Why I won’t spank my kids

[note:  this opinion is solely my own! it is what works for me and my family. everyone is doing their best to parent the best way they know how.  I can appreciate all parenting techniques. people I know and love discipline all sorts of ways and they are wonderful parents. This isn’t meant to offend– it is just something that has been weighing on me and I felt like writing about it. love you all! ]
Tonight I’m posting about something that has been on my mind and on my heart lately. I’m not sure why I feel so compelled to write about it, perhaps because my son is 4 and he lives to try my patience. At some point in each day I sit with my head in my hands and wonder how I can make him listen! It is so frustrating and so perplexing. I wonder what I can do to make him do what he is supposed to do.

When it comes to discipline I’ve tried just about everything. Time out, taking away privileges or toys, etc. I’ve even tried “spanking.” (In quotes because they weren’t the spankings I got as a kid.) I’ve heard it time and time again from older family members, etc…, “He wouldn’t act like that if you spanked him.” “What he needs is a good spanking.” In my most insecure parenting moments I’ve taken these comments to heart and felt that maybe I was being a bad parent by NOT spanking my son. So… a few times here and there I’ve popped him on the butt. A little pop here or there to get him to really pay attention to what I’m saying. NEVER anything more. Guess what? A little pop here or there, still feels terrible. It still sucks. and oh yeah, it doesn’t work in the long run (or even in the short sometimes).

So, spanking. Let me tell you all the reasons I won’t spank my child. First of all, it feels wrong. Nothing about striking my child feels okay. My children are precious and I don’t want anything to hurt them. Or anyone. Including their parents. Even if it is a socially acceptable form of discipline. It is not acceptable in my house.

Studies over the past 30 years have shown time and time again that spanking is ineffective long term. It is a quick fix. It is lazy parenting. (Don’t take offense to this, we’re all lazy parents at some point in some way). I don’t want to be lazy in this VERY important part of my life. I want to be a good mother that understands my children. I want to see behind the reasons they act out. I want to listen to them, understand them and react accordingly. Spanking is dangerous because it is lashing out from our own frustrations. I think that sometimes spanking can be more of a release of frustration from ourselves instead of an appropriate discipline technique for our children. How is that okay? We tell our children not to hit. Keep their hands to themselves. Don’t act out… and through spanking we contradict every bit of what we’re saying.

Spanking is confusing for a child. Personally, I was spanked, and yes, it worked. (In that I was terrified to do anything wrong). I feared it to the point of feeling sick at the threat of it. My parents didn’t take joy in it. They hated it, I know. They even said it. As a child all I could think was, “if you hate it, why are you doing it?” 30 years later I still feel the same way. If it feels wrong, why do it? It was scary, caused a lot of worry, and it was very confusing.

A parent’s job is to guide us. They’re supposed to show us how to live in this world. Spanking a child because they do something wrong is not showing us how to live. We do not hit the first person that wrongs us in a day. Every situation is a learning experience. We should take these punishable situations and learn from them. We should teach our children how to think, react appropriately and make a better decision in the future.

In very stressful moments when my son is at his peak of rip-my-hair-out behavior, I can usually take a moment to find out what is really going on. He is 4. He doesn’t know all the perfect words. He doesn’t understand all of his feelings. Little children are so complex. Sometimes they act out because they don’t know any better. Often, my son acts out because he is tired, he is scared, he is frustrated, etc. LISTENING to my child can guide my own actions. I can prevent meltdowns by making sure he gets enough sleep, stays on a schedule, etc. I can listen to him when he tries his best to explain his own insecurities and fears. Even if he does them loudly, in the floor with giant tears. Our children don’t want to make our lives hard. They don’t WANT to meltdown or be upset. If we took the time to see this rather than get frustrated by the external behavior we could approach situations with compassion.

The times I’ve felt like spanking my child I’ve known that taking that way out is the lazy way. I don’t want to be lazy. I want to be an active parent that listens, engages, redirects and teaches my babies. I want to show them how to handle difficult situations in a positive way. Studies have shown that children who are spanked are more likely to have emotional problems in the future. They can be more aggressive, depressed, etc. (Please see this wonderful article for more facts and citations http://www.ahaparenting.com/parenting-tools/positive-discipline/should-I-spank-my-child ) I fear these things with my family history of depression/OCD/anxiety. The very LAST thing I want to do is contribute to the possibility of these outcomes.

I’ve seen the effects of being lazy on a child. My son was in a preschool last year that punished him for everything. If he didn’t want to stand in line he was sent to time out. If he ran from the teacher he was sent to time out. His first time out was at 2 years old. He was sent to the director’s office for the remainder of the day. Rather than try to understand the reasons for my son’s behavior, he was disciplined. They saw him as defiant. They grew frustrated with him and angry. They isolated him from his friends and activities. Eventually he stopped making art, his behavior got worse, he voiced troubling things to me and he was removed from the school. At his new school he is approached with love and compassion. He is appreciated for being the bright, beautiful child that he is. He is redirected when necessary. He is listened to and valued and he hasn’t been in trouble once.

