I remember the moment as if it was yesterday. I was in elementary school, in grade 4, and class was just beginning on a beautiful sunny morning.
As the bell rang and all the children sat down, I decided to stay standing because I had a beating the night before and my bum was too sore to sit.
My teacher had asked that I sit down and with tears streaming down my face, I sat down on the corner of the chair, with as little of my bruised butt on it as possible.
What did I do to deserve that beating you ask? I didn’t finish my tuna sandwich at dinner time.
My teacher ended up following up with my “parents” (my bio father and step mother) on my sitting troubles at school, and it was decided that I was in fact being dramatic and there were no reasons why I couldn’t sit properly on the chair.
As a mom of 3 beautiful children, I couldn’t even imagine doing that to them. While I did spank my kids when they were small, I honestly thought this was the only way to discipline them before I learned better methods, I never ever made them bruise or bleed. It’s not ok, and I’m learning and growing from those experiences. (We have to forgive ourselves for parenting mistakes we make so that we can grow and learn.)
Fast forward a few years, and I only use gentle parenting on my children, with all the science behind it, and the fact that it actually works, I believe no parent should be spanking their children going forward.
All a child wants — and, more importantly, requires — is to feel safe and secure. It is the most fundamental biological requirement. All living things require a solid basis to grow and thrive. The words and acts of a parent can either enrich or poison the soil of possibilities.
It took me years of difficult and gruelling labour to discover forgiveness and healing. If you know me today, you know that my father and I have a close-ish relationship. But it wasn’t always easy, and it still isn’t always easy. I have no relationship with my step mother.
The reality is, because of events from my past, my connection with my parents has always felt precarious; as if it could disintegrate at any moment if I allowed it. Unfortunately, I sometimes believe I could let them go forever until I chose to practise forgiveness and compassion for them as flawed humans on a regular basis.
And that is something I never want my children to experience. I don’t want to give them any cause to believe that their lives would be better or easier if I weren’t there. Nothing is more essential to me than connection; it provides me with a sense of safety, stability, and love, which my son sorely requires.
We know that these activities do not have the desired effect on the child, but instead contribute to anger, self-destructive behaviour, and low self-esteem. They almost always result in a child withdrawing from the people with whom they are supposed to have the closest relationships. And there are instances when you simply cannot close the distance. Whatever the case may be.
There are numerous reasons why we should not injure our children with our words or deeds. No one is flawless, and we’ll all make mistakes at some point. It’s very likely that we’ll have to ask our children for forgiveness for some violation at some point. The way we talk to and treat kids from a young age will decide whether or not they will succeed.