"Spanking is an act of violence, so ethically, it could be justified only if there was absolutely no other way to improve the way kids act."  – Ken Gallagher

"He had to stand in the corner, crying, until he stopped. When he did not stop crying, she spanked him" says my soon to be eleven-year old son.

"She hit him?" I asked rather shocked.

"Yup. She was mad at him for the thing he did with the door. She yelled at him for that. He started to cry because he got yelled at and then he wouldn’t stop crying. So she told him to stand in the corner till he stopped. He still wouldn’t stop and then she spanked him" he insists.

"Huh?" I say. My mind is having a hard time computing the information.

"Are you serious? You are not kidding me?" I ask.

"NO! Mah, I am not kidding. Ask him yourself." my son demands.

I turn to my youngest son, seated on my right. He is looking down towards the floor and swinging his feet, clad in new white sneakers, to and fro.

"First, stop swinging your feet. You might trip the waiter. Second, is that true? Did she really hit you?" I ask.

"Yeahhhh" he mumblers softly. "And it hurt my feelings, Mom." he says even softer.

I want to cry. I look across the table at my ex-husband and he is also wide eyed.

"Um, are you going to do something about that?" I ask the father of my sons.

"Yes." he says as he reaches for his phone.

"Not here. Not now. Later, please." I ask.

"Okay" he says as he places his phone back into his shirt pocket.

Holding back tears, I reach over, pull my youngest son towards me and kiss him in the middle of his forehead.

"I am sorry that happened to you" I say.

"Its okay, Mom. You didn’t do it" he says as he begins to swing his feet again.

Yes, a caregiver spanked my son. A caregiver that I trusted, we trusted, HE trusted. She told us about the incident that occurred but she did not tell us the entire story. We did not hear about crying, corner standing and certainly not hitting.

My son has never been put in a corner and never been hit. Regardless of where I do or don’t stand on you hitting your children, I have never hit mine. I have never needed to. I don’t believe it as a parenting style for ME. I was hit as a child – more times than I care to remember. I also went to the hospital and had stitches. When the doctor asked me what happened, I told the truth. I got hit later for doing that. Apparently, I could have gotten the pugilist adult in question in trouble by telling the doctor the truth. I was supposed to lie.

I don’t hit my children. I use other forms of discipline and they are quite effective. Everyone, and I mean everyone, tells me I have incredibly well behaved sons. I do and I have done it without inflicting flesh wounds.

I feel awful that my son was hit by someone he trusted.

I mused over the conversation on the way home from the restaurant. It occurred to me while I comforted and apologized to my youngest son, I failed to recognize my oldest.

"Nik, thank you for telling Mom and Dad what happened. You are a very good big brother. You did a really good thing by telling us." I say.

"Okay, well, it just upset me Mom. It wasn’t right. He didn’t do anything wrong and gosh, HE IS ONLY FIVE YEARS OLD." he says.

"I know. I agree. But again, this is not about him right now. This is about you and how right you were to tell us. If anyone, any adult that you know or don’t know, ever hurts you or your brother – in any way – you always tell. Even if they tell you not to. You always tell Mom or Dad okay?" I say firmly.

"Yeah, Mom, I know." he says.

I continue to driving and try to hold back my myriad emotions. Guilt, anger, sadness, and a bit of rage simmer inside me.

I cross over Mountain Road and decide I better let my ex handle it and I vow to stop thinking about it until I hear further.

And then the voice creeps up, the voice of the forgotten mother, the voice only I hear, the voice I have only recently begun to listen to

The voice asks me:

"I wonder if  [daughters name] was ever hit as a child?"

At that possibility, my tears begin to fall again. 

12 Thoughts.

  1. Unbelievable! How horrible for the little guy!
    I commend your level head – the boys are seeing that no one has the right to harm them, and that they have the power to make it stop by telling you and your ex-husband.
    I’m really sorry you’re going through, Suz, and sorry, too, that it’s bringing fears about your daughter’s childhood to the surface. I hope and pray that spanking wasn’t a part of it.

