In today’s society, I find it very alarming that discipline and, for that matter, spanking, is so frowned upon. When my daughter was about five years old, I vividly remember an incident that happened at a local restaurant. My daughter was throwing a fit and misbehaving, terribly. After several warnings, she got angry and decided to throw a lemon at the man sitting across from us. I immediately apologized to the man, had my daughter apologize to the man and then took her into the bathroom. She anxiously tried to explain herself as she prepared for her spanking. I took her into a stall and spanked her bottom. As I exited the stall, an older, non-Latino lady rudely told me that I should be ashamed of myself for spanking my daughter. Her words made me furious! I asked her if she had children and she responded me that she did not. I simply said, “Until you have children, you will never understand what a mother must endure to raise a child.“
So that you know, spanking my children is not enjoyable. However, I know it is sometimes for the best. I have noticed that many non-Latino people do not feel it appropriate to spank. My parents were very strict and always enforced their boundaries. I was spanked and I turned out fine. I know that many people think to themselves, “Everyone says that!” Well…it’s true. Many Hispanic people were spanked as children.
Growing up in Detroit, all of my friends were spanked. It was a normal part of life. If you were bad, you were spanked. I remember being very scared of my parents as well as my friends’ parents. My Dad often disciplined the neighborhood children. Their parents would encourage disciplining any misbehaving kids. I remember being disciplined in school. There were many times that Ms. Phelps slapped my hands with a ruler. Did I go home and tell my parents? Heck no! My parents would have spanked me again for misbehaving in class. I was smart enough to keep it to myself.
What happened to the belief that it takes a village to raise a child? It is long gone. I guess that my views make me old-fashioned. I believe in strict discipline and spanking. Don’t get me wrong, spanking is not my first choice nor is it something that takes place on a daily basis. I have tried several different methods of discipline with each of my children, including time-outs, talking, punishing, and revoking privileges. However, sometimes a light spanking seems to get their attention because children seem to have a way of tuning us out. In my opinion, serious and potentially dangerous offenses demand a spanking. My children receive several warnings before receiving an actual spanking. However, when my 7 year old child decided to ride her bike in the street, she received a good spanking. When my son was in a mall parking lot and decided that he would run away, he was spanked. After my daughter decided that she would stand in front of me and yell after not getting her way, she was spanked. Why? I don’t want them to be killed by a passing car, to be abducted by a stranger, or to be rude and disrespectful to others. It hurts me each time that my children misbehave and it hurts me when I spank them. Believe me, it’s not the spanking that hurts the child, it’s that the spanking hurts the child’s feelings. My daughter once told me that the spanking helped her to understand the point that I had reached. She realized that I was upset with her, which made her feel as though she’d let me down. If hurt feelings prevent my child from doing something with serious consequences, then I’m all for it.
Let me be clear: I draw the line at child abuse. I believe in a firm spanking because I believe that children look for discipline. A child wants to know that adults care about them. I often express to my children that, if I didn’t care about them, I wouldn’t care what they did. The fact is that I do care. I love them more than anything in this world. I communicate my expectations especially when they misbehave. I tell them what they have done wrong so that they don’t do it again. It is my responsibility to raise my children to be contributing members of society.
What are we teaching our children? Where is our responsibility? I’m sick of hearing about shootings, killings and school murders. Maybe if these kids had someone that cared about them and what they were doing, then these tragedies would be avoided. Many of these teenagers who are rude, disrespectful, and destructive, just needed a couple of good spankings during their earlier years. Teaching respect and boundaries at a very young age will prevent these intolerable behaviors. Respect, respect, respect….this is the key word. Respect my wishes, respect my boundaries as a parent, and respect elders. This is something that I see very little of in our society. Did it go out the window with spanking?
I often hear people say, “Latinos tear their kids up!” Comedians even joke about this. It’s not the spanking that messes kids up, it’s not caring. Any method of discipline that I use shows them that I care.
Written by Rhonda Gutierrez