Here are stories taken from the Olive Branch Blog where women have shared their own personal stories of how they stopped spanking...

Heather's Story
recently i received an email from a dear friend in which he stated that the bible clearly teaches we must scourge our children. 

there are many arguments out there, for and against, i’ve read some of both. and i encourage you to read them, do some searching. God speaks to us, if we are willing to listen, if we do not confine our thinking to the rigid lines drawn by people, by ourselves.

ultimately, what i have on my side, and on my conscience, is my experience. as a wise college professor once told me, “share your experience, no one can argue that.” so here is a bit of my journey….

when forrest (my first born) was a toddler, i was given a book from a Christian whom i trusted and respected. the book was _shepherding a child’s heart_ by tedd tripp. i read it and immediately began applying its (tedd’s) principles (because i thought i should), principles such as: expect instant obedience; spank if there’s not instant obedience. those are two i remember most clearly. and i also remember he made it clear that God expects parents to “discipline” little ones this ways; if we don’t, we’re disobeying Him.

so i told little 2 year old forrest, “when i call you, if you don’t come, i will spank you.” and of course, he didn’t come; so i spanked. as i continued to read tripp’s book, i felt more and more unsettled with his teachings. and spanking never felt right (that was the Holy Spirit). mostly, as i look back, the only “rightness” i felt was that i was doing what supposedly God says, and what everyone else (whoever that may be) expected me to do. by the time i finished the book, it turned my stomach so much that i pitched it (now i wish i would’ve kept it as a resource). i still spanked on rare occasions; i wasn’t yet convinced it was ok not to…but that still small voice was still speaking.

another turning point (although not yet a full 180) was hearing a friend, karen campbell, speak. her daughter mollie encouraged me to go, and that’s why i did (i’m not a retreat sort of person—i don’t like sitting; plus i and a three year old and a one year old, both of whom nursed, and i didn’t care to leave them—even though i knew they’d be fine with neil, and they were). i don’t remember many details, but i remember she talked about the one-anothers in the bible—and that those all applied to our children and our relationships with them. and i had never heard or thought of them that way.

i’d always heard/seen children children and parents placed on tiers, and thought of them almost as different sorts of animals (which in some ways they, we are), as outside the realms of “normal” behavioral, relational patterns and expectations…and hearing this, i began to see children, my children, as “my neighbors.” “love your neighbor as yourself”—the ultimate one-another….and i thought, how does hitting them (because that is what spanking is) fit into that? so after her talk, i went up to her and said, “it sure seems like you’re saying spanking doesn’t fit into the one-anothers” and she said “then you heard me right.”

i asked her what book(s) she recommended. i don’t remember if there were more than one, but i ended up reading _heartfelt discipline_ by clay clarkson, and in it was an exegesis of those passages that many christians have used to proclaim that spanking required by God—and mr. clarkson came up with quite a different conclusion.

and basically, i came away seeing that the bible really contains little explicit instructions regarding parenting and discipline….the Holy Spirit had led me to karen and to clay, who had taken me a bit further down the path away from spanking.

and from that point on it was just a continued journey down that path as the Holy spirit worked in my heart, and showed me through my children and Jesus’ teachings and God’s character and others’ wisdom just exactly what spanking really is—hitting.

and eventually, i can’t tell exactly when, there was no more traveling down a path; there was a closed door. and a complete paradigm shift. and this is where i am: these children are precious gifts from God. they are His children, just as much as we adults are. and they are not only my children, but my sister and my brothers. being their mother is a privilege. what an honor to be able to show them God’s love. just as God desires a relationship and unity with us, so do i with my little ones….and hitting has no place in that.

Diane's Story
I never thought it would end up happening to my kids.....spanking.

It never happened to me. Oh sure I got a good yelling at by my mom once and a while, and maybe a firm finger point to the shoulder, but never anything physical. I was scared of her because of how she could give you a good talking to. I was scared of her, and tried to avoid her getting mad at me at all.

I was never a Christian until just before I got married either. That pulls a whole other issue into the picture. What DOES the Bible say about it? Who is God? What does He expect from parents and children? It was all very new and I was learning to be a good wife to a husband with a completely different upbringing. We viewed children in completely different ways, so naturally our approach was different also.

When they started to be toddlers, the advice started rolling in, and what had been taught to us as individuals started surfacing. I did not agree with sleep training and thankfully my husband agreed. When the kids were about 2, my husband was so upset with one of them because he felt they knew better and were trying to be disobedient. One of the kids had been spanked a few times and it made me so furious. My blood would be boiling, I'd be sweating with anger, and not in the room. We all have ideas as to how things should go, but none of us know for sure in the beginning, so I tried to be a good wife and expressed my hatred towards it and me not agreeing to it. 

A lot happened in between then and why we stopped, but I can say how terribly sad it has been for him to see that the kids are scared of him. The ones whom have been spanked. Scared to say how they feel, what they want, scared just to talk to him. He loves them, and it broke his heart. To see the kids break down crying because he asked them a question, or too afraid to answer...

