Testimonies From Reformed Spankers
“When we stopped spankings and punishments, it was about 3 years ago and my oldest was 7. He had the worst of it all – swats/spankings on hands, butt, and timeouts all the time. We were led to believe that he needed to be instantly obedient and learn his lesson instantly and show remorse – even as a 2 year old! He and I were always in an adversarial relationship because of this.
After we stopped, we saw great success in the first week or two. Then everything got really crazy bad for the next 2-3 months. In hindsight, I think all our kids – especially the oldest – were testing us. They wanted to make sure there was NOTHING that would cause us to spank or punish again. They needed to know they could TRUST our word to them.
This is one reason why I think ALL spanking needs to be abandoned. Otherwise, there is still something that they could do to get spanked and you won’t be building a trusting and responsive relationship like you desire.
My husband and I would occasionally argue about starting punishments and spankings again. I believed that forgoing those would be the best for our kids and our relationships. My husband deferred to my judgement because I was very rational in my beliefs (i.e. this is what I know about child development, about grace, about the research).
I also spent lots of extra time talking to my oldest about how no one is perfect – not even Mommy. And Mommy didn’t know better. Now Mommy knows better and is going to do better. We talked LOTS about God’s love and His grace. I apologized as much as I needed to to help him process that fact that I spanked him (a lot). I asked for his forgiveness. I comforted him when he was really angry and wanting revenge. We talked about how anger is not a sin, but it is what we do with our anger that could be – like “giv’n it” to someone. I put the most effort into him as the younger ones didn’t experience what he did” ~Heather R.
“No, behavior did not get worse when the threat of spanking was removed. There was no announcement made to the younger ones. We just started doing things differently. So it’s not like suddenly they knew, ‘Oh, Mom and Dad aren’t spanking anymore; let’s see what we can get away with!’
Did it take a little more presence and effort and actual parenting in our part? Yes!
I don’t feel that the kids’ behavior got worse as much as we just no longer had punishment to rely on to ‘fix’ situations. It just took some getting used to on our part, and realizing that obedience and ease in the moment isn’t the ultimate aim of our parenting was helpful. If you’re still looking for convenience and obedience in the short term, then it can feel like things get worse at first. In reality, you’re laying essential groundwork for the long term; benefits that are far more important than the short term gain punitive measures provide. And everything that happens is actually PROGRESS!
With my older ones still living at home (14 and 12 at the time, turning 17 and 15 now), I sat down and explained some of the changes we were making and why.
I gave specific examples of how our former approach has caused problems for them (times they couldn’t come to us with certain things, for example, because of authoritarian rules we had previously).
I explained that I didn’t want it to be that way anymore. We wanted them to be able to come to us with the bigger things in life. We understood it would take time. We explained what we were working on to improve as parents, and requested for patience as we certainly would not be perfect from the get go.
I think the teens have enjoyed seeing more love in our home, and enjoyed the reduction of conflict, tension, stress, and harsh reactions so much that they don’t feel much resentment toward younger siblings. They enjoy their siblings and often are good at responding kindly when one of the little ones is having a tough time.
I am careful to help them in their conflicts with a younger sibling should one arise. We don’t allow the younger ones to ‘get away’ with annoying the older ones. Just because we no longer use punitive measures doesn’t mean kids get to do whatever they want. We step in and try to help bring resolution to any situation within our home.
So when the older ones get to see it in action with the younger ones, I think it helps build their faith that we’re serious about being better than before AND they realize that they too benefit from the changes.
I think they’re often too busy enjoying the benefits that they don’t complain much about the disparity between what was and what now is” ~Stacie Mahoe.
“My son is about to be 16. We stopped spanking at 5. We have raised him to follow the principles of NAP. It’s the Non-Aggression Principle which basically states that you can’t aggress against someone unless they aggress against you first. That’s self defense.
When we stopped spanking he became a completely different child. When we did spank him, he was wild and had NO fear. After we stopped he completely calmed down. He’s now one of the calmest, most respectful people I know.
We also have never raised him to just ‘do what he’s told.’ We encouraged him to think for himself. We also always referred to him as a young man. Not as a ‘kid, and definitely NOT a ‘teenager.’ He will be a man that can lead his family. He has been taught to do so for his entire life. This was VERY important to us as parents” ~ Misty Raper.