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Spanking vs hitting, and ending the cycle of harm

Posted by Sarah Stogryn on

Let's talk for a moment about "spanking" (yes, including spanking that doesn't leave a mark or the parent considers a "tap") vs "hitting" our kids as a form of "discipline". 

While many like to differentiate between hitting as abusive and spanking as acceptable discipline with statements of belief like 'spanking doesn't leave a lasting mark', or is 'done with love', 'I had good intentions', or 'I've never done it in anger but always with control' or "I only use my hand not a spoon, whip, stick, belt...' - -  none of those justifications change the fundamental act of a person in power physically striking a vulnerable person with the intention of causing pain to gain compliance. Whether a mark is left, whether you love your child, whether you meant well, and your own emotional state at the time have no positive bearing on how your child's brain and body react to, and then integrate, the experience of having an adult they trust and rely on intentionally causing them physical pain to gain compliance. We can modify our language however we want - at the end of the day spanking IS hitting. 

Hitting your child in the form of spanking is technically legal at this point in Canadian history but that doesn't make it beneficial or good in any way. 50 years of evidence shows that corporal punishment in ALL forms causes harm to our kids. It causes harm AND is a violation of their fundamental human rights.

Any variation on the "well it happened to me and I'm ok" theme is a fallacy because it is close to impossible to measure lost potential. Did kids who were spanked survive, even thrive? Sure. Because humans are resilient. But are they the best version of who they could've been had they been parented from a place of wholeness, with genuine compassion and respect? That is 100% NO, and a half century of evidence backs it up.

If as a child you were spanked, or otherwise disciplined/punished in a punitive and shaming way, and have now grown up believing that its ok to use your power as an adult in the form of force, isolation, shame etc to dominate a vulnerable person in your care (which is unfortunately the basis of most mainstream parenting techniques like time outs, taking away possessions, yelling, sticker/strikes charts and spanking etc), that itself is evidence of how the cycle of harm has impacted your development and will be passed on unless we make a conscious choice to heal our own wounds and break the cycle of harm.

Does it mean our parents whom we love were "bad" people? No more than you or I are. They did the best they could with what they knew and for where they were in their own journey 

Now we know better so it's up to US to break the cycle of punitive and demeaning treatment of children. Its up to us to raise a new generation with unconditional love and genuine respect for our children as fully human individuals. Its up to us to do right by our kids even if the law allows us to treat them as less than.

It can be a very difficult process to accept that our parents caused us harm - intentionally or not - and to raise our children differently than we were raised, but we owe it to our children to deal with our s**t and be our best selves, so they can grow into THEIR best selves.

Below are some fantastic links to help break the cycle of harm. Because many loving parents hit their kids via spanking. It happens because they either don't know the harm punitive and corporal discipline/punishment causes and/or because they don't have better tools in their toolbox yet and/or because they have their own wounds that need to be healed.

I believe each of you are here for a reason, and that if you're reading this post, there is Something in it or one of the links below which will help you or your family to grow to their fullest selves. 

Bookmark them or save them and work your way through. It's worth it.













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