Thursday, August 26, 2010

My Contribution To A Discussion On Spanking

Members of have been discussing the issues of corporal punishment. Two thoughts come to mind on the issue. One is a bit of advice I received from a rabbi with a large family. He said that even scolding should not be done when one is viscerally angry. He said that the purpose of any sort of punishment should be to educate one's child and not to vent anger. I have found that spanking of any sort has limited and diminishing returns, that it should exist mostly as a theoretical possibility rather than as a regular occurrence.

When my oldest boy was about 4 years old, I got a call from my wife at the warehouse where I was working an evening shift. I asked her how the kids were doing. "Terrible!" she exclaimed, adding that my oldest child was running around and not listening to anything she said.

"Put him on the phone." I answered

"Abie*, mommy says you have been behaving badly. You need a spanking, and it can't wait until I get home! Now put your tush up to the phone."

I waited for a couple of seconds and tapped the mouthpiece on my telephone a couple of times.

"Did you do as I said?" I asked.

"Yeah." Abie answered. "And it didn't even hurt".

"Well if I have to spank you again when I get home, it will hurt". I answered. "Now hand the phone over to mommy."

My wife picked up the phone and asked "What did you tell him?"

I asked her "Did he put his tush up to the phone?

"Yes." she answered with puzzlement in her voice.

I spanked him over the phone. I hope I don't have to do it live later tonight."

For whatever reason, my son was well behaved for the rest of the night.

The other trick I used to use was to pretend that I am not mad but that my hand is. I tell the kid that my hand wants to spank him. I pretend to desperately wrestle with the angry hand and to hold it down. I would ask my kid to help me subdue the angry hand. Invariably, the kid would come over and we would hold the hand down. After a minute of struggle I would say "Don't get it mad again."

I don't generally go for gimmicks, but if you can teach a lesson with laughter, why not?

I would never condemn corporal punishment across the board, but it should really be a rarity. Communicating through the intellect and emotions that distinguish us as human is generally preferable.

*Names have been changed

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