It took us years to get on the same page. Many. 5yrs. The kids didn't get spanked much. Just the odd time, but many threats of it which keeps them in fear of it. My husband wanted to believe it was the wrong thing, and listened to my explanations. A few times he agreed and said we wouldn't. However, because it was me convincing him, not a real understanding of why or a heart conviction...he'd resort back to it when he felt he had no control over them. 

I am ashamed to say I had also done it a couple times because I just didn't know what else to do and I needed them to stop what they were doing. I hated myself, feelings of anger washed over me because I knew I had done wrong. That is the only time I have ever hated being a parent and wished I wasn't. The feeling like you know you're messing up and don't know what TO do.

God showed my husband in his own heart that we are to be representatives of Him to the children. That they should feel towards us, how they should feel about God.

I have certainly made mistakes and I regret every yelling tone and cold response in times of extreme fatigue and stress. Sometimes, you are actually a good mom, but you've swayed a little. Rationalizing it, because there are many kids, and much stress, and I am human and in the past little while, just not able to handle much. Not like when I was first a mom. Do I love my kids? YES! Am I good mom? YES! 

Here's the good part.....We sat down with our kids and appologized. We explained that we are human and were mistaken about God, and therefore mistaken about our behaviour towards them. We said sorry for the bad choices in behaviour we had made. We told them God is not like that. We have learned about mens rhea. Which is a child's inability to make decisions based on outcome.

Why did we stop? The kids were scared, acting out, lack of empathy, general fear issues, and most of all... a disconnection from us. The final straw for me was my 4 yr old saying how stupid he is, that he's bad and nobody likes him.

So, we stopped. It's not as easy as that, because you have to have a plan as to what you will do and you have to know rewards and punishment is still the same mentality, so we are trying to cultivate a home of honoring one another and listening because we love each other. Not because of what we will get, just because we love one another.

