I am not totally against the idea of corporal punishment.
But if my kid swats at my face one more time, I am totally putting him in time-out!
There are a lot of things about being a parent that can feel humiliating. For a guy, just using a word like “potty” or “baba” has the air of emasculation. But any dad worth his salt gets over that pretty quickly; you want to be a loving father, you gotta get down in the dirt with the cutesy shit. Maybe even violate your own blog’s mission statement by writing sappy love letters about your son. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be tough, too.
Unfortunately, when it comes to the modern rules of discipline, it’s hard to be tough.
My parents used to spank me and my brothers. Back in the 70s/early 80s, it just wasn’t a big deal, and when my parents did it, it certainly wasn’t abusive. I have no scars from their treatment of me, unless you count my aversion to zucchini. The psychological warfare waged over vegetables was a lot more damaging than the occasional swat from my mother’s wooden spoon.
Unlike most modern parents, older generations didn’t have any issues disciplining their kids the old-fashioned way. Maybe they were naive, maybe we’re just too sensitive, but I’m not convinced there’s much of a correlation between disciplinary spanking and abuse; it’s all about moderation and context.
Yet, despite my utter conviction that the occasional spanking is so not a big deal, it’s pretty unlikely that I’ll ever actually put my son across my knee and have at it. For one thing, Mom and Buried is totally against it. And, in spite of my
Buffalo tough stance, I don’t love the idea either. So we’re trying other things.
Unfortunately, time outs don’t work.
The time-out is the equivalent of putting Baby in the corner: neither the baby nor the person doing it knows exactly what it means. (Seriously. Was Johnny really that concerned about the seating arrangements at dinner? Couldn’t Baby just scooch over a little? Or switch with Mrs. Gilmore? There’s no need to get all aggro-dancy about it. Just ask for a different table.)
Maybe it’s because my kid is barely two years old, but putting him in “time out” doesn’t accomplish much. Sure, for a few minutes he’s out of my hair, but I haven’t seen indication one that he links his bad behavior with those few moments of isolation. When I go to set him free, he’s often having a blast talking to and playing with his stufties, clearly having forgotten what he was being punished for, that he was even being punished in the first place.
To be fair, at this age even spanking probably wouldn’t change much either. If I punched him in the face and broke his nose he’d probably forget about it once we got back from the hospital. At most he’d just be scared of me. Which, come to think of it, might be more effective, Machiavelli(not Tupac)-style, but I don’t want him to grow up scared of me. I only want him to be scared of me when he’s a teenager, at which point pulling down his pants and putting him over my knee would raise a whole different set of issues.
So while spanking may not be the answer, I’m not quite ready to totally dismiss it. Yeah, he’s too young for it right now, but that doesn’t mean it might not be a decent option later. Things are getting a bit out of hand and something more punitive than a time out may eventually be needed. Especially if you ask my parents. And probably yours too. I bet they spanked the shit out of you.
Hell, you probably liked it.