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I Got Busted Spanking in Suburbia

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Attention white people, we spank our kids. And I'm not going to be ashamed of it anymore.

woman with crying child

Kimberly Seals Allers: My parents spanked me. In fact, spanking is really your term, not ours--We got beatings. Straight up. And before you call the local child welfare bureau, let me explain.

My Mom and Dad beat with love. They'd sit you down and explain why you were going to get it, how much it hurt them more than it hurt you and then one of them would give it to you. Afterward, my mom would hug you, tell you that she loved you and leave you there to whimper and sniff yourself to sleep.

It was discipline with love, not child abuse. A few years ago when Jamie Foxx, while accepting a groundbreaking Oscar, thanked him grandmother for beating him and keeping him straight, white folks went crazy. But black people completely understood. We know how our mamas, grandmamas, and aunties beat us with love -- and then sent us outside to walk it off!

Until recently, I've never had to spank my children. But I've never ruled it out of my parenting playbook. The Bible says, 'spare the rod and spoil the child,' and I never claim to be wiser than Him.

Up until recently, I've only used the belt as a "memory enhancer." For example, sometimes at night they forget they were told to be quiet, go to sleep and stop talking, playing, or asking for a drink of water. At this point, I simply take out the belt, drape it over their doorknob and magically they remember what they were told to do. Amazing!

However, a few months ago, I spanked my daughter for the first time. Not a beating like I got, but about three "licks" because she had (very, very surprisingly) done something that really crossed the line. And I really needed her to get the point that this was beyond unacceptable.

I did exactly as my mother had done, lovingly explaining to her while holding her in my arms why she about to get it.

I took a deep breath.

I didn't think I could, but now I had to keep my word, at least for one lick.

My daughter, being a tween dramatic expert, started screaming as if she was getting a real beating, like I used to get. The noise began well before contact was ever even made. Even then, I only gave her one spank.

It never dawned on me that the bedroom window was half open.

Apparently, a neighbor heard her Oscar-worthy performance. Oy vay! And not even a real neighbor, but the not too respectable live-in boyfriend of my actual neighbor (you know the kind that is never seen without a beer in hand) Apparently, he told another neighbor that I beat my kids and he was watching me.

Thankfully everyone on my block sees me bike riding with my kids, skateboarding with my kids, pulling them in a wagon for nightly summertime strolls, and otherwise actively engaged with my children and knew not to pay the beer guy any mind. But it really bothered me!

The funny part is that when I told my black girlfriends, who also live in white suburbia, what happened, their first response was, "Girl, you should know to close the windows and turn the TV or radio on! What were you thinking?"

Apparently, I had broke the "how to spank your kids around white people rules" and didn't even know it. Why didn't I get the memo?

Which made me think, why do we hide that we spank with love from the world? I'm not talking about spanking with anger or any abuse. But I am talking about old-fashioned values and respect and a good tap of the "memory box" when all else fails. Somehow the good of a well-deserved beating got tossed in with the bad, and then all beatings became a dirty word. A sinful parenting act. And I just don't agree.

Our parents weren't perfect, but I will tell you this: I was respectful and obedient, I knew I would have to work hard to get over on my parents, and whenever I thought of acting a fool (from misbehaving at school, underage drinking or sneaking out as a teen) -- the fear of my Mom or Dad getting me good was a powerful motivator to keep me straight! Plus, I had a healthy respect of all authority figures, which has served me well in life.

There's something to be said for that.

In fact, when black people hear white kids rudely talk back to their parents, cursing at their parents or otherwise being disrespectful, we just can't believe it. We think something is wrong with y'all for tolerating that from your kids. (Yes, I said it)

As a new generation of black parents, I see my fellow modern mamas trying to blend a little of the old school with new school ideas of more communication, greater expression, and even a little negotiation (I said a little).

But I don't want to hide that discipline and respect are important to me. And if other means aren't working, I'm definitely willing to lovingly go there. I will however, always close the window.

next: Observations from My Own Front Line
132 comments so far | Post a comment now
Sara December 11, 2009, 3:27 AM

You were hitting your child so hard that the neighbors could hear and hitting them with a belt?

I love you so I hit you, with a belt?

Don’t get it.

Rachel December 11, 2009, 3:32 AM

You’re going to get lots of “don’t spank” comments, sure. I’ll bet you even get some from a few black people. What makes you think white people don’t spank their kids? BTW, I’m white, and my mom referred to spankings as “beating,” also. Don’t know what makes you think this is a black/white thing, but then again, the conclusions you draw about many things are kind of out in left field half the time.

Anonymous December 11, 2009, 4:36 AM

Ummm whatever you have to tell yourself to justify.

