In the age of social media, parents love to give their advice, especially when it comes to discipline.
A recent viral post had me on edge as the comments about a 2-year-old’s meltdown in a children’s museum had other parents calling for an “old fashion butt whipping”. I’ll set all the science and statistics aside proving this is stupid and ignore that every friend I’ve ever had who ended up in prison or on drugs also had butt whipping parents, and get straight to why I wish you’d all shut the eff up.
Do I whip my kids? I have. yes. I grew up in that type home and naturally resorted to it, I learned very quickly though that I had no clue what I was doing. A pop on the hand for trying to grab the hot pot off the stove? Yes, I don’t think a “talk” to a 2-year-old will get it across and I rather a pop on the hand than a face full of hot grease. Trying to climb the table? Yes, a 14-month-old won’t understand a stern talk but a pop is better than a fractured skull. A meltdown in Walmart? Hell no. Let me explain.
Humans are not born with the natural ability to know what is acceptable behavior. Emotions are things we learn to process and respond to with time and time only. A 2-year-old who just got told he can’t have candy only knows “I am angry” and his only logical response to anger is to scream, cry, throw a fit. It is the only way he knows to process this information. He can’t go home and contact corporate with an angry letter. he can’t go pop open a bottle of wine and relax in the tub. He can’t call up his best friend to vent. The toddler is responding the only way he knows how.
According to the bullshit advice you get from every Tom, Dick, and Sally on the internet you should whip him. You do. Now, what did you just teach your child? Not to throw fits over candy? Not to scream in public? No, you just taught your child that his emotions are bad and he should not have them, or if he does to hide them with great care lest he comes to bodily harm.
Now imagine that thinking as an adult. When I am upset or overwhelmed I cry in my bathtub. As a child, I’m sure I threw a fit and screamed a little, but I, and only I taught myself as I grew older to respond in a different way that works for me. Now imagine every time I climbed into my tub to cry somebody twice my size came in and whipped me. You’d think that was insane! Is it? Eventually, over time, I would no longer cry, I would suppress my own emotions which we all know is unhealthy as shit.
I grew up in a home with two very loving parents who naturally raised their kids as they were raised. Fits weren’t allowed, they happened, but they were punished accordingly. I have a predisposition to depression and mental health problems so it was not good for my overall health in the end. I wasn’t allowed to be angry. Out of fear of punishment I turned to writing hate-filled self-loathing letters to myself. Over the years that no longer worked and as teenage angst grew so did my need to just be angry without being deemed “disrespectful”. I turned to self-harm. It was easier to angrily cut away at my body in silence than to have a typical fit (which for some reason is totally acceptable for adults and parents to have) and receive the punishment that came after for throwing said fit.
Kids have emotions too, stop punishing them for them. If you don’t want spoiled kids then just don’t spoil them. It’s that damn easy. Don’t give in to their tiny little terrorist demands, but don’t punish them when they give you a reasonable and age-appropriate reaction. Let them play it through. As they get older you can explain better techniques and how we handle feeling but I assure you, whipping them isn’t teaching them a damn thing other than “Your feelings are bad and your emotions will get you hurt”
Boys get even more flack for showing any kind of emotion. “That’s for girls!” yet every single female out here loves to complain about how you can’t find men who know how to communicate and be openly vulnerable with them. Hmmm… I wonder why? Maybe if mommy and daddy hadn’t beat it out of them by the time they started first grade we wouldn’t have this problem.
I’m 28 years old and I throw a LOT of fits. I’ll be damned if anybody is going to whip me over one. Next time you’re upset, overwhelmed, or just sad look at your response and them imagine you were going to be punished for it. Sucks huh?
I’m not saying don’t discipline your kids, as they get older they start to do things like lie, hurt one another, break rules, have at it! How you discipline your kids for actual infractions is your business and I’ll stay out of it, but the next person who tells me to physically harm my child for an emotional response he is having will get throat punched. Because if you want me to beat the natural emotional responses out of my child then I can beat the naturally stupid advice spouting out of you.