I Used To Hit My Children

2012-01-24 001 2012-01-24 015

Let’s get right to it:

I used to spank.

There, I’ve said it.  I used to hit my children.  So read this with an open mind, assured that I am not judging you.  My mission is and always will be, to equip adults with the tools to protect children and promote equality for them.  I am sharing with you what I have learned.  It has helped my family and me tremendously, and I share because I am confident that you can find it helpful as well.  With that said, let’s get back to it.

I used to spank.  I used to hit.

I don’t think I ever really liked it.  In fact I know I never liked it.  It was certainly a good way to shut my eldest up when I was busy, and it got her to obey me.  Deep down though (and not even all that deep), I knew she feared me.  And not that sort of reverent fear that we’re supposed to have of God.  This was like, “Hey you’re a scary tall person who hits me” fear.  When she was doing what I thought was acting out, but have now learned is how she communicated with me because I left her with few options, all I had to do was walk toward her and she’d cower.  Because of the threat of being spanked.  I hated that.  I’ve even told her not to be afraid of me, and that if she’d do what she knew was right I wouldn’t have to spank her.

When I had my eldest daughter I was clueless.  I knew it then but I didn’t realize to what extent.  I was 19, single, working full time and afraid.  Afraid because I was broke, afraid because I was alone, afraid to do wrong by my child.  I hit so many bumps along the way.  I gave up on nursing, which sent me into a deep depression.  I was having troubles with her father.  I was guilty all of the time about having her in a home daycare, away from me.  I missed my own family.  I was stressed, and tired, and frustrated.  Even through all that, I could see that being Ryleigh’s mother was THE best thing I would EVER do.  I reveled in watching her grow.  Simply spending time with her, doing anything at all, would make me so emotional at times that I would tear up.  I was amazed by her and by how she navigated life.  She has always been a loving, inquisitive child.  I was head over heels in love with her.

You wouldn’t know it by the way I yelled.  And spanked.  For me spanking and yelling usually went hand in hand, though I admittedly yelled a lot more than I spanked.  I was encouraged to spank by everyone I knew.  How else will she learn?  You don’ want her to be spoiled!  We were spanked, right?  And look at us!  Don’t worry, she’ll learn to do what’s right, because she knows what will happen otherwise.  I agreed.  I had been spanked as a child.  And I remember that whenever I got a spanking, I knew I deserved it.  My mom really only spanked us when we did something we knew we shouldn’t have done.  And sometimes, after a spanking she’d actually come in and apologize to us, and plead with us to obey her so that she wouldn’t “have” to spank us.

Hmm…

My mom spanked us for being mischievous, but it never deterred us.  So was spanking working?  It made us cry, made us feel like crap, and then my mother’s apology and blame game made us feel crappier.  THAT’S what we were thinking.  The last thing on our minds, after a spanking, was the offense which had “earned” us the spanking.  She never came back and talked to us about it, or asked why we’d done it, or given us alternatives.  It was never discussed.  And we certainly didn’t discuss it with each other.  We’d just sit and cry and console each other, then go on about our day.

It was a pattern that carried over into adulthood.

Much like the mischief I’d make as a child, as I grew up I was very willing to take risks and accept punishment.  For me, punishment was the inevitable outcome of a misstep, be it planned or involuntary.  I could handle punishment.  But did I have to?  No.  But, alas, I’d never learned the art of self-regulation.  I hadn’t been taught to control myself just because I knew it was the right thing to do.  I was a very well-behaved child, but when there was something I wanted to go after, I could set myself up to accept any punishment coming my way and go for it.  I wasn’t thinking about why I was doing something, or what would happen after.  I knew the order: BAD ACTION -> PUNISHMENT -> GET OVER IT -> MOVE ON.  But before BAD ACTION there is another option that I’d never been presented with.

Handy dandy communication.  Redirection.  Guidance.

Then I found attachment.  I’d already been praying about my yelling.  I’d made a vow to my daughter to stop.  When my second baby came, I went into Better Mommy overdrive.  I was not going to rob my children of a safe, violence-free childhood.  For a long time while I was practicing attachment parenting, I was still spanking.  I had no idea that it was considered violence.  Weird, huh?  Because when you think about it, extending your arm in a person’s general direction with the aim to strike them enough to solicit a response, is pretty much violent.  But I guess that’s why spanking is so widely promoted.  Because children aren’t always considered to be people.  My children are people.  That is what attachment parenting helped me to realize.  I was caught up in my mainstream values, and I didn’t realize how desensitized I was to the lack of respect our society seems to have for the rights of children.

