Sparing The Rod

I was 15 years old when I got my last spanking (or whipping, if you prefer). I’d snuck off to see a boy in another neighborhood and gotten a few stolen kisses. My parents couldn’t find me for almost an hour and panicked. The welts on my ass and the embarrassment at being in high school and getting spanked by my daddy,  in hindsight, weren’t really worth  it.

So when I was perusing my Google Reader this morning, I came across this article at Racialicious, written by LaToya Peterson. In it, she talks about how the use of corporal punishment is viewed through a progressive/feminist lens, with the mindset that discipling children with violence, leads to children becoming violent or acting out in violent ways.

However, as LaToya points out, it’s not quite that simple when raising a black (or brown) child.

She writes:

Despite some parents desire to be peaceful, their children are still operating in a violent world. So even if you raise a home that is nonviolent, how do you keep violence away from your door? How do you teach your children to respond to a violent world? The idea that violence begets more violence is a true one – but at the same time, blocks and neighborhoods can be taken over by very small groups of determined and violent people. Suddenly, all the neighbors live in fear of a handful of people.


So discipline wasn’t all physical. Large parts of it are modeling, intervention, appealing to reason. But sometimes, kids don’t want to hear it. And it’s one thing to ask an eight year old to heed what you say – yet another to ask a willful fifteen year old to do the same.

So what should parents do, when words fail and their children are on a collision course with the criminal justice system?


To some, spanking is a cut and dry issue. Some will never, ever believe its necessary. Some people will never, ever believe you can raise a decent person without spanking. ….. Sometimes, you need your child to fear you because they cannot understand the consequences of the life they are choosing. I watched this happen time and time again, particularly with the men I knew. There was discipline, there were beatings, but then there were also those beatings with the undercurrent of fear behind them. Fear that you are going to lose control of your child to this other, evil, more seductive world. Fear that despite your best efforts as a parent, your child is heading down a path that leads to prison, drug addiction, or life as a drug dealer or street thug.


If the choice ever came down to putting my hands on my child because I am fighting for their life? I’d probably do the same thing I’ve seen all my relatives do.

I’m ultimately not inclined to use any kind of violence other people these days. I know how seductive and easy that starts to feel, the exertion of control through physical means. And I know how easy it is to just allow yourself to react and react and react. So my solution is not to do it at all.

But I’m not going to take some Leave It to Beaver style moral high ground. I’m going to be raising black children, and I need to make sure they survive. If my child is on the path to start having run ins with the police, they’re going to have to go through me first.

Because unlike the criminal justice system, I care.

Please go and read the whole piece because there are some reference to a movie that tie her article together but I didn’t want to get bogged down in that.

It got me to thinking about how I was raised and how my husband was raised and how discipline was administered to us. We got whippings and were placed on punishment. I also think about how parents have to instill discipline and respect for authority in black and brown children in order to for them to survive in a world where they are often stereotyped as soon as they walk out the door.

As ya’ll know, Myron and I are trying to start a family of our own and though we don’t have children yet, I am not so naive to think that we won’t have the same issues to deal with due to the fact that our society has not yet caught up with our idealism of all folks being viewed equally. The more things change, the more they stay the same it seems. Yet, you still have to raise and protect your kids.

If you are currently a parent, do you spank your children? If you don’t why not? If you aren’t yet a parent, would you spank your kids??

18 thoughts on “Sparing The Rod

  1. I know I’m super late, but–My parents regularly applied the “Board of Education” to my “Seat of Corrections” (mom’s a teacher, dad’s a corrections officer, that’s their little joke that they think is funny…whatever). I believe that it was warranted most of the time. I had a smart mouth and hated being told what to do when i didn’t feel like that person deserved my respect. I believe in spanking, because sometimes time outs just don’t work. I often feel like spanking other people’s children for their behavior, lol. I use my serious side eye with my nephews, but I will pop my son if he gets out of pocket (when he’s older). I can already tell he is going to be a devious little mischief maker, so we’ll see what happens.

  2. no children yet……………..but I was physically disciplined, LOL…not that often, but I grew up afraid of my parents and relatives cause I knew I could get whopped for bad behavior. And I totally respect my parents and relatives……..

    I think that was the thing when I was growing up and I most certainly respect being reared that way.

    I am all for spanking a child when needed. If a child doesn’t respect their parents then they most likely wont respect people of authority outside of the house. While time outs and other non physical forms of punishment get results, kids learn rather quickly what they can get away with and will most certainly try you…………

  3. I wasn’t spanked often, but when it happened, I damn sure DESERVED it! I had a healthy combination of fear and respect for my parents growing up. We are trying my raise my son in the same way. He’ll get tagged when he needs it.