Melissa's Story

Spanking and Unconditional Love

I wrote in several of my childhood journals that I would never spank my kids. The shame and frustration I had experienced was enough to convince me it was ineffective and harmful. But somehow by the time I was an adult I had changed my position again. Part of my reason was the major denial of any issues in my childhood. I felt like acknowledging painful things from my past would be a betrayal of my parents, and I loved them and wanted to be loyal to them. So I continued to pretend that nothing had ever been wrong, and tried to prove that to myself.  I was also a very conservative Christian, and every parenting book I read was written from that punitive perspective. One of them was “To Train up a Child” by Michael and Debi Pearl. The introduction to the book includes this passage:
“I have had children in my house that would be enough to give an electric wheat grinder a nervous breakdown. The parents look like escapees from a Second World War, Polish boxcar. Another hour with them, and I would have been searching the yellow-pages for discount vasectomies. While we try to sit and talk, the children are constantly running in and out of doors, complaining of ill treatment from the others, begging to go or stay or eat, or demanding a toy that the other children will not relinquish. The mother must continually jump up and rescue some breakable object. She says, “No” six-hundred and sixty-six times in the space of two hours. She spanks each child two or three times–usually with her hand on top of a diaper. Other than misaligning the child’s spine, it seems to have no effect.
When we speak of consistently rewarding every transgression with a switching (not a karate chop to the lower backbone), this mother can only see herself as further brutalizing children for whom it will do no good. Her discipline is just “laying down a field of fire” to give herself sufficient cover to get through to the next task. She doesn’t hope to conquer their wills, just create enough diversion to accomplish her own mission.
Another mother walks in with her little ones and sits down to talk. She says to them, “Go out in the sun-room to play and don’t bother Mama unless you need something.” For the next two hours we are not even aware the children are present–except when a little one comes in holding herself saying, “Pee-pee, Mama.” They play together well, resolve their own conflicts and don’t expect attention when one turns the rocking horse over and gets a knot on her head. They don’t come in and out–they have been told not to. This mother never spanked her children while at my house. And she never needed to rebuke them. She looks rested. When the children are called to go home, one says, “Mama, can I stay and play with Shoshanna?” Mother answers, “No, not today. We have work to do at home.” As he lifts his arms, the little fellow is picked up. Hugging his mother’s neck, he says, “I love you Mama.”
This young mother said to me, “My children want to please me. They try so hard to do everything I say. We have such fun together.” She is looking forward to more children.”
This is the contrast I saw again and again in these books.
Mother who doesn’t spank her kids correctly and consistently: Exhausted, frustrated, a bad witness.
Mother who cares enough to discipline her kids correctly by rewarding every single infraction with a swift switching: Relaxed, well rested, happy, has kids who love her.
Many of these books even warned that children would grow up to reject God if their parents were not properly authoritative. I wondered if this was true. As a Christian, it was very important to me that my children came to faith in Christ as I had. Was refusing to spank worth that risk? Perhaps my parents had had the right idea, but just hadn’t implemented it as well as they could have. Or perhaps I was just remembering incorrectly, I mean what child would enjoy getting spanked anyway; I told myself I was probably over reacting. My parenting was going to be different. I was determined to do it perfectly. My goal was to be so consistent with my discipline that they would be well-behaved and never need spankings past the point of about 7 or 8 years old. I read as many Christian parenting books as I could get my hands on, I was going to do this right.
I was parenting punitively out of fear. Fear that my kids would reject my faith, fear that they would be unruly and misbehaved, fear that I wouldn’t be able to handle how many children I was going to have, or how closely spaced they were turning out to be. I clung to the promises from these books, and the people who used them. If I only followed their system correctly, I would be happy, well-rested, with well-behaved kids who would love me. I would have kids who wanted to please me. I would love being a mom.
I had other fears too, that I tried not to acknowledge. Fear that I was doing it wrong, whenever a day went badly I worried that I was not following the instructions correctly. I was afraid of the day that a couple of swats would not be enough to command compliance and respect from my kids, I never wanted to end up in a spanking war with a child, devolving into those rare but traumatizing marathon type spankings that I remembered from childhood.
The 3 year anniversary of when I quit spanking my kids, passed in August. I can hardly believe it. I used to think it was impossible to parent without spanking, and now I cannot imagine going back to that. I’ve written how this decision has changed my life, and what affects I have seen in my own life and the lives of my children, but something else has happened gradually that I have only begun to notice. The decision to quit spanking has taught me what it means to love unconditionally.
The underlying premise in all of those Christian parenting books I read as an expectant young mom, was that kids who did not act a certain way were unlovable. Children who were not properly controlled were exhausting and life-draining.  The parents had no time to themselves and were stretched to their limits and beyond, pretty much every day. Even a short time spent with children like this was enough to make anyone rethink being a parent. While supposedly, if a parent spanked their children into being godly, parenting was a breeze, moms had tons of time to care for the kids they had and plenty left over to dream about the many future babies they were going to have.
This mentality stressed that a good child, a child worth having, a child worth loving, would be well mannered, calm, compliant and quiet. Children who were energetic, or ever manifested moodiness, anger or resistance to the parents agenda, was a child who was bad, a child you wished you’d never had, a child who was impossible to love. And the power to have either child was in your hands, in the form of a switch. This sets the parent up for a repeating cycle of feeling like a failure every time their child is normal. Yes, I said normal. Because I don’t know anyone, not even a mature adult, who is well mannered, calm, compliant and quiet all the time.
When I first quit spanking, I had to fight the urge to punish my children every time they weren’t “good” children. It took a long time for me to get past that fear and realize that I could love children that were not perfect.
Now the line at the end of the section I quoted from the Pearls child training book makes me feel sick.
“My children want to please me. They try so hard to do everything I say. We have such fun together.”
When I read this once upon a time, I believed that children were rebellious and sinful from babyhood on. I now understand that all children want desperately for their parents to be pleased with them. My parenting was performance oriented, waiting to see if my children loved me enough to obey instantly and with a smile. I now understand that children are trying hard all the time, life is new and confusing, and they are still learning. I thought that having fun with my children was contingent upon how well behaved they were. I now understand that children have emotions, and moods, and are sometimes hungry or tired or misunderstood just like anyone else.
I no longer have to set conditions on my love; I can love and accept my children for who they are regardless of how well they perform on any given day. And yes, some days go very smoothly and that is nice. And other days are more challenging, and that is OK too. I have learned that I don’t always have to be ecstatic every single moment, sometimes I will be tired or moody myself, and that is OK.
I have a hard time putting that relief into words.
- - -

Jackie's Story
I was spanked as a child--in both the "loving" way, with a lecture, an emotionless spanking and a hug afterwards (wow, is that ever the most shame-inducing thing to do to a kid!) AND more random, angry, unexpected rageful swatting, slapping, etc. (which, yes, made me hate my mother for long periods of time).

I am a parent now and intend not to spank my children. Mostly, I have done pretty well, teaching myself alternative forms of good discipline (LOVE the Positive Discipline books).

But the one time I lost it and spanked my older daughter (she was 6 at the time), she looked at me in shock and horror, stood up on the bed where she'd been lying, so as to be my height. She took her hands, put them gently, but firmly on my shoulders, looked me in the eye and said, "don't EVER do that to me again. I don't like it and grownups should know better!"

She had me there. I lost whatever moral authority I had to correct whatever the behavior had been that made me so angry and spent the next half hour listening to her tell me how she felt and promising not to do it again and apologizing and agreeing that grownups ought to know better than to hit children.

On the one hand, I really regret my bad behavior of course. On the other, I am so grateful I got to see the result of 99% of my parenting, which has taught my children that they deserve respect and to never be harmed by a person claiming to love them--not to mention that they can stand up for themselves and demand what they deserve!

Trita's Story
(This story is submitted by a woman whose 1st language is Thai.)

