Spanking as a form of discipline is in my DNA. I was spanked, as were my siblings, my dad, my mother, my grandparents. Same goes for my partner and his relatives. Spare the rod, spoil the child.
Growing up In Botswana, most adults in my life adopted a “it takes a village” mentality. Teachers, aunts, even complete strangers used spanking to discipline wayward children. But that’s the thing. We were kids. In our attempts to learn good from bad, we test our or environments in the most frustrating ways. We make decisions without forethought. Which is normal for a child. I was a star at this. My favorite misdemeanor to date was stealing my families entire months supply of pasteurized milk to feed my neighbor Rea’s new baby goat. This resulted in a spanking, with no conversation regarding my actions. Whenever I got a beating… my mind wasn’t focused on my actions, I went in to self preservation mode. I was worried about the pain, how soon the pain would stop, what I needed to make it hurt less and how to not get caught the next time to avoid this pain. I was not aware of the fact that milk was expensive, that my family bought it in bulk coz it was cheaper that way and that if I gave all the milk to the kid, that we would have no milk for cereal in the morning. I was unable to think critically yet, but if these points had been brought up to me, I’m sure I would have made better choices.
I can joke about it now, as most people who got spanked can. Often times parents spank their kids in the hopes that the threat of violence will keep them from making poor choices. I remember when I would go outside to play I would be told “if you get hurt, I will beat you”. Instead of just saying hey, be safe out there, be careful when you are playing because don’t want you to get hurt.
This is obviously an opinion I have developed from a place of privilege. Both my daughter and I are safe and healthy, with a roof over our heads. I recognize corporal punishment as a swift albeit temporary way to end behavior that may be unsafe for a child, especially when they are in different environment that Thandiwe and I are in.
Because of his experiences, my father chose to never lay a hand on me. As a matter of fact, he only raised his voice to me once. I had done something bad, and he told me what I had done , why it was wrong and how disappointed he was in me and the consequences of my actions. You can bet I never did it again, and this experience has stayed with me far more than the numerous beatings I got from my stepmom. My goals is to never spank Thandiwe when she inevitably messes up. I will sit her down, we will talk about her choices and actions and go from there. It’s up to me to end the cycle of violence in my family .
It’s still ok to #punchanazi though.
As always, Peace.