Despite an internal disquiet around some of these
parenting teachings, a deep fear of going against the status quo
kept me “in line.” What if I did things differently, and my
children didn’t “turn out” well? People in my world were
watching me, and I wanted their approval. Fear held the reins
of my parenting methods.
I was spanked, therefore I spanked. I remember long
days with a two year old and newborn baby. Sometimes I held
the baby to my breast with one hand and a spanking stick in
the other. Of course, my toddler’s world had been rocked with
the entrance of a brother, but I bought into the idea that the
only way to address misbehavior was to make him comply with
the “rod of correction.” Somehow one small Bible verse about
sparing a rod and spoiling a child had led to justification for
corporal punishment. Even though I was not a fan of the rod
of correction in my own childhood, I still repeated.
Conservative Christian books and messages provided support
and rationalization for such choices.
Years later when my boys were teenagers, I stood in
our kitchen chatting with my friend Susan. Susan is a mother
to adopted children similar in age to our daughters. One of my
then teenage sons walked in and joined in the conversation.
The topic was discipline methods, and the subject of spanking
arose. By this time I was a “reformed” spanker, and I imagine
that gave my son permission to be honest about his
experiences. He said these words: “I remember that whenever
I got spanked, I felt humiliated.” My heart dropped. I felt sad
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