Cross-posted at Fussbucket
Should states outlaw spanking? Currently lawmakers in Massachusetts are debating the issue. According to this article in the Boston Herald, the proposed bill was prompted by a local nurse who wants parents to be educated on alternative forms of discipline. Thanks to Salon’s Broadsheet for the tip.
The liberal lot of the Massachusetts legislature are not the only ones considering the issue. The Minnesota Supreme Court heard arguments last week about the limits of physical abuse after a 12-year-old turned in his father to authorities after he was hit with a wooden paddle 36 times. Say what?
Broadsheet’s Carol Lloyd writes: “According a Star Tribune report, the hearing delved into the ugly details of what’s considered ‘acceptable violence.’ The lawyer representing the boy argued that 12 blows were ‘completely admissible’ but the subsequent 24 blows were not. The lawyers for the defense suggested the punishment remained within reasonable limits, since it left no scars or bruises and the beating ‘was not a decision made in haste or anger’ but ‘planned discipline.’”
If Massachusetts decides to pass an anti-corporal-punishment ban, it would become the first in the nation to make spanking a criminal offense for parents. (Some consider Minnesota’s combination of statutes to add up to a virtual ban.)
But if a spanking ban makes Massachusetts an anomaly, it will have plenty of company internationally. According to Stop Hitting, a nonprofit dedicated to banning all forms of corporal punishment, 20 countries now outlaw all forms of corporal punishment: Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Israel, Italy, Latvia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Sweden and Ukraine.
I’m not a fan of spanking. I do, however, currently live with a four year old who is driving me crazy. One word: testing. If you’ve never lived through this, beware. If you have, you know what I’m talking about. He refuses to do simple things, insists on doing things he’s not supposed to do, and demands to have things he’s never been allowed to have before. Annoying does not even begin to describe it. Here’s a typical scene:
Me: Hey buddy, could you take that toy out of the kitchen, because I’m trying to cook dinner and you’re kind of in the way.
Me: Well actually it isn’t a choice. I want you to move. But you can set up your playing right there in the dining room and I’ll still be able to see you.
Me: I’m going to count to three and I want you to move. One, two, three.
Me: Okay, here’s your choice. You can move yourself or I’ll move you for you.
Me: Is that what you want?
Me (getting louder): Then move!
Me: Okay then, I’m moving you.
Lots of yelling and arms flailing.
Now what was it you said you wanted for dinner? Agh!!!
After a few rounds of this kind of thing in a day and I’m all over the thought of whopping his behind. Actually, one time I did lose it and swatted his bottom with my hand. (A paddle is unimaginable to me.)
The result was interesting. We were both very surprised and it jolted us out of the battle we were having. I apologized and told him that I had lost my temper and that what I did was not okay. He really seemed to appreciate that. We hugged and then read a book together. I think we were both chastised by the experience.
Now that I’m a seasoned spanker, I have loads of wisdom. Here goes: There is a short-term satisfaction that comes with a spank because it allows you to do something with all the anger you’re feeling, but then you feel guilty and realize that you really didn’t solve or teach anything. It’s not the way to go, at least for me.
When I’m not doing battle with him, I actually appreciate that what he’s going through is normal and understandable. He’s learning who he is and what happens in the world when he asserts himself. I think of him of as playing a new instrument, like the trombone. Right now, he’s hitting a lot of wrong notes. As his parents, we’ve got to endure the loud cacophony, grin and bear it as best we can until he gets a handle on the thing.
I have faith in him that he’ll figure it out. In the meantime, I’m taking lots of deep breaths and leaving the room when I can’t take it anymore.
So what do you think? Should states outlaw spanking? Is there ever a time when spanking is appropriate? Have you ever lost it like I did? Isn’t it the worst?