I’ll Just Say Right Up Front that I’m not a Parent

We were spanked as kids, with a wooden spoon sometimes and with a hair brush other times.  We all turned out fucked up, but I don’t think it was because of the infrequent spankings.  At least, I remember them as being infrequent; maybe they weren’t.  Anyway, I don’t think we turned out fucked up because we got spanked.

But, having been the recipient of spankings, I have an opinion on them.  My opinion differs greatly from the Christianist* folks in this story over at Salon.com.

Here is my first, minor, opinion: If you think that there’s “a swat on the back of the calf that says, ‘Stop crying, buck up, be a happy girl.'” you are an enormous asshole and possibly psychotic.  When people experience unpleasant and sometimes painful things, they cry.  Insisting your kid stop crying by smacking them?  Fucked up.

Here is my second, major, opinion: The only time it’s ever understandable to smack your kid is exactly when you are angry or afraid.

I’m not saying it’s ever “okay” to smack your kid.  I don’t know.  I’d rather people not smack their kids, but I’m not the boss.  But I’m saying that it’s understandable why folks smack their kids out of anger or fear or frustration.  And, more than that, I do think it teaches kids something about life–when you push folks too far, bad things can happen to you as a result.

You smart off too many times to that drunk in the bar; you’re going to get hit.  You speed; you’re going to get a ticket.  Etc.  You run out in the road while your mom screams after you to stop?  You’re going to get smacked.

That’s the way the world works.  It’s unpleasant and, I would argue, that we should take steps to mitigate how often we’re hurting each other physically or emotionally.  But hitting your kid when you’re angry with him or her makes sense.  I’m not saying that it’s right.  I’m saying that it makes sense. 

At the least, it teaches your child that strong emotions lead to extreme actions.  This seems to me something that a kid can come to understand.

Hitting your kid when you’re not angry with him or her?  Or making your spouse hit your kid?  This seems psychotic to me.  Who, other than psychopaths, hurt other people without emotion?

I don’t know.  Do you see what I’m saying?

It’s one thing if your kid is reaching, yet again, for the hot stove, to panic, yell “no” and swat him.  It seems like quite another thing to not panic, but instead to calmly reach for the plumbing supply line you have handy for such occasions, and smack them because you think God’s telling you to.



*I thought this word was stupid when Andrew Sullivan first started using it, but I’m starting to see its usefulness.

14 thoughts on “I’ll Just Say Right Up Front that I’m not a Parent

  1. Not a big fan of the term Christianist. Because it’s connontation is that it is the Christain equivalent of Islamist. Now an Islamist is someone who believes (literally not figuratively) that it is okay to blow up hotels and market places for God, or as retallation for an offensive editorial cartoon. A so-called Christianist may believe homosexuality a sin, but his supposed Islamist equivalent wants the gay guy crushed to death under a stone wall for his buggery. (Off subject, that’s a word you don’t hear often, buggery. Is it considered truly offensive, or simply dated like maybe negro.) And concerning women. B, you may chafe living under a supposed Christainist regime, but I guessing you would be suicidal under an Islamist one.In other words, you may disagree with the kids going to school at Falwell’s Liberty U., but I do not think any of them believe you worthy of execution.

  2. Yes, but Lee, those folks who claim to be Christian do exist–Eric Rudolph blew up abortion clinics and a gay nightclub. Christianists have killed abortion doctors. And, once you start looking at how closely white power groups in the U.S. are linked to Protestantism, you could include them in the "Christianist" circle as well.But let’s just leave out the extremists. Let’s just look at the folks at Liberty U. These are some of the same folks who have been standing in the way of the HPV vaccine because they think it might encourage promiscuity. To them, it’s better that women get a very fatal form of cancer than to run the risk of being slutty. Because they don’t pull the trigger they aren’t condoning the deaths of women who don’t behave properly? I don’t buy it.

  3. I agree. Hitting in anger, while not good, is understandable at a gut level. Many, many times I have wanted to swat one of my kids. I have managed to avoid it, through sheer determination, one time smashing my fist on the outside of the house (we were ‘playing’ in the yard) to keep from open-handedly smacking my own child. But the emotion-less hitting for punishment? It’s just wrong.

