My mom beat my bare butt with a hairbrush once, except incorrectly.
I was six and had run into the street without looking. She pulled me inside, bared my derriere, and grabbed the old school, wooden-handled, porcupine-needled hairbrush her mother had used. Or maybe it was from K-Mart, but she raised it over her head and proceeded to beat me raw.
But with the bristles instead of the handle.
In mom’s defense, it was her first time beating me, so she had no real idea of how to do it. Using the wooden side seemed extreme to her, so she figured the relatively softer bristles would be a better choice. Only she didn’t consider the damage hundreds of thin, stiff plastic tines might do to her baby boy’s tender nether skin.
Think two-week old strawberries.
In the September 2017 Healthy Magazine, Maureen Ferrin’s article on spanking children says that according to a 2014 UNICEF report, the number of parents around the world who spank their children is 80%. As in four out of five parents surveyed said hell yeah, I’ve paddled my kid. And in the exact same article, a different comprehensive study ‘found no evidence that spanking is associated with improved child behavior.’
As in, it doesn’t work, and, according to the author of the study, it often ‘does the opposite of what parents want it to.’ Which is why my good wife and I have NEVER, EVER spanked our kids.
Okay, except twice.
Once was when the nut fell close to the tree and my son ran into the street without looking. The other time was when he tried to ghost us at a crowded shopping mall. So far, his older sister remains spank-free and we hope to keep it that way, but if they put themselves in danger, a good whap to bottom might be required to get our safety pointers to stick. Mostly, though, we go with time-outs. Sit on your rear and stare at the green wall, kid, a solid minute for every year you’ve been alive.
They hate it.
Time drags at that age, and five or eight minutes feels like forever to them, like meditating or listening quietly does to adults. Even worse, afterwards they must answer, “Do you know why you were in time out?” and if they have nothing to say, they get another minute staring at the green to think about it. After that step comes the worst part yet – the apology. They have to stand in front of whoever they offended and say, “Sorry I [state the offense], [name of victim].”
It kills them to do it.
We’ve heard some of the most insincere, whiny, sarcastic excuses for apologies ever, each spoken way too quickly with zero eye contact. Think Lisa Lubner or Sarah Huckabee Sanders. But they do it. And now when our kids get a warning, they know they are one misstep away from having to stare at the green and apologize. No need to spank when they fear accountability.
When my mom saw my strawberry-speckled butt, she felt horrible.
It looked like maybe I’d sat on a cactus or was allergic to my tighty-whities. She didn’t spank me again after that because she loves me and has a conscience. And because of the guilt she felt, and oh it bothers her every time I remind her of the day-of-the-bristles or call her Mama-Spanks-a-Lot.
But what if she didn’t love me or have a conscience?
We saw how that turns out yesterday when they found the body of the young Texas girl who went missing after her dad punished her for not drinking her milk. This cruel idiot made his developmentally challenged flesh and blood stand alone in the back yard at 3 a.m. for at least fifteen minutes near an alley where coyotes had been previously spotted. The poor child went missing and died. (Link to Article) His version of the time-out was clearly abuse, and his innocent daughter paid the price.
While the rest of us take heed.
That same Healthy Magazine article gives a great list of spanking guidelines to help those 80% of us in the world who dare to spank their children despite its overall ineffectiveness. Great advice like never spank an infant or shame your child in public, communicate disappointment, not anger, and the most critical one of all: those with hot tempers should never spank.
And I’d like to add one of my own to the list if I may: never use the bristles.
Ask Mama-Spanks-A-Lot, she’ll tell you why.
- Mike Lukas
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