So I Hit Him

spanking hand

The other day, my husband came home tired after a long day at work. He wasn’t feeling well, he’d had a fight with a co-worker, and he’d encountered snag after snag in a report that had to be done by the end of the day. He had yet to tell me, but he was also very concerned about upcoming budget cuts. He came inside, changed out of his work clothes, and sighed as he sank wearily into a living room chair.

I told him that he hadn’t yet fixed the drain in the kids’ bathroom sink, and that I expected him to do it as soon as possible.

“Are you serious?” he asked me. “I just got home, and – ”

“I asked you to do something,” I told him firmly, “and I expect you to do it with a good attitude.”

He wordlessly shook his head. He rolled his eyes.

So I hit him.

I did it for his own good, though. He had to learn that he couldn’t be so openly disrespectful and defiant. He had to learn that he couldn’t treat me that way, and that it was unacceptable for him to talk back. I didn’t hit him in anger, and I didn’t hit him hard enough to leave a mark. I just hit him hard enough and long enough for him to open his eyes to his own sinfulness. I hit him until he apologized, got up from that chair, and headed off to complete the task that I’d given him.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

No, the above never happened. But minus the hitting, it certainly could have. We all have bad days. We all have moments when we’re less than cheery with those we love, especially when we feel like we’re not being heard. We all have moments when we want, with every fiber of our being, to tell the person who’s ordering us around – and not considering our feelings – to BACK OFF. We’re human.

Most of us wouldn’t consider striking a spouse, or a friend, or a coworker for a moment of humanness (and even if we did, we recognize that it’s not exactly LEGAL) Yet the above scenario is something that’s played out with parents and children over and over again. The above justifications for spankings are ones that I hear verbatim every time the subject comes up.

They need to learn to obey the first time!
They need to learn to be respectful!
They need to learn who’s in charge!

You may argue that it’s not fair for me to compare a grown man to a child. He should already KNOW how to treat people. A child is still learning, still immature, still figuring out the way the world works. It’s our job as parents to make. them. understand.

Wouldn’t it follow then that they should receive more compassion, and not less? That they should be treated more gently, not less? Children are people… people with big feelings and strong emotions. They are looking to their parents for reassurance, for love, and for a positive example of how to treat themselves and how to treat others.

Will spanking meet that need? Or will it do the complete opposite? At its very very best, the most it can do is send a confusing message about blind compliance with people bigger than them… and that their own thoughts, opinions, and feelings do not matter.

I want my kids to feel safe in their own house, and in their relationship with their father and I. I want them to know that they can say anything to me without fear of punishment, and that they can trust that I will give them an honest and thoughtful response. I want them to know that I will apologize freely when I’ve hurt them, and I want them to know that I will forgive freely when they’ve done the same.

As for learning to be respectful: In the above example, I could’ve started by not treating my husband like he existed to meet my every whim and demand. He doesn’t, and neither do my kids. If I’d taken a step back and really listened and watched and empathized, I would have seen that nothing more was needed than a kind “Rough day?” or “Want to talk about it?” Either response would have garnered a far more positive outcome (for both of us) than any blaming or punishing ever could. Either response would have spoken volumes to how a person should be treated, and to how a person should be respected.

I think it’s interesting that companies hold all these meetings and conferences and seminars about effective communication and positive conflict resolution. I can’t help but wonder if it would even be needed if more people practiced the concept on their own children.

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Filed under attachment parenting, discipline, gentle discipline, gentle parenting, parenting, spanking

27 Responses to So I Hit Him

  1. Michele

    I agree 100%, so I can be ready next time this comes up, what would you say when someone say they spank for their child’s safety (That’s right, I said safety) :-S I also don’t get it, but it’s the most common response I got so far. “what if my child climb on the chairs all the time and they ignore it when I say NO, wouldn’t you slap their hands for their safety??” <—- Said by other moms.