But children ARE people.  They are smaller, and their voices are a bit more high pitched, and they are cuter than the average, but they ARE people.  They have their own feelings, their own ideas, their own needs, and their own agenda.  Their OWN agenda – something else AP helped me to appreciate about my children.  When they don’t obey me, it is not a personal attack against me.  It doesn’t mean they are “bad,” it doesn’t mean they are purposely trying to irk me – they just have another plan forming in their head.  That’s okay.  Because they ARE people.  Just like when my boss would call me and tell me to look something up and I’d open my web browser to Facebook.  Just like when Bill Clinton was supposed to be partying and he was with Monica Lewinsky.  Just like when police abuse their authority or soldiers kill unarmed civilians or a man lies on an application or a woman drives through a red light – we as adults have our own agendas, often contrary to what is expected of us, and is someone allowed to come and smack us for it?  Absolutely not, at least not in the country I’m typing this post from.  Why not?

Because if you smacked me, even if you’re bigger than me (which you likely are), I’m smacking you back.  And then you’d smack me back and we’d just be smacking each other till I passed out.  And what would that accomplish?  Nothing.  Just a tall skinny brown girl lying on the sidewalk.

It doesn’t go this way for children though.  Because our children are taught not to smack back.  Our children are taught that violence is a necessary part of growing up.  They are taught that if a peer hits them, they must report it.  If a stranger hits them, they must cry out for help.  But if one of their parents or aunts or uncles hits them, well, then they must allow it.  Awkwarrrrrd.

When I stopped hitting my children I freed my family from the shadow that violence had cast over us.  I didn’t even know it had been there until it was gone.  I LOVE the conversations that our spank-free life has encouraged.  Of course it’s hard, especially because we don’t have a father figure in the household.  It is evermore rewarding.  My eldest has started to talk openly with me about her actions.  When she’s done something wrong, we discuss it and even though it hurts her to admit to it, she does.  Because she has no fear.  She knows I support her no matter what, and that if I don’t understand what she’s saying, I’m going to just listen harder.  I don’t worry about losing control, because I’ve learned to pause, to breathe, and to put myself in my children’s shoes.

Can you imagine having to look UP to everyone, all day?  Constantly having your voice talked over, being told which way to go, when to eat, how to dress?  Being a child is not always easy.  Let’s empower our children.  Let’s show them that we take everything they say and feel as seriously as we would if they were over 5 feet tall.  If you spank, please honestly evaluate your motivation, and do some research – I bet there are peaceful ways to achieve whatever results you feel spanking achieves.  And once you’re convinced, please spread the word.  Love to you and to your children.

Positive Parenting Links:

Ten Reasons Not to Hit Your Kids – The Natural Child Project

No Bad Kids – Toddler Discipline Without Shame (9 Guidelines) | Janet Lansbury

Dr. Laura Markham > Should You Spank Your Child?

Why punishment doesn’t work

Practice Positive Discipline – Attachment Parenting International

 

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Categories: Attachment Parenting, Gentle Parenting, Spanking

Author:Kimberley

I'm Kimberley, work-at-home single momma to two girls, Ryleigh, 9, and Logan, 3. The Single Crunch is the story of our journey from a lifestyle saturated in mainstream ideals to an organic existence, and learning to love each other, ourselves, and any living thing, unconditionally. I'm passionate about breastfeeding, unschooling, single parenting, writing, grief, childhood abuse, childism, and natural living. I write about all this and whatever else moves me, which is a lot, and I throw in some funny on the regular. I'm humbled and grateful to have you reading, thank you. I hope something here will help you in any way.

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45 Comments on “I Used To Hit My Children”

  1. April 30, 2012 at 2:46 am #

    What a wonderful post! Thank you very much for sharing. I grew up in a spanking (but loving -as was yours) household and just assumed I’d do the same when my own child came along. Luckily my spouse felt differently and it was agreed that there would be no spanking in our home. Of course then the dilemma becomes how to raise a good child without it, as it was all I knew. We’ve still got a bit of time to work it out, fortunately.

