By Joe Rector
Do you remember when you cried after a punishment, usually a spanking, from your parents? You snotted and sniveled and sometimes squalled. Do you recall what your dad or mom said? I bet it was something along the lines of, “You stop that crying or I’ll give you something to cry about!” Can you remember how you tried to stop the tears and the other signs that you were brokenhearted?
I remember most of those things overcoming me at one time or another. In every case but one, I deserved the spanking that I received. During them, my job was to cry and run in a circle; my parents’ job was to hold one of my arms and pivot in a circle. After that dance, I was sent to my room or outside. The entire event was over. Oh, I was plenty mad about it, and the enforcing parent might have taken a bit of time to calm down, but in the end, life returned to normal.
What was it that made us so upset when punishment was inflicted? Of course, the pain of a spanking caused some tears, and our parents’ catching us caused frustration. However, I remember the thing that upset me most was having disappointed Mother or Daddy. I’d let them down. Probably, they too were disappointed. They wondered if their boys could be trusted any longer.
As we boys grew up, the spankings stopped. Daddy had passed when Jim and I were 13, so discipline was all in Mother’s hands. She’d first tell us that we were grounded. In those days, that meant going nowhere, doing nothing, and seeing no friends. Next came the lecture about the wrong we had done, and in that talk somewhere came that dreaded line. Immediately I began to pray: “Dear Lord, let my mother beat me with a belt or switch or paddle, but pleeeeease don’ let her say she can’t trust me anymore.” Yet, it was there just waiting like a hawk ready to sweep down on its defenseless prey. It cut to the quick and was the most effective of all lines.
Does that bother teens anymore? Do parents even punish their children? I know that their attempts are less than effective because too many young people keep doing the same things, unaware or unphased by the hurt their actions bring to parents. They seem oblivious to anyone but themselves. What works with children as far as punishment these days? Being sent to their rooms seems to be where they want to be in the first place. They have favorite games and other technology at their disposal. Do parents have the strength to stand tall enough to take their children’s phones? I don’t know, but it seems that doing so is the best discipline because young people worship that device most of all.
When we were young, a spanking worked fine. Later the lectures were torture. I’d be interested to hear from folks as to what they think works with their children. Hang in there, parents. Life does get easier. Just remember that all humans need discipline; the earlier they receive it, the easier their lives go in years to come.