I was spanked and I’m fine…

My mother had a special spanking spatula. It was mostly used on mornings when we would not or could not leave the sweetness of our warm beds and come down to the kitchen for breakfast, and it was used mostly on my older brother. But I saw.

I think the spatula was appropriated the first time, in a moment of sheer desperation… A single parent who had worked a full time job all week was dredging energy for the weekend from the depths of her body to make a solid morning meal for her kids….and they didn’t want to get out of bed!

I remember her moving toward me that morning, as I ran and begged her not to hit me with it..the bacon grease making it glisten and flash dreadfully as she neared me. I remember the fear. I remember the feeling of betrayal and crying no mommy no..and then wetting my pants..and I remember her stopping and sitting down in my room and crying. That was the last time she ever used the spatula as weapon against me.

Things were never perfect, but the honesty of my mom in that moment, stopping, crying… and then apologizing and sitting down to talk about what was going on with her… why she felt so frustrated with me… and then making plans together to work these things through differently, made me feel closer to her and love and respect her a million times more. Maybe I was about 7 years old..but I understood. And she understood how scary it was, and it was not the way she wanted our relationship to be…

If we justify violence against children as a way to take care of them then we are not fine….and possibly trying very hard to deny the fear and anger we felt toward our parents when we were spanked….trying to make it okay. It wasn’t okay then and it isn’t okay now.

If we spank a child we create a climate of fear. We break a bond of trust with them. We damage our relationship with them. And fear and anger does not only reside in the violated child’s psyche..it permeates and affects the world of children. All kids feel the societal sanction about spanking. Sometimes they see it happen to cousins or siblings. Or they know of others who it has happened to. They know it is possible that it might happen to them.

Adults who spank model that it is okay to hurt others as part of a problem solving process. If you are bigger, older, stronger, you must be obeyed or there can be dire consequences…and if you get frustrated or angry it is okay to hit.

People can come to terms with this and change if they are courageous enough to do so. Kids will forgive. We can ask for their help and ideas on how to channel frustrations in healthy ways. They will learn from us a very important lesson and most likely will not spank their children because of the loving bravery modeled. We can forge a bond of honesty and trust with them that can be profoundly deep. For a lifetime.image

Wishing you honesty, trust, bravery and chasms filled with love.

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About cthebean

Educator, musician, social justice activist...and now a blogger. Children deserve unflinching support from adults.....they deserve nothing less. All kids . Everybody's kids. Everywhere.
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26 Responses to I was spanked and I’m fine…

  1. People who spank their children are idiots.

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  2. The being spanked part might be factual, however, the I’m fine part is an opinion. Spanking, beating-what the hell is the difference? Both acts involve physical aggression. If a parent hits a child, the child should have every reason to feel justified in retaliating. What goes around comes around.

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  3. cthebean says:

    Reblogged this on and commented:

    If we justify violence against children as a way to take care of them then we are not fine….and possibly trying very hard to deny the fear and anger we felt toward our parents when we were spanked….trying to make it okay. It wasn’t okay then and it isn’t okay now.

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  4. AJ says:

    Meh. The story was sweet, and I don’t completely disagree with the message, but I do have to say that the no spanking hysteria is trivializing real child abuse. I can’t see myself ever spanking my children, at least not when they’re at an age when I can actually reason with them. But looking back at my own childhood when I was spanked with my parents’ bare hand and occasionally the belt I really can’t say it was true abuse, not like the years I was sexually abused by an extended relative, and it certainly wasn’t as bad as some of the stories I’ve heard from others. So spanking never created a climate of fear for me, but that’s just my first hand experience. To be brutally honest, if someone says they had a fearful childhood just because they were spanked a few times and say it caused social problems as adults I will probably doubt that they have ever experienced true trauma.

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    • cthebean says:

      Well..there are gradations of abuse and oppression…and gradations of trauma from it.

      Not sure I would agree that there is an anti-spanking hysteria…but perhaps I am out of the loop.

      Certainly sexual abuse is brutal for children….but the oppressive nature of corporal punishment or the threat of it is also brutality.

      I was moved and amused at the scene below deck In the movie Jaws- where men shared their scar stories..and the biggest ugliest scar was of course a triumph of horror…however it did not have the power to erase any of the other scars. The scars exist no matter the size or scope or story.

      Thanks for reading the blog and offering your perspective. I appreciate your contribution very much.

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  5. Pingback: E-mails and phone call describe how Tracy abuses her husband and children--Tracy's Reign of Terror: True Story of Narcissism, Bullying, Domestic Violence and Child Abuse, Part 27 | Nyssa's Hobbit Hole

  6. PassingBy says:

    This is a wonderfuly honest post.

