Thursday, March 24, 2005

To spank or not to spank?

My parents spanked. My dad ruled with an “iron fist” and if I stepped out of line, I knew I was “gonna get it” – no questions asked. I know there is a lot of controversy surrounding spanking, and what it does to a child. I didn’t grow up to be a mass murderer and I still love my parents (in fact we have a great relationship) but I obeyed out of fear. I was a fairly well behaved child and teenager. I was afraid to step out of line, and rarely did. I can only count a handful of times that I truly misbehaved or even talked back. I knew better. Even in high school I rarely stepped out of line (I waited for college for that! LOL) I was too afraid of my dad to do anything wrong. Was I abused – no. Definitely not. But I do believe that spanking can be abuse, depending on the degree of hitting.

I have been thinking a lot about how I’m going to discipline Gracelin when the time comes. Right now she is just so perfect that I cannot imagine her ever misbehaving. But, I’m sure she will. Because the main form of discipline that my parents used was physical, I don’t know anything different. But, I really don’t want to spank. I do not believe that it is consistent. I will teach her not to hit others, but what does that say to her for me to spank her. I really want to parent with positive reinforcement rather than negative reinforcement. At the same time, I want to teach Gracelin to respect others – especially other adults like teachers.

DH and I had a long conversation last night about how we are going to discipline. He doesn’t want to spank either, but that was his parent’s main form of discipline as well. He was spanked and even hit with other objects on occasion – his mother one time broke a broom over his backside. Spanking caused him to rebel against his parents, and he still has issues with his parents today.

I guess I’m just worried that we won’t know how discipline our children because we grew up with corporal punishment in our homes. I don’t want to revert to spanking out of frustration, which is likely for me to do. I have a short fuse and can have quite an explosive temper when provoked. I love Gracelin so much, and never want to make her feel hurt/scared/afraid. I also want to teach her to behave appropriately.

I know the best way to teach is by example, which is a problem. I’m not perfect. It is unrealistic to think that she’ll never see me do or hear me say something contrary to the way I want to teach her. I yell. Sometimes I get so mad at DH that I want to kick him hard (I never do though). But I do work hard to be the best person that I can. I want her to see me working hard. And I do try to be a good and honest person. I hope too that by treating her with love and respect, she will learn to do the same for me.

Even now, I’m trying to teach her every day. I try not to be negative. Instead of telling her “no”, I try to redirect her. Instead of saying don’t do this or that, I try to give her something new to do instead. I also try to teach her to express her feelings. I never tell her to stop crying for example. Instead I hug her and say “its ok to cry when you are sad. But, mommy’s here and she loves you”. I think the structure that we follow helps with discipline, and even now she is learning her routine and what comes next. She knows now that after she gets dressed in the morning that she goes to lay with Daddy while she drinks her bottle. As soon as her socks are one, she wave at the door and ask for Daddy. I believe consistency is key.

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