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franklin county times

Discipline or abuse?

By Staff
Sept. 1, 2002
Craig Ziemba is a pilot who lives in Meridian.
USA Today published a table last week showing numbers of corporal punishments reported by states in public schools last year. Mississippi topped the list of the few states that still practice spanking as a means of discipline.
Several cable and network news programs followed up on the story by interviewing "parenting experts" who denounced corporal punishments as child abuse and claimed that spanking teaches children that violence is a proper means of expression. Video of angry parents trying to hit out-of-control, flailing children was presented as evidence that spanking is cruel and ineffective. So what are young parents to think?
We've all witnessed unfit parents in the grocery store shake their children and verbally abuse them. It makes us sick, and we feel like intervening but fear that the children may suffer even more when they get home as a result. Does this mean that all corporal punishment is wrong?
To say that scenes I've just described invalidate corporal punishment would be as illogical as saying that Jack Kevorkian invalidates modern medicine. There is a huge difference between abuse and loving, firm discipline.
My parents spanked me quite often ( although not nearly as frequently as I deserved). They did through a process of instruction, punishment and reconciliation. When I disobeyed, they would calmly explain what I did wrong, tan my fanny, I would apologize, we would hug, and it was over. They never once were mean to me, never once belittled me, and I never once doubted that they loved me.
Proper discipline is an act of love that benefits the child. Discipline helps to protect, teach, and mold a child's character during his formative years so that he will learn obedience, self-control and respect for authority. When my son tries to poke his finger in an electric socket or pull a knife out of the dishwasher, I spank him for his own good.
When he throws a tantrum, I correct him so that he will learn to control his temper and understand that he won't always get his way. Simply removing him from the temptation or giving him something else doesn't get his attention and doesn't teach cause and effect nearly as well as a swat on the rear.
One "parenting expert" I watched insisted that parents should avoid confrontations with their children by ignoring bad behavior and constantly offering positive alternatives to distract the child and prevent the parents from having to say, "no."
Man, I'd love to be a fly on the wall in that house.
Permissive parenting sure sounds good, but everyone I know who has tried it raised unhappy, spoiled children who end up resenting their non-confrontational parents.
Call me crazy or too results oriented, but the "parenting experts" I'm willing to listen to are ones I know who have reared happy, respectful, well-behaved children.
For years, I've watched the way successful parents handle their children, and without exception they all have a healthy mixture of love and firm discipline that usually includes spanking.
Spanking isn't appropriate for all personalities, ages and situations. My older sister and I required hundreds of spankings while my baby sister responded just as well to light verbal consternation.
One day after I was particularly bad, Mom asked me to choose between spanking and restriction. I quickly chose spanking, and from then on she gave me restriction. I learned from that.
All too soon our children will grow up and enter the real world. Those who learned self-control, obedience and respect as children will be head and shoulders above their peers and will one day thank the parents who trained them up in the way they should go.

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