Thursday, 21 February 2008

My view of physical discipline as a child

I used to tell people mum beat us.

Mum used to spank/smack us, sometimes with shoes and particularly with wooden spoons. I'm not advocating or condoning this form of discipline because it's wrong - by modern standards, anyway. I don't discipline my offspring this way, perhaps as a reaction against what being smacked did to me.

When I was smacked, it never made me see what I'd done wrong, rather it just simply made me angry. I never felt corrected, just hurt and unloved.

Factor in the alienation and you end up with a child being discipline by a parent, who sees the parent's actions as acts of hate. With every strike, she reinforced what the alienator said. Every time she smacked me with or without those hated wooden spoons (she broke one on my sister once), all it told me was that my mother not only hated me, but hated me so much she wanted to inflict physical violence on me.

The sheer, despairing AGONY of those moments makes me feel nauseous now, twenty years later. I was wretched after those moments and could not forgive her. My reaction was to withdraw and feel worthless, aching and silently begging to be released from the torture of a parent that hated my absolute guts. "If she loved you, she wouldn't be able to do that to you," said the male parent. "I'd never do that to you. I've never had to. You're a good girl. She just doesn't want to see it. She wants to dominate you. She hits because she's too stupid and selfish to think of any other way to discipline you." Indeed, I STILL think it was over the top, even now, even knowing that alienation was occurring. I was withdrawn and traumatized for days afterwards, but she just thought I was sulking.

What I was actually feeling was trauma and devastation so great I don't even have the words to express to you how deeply disturbed those smacks made me.

I used to tell people even when I was into my thirties, that my mother used to beat me. I believe there's a difference between beating and smacking. Beating is successive hits, several, many, lack of control involved, violence. Smacking aka spanking is one, maybe two, as a punishment after wrongdoing. I used to say "She beat the hell out of us". "She used to beat us". "She used to hit us all the time." She actually smacked us once, maybe twice at a push. For example, my sister used to yell "Didn't hurt!" so would get another one. We did not get beatings.

Let me state again: I am not a parent who condones or uses corporal punishment (unless the offspring do something dangerous, in which case it's a spanking or they continue doing something that could cause injury or death) so from the outset I am against her having hit me at all. HOWEVER in her mind, I now firmly believe she WAS just disciplining us. She was born in 1947 - unless I'm wrong, that's how her childhood discipline would have been administered. I no longer believe she hit us because she hated - but I was told otherwise.

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