Kids Are Never Too Old to Be Spanked


SpankingAs the mother of a 12-year-old girl who insists on growing, it’s Twilight Zone-ish to know that, just a few short years ago, I was huffin’ and puffin’ in somebody’s delivery room and now that same little bundle of joy is wearing my clothes, borrowing my shoes, and rifling through my makeup (even though she doesn’t think I know).

Twelve years crawled by when I was a kid, but as a mom, it’s bolted by in lightning speed.

But like my mother and so many others, I have to remind Miss Preteen Thang every so often: you could wind up being in the friggin’ Guinness Book of World Records for rapidest growth spurt or tallest tween-ager. Doesn’t matter to me. If you get out of line, I will mount a chair, climb a step stool, or scale a ladder just to knock some sense into you. She can try her hand at being big and bad if she wants, but she’ll never be too big and bad to get smacked. Word to her mother.

Last month, the school nurses measured my baby. She is 5’4”. I am 5’4” and have been since I stopped growing when I was her age. But that recent reality check has done nothing for the way corrections are doled out in the Harris household. Sometimes taking away the netbook and the TV and the Facebook page and the activities with friends is appropriate, even — by golly — effective. But sometimes when she’s clearly lost her doggone mind, she needs a swift pop to bring her back to her senses.

I am a firm believer in corporal punishment. Not excessive, haphazard slaps, mind you. I think discussion and discipline go hand-in-hand. So whenever Skylar does find herself on the wrong side of my open palm, we talk about why it happened and how she can avoid it ever happening again. It takes quite a bit to get me to the point of getting physical, but I think it’s safe to say that every time it’s happened, homegirl earned it fair and square.

Now the question isn’t necessarily is she ever too big to be spanked. It’s when does it stop being effective? 

My mama is always threatening to beat somebody’s tail. And since I’m an only child, that somebody is usually me. Even though I haven’t gotten a bona fide spanking since I was in maybe seventh  grade, she did dole out a couple of streetfighter-style butt whoopings when I was in high school. The last time — and by far the worst — was when she thought she caught me and this grimy boy in the aftershocks of sex.

It was all just really, really unfortunate timing. As she turned the corner, I was coming out of my bedroom and he was coming out of the hallway from the bathroom, still pulling up his zipper. Time froze for almost a solid 10 seconds as all three of us stood there at the intersection of gross misunderstanding and hell breaking loose. Then the hands of fury got to flyin’ and we both had to duck and run for cover. He could hop in a car and leave. I had to ward off Mama “Fast Knuckles” Harris all night.

I recently ran across that guy’s profile on Facebook and silently cursed him for causing all of that confusion. And to top it all off, he wasn’t even that cute. Still ain’t.   

What that incident taught me: 1) stay as far away from boys as possible in isolated parts of the house and 2) my mother was, is, and will always be the heaviest hitter I know. Some people joke about ruling with an iron fist. My mom really does.

But I do remember clearly when spankings became part of going through the motions and stopped hurting as bad, not necessarily because they weren’t as painful (I did mention the iron fist, right?), but because I had gotten old enough to learn how to suck it up. I can tell my own daughter is entering that space where whoopings hurt her feelings more than her booty.

It’s probably pride and maybe a little self-awareness. You don’t have that when you’re a kid. You just want to dodge the paddling and if you’ve gotta take it, get it over with as fast as possible. There’s no real reflection time while you’re bent over your parent’s knee. That, dear friends, doesn’t happen until you’re back in your room with red flames of pain waving over your butt like dude in the Icy Hot commercial.

How old is too old to get physically disciplined a la spanking?

Image via Ben Husmann/Flickr

behavior, family, issues


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Fancy... Fancy-Schmancy

I think it's not only time you stopped hitting your child, I think it's time you head to a therapist to get over your own learned feelings of helplessness, rage, and shame caused by your mother's inability to reason with her child without including some physical punishment. I think she had rage-issues which, as we know, run in families. Break the cycle before you do something you'll regret.

