My Parents Beat Me And I’m Glad They Did!


Good Parenting?

 

“I didn’t like it or understand it at the time, but now in hindsight I’m glad my mama and daddy beat me.  They were just doing what was best for me and they did it because they loved me.  I’d hate to see who I’d be today if they hadn’t.”

This is a sentiment I’ve heard many times before but this day it was particularly painful.  You see, I was sitting in a room exclusively full of current homeless men and/or former addicts.  In a church.  Some how, in that rabbit trail kind of way, we had wandered onto the subject of disciplining children and “the good old days”, then one at a time I heard from each of these men how grateful they were that they had been beaten as children.

“I was beat as a child for doing wrong, and I turned out just fine!”

 

I sat there, dumbfounded, trying not to give away how disturbed I was in my facial expressions.  What I wanted to say, what I was thinking, went something like … “REALLY?!  You turned out just fine?!  You’re in a HOMELESS SHELTER and most of your life has been wasted on drugs and alcohol!  Really, you turned out just fine?!!!!”

 

Instead, I made some weak arguments for why I think children often respond better to a gentler approach to “discipline”.  My message wasn’t received, and I didn’t push the issue.  I’ve become fairly adept at discerning when someone isn’t ready to accept certain truths and I’ve also learned that pushing truths on someone before they’re ready never ends well.  So I held back most of what I really believed on the subject.  And I certainly didn’t mention that I had written an ebook  about respectful parenting.  (I consider several of those men friends, by the way, and my intention is not to belittle them)

 

Unfortunately, the recent viral video of the father openly mocking is daughter and then shooting up her laptop has brought me face to face with this illogical perspective once again.  Facebook has been riddled with people “Amening” the actions of this father.  Now, to be fair, I didn’t watch the video because I try not to subject myself to senseless negativity that I know will likely upset me.  Also, this specific video wasn’t about physical abuse, but it is still in line with disrespectful parenting.

 

I did, however, watch the video of the judge “disciplining” his teenage daughter with a belt that was popular not long ago (pictured above) and was very sorry that I did.  It brought back painful memories of being similarly “spanked” after entering high school.

 

And I’m going to say, for the record, I’m not thankful that I was hit as a child.  I don’t think that it made me a better person.  I also don’t think that I would have “turned out” worse if I hadn’t been hit and bruised with belts, fly swatters, switches, wooden planks, and shoes  from time to time.  Or slapped in the face.  Or called names.  Or screamed at.  Or been shoved through closed doors.

 

That is what they call a false dichotomy.

 

One has no way of knowing that they would have been “worse” if they had been treated with kindness and respect.  If they’d been listened to, and not arbitrarily punished.  You can’t prove that.  You can’t know that.

 

And, I suppose, I can’t prove the opposite, either.  But I’m going to use a little thing called common sense and claim that it’s likely that when kind, patient, respectful parenting is modeled, it can produce relatively kind, patient, respectful children, and adults.

 

To be clear, I’m not intending this to personally attack either viral video father, or anyone else.  But I am begging them, you, me, everyone, to consider that what our culture fed us as truth in parenting … might not even make sense.

 

I believe that most people act out of a sense of assuming they’re right.  I believe that many parents “discipline” their children in very harsh, derogatory ways because our culture has taught them that is how you produce a productive member of society.  That’s how you “keep them on the right track” or “keep them in line” or whatever.

 

But believing something doesn’t necessarily make it true.

 

Love conquers all. 

 

And I don’t mean the kind of love that abuses for a child’s “own good”.  The kind of love that acts …

 

… um, loving.

 

-Jessica

Comments

  1. I wish I could see the person I would have been if I’d been bought up differently.
    My Dad was beaten by his dad and as such so was I. He is a generally abusive man and in damn near everyway you can think of.
    Even now, I’m in my twenties and he still raises his hand to me and I can’t help but flinch away from it and him..
    We don’t have a good relationship at all and I think that’s because I’m scared of him and his violent side. And I wish that was different

  2. I was beaten by my dad. And I was called so many different names and put down so many different times that I honestly lost track. And I have no problem admitting that I didn’t turn out fine. Until Jesus Christ and my wonderful husband came into my life, I had issues. And I was leading a destructive life.

    My dad and I actually used to be super close {or so I thought at the time}, but now we don’t talk at all. Long story.

