This is going to be a bit of a tough blog entry but I feel pressed to write about this as I think it’s really important. Bullying, domestic violence, abuse, physical punishment, are all social matters very close to my heart, subjects that I would eradicate with the wave of a wand, if I could.
I am totally and utterly against parenting that involves spanking, hitting, shouting and any kind of method that parents use to enforce their power and control over their children. To me, its unkind, unloving and disrespectful and it shows that adults have this crazy thinking that what children want or think or feel doesn’t matter. That it’s more important for an adult to ‘bend the child’ to their will. Parents think that they have to take control over children, that they have to bully them into submission and that children just have to do what parents want them to do.
If you were parented in that way, I want you to stop for a moment and think about how you felt when your parent treated you that way? Did you feel like you mattered? did your opinion count? how did you feel when the person you trusted and loved, willingly inflicted pain onto your small little body?
I was raised in an era where it was the norm, it was expected of parents to discipline their children in that way. We got hidings, we got punished and we often were told, ‘do as I say, not as I do’ or ‘do as you are told, because I said so.’ There was one hiding in particular that I got as a child that really messed me up and created a horde of crazy beliefs and misconceptions in my child’s mind that took me years and years to heal from. I was 9 and I recall feeling utterly powerless, I could not defend myself, I had no choice in the matter when my 6ft+ 100+ kg father exerted his strength and control over me by hitting me. And……. I was told that that’s what parents who loved their children did! You spanked them or gave them hidings otherwise you would ruin them! That awful religious ‘spare the rod and spoil the child’ mentality.’ So how did I feel besides all the other things I have written about in my books? I felt that I had no choice but to receive that pain because my father loved me and I had no choice but to suck it up and love him regardless, because he was my father and he knew best. I was only a mere child! He gave me a hiding because he loved me and therefore I needed to accept that love involved physical pain, whether I liked it or not, whether I understood it or not!
Please understand I am not trying to make my dad out to be a bad guy. He did what he was taught, he had been disciplined with hidings, so he parented us the same way, the only way he knew how.
The reason I felt the urge to write this blog is, if you still parent your children in this manner have you every really stopped to think how it made you feel as a child when you were spanked or hit? Did you too feel totally and utterly powerless and maybe even scared? I know I did, I grew up feeling scared and anxious all the time because of that hiding, it shocked me to my core and not only did I feel powerless and scared, I felt betrayed, I felt helpless, I was just a little girl.
So many times we just do things because that’s the way our parents did it and therefore we need to do the same. So much of parenting is done on ‘automatic’ without giving any thought to it. We don’t consider how our actions or parenting style will affect our child, their lives nor their future.
Take a moment right now and think back to when you were spanked or hit as a child, or if your parent disciplined you without considering your feelings or when your opinion didn’t matter? Now think about how your child feels if you are doing the same to them?
When I was actively working in the abused women’s sector, an acclaimed author and speaker contacted me asking if I could help her daughter who was in a very physically abusive relationship. Her daughter managed to get out of that relationship, divorced her husband and is now recovering from it.
A few years later, to my shock and horror, the very same mother who approached me for help wrote a comment on a Facebook post regarding a news article that reported that the social department had removed children from a home where the children were being physically disciplined by their parents. She was ‘outraged’ that children were removed from their homes, her one comment is what really surprised me, she said, why should children be removed from their parents because they are being disciplined as the bible subscribes; she went on to say that she had been hit with a hosepipe by her parents when she was young and there was nothing wrong with her!
Not for one instance, did this woman link together that the very reason her daughter was, and struggled to get out of, such a physically abusive relationship was because she grew in a home where she was ‘hit because her parents loved her’ she grew up believing that love included physical pain.
I realise that this topic is very controversial and it’s going to take many years for the majority of people to realise that spanking and hitting ARE NOT THE ANSWERS. In my opinion, domestic violence and bullying will cease only when spanking and hitting children stops as this is where children learn to use violence to get their way, to feel significant, to feel powerful.
The other thing that is very confusing to a child is, if they are caught at school hitting another child, they get punished or get hit by their parents. The parent then tells them it’s not okay to hit others, but yet the very same person trying to ‘teach them this lesson’ is the very person who is hitting them! Actions speaker louder than words, if you do not want your child to become a bully or to use violence to get their way, then you need to role-model it to them.
So stop and think next time you raise your hand to your child. How did it make you feel when someone else did the same to you and if those feelings were unpleasant, then why on earth would you want your precious little child, whom you profess to love, to feel the way you did?
You ruin your children by spanking them, by hitting them, by bullying them to bend them to your will and get them to behave the way you want them to! You ruin their childhood, they lose their innocence as they instantly start to experience fear, they start to experience loss of trust as they start feeling betrayed by the very people who are meant to protect them, to keep them safe. They get taught that in order to get someone to do what they want is through pain, that to feel powerful is through pain and control.
Feeling safe begins at home, feeling loved and protected, begins at home. Bullying, domestic violence, abuse, begins at home.