My brother and I were not spanked during the first 15 years of life. We were considered a middle class family, going on vacations, eating out every week, and overall pleasant life. Then our family had serious financial problems, we lost everything and couldn't afford to pay for utilities many times. The mood and connection in the family changed for the worse. This happened during my teens, I was a good girl all around, great student and never got into trouble, but because of the intense situation, my mom started to hit me. 

She whipped me with a long thin branch over and over for talking on the phone too long while I stood there for her to hit me. I didn't know what to do or what to say, i just stood there quietly feeling hurt and pushed away. It continued for three years until I learned that I needed to fight back, so I started to hit her back. The pain of being hit for a period of time caused our once close relationship to drift apart. I ran away and haven’t been back since. My heart still loves my parents, but also hate them tremendously at the same time.

When I had my son, I never thought of a parenting style. I didn't know there were several approaches. I'd look up the Internet for solutions to behaviors, and would follow the suggestions thinking it's the only way, by the book, without knowing there are many books! I started Time Outs as the first disciplinary tool. I didn't know any better, it was a tool that hardened my heart towards my then one year old son. I felt horrible, but stuck to it for a month thinking it's best for him. I was wrong! It didn't help my child work through his misbehavior or learn how to behave better next time. It made him feel abandoned, left there to cry without anyone consoling or even looking his direction. It's a brutal method! By not looking his way or trying to sooth him while crying, my heart is trained to detach from him. 

I started to spank when I got angry at the little things he does that's totally normal behavior for toddlers but just wasn't convenient for me. Once i started to hit him, I would increase the strength with my anger to the point that I'm using full grown up force to hit him. His body was still so tiny and fragile, that I felt terrible guilt every time. He started to show slight resentment towards me, I knew I needed to stop. I promised him I won't hit any more. It took me a while to completely not hitting him any more. 

Now he's three years old, we haven't hit him in a couple years, and it's working much better for everybody. We use reasoning to talk him through to fix behaviors and he's a really bright, happy, caring, outgoing boy. From my experience, hitting is not necessary to guide your child, it even worsens your relationship and has long lasting negative effect on your child's emotions in the long run. Hitting your child teaches them to hit too and it will escalate problems. I have found that talking it out to solve problems no matter what their age is paired with setting firm limits that is reasonable and appropriate for his age is the best way to keep kids disciplined. It can be done in any kind of family settings and is the most gentle and loving way.

Kimberley's Story
"I Used to Hit My Children"

Let’s get right to it:
I used to spank.

There, I’ve said it. I used to hit my children. So read this with an open mind, assured that I am not judging you. My mission is and always will be, to equip adults with the tools to protect children and promote equality for them. I am sharing with you what I have learned. It has helped my family and me tremendously, and I share because I am confident that you can find it helpful as well. With that said, let’s get back to it.

I used to spank. I used to hit.

I don’t think I ever really liked it. In fact I know I never liked it. It was certainly a good way to shut my eldest up when I was busy, and it got her to obey me. Deep down though (and not even all that deep), I knew she feared me. And not that sort of reverent fear that we’re supposed to have of God. This was like, “Hey you’re a scary tall person who hits me” fear. When she was doing what I thought was acting out, but have now learned is how she communicated with me because I left her with few options, all I had to do was walk toward her and she’d cower. Because of the threat of being spanked. I hated that. I’ve even told her not to be afraid of me, and that if she’d do what she knew was right I wouldn’t have to spank her.

When I had my eldest daughter I was clueless. I knew it then but I didn’t realize to what extent. I was 19, single, working full time and afraid. Afraid because I was broke, afraid because I was alone, afraid to do wrong by my child. I hit so many bumps along the way. I gave up on nursing, which sent me into a deep depression. I was having troubles with her father. I was guilty all of the time about having her in a home daycare, away from me. I missed my own family. I was stressed, and tired, and frustrated. Even through all that, I could see that being Ryleigh’s mother was THE best thing I would EVER do. I reveled in watching her grow. Simply spending time with her, doing anything at all, would make me so emotional at times that I would tear up. I was amazed by her and by how she navigated life. She has always been a loving, inquisitive child. I was head over heels in love with her.

You wouldn’t know it by the way I yelled. And spanked. For me spanking and yelling usually went hand in hand, though I admittedly yelled a lot more than I spanked. I was encouraged to spank by everyone I knew. How else will she learn? You don’ want her to be spoiled! We were spanked, right? And look at us! Don’t worry, she’ll learn to do what’s right, because she knows what will happen otherwise. I agreed. I had been spanked as a child. And I remember that whenever I got a spanking, I knew I deserved it. My mom really only spanked us when we did something we knew we shouldn’t have done. And sometimes, after a spanking she’d actually come in and apologize to us, and plead with us to obey her so that she wouldn’t “have” to spank us.


