I don’t spank my kids.
I don’t know.
It’s probably because I have about 160 pounds or so on them. And I’m faster. And stronger. And it doesn’t feel right at all to me or my wife.
But lots of parents still do spank their children.
And I wonder why that is?
Yeah, there is a long history of physical punishment in parenthood and there were eras that have passed when it was completely socially acceptable to do it, but why does it still happen?
I guess what I’m asking is…does it really work?
And not, does it work in the short-term?, because let’s face facts: a small person being hit by a big person is probably going to lose the particular battle they find themselves in every time.
But what about the overall effect? What about the long term merits (if there are any) versus the long term damage (if there’s any of that)?
My kids aren’t perfect. They aren’t even close. There are days when the spazz-outs are downright epic, when the fits are the stuff of hideous legend. To be perfectly honest with you, there are periods of time when it would seem that the only reason that one of my kids was even born unto this world was to disobey their mother or me with the kind of over-the-top behavior typically reserved for wild animals with rabies.
And yet, I never feel the urge to whack their ass. I never get tempted to show them who’s boss with that brand of power.
If I did, and they stopped acting crazy, would that be success right there? And if it was, well then why can’t we do that with our spouses? I mean, I know damn right well that there are times when my wife would probably be justified in slapping my butt. I’ve even seen the temptation in her fiery eyes. Still, she’s been able to pretty much skip that move and I’m quite certain that I’m glad for that.
Sometimes I wonder whether the people who do spank their kids on a regular basis, or even just now and again, whether those people were struck as children themselves. Then, I wonder whether or not they have made excuses for their own parents since then.
I mean, is it possible? Do we get strangely nostalgic for old-school discipline?
Do we think about how hard our parents worked for us, and toiled away at crappy jobs for us, and came home in the evening exhausted for us and link that somehow to a reason in our own minds that justifies what they did, if in fact they did hit us?
I don’t know the answer exactly. I don’t know that there even is one.
What I do know is this.
Someday, when I’m laid out in some hospital bed somewhere, the ventilator hemming and hawing by my side and my breaths coming in for a landing further and further apart, I don’t want that shit on my conscience. I don’t want to be lying there, slipping away, holding the soft warm hands of the people I loved more than anyone else in my life, knowing that, years ago, they cried under my own hand coming down on them.
I’ve got plenty of stuff that will have me begging the world for forgiveness, I guess. But, I won’t be having that.
And I might be wrong; who knows?
But, I’m willing to take that chance for them…and for me.
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