  4. I have to say, I got my tail B.E.A.T. and never once did I confuse my violent correction with having to inflict violence on society. When I say beat, I’m saying with belts, braided switches, and extension cords. I never thought of it as abuse. In my mind, the punishment fit the crime. Didn’t help, but that’s another comment for another day.

    I am a parent, and I make extra sure to not use the same amount of force that was used on me, on my daughters, but yes, I use corpral punishment. There are some things that I will not spank for, and some things that will get them taken into the nearest bathroom, witnesses be damned. And as a unit, my husband spanks in only the most dire of situations, twice for the 11 year old and never for the 8 year old) He was raised that men don’t hit women (females) for ANY reason.

    There are times when revoking privileges have a better effect ( bad grades, failure to clean room, etc) and there are times when a smack will be the only recourse ( failure to respond to safety Don’t run into the Street!, or disrespect, or criminal behaviour)

    As a parent and a family, and depending on the child, you have to make that descion. Had my parents realized sooner that those beatings did nothing for me, they probably would have switched over to revoking my privleges. That was a much more effective tactict for me to get in line. A beating hurt for an hour or so…if that. Not going outside to play? No nintendo/atari? Additional math problems in the summer? NO DESSERT? I would have about died.

    Also, I think the kind of “spank” is important too. I would never slap my kids, it’s degrading, but I will pop one in the mouth for backtalk/disrespect.

    Sorry to write so much….I’ve been forced to be quiet all day, and this was my outlet….

  5. I spank…but not often and I am not a big fan of spanking. I also understand that each kid is different and that sometimes a whippin sets a kid straight.

    The threat of a spanking gets Babe panicky. She is a mom dad sister pleaser so it is RARE that she gets so out of pocket that she needs to be spanked. E doesnt spank, he ‘spanked’ W once for stealing and Babe once for cutting up real good one morning. He couldnt stand the disappointment in their eyes…he never did it again.

    I would NEVER discipline my kids they way I was disciplined. We had to strip to draws and lay across the bed. No ma’am, not ever would I do that to my children. But they were only doing what was done to them. To me their forms of punishment was abuse

    Groundings work wonders for Babe, no electronics, no outside, no company and confined to your bedroom for days? She dies! She once asked for a spanking so she could be off lock down.

    I think a parent has the right to discipline how they see fit but should be mindful of that behavior so that it is balanced with love, patience, praise and expectations. Cause at the end of the day they are children who need guidance and not little adults that need to be beat into submission IMO

  6. When Buddha is bad, he gets pinched. Nothing extravagant or abusive. I just grab a piece of meat on the back of his arm or thigh and hold it while I’m talking to him. I know he’s gotten a couple of spankings. Always for severe behavior. He’ll be 6 in December and he’s gotten less than 6 spankings. His usual discipline is time out or getting grounded.

    I handle a TON of child abuse and neglect cases and I know the difference between abuse and discipline. I think you can make a case for both paths (spanking/not spanking) and ultimately it’s up to the parent.

    I don’t believe that spanking a child will cause that child to be an abusive adult or seek out an abusive relationship. There’s more that goes into that. When a child is spanked, they are usually told why they are getting spanked.

    SS is 11 and doesn’t get spanked much. But it is an option. And as you know from his behavior in Europe, there are times when a spanking is warranted.

  7. Not a parent yet, but the current beau and I have agreed that if we have children, we aren’t going to spank. Well, I shouldn’t say I have totally agreed, because much like LaToya, I will use corporal punishment if absolutely necessary because I will not lose my children to the streets, drugs, or any other evil of the world (as far as it lies with me).

  8. i didnt read the article however to answer your questions:
    I spank (well primarily my husband did) he would spank and then hug. I couldnt do it as i was usually too upset. I didnt spank for everything, just serious offenses and enough for them to know they would get spanked. Sometimes I used a belt, most times my hands. I hated being spanked/beaten as a child because in my case i felt it was unwarranted. but once i had children, i realized there was a place for it. its not often and depending on the offense its sometimes the only choice.

  9. I read that article on and many of the comments. It made me think about how I/we discipline our daughter. She will be 3 in a few months. We don’t do full-fledged spanking, but we do “pop” her, me moreso than my husband. I feel that she should do what I tell her to do, but at the same time, she’s not quite 3. We’re trying to find the balance, and I don’t want to hit her for everything.

    I do not believe that children should be “seen and not heard”, but I think their behavior should be appropriate for their environment and age. We’re working through it. Spanking isn’t our only form of discipline.

    I like ames’ comment.

