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February 07, 2013

To Spank or Not to Spank?

NunThat is the question.

The topic of discipline and how parents choose to discipline came up over the holidays while visiting my parents. I'm not sure how the discussion started but I remember standing around in the kitchen with my brother, his son, my boys, my father and, most likely my mother, when he mentioned being "beat" as a kid.

"Beat". Now that's a harsh word, to be sure. And I don't recall my brother getting "beat." I do recall him maybe getting slapped by my mom or my dad taking a belt to his ass. But those are fleeting memories at best. Probably because I am the youngest of four and by the time I got to the age to get in trouble, I knew what not to do because of the shit my two older brothers did. 

"I can say one thing," he said. "It was never unjustified," then he let out a guffaw.

As his laugh subsided, his son turned to him and said, "You never hit us growing up."

My brother then sipped his beer and jokingly said, "Yeah well maybe I should have." This in response to some of the teenage hijinx that his boys got into growing up. Nothing nobody my age didn't do: breaking windows at a construction sites, petty shoplifting (candy bars) and underage drinking.

It's just that kids today seem to get away with less; or get caught more.

When me and my boys got back into town, they brought up the subject of discipline a few days later. My youngest son held my belt and snapped it a few times letting the pop ring out.

"So your parents really spanked you?" he said. 

"It wasn't just my parents," I said. "I went to a parochial school run by nuns. If you acted up in class they would rap your knuckles with the stapler or whack your behind with a yardstick."

My two boys just blinked at me.

"And if you were really bad, you got sent to the principal's office and got paddled," I said.

"But isn't that child abuse?" asked my youngest. 

"I guess you could say that," I replied.

I have yet to discpline my kids in such a manner. But they are boys and at the age when they get into scuffles that sometimes lead to punching or hitting each other. And then the punk rocker side of me wants to show them the ol' "eye for an eye" adage: You wanna hit somebody? Maybe I should hit you so you know how it feels.

But I don't - and won't - because I know there are other ways I can instill fear in their hearts without corporal punishment. Not to mention, the few times I do recall being on the receiving end all it did was piss me off even more. Except that "wash your mouth out with soap" technique my mom used--that was a joke. Guess I liked the taste of Dial.

So, dear readers, what forms of discipline do you use with your children?






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