Saturday, April 30, 2011

Rotten Fruit

Image by astrogator on Flickr
I am a follower of Christ.  He taught us over and over that we need to judge things by their fruit.  I want to ask you, not for me, but for yourself: what fruit did spanking produce in your life as a child?  What fruit is it producing now if you spank your children?  I know, I know, we were all spanked and turned out fine.  Most spankers I know are loving people who want to do the right thing.  Most people that I know who were spanked as kids grew up into great people, too.  But I am asking about specifics, not generalities.  What were the direct results of spanking?

Think back to the times you were spanked.  What do you remember?  Are you able to remember specifics, or do you blank out on parts of it?  Interestingly, most people that I talk to have a hard time remembering details.  They only remember pieces.  Some remember all the events leading up to a spanking, but their memories stop there.  Others remember the spankings themselves, but not what they did to get spanked in the first place.  Aside from the fact that memory issues are often associated with trauma, if you don't remember why you got the spanking in the first place, how did it really help?

If you do remember, how did it motivate you, really?  I know that the idea is that you will be afraid to do whatever misdeed again.  Did it work?  Or did you repeat the same action again at some point?  Did you just resolve not to get caught the next time?  Or did you ever decide that doing what you wanted was worth the price of the spanking?   If it worked, were there any other strategies that would have worked, also?

Did it make you angry?  Did you wish you had the power to get revenge?  Did you ever feel that you were being hit unjustly and feel resentment over that?

Did it fill you with shame?  And if so, was the shame associated with your actions, or with yourself as a person?  Did the shame go away after the spanking, or did it remain and deepen?  As an adult, do you still struggle with self-acceptance, perfectionism, and shame issues?

Did it make you more honest, or did it make you feel a need to be deceptive?  Did you ever find yourself pretending that everything was OK, gulping back tears and trying to act in a way that would satisfy your parents, even if it wasn't authentic?


If you spank your children, what is the fruit of that in you?

Do you feel angry?  I know, all the books say we shouldn't spank in anger, but they also say not to wait too long before spanking.  Do you feel frustrated or at peace?  Do you ever resent your child for "making you" spank him?

Do you ever feel shame about the frequency, method, or severity of the spankings?  Do you ever feel a need to hide or be less than fully honest about your spankings?

When you prepare to spank your child, are you motivated by pride?  Either anger at perceived lack of respect, or fear at what others will think of you and your parenting skills?

Does spanking produce kindness in you? Gentleness? Patience? Self-control? Goodness? Trustworthiness?

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law."  ~ Galatians 5:22-23 NIV

 "But what happens when we live God's way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely." ~ The Message  

I have many, many resources that I will be happy to share if you are seeking to look deeper at what the Bible teaches us about discipline.  I will post some of them in the comments soon.  But for now, consider the fruit of the Spirit, and the fruit of spanking.  Is spanking resulting in rotten fruit?

This post was written for National Spank Out Day.  I will be updating later today with more links and resources from other participants, but here are some that are participating.  If you would like to be included, please leave a comment with your link. :)

National Spank Out Day

Permission to Live--Journey of a Young Mom

Bicultural Mom--Why I Hate Spanking

TouchstoneZ--Spank Out Day

I Am Totally *That* Mom--Spank Out Day

Littlemama Midwife--Marriage, Parenting and Grace

Imperfect Happiness--The Great Spank Out Day

HybridRastaMama--Spanking: Why Alternatives are Needed

Kelly Hogaboom--Non-Punitive Parenting: A Starting Primer

Becoming Crunchy--In Honor of Spank Out Day USA


Chantilly Patiño said...

I'm in with you amiga! Your post inspired me and you can find my perspective on this issue at Bicultural Mom. <3

dulce de leche said...

Gracias, Chantilly! <3 I will add your link. :)

imperfecthappiness said...

I remember being spanked because I wouldn't take my vitamin one morning when I felt sick. I'd pushed my parents to the limit because I kept saying I felt sick and didn't want to go to school. At the same time, my mom was getting ready to go in for surgery. The teacher's aide in my class finally sat me down and told me that Mom would be fine. I said, "I know." It felt like a given. But I didn't feel sick in the mornings after that. I try to remember this story when I feel pushed to the limit by my children. Sometimes the right solution is the simplest and most obvious one.