    When I first saw that video, my husband and I were like “yeah, right on — we’d totally do something like that” … …. but a few hours later, after being able to think about what we saw? Totally different thinking on it. Then I hopped back online and your blog FB page and a few other conversations gave us even more to think about. So, thank you. As you can see, sometimes our gentle parenting side thinks one thing …. and our flesh goes completely against it :-)

    {and I don’t want to be entered in the contest — just wanted to share my thoughts. Already have your book and LOVE it!}
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  3. Parenting is hard. I can use all the help I can get.

  4. I think there is a very BIG difference between “beating” a child and the gentle, but firm, and loving act of spanking a child. VERY. BIG.

    I, for one, AM grateful for the discipline I received as a child and, yes, that includes spankings, but I’m only thankful because my parents did it right. I wasn’t beaten with a belt or their hand. I wasn’t beaten for reasons I didn’t understand. I wasn’t BEATEN. And around the age of eight, when I was old enough to reason with and to learn from different methods of disciplining, I don’t remember being spanked.

    For those who use spanking as a tool to train their children, it can be very frightening to have the stigma of “beating” your children placed upon you. If spanking is done correctly, and I do believe it can be done respectfully as well, then it’s a highly effective tool for disciplining, particularly with very young children who benefit from swift and immediate consequences. Spanking should always be followed with lots of love, lots of hugs and prayer for restoration, as should any consequence. Spanking should never be a surprise or done in anger.

    Spanking can be done well and right. Beating a child is never right and the gap between the two is wider than the Grand Canyon.

    As for the father in the video, well…I don’t agree with his methodology in disciplining his daughter, however, there is more to the story. Do I think what he did was the wisest course of action? No. But I don’t think he did irreparable harm to his daughter, either. We didn’t know the whole story, nor do we know or understand the dynamics of that family. I wrote about it myself tonight as well and I included an interview the father gave after the video went viral if you’re interested. I’d love to start a discussion on this particular topic. ;)
    Kelli recently posted..“Laptop Homicide” – A Post on DisciplineMy Profile

    • I agree that there’s a big difference in the two things you’re describing. I hope that my writing made clear that I was definitely referring to the abusive sort.

      • I re-read it and it did. The problem is so often people refer to spanking as beating and that makes me crazy. It’s so not the same! And you’re right – beating of the abusive sort…it’s not good and I don’t see how you could be thankful for it, but I do see how it’s a cycle that plays itself over and over from generation to generation.
        Kelli recently posted..“Laptop Homicide” – A Post on DisciplineMy Profile

        • It definitely does that – and I get it and am confused by it at the same time. I mean, I completely understand that it’s natural to act in the behavior that was modeled for you, for good or bad. I’ve had to shed most of the examples that I experienced as a child, even though my gut reaction is to react in those ways.

          What confuses the crap out of me though is how people cross this weird line into adult hood and then decide that the abusive behavior was actually okay and good parenting. And then retell stories of their parent’s inappropriate use of force when they were children, proudly. It’s like … Stockholm Syndrome, or something. :/

