“My parents spanked me as a child… As a result I now suffer from a psychological disorder known as ‘Respect for Others.’”
Now, many of you have undoubtedly been subjected to this ridiculous meme on Facebook. It isn’t clever at all and, what’s worse, is that the message is completely asinine.
Before the grumbling starts…
I know, it is “your right to raise your children as you see fit,” and, I know that I “couldn’t possibly understand” because I don’t have children.
Regardless, you have made it this far because you care at least a little about what is coming next (and for that I thank you, kind reader).
My parents never laid anything but a loving hand on me. I was never spanked, swatted, slapped… hell, come to think of it, I was rarely even yelled at (if you have read past entries you know that I was a gifted child, so, this is not a surprise). The point is, I turned out just fine… at the risk of sounding arrogant, I turned out much better than fine. I respect others, I say please and thank you, I hold doors open for strangers and I actually served food at a homeless shelter in South Minneapolis just a few days ago (I will wait for the sarcastic applause to die down).
I say none of this to impress you but, rather, to impress upon you that there is another way to discipline children. I am of the unwavering opinion that to even swat or spank is child abuse.
Now, I understand that many people grew up in a household where this happened. It is not my contention that this means that they had bad parents or that their parents loved them any less. Times have changed and they have changed rapidly in just the last 10-20 years. Yes, there are many people who were raised in an atmosphere where they were spanked and have gone on to be great people and do great things. Sadly, there are just as many (if not more) cases that have had much, much worse outcomes.
As psychological science has shown, nature beats nurture. A spank does little else than show the child that their parent has a physical dominance over them rather than assisting the child with recognizing their poor behavior and why it was wrong.
So, what is the point?
The point is that for the people who were spanked and turned out well, they did so in spite of the spankings not because of them, despite what they and their parents may think. They came/come from good DNA and it is likely that the parents taught lessons along with the spankings.
I repeat that this does not mean that those parents were bad ones, they were just misinformed ones.
But, given how much we know today… this practice must stop. Violence begets violence. Spanking teaches children at a very young age that problems are solved by using aggression. They learn that if someone is misbehaving, they should be dealt with by using violent aggression. Sometimes this is toward strangers but, far too often it is toward “loved” ones.
If we put an end to this practice who knows what this could do for future generations? We could significantly reduce the rate at which women are exposed to domestic violence (1 in 4 will be a victim in their lifetime). We could reduce the number of children that are exposed to domestic violence (3 million annually). Shit, we could even reduce gun violence (since it appears those are here to stay).
I plead to all the people defending the actions of Adrian Peterson, step back and think about what you are saying. That poor four-year old learned nothing and certainly did nothing to deserve being treated that way by any human being on this planet, let alone his father.
We don’t defend people who are racist or prejudice because they were born and brought up in a different time. We don’t share on Facebook that we were brought up by racist parents and we turned out fine. Why? Because we know now that behaving in such a matter is small-minded and flat-out wrong.
I will leave you with this. If you are in the camp that thinks that it is okay to spank your children, before you correct their behavior in this matter, please think. Think of how it would feel if you made a mistake at work and your superior hit you to show their displeasure. Think how you would feel if anyone else ever dared to touch your child this way. Think of how long you are willing to do this to your child and what effect it may have on your children’s opinion of you. While they are your children and you helped to bring them into this world, that does not change the fact that they are human beings and they deserve to be treated as such.
In short, use the rule that your children will be taught their first day of preschool – treat others as you wish to be treated.