Strong Trigger Warning.
Recently I have authored a few posts about spanking. This issue continues to weigh so heavily on me in part because I myself am no stranger to the belt, and because I truly believe in the right of all living beings to be free of violence. Spanking a child is a violent act and any attempt to justify it is just a denial. Children are amongst the most powerless in our society. They are considered to exist without bodily integrity and cannot legally act on their own behalf. Parenting by its very nature is authoritarian, and this has lead some to believe that they have right to strike a child in the name of discipline.
Some parents repeatedly refer to a lack of spanking as a failure to discipline. This spank or no discipline argument is a ridiculous strawman and they know it. How do these parents believe that things like groundings and timeouts came into practice in the first place? There is also such a thing as rewarding positive actions to create a desire to continually perform behaviour that is socially acceptable, and responsible.
When parents assert to legislators that they are taking away their right to parent/discipline, what they they are seeking is to maintain authoritarian control over children. Our offspring are of us, but do not belong to us. In a society in which many feel powerless, parenting is one of the few areas left where people feel that they have the right to complete control and ownership.
Some continue to hide the desire to wield power over another by calling spanking an act of love. It is encouraged that the child be told that they are loved after each incidence of violence. What does this teach the child but to associate violence with love? How many women fall into abusive relationships after being abused themselves as children? This occurs in part because they understand violence as being part of loving someone.
What hurts me the most is that there are not more pleas that base love as a supreme act of teaching. When you reach for your child their reaction should not be to shrink away with fear. We don’t exhort parents to model the behaviour that we wish children to perform. It seems our entire focus is rushing them from one event to another without actually communicating about life and sharing lessons. We can schedule play dates but sitting down and critically engaging with children is something we simply don’t have time for.
Children are not robotic individuals that can be programmed to obey on command. Part of the process of growing is testing boundaries, and making mistakes. To be punished physically for maturing in the natural process impedes personal growth. It teaches a child that they are not worthy of respect. If we can socially decide that beating an animal is wrong why can we not decide that hitting a child, the fruit of our wombs is equally wrong?
Cross posted from Womanist Musings