  5. I am terrified of having children after the not-always-nice childhood I had. It wasn’t constant, but there was abuse. Add to that mental illness in my family, and the constant bullying at school (and sexual abuse from a fellow student), and I can’t even think of my past without stress and pain, let alone consider having kids. I’m terrified of messing them up.
    Abuse is not right. It never makes you “better”. The number of times I was slapped in the face – usually in public for maximum embarrassment – makes me shudder. I don’t even remember what I got slapped or spanked or screamed at or insulted for in all of those different occasions – I just remember the outcome. The shame, pain and embarrassment, and later, the rage, which I’ll never properly release. I’m too afraid of what might happen to me. I’m still afraid of being hit or slapped or insulted. I probably wasn’t the easiest child, but I wasn’t a psychotic killer or anything.
    While I agree that shooting his daughter’s laptop probably wasn’t the best thing to do (I mean really, sell the darn thing!), teenagers today are inherently overly dramatic and that was an overly dramatic thing to do to get his point across. But still.
    His responses to her behavior aside from that were totally within reason, however. She was acting like a spoiled brat and publicizing ridiculous perceived injustices across the internet. You can hear the hurt in his voice as he speaks.
    Violence, though, is never a good or justifiable means to an end. IT will only hinder, never help.
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    • Yep! I agree. I think that had he used those identical words, but spoken them to his daughter in private, and been willing to listen to her response (as dramatic as it is prone to be), it would have been pretty good parenting. Leave out the part about posting it publicly on the internet and shooting the laptop, and the things he says are reasonable. She mentions having a lot of homework and no time for all the chores. I don’t doubt that she’s being a whiny teenager. I really don’t. I think he is probably quite justified in his feelings. But I think she’s probably also really overwhelmed and stressed about school and home life. And being a dramatic, plugged-in teenager, she didn’t exactly handle it in the best way.
      My takeaway is: teach my kids to use facebook sparingly (while attempting to do the same myself, as I read an article today about kids’ statements about how their parents are online/on the phone more than they are spending time with the kids) and not as a platform to vent every frustration. Because their hormones and stress levels might get the better of them and they’ll make a fool of themselves. And speaking of stress levels, I hope I can stay tuned in enough to my kids to see it when they’re in a danger zone and help them find healthy ways to cope. Which leads to my next part – keep the lines of communication open between us and them, so that they know they can always vent to me even if I don’t like what they have to say. My oldest is 11, and he’s sometimes really challenging already, and while I get onto him when he takes that rude, disrespectful tone with me, I try to at least remember that his words and feelings have merit, even if I disagree with them.
      I don’t think that what this guy did was awful, but I don’t get why he’s getting so much praise for it, either. I think he could have handled it a lot better. privately.

  6. Jessica,
    I would love a copy of your book. My husband and I have recently been having lots of conversations about parenting, although we do not have any children (on earth, anyway). I’ve really enjoyed your last couple of posts! :)
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  7. I did actually watch the video you are referring to. Essentially the daughter posted a ranting a disrespectful curse-laden ‘letter to her parents’ on Facebook. Ironically, her father turned around and posted a disrespectful ranting and curse-laden video on Facebook. And then shot the laptop with his handgun multiple times.

    Hmm. It doesn’t seem like that little apple has fallen to far from the tree. Obviously there was a need for discipline, but the situation could have been handled more graciously.

  8. I was not beat, nor hit as a child. Nor I have I beat or hit my own children. My husband, on the other hand, was hit with anything handy- hot wheels tracks, a hair brush etc. Personally, seeing how my children behave vs how my husbands siblings children behave (who are spanked regularly and corporally punished), I can honestly say I believe we have chosen the right path for our family. Our children do not react with anger, with raised fists or with the belief that hitting is normal or OK. They do speak- sometimes to each other for hours- to work things out. It is amazing to see. Thank You for offering a nice post on how we view ourselves-and giving me a moment to reflect on who we believe our children will be as adults. :)

  9. Hi Jessica,
    Thank you for posting this. I was hit a lot as a kid and it has been a hard battle within myself to avoid this sort of ‘discipline’ method as a parent myself. I know from my childhood that my parents never calmly hit me, it was always in anger and probably always too hard. From my experience as parent of 3 children I also know that the only times I have hit my kids it has been because I ‘lost the plot’ and got angry with them.

    Hitting children is simply not effective as a form of punishment or discipline. All it achieves is to make the child fear or hate the parent (often both). There is little or no respect on either side.

    It is now illegal to hit children in New Zealand. Initially I was not in favour of this law, but after living under it for about 5 years now I consider it to be a good thing because it forces good parents to learn better parenting skills. Unfortunately it does not really help prevent child abuse – the abusive parents do not really consider legal implications of any of their actions (our country’s atrocious child abuse statistics attest to this).

    It would be nice to receive a free copy of your book, but even if not I shall buy one anyway, we parents need all the help we can get!
    Mike McArthur recently posted..Ordinary me and ordinary youMy Profile

  10. Kristina Best says:

    I could use this book to help me become a better mom to my Boys.

  11. I did watch the video of the dad shooting the laptop and I have to say I did agree with it. After the letter she posted and it sounds like she had been warned and had previous issues but was still acting like a spoiled brat. I wouldn’t have necessarily taken it to the extreme of shooting the laptop but the laptop certainly would have been out of her life. However, my boys are still very young. I want to make the best choices I can for them while being the best parent I can for them so I am always looking at opportunities to learn. I would love to see this book to get another perspective and options.

