Welcome to the Spank Out Day 2012 Carnival
This post was written for inclusion in the Second Annual Spank Out Day Carnival hosted by Zoie at TouchstoneZ. Spank Out Day was created by The Center for Effective Discipline to give attention to the need to end corporal punishment of children and to promote non-violent ways of teaching children appropriate behavior. All parents, guardians, and caregivers are encouraged to refrain from hitting children on April 30th each year, and to seek alternative methods of discipline through programs available in community agencies, churches and schools. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
My mother was progressive for her time.
She breastfed me until I was 3 years old and I slept in her room until I was 5. As far as I know I was never spanked by her and she respected my need to be with her as much as possible.
Pretty amazing, really, considering I born in 1974 when few mothers were breastfeeding and when corporal punishment was still common in schools and homes. But 1974 is also significant in my family because it is the year my parents buried my 4-year-old sister who died in a farming accident.
I cannot imagine what it does to a mother’s heart when she buries her child. I cannot imagine how she felt when my father carried my sister’s lifeless body into the house where my mother was nursing newborn me. I cannot imagine how she slept in her bed upstairs while her daughter lay in a coffin downstairs.
But I can imagine how fiercely she wanted to protect her 3 remaining children. I can imagine how much she loved us and wanted to keep us close to her. I can imagine how joining La Leche League and learning about the principles of Attachment Parenting helped her to heal as she held her children closer than ever.
When my mother decided to become a La Leche League Leader a few years after my sister’s death, she was asked in her interview “Would you ever spank your child?” (The interview process is a little different these days.) My mother replied thus:
On our property is a creek which is covered by snow in the winter and which is fast flowing in the spring. My children have been warned to stay away from it. But if one of them goes there and puts him or herself in danger, I will spank. Absolutely. And ladies, if you had been through what I have been through, you would a punish a child who risked putting me through that again.
When my mother told me this story a few years ago, my respect for her grew exponentially. You see, I didn’t grow up in an overtly loving home. We were well cared for, but love was never spoken nor shown through affection, attention or gifts. As an adult I can look back on my childhood and know that I was loved, but I never felt very loved or treasured or cherished or valued or prized. I don’t blame my parents for this–they did the best they could under very difficult circumstances. How could I blame them for being hurt and broken people when they had been crushingly hurt and broken by my sister’s death?
But knowing that my mother loved us so much that she would have punished us by spanking if we had defied her orders to stay away from danger really, really warms my heart. I don’t believe that punishment ever comes from love and I don’t believe the parents who say that they spank because they love their children. But in this circumstance, I understand where my mother was coming from. I understand implicitly what she didn’t know how to say to us explicitly:
My darling children, I love you so much. I would do anything in the whole world to protect you, but I know that you cannot always be right beside me or locked inside the house where I can keep you safe forever. My heart has already broken when I lost your sister and I cannot bare the thought of another accident taking one of you. I am begging you to make choices that protect your safety because you are so important to this family and to me. Please do not go near the creek. Please do not make me worry about you. Please understand that my heart needs you here, in my arms, alive, my precious children.
Ah, my mother.
I am so grateful to have been born into a family where hurt and brokenness prevailed because I have learned through sadness where to find joy. I am grateful that my mother healed through attachment parenting me, which filled my cup with so much security that I have been able to lavish love and joy on my own children. I am grateful for the anger and angst of my siblings because I have learned forgiveness. I am grateful for the walls that we in my family of origin built up around ourselves because I am having the time of my life tearing them down now.
I don’t spank and I don’t support spanking. But in this one instance, I understand why my mother threatened to spank us. In this one instance, it was a threat of love, though it was never done.
My mother didn’t have the words and tools at her disposal 38 years ago to show us and tell us how much she loved us. I understand that. When we know better, we do better. She does better now. And I will do better for my children.
Friends, let us forgive and let us learn from the past. It is the choices we make today that matter most.
On Carnival day, please follow along on Twitter using the handy #SpankOutCar hashtag. You can also subscribe to the Spank Out Day Carnival Twitter List and Spank Out Day Carnival Participant Feed.
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
- What Spanking Taught Me Meg at MommyStoleTheSugar explains the spankee’s perspective and how it has affected her disciplining choices as a parent.
- A Memory of Spanking Wolfmother at Fabulous Mama Chronicles explores her own upbringing and how it has affected her and why she is changing the way she relates to her children.
- Redirecting the Impulse to Spank Amy W. shares at Natural Parents Network about her experience redirecting the impulse to spank, and encourages all parents to respond with sensitivity and redirect anger before it becomes harmful.
- Perspective is Everything Patti at Canadian Unschooler learns to heal from the trauma caused by the childhood death of her sister, and gains a deeper understanding of her own mother’s love for her as a child.
- Remembering and Recharging Emily at The Other Baby Blog shares how she refocuses her mindset during high-stress times.
- Does spanking work? Megan at TheBehavioralChild Megan at The Behavioral Child lists the five reasons why spanking doesn’t work.
- Love is All There Is: A Spank Out Day Post Tree at Mom Grooves shares her thoughts about needing to find a way to discipline her 5 year old that could give her daughter the boundaries she is craving while still treating her with only love and respect.
- Discipline isn’t SOmething You Do; Discipline is SOmething You Have Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children questions how parents can expect their children to show self-control if they, themselves, do not exhibit slef-discipline.
- No Spanking, No Yelling, No Time Outs….What’s Left? Sheila at A Living Family shares that though spanked as a child herself, she has made efforts towards an alternative approach to setting limits.
- Forgiveness is possible; loving others in a way that works for us Kelly Hogaboom finds that if we are to raise our children in humane fashion, we must first recognize our own humanity.
- Dear Daniel, (On Discipline and Love) Amy at Anktangle writes a letter to her son about the many choices we have in life: how we treat people, how we parent, and how we use our bodies in the process.
- Spanking: A Day to Consider Our Muddy Boots recognizes that some see a difference between abuse and spanking, and maybe today is a day that we can consider some other perspectives and utilize available resources to make different choices.
- Mutual Respect
Sithyogini at Very Nearly Hippy learns how mutual respect between parents and children lead to peaceful parenting.
- I Hit My Kids and Now Begins The Real Work To Heal The Honesty Conspiracy hosts this powerful, anonymous story about how it’s never too late to start on a different approach to spanking.
- How To Talk To Parents About Gentle Alternatives To Spanking Zoie at TouchstoneZ shares some useful ways to discuss the often divisive issue of spanking.