My single, widowed mother routinely spanked me as a child. My older brother and sister also received spankings, but not as much as me. We called them "whippings." I was a bad kid throughout school and received paddlings by teachers and coaches at least a few times a year. It was painful, but more embarrassing. Even worse, if my mother found out I had received a paddling in school, I would get a whipping when she got home. I did not get in trouble every day because I knew what would happen. My point: corporal punishment worked for me. It kept me focused and out of trouble; made me think twice. My family was poor, yet I worked through high school and played varsity sports. I attended college and received a B.S. and M.S. degree. I then earned a J.D. and am a practicing attorney. I am well adjusted with no long lasting damage. I am a productive citizen. I truly believe spankings, whippings, paddlings or whatever you want to call it saved me. It kept me in line. It kept my siblings in line. And it kept many of my friends and peers in line. They are all well adjusted and doing great in life.
If the old methods worked well enough for past generations, they'll surely work for the next. Don't fix it if it isn't broken. Don't mess with success. Sometimes children just need a good smack on the bottom to get their attention. It never did a child any harm. That's how I was raised, and I turned out okay.But just how well did we really turn out? Sooner or later we have to admit that perhaps not all family traditions are created equal. Maybe, in some cases, they've made our lives more precarious and unhappy than they need to have been. And maybe – just maybe – we haven't turned out quite as "okay" as we'd like to believe and have others believe.
When we praise our parents' treatment of us when we were little, are we merely fishing for approval of our own similar behaviors now? Are we trying to reassure ourselves that the way we want to remember things is the way they really were and ought to remain?
Let's test the I-turned-out-okay argument by examining a few real-life examples from my own childhood. See if they apply to you.
Was my family wise or just lucky? Today, we don't do those things anymore. We don't take such risks, and we don't expose our children to such risks – not if we know the facts.
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TO THE NEWSROOM?