    • June 27, 2012 at 5:20 pm #

      Thank you! I grew up in a spanking household as well, and I’ve struggled with raising my girls without it. But it can be done and it’s worth the effort! Thank you for reading. – Kimber

  2. April 30, 2012 at 3:29 am #

    I was spanked by one of my parents growing up, and all I remember feeling was angry and afraid, and that led to resentment. I know I won’t spank my child, but I’m not sure my partner feels as certain as he tends to give in to what people think he should do. I think your story is a great example of how a home can change for the better once violence has left it, and I hope my partner will read it.

    • June 27, 2012 at 5:20 pm #

      Thank you. I hope your partner has read it; keep leading by example. – Kimber

  3. dana
    April 30, 2012 at 11:39 am #

    I instantly teared up reading this our family is in The same rut. Thank you for sharing this. Today is The day things change in our family thank you so much

    • June 27, 2012 at 5:21 pm #

      You are welcome! Thank you for that inspiration. – Kimber

  4. April 30, 2012 at 12:35 pm #

    You are amazing, Crunch. You were brave to share your story and I can truly imagine how many children’s lives it will touch.

  5. April 30, 2012 at 1:29 pm #

    Thank you for sharing this.

  6. Becky
    April 30, 2012 at 1:55 pm #

    Big Big Big Kudos to you for changing your attitude and your children’s lives!! We need more people like you!

  7. Alanna
    April 30, 2012 at 2:28 pm #

    Thank you for sharing your story. You put into words what I have been thinking and feeling. I also was spanked as a child and so were my parents and all my cousins. It’s the norm in my family. With my oldest spanking was the tool I resorted to but it never seemed right and now I have been researching and looking for other tools. I still yell at times, it’s something I’m working on. I have received so much criticism from my family for cosleeping, babywearing, extended breastfeeding, and not spanking. It’s amazing to read a post that I can relate to. Thank you again for sharing this.

  8. April 30, 2012 at 2:47 pm #

    What an amazing thing you have done for your children and yourself! Thank you for sharing your story and your journey, I am certain you will inspire many parents to change and reflect.

  9. Ludmila Baker
    April 30, 2012 at 3:51 pm #

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I’m pregnant with my first child. Thanks to people like you, who opened my eyes, she’ll grow up free of violence. You are positively affecting the lives of other people. Keep it up.

  10. Sarah Pruitt
    April 30, 2012 at 4:05 pm #

    Totally agree! I have remarked to my husband several times about how talking with my three year old is much harder and I can see how people choose to go the other route b/c it seems to fix the problem but really only leaves a lot of emotional scarring on both ends. Yelling is hard to get rid of completely in times of frustration but I always try to get it together and explain why I was frustrated and we get a dialogue going. I’m also teaching my three year old to count and breath to calm down so she can explain herself instead of throwing a fit and/or yelling. I can only hope that all this work will result in her and her sister being healthier emotionally.

  11. April 30, 2012 at 4:28 pm #

    Wow, I can relate so much to this post. Thank you so much for you honesty and sharing your journey.

  12. April 30, 2012 at 5:23 pm #

    Wow! Awesome awesome awesome post. I never considered this aspect of spanking before, “For me, punishment was the inevitable outcome of a misstep, be it planned or involuntary. I could handle punishment. But did I have to? No. But, alas, I’d never learned the art of self-regulation. I hadn’t been taught to control myself just because I knew it was the right thing to do. I was a very well-behaved child, but when there was something I wanted to go after, I could set myself up to accept any punishment coming my way and go for it.” Thank you so much for posting!

  13. Alyssa
    April 30, 2012 at 6:29 pm #

    Beautifully written! This echos my own sentiments perfectly. We’ve been AP since our first was born almost 3 yrs ago, & yes…we spanked, too. But I’ve recently been questioning that decision for many of the same reasons as you. (Planning to blog about it too, actually.) Thanks for sharing what you’ve learned & how you’ve changed your approach. Good stuff! And always nice to know I’m not alone.

