To me, crossing the line would be using spanking too often, and while one’s out of control, as a tool to control children with fear. Doing so installs lifelong resentment in kids, self-esteem issues, and inability to communicate properly. But don’t take my word for it, go Google the phrase, “negative effects of spanking.” Just beware of those few crazy and perfect Internet parents who will make you feel as worthless as possible if you do spank your kids from time to time.
As for me, I grew up in crazy fear of Mom, Dad, and that Smashball paddle. Most of the time they didn’t even have to use it. A simple “do you wanna have to go get the paddle?” would stop just about any bickering. But when I did get it, oh how I got it. And oh how I hated them in those moments. I would sometimes sit on my bed for hours with tear stained cheeks, feeling nothing but injustice and disdain for them. I made myself the promise hundreds of times that I would never spank my kids.
I always tease Mom and Dad that it’s not fair that they stopped spanking when their younger kids came around. Secretly, I’m genuinely happy that they did. Nobody should be spanked as much as I was, not even kids who were as stubborn and resistant and as hard to get along with as I was.
Now I’m the parent, and I have my own kid to discipline.
And Noah, he’s a different cat when it comes to the need for punishment. Sure, he has his naughty moments, but Daddy believes in the warning system for most things, and Noah almost never needs more than one warning to stop a poor behavior. It’s not uncommon for him to go an entire month or two without a timeout. He helps when I ask him to help. He goes to bed when I say it’s bedtime. He eats when I say it’s time to eat. He keeps his bedroom clean.
But, he’s far from perfect (thank God). Even the easiest of kids can have their out of control crazy “moments.” And Noah had a doozy several years ago when we were staying at a condo on vacation in Southern California with the rest of my family.
We had spent the day at the beach, and as a group we had half-dragged ourselves crispy and worn-out back to the condo. Noah was completely caked in all sorts of sand and sea crap, and I told him to follow me for a quick bath.
He had been promised pizza, and there was no convincing him that the bath would be over and done with way before the pizza got there. His stubbornness and crying got worse and then became something beyond the definition of a tantrum. It turned into something so horrible that there isn’t a word in the English language for it. Just know that it was bad. And he was completely out of control.
I was quickly running out of patience. As sand was chaffing my own butt cheeks, and my flesh oozed heat from overexposure, I began losing my tolerance for his outburst.
I picked his flailing body up and set him in the tub. Then, I took a breath and warned him. “Noah, if you don’t settle down before I count to three, you’re going to get an uh-oh.” Uh-Ohs are what we call timeouts in this house.
He continued his fit. I attempted the timeout which only caused the out-of-control toddler to slip deeper into his rabies-like insanity. “Noah, if you don’t calm down, you’re going to get a spanking.” He had never had one before, but he knew very well what they were because he had a step-sister who got them sometimes.
He kept going, and so I grabbed his arm and pulled him erect. He flopped and thrashed out of control to try and avoid the inevitable slap on his bare wet bottom, but I was determined to follow through. I managed to give him a little smack dead center of his left cheek (so soft, in fact, it probably wouldn’t have killed a mosquito).
Instantly, the commotion died, and the whole bathroom went silent. My grip loosened and he quickly and quietly slumped out of my reach, defeated…