Welcome to the Spank Out Day 2012 Carnival
This post was written for inclusion in the Second Annual Spank Out Day Carnival hosted by Zoie at TouchstoneZ. Spank Out Day was created by The Center for Effective Discipline to give attention to the need to end corporal punishment of children and to promote non-violent ways of teaching children appropriate behavior. All parents, guardians, and caregivers are encouraged to refrain from hitting children on April 30th each year, and to seek alternative methods of discipline through programs available in community agencies, churches and schools. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
Is there any parenting topic that isn’t potentially divisive? Certainly there are some that are less polarizing than others. But I can guarantee that no matter how you approach almost any parenting issue, someone will take offense, feel judged or at the very least question themselves.
Spanking is arguably one of the most strongly debated parenting issues. Many people see that there is only one right way to treat corporal punishment in parenting and will vehemently express their disdain for other methods.
So, how do you broach the subject in a way that allows passionate opinions to coexist while creating dialogue? Specifically, how do you support someone in entertaining the idea that there might be a different approach to parenting than punishment-especially corporal punishment?
Before you begin
Firstly, ask yourself why you want to talk about alternatives to hitting. If it is because you feel the other parent is in the wrong, then you’ve got some background work to do to separate out the person from the actions.
Once you can stop judging the parent, then you are getting to a space for dialogue.
Step back again and really look
Ask whether the parent is actually open to listening to gentler alternatives. Most often, someone really needs to feel listened to first. They may need to be heard deeply and frequently, before they are willing to listen to anything someone else has to say.
The best way to know if someone is ready to listen is when they ask to hear what you have to say. You can invite this questioning simply by being a good listener and letting them know you are available should they ever want to know more.
Starting the Conversation
Once you have moved beyond judgments and know that someone is actively seeking a different approach, then it’s time to give them all the advice you can, right? Nope. With all the time you’ve spent ensuring that they felt heard, you’ve picked out a few gems that you can share.
Share how sometimes you get really angry, and that you’re not different from other parents because you somehow don’t get mad at your perfect children. Talk about the personal lessons you’ve learned. Lessons you know so well that you can use “I” statements about. These are ones highlight how you chose not to set up a power play with your kids. They might be stories about how you succeeded or failed at meeting your ideals, but they show how family dynamics allow you to learn together. Back those up with a select few reputable resources that you can recommend for further information, if they want to.
The point is to allow them to make the idea of gentler view of parenting their own. However they learn about and utilize the tools of non-violent discipline choices is up to them. They’ll already know you can be trusted to listen and not judge them as they make mistakes, and that they can keep trying.
On the Fallacy of Facts Trumping Beliefs
When we become knowledgeable about the benefits of gentler alternatives to hitting, we tend to think that once someone else reads the same studies and articles, they will let go of everything they once practiced and never punish a child again. But, this doesn’t take into account the complex belief systems that we hold around our parenting choices.
If someone does have a moment of dramatic change like this, it invariably comes from within them. It’s a rare person who has a moment of awakening after being given some facts. And if it does happen, it’s even rarer that it is a lasting change.
More often when someone is confronted by studies that contradict their belief system, they will deny the studies and turn away. It’s understandable since those studies are often offered as a way to prove them wrong instead of to support them in deciding to consider a gentler path.
So, you’ve listened and you’ve talked. Hopefully, you’ve done more listening than talking. But, now you have to let it go. This passion you have to raise awareness about gentler alternatives to hitting needs to be put aside yet again as you allow the other parent a chance to decide what to make of your conversation. You may reiterate that you are here to listen and will offer more information and personal stories if (and, hopefully, when) asked, but you support them. Period.
Now, it’s time to practice your passion. Model the parenting ideals you feel so strongly about in front of your friend. Just as modeling is one of the most effective gentle discipline tools with our children, the other parent can incorporate what they observe of the way you are with children into their own view of discipline.
And if the parent decides not to stop hitting, then you can still effect change for the children who visit your home when you model a different way of parenting around them. In order to practice gentle alternatives to punitive parenting, you have to trust and allow for differences of opinion. It doesn’t mean that you condone the choices because you continue to advocate with your words and actions.
On Carnival day, please follow along on Twitter using the handy #SpankOutCar hashtag. You can also subscribe to the Spank Out Day Carnival Twitter List and Spank Out Day Carnival Participant Feed.
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
- Redirecting the Impulse to Spank Amy W. shares at Natural Parents Network about her experience redirecting the impulse to spank, and encourages all parents to respond with sensitivity and redirect anger before it becomes harmful.
- Perspective is Everything Patti at Canadian Unschooler learns to heal from the trauma caused by the childhood death of her sister, and gains a deeper understanding of her own mother’s love for her as a child.
- Remembering and Recharging Emily at The Other Baby Blog shares how she refocuses her mindset during high-stress times.
- Does spanking work? Megan at TheBehavioralChild lists the five reasons why spanking doesn’t work.
- Love is All There Is: A Spank Out Day Post Tree at Mom Grooves shares her thoughts about needing to find a way to discipline her 5 year old that could give her daughter the boundaries she is craving while still treating her with only love and respect.
- Discipline isn’t SOmething You Do; Discipline is SOmething You Have Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children questions how parents can expect their children to show self-control if they, themselves, do not exhibit self-discipline.
- No Spanking, No Yelling, No Time Outs….What’s Left? Sheila at A Living Family shares that though spanked as a child herself, she has made efforts towards an alternative approach to setting limits.
- Forgiveness is possible; loving others in a way that works for us Kelly Hogaboom finds that if we are to raise our children in a humane fashion, we must first recognize our own humanity.
- Dear Daniel, (On Discipline and Love) Amy at Anktangle writes a letter to her son about the many choices we have in life: how we treat people, how we parent, and how we use our bodies in the process.
- Spanking: A Day to Consider Our Muddy Boots recognizes that some see a difference between abuse and spanking, and maybe today is a day that we can consider some other perspectives and utilize available resources to make different choices.
- Mutual Respect Sithyogini at Very Nearly Hippy learns how mutual respect between parents and children leads to peaceful parenting.
- What Is the Difference Between Spanking and Abuse? You know what is difficult? Trying to explain the difference between spanking and abuse to a child. Dionna at Code Name: Mama can understand the confusion.
- I Hit My Kids and Now Begins The Real Work To Heal The Honesty Conspiracy hosts this powerful, anonymous story about how it’s never too late to start on a different approach to spanking.
- How To Talk To Parents About Gentle Alternatives To Spanking Zoie at TouchstoneZ shares some useful ways to discuss the often divisive issue of spanking.
- Spank Out Day: 3 Untruths and 11 Alternatives to Spanking MudpieMama at Positive Parenting Connection breaks down 3 of the biggest myths about spanking and shares a list of effective gentler discipline alternatives.
- What Spanking Taught Me Meg at MommyStoleTheSugar explains the spankee’s perspective and how it has affected her disciplining choices as a parent.
- A Memory of Spanking Wolfmother at Fabulous Mama Chronicles explores her own upbringing and how it has affected her and why she is changing the way she relates to her children.