With his body and mind broken, this man left home at 17 trying to heal. History would repeat itself, and he had to learn how to break the cycle.
Spanking, and parental punishment, has been in the spotlight lately, as the NFL examines accusations against its players. It’s brought personal stories of spanking and abuse to life for a lot of people. I’ve read these stories trying to suppress old wounds, but the pain is too real.
I relive my earliest memories of doing something wrong every time I hear of a child being beaten. I would like to say I was spanked, but what happened went far beyond spanking.
I had good parents, who I know love me, but spanking is a cycle that keeps continuing. My parents are from Africa where spanking takes on a whole new meaning. I experienced this personally.
When I was 12 years old my parents sent my little brother and I to live in Kenya for two years. I quickly realized that their way of life, and thoughts on discipline, were different.
The first day in school I acted out, I wanted to show off. I was called in front of the class and told to put my hands out. I was hit with a ruler until my hands were red. No permission from home needed — when you messed up in school, you were beaten in front of the entire class.
My parents disciplined the only way they knew how. As I got older, the spanking got harder, and the objects they used got bigger. It started with a ruler, and then a belt. At times it was whatever object they could get their hands on quick enough.
For a long time I lived in so much fear that they would do something far worse. As a young man, I was nervous, emotional, stressed out, and quick to anger. Spanking conditioned me to lie to avoid pain; this is something that has stayed with me as an adult.
Everything came to a head when I was 17 years old. There was an epic battle between my parents and I. Who knows what it was over, but that day my parents told me if I didn’t obey their rules I should leave.
I told them fine and started to pack my stuff. As I did, they decided that I needed a good spanking. My mother grabbed the cord out of a lamp, and started hitting me with it. My younger brother started screaming, which distracted them, so I got a chance to escape, possibly with my life. I spent the next six months homeless, trying to heal.
Here we are seventeen years later, and I’d like to tell you that I’ve healed, but the scars are still there. I’ve carried those scars with me, and they’ve affected how I parent my children, the relationships I’ve had, and what I’ve thought about myself.
It’s a never-ending cycle
When my children got old enough to discipline, my first instinct was to spank them. I had grown up with spanking, I didn’t know any other way. That’s the cycle that happens with spanking.
It becomes natural, it’s been engrained in you that physical punishment is the best form of discipline. It’s a cycle that’s hard to break, but for the sake of your children, and their future, you need to break it.
I spanked my children, when they were younger. There I’ve said it out loud. I’ve said it publicly.
Emotions take over
Growing up, I was told how spanking is supposed to work. You sit your child down, tell them what they did wrong, then you spank them. Afterward, you hug them and tell them you still love them.
Spanking rarely works out this way. Usually spanking is done in the heat of the moment, when you’re angry. You hear what your kid did, and you immediately react in a physical way.
The anger takes over, and spanking goes beyond discipline. You want them to feel your pain, you want them to feel your anger. The times that I spanked my children were in anger, not love.
This doesn’t teach your kids a lesson; it terrifies them, and scars them. Spanking taught me to lie to avoid my parent’s anger and the pain their anger brought to my little body. This affected my relationship with my parents in many ways.
One thing we want as a parent is for our children to always be honest and communicate with us. When I was terrified of the physical pain, I never really let my parents know what was going on in my life.
When you don’t have a clue what’s going on with your kids, they could be getting in real trouble and you would never know about it. They wouldn’t tell you because of how you’d react. Being a parent means being there for them when they really need you.
Guys, we have to wake up and break this cycle. If we want our kids to have a better life than we did, we have to change the pattern. Look at how spanking has affected you, is that how you want it to affect your children?
I could list all the scientific evidence, but I don’t need to, I can tell you what spanking does from living through it. There are many ways to discipline your children that don’t involve the emotional scars spanking leaves.
It affects every area of your life
Those scars from spanking carried to other areas of my life. I was quick to anger and impatient. When things didn’t go my way, or something pissed me off, I wanted to react in a physical way.
Those scars also affected my relationships. When my wife and I were first married I struggled with emotional issues. I wanted to tell her what was going on inside, but I didn’t know how to verbalize it.
Instead I had emotional outbursts that involved me restraining myself by kicking over objects. The physical reactions were natural. I was insecure, which lead to jealousy. A lot of fights we had could be traced to how I felt about myself. Those emotional scars kept bleeding.
Talk it out and break the cycle
Let me make it very clear that I do not spank my children now. I broke the cycle; I saw the truth and my eyes were opened. I saw how it affected my life and I didn’t want my boys to deal with those scars in their lives.
If you have those emotional scars too, talk to someone. It can be a professional or someone you’re close to, but don’t hold it all inside. The sooner you can get what’s inside of you out, the sooner you can begin the healing process.
Study the research for yourself, but listen to what logic is telling you, listen to what your heart is telling you. You are your best children’s best chance of a better future than you had. Break the cycle.
How has spanking affected your life?