  14. April 30, 2012 at 8:25 pm #

    This is one of the best posts I’ve read in a long while. Thank you so much for sharing your story! You will inspire many. (I also very much appreciate your link to my No Bad Kids post.) <3

  15. Sakinah
    April 30, 2012 at 8:41 pm #

    I appreciate you sharing your story. I have to say that our stories are very parallel. When i was pregnant I knew that I did not want to spank however when the time outs and redirection stopped working and the spanking did, I kept with the spanking…the real problem was that I did not stay consistent and THAT is why the time outs did not work. I noticed at one point a few years ago that my daughter would flinch regardless of where we were because she was afraid I was going to hit her. I feel like when you spank your kids you really have to think of where YOUR frame of mind is because there are alternatives. My daughter has ADHD so her impulse control or the lack there of can be very frustrating because she would do stuff and just “not care” about the consequence (medicated or not). I realized then that spanking her did not matter because she knew that it was were only consequence then she would be able to do whatever she wanted. Spanking her and taking something was pointless because why was I spanking her if I was still going to take something away? I know there are a lot of things she likes to do and play with and we don’t do them when she is acting out. If a movie is coming on she is looking forward to see,..i tell her she has to behave or it won’t be happening. She had a big school trip that cost $600 and we had started making payments on it but i kept having issues with her being disrespectful. I gave her a goal to earn the trip and she did not even come close to reaching it even though it was extremely attainable. At that point I had to follow through and take the trip away. I emailed her teacher and got my money back and when her entire 5th grade class when on this 3 day long trip….she had to stay home. It hurt my heart to do it but it was a key moment for me as a parent because I could say I was consistent and followed through even though it cost her a non-mandatory teachable moment. My whole point in taking the trip away was “if I can’t trust you to be respectful to me at home…how can I expect you to be respectful when others around in public”. She is really good about acting out when others are around because she THINKS she won’t get in trouble. Now, she is 11 and while I am still having to take things away, the incidents are less and less…her TV time is only on the weekends and every time I have to talk to her she looses an hour. Consistency with that is key. She also looses outside time. I know now the best thing to do it to make sure that I pick things to take away that are reasonable and doable.

    I have also noticed that we have a lot more talks now because we were having the same behavior issues and I just needed to get in her head a little to see what I could do differently and that helped. With my twins (who are on the way) I hope that I can continue to remind myself of the lessons I have learned. I also use to tell yell more than I like…I am naturally loud when I talk in general so I am now working on speaking to her without yelling and just raising my voice so she understands I am upset. It’s hard but its getting better and easier to change. I don’t like being yelled at so I keep that in mind when I speak to my own.

  16. chris
    April 30, 2012 at 10:20 pm #

    @Sakinah – This might be of some help:http://www.naturalchild.org/jan_hunt/22_alternatives.html

  17. May 1, 2012 at 2:29 pm #

    Thank you for your story!

  18. Ben
    May 2, 2012 at 12:23 pm #

    I came from a home that subscribed to spanking as the primary form of behavior correction. I was spanked between 3-7 times a day. My sibling was never spanked. I am now grown up and am thankful that my parents disciplined me in the manner they did. Nothing else would have been sufficient. I believe that the discipline must fit the reason for it and it must be donw out of love and not anger. The discipline type must also fit the child. Grounding, spanking, verbal will work in differant ways for differant kids.

    • May 2, 2012 at 12:35 pm #

      Ben, I know a lot of people feel the way you do, and I feel that you cannot truly know if anything else would have been sufficient if it was never tried. Spanking is the same as hitting, I myself still need direction and guidance, and I still receive it, but never through the use of physical punishment. Because I’m an adult, and considered “too big.” Violence against children shouldn’t be acceptable, there is no need for it. It’s a quick fix because parents don’t feel they have time to communicate effectively. I hope you’ll look into some of the links I posted, there are MANY OPTIONS a parent can use instead of spanking. But I used to think like you did, except I always knew that my mom’s spanking weren’t doing anything but messing up my day for a half hour. Thank you for reading!

    • Disagree
      June 26, 2012 at 7:39 pm #

      Agreed Ben!

  19. Laura
    May 4, 2012 at 7:00 pm #

    Excellent post. When adults hit each other they can go to jail. When adults hit children it is considered acceptable, often encouraged. How does that make ANY sort of sense?