I know I’ve rambled on a bit in this post but the most important thing I hope to express is that there is a better way to discipline our children.   Finding our own individual ways to discipline is our own journey unique to our children and our circumstances.   I think we’re all figuring it out as we go.  I’m also not judging generations before us. My parents were really good parents. Most parents are trying REALLY hard. We want to do a great job at this whole parenting thing. I think it is important to be willing to grow and change though. I saw on a friend’s facebook a quote that said, “When you know better, you do better.”  In 2017, we know better. I plan to do better.

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An open letter to compulsive open letter writers.

Dear people with something to say to someone but no desire to say it specifically to that someone,

Hi.  Thanks for reading my open letter.  I bet you loved reading the title of this and seeing it was an open letter.  It is just so exciting to see someone gripe about something and send the words scattering out into the world like embers from a nagging, screaming volcano.  But this open letter is slightly different.  I am here to say that I am SO TIRED of open letters.

An open letter to the teacher that hurt my child’s feelings,”  “An open letter to the parent that judged my parenting style,”  “An open letter to the doctor that didn’t believe I had a condition.”  AHHH!! What are you DOING?  Why is this a time that you write an open letter?  If a teacher hurts your child’s feelings, SET. UP. A. CONFERENCE.  Do this for yourself and for your child.  Don’t go and spread the business around Internet land, sit back with a cup of coffee and wait for the likes to roll in.  Don’t feel justified by supporters in the comments section.  You don’t need those things.  You NEED to take your struggle to the school and talk it out with your kid’s teacher.  Settle it and move on.

These open letters are driving me insane.   Open letters are just a way to share a story complain about something with strangers without having them ask you to share your story.  It is perfect way to put your personal business on display for a hungry public to eat it up instantly.  If we as a society love one thing.,. it is getting in other people’s business.  You write your open letters because we’re all willing to sit back and read them– ready to take everything you say at 100% truth and we cannot WAIT to share our two cents.  We want to join this narrative.  Your anger is our anger, your truth is our truth.  But why?   What are we getting out of this?  What are YOU getting out of this?

If another parent judges your parenting… you’re going to go to the Internet and cuss them out for it?   The Internet?!   …But why?  Is the parent going to see it and run to you apologizing for their criticism?  Is anything going to change?  Is it going to change how you feel?  If you have something to say to another parent why not just say it.  They obviously felt they could say it to you.  Take your hurt feelings, your anger, your thoughts… channel them appropriately and address the offender, not the audience.

Contrary to what reality TV likes us to believe, everyone’s life is not a drama.  We do not need to know every detail.  We don’t need to know that Cindy in Utah had anxiety that her doctor refused to acknowledge and therefore she went 2 years untreated.  Yes, that is sad.  It is.  I am not completely unfeeling– but that is Cindy in Utah’s business… right?  That is something to work out with her doctor.  I understand the need to get the word out about certain issues, but jeez.  Our brains are overloaded with information.  There is a suggested number of social relationships people should limit themselves to and even though this is debatable, it feels so true.  I cannot take hearing so many individual stories from 328917 different people.  Especially from those that aren’t willing to do anything more than write an open letter.

Now that that is out in the open, I will say this.  I get the open letter appeal.  I get that it is fun to rant.  (After all, I am doing it in this post).  I get that you feel empowered to write your feelings and share them with the world and you SHOULD.   BUT— when I read these open letters I can’t help but feel that it is just a journal entry that you are submissively trying to expose the offender to (or maybe you aren’t at all.  You just love to rant).  I think that is why these open letters need to stop.  Don’t write an open letter– take your thoughts and stand up for yourself.  Stand up for your kid.  Go out and change your world, don’t just write about it for us.  We can’t help you.

Sincerely,

Someone who thinks we should get over this open letter fad.

Quick Tip Tuesday: EWG.org 


Okay so- Quick Tip Tuesday is actually Wednesday this week. Let me tell you why…

I sat down to my computer last night to blog and I just couldn’t. I was exhausted. (The title from this blog didn’t come out of nowhere lol.)  I’ve been dealing with some emotional stuff lately and perhaps I’ll blog about that when I’m ready. Just know that it is hard to be a mommy. It is the most rewarding thing in life I believe, but it comes with its challenges.  I wouldn’t trade it for anything…but I have my moments like everyone.  Thankfully I had a good therapy session this morning and felt rejuvenated. So here we go…

The tip today is really a recommendation for a really great website! I mentioned it in my previous post.  Environmental Working Group: Skin Deep  This website is fantastic, especially right before sunscreen season! (Well, every season should be sunscreen season, but you know what I mean).

This website allows you to research all of your cosmetic products to see the environmental impact and health risks associated with them! It gives each item a rating and breaks down each ingredient. It tells you how dangerous the ingredient is and how it could affect you and/or the environment. Every year they release their list of recommended sunscreens for children and I consult it every year before buying more.

There is so much to learn from this website.  I have referenced it for years and it has made me a more educated consumer. I feel so much better knowing exactly what I’m putting on my body and what I’m exposing my babies to!  The truth is…there are so many harmful products and exposures for ourselves and our kids. Their little systems are still developing and I want to do the best I can to expose them to as few chemicals as possible (within reason!).  Check it out!