My mom spanked us for being mischievous, but it never deterred us. So was spanking working? It made us cry, made us feel like crap, and then my mother’s apology and blame game made us feel crappier. THAT’S what we were thinking. The last thing on our minds, after a spanking, was the offense which had “earned” us the spanking. She never came back and talked to us about it, or asked why we’d done it, or given us alternatives. It was never discussed. And we certainly didn’t discuss it with each other. We’d just sit and cry and console each other, then go on about our day.

It was a pattern that carried over into adulthood.

Much like the mischief I’d make as a child, as I grew up I was very willing to take risks and accept punishment. For me, punishment was the inevitable outcome of a misstep, be it planned or involuntary. I could handle punishment. But did I have to? No. But, alas, I’d never learned the art of self-regulation. I hadn’t been taught to control myself just because I knew it was the right thing to do. I was a very well-behaved child, but when there was something I wanted to go after, I could set myself up to accept any punishment coming my way and go for it. I wasn’t thinkingabout why I was doing something, or what would happen after. I knew the order: BAD ACTION -> PUNISHMENT -> GET OVER IT -> MOVE ON. But before BAD ACTION there is another option that I’d never been presented with.

Handy dandy communication. Redirection. Guidance.

Then I found attachment. I’d already been praying about my yelling. I’d made a vow to my daughter to stop. When my second baby came, I went into Better Mommy overdrive. I was not going to rob my children of a safe, violence-free childhood. For a long time while I was practicing attachment parenting, I was still spanking. I had no idea that it was considered violence. Weird, huh? Because when you think about it, extending your arm in a person’s general direction with the aim to strike them enough to solicit a response, is pretty much violent. But I guess that’s why spanking is so widely promoted. Because children aren’t always considered to be people. My children are people. That is what attachment parenting helped me to realize. I was caught up in my mainstream values, and I didn’t realize how desensitized I was to the lack of respect our society seems to have for the rights of children.

But children ARE people. They are smaller, and their voices are a bit more high pitched, and they are cuter than the average, but they ARE people. They have their own feelings, their own ideas, their own needs, and their own agenda. Their OWN agenda – something else AP helped me to appreciate about my children. When they don’t obey me, it is not a personal attack against me. It doesn’t mean they are “bad,” it doesn’t mean they are purposely trying to irk me – they just have another plan forming in their head. That’s okay. Because they ARE people. Just like when my boss would call me and tell me to look something up and I’d open my web browser to Facebook. Just like when Bill Clinton was supposed to be partying and he was with Monica Lewinsky. Just like when police abuse their authority or soldiers kill unarmed civilians or a man lies on an application or a woman drives through a red light – we as adults have our own agendas, often contrary to what is expected of us, and is someone allowed to come and smack us for it? Absolutely not, at least not in the country I’m typing this post from. Why not?

Because if you smacked me, even if you’re bigger than me (which you likely are), I’m smacking you back. And then you’d smack me back and we’d just be smacking each other till I passed out. And what would that accomplish? Nothing. Just a tall skinny brown girl lying on the sidewalk.

It doesn’t go this way for children though. Because our children are taught not to smack back. Our children are taught that violence is a necessary part of growing up. They are taught that if a peer hits them, they must report it. If a stranger hits them, they must cry out for help. But if one of their parents or aunts or uncles hits them, well, then they must allow it. Awkwarrrrrd.

When I stopped hitting my children I freed my family from the shadow that violence had cast over us. I didn’t even know it had been there until it was gone. I LOVE the conversations that our spank-free life has encouraged. Of course it’s hard, especially because we don’t have a father figure in the household. It is evermore rewarding. My eldest has started to talk openly with me about her actions. When she’s done something wrong, we discuss it and even though it hurts her to admit to it, she does. Because she has no fear. She knows I support her no matter what, and that if I don’t understand what she’s saying, I’m going to just listen harder. I don’t worry about losing control, because I’ve learned to pause, to breathe, and to put myself in my children’s shoes.

Can you imagine having to look UP to everyone, all day? Constantly having your voice talked over, being told which way to go, when to eat, how to dress? Being a child is not always easy. Let’s empower our children. Let’s show them that we take everything they say and feel as seriously as we would if they were over 5 feet tall. If you spank, please honestly evaluate your motivation, and do some research – I bet there are peaceful ways to achieve whatever results you feel spanking achieves. And once you’re convinced, please spread the word. Love to you and to your children.

Megan's Story
I grew up as an only child with my mother and my grandmother. My father was absent. My mother and grandmother believed in spanking. I remember being spanked, but cannot for the life of me remember why I was ever spanked. I know it was because I did something wrong, but I cannot remember what that was. Maybe I swore? Maybe I talked back? Maybe I got into something that I shouldn't have? I don't know. My grandmother spanked my mother and my uncles, and in turn, my mother spanked me. It was passed down from generation to generation.