  4. At least the reporter found examples of parents who had good and bad experiences. The article made me think back to getting spanked as a kid. And I got spanked regularly. In addition, my dad was a big fan of the ear twist (not so bad that any of us have cauliflower ear though). But here’s why I think we’re all okay — not because my parents didn’t spank us in public (they didn’t) or because they were or weren’t angry (B — you’re right about emotion! But my mom, who grew up getting shit kicked out of her by her dad, would never strike us in the heat of emotion — she’d make you wait 15 minutes). The reason it worked is because they didn’t spank us as really little kids and then when you got spanked, you had to articulate WHY you were getting spanked. Equate crime with punishment and you start understanding consequences and you start adjusting your own behavior. I don’t remember a spanking that wasn’t for a reason. My parents were also really clever at other punishments — that fit the crime, etc. And like your mom, they never threatened what they weren’t ready to carry out. We never got grounded for a two weeks and then got off easy after a day or two — it was more like three or four days of hard time. I think there’s a place for all sorts of methods — sometimes a timeout works, sometimes you need a privilege taken away and sometimes you need a smack. That said, I’m not sure what LE and I will do with Tiny. But I don’t think I’ll be blindly following some book. Also, I find the whole idea of raising a blindly obedient child really creepy.

  5. Yeah, I’m not even going to try to defend that.My fear is that the term will be used not to describe the violent extremist, or as a warning to those flirting with radicalism, (which could be appropriate) but as a handy-dandy insult to be used against anyone who can be called both ‘Christian’ and ‘Conservative.’ In other words, the new Jesus Freak. And it may diminish in the eyes of folks the raw twistedness that is a true Islamist.

  6. Well, true enough. But I really do wish there were a word. Because, clearly, a lot of folks are conservative and Christian and they’re not hurting anyone in the name of religion.But for that fringe group of folks who do hurt others in the name of religion? I wish there were a word for that.

  7. Hm. I’m not a big fan of spanking, as a matter of fact, I used to consistently argue against spanking, until I met Nate and he made me mad enough to want to hit him. I compromised between my wish to smack him in the back of the head and not spanking at all, and spanked him on his bottom. I wish I had not. It simply doesn’t work on Nate. On the other hand, nothing seems to work for Nate, so I’m kind of at a loss.

  8. I really think that word ‘should’ come from those who do call themsleves Christian. It is in fact their responsiblity to self-police.

  9. Damn it, Lee. You and I are going to have to find a way to sit on a porch, drink copious amounts of whatever, and solve the world’s problems. You always give me so much to think about.Because, I really wonder… not just whether regular Christians or regular Muslems have a responsibility to self-police, but whether that’s even possible.I mean, if you’re a Christian who doesn’t associate with violent extremists, are you obliged to seek out those violent extremists in order to take them to task? How would you even know how to find them? Why would they listen to you in the first place?I just don’t know.Ivy, I just don’t think you can beat yourself up about that stuff. You’re doing the best you can under circumstances everyone would struggle in. I think the Shill brings up a point that shouldn’t get lost. There is a difference between spanking your kids and terrorizing them. For folks who only know terrorizing, that line can be very hard to find. For folks who haven’t known that, I think they worry the line is much closer to them than it actually is.My uncle, for instance, may he be faced with an eternity of self-awareness and awareness for the lives he’s ruined, used to stand at the top of the stairs and call for my then 3 year old cousin and when my cousin got to the top of the stairs, my uncle would push him down them. My uncle thought this was great fun. And my cousin quickly learned that climbing the stairs was better than what awaited him if he didn’t.I’m just saying, that’s a hell of a lot different than how Nate lives, no matter how aggrevated you get.

  10. Concerning you uncle: Yikes!Concerning the meet-up. Next time you’re in L’ville or I’m in N’ville, we’ll meet up, I’ll provide tasty adult beverages, and we’ll have the world’s problems figured out by sundown. Given of course one of us doesn’t need to be at work the next day. And I’ll be sure to wear my teeth guard.

  11. I’m much better behaved in person, as Sarcastro and Exador can attest. So, no worries about the teeth. But I will be taking you up on your offer, you can count on that.

  12. I just meant that I didn’t try to kick your teeth in. I might have made you a little uncomfortable, I’ll admit that. And I’d do it again in a second if I had the chance!I’m unrepentant!

  13. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with spanking, hard or soft, immediate or delayed, between consenting adults.

Comments are closed.