What is the proper way to discipline kids these days?
I was reading a sports website earlier, and the comments deviated into a discussion on spanking. The thoughts on the topic ranged, as you would probably guess, but it got me thinking. How would I discipline my kids? I don’t have any kids yet, so I’m not personally faced with this question, but it’s something that I’ve wondered about from a young age. I had very old school parents, in that they felt that beatings were a proper way to get disciplined. And frankly, I thought I was lucky as they described getting beat with extension cords in their younger years. I was happy (not really) that my beatings only consisted of a belt. I can’t say that it happened often, but it happened often enough, and wasn’t solely for the use by my parents. Grandparents got their licks in too. Speaking with friends of mine who had experienced similar discipline made me feel that this was normal.
Looking back on it, I’m grateful for those beatings. I knew what was going on in my head, and had my parents not expressed their love in this way, I’m almost certain that I’d be in a much different position that I am today. Did I like it? Of course not. Did it get their point across? Definitely! I knew what their triggers were, and I knew that they were serious. Knowing how serious they were, I was able to begin to avoid the things that I knew might trigger them. I didn’t feel they loved me any less, nor did I feel that they found joy in these beatings. I even made them work for it at times (remembering a time I ran out of the room and down the stairs to get away from my father). I was not beaten bloody, and I wasn’t scarred, but I was in enough pain to remember what I did wrong, and to not get caught again.
As I grew up, and as this type of punishment became less acceptable (publicly) I wondered what weapons I would have in trying to teach my kids right from wrong. Sure, my parents put me “on punishment” and limited things I enjoyed to coerce me into learning how someone should act. My father, the enforcer, was very clear in his objective. He didn’t care if I loved him…as long as I grew up to be a good person, he’d known his efforts were successful. We were not friends. My mother, the wizard, participated in beatings but she was the queen of the evil eye. I knew that when she shot me the look, I’d better straighten up or the enforcer would take care of me. She was more of my friend (at the time). She reasoned with me, and used other discipline techniques to get her point across. I think the combination of techniques by the two of them was key. But where does that leave me? What do I do if I get a kid like me?
It’s scary, especially since times change so rapidly. What he or she will be facing in this world will be vastly different than the world I live in. I never believed in “time out,” and I’m not sure if punishments alone will be enough. In the thread I was reading, someone stated that every child is different. There is no universal way of ensuring kids will stay on the right path and parents will have to adjust accordingly. I guess that’s true, otherwise a book…a child rearing bible, if you will..would exist. But that being said, is beating still a tool? Is a belt too much? How about a switch? Open hand smacks on the bottom? Broad punches to the chest for older boys (referred to as being “knocked” when I was younger)? What will society allow me to do? I guess I’ll have to hope I get it right when it’s my turn, but I’m curious to know your thoughts. For parents, what have you found to be successful when disciplining your child. For all, are beatings/spankings okay?