Trigger warning for Hurts Me More Than You series: posts in this series may include detailed descriptions of corporal punishment and physical abuse and violence towards children.
My mom said that she received smacks on the head by her mom with a ruler as a child, but not very often, because she always “learned from her mistakes.”
I was spanked so often because I was a “strong-willed child,” and refused to learn from mine.
I didn’t mean not to learn. I just wasn’t ever sure of what it was I was supposed to be learning. I’ve blocked most of these episodes out, but there are a few that stick in my memory. There was the time I was 8 and my sister was 6, and my father was convinced that we had deliberately killed his favorite plant in our garden. He took the “rod,” a zingy rubber object, marketed by a Mennonite company specifically for spankings, and told us to go to my sister’s room.
All spankings were bad, but we particularly hated “The Rod.” When my mom first jubilantly returned from a homeschooling convention with it, my dad tested it on a stack of newspapers, cutting through several of them with a moderate hit. That afternoon, my dad decided to use it on us to force us to confess that we’d killed his plant (which we’d never touched. It probably died because it was the wrong kind of plant in the wrong kind of climate.)
He alternated between us two bare-bottomed little girls, zinging each of us repeatedly, giving us an opportunity to confess, and then zinging us again.
We cried and cried until my sister decided to make up a confession, but she didn’t understand what she was confessing to (because she’d done nothing wrong). This made my dad madder, and he continued until he got tired, then sent us to our rooms to “think about what we’d done”.
My mom found me in my room later, sobbing and reading Lamentations. I picked Lamentations because my Sunday School teacher told me the word meant a deep expression of sorrow. I hoped it would make me feel better, but I was pretty sure God wasn’t there anyways.
I may have only been 8, but I already knew about fear, and pain, and hate, and injustice, and wishing I could die.
“If you only had listened..”
“The Bible commands it..”
“What if you had broken the instruments they used or threw them away? Then they couldn’t have hit you any more!”
I was powerless and indoctrinated to believe I deserved it and was rebellious for not wanting it over quickly. Society says I should have had power and told someone, yet the culture I lived in has repeatedly informed me that I should have listened and I never would have been hit, not even once.
Those who use the Bible to justify hitting their children, stop. It is time for a re-evaluation of what the Bible really says. It’s time to ask deep questions of yourselves.
Those of you secular parents, please reconsider.
It doesn’t matter how fast, how hard, or with which instrument you use – whether it’s your hand, or something else entirely – spanking your children truly does damage their very heart, soul and mind; not to mention their little bodies.
You may not think you will ever harm your child. If you are hitting them, you are every single time you lay a hand or instrument on their little bodies.
The truth has been repeated often for over 30 years: Spanking leaves long-lasting effects on children.
No matter how calmly or “biblically” you spank, you are still damaging your children. The Bible never actually commands spanking, not once. That the quote “spare the rod, spoil the child” is from a bawdy poem called “Hudibras” and is talking about sex, and the “rod” in the Bible was a symbol of parental or ruling authority, denoting discipline; not physical harm. It makes me wonder how a sexual poem came to justify child abuse and was conflated with the Bible.
Here are a few things your child may experience, or are at high risk for, if they are spanked:
- Alcohol or Drug dependency
- Attachment Disorders
- Auto-immune Disorders
- Cardiac Disease
- Decreased Language Skills
- Externalizing behaviour
- Mental Disorders or Emotional Disorders (Aggression, Low Self-Esteem, Oppositional or Anti-social behaviour)
- Poor moral internalisation/regulation
- Reduced Empathy
- Suicide or Suicidal Ideation
Please reconsider your discipline methods if corporal punishment is one of them and talk (often!) with your children. No one deserves to be harmed by their parent for any ideology, even if it is part of your culture. If you truly want world peace, it starts with your babies.