I bet lots of us celebrate (and by celebrate, I mean endure) the season of Lent. A time in our journey toward Easter or spring to give up chocolate, or cursing, or fast food, or any number of things that interfere with a healthy life. Whether we are talking about being physically, spiritually or mentally healthy, the things we “give up” for Lent are intended to make us more receptive, more open, more inspired.
What if, this year, for this season, we gave up spanking? Not forever, just for forty days. A cleanse. A fast, if you will, just to test the waters and see where a non-spanking lifestyle could take us.
Too long, you say? Okay, how about a week? Can you do a week? One week in which you do not spank? One day? Or one hour? Can you give up spanking for any period of time to see if it makes a difference?
What if I told you that spanking our children puts them at greater risk for aggressive behaviors, delinquency, depression, feelings of alienation, future violent tendencies, and lower professional and economic achievement than their non-spanked peers? When we spank our children, it might work in the short term, but it absolutely does not work in the long term and actually puts our children at risk for future problems including a host of psychological, physical and societal issues. And what if I also told you that spanking actually sets our children up for a perpetual loop of bad behavior? Corporal punishment instills fear rather than understanding. Most of us will stop doing something if we are hit for doing it. That doesn’t mean we understand why we shouldn’t do it. Spanking sets a bad example, teaching children that violence is a solution to problems. Spanking teaches our children that love and violence are inextricably connected. Is that really what we are trying to teach them?
What if you could, for a time limit of your choosing – a day, a week, a month, take a step back? Take a deep breath? Listen and connect? Put some space between your child’s action and your reaction? Just for one day? One week? One Lenten season? What if you could channel that negative energy into something better? Something positive? What if you could approach each opportunity for discipline for just one day with calm, peaceful tactics? Would you?
Give it a try. Give up spanking for one month, one week, one day, one hour if that’s what suits you, and see where it could take you. The possibilities just might astound you. And maybe, just maybe, you will discover a path to peaceful parenting and a positive change in your little world in the process.
Editor, Ask Lala
Laura Fogarty writes “Ask Lala” for the Stop Abuse Campaign. She is a mother, an advocate and the author of two children’s abuse prevention books: I’M THE BOSS OF ME! and WE ARE JUST ALIKE!