  12. Amen. It comes down to respect on both sides. Parents respecting their children as human beings with their own emotions and choices as well as the other way around. I have been trying to bring more grace to my parenting- solving issues rather than just making judgements. Today I had a great discussion with my oldest about treating our home right so we don’t have to pay double fixing and unclogging things. Rather than a punishment, we made a reminder note in the bathroom. “Please do not clog me. Food, hair, and other items don’t work in my pipes!” It not only helped her see that there was a better way, but it also exampled respectfulness and problem-solving.

    BTW- You don’t have to put me in for a free copy. I already have one. ;0)
    Aadel recently posted..To Find Meaning, Look to LoveMy Profile

  13. Great perspective. Ta

  14. I would love to win a copy to help me handle the tough moments more calmly.

  15. i’d love to either win or eventually buy your book someday…
    it sounds fascinating, and a really beneficial read. i prefer learning about the more gentle, respectful ways of raising/disciplining children, rather than the other stuff out there….

    keep writing! i love it!

  16. Your book sounds interesting. I’m still processing your post, but thanks for sharing it. :)
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  17. Respectfully and well said. I think it is important to recognize that most parents want to make choices that are best for their child. My question about this video was: who is the right person to show this father another way of parenting? One that might afford him a relationship like he has (clearly) never experienced.

    It seems overwhelming at times, but I am learning to stay focused on letting peace begin with me and my family. It has been a transition for me. Lots of my parenting choices are brand new concepts to me, so I can appreciate those who have not been exposed to them.

    Thanks for writing this. I am going to share it :)
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  18. I am also in the camp of spanking can be done as discipline under the right circumstances, and certainly not in anger. Our friends have a ‘correction spoon’ that they use for spanking, and their daughter actually plays with it on occasion. They are also quick to tell her they love her very much even though she made a mistake and her consequence is a correction tap.

    There is a fine line, certainly. And unfortunately, people do take things too far in anger.
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  19. I was not beat and we choose to not hit our children. That being said – I would love to check out your book for some extra help with 3 very strong willed little ladies!

  20. I was spanked “the right way” and I did not turn out fine. I had tried to kill myself twice by the time I was eighteen. I had some dreadful ideas about grace, and about who my Father God was and is, because I had grown up with control, fear, power, and conditionality (none of which was the goal of my parents, with whom I now have a wonderful relationship – and who both deeply regret hitting us as their Church told them they must, and in fact now believe as I do that it is unBiblical).

    The thought of a little girl playing with a wooden spoon literally makes me throw up, because I was that little girl, and as an adult I can say that making light of it and trying to keep some ownership of that situation was less painful than telling my parents that the thought of that wooden spoon brought me out in a cold sweat. I learned to fake sorry, love, and laughter, before I was even seven years old.

    Yet I can count on my fingers the number of times I was actually spanked, and there was always hugging and affection afterwards, everything was done “the right way”. I refer to the “discipline” my parents lovingly doled out as abusive, because hitting someone you have power over is always abusive. Even if you do it because you love them. It drove me away from the Church, away from my parents, and away from Grace, which I believed I had to earn. I wish my will had not been damaged and bent, because I sure need it now to serve Him, and I am having to learn self-control from scratch because what I learned was external “appearance control”. Praise the Lord that He is bigger than my upbringing!
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  21. Chris Andrews says:

    If someone was molested as a child and they turned out OK, does that make the molestation acceptable?

    My rights end where someone else’s nose begins. That goes for children and adults alike. I’m raising my daughter with respect and finding ways to correct her that don’t involve violence. There’s too much violence in this world, and way too many people resort to it to try to fix things. It’s the easy way out. Redirecting behavior, or sitting down and talking things out, take more effort. But nothing worthwhile was ever easy. I’ve never struck another person in my life, because I truly believe that violence only begets violence. If I wouldn’t strike a contemporary in anger, why on earth would I strike a defenseless, helpless child? Especially one who thinks the world of me and looks up to me for guidance and reassurance? What kind of message am I sending her if I tell her it’s acceptable for a grown adult to strike a child into submission?

    Love, patience, understanding, and respect go a long way.

  22. “I was beat as a child for doing wrong, and I turned out just fine!”

    oh well. I sticked hair clips in the power outlet twice. I got hit severely by the electricity. And I turned out just fine. I am not dead. I am just fine.

    Nice way to play right? should I go around encouraging kids to stick hair clips in the outlet?

    Good grief

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