Tuesday, November 24, 2009

On spanking...

I've never really been for or against spanking. It's seemed to me that if used, it ought to be a last-ditch effort, not a first response. And we're striving to raise Acorn in a way that builds mutual respect...and spanking seems, to me, to have little space for respect. We wouldn't strike an adult under similar circumstances - that would be assault. As adults, we're expected to use our words and talk about why we're unhappy with the other person's actions; modeling this for children (within limits) is the best way for them to learn as well.

I ran across a very moving quote today, and I felt like I needed to share it with you - Astrid Lindgren, who wrote Pippi Longstocking, received a peace prize for her work, and said in her acceptance speech:

When I was about 20 years old, I met an old pastor's wife who told me that when she was young and had her first child, she didn't believe in striking children, although spanking kids with a switch pulled from a tree was standard punishment at the time. But one day when her son was four or five, he did something that she felt warranted a spanking - the first of his life. And she told him that he would have to go outside and find a switch for her to hit him with. The boy was gone a long time. Eventually he came back crying and said: "Mama, I couldn't find a switch, but here's a rock that you can throw at me."

All of a sudden the mother understood how the situation felt from the child's point of view: that if my mother wants to hurt me, then it makes no difference what she does it with; she might as well do it with a stone. And the mother took the boy onto her lap and they both cried. Then she laid the rock on a shelf in the kitchen to remind herself forever: never violence.

And that is something I think everyone should keep in mind. Because violence begins in the nursery - one can raise children into violence.

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