Real Family Stories: Black Women Share Why They Do And Don’t Spank Their Children

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Amanda, 27

Daughter, 4

Spanking Stance: No

Me and my husband were back and forth. And I said, ‘I don’t think I’m going to beat my child because I didn’t get beatings.’ And he was like, ‘Oh, I got beatings. You beat them. I’m going to spank her.’ I wanted to say, ‘Look how you turned out?

How did you convince him that that was something you weren’t going to do?

It was no convincing. It was either my way or not. You’re not beating my child or I’m going to beat you. But she’s four so he don’t even have the heart to do it. He’s a punk. He’s not going to hit his little girl.

Since you don’t spank, how do you discipline your daughter?

I just take something away. I use the iPad as a pawn. Or when she’s really bad—like she colored my whole couch. And my friend was like, ‘Why didn’t you beat her?’ And I said, ‘What am I going to beat her for?’ She doesn’t know that you can’t color on the couch. So I just turned everything off. Find something else to play with. Or I just throw it in the trash. Since you want to color on my couch, I’m throwing this markers away. It’ll be interesting to see when she’s older and she’s really testing me. But I’ve never been spanked so I don’t know the first thing. And I’m a social worker. So I don’t think that I’m going to do it.

Did you realize that other kids were being hit or spanked?

I used to see my cousins get spankings. And even when they would talk about it in school, they would talk about it and I would say, ‘I don’t get beatings!’

What other forms of discipline did your mom use?

Punishment. I was on house arrest forever. She would take the phone, the house phone. And that was really all I needed. I wasn’t a bad kid.

Do you agree with the study? Is spanking emotionally harmful?

I don’t think it’s emotionally harmful because these kids will kill you. So you need to let them know who the authority is. But when a child is getting beaten everyday, what are you punishing the child for? What are you beating the child for? That can mess with them emotionally because everything doesn’t require a spanking or beating. And I think parents need to pick their battles. I think parents get tired and they’re not picking their battles. And if it’s endured multiple times then it can be and you’re going to pass it on because you think that’s the only way to get your message across to your children. And it’s not. I think I’m kind of in the middle. There are bad kids that need to be spanked. But that’s the thing everyone thinks someone else’s kid is bad and needs to be spanked.

Carol (Mommy), 65

Daughters, 31 and 29

Spanking Stance: Yes

Children need discipline. You can not rule out discipline and there’s different types of discipline and you have to govern yourself accordingly with each child. I never got spankings. I think I got one spanking because I looked at the rest of them and said, ‘It won’t be me.’

I had you who had the smart mouth and I had to pop her on her lips every once in a while. Your dad didn’t like it but to me that’s where the foulness came from. That’s where you had to get it. And you understood. I didn’t get much foul.

Do you agree with the study, that spanking is emotionally and psychologically harmful?

It all depends on how you do it. It can be damaging because the way your grandfather disciplined the boys, it was damaging. And with me growing up seeing that, you have to learn what to take in order to raise my child and what can I leave on the table.

Everybody can’t spank either. You’ve got to know yourself. If you know your temper is too bad then you have to be creative enough to say I can’t touch my child but you have to do something to let them know that there are limits. But you have to be creative in thinking in that way. And a lot of parents are lazy. They don’t want to think like that.

You weren’t spanked a lot. Neither one of you were spanked a lot. It is how you and your children interact with each other. Your children know you and you know your child.

I never said that I would not spank my child. I knew that was in the plan. But I also knew that I would take care when I was doing it. And I don’t have a temperament that would make me go off. I knew that my spankings would not be horrendous because of me. I’m very laid back and it takes a lot to make me pop off. To sum it all up, you have to know yourself. And if you know that you’re crazy, leave that spanking alone and be creative.

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