Editor’s Note: trigger warning for child abuse
I’ve always had trouble squaring the things my parents would say before they would beat me with the reality that I was being beaten. Like that age old cliche “this is going to hurt me a lot more than it’s going to hurt you.”
No it’s not.
It’s only going to hurt the parent emotionally and perhaps psychologically. It hurts the child physically, mentally, emotionally, and perhaps even spiritually. The parent may lose some sleep over it, maybe have a nightmare or two. The child has their understanding of human relationships forever altered.
So this post is for those who believe in whipping, spanking, or otherwise beating their children “for their own good.” The next time you are thinking of hitting your kid, please read them following:
“This is going to hurt you a lot more than it’s going to hurt me. After I do this I will have a few sleepless nights as I worry about if I did right or if went too far.
Whereas you will have your understanding of what it means to love another human being fractured and broken. You will now question what is and is not safe to talk to me about. You will second guess yourself every time you want to come to anyone for help and when you find yourself in crisis, as all people do from time to time, you will be forced to fight with yourself if asking for help is worth the risk of my, or someone else’s, response.
I am doing this not because it will make you a better person. It won’t. But because I am not a good enough.
You are too wondrous and complex for me to understand. And when I became a parent you didn’t come with a manual. ‘Dr. Spock’ didn’t even come close to preparing me for this. I don’t know what else to do, so I’m doing this. I’m terrified of doing nothing. If I just leave you on the course you are currently on I know for a fact that it will not end well. So I am hoping that this shakes you up, wakes you up, gets you to understand and to take a different path.
Even though, deep down, I know it won’t.
No one can force anyone to change the life path another is on.
So while I love you, I am about to commit an act that is the opposite of one born of love. An act born of fear and anger and impotence. My fear which I’ve hidden with anger because my not knowing what to do has rendered me impotent. I am sorry that I am not better and that due to my short comings you are about to experience pain.”
Tell your kid that, the next time you put them over your knee, reach for the belt, count off punches, or otherwise are tempted to blame your kid for the pain you are about to cause them. Because their behavior has “forced your hand,” because they’ve “made you do it”, because you are about to hurt them on so many levels beyond just the physical.
It’ll be a lot more honest than what you’re currently telling them.
If you are going to hit your kid, the least you can do is not lie to them.
But if we’re being really real here, it’d be even better if you didn’t hit your kid at all. Maybe you could try having a civil conversation, get someone outside your family to moderate if necessary, treat your kid as the primary stakeholder in their own life. Take communication classes as a family so everyone has the skill, capacity, and space to make their voice heard.
If you have hit your kid in the past treat is as what it was, an assault on their persons, and go through a reconciliation process. Because no matter how you want to dress it up with excuses or religious dogma, that’s what it is.
But no, ‘gawd’ told you that to spare the rod is to spoil the child. And your parents whupped you and it made you the person you are today. A fine upstanding citizen. It was good for you. Really straightened you out.
Never mind that when your kid is thirty years old and waking up in a cold sweat.
Because they had that dream.
The one about being thrown face down on the ground while a monster screams Bible verses and whips their back bloody.
Keep it in mind, they’re gonna have you to thank for that.