Choosing Not to Spank

Today’s feature posts cover a hot topic in gentle discipline – the choice not to spank.  I’ve talked before about some of the scientific research against spanking. There are a lot of logical arguments that could be made but I think these writers captured a much more subjective and emotional view of this choice.

50’s Childhood

Connie, is a guest poster here at the Baby Dust Diaries who also happens to be my mother.  It wasn’t until she was 56 in the office of a therapist (for cardiac rehab after my Dad’s surgery) that she learned the impact of spanking:

The therapist had us close our eyes and imagine ourselves alone and standing in a spot light on a stage. Then we were to turn into the child we once were – as young as we could remember – and tell our parents what we most wanted to say.   To my astonishment I was transported back in time to the scene with my parents and sister having popcorn in the basement celebrating the new play area mom had painted for us. I hadn’t thought of that for years and suddenly I was crying and telling my Dad that I was sorry I didn’t listen to him,  that I thought the bowl would fall to the floor and break if I let go, that I loved him and forgave him for hitting me……………………It was very powerful.

Perhaps it is because I know the people involved but this bring tears to my eyes.  My mom had what most people would call and idyllic childhood and yet this one event left an emotional scar that brought tears to her eyes 50+ years later.  Read her amazing story here and answer her question – what will your kids remember?

I Have the Urge To Spank But Choose Not To

Melodie at Breastfeeding Moms Unite admits that she has the impulse to spank – I think this is an important admission because society tells us spanking is “the” way to raise kids, so how could we not struggle with this urge?

I have horrible guilt around my urges to hit my child. I used to wonder what happened to my saintly patience. Was it just a state of mind? Where did it go?

I admit that when I’m particularly tired or upset about something else I feel angry when Aellyn pushes my buttons and I can feel why parents resort to spanking.  So how do you overcome the urge and make the choice not to spank?

I don’t want my kids to grow up remembering those feelings of confusion, hurt, betrayal and helplessness like I did. I want my kids to grow up with a mom they can dance with when the music is right. Who will touch my arm when they speak to me, slap my knee in amusement and hug me without effort because hugs and kisses come second nature to who they are.

Beautiful sentiment.  Dance when the music is right.  She has several questions and would love to hear your thoughts on the topic.


Alexandra at Breastfeeding Momma also shares with us a recent circumstance where she thought about spanking.  I’ll let you read her story but her conclusion is poignant,

This was the turning point in my thinking about discipline. I had never been big on spanking before, but after this I am totally against it. It made an already bad situation worse, when all my son was doing was expressing feelings that he couldn’t tell me with his words. He was feeling sad and replaced by his sister. And we spanked him for it. Even now writing it down I am cringing. I never want him to feel like I don’t care about his feelings and that is what I did.

I applaud Alexandra for sharing something with us that is difficult to talk about.  I know that her ability to be honest and self revealing will have a real impact on readers and if it only stops one parent from spanking then we all owe her our gratitude.

Undermining General Beliefs about Corporal Punishment

Mamapoekie at Authentic Parenting provides a very good argument for why spanking is abuse.  In the US most people who would be aghast at “abuse” will defend hitting a child under the euphemism “spanking” (or others I’ve heard: swat, smack, pop, etc. anything to lessen the reality of hitting a child),

Something – probably having been spanked themselves – makes people believe in the delusion that a small evil won’t harm, that it might possibly even do tons of good.

She lists several of the fallacies that spankers tell themselves and sums it up in no uncertain terms,

Spanking hurts, physically and mentally and it leaves scars, wether or not they are physical. It might be the worst crime in history, because the perpetrator is the one the weakest and most defenseless person in our society trusts the most. Corporal punishment is a lie you have been led to believe by our society based on violence and by the fear of denouncing those we hold dearest, our own parents.

If you need some good arguments to counter many of the justifications that spankers use – Mamapoekie’s post is a great resource.

Choosing Gentle Discipline

Liz at Hybrid-Life leads us on her journey to choosing gentle discipline.  She and her partner, like me and perhaps many of you, were spanked as a child by, for all accounts and purposes, good parents.  Her journey led her to realize she wanted a different paradigm for her parenting,

I don’t know if there was any one specific occurrence that pushed me firmly down the path of gentle discipline; instead it was a very slow process. Many pro-spankers firmly believe that spanking is the only way to ensure a well disciplined child and that didn’t sit well with me.  Some of these people seemed to equate “discipline” with children being seen and not heard. I read books such as Raising Cain and Unconditional Parenting that really challenged behaviorism and culturally accepted ways adults treat children. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I did not want to teach my child that “might makes right.”

Additionally, as a Christian, Liz disagrees with many Christian leaders that promote spanking as biblical,

I believe that spanking is totally inconsistent with the way that Jesus treated children and with the way that God treats his children. I don’t believe there is any grace in a “you did wrong, now I will hurt you as a punishment, then I will show you forgiveness.”

She also offers some resources for further reading.

Wow, today’s posts offered some great reasons to choose not to spank.  I really applaud today’s writers who were very willing to share their hearts with us for a cause they believe in.

Join us tomorrow when we’ll look at creating a “yes” environment for our kids.

Gentle Parent - art by Erika Hastings at to the Carnival of Gentle Discipline

Please join us all week, April 26-30, as we explore alternatives to punitive discipline.  April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month in the USA and April 30th is Spank Out Day USA.  In honor of this we have collected a wonderful array of articles and essays about the negative effects of punitive discipline methods, like spanking, and a myriad of effective alternatives.

Are you a Gentle Parent?  Put the Badge on your blog or website to spread the word that gentle love works!

Day 1 – What Is Gentle Discipline

Day 2 – False Expectations, Positive Intentions, and Choosing Joy

Day 3 – Choosing Not To Spank

Day 4 – Creating a “Yes” Environment

Day 5 – Terrific Toddlers; Tantrums and All


13 thoughts on “Choosing Not to Spank

  1. Pingback: Choosing gentle discipline « hybrid life

  2. Pingback: Gentle Discipline 101

  3. Pingback: I Have The Urge To Spank But I Choose Not To | Breastfeeding Moms Unite

  4. Pingback: Choosing Joy « Raising My Boychick

  5. This is a great carnival. I have enjoyed reading every post. These women are so articulate and intelligent and gives me great confidence that the world will become a better place. You are all doing a good thing here. I shared it with my boss today and she is going to enjoy reading it on her days off.


  6. Pingback: The Terrible Twos (and Two Parenting Strategies to Replace Them) — Good Goog

  7. Pingback: Creating a “Yes” Environment

  8. Pingback: Parenting a toddler with loving guidance « Little Snowflakes

  9. Pingback: Terrific Toddlers; Tantrums and All

  10. Pingback: False Expectations, Positive Intentions, and Choosing Joy

  11. Pingback: 50’s Childhood

  12. Pingback: Carnival of Gentle Discipline Call For Submissions…now with 100% more button!

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