Fast forward some years. I was 19, in a serious relationship with my boyfriend, living together, and had just found out we were expecting. I had never done any research on breastfeeding, babywearing, spanking, attachment parenting, etc. I was completely new to the whole "parenting thing" and just winged it. When our daughter was old enough to begin walking, she was old enough to be punished-at least that is what we believed. When she would "misbehave", we would smack hands. In our minds, if she were to associate an activity we viewed as "naughty" with pain and fear, she wouldn't do it again. Or so we thought. She of course would, but then run in fear. Smacking hands turned into smacking her butt, and that turned into spanking.

As our daughter grew older, her attitude became progressively worse and worse. At about 2 years old, we were still spanking, and it wasn't doing anything. Her behavior was terrible, her attitude even worse. She would hit us, claw us, kick and scream. And we would spank even harder. We wondered why she wasn't getting the message! We thought we had an terrible child, one that just could not be taught!!!! It was far beyond "terrible twos". Changing her diaper was awful. She would smack me in the face, kick me, scream at me until she was blue in the face.

Our son was born around our daughter's second birthday. I had decided to really research parenting tips and techniques to try and prevent our son from ever acting as "terrible" as our daughter. I was breastfeeding at the time, so a lot of what I found was along the lines of attachment parenting. I nursed on demand, carried him in a sling, slept with him, and took him everywhere. No baby sitters. I saw something incredibly different between him and his sister. He was developing at an extremely fast pace. He was reaching milestones that his sister never reached. He was crawling at 7 months old! His sister never crawled. I attribute this to our attachment parenting style. 

So, back to spanking, a child does something wrong, and you hit them. Simple right? In my daughter's eyes, she shes my husband and I yell and spank when she does something we don't like, so she wonders why she can't hit us when we do something that she doesn't like. It starts this never-ending cycle. I realized one day, after she had done something wrong, I spanked her, and was so enraged at her, that I could not even remember why I was spanking her. I realized, that spanking seemed to stem from anger or frustration. What was I teaching my crying, screaming, daughter when I hit her after she had done something wrong? Absolutely nothing. All she knows is "mommy or daddy is hurting me and I don't know why". She has no idea what it was that she did wrong. And by spanking, I am not explaining what she did wrong. So how do I teach her not to do it again? That was it. I was so broken and sickened with myself. I had ruined my relationship with my daughter. I had taught her to be aggressive and violent. I had taught her that it was OK to hit when she feels angry or frustrated. What have I done!?!?

I am still trying to repair our broken relationship. Even after discontinuing spanking, my daughter continues to be very aggressive. She clawed me across my chest 2 days ago while I was trying to change her diaper. But, I have found that since I have stopped spanking, she is happier. She trusts me more. When I am calm, she is calme. When I redirect her activity to something else, she learns instead of fears. I realize we have a long road ahead of us, but in a way, I am grateful that I learned this lesson the hard way. I now have my own personal experience with it, instead of trusting a pediatrician, book, or my family. It is my own lesson. I wish more people would realize just how much psychological damage is caused by spanking! 

I asked my husband the other day, when does it go from spanking to abuse? Where is the line drawn? That should be a red flag for many parents. Also, something I have learned this time around is to always trust my insticts as a parent. No parent, I believe, can inflict pain on their child and not feel guilty. I am so upset with myself for spanking my daughter and am sickened that she acts the way she acts mainly because of my husband and I. We would ask her to do, or NOT to do something, and she would flat out tell us no. So we would spank. At first she would cry, but after it became a common occurrence, she quit crying and started retailiating. She would hit back. Now I have to watch her with my youngest. If he does something that she feels isn't right, she hits him. 

I do take full responsibility, but man, it sure is a process to repair something that is so broken :( I hope this helps someone out there. Even if it is just one person. My daughter is currently in speech therapy, an Early On program for developmental delay in coping skills, and we are participating in an Maternal Infant Health Therapy that comes to the home twice a week to help her with her coping skills and help her and I repair our relationship. I do blame most of this on myself for spanking. I feel that it damaged the trust she had in myself and my husband and that is why she is delayed :(

Dara's Story
In January 2008 a friend of mine asked me a question about something she thought was not right which she figured I would know about. As I began to answer her, it led me to answers I had never considered before and ended up thrusting my family into a year of "transition" and really changing the future of my family tree. What did she ask me?

"What do you think about spanking?"

My friend had three small children who were entering toddlerhood and so she thought for sure that I was the one to ask. In January 2008 my oldest was 21, and my youngest of 8 children was yet to be born. With all that experience for sure I'd know the right answer.

And, I thought I did. I was confident I did!

I grew up in a family of two kids and although I was very angry, and depressed, I was well behaved. I knew that if I did something naughty I was getting "a lickin''" as it was called in our house. The wooden paddle hung on the wall and just passing it by made me afraid. I didn't get too many lickin's. I was a smart kid. Fast learner. I learned how to get away with things without getting caught and how to mind my own business at home.

I had my 1st baby at age 18 after a very depressed and love-seeking teenagehood (I just made that word up). I had held a baby maybe once that I could remember, and the day I brought home my baby thoughts of how to "raise" her hadn’t really entered my mind.