PlumbLucky December 11, 2009, 4:47 AM

I don’t care what color you happen to be, if I hear your child backtalking and acting the fool, and you’re accepting it, I wonder what kind of poor parent you are.

does spanking really help December 11, 2009, 6:00 AM

I really don’t understand why you are making this a black or white issue. It kills me when black people claim “racism” yet are’nt you doing the exact same thing when you’re describing your not so real neighbor “you know the kind never seen without a beer in hand” are you imply that he is some kind of white redneck? Anyhow, back to the spanking…if spanking really does kept your children in line, why are there some many black men in jail? Is that because it really doesn’t work or is that just the white man holding you down. As far as I can tell there are teenagers that are black/white/hispanic/chinese etc that are rude, disrespectful and just all around obnoxious who are being raised by parents who spank and parents who dont’ spank. I don’t think you could say that spanking will prevent your child from grow up being a brat but it will certainly have your child grow up with anger issues. Oh, and by the way I know white people who spank their kids. It is NOT a black / white issue.

John December 11, 2009, 6:01 AM

We’re white and we spank. [Sounds like a bumper sticker]

Please read, *then* post. The neighbors heard her daughter throwing a fit, not the belt. In suburbia today, you can hear your neighbor’s cell phone ring.

Kelly December 11, 2009, 6:38 AM

I’m sorry, I didn’t realize I stumbled onto child beaters anonymous.

Renee December 11, 2009, 7:03 AM

Well, in my white suburbia life we spank right out in public. Since when did spanking become a racial issue?!

Barb December 11, 2009, 7:45 AM

I just don’t think teaching violence is a good parenting tactic. It IS possible to have well-behaved children without “beating” them. Even so, I can ALMOST understand spanking young children, but whacking on teenagers isn’t showing them love; it’s just showing them that you have no other means to get your message across. So how do you think they’re going to respond to their peers?

white mommy with beer in hand who spanks December 11, 2009, 8:03 AM

Kimberly, I challenge you to write an article that does not involve race. Please.

D December 11, 2009, 8:40 AM

Kimberly… if you are interested in issues related to race, you should educate yourself on Dr. Joy DeGruy’s studies and Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome. You may re-think your thoughts on spankings.

Brooke December 11, 2009, 8:45 AM

I can understand spanking, I was spanked as a child, though not with a belt! I just don’t understand why you make all of your articles into “us” vs. “them” essays. They are always about “this is how we do it and this is how they do it or don’t understand”.

this is rediculous December 11, 2009, 9:22 AM

Wonder how many of these “well disciplined” spanking victims grow up to commit violent crimes? These types of disciplinary techniques are great in the short run, but do not foster “respect” as you proclaim…only fear. If you’re comfortable with this then so be it.

this is ridiculous December 11, 2009, 9:23 AM

Wonder how many of these “well disciplined” spanking victims grow up to commit violent crimes? These types of disciplinary techniques are great in the short run, but do not foster “respect” as you proclaim…only fear. If you’re comfortable with this then so be it.

Coral December 11, 2009, 9:25 AM

I really like how this article opens up with Hey White People.. you know it’s only racist when you use the term Black. Only in America. I bet she’s on welfare too!

April December 11, 2009, 9:31 AM

Be quiet Nae Nae or is it La’Quesha! Why do black people always gotta throw the race card! Now you can be in jail with your baby daddy

Arani December 11, 2009, 9:34 AM

Let me preface my thoughts with this: SPANKING SHOULD BE THE LAST RESORT. I was spanked as a child, and when necessary, I spank my child. That comes after I have talked to, taken away priviledges, and handed out punishment. Also, this is not a black or white thing…where I grew up and where I live now, I have seen ALL races spank their children in public. As for the very ignorant comment about why so many black men are in jail…I don’t even know why you brought that up. There are PLENTY of people in jail who were raised in a good home with values and parents who loved them and disciplined them (spanking or not) who chose to make their own decisions when they got older which landed them in jail. Furthermore, she didn’t imply at all that her neighbor was a redneck just that he was not respectable. That’s how you took it. Your post sounds like the pot calling the kettle black to me.

Ava December 11, 2009, 9:37 AM

This is really racist Momlogic! I wonder if Momlogic would publish an open letter to Blacks- of course not! They don’t want Blacks to get

does spanking really help December 11, 2009, 10:01 AM

Arani - The reason I bought up the question as to why are there so many black men in jail is because she said “When black people hear white kids rudely talk back to their parents, cursing at their parents or otherwise being disrespectful, we just can’t believe it. We think something is wrong with y’all for tolerating that from your kids. (Yes, I said it) Well, My point is that if beating your kids is the right or best way to raise your children, then you would think that all young black children should know right from wrong by time they are an adult and should not have issues with being in jail or prison. If you think that my opinion is incorrect, then you have to also believe that beating your children is the best way to raise your children is incorrect. I agree with you that good parents can raise good kids who make bad choices and end up in jail. My whole objection to her post is that she took the issue of spanking and turned it into a issue to speak badly of white people. I think this woman is a racist and I won’t spend anymore time reading her posts.

Anonymous December 11, 2009, 10:35 AM

I was excited to read this article, then after clicking on it and reading it, was very annoyed. Would momlogic post anything that started off with, “attention black people?” No, because this nation is hyper-sensitive to black people. I for one will not read anymore of her articles, and suggest that anyone who feels that her articles are one sided do the same. I showed this article to my class, to prove that ignorance is still out in the world.

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