  10. I would spank to enforce safety rules. If I say stop they need to react immediately. I would not subject a child to physical punishment so that others could have quiet or peace from childlike activity. If my kid is having a tantrum, I try to distract them or ride it out. I am not raising slaves who get spankings to benefit others.

  11. Yes; as of last week my son is still getting sporatic spankings. I hope he’s received his last one, but sometimes (and he said this himself about a friend of his), kids don’t learn unless you spank them. Sometimes nothing else works. But, I’ll tell you this: if I had to do things all over again I’d try the STICKING TO PUNISHMENT approach. I’d see if that worked and then, if not, I’d move on to a spanking. SO much goes into disicplining a child: setting a good example, sticking to what you say, not spoiling them, expecting respect from DAY 1, and yes, even spanking. But that can and should be a last resort IMO.

  12. The punishment fits the crime. With my son there were some things that I worethatazzout about. Blatant disrespect, criminal behavior etc will get your block knocked off. Being a pain in the butt regular teenager stuff will get you punished.

    I believe in corporal punishment when it’s needed. And I dished it out when necessary. The one thing that parents-to-be need to know is that there is no handbook for this. Parenthood is full contact, hands on, full involvement. Each child will be different and will require different tactics to raise them. You’ll learn as you go along. And nobody can tell you how to properly raise YOUR child, because they don’t know any more than the next parent.

  13. I spanked early on in parenthood. I probably did sometimes out of anger, but always when I felt they needed it. The older they get the less they need it. With the exception of my middle daughter. My youngest who is now 16 rarely needed one. If she thought or thinks I am angry at her, the torture she puts on herself is worse than anything I could do. I think it depends on the child as well as the parent/parents. Do what works for your family, bottom line.

  14. I can’t speak to the racial aspect of it & I agree to each their own. Both my husband and I were raised with old-fashioned parents who believed in “spanking”. I think it has more to do with discipline, establishing authority & re-enforcing a lesson than physical contact. I think it depends on the context of the situation too. I once saw a woman in a park spank her son “Don’t hit your sister!” – what kind of message is that? It doesn’t make sense.

    My mom’s point is that if you’re going to tell a child “You’re not allowed to do that” and then threaten them with punishment, they need to know that you’re serious and will follow through. Sometimes it only takes once. I remember all too well the sting of 3-4 whacks across my thigh with a wooden spoon when I blatantly ignored my mother & didn’t come inside from playing. I never disobeyed her in that again. Lesson learned & I was a better person for it. I’ll admit, I would never take an instrument (spoon/belt, etc) to my children but sometimes 5minutes on the stairs in “time out” doesn’t convey the same idea quite as much as a swift crack on the @$$. Just my opinion.

  15. I spank Lovegirl – not often, and not out of anger, but I definitely spank her – out of love and correction. I don’t see anything wrong with spanking a child when they need it. From what I’ve observed, some people spank their kids for any and every little infraction. That’s not how I roll. Everything doesn’t warrant a spanking and I think just random spanking of children leads to spanking being an ineffective correction tool. Spanking is just one of many ways to correct a child – it is definitely not the only tool in my repertoire. Smoochy never spanks her and I seriously doubt he ever will – I do believe he would spank a son if we had one.

    I don’t believe in beating children and don’t plan on ever beating Lovegirl…unless she jumps real, real crazy one day. Then, as much as it pains me to even think about it – I will whup her arse.

  16. when my children were younger.. I did spank them.. as they got older maybe over the age of 7 I went the punishment route. I reserve arse whoopings for when they begin to smell themselves and think they can run my household.. my daughter was 13 the last time I hit her.. had to fight her… my son hasn’t overstepped any bounds to make me take a stick to him yet.. he is bigger than me so I know I will have to use major force or have Mister take it to his chest if it comes to that..

    I’ve been fortunate that I haven’t had to rule with the iron fist.. i’m very strict and hard on my kids.. I know that.. but they know that it’s done out of love. we definitely talk a lot more than when I was growing up.. I listen to them while my mom didn’t listen.. it was beat first talk after LOL I adjust my parenting style when necessary but for the most part it has worked for me.

  17. It’s funny you posted this. I have not had a chance to read the article thoroughly but I will. I just read an article on CNN yesterday (link below) and it was about having to deal with kids in public places that have obviously NOT been disciplined. The parents don’t appreciate how others view their children because they are obviously jaded. I would never want to be that parent raising that child & tolerating such behavior, but honestly I see a lot of it more and more these days. The kids are running the parents. I never got a whipping I didn’t deserve & I think I am better for it, but I know many people just don’t agree with spanking. I know the difference between discipline and abuse. I respect each parents decision to raise their child the way they see fit.

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