Once she was old enough to do irritating things I simply did to her what had been done with me and smacked her. I smacked her hands. I smacked her butt. And, then, once she got a will of her own, when she made me mad enough, I "spanked" her.

Her father had had a similar childhood experience with spanking and so it was nothing we ever thought to question or discuss. It's just "what you do with kids". It's how it was in our families and in all the families around us. If a kid is "acting up" anyone around you will say that that kid needs "takin' over a knee!" It's just how it's done.

After 8 years of a relationship that would have made a Reality TV producer drool…my boyfriend became my husband and by 1995 we had 3 children. And, we also had a new motivation in life: Jesus. We became Christians. The results in our life were very good because we began to respect one another and treat each other with more patience and kindness. Church life really did us good.

So, along comes a Sunday School class about child training in the same place where we were learning how to love and respect one another. The same place where we were learning that God is love and that He is not behind all the bad and painful stuff in the world. This should be the best place to learn about how to care for the world's most precious and innocent beings: our own children! Right?

In class we were taught the, “who, what, when, where, and why,” of spanking. We were taught that it was ordained by God as evidenced by a handful of Old Testament verses speaking of "the rod", and that if we didn't do it the Bible said we hated our children. We were taught that if we didn't to it our children could end up in rebellion and ultimately in hell.

The people teaching the class were actually our best friends who had entered our lives and had really brought out the best in us. They weren't freaks or religious nuts. They were teaching us to do the same thing that they did in their own homes with their own children out of the sincerity of their hearts to do what they felt was right, even though they felt it was hard to do. What was there to question?

In the classes we were taught that whenever the child did anything "naughty" we were to determine whether the child was behaving “irresponsibly” or “rebelliously” before deciding punishment. Everything was analyzed in this way.

But, then on February 5th, 1998, 12 ½ yrs after we’d met and 7 months after the birth of our 4th child…my husband was given an early retirement. I got the call around 10 that morning to come to the local trauma center because my husband was there. On his way to work a tractor-trailer jackknifed and struck his work truck. He had died instantly. I was now a widow with 4 children.

About 6 months after my husband…aka my kids' Daddy…just didn't come home…my 2 year old son started to "act up". Suddenly he couldn't walk up the stairs anymore. His "socks would slip" on the steps and he'd dramatically flop and flop on the steps and need me to "help him". Then, one night he was told to go brush his teeth. I could hear him in the bathroom, "Flop! Flop! Flop!" I went in and peeked at him and he was (I don't know how he did this physically!) lifting his feet up and just landing on his cloth-diapered butt repeatedly. "Flop! Flop! Flop!"

I put on my "stern mom face" and told him to stop it and brush his teeth. I went back out of the room. And, I could hear him in there doing it again, "Flop! Flop!"

The teaching I'd learned about rebellion vs. childish irresponsibility came into my mind and I knew what I had to do. This was clearly a rebellion issue. So…I put on my "stern mom face" again, marched into the bathroom, and told him to get his tiny 2-yr old hiney into the office (where all the spankings happened). 

I looked at his tiny little face and asked him, "Why were you doing that? I told you to brush your teeth!"

He looked at me with his big brown eyes and said, "My socks were slipping."

I had to turn my face and stifle a giggle. His socks were slipping?! I composed myself to deal with the serious issue at hand. My 2-year old was rebelling against my command to brush his teeth and to stop flopping on the floor and now he'd just lied! No matter how cute he was I had to do what I had to do!

And, so…he was paddled.

Eventually, I got his flopping, and sock slipping behaviors to stop. I had squelched that rebellion before it got ugly and he took over the household. I had done my job.

You know, I tell that story now and it makes me wanna scream and cry.

In 1999 I ended up at a new church and made lots of new friends. And, all these friends too were quite normal average Christian people. And, they all spanked more than I did and also pinched their kids when in public (because you could do it subtly and quietly). I learned from my friends to keep an "extra" paddle (wooden spoon or spatula) in the car for when we were not home. And, sometimes when I was out with my friends, I had to wait outside their cars while their toddler got a spanking for not listening in the store we were shopping in.

For two and a half years "disciplining" was my lone responsibility because my husband was gone. In late 2000 I married a good and decent man who was raised on the mission field and served as the emergency medical pilot for his parents' medical clinic in the jungle in Guatemala. He'd been raised by an ex-Amish father. He never disobeyed his parents! He told me that in church just "a look" from his parents told him he'd crossed the line and there was no mercy; when he got home he always got a spanking. He often commented that we were too lenient with the kids because when he was little he was not even allowed to argue with his mom or even say that he didn't like a meal that was served or he'd get "the belt". But, because he loved his parents who were truly awesome people and felt they loved him, why would he have questioned spanking? 

