Why is that if an adult hits another adult, they could go to jail? If a husband hits a wife? A wife hits a husband? Jail. A person slaps another person in the face? Assault. A person hits a dog? Jail. Fines. But a grown adult hits a child? “Good for you. Kids these days need blah blah blah.”
No. Just no.
Children are the most innocent, helpless, unconditional-loving beings that depend on their caregivers for survival, yet hitting the most vulnerable in our society is ok in some people’s minds; even seen as a good thing. This has to stop. We protect the rights of adults; basic human rights. We protect the rights of animals because they are innocent and vulnerable. But what about our children. Slapping, flicking, “spanking(hitting)” a child is assault.
Our children deserve physical integrity.
Violence begets violence. Children that are hit believe that hitting solves problems.
“I’m going to hit you to teach you not to hit.”
“I’m going to hit you because I can’t control my own emotions and body so I’m going to take it out on somebody smaller than me.”
“I’m going to hit you so you will feel remorse for not conforming to somebody else’s expectations.”
Hitting a child can cause them to become more aggressive, reactive, and angry. Telling parents to stop physically punishing children isn’t removing an effective parenting tool, it is eliminating a lousy behavior that doesn’t work.
We frequently hear “I was spanked, but I turned out fine.” The fact that you see no issue with assaulting a child, you being that child, means that you did not turn out fine. Sure, you coped. You pushed yourself and succeeded. You say you respected your parents because of it, but that isn’t true either. You feared your parents. You feared getting caught. You feared stepping out of the imaginary line that they created because of external consequences. That isn’t respect. That’s manipulation. That’s conditional love.
I know that I am striving to raise humans that make decisions because they know and feel that it is right. I want their choices to be based out of love and out of their own free will. I don’t want them making choices out of fear of consequences; out of a manipulated will to please others.
Children that are forced to obey become obedient children. Then they become obedient adults. Sheeple, we like to call them. A person, like a sheep, that follows the crowd; does what they are told without analyzing the root of the issue. They get stepped on and pushed around. They become people pleasers and require outside acceptance and praise to feel confident. As soon as the acceptance or praise is gone, so is the inner security. Their entire sense of self constantly teetering on a pile of rubble.
On the other side of the coin, forced obedience can lead to outright rebellion. A spirited child full of an inner power will fight the injustice until they find freedom from the enforcer’s grasp. They will reject all authority. They can be aggressive, spiteful, resentful. They may carry a chip on their shoulder for constantly feeling wronged and bullied. Their insecurity lies in the constant criticism, of never feeling like their voice matters.
By giving children freedom to to tell their parents no, freedom to make choices, without external praise/manipulation/punishment, they are able to grow and strengthen their internal compass, a compass of truly knowing right and wrong, good and bad, black, white and gray areas, and doing what is good regardless of what other people think. Sure, they will make poor choices, but that is part of life. Our job as parents isn’t to punish poor choices or manipulate into right choices, it is to be there for them waiting with a big ol’ net to catch them if they fall. And warm, loving, genuine arms to hold them and say “I’ve got you, baby, that must have been so painful/scary/confusing.”
Another phrase we often hear is “it’s a tough world out there. They need to know that.” Trust me, they will know the world is harsh. They don’t need that harshness in their own homes. Children need unconditional love, empathy, and forgiveness. They will need a safe haven that they can curl into when the heaviness of this world threatens to crush them. They will turn on the news every other day and see that yet another mass shooting has happened; suicides; homicides; fires; terrorist attacks; sex crimes. Yes, the world is a harsh place. Very unfair and unjust events happen every single day, but those events shouldn’t be happening in our homes if we can help it.
It’s a big commitment, but if you want to turn over a new leaf, it’s never too late.
Today you can work towards stopping the violence. Stop the punishments. Stop the shaming and yelling and hitting. Our kids deserve better.
If you would like to join our tribe of parents committed with our every fiber to raising our children in a punishment-free, attached, empathetic and gentle way, consider joining our Facebook group, Attachment Parenting For All Ages. The writers of this blog, as well as some of our most respected and close friends run the group together. Our members are just as devoted as the admin team. All it takes is an open heart and an open mind, and you can step into a difficult and rewarding path. None of us are perfect, but with small and big steps we work through our own triggers and childhoods and work every day to do better for our children.