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  7. Anonymous says:

    Respectfully disagree

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  8. Anonymous says:

    I am glad attitudes are changing., we need to respect our children, I am as guilty as any parent from my generation.

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    • cthebean says:

      I agree that kids deserve respect.
      It’s hard to go up against the accepted norm of spanking. When I had my son and he was just beginning to scoot and do the wobbly walk I remember during a visit, some family elders telling me to smack his hand if he touched anything he wasn’t supposed to.. I remember a discussion about making the environment child proof so that he wouldn’t have to be smacked when we visited them. It didn’t go well. There was a strong belief that he would never learn manners if we didn’t teach him them with the smack. I remember thinking it was pretty ill mannered and cruel to smack people for curiosity. But they didn’t consider giving children courtesy or the kind of respect usually reserved for elders. We did not visit there again until he was older….
      These were not bad people. They just had learned to raise kids that way because they had been raised that way and maybe worse…and thought we were a bit nuts and permissive in the way we saw things. No one had ever challenged their ingrained beliefs before.

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      • how about this, try NOT going against the accepted norm of spanking. there are sooo many other ways you will end up damaging your child anyway. Maybe you let them eat whatever they want and they become obese. Maybe you neglect them. Really. If you want to be useful wage ware against ACTUAL child abuse. Not spanking. Why don’t you rally around GMOs in babyfood or something useful.

        Your whole theoretical solution for constant supervision and child-proofing everything doesn’t actually teach a kid a damn thing. Is the real world “child proof”? Do we need to go around “proofing” everything so children and adults don’t even have the option to make a potentially wrong choice?

        They didn’t give the child the “courtesy or the kind of respect usually reserved for elders”, because the child does not have the reasoning ability of an “elder”. I’m starting to think you may not either 0___0.

        Has it ever occurred to you that spanking or smacking is often the last resort in a long list of corrective actions and punishment a parent may have at their disposal. Did you ask those parents if they had tried giving him a firm NO or putting him on time out? Quite often, spanking or hand smacking may be a last resort when all other methods have failed.

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  9. Jayce says:

    As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that what was masquerading as discipline in my household was abuse. It caused irreparable damage to my relationship with my parents – particularly with my father, who was the most physically and verbally violent of the two. Now a Mother myself, it’s impossible for me to image hitting my daughter, for any reason, ever. But I’ve had to learn other ways to cope with and channel my anger. Because I grew up with a lot of it, it’s a powerful emotion in me. Don’t think for one second that children won’t remember that pain and hurt of those moments. On the contrary – they will never forget. It will live somewhere inside of them forever.

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    • cthebean says:

      Jayce I think it is true that things go deep…especially if the experiences are repeated consistently. Powerful “good ” stuff can go deep too, no?

      Like

      • cthebean says:

        I read my reply to you and thought it would be good to clarify that I did not intend to communicate that we can just smile and move on…put on a happy face crap. What I mean to say is that I think we can build in some resilience with safer experiences embedded in that unforgettable emotional memory bank….

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  10. Cathy says:

    Short, simple and correct. We want to think we are fine, and that being afraid od parents is fine, but its not. Why continue it, generation to generation. if you are a parent, consider it your generation to stop passing on this version of abuse and fear

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  11. Elisabeth says:

    Thank you for your bravery to say this. So many like to negate the impact of spanking on children. We need more people like you to speak out.

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    • cthebean says:

      When I was growing up everyone was spanked or so it seemed, and adults were not reluctant to say so at parties, etc. It was a culturally acceptable way of raising children. While spanking has fallen into general disfavor, and has even been outlawed in some countries (not the USA), what I have discovered through personal and professional experience and am very concerned about, is that it has gone underground. Punishment and abuse of various kinds happens to children on an hourly basis and in the “best” homes, and children rarely speak of these things to us.

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      • Elisabeth says:

        And coming from a family with severe underground abuse, I can tell you that only leads to more issues for children.

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        • cthebean says:

          exactly right. spanking becomes another secret kids are supposed to keep.

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          • who says spanking is a “secret kids are supposed to keep”? You are just making things up now. Did any of the kids in that recent study that you have commented about have any qualms or reservations about talking to the interviewers about spanking? Did they express that talking about it brought them feelings of shame? yea no…..

            If parents are acting reasonably and give their kid a spank, they aren’t going to care who the child tells. It is the parents that are legitimately abusing and injuring their children that might say “don’t you dare tell anyone about this. OR ELSE” because they know what they are doing is wrong. You know. just like in those after school specials. Spousal abusers say the same thing. “How did you get that black eye timmy?” “I ran into a door”. If you are weighing spanking the same as giving someone a black eye then I question your reasoning abilities.

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