Spankings are an absolute must when raising a child.
Now before getting your panties in a bunch and calling the local child services department, let me explain. I am NOT talking about severe physical abuse that leads to scarring, fatalities and traumatic injury. I merely address light spankings as a reminder that the parent is in control. That is all. Let me also note that not every child requires or responds to physical redirection. As an alternative, parents can invoke an emotional response with the use of strong vocal inflection, lectures and other non-physical chiding.
Some children, however, need a heavier approach to discipline. I was definitely that child. It’s not that I was any more belligerent or disobedient than the average teenager, but my angst was intensified by the fact that I experienced an identity crisis in trying to define a distinct culture within myself. Growing up in an African household with American life experiences and emulating both environments was emotionally exhausting. With my own children I recognize that their angst is more normal than my own, and I opt for alternative approaches to discipline.
Regardless of your parental approach, structure and consistency is a must for effective parenting. In the midst of the angst and identity crisis, my parents were consistent with their expectations. Though I occasionally veered from the path, their life lessons remained in the back of my mind when making choices. Without it, I would have been confused and more apt to explore risky behaviors and look to friends for answers and acceptance.
Now, the tables have turned giving children the upper hand and forcing parents to relinquish some control to societal scrutiny. Children are more aware of the ability to exercise their way by “telling on” their parents to school counselors and law enforcement. It is not uncommon to read a story about a parent being reprimanded or investigated for public discipline. Parents are often forced to choose between balancing livelihood and raising children on their own terms.
Case in point is the lawsuit in Morristown, New Jersey where a teenaged girl sued her parents. Why? Not for abuse, recklessness or neglect; but she simply did not want to abide by the rules. I think it is reasonable to establish curfew, limit bad influences and curtail an excessive drinking problem. Unfortunately, Rachel Canning did not see it that way. (Sidebar: I can’t believe an attorney actually took the case. Furthermore, I can’t believe the judge decided to hear the case, but I digress.) According to the The Times of Trenton, the daughter claimed that her mother was verbally abusive and her father was inappropriately affectionate. For her troubles, Rachel is demanding payment of her private school and college tuition. Publicly humiliating your family and having them waste hard earned dollars on attorney fees for a ridiculous claim warrants a good old fashioned butt whooping! But, I digress yet again.
Parenting style is definitely a personal preference. Whatever you decide, it is important to maintain consistency in your choice of discipline.