I might get flamed, but I’m going to go ahead and say it: we use spanking as a form of discipline. When Tim and I made that parenting decision, we said we wanted it to be rare (only for serious offenses) and never done in anger. Well, that sounds nice on paper but over time what I started to realize was that I felt like I was spanking for everything and was also not staying totally calm when doing it. Also, I felt like yelling was accompanying the spanking, and in the end, it wasn’t very effective — Sam didn’t seem to be getting the message, I was getting increasingly frustrated and mad, and ultimately, I felt like my relationship with Sam was suffering. I didn’t like being around him, and I am pretty sure he didn’t like being around me.
I don’t think parents and kids always need to like each other, but as a whole I felt like the atmosphere of our home and family life was turning sour. There just wasn’t much peace or joy or even love. As a Christian mother who wants a home filled with fruits of the Spirit I knew that something needed to change.
So I started to think about discipline, and how I handled Sam. And I thought back to my babysitting days — how did I discipline (i.e. teach) the kids I was watching? I am sure I had to soothe tantrums and referee fights and say “no, you may not have 12 oranges for dinner” at some point during my babysitting career. So how did I handle those issues? Then it hit me: they weren’t my kids — so I wasn’t able to spank them or haul off and yell at them when they drove me nuts. I had to come up with other ways to discipline them simply because it was not within my authority to spank them or yell at them.
So, today I have been trying to treat Sam like he wasn’t my kid. I know that sounds odd but why is it okay to yell at your own kid but not someone elses? The fact is — it isn’t okay. Why do we treat our own kids worse than we would treat someone else’s kids?
So today I decided I would treat Sam like I was babysitting him. I couldn’t yell at him or spank him.
And you know what? Today went better. I felt like I needed to dig deeper and find creative ways to get him to do what I wanted him to do (or to stop doing what I didn’t want him to do) rather than just yell at him to stop or come here right this instant or whatever. I felt like he responded better to these tactics and that there was less tension between us as mother and child. And because there was less tension, he seemed more obedient and compliant because I was treating him kindly.
It also struck me that he isn’t my kid — he’s God’s kid. I have been called to love him and discipline him and raise him, but maybe I should treat him a little more like he’s Somebody else’s kid on a daily basis.
I don’t know if we’ll give up spanking altogether — but at least for now I don’t think it’s working for us. I can’t keep my cool and it’s just a little hypocritical to discipline my kid for throwing a fit when I respond to him by…throwing a fit.