Crime & Punishment – Child Rearing

daughter & IMy view of using physical punishment has evolved over the years. I once thought it was the answer to change a child’s bad behavior. I wasn’t usually physical with my children but there were times when I thought it was appropriate to spank.  That ended when they were about 7 or 8 years old. It may be that we spank as a parent for something we’ve been taught, such as ‘spare the rod, spoil the child’. The rod doesn’t have to be anything other than stopping the child from the wrongful activity. Correction doesn’t require raising our voice to monumental levels either.  You are responsible for your children and you get them for a very few short years. When I reflect on how I raised my children and how my mother raised me, this is what I’ve learned.

My mother loved me as a child. She demonstrated respect for others thereby teaching me to do the same. She found her voice and her love were much more effective than any physical punishment. The last time she hit me was with her shoe on my butt. I was deserving of some form of punishment because of what I did. The result of using the shoe was to break off the heal. It didn’t hurt me and I was about to laugh at what happened until I saw the effect it had on my mom. We were poor and repairing this shoe wasn’t within budget. She sat down on the floor and cried. When I saw that, I sat down next to and leaned against her, vowing to never cause her to have a reason to cry from me anymore.

I was in many fist fights as a kid. Someone was always trying it on with me and all it did over the years was make me hard and angry. I entered the Marines just after completing high school and they believed in physical punishment as well as a lot of yelling. You may wonder how that connects with raising children.

C - sitting in a treeI’ve come to realize something which I could or should have many years ago. When you get physical and or yell, you make someone defiant. They get angry and perhaps hurt as well. It only teaches them to act out in aggressive ways when they get older. Children aren’t little Marines and teaching them to respect authority isn’t something gained through striking them or yelling because you think it appropriate.

My mother was smarter than I was, she knew her expectations and her love were superior to her hands or even her shoes. She learned that early on. I may have been an unruly teenager but I’ve been a responsible caring adult. I suggest don’t spare the love, you won’t be spoiling the child.

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