So, in 2008 when my friend asked me about "spanking" I went right to it. I tried to look up the Sunday School materials I'd gone through so many years ago. I did searches on the internet as I prepared to tell her who, what, when, where, and why to spank as I had been taught it.

That is when it happened.

I happened upon a website that shattered the illusion I'd been living in for over 20 years. It was a simple website talking about ancient shepherding practices and it explained that the "rod" that the ancient shepherds had used was actually…a weapon. It was a club with spikes on the end used for killing predators. It was the equivalent of a modern gun. The rod…was not…for…the…sheep! That is why David could say that God’s rod and staff comforted him…not scared him…

If you coulda' heard the brakes screeching inside my head…I was horrified. How could this HUGE HUGE important detail have slipped our notice? "The Rod" of the ancient shepherds was what all the teaching I'd received on spanking was based on! But, it wasn't a wooden spoon or a spatula used for whacking wayward sheep! NO! The rod was a "gun" used to protect the sheep...and I had been using that on my children?

I sat back in my chair and my whole head was spinning. I ran to my husband and told him. Now what?

I started to become aware of the biggest problem with spanking that first year that we stopped. That first year was not fun. It left me sitting holding my head with screaming kids in the background often. I realized once that "parenting tool" was taken from me that I had no idea how to handle any stress between my children without being able to either hit them (spank them) or threaten them with doing it. It hadn't been a tool to "guide" them and "discipline" them and lead their hearts toward God. In reality, it had been a weapon to control my kids' behavior and nothing more.

So, there I was at age 39 with seven children of all ages and a newborn completely at a loss how to relate to my children. I had to learn a whole new way of thinking about my children and their behavior. And, this new way of seeing the children was as dramatic as Dorothy coming out of the plain black and white farmhouse into the full Technicolor of Oz. Now, instead of looking at all of the children's behaviors and analyzing it to look for hidden rebellion to punish I saw behavior as attempts at communication. I began to realize that their behavior’s cause was what I needed to look at. What are they trying to say? What is their motivation? What is bugging them? What’s wrong? And, fixing what is wrong is what will make the behavior go away. Making the behavior go away leaves what’s wrong still wrong.

Spanking was taught to me as a way to make sure the child's heart was right with God, yet when I spanked them, I never addressed their motivations and touched their hearts, I only addressed behavior and touched their behinds…with pain.

I look back now and it is as clear as day. My little boy…had lost his Daddy. Daddy used to lie in his bedroom every night and sing to him as he fell asleep while I read with the other 3 in the oldest child's bedroom. Nighttime was an awesome fun precious time. And, his Daddy disappeared. His Daddy was just gone and Mommy was acting funny and often distracted and unavailable and he didn't understand why. Why didn’t I think about it then? Why didn’t I ask him then? Why wasn’t it the first thing I thought of when his socks were slipping? Why didn’t I see it from his perspective when he “couldn’t walk up the stairs” and wanted me to help him? Why…did I not consider the troubled thoughts that could be in that sweet tiny person’s mind as he toddled toward the office to get whacked by Mommy? What was in his tiny little heart that night and what did I do to him when I punished him for trying to express it?

It makes me sick to think of it and I can’t tell ya how many times I look at him now and feel sorry for having done it. I’ve asked his forgiveness and he’s given it to me, but, the damage was done.

Do you know…that little boy is now 16 and…given a little stress he clams up and withdraws. Sometimes I can see that he is upset and I can see that he pushes it away and just moves on and tries to ignore it. And, I’ve often thought over the years that he has “sad eyes”.


Now that the world is in full color I could tell you story after story of why this is wrong. Stories from within my own family which when I think of them I post them on my blog. I at times feel like a fanatic about this subject, but, this practice is so damaging to people and I can now see its effects on not just my own kids, but, on others. This is such an unpopular topic because everyone is doing it or has had it done to them and feels the need to either defend themselves or their parents because admitting a mistake like this is a difficult thing to do. But, I wish I could stand on top of a building and shout it out to everyone.

The petition that has been started to get Amazon to stop selling books that promote violence against children, in my opinion, is a great step toward getting this practice stopped. It is not just the act of getting those books removed from easy sale; it is the “why”. It is the fact that everyone who looks for those books will have to ask “why” are they not available on Amazon, and then, they will be made aware that spanking is not the universal only and best way to raise kids. Their searches on this topic will lead them to blog sites like this one, and they will see that there is a problem with spanking and it may open that door into the Technicolor world of parenting for many.

For me all it took was one friend to challenge me on it and for one piece of truth to be shown to me. What I wouldn't give to go back in time and find just one friend who would have stood up and told me it was wrong. Thanks to Facebook and the world-wide-web now, we can be that friend to people we've never even met before. I encourage all of you to share and repost things you find about this subject whenever it comes along your path. Sign and post the petition on your own walls and blogs. You never know what friend-of-a-friend is going to see your post and realize that there is another way to raise kids…before they march their tiny son into the office to punish him for missing his dead Daddy…

This was originally posted on "The Mule"

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