When my oldest son was little I was married to different man. Before we married he was kind and spiritual. It wasn’t long after our son was born that my husband’s personality took a turn for the worse. At first he just yelled a lot. Then he began punching the walls and throwing things. He was tough on our son. He expected too much out of a two year old. Even though my husband was abused as a child, he still thought our son should be spanked. I did not.
My husband decided that we should go to counseling to help us sort out our differences, I agreed. (The counselor agreed with me on the subject of spanking, by the way.) When my husband came home from a private counseling session one day and and informed me that he had been punching pillows pretending that they were me all day, I decided that I was not going to stick around and wait for him to start punching me for real or worse, start punching our children. (I was also pregnant with our second son by this time.) One morning I pretended I was going to work but instead disappeared with our son! Shortly after that I learned that my husband had died suddenly in a tragic accident. I was twenty two years old with two young sons.
I vowed that I would never hit my boys. Until I became a Christian, that is. Despite my earlier near brush with spousal and child abuse, I caved in to the peer pressure of my new more knowledgeable Christian friends who convinced me that spanking was the right and good Christian way to discipline children. I never did feel good or right when I spanked my boys, yet I continued to use spanking, shaming, and punishment as my primary forms of discipline for many years.
Frankly all the controlling, micro-managing, disrespecting, shaming, negativity and pain which I inflicted upon my children when they were little did nothing but cause them to fear me and fear the spanks and punishments. So they learned to lie and became sneaky and deceptive in order to avoid punishment. As they became pre-teens and teens they became rebellious, even sneakier, and disrespectful. They began treating me the very same way I had been treating them!
Somewhere along the line I returned to my senses. I renewed my previous conviction that spanking, shaming, and punishing was a contradiction to loving and protecting my children. I became conscious of the wrongness of physically and emotionally hurting the very children that I professed to love more than anything. I realized that I never would have treated anyone else as hurtfully and disrespectfully as the way I was treating my own children. I stopped spanking my children and began exploring and studying peaceful, positive, and respectful parenting alternatives.
The children whom I have treated respectfully, the children whom I have trusted, the children whom I have not micro-managed, the children whom I have not tried to control, the children whom I have not spanked have never been disrespectful, rebellious, untrustworthy, sneaky, or felt forced to lie to avoid a punishment!
Thankfully my older children have forgiven me my mistakes. Despite their early experiences with being spanked they have grown up into wonderful, socially conscious gentle, caring, and peaceful adults!
*Please note- I do not blame or accuse the Christian faith, the Bible, or any religious denomination of promoting child abuse. We each need to study the scriptures, search our own conscience’s, pray, and decide for ourselves how we should discipline our own children. We should not just blindly follow along with what we are told is gospel truth by others. It is not anti-Christian, un-biblical, or wrong to choose peaceful, gentle, and positive parenting methods*
I like what Positive Parenting: Peace Begins at Home has to say about positive parenting.
Positive parenting is based on love, respect, compassion, empathy, kindness, and gentleness.
-All children have the right to be free from all forms of violence.
-All feelings are accepted as part of our emotional beings.
-Children need loving guidance, not punishment.
-Limits should be set and enforced with empathy and kindness.
-We do not use fear-based tactics, such as punishment and coercion, but rather teach our children through our example, guidance, relationship, play, and love.
-Parents and children should have a close connection, and from that connection, cooperation arises.
An interesting read on positive parenting- 10 Facts Every Parent Should Know
Time Magazine’s The Long Term Effects of Spanking
American Psychological Association’s The Case Against Spanking
For peaceful, gentle parenting resources pleas see my article, Peaceful, Positive Parenting
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