  2. Suz,
    I so understand, I too do not believe in hitting under any circumstances and our 11 year daughter has never had a hand raised to her. Sadly we have had to discover that was not the case for our son, not that he was beaten by any stretch of the imagination, but a cuff upside the head even still now and again at the age of 19 absolutely does MY head in in every conceiveable way.
    I’ll hope for you that when and your daughter are in a communicative relationship that she can assure this was NOT a part of her upbringing.
    Be Well,

  3. Sigh.
    My father yelled at me and hit me all of the time growing up. Sometimes, it was purely because I was crying and he wanted me to stop. My mother also slapped me across the face a few times and called me a bastard.
    I know now that it has deeply affected me and I think, still makes me apprehensive to be open and be emotional in front of others.
    I truly hope your daughter didn’t experience this.

  4. I hate that I feel the need to say that… my birthparents smack (we use the word smack, rather than spank) my siblings as well. My brother reacts in the same way I used to… shouting out “no” and crying even more.

  5. My son was kicked down the street by his “male adopter” when he was only about 10 or so.
    And emotionally/psychologically abused by the “female adopter” to the point where 2 police departments advised him to leave that house for his own safety when he was 20. If we hadn’t been so close post-reunion that he could confide in me, I never would have heard about it.
    Those two do not deserve the title of “parent.”
    And these are rich professionals both with masters degrees. My baby was given to abusers. Yes a home-study had been done but it shows how much they are “rubber-stamped” if you have money.
    I hope your daughter was never treated that way.

  6. Oh Suz, my heart goes out to your boy. I have a 5-year-old too, and I don’t know if it’s harder on the mom or the child. We’re a no-hit home as well. Positive Parenting (a la Alfie Kohn) is our brand of strategy.
    Glad to her your kids saw a positive example of how to manage a challenging issue. Hugs to you and your boys as you work through it!
    Take care,

  7. First you are handling your sons in an admirable way. But I know the other part that hurts. My son’s aparents seem like good and decent people but there are things about his growing up that are totally opposite of what I consider normal. It’s too late to go back. Don’t beat yourself up on this one.

  8. Ugh. I feel ill. I really have a hard time understanding hitting as a discipline method and my stomach churns thinking of my little guy in a situation like that.
    You are such a good mom and I respect the way you are raising your boys. I hope, too, that your daughter didn’t have to go through spanking.

  9. Wow, what great kids you have to tell you right away! It’s ironic that you bring this up, last night on TNT’s show “The Closer” the episode was about a family with one biological daughter and an adopted son. The son was 13 and acting out in anger. The father in a fit of frustration bludgend the boy to death with a hammer no less. The a-mom tried to blame it on the birthmother saying “the boy had bad genes” and “we tried to send him back” and the father said, “now we can have our family back”. The closer lady would have none of it and treated them like scum. I loved it! I think I will go on the TNT website and applaud them for not caving to the “politically correct” pressure.
    (I had another adoption nightmare last night, they were buring my baby alive as an infant and I had to watch helplessly.)

  10. I too was spanked as a child for minor offenses with my father’s “cowboy belt” (yes, the big buckle). And because my parents believed that when one of us did something wrong we should all “learn from it”, I also got beaten for my brothers’ offenses. Really, it didn’t take much, just “a look” got me. So I asked my son about his parent’s discipline. How relieved I was that he wasn’t spanked and doesn’t relate to my childhood experience AT ALL.

  11. I always think – as you suggest in your post – that people who hit have run out of ideas.
    When my husband was in kindergarten, he broke his arm. When he went to school the teacher made him stand in the corner because – obviously he had been doing something he shouldn’t have been doing.
    There are a lot of strange people out there with strange child raising theories. Just pay to God that they don’t come anywhere near your kids.

  12. Suz: Be so very proud of those boys. Your parenting has taught them well. As for the aching of not knowing what if any abuse our children who are not with us it makes me ill to think that the story we bought into that they would have a better home and life is so aggitating and gnawing. I know a lot of your adoptive mom’s out there are just people like you and me. And they are not angels without temper management. And further they divorce just like us and then our child is in a broken home. This one really upset me, I for one also believe no one has a right to hit another. And I agree there are ways to disipline. We all get mad but to call their adopted child a bastard is to be hateful with no way to channel their anger because again, they are not angels afterall.

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