Disclaimer: this post is not intended as a thorough objective discussion of child discipline. It's the story of my journey, my experiences and my beliefs. n_n
I spanked my children.
I was an insecure mom who wanted to raise my children right. That meant, of course, Biblically, God's way (but not Gary Ezzo's way), the perfect balance of nurture and admonition.
I couldn't rely on experience. My mom's way of "raising" me was to ignore and neglect me, unless she was feeling very angry and/or frustrated and then it was to berate me until she felt better or exhausted herself. If that didn't work, if she needed physical release for her anger, a slap across the face or a whack across the back of the legs with the nearest object would commence. I knew there was no nurture in that, nor anything disciplined about her unpredictable, ever-changing protocols for punishable offenses.
So I bought Dobson's Dare to Discipline and implemented his rules for what he considered good Christian parenting. I spanked. I told myself it was the right thing to do, after all Dobson said so and look how squeaky clean, well-educated and kindly the man seems? Plus he is considered An Expert.
So I got my list of rules out: only spank for defiance, never spank in anger, never use your hand, one lick for each year of age, no spankings after age eight, don't leave marks so use a double-folded belt, explain the reasons for spanking, and afterwards cuddle your child and insist they say they are sorry so you can say you forgive them. Oh and if you threaten to spank you must follow it up, or you will be teaching your children that you're a liar. This was supposed to make them feel secure and loved.
What kind of monster doesn't want their children to feel secure and loved?
I discounted his suggestion of squeezing the trapezius(sp?)muscle because I remembered the pain and humiliation of my mom pinching me in public.
Later, the Pearls came out with their horrible book comparing child raising to mule training. I rejected immediately on the grounds that the Pearls method blatantly defies scripture: 'let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted by God, for God tempts no one with evil...'They advocated actually purposely tempting your children! I dismissed the Pearls out of hand for that reason.
Later came Ezzo, also crazy for different reasons. He actually advocated NOT meeting your children's needs and doing so in the name of godliness, when God has promised to supply ALL of our needs! If I want to be like God, i.e. godly, I MUST respond to my children's cries! If the Lord is near to the broken-hearted, I should be near to my children when they are broken-hearted, that is if I want to be truly godly. When my babies cried, I was there to help them. No Ezzo allowed in my house.
Still, I did spank. I remember one time spanking my daughter, though she tearfully pleaded with me that she was truly sorry and please don't spank her. Through my own tears I spanked her, quoting Dobson that since I had already said I would spank her, then I would be a liar if I didn't. That is so embarrassing to remember. What a fool I was that day. I could've embraced my daughter's repentance the way God embraces mine, and offered mercy to her instead of being concerned with my own self-righteousness and reputation. Yuck.
I spanked rarely, but I can't honestly say I was never angry. My daughter remembers me spanking her in anger over her defiance when she was thirteen (I seriously don't remember this- but neither do I doubt her memory). She says that was the last spanking she ever got. She remembers feeling quite triumphant that she was able to frustrate me to the measure that I would even try spanking to get her to comply.
That was NOT how spanking was supposed to work!
The truth is, I would forego spanking completely if I had to do it all over. It would require more inconvenience on my part (time-outs have to be timed and enforced to be effective while a swat on the behind or hand is over in seconds) and more creativity to teach what needed to be taught (if the consequences are tailored to the offense rather than the same response for every infraction). I would focus even more on building relationships based on respect between parents and children, children and children, our family and neighbors, etc. I remember putting relationship parenting into practice, but having spanking as my fall back.
Spanking is a horrible fall back position. :(
I have apologized to my teens for having spanked them, but they each tell me it was no big deal. I'm glad they feel that way, but it still doesn't make it right. I have told them that I hope they can do a better job of parenting than I did, because each generation should take the good from the previous generation and add to it. I have even said that I hope they don't spank, but that I trust their judgement to do what's best when the time comes.
My daughter recently told me that she won't ever spank, but that it has nothing to do with her experiences or my apologies. (Haha, I'm never as important as I imagine! Lolz.)
She read an animal training book in her teens, called Don't Shoot The Dog. She learned from this book that negative-reinforcement only works because it discourages. It does more than discourage that particular behavior, it discourages the person (animal). Negative-reinforcement discourages initiative, curiosity and the effort to please that animals (and people) naturally possess. Negative-reinforcement can be very confusing to the punished, and results mostly in fear of crossing the punisher, not a positive thing in any relationship.
That book made it plain to her that negative-reinforcement was a lazy way to get quick compliance in an animal (or person) but that was all you would ever get. The desire to please the pack leader, the desire to learn and the desire to accomplish would be discouraged right along with the negative behavior. She decided that negative-reinforcement was foolish. Even people who train animals with negative-reinforcement are taking the lazy, stupid way out, according to my brilliant daughter (take that, Michael Pearl!).
Of course there are plenty of other blogs that do a much better job of pointing out the foolishness of spanking. I recommend looking around with an open heart and mind. Here are just two:
Who Let The Dogs Out?
The Fuit of Spanking: Shame and Rage