I really like your "rotten fruit" motif to talk about the harvest we reap from corporal punishment.

dulce de leche said...

Wow--what a touching story, how very true! If we focus on the underlying needs, it changes our perspective on the behavior.

I loved your post for the National Spank Out Day, and I am looking forward to reading more by you. <3

Zoie @ TouchstoneZ said...

Thank you for posting for Spank Out Day! These questions are so powerful. I can't see how anyone can spank if they're able to be honest with themselves about why they are doing it. And remember how it felt to be spanked, that is painful. If someone isn't in complete denial, those memories won't give you the freedom to do it to a child

teresa said...

That is so great! I love all the insightful questions and the way you wrote this.
I'm really interested and happy to read your post as you're writing as a Christian. I've seen so many people that believe in striking their children use God and the Bible as their justification.
It's wonderful and important to have voices like yours that are full of wisdom and love.

dulce de leche said...

Zoie, thank you so much! I appreciate all that you are doing to advocate for families. <3

teresa, thanks so much! Lots of love to you. I'll be posting some Christian gentle discipline links soon. :)

Kelly said...

You have such a wealth of information here and yet you've outdone yourself again! Love, love, love your posts on this topic mama - you have hit the nail on the head with these questions. :)

One thing I used to mull over was how I would be able to spank my children but not do so in anger...would I make them wait until we both cooled down? And then would it just be weird or difficult to hit them when I wasn't mad? How would I best get the message across without being abusive?

The reality I've now discovered is that it's just not a good tool ever...for so many reasons.

I sincerely appreciate your writing on this topic and hope you know that your blog helped me change my beliefs around spanking and discipline altogether - keep it up mama! :D

dulce de leche said...

(((Kelly))) Thank you so much! I appreciate you more than I can say. Thank you for always refreshing my spirit and for your beautiful example. <3

GrammyK said...

Having been parents for over 29 years we've done things both ways--spanking and no spanking.

When DH and I were young and not so patient we spanked. A LOT. We were determined to have well behaved children (and we weren't even Christians at that point). We were hard enough on them that they developed a hard heart toward us. Upon becoming Christians and falling into some questionable teachings we increased the "discipline" to attempt to drive the rebellious, angry hardness from their hearts. Yeah. Where's the dunce cap for mom and dad? So we wised up and have spoken our hearts and appologized for this foolishness but they still have (serious) forgiveness issues.

The Lord has done a work on our hearts. While we do occasionally spank (and I mean VERY occasionally in as much that I can't even remember when the last one happened!) it is a last resort and only under some very serious conditions. Our hearts are so very soft towards the children now.

Sadly, the two oldest children blame each of their faults and problems on us. And we have sought their forgiveness--yet their hearts are turned from us. What's so ironic is that they are angry that we are "too soft" with the other children and are "ruining" them. ??????? I mean we were hard on them and they claim that we ruined THEIR lives. Darned if we do and darned if we don't!!

When the Lord changed our hearts (in the early 90s) He led me to some really good reading material: Solving the Puzzle of Your Hard to Raise Child by Dr. William Crook (yes, our children have food allergies and sensitivities), The Key to Your Child's Heart by Gary Smalley, and How to Really Love Your Child by Ross Campbell (which helped me the most). In our recent moving endeavors I came across these books all grouped together (though I know that they've been stored apart in the past. I thought that I should perhaps read them again. Seem like with our oldest two and some recent major destructive blow ups that have occured not much has changed!! :-(

So while we have the chance to still hold the hearts of our younger children we parent much more gently, appreciate each child for who they are and enjoy our oh so brief time with them.

Spanking? We have been burned by your before!!

dulce de leche said...

GrammyK, thank you so, so much for commenting. I really appreciate hearing your perspective. And thank you so much for the books you mentioned! I love the Ross Campbell book, and really like Gary Smalley. I am extremely interested in the book on allergies, because I have definitely seen how they affect our kids behavior! Much love to you, and remember--grace is for mamas. too! <3