A small child -- no older than 3 -- might get a single swat for persistent misbehavior. But a nearly grown woman? No. Let's just go ahead and teach her that she's helpless, that she's not worth the 3 minutes of conversation it would take for her mother to point out the error of her ways, that she's just too dumb to understand without physical punishment, and, by the way, don't fight back if her future spouse decides to beat her because -- after all -- she deserves it. Mom said so.

My father used to slap me for 'correction' until one day I looked him straight in the eye and told him if he ever did it again, I'd kill him. And, by God, I meant it.  You want that kind of relationship between you and your child? Keep on keeping on.

Or you could apologize to her, swear you'll never do it again, and get yourself some help.


nonmember avatar Amy

I agree with Fancy-Schmancy. My rule for a spank is the potential result of her action could be worse than a swat on the bottom i.e. running into the street. I don't think children learn anything from violence except violence and fear

bluey... blueyedmama74

I agree. In this day and age, there is so much violence out in the world. There shouldn't be violence in the home. I, too, grew up with Mom and Dad's iron fist, but I learned how not to be violent with my kids. I broke that cycle.

butte... butterflymkm

Yeah it's one thing when your kid isn't old enough to really understand speaking to them (under 3) and I've given my daughter (2) a small spank on the butt for picking upthe ferrets all the time (after she had been verbally warned several times, she was really hurting the poor things!) but 12? Yeah wayyyy to old. You can have an actual conversation with them. Now there are EXTREME moments ( I remember my mom smacking my brother across the face when he called her a bitch but he was a huge teenager and she couldn't really hurt him) but a kid that's old enough to understand talking needs to be talked to. My parents smacked my butt when I was probably two but I certainly don't remember it and after that they never ever hit me again and I was a great kid. I don't think it's necesary.

Riche... RichelleB

Love, love, love the article and I too believe in corporal punishment.  I haven't had to dole out any punishment in the past 5 years because I let my kids know off-top that "I'm NOT the one" to play with.  Punishment is different from beatings, which I am totally against.  I have seen how well time out and reasoning HAS NOT worked with other kids...mine will be the first to say "that child is out of control, there is no way you would take that mess" and they are absolutely right!

thedg... thedgoddess

Just because your parents did it to you and you survived does not make it right. Why is it that hitting another adult is assault but hitting a child is discipline?  Hitting/spanking/smacking  - all of it is violence toward children. you can discipline children without hitting them.  And no, I'm not some crunchy, crazy, helicopter momma. Just a normal mom who knows better. And my kids aren't shrieking spoiled brats, proven by the amount of people in awe of their behavior in public.

Sometimes I think you just right this shiz to get a rise out of people.

jmomm... jmomma2009

Since my son is still little (18 months), my issue with spanking is, how can I tell my son "No, we don't hit", and then smack him when he does something wrong?  To me, it's sending the message that, no, we don't hit, unless someone makes us really mad - Then it's okay.  I have no idea what I'll do when he's older..  I like to think I can discipline without being physical, but who knows what will happen in the future?

Shanin22 Shanin22

I think Fancy-Schmancy is right and you should really consider counseling for both you and your daughter. Violent acts like that at her age only instill fear, resentment, helplessness, and a cycle of violent behavior. It trains her to accept violent acts from a possible abusive spouse in her future... and compels her to continue the cycle of violence with her own children. Just because your mother did it, does not make it right.

Unless thedgoddess is correct and you just right this crap to get a rise out of people... which seems possible considering your blog history.

Chalon Jones

I am all for spanking age 2 and up but I would stop at 10 personally. Just becuase I woke up when I was 15 and stoped my mother from slapping me. She till this day says I tried to beat her up lol. No, I just held your hand and showed you I had the same strength. But bravo to you for using spanking. There are to many kids out there that need a good but whooping.

nmmama09 nmmama09

My spanked me whenever she felt it was necessary.  Different strokes for different folks, I don't fear my mom or resent her. We are very close to this day, even with the spanking and the smack in the mouth she gave me when I called her bf a bad name. I wasn't "trained" to be in an abusive relationship. The one guy that hit me got a punch in the face and we never saw each other again. When done right, I believe spanking works. 

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