Help Me Understand: Why Do You Spank Your Children?

[photo: Jeremy Brooks]

In an on-going attempt to get create some space for spirited, yet respectful, dialogue to take place about issues important to many of us, in this installment of “Help Me Understand” I am taking on an issue that I know many parents confront as they decide how to raise their children: spanking. As a father of three children living in a bold, know-it-all city such as San Francisco, I acknowledge that any assessment of another’s parenting style is much easier to give than to receive. In many ways, when we question one another’s methods and approaches to parenting, we are questioning the very nature of our relationship with God and the integrity with which we are raising our children.

And even worse than generic parenting advice, unsolicited parenting advice  . . . don’t even get me started.

That said, I do have friends and family who spank their kids and I have always wondered why. I have friends who were spanked and, as I have shared in a previous post, I was a little more than spanked as a child, but we are not a spanking household. My children are often playfully threatened with a good beating, but they all know that it will never happen. We have chosen instead to instill the idea that disappointing one’s parents, family, community and self is punishment enough. Some might think that non-spanking is just a symptom of a spoiled America, others would say that under no circumstances do we strike a child and some simply think it’s a parenting choice.  Wherever one is on the spectrum, I do know that there are great opinions about the topic.

Like I said, I know plenty of people who spank their kids as well as were spanked themselves and many turn out just fine. But to be completely honest, I still do not get it. We are not about to start spanking our kids – new high school not withstanding – but I really want to understand. For those of you who have chosen spanking as a discipline method, how did you get there, has it worked, are there regrets and/or is there anything you want to put out there about spanking in general? And for those who have chosen other methods, why not spanking?


New Shoes and the First Day of School

It is hard to believe that today is first day of school.  I have to admit that I wept just a tad as I dropped my “babies” – now 2nd, 4th and 8th grades – off at school this morning.  We are at a wonderful public school here in San Francisco and as we wandered onto the playground, the energy of this place filled my senses with that familiar joy that only a playground full of new beginnings can bring.  Each first day is like recommitting to a community: we are trusting them to help raise our kids in body, mind and spirit and by taking part in the life of the school we are committing to do the same for the children of others.  Such a gift, such an adventure and for parents, such a bittersweet reminder that children grow up.

One of our “first day of school” family traditions is that everyone gets new shoes.  But . . . you do NOT get to wear those new shoes until the first day of school.  It is so painful, those days in between, with new shoes sitting on the shelf for weeks during summer, TAUNTING the kids, “Wear me, please wear me.”

But we hold strong, “Not until the first day of school.”

And then the morning comes. And despite the fact that we have to wake up at 6:15am after a summer filled with lazy mornings, the kids bound out of bed ready . . . to put on the NEW SHOES.

New shoes, just one reminder of the new beginnings that the school year brings.  Thanks to all of the parents, teachers, staff and community who make is all possible.

So are there any traditions that you have around the new school year?