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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
tennmom December 11, 2009, 1:52 PM

I first want to say that as far as the Bible is concerned, none of us have a way of knowing if what is written in it is actually the words of God. The Book was written by hand so many times, we can’t be sure how many times or how many ways it was revised by the person/people making the copy.
I am white and grew up in the deep South during the “smack your kid”70’s. Heh, even our friend’s parents would smack you one if they thought you needed it or deserved it.
My daughters are 9 & 11. I swatted them on the behind a few times when they were younger if they did something to physically hurt another child or did something that could have caused themselves harm.
My girls probably would prefer for me to still give them a swat, but instead, I take away that cell phone/ipod,”ban” them from tv/computer, sit them in a chair facing the wall in the dining room for 10 minutes.
I can’t remember the last time someone hit me and I thought “Hey, I’ll straighten up now”. Being hit has always pi$$ed me off.

Bonnie December 11, 2009, 1:52 PM

Spanking is a healthy “tool” in the toolbox of discipline techniques, but like with anything else, there is a right way and a wrong way to use the “tool”! Spanking is for children who are immature in their reasoning and need a clear punishment for their misbehavior. Ex. a 2 1/2 year old colors on the walls after being warned that isn’t proper behavior. They aren’t old enough to make the connection of a toy being taken away as punishment. A spanking is a clear and memorable consequence! Also, it should NEVER be done in public!!! Why embarass your child? Done with love and understanding, it really is one of the most beneficial things you can do for your YOUNG children. It is not appropriate at all for older kids! There are much better ways once they have developed their reasoning abilities. Also, I really take issue with the term “beating”. It is hard for kids, and adults for that matter, to think of the act of spanking as a loving thing when you call it a beating. Just my thoughts…White Mom of 4.

Susie December 11, 2009, 2:58 PM

Momlogic come on!

Anonymous December 11, 2009, 3:43 PM

I’ve been teaching for twenty years. I can say without a doubt that the best behaved kids in all my classes (hundreds if not thousands of them) are not spanked. The kids that are constantly out of line grew up in households that used spankings.

Period… end of discussion

Shaunta December 11, 2009, 4:03 PM

I spank my children when i see fit, not all the time though and it is very rare. I am a black mother and I have white friends who spank their children too so i think it is a sterotype thats being passed around saying white people dont spank or give beatings.

friend December 11, 2009, 4:04 PM

it’s funny why people commenting why this is a black/white issue. IT IS!!! is there child abuse laws in africa?? south america?? obviously, people here who disagrees with harsh discipline do not have to deal with troubled children or choose to ignore and accept. as the author had put it, this is far from child abuse but how many truly understands that concept and not mistake it for the other? of course, it’s not right to beat a child because he/she made you angry. but after you have exerted your best efforts to teach and discipline the right values into them and when push comes to shove, it’s understandable the a loving parent would try to take things into their own hands before they bring in higher officials to lock them away. if people are so against violence, it shouldn’t matter whether they are children or adults and there shouldn’t be war. so don’t preach like you’re an angel that you aren’t.

i say kudos to the author for giving tough love.

Chrissy December 11, 2009, 4:48 PM

So spanking is okay if you’re black because is a cultural thing.
And black people defended Michael Vick because dog fighting is popular in rural black culture.
Unbelievable the excuses people will use to justify their wrongs.
Wrong is wrong no matter who is doing it.

Savvy December 11, 2009, 6:08 PM

Woman, don’t believe the hype….they KNOW what we mean when we say, “White People, we WHOOP OUR kids!”

I too, whoop my child…and I don’t apologize for it. I also don’t play the okie doke either. We’ve been given the “Beaver” or “Brady” version of ParentHood for so long, that people actually have the nerve to ask, “What do you mean by saying there is a DIFFERENCE in the parenting styles of White People and Black People?”

Puuuuuuuuulease: Do you all really have to ask, “Why Bring Race Into It????” REALLY? What world are YA’LL livin in? The fact that I can STILL read comments to this post that say “violence isn’t the way” says it all.

When you discipline your child and teach them the difference between right and wrong, that isn’t ParTaking in violence; that’s doing what you were instructed to do by the Most High HimSelf, who gives all the chances in the world, by the way. If the LORD can ReCognize that kids will act a fool, surely you all can too. That is why you were told not to “spare the rod”…and we DO see the difference WithIn a child when that child is allowed to “slide by.”

