Acting Out

Recently, a restaurant in Virginia banned children under the age of 18 from entering. Can't say that I blame them.

Kids are noisy. And when I pay for a nice, romantic evening out with my wife, I expect it to be just that. Come to think of it, why don't they ban kids from flying? On my last flight out of Augusta, there was a baby in the back screaming the entire time. And we sat on the tarmac for an hour before even taking off. It's hard to hear those whiny little punks and not want to rush their parents with a barrage of parenting advice. Honestly, how hard is it to have well-behaved children?

I guess I'll find out soon enough with my first on the way in less than six months. And as snarky as that introduction was, the truth is I'm absolutely terrified about being a parent for one reason: discipline.

photo credit: Sharon Mollerus via photopin cc
When our podcast recorded the episode about this, I told them afterward I was a little disappointed that no one addressed non-physical forms of discipline. For all of them, spanking was a part of their parenting repertoire. Which is fine. But for many, spanking isn't an option. And not for the pretentious, post-hippy, human nature naiveté that many conservatives might imagine. No, some people are genuinely concerned about child abuse.

Now before I get lambasted, let me say that I know that spanking isn't necessarily child abuse (although it can be--a belt, really?). And being raised by fairly typical parents in this regard, I can confidently say that I never felt abused when I was spanked. I have no emotional scars, no resentment, and no psychological disorders (none related at least). Which, I think, proves that spanking can be done without detriment to its object (i.e. the child). But what about the subject? What if the person administering the spanking came from an abusive home? I know people like this. And they don't spank.

In fact, I've found that people who are against spanking are often committed to their child's healthy development. Aren't we all? That's a question worth asking. Because spanking is a form of discipline used as a consequence for bad behavior. And the frequency at which it's often utilized makes me wonder if we're more interested in good behavior, rather than good development. I've touched on this before. And this is where modernity has touched parenting.

We are all born into individual contexts. And for some of us, love was made evident in a variety of ways. We're the lucky ones. Because not every kid got that. This should give us pause before we criticize the motives of other parents who choose to discipline in a different manner. It should also make us question whether we want kids that know when to shut up, or kids that feel loved and secure. I'm not saying that spanking defeats this, but it makes the question no less pertinent. Because, as I understand it, the goal of parenting isn't the same as an acting class.

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