Today, my sweet, confident, fireball of a two-year old threw my book into the bathtub (which was, of course, full of water), poured a mug of black tea on the front of her new white sweater, threw a bowl of food on the floor from the counter as she perched on her Learning Tower, oh and refused to wear a diaper and/or clothes for the majority of the day.
I tell ya, some days I REALLY wish I was the spanking kind of parent.
It would be so easy. Get the point across. Right?
But the reality is that spanking is only a quick and easy solution in the short-term. My concern is, what does it teach? My husband and I run in a crowd of fairly conservative young parents. While they're reading books like "Shepherding Your Child's Heart" (don't get be started on it), we're digging "Kids are Worth It: Giving Your Child the Gift of Inner Discipline." We love our friends, but know that we're the black sheep parents of the group. And that's okay with us.
But inevitably, others want to know WHY we don't spank. Do we want our kids to think they can get away with everything? To not respect us or to grow up to be straight trouble? And this is our response, one that we have practiced and has become our internal parenting mantra:
We love our daughter. We love her curiosity, her eagerness to explore. We respect who she is as a person. And because of those reasons, we want her to grow into an adult who can make her own decisions. Who understands the WHY of her decision-making. You see, if we spanked her EVERY time she stepped out of line, without showing her how to avoid making poor decisions in the first place, we would be providing a consequence without the education. So we redirect and we educate. Over and over again. While your kid might respond immediately to a spanking (but perhaps not know why they shouldn't do something other than mommy and daddy said no,) our daughter is going to touch X item 40 times before it sinks in. And we will redirect her, explain to her WHY she isn't to do something in a clear and logical fashion. She's two. And guess what? She doesn't get it MOST OF THE TIME. But she will and our consistent strategy will, God willing, result in a child that can make her own decisions, avoid peer pressure, and be confident that her mom and dad love her enough to not only support her, but to respect her as an individual.
This is not the easy road, my friends. Although we sometimes wish we were spankers, we never second guess our parenting choice.
And just to be perfectly clear, we don't think our friends who spank their kids love them any less or don't want the very best for them. We are just taking a different path, and we believe strongly that this is what's right for our family.
So for the next few years, we know our daughter might take longer to learn not to do something until the WHY sinks in. But I promise you, it is worth waiting. And in the meantime, I will take a DEEP BREATH when she removes her socks for the 20th time in one day and remember that toddlerhood is short, but learning and respect are forever.
And if you have decided to go the non-spanking route, know that you are not alone.
All the best,