    To be honest, I climbed all the time as a child and I fell down and I learned from that. Kids aren't robot, they like to push their own boundaries of creativity, intellectual and physical ability.

    But what would you say if they said it was for safety? That a spanking hurts less then being killed doing something they shouldn't?

    • jen

      I never understood that either. I get a lot of people who say things like, “Well I only believe in spanking if it’s something really dangerous like running out into a street.” I then just point to my kids and say, “I have four kids who know to look both ways before they cross the street, despite never having been spanked.” They also know not to stick a fork into a plugged-in toaster, don’t run with scissors, and seldom play in traffic. 😉

      Honestly, I think hitting for “safety” is a huge cop-out. I wouldn’t exactly say that to someone in those words, but I *would* tell them that there is another way, a better way. If a kid wants to explore stairs, I say explore them with him!

    • MB

      The spanking for safety thing doesn’t really make sense, does it? Its quite lazy just to give a smack because it doesn’t teach anything. Spanking is purely a punitive measure, a punishment, it doesn’t TEACH anything. A child will only obey instructions so long as the threat is there – remove the threat of spanking and the impetus to follow instructions is gone. Children have to learn boundaries and learn to follow them even when a parent or caregiver is not present. That’s why smacking can be MORE dangerous.

  2. Amy

    Thank you, Jen! I strive for the same and I really appreciate other parents calling this all out so it can be *seen* and worked through. Making others responsible for how we feel and punishing them to change how we feel is not honest not honorable to ourselves or them. Child, adult, whoever.

    I also appreciate your last statement about the need for adults to learn such effective communication skills being reduced if we would just embrace this in our homes, now. I work toward this daily. It’s a process to undo this crap, but so worth the effort. Life depends on it.

    Thank you again. Much love to you and yours.

  3. Yumi

    I enjoyed reading this article, and thought that despite encouraging gentleness and not having to hit, I believe that sometimes a spanking isn’t a bad thing. I grew up getting the belt sometimes or worse, and there were times where as a child I can recall just thinking my parents were mean, but at the same time as I grew older I could understand why. I think kids can still learn from a good smack on the bottom especially if they continuously disrespect or disobey. There’s an even balance of having the discipline show that its not because its enjoyed, but because its the only way to catch their attention. I’ve seen a lot of children who never get spanked and they talk back to their parents all the time. Pain is inevitable, and teaching a child that there is hurt that comes from bad deeds can be a good tool. There’s a fine line with discipline and abusing that discipline, so that’s what I think. But I definitely understand where this article is coming from and agree for the most part too.

    • jen

      It’s too bad you can not meet my kids…. all four of them polite, respectful, kind people by all accounts, who have never been spanked a day in their life. 🙂 I disagree that spanking is ever a good tool, for any reason. I’ve written about it many times, and I’d be happy to point you in the direction of past posts if you’d ever be interested in reading more.

    • Anna

      I think when people see kids being really disrespectful and rude they assume its because those kids aren’t smacked. But often its more because there are no boundaries or consequences at all in the home. There IS a middle ground between using smacking and doing nothing. I’ve seen kids act really out of control and often their diets are atrocious too. Sometimes kids are just kids too and its a once off because they are tired, worked up or whatever.

      I dont smack my kids and they behave fairly well. Of course they are kids so they arent docile little robots. You see some kids like that though and you wonder if they are just naturally quiet and easy going or if they are so scared of being belted, sworn at or punished they dont dare move.

      I was smacked a little and it never did me MUCH harm. I believe I was lucky. The main harm it did me was left me often struggling to stop myself from hitting out at others in anger – particularly my children. The smacking taught me that its okay to smack in anger or frustration and its just not, its never okay.

      We are only a few generations from when it was okay to smack your wife or coloured employees (or even random non-whites on the street). Why can’t we get that same basic human right for kids. In a generation or two the idea of smacking children would be abhorrent as the above.

  4. ah, but you see Jen…. in that particular example YOU were at fault.

