frond.) There is often debate here in Baumholder on our discussion pages about parents "popping" or spanking/hitting  their children. (Funny that two of these threads started during National Child Abuse Prevention Month.) That exact phrase above (spare the rod...) comes up a lot in these discussions. It's even gone as far as women giving instructions to other moms about how to pinch their child to get them to behave. Out of 102 posts I was one of three that spoke up and said I didn't agree.  I sometimes feel like the only person I know that doesn't physically discipline their child. I don't even know who I can talk to about it because nearly everyone I know agrees with spanking or hitting. My mom only spanked me twice as a child. One of the times it happened I was four years old. I remember the entire incident vividly. Did I deserve it? Yes, I probably did. I was really naughty. But the thing is, I knew what I did was horrible even without the spanking. I felt really guilty. I still do! This is something that happened 28 years ago and I still feel bad and I would even if I'd never gotten spanked. I don't really consider myself someone who was spanked or hit as a child because it happened so infrequently. I was always more worried I'd lose my privileges. When my daughter got old enough that simply saying "No" wasn't enough I did some research and found statistics on how damaging physical discipline can be on a child. (see the links at the bottom of the page for studies). We use the 2 warnings and then time out method. It usually works very well. I admit sometimes I am having a bad day and my patience is thin and I will yell at her and then feel bad later. I'm not perfect. I just don't understand why so many around me disagree and even look down on me for my method? It seems like for me to explain the reasons I DON'T hit her, it makes people defensive.  I hear over and over again, "My parents did it to me and I turned out fine." As a friend pointed out to me, they can't accept that maybe their parents made a mistake or worse that THEY are making a mistake so they cling to it. On it states:
 " Hitting children teaches them to become hitters themselves. "
Obviously that is what being hit by their parents taught them and they are now passing it on to their own children. I firmly believe that if I DON'T hit my child she will grow up saying, "My mom and dad didn't hit me, and I'm fine so I don't need to hit my kids either." I guess I have that thought to console me when I get down about all the so called discipline in Baumholder.

Just for an example, here are some actual quotes I've read on the message boards (pardon the spelling errors but these were taken directly from the message board and are unedited),

"So my Son for some time now when my son gets into stuff we give him a pop on the hand, butt or mouth and it worked really well he leave cords alone and does really bite any more and for the most part when we say no he stop doing what he is doing (maybe having a little crying fit). So lately he has started to slap me and daddy and will keep doing it even when we say no, and it seem kinda back words to give him a pop in the hand when he does it. Have any of you lady's had this problem. Oh and if you are of the opinion that giving a little pop is wrong. thats great but thats not what i'm asking for. So thank you"
(after someone suggested she be careful that ACS doesn't hear she hits her child) "SCREW acs....they can come knock on my door if they want any anybody out there who thinks they can raise MY kids better than I can please by all means try!!! Girl you do what you feel is right by your children and as long as your are not abusing them then if it works do it. All others need to keep their noses out of others business. Ok my vent for the day is done thank you"
"their is nothing wrong with spanking your child. I hate that crap about spanking leads to kids hitting. My kids wouldn't be the well behave kids they are if I didn't disciplined them and showed them to respect adults & other kids. They would be freaking wild! lol" 
 "I pity the fool that would call the MPs because I spanked my child. I dare someone. As for getting a "warning" I'd tell them where they could stick it. Like someone said, this post..."
"no spanking laws in my state so Im gonna keep on spanking"
"By the way, I spank. I did it with my teenagers and I will do it with my toddler. But, I also understand that it is against the law. We were told when we got here about spanking, so Im knowingly breaking the law."
"I am sorry to say, they will have to arrest me. 16 years ago in Germany, had a German lady called the police on me, cause I spanked my son in the Commissary. The Bible says to spare the rod and spoil the child." 
" Ladies, pinching does work. No one will see, but your child will understand."
" I totally agree....and yes pinching does work right on the back of the mom used to do that to us kids in the commissary all the time and there were 6 of us and she always had control ;0)"
" I wouldn't do anything to hurt my son. and I don't think its fair the way people think anyone who spanks or disciplines their kids is a child beater. I see all kinds of kids that where never spanked and they are horrible kids they are rude and misbehaved. If you don't spank thats fine. Some kids are fine if you don't and don't need it some kids are not going to behave even if you spank or whatever. It worked really well for me i was spanked. and ever time i do it to my son i make sure he knows what he did wrong and most of the time he gets a hug and a kiss."
"I got spanked and I turned out just fine. I spank. I will not tolerate anyone telling me not to, not even an MP. My kids are wonderful and have friggin awesome lives, even with discipline ;)"
That is just a small sampling, but reading through the entire thread again makes me sick to my stomach. I actually got a list of FCC providers here on post to make sure none of them were the women posting these things. (None of the FCC providers were in that conversation by the way.)   Please take the time to read a couple of articles about the subject. I really think it's worth it. 

The long term effects of spanking... (with statistics!)

This site has excellent alternatives to physical discipline...

10 Reasons not to hit our kids...

Great article about spanking vs non-spanking and the effects on different age children

I'd also like to highlight that according to our local paper - The Herald Union - there was 53 substantiated cases of child abuse last year in Baumholder!! That seems like a lot for such a small community. I wonder how many more went unnoticed?
 (p.s. this is MY blog and MY opinion so please don't try to justify hitting a child to me. I am NOT going to tell you it's OK)

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