SomeOne once tried to sell me the “Love and Logic” way and I told them, “Lady, Logic is if I truly Love my child, I’m going to do WhatEver is necessary to guarantee his success AND his discipline.”

I hear from so many parents that whooping our children only instills “fear” WithIn them and to that I say, “Hell Yes! What’s wrong with a little fear?” Wouldn’t it be MORE FearFul for me to let my child run wild and run the risk that the police will show them another brand of discipline? Wouldn’t it be MORE FearFul to let my child go and run the risk that he will grow up pulling Columbine type stunts? Wouldn’t it be MORE Fearful for me to let my child throw tantrums at will and run the risk of him hurting myself and others or at the very least destroying SomeThing important to the both of us?

NO THANK YOU: I’d rather my son get his discipline from me (the mom who loves him), rather than the police, the gangs, any government officials, disease, death or any other bad circumstance who could give a “rats a$$” whether or not he survives.

Kimberly, it’s YOUR child who came through YOUR VaJayJay. When that child crawls back up into somebody else’s “cookie jar” and THEY give birth to her, then they can say what they want to say. But until that time, do what you got to do to raise that baby to be right and ReSpectFul.

Life isn’t an AfterNoon SitCom and our children’s behavior or lack there-of has serious ConSequences. OURS shouldn’t have to be on the five o’clock news just because some grew up truly BELIEVING “Leave It To Beaver” was real.

That’s my Savvy Two-Cents & I’m sticking to it!

LOL…. :-)

Ashley December 11, 2009, 6:46 PM

I am a mother of two mixed children , black and white, I too live in Suberbia a small town suberbia where everyone knows eachother. I agree with you that if the crime fits the punishment then yes kids do need a spanking. Often as a strong white woman I get told you raise your kids just like a black mama. I just am raising them as I was raised and yes my both white parents believed in spankings. My white mom used to carry a plastic or wooden cooking spoon in her purse and show it in public if we started to act up and we knew to get right. I think that bottom line those are your kids and you are the only one responsible for how they turn out in society so do what you think is right and forget what the neighbors think.

Staci December 11, 2009, 7:28 PM

ATTENTION BLACK PEOPLE WHITE PEOPLE SPANK THEIR KIDS ALSO. And I wouldn’t turn you in because you are black. Why is it ok for you to make a racist comment like that? I also will not read articles that are racist against white people. Do you know that the person that turned you in was white? Or just a racist assumption. By the way, I have a half black half mexican daughter in law whom I love because of who she is. And I dated a black man I still consider a great friend. So Don’t turn your hatred of my race into a racist comment. momlogic should not allow anyone to make a racist comment against no matter their race.

PhotoJoe December 12, 2009, 10:42 AM

Children need to make mistakes when they’re still children so they learn consequences while the cost is low. In my kids world the biggest consequence is a spanking, it’s the nuclear option. As an adult a spanking would be considered “getting off easy.”

It’s for when the offense is on a nature that would nab an adult some jail time (violence, criminal acts[theft, arson, vandalism], dangerous negligence, and dangerous recklessness.) Even in most of these cases it’s not used for the first offense. [Theft and vandalism in the examples from above.]

I don’t have to do it often, and that’s a sign that it is effective. A key part of making spanking work as a disciplinary tool, as opposed to being abuse, is communication. The boys know exactly why they’re being spanked BEFORE it’s given and the message is reinforced after it’s given. It’s always with a bare hand, never with any object.

Mely December 12, 2009, 11:21 AM

I am the proud mother of 4 gremlins and I am a proud mother that spanks them when is only necessary. Why people mix beatting with spanking? Is not the same!

Beatting is when you leave bruises,blood AKA abuse. Spanking is a controlled way of physical punishment for a uncalled behavior.And this new pseudo-pshycology that empowers children to have choices, but what choices can make a 7 years old child beside following the parents and school rules? Sadly these days, parents have no power at all thanks to this pseudo-phycologists. You can’t raise youre voice because is abuse,you can’t tel1 them 1 or 2 truths in public (even if the child is worst than Damian) because is abuse and God forbid you spank them because you will scar them for life! But this society don’t see that the fall down of children behavior it’s thanks for stopping the parents authority. 60 or 70 years ago parents spanked their children and nobody looked at them like aliens,the goverment didn’t interfere and what were the results? Children didn’t dare to talk back, they knew how to behave in the home and outside and God forbid to misbehave in school!

