There are so many positive ways to define life’s challenging moments. I used to believe that when I experienced conflict (physical, psychological, emotional), so long as I came out relatively unscathed, that means everything turned out fine. This is a common conclusion that people seem to land on. But then I began to ask myself: Are you really fine? And what is the measurement of “fine”?
After many self-realizations, I decided that settling for “being fine” was not the way that I wanted to live my life. “Fine” never equates to being fantastic or fabulous, and that’s what I want. More importantly, I want more than just “fine” for my children, because let’s be honest – “being fine” is not the way I want to influence my son and daughter.
I believe that breaking generational curses is a daily routine. For my new readers, generational curses are harmful habits that you’ve grown to accept because your parents or ancestors did it. How does one break a generational curse? With introspection, evaluation, and constant care. The most recent generational curse up for elimination is whoopings, aka spankings.
The realization that I received a whooping or spanking while growing up, and determining later on in life that I’m just fine with them since I turned out okay, is unacceptable, and as a parent who wants to be the best parent I can be, my stance is to not carry this generational curse over to my children. Spankings show children that acts of violence demonstrate love, and I find that inherently wrong.
You’d be surprised how much pushback I get for my stance.
“Some kids need to be whooped,” and “My child only responds to whoopings.”
These comebacks often make me wonder what mental space the person was in when they responded this way, and why they consider any act of violence as being appropriate. A common response?
“My mama/daddy whooped me, and I turned out fine.”
Well, that sounds familiar. So once again, I pose the question: Is “fine” the barometer for greatness? No!
I’m a spiritual person who believes in the teachings of Jesus, and because I often attend church services, I’m met with opposition via the bible. “Whom God loves, he chastens” and “Spare the rod, spoil the child,” I question these verses and what God meant by them. The answers, the reasoning that comes to mind declare that chastising our kids is something we must do, but we also must do it with love. I scratch my head and wonder how that makes sense.
Who delivers violence when they’re happy? If you’re in a moment of calm, your actions should reflect that. But instead, when we use physical force as a form of rearing and correction, we’re telling our children that love holds equal ground with violence, and that can’t be true. How is that positive for the development of a child?
Now I‘m no Theologian, so I’m not going to debate tenses and definitions of Bible terms. What I am is a heartfelt human being, who happens to parent two children while owning the legitimate experience of inciting motivation from other people of various backgrounds. What does my experience tell me? No human being on earth will behave or produce long-term positive results from violence.
Sure, the short term result from harmful obedience will be the fear of being a victim of abuse again, but the long-term effect is incredibly damaging – you’ll develop as a person who will have problems with authority while being a carrier of that same violence, either hurting themselves or others.
Violent habits have a tendency to stick around.
“The American Academy of Pediatrics strengthened its advice against corporal punishment in update guidelines, saying it makes kids more aggressive and raises the risk of mental health issues. Experiencing corporal punishment makes it more – not less – likely that children will be defiant and aggressive in the future,” the pediatrics group says in its new pediatrician guidelines.
Even with evidence that whoopings, spankings, threats of violence and verbal shaming do not work, why do most black families connect it to our culture? To that, I say, read Dr. Joy Degruy’s Post Traumatic Slavery Syndrome. Here I share some of her teachings.
Just think about how we adults respond to shaming, confrontation, and violence. We shut-down, exercise our rights to exit the toxic environment where the behavior is occurring and yes, sometimes we decide to go toe-to-toe with whoever it is that’s dishing out the dirt. But it’s self-deception to think children would act any different. So how do you get your children to listen? How you get their complete attention? It’s not easy, but most things worth fighting for require time, patience, and practice.
In previous blog posts, I’ve talked about creating healthy boundaries and safe spaces for children to express themselves openly without fear of violence or shaming. Those are the spaces where teaching moments must happen. I strategically create teaching moments, during times when I know my children are receptive and listening. I am not a magician, so this doesn’t always happen.
Does this mean that I won’t get angry or upset? Of course not. However, when I do, my natural inclination is not to inflict pain, hurt, or harm to them. Instead, in those moments, I communicate my disappointment and give clear consequences: If you do x, your consequence is x. Neither of my two children like time-out, nor do they enjoy having their favorite games or toys revoked, and I don’t expect them to understand their punishment. This path is not the norm, but hopefully, one day, it can be.
When I look out beyond my world or experiences, It‘s encouraging to see parents – especially celebrity parents like Tia Mowry – open up about non-traditional parenting techniques while taking a stand against what’s culturally accepted. The more we grow and evolve, the more we can normalize non-violent, communicative methods of developing our children. The common goal? Creating more environments of trust and communication as we look to new ways of being role models and influencers on future generations.