  20. Disagree
    June 26, 2012 at 7:22 pm #

    Isn’t the difference in today’s younger generation that they do anything they want when they want? Because parents can’t do anything about it nowadays. You can’t touch your kids without them calling the cops..that is more of a problem in my eyes. Of course you feared your parents…we all did! What the real problem is, is that kids today have no fear what so ever!
    I know a mother that has a 6 year old boy and a 2 year old girl. The boy is down right vicious..he punches, kicks, screams, bites..basically rages on EVERYONE…including his 2year old sister that is now (no thanks to her parents) the exact same way. They have tried everything from timeouts to taking away toys, talking to schools, mothers and Doctors..this has been getting worse and worse. The kid beats the crap out of his mother on a daily basis. Name one thing she hadn’t tried and absolutely refuses to do? That right! Give the kid a spank in his bare ass! He has absolutely no fear and it’s to the point that she basically fears her own child! My parents spanked me..just like you, I knew if I was getting a spank that I deserved it tenfold. The only thing that has changed is this generation of parents is That they are lazy! You can’t just go and hit your kids. Of course not..there really is a fine line that has to be balanced.

    • June 26, 2012 at 7:57 pm #

      Today’s generation of children is very different; but aren’t they being raised by those of us who were spanked as kids? Spanking doesn’t solve anything, it just leaves a lot unspoken of; which creates a bit of a selfish attitude as an adult, which may be why so many parents sem “lazy”. When someone’s needs haven’t been met it’s difficult to put others first the way one should. And I don’t agree that children need to learn to fear. Children grow big, too, and then what? They don’t fear as much and they can’t control themselves? Or they have learned to bully those smaller than them? Children need guidance to learn self-control. Your friend sounds like she’s doing everything she can, good for her. Raising children isn’t easy. I’m sorry she hasn’t been able to connect yet but I hope she keeps trying peaceful solutions. Hitting isn’t necessary. Hitting is very lazy. It takes much more effort to communicate. Sometimes we may have to try and try and try, but that’s okay. We are dealing with fellow human beings here. Thank you for reading and commenting. – Kimber

      • Disagree
        June 26, 2012 at 11:17 pm #

        This only applies to those that don’t have open communication with their kids.
        As for my friend..ya it’s fine and dandy when she has that one child..in her own home. However, when he’s biting her 2 year old so hard he’s leaving imprints in her skin…that is a problem and to be honest..she should not be “rewarded” for her efforts on not spanking her child. Her child is like that b/c he has no consequences for his actions. When he’s out in the real world he will suffer from more than a spanking.

      • Disagree
        June 26, 2012 at 11:19 pm #

        Oh, sorry , one more thing. To allow him to treat her own child like that is way worse than punishing HIM for it. Who do you think suffers more?

  21. Claudia
    September 6, 2012 at 4:48 pm #

    How did you stop hitting? I do it to my own kids out of anger or frustration, not always maybe once or twice a month when I’m at boiling point with them, I snap and really go off on them but I feel horrible because I know how it felt as a child. I was hit often and regularly by my mother and never had a good relationship with her because I feared her and don’t speak to her as an adult because she never changed and her ways of control have transferred to our relationship with me as an adult. I know I don’t do it a lot but I feel horrible after and have no idea what to do to make them feel better and not fear me and how to stop my frustration in the heat of the moment. I really don’t want to put them through this even if it isn’t all the time, it’s still such a horrible feeling. I feel depressed afterwards for some time as well just thinking of how they must have felt and feel after.

  22. June 25, 2013 at 2:12 pm #

    This is such a beautiful article. I’m going to repost it to my site, stopspanking.org because you are so honest and inspiring. I so admire you! <3

  23. August 14, 2013 at 3:17 am #

    Reblogged this on Anarchy For Christians and commented:
    A heart felt plea from experience to stop spanking.

  24. Jensee
    June 3, 2014 at 12:46 am #

    Ridiculous. You used to spank? No. You used to release anger. I spanked my kids. Each of them has never been spanked (swatted) more than 3 times.. all before the age of 8 years old. The point was gotten and never needed again. That’s how spanking works. I was not angry. I did not raise my voice. I had no need to release the anger of Satan on my kids. I did not apologize either.

    Wimpy parenting.

    • June 3, 2014 at 1:11 am #

      Well see there’s the problem…I hadn’t met you! I’ve been looking for a perfect person still in the flesh, to guide me in their infinite wisdom. Here you’ve been all along. Thank you. Your comment was enriching. Hope ya feel better. I feel about the same – like a pretty rad parent.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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    [...] who only wants to laugh and love, and to be loved.  It’s awful, no matter how you say it.  I used to do it and I can admit it’s awful.  It only teaches that violence equals silence.  And silence means [...]

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