    You did not take into account the needs of your hubby. A parent who spanks a child does NOT do so if the child is “off course” — not sure how to say that otherwise. For instance, if you have a child who is sick, tired, having a bad day, you don’t spank… you take time to understand them. if you don’t… then you are going over the line of what properly applied discipline is. that’s like saying that God is going to wallop you every time he tells you/nudges you through the Holy Spirit to do something, and you baulk at it. God doesn’t do that. And a Parents we need to take our guidance from God.

    • jen

      Absolutely I was at fault. I would be at fault if I spanked under ANY circumstance. I do agree with you about taking guidance from God. And God would never, ever hit a child, for any reason. “Properly applied” discipline does not involve spanking.

      • Aliena Gerhard

        thank you. God should never be made as an excuse or justification for violence. Spanking = violence. Were you to do it to an adult, it would be criminal. How ironic that children who are so small compared to us are “allowed” to be hit, yet adults of the same size or larger, are not…
        And how sad that the very people who are supposed to protect them and teach them are the ones allowed to hit them… There are much better and more effective tools for disciplining your children. Spanking is NEVER acceptable.

      • Bri

        Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying. (Proverbs 19:18)Both of these verses appear in the Contrast of Goodness and Evil. From the Warnings and Instructions come the following four verses:Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him. (Proverbs 22:15)Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. (Proverbs 23:13)The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame. Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul. (Proverbs 29:15, 17)He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes. (Proverbs 13:24)My personal feelings on the issue are that I would always prefer to not spank my children for any reason. Ever. It hurts me as well as the child! But I have a firm belief that God’s Word is the definitive authority on all areas of life, and we will only be blessed if we trust *His* judgment over our own. There is certainly much specificity and purpose to be had when making the decision to physically punish a child, especially as to where, when, how, and why. It is out of love to the child, and obedience to our loving, chastening Creator. <3

        • Bri

          Oh sheesh… it messed up my formatting and now it’s all compacted together, haha… sorry about that! 🙂

          • pathlesstaken

            Bri, I agree about God’s word being the authority, but respectfully disagree that His word (in any of the above scriptures you mentioned) instructs us to use any physical punishment against our children.

        • Guest

          seriously? “I didn’t want to beat him, but god told me to!” That’s your excuse?

        • Can you really imagine Jesus Christ raising his hand to any child, ever? I certainly can’t…and therefore..spanking for biblical reasons seems completely counter to his teachings if you are following Christ’s teachings. Additionally “the rod” in biblical terms is a reference to a long staff used to corral is a shepherds tool. The shepherd never hits the sheep into submission, they place the rod against the sheeps body when it is straying to STEER the sheep back to the flock. This is the idea of the ROD it is *not* the tool of physical punishment.

    • These comments are from 4 months ago, but I still wanted to add that even if my husband had a GREAT day at work, before I told him to fix the drain, I would still be in the wrong if I hit him after he rolled his eyes.

  5. Nev

    Great article, thank you for sharing. 🙂 I totally agree with everything here. Have also shared. 😀


  6. Amanda T.

    You summed up my feelings about spankings exactly!!

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  8. Lol – I got confused reading the start of your post – I was like, I thought these blog writers travelled and didn’t work…maybe I got you confused with another blog 🙂 Glad you didn’t actually hit your husband! I’ll never understand how a parent can purposely cause pain to their children and expect anything good to come of it. I was spanked as a child and I’m still mad about it. Of course, I don’t remember why they did it – only that they did and how shameful it was. 

  9. I completely agree! You have such a wonderful way of saying things, and I am so glad that I found your blog, thanks to one of my brilliant friends. 

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  12. Carolyn Spring-Baker

    Very good example…. I grew up in the 50’s & 60’s and it was common to get spankings… I respect my parents (or was it fear) I do know that today with my 2 yr old granddaughter is very difficult with the temper tantrums she throws to get her own way… it takes patience and perseverance, for them to understand that when you speak you mean what you say…..