Monday, February 07, 2005

To spank or not to spank

With the rising influence of the right wingers in the US,the bloggers I read regularly talk more and more about raising and educating children the Christian way, which concretely means: home schooling (with creationism and Bible study in the curriculum), undisputed predominance of fathers and husbands over the wives and children, no sex before marriage, sex for procreative purposes only after marriage, and plenty of physical discipline: hot chili sauce on tongue for verbal sins, spanking with rods and belts for others, etc.

I have my own definite opinions on these issues, but I must confess I'm not as unhesitant on the issue of spanking. I live in Quebec, where children's rights are protected in what I used to consider an excessively anti-parents way. Physical punishment on children is forbidden and parents can be arrested for spanking their kids. Now, any parent (read: mother) who has been embarrassed and frustrated by a screaming, squirming kid throwing a tantrum in public would understand the rage can be build up inside the parent's heart. She still has to pick up the dry cleaning, finish buying groceries for tonight's dinner and she's going to miss the metro and be caught in the rush hour throngs with this screaming monster and two armfuls of groceries. It would seem that a whack on the bottom of the child would speed his recovery. Or not.

I remember the first time I spanked my first born. I lost something that was kept in my closet and he was always playing in my closet so I accused him, he denied, and in anger, I spanked him. The next day, his nanny told me that she took that thing (I don't even remember what it was) and put it somewhere else. I can still see his teary face and the deep-cutting remorse I felt then, which I still feel now, once in a while. I keep that feeling, with a few other painful episodes, in a special directory called «Bad things I did». That spanking, and another time when he called me at three or four in the morning to ask me to come pick him up cause there were no buses and it was raining and I said no because I was too sleepy, those are my safeguards. Every time I feel anger or frustration towards him, those memories are what drag me back to sanity and equinamity.

Spank your child in love, not in anger? I defy anyone to purposely hurt another creature out of love. Punishment is never about the other person, it's all about you and your surrendering to anger and desire for revenge, about your trying to regain control.

1 comment:

Nebu Pookins said...

Sorry about posting late, but I only noticed this entry from following a link from one of your more recent entry.

On the same topic, I remember one time, when I was very young, my parent scolded me because they had found dried up snot on the wall. I have one younger brother, but he was much shorter than me, and the snot on the wall was at just about my height, so obviously, my parents blamed me.

In retrospect, now that I'm 23, I admit that all the evidence points to me, and it's very likely that I did in fact place that snot there, but at the time, as a child of 7, 8 or 9 years old, I could not at all remember ever having placed it there. So obviously, I said it wasn't me, and I thought I was being honest when I said that, because I truly did not remember placing it there.

So did I do it? Probably yes. Would punishing me have thought me a lesson? Probably it would teach me that parents actually aren't as omniscient as they appear, because (from my perspective) they incorrectly assumed that I did something that I didn't. That might encourage me to lie more often, since parents aren't as smart as they seem, or it might simply encourage me to stay out of sight whenever my parents look like they're in a bad mood, as it's very possible to get punished for something (you thought) you didn't do.

I guess the conclusion is: parenting is difficult.