Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Jamie's Ode to Whoop-ass

Am I the only one, after listening to Jamie Foxx sing the praises of his grandmother's beatings, who was left with the visual of him beating the crap out of his sweet little girl? Maybe convinced that it will help her land an Oscar winning role someday?

I came across a post on MetroDad's blog about "spanking". Now, MetroDad's the new father of an infant daughter, so I'm going to cut him some slack and hope that by the time she's old enough to misbehave he will have learned that you can, in fact, raise good children without pummeling them.

What is really scary, though, are the comments that other bloggers left...together they sound like a frenzied crowd anxiously awaiting their glimpse of a public execution. "Yeah! Beat them! Kids only understand pain! I really needed that belt to keep me in line!" What the fuck??

I suppose I should not be surprised. We read about children who are killed every day by a "spanking" gone wrong. I hate the word, for one thing. It's nothing more than a euphamism. If you're so comfortable with whacking your children, then call it what it is: hitting. But who really writes the definition? Where is the line between this thing called spanking and child abuse? Or does it even matter?

My father's definition of discipline ranged from the back of his hand (wedding ring included) across the face, to the snap of a dipstick across bare legs, to a full fist in the mouth when I was 16 years old. And everything in between. If he had ever been challenged (he was not, as my mother often pushed and prodded him into it) he would have thought he was exercising his parental rights. No wonder I cannot listen to the 10,000 Maniacs song, "What's the Matter, Here?" without blubbering.

More importantly, though, is the long-term, life-altering stuff. Right before I married Tony, my mother tried to rationalize her method of parenting (saying that "changing husbands is child abuse, hitting them is not"), and I finally decided to lay it out for her. I told her that when I moved out of her house at 17, immediately after high school, the man I lived with had hit me so hard that he broke my ribs. She was shocked. "Why didn't you tell us??", she asked. My response was simple. "Because I had grown up in a house with a man who was supposed to love me who hit me, and I left to live in a house with a man who was supposed to love me who hit me. I didn't think it was that weird."

It is not easy to raise children without hitting them. You have to THINK. You have to control your animal instincts to grab them by the scruff of the neck. Sometimes you have to walk away. But isn't this what we're trying to teach our children, when it comes to dealing with adversity in real life? That you can't haul off and punch the kid who destroys your Lego creation, or flatten the neighbor whose dog shits on your lawn? How do you teach those things if hitting is a part of your family culture?