That’s another thing,today children thinks that they can do whatever they feel toward teachers.From beating or even killing the teachers! What kind of society we are? In this subject I remember last year my 9 year old son (then 8) forgot the cardinal rule for school:Respect you teachers 300% of the time. One day I got a phone call from school.When I showed up, my son was in the principal’s office in detention because he tought that he was bigger than the teacher and when the teacher told him to stop talking he answered “no”.When we got back to the house, I explained to him the importance of behaving in school and his punishment.That day I didn’t layed a finger on him, but 3 weeks later it looked that the message didn’t went thru and I received another phone call from school and this time was worst than the first time. When I got my son and sat down with him and explained again why he have to repect teachers and why he would get the spanking.That part he didn’t liked and me neither. I don’t like to spank my children but I prefer one spanking now and get the message home that you have to respect authority and society rules than see one of my children in a orange jumpsuit or been killed in a gang war. And the end of all this, I made my child give his word that he never again he would misbehave and I made him give a public apology to his teacher.

Now,talking about race and the differences in how different sides think about the spanking concept because the article pinpoint at this subject, when my 2 white friends knew what I did to my son they almost got a heart attack, specially with the spanking/apology part. They asked me how I could humilliate my son making him say a public apology to his teacher. Well,you know what, thats the point. I want him to feel shame of his behavior because in a couple of years down the road if he don’t follow the rules he will be shamed in a court of law.
After this incident with my son he never again got a problem in school and was the last spank that I gave him and I hope the last.

I am hispanic and I have friends from different cultural backgrounds.I have friends from Palestine,Israel (believe me,they don’t fight),China,Thailand,Africa plus my white and african americans friends and the only one that I see against spanking are the whites.
For example of these two white friends. 1 have 2 children:10 year old boy and a 7 year old girl. The boy’s mouth is worst than my garbage can. In the way he talks to people it’s horrible and my friend the only thing that she tells him is “Your not suppouse to talk like that. You have the choice of keeping talking like that and been punished or stop that kind of language”.
That is not a menu,he don’t choose chicken fingers or cheeseburger.He have not bussines talking like that,period! But she’s stuck in giving “choices” because it makes him think what’s best for him.And she don’t? And when she finally punish him,he just go back and do the same thing. The worst is that he tell her in her face “I do what I want and I know you can’t touch me”. If that were my son,Lord have mercy of his soul!I would smack him so hard that his head would be spinning for the rest of his life!

My other white friend have 3 children and the 3 of them looked they been raised in jail.Her oldest is 14,the second 12 and the little one 7. And I really don’t know who is the worst! The 14 year old lives tied up at the cell phone 24/7.4 months ago my friend and her husband received a bill for $700 and when she told her daugther she have to surrender the cell phone, her daugther got the nerve to answer “If you touch my cell phone am gonna beat you ,you piece of s***!” When I heard that I got a massive stroke!I couldn’t believe that a daugther could answer like that to her mother! If I ever dare to answer like that to my mom I know that I would be dead in 10 minutes. And what my friend did with her daugther answer? The girl kept the phone! And in top of that tooked her for “family therapy” and after months in therapy what is the diagnosis?The girl is worst than ever. She told the therapist that she felt sofocated in her house,her parents didn’t understood her and her dreams,that her parents didn’t have enough time for her.Well a whole sob story and the story is a bunch of crap! My friend stopped working because she didn’t want her children in day care and became a stay at home mother (a luxury nowdays). She is the regular mom :picking up her children from school,attending every single school activity,having sleep overs in her house,etc…
Her 12 year old son has been kicked out of school twice!! The first time because he punched a teacher in the face. In that occasion my friend got the nerve to ask what the teacher did to anger her son! Please!!When she told me that I wanted to put her in a straight jacket and dump her in the nearest mental ward! There is not reason on this earth for a student abuse his teacher. And above of all that, the teacher never pressed charges with the police.With that you can see what kind of teacher that man is!The second time he was kicked out because he tried to hit the principal.
The story that all these people say that if you spank your child they will learn to hit doesn’t apply here,because my friend or her husband never spank them and this child thinks that he is Tyson. He see a therapit too, but is just a waste of money and time.
And her 7 year old one day told her if she dared to spank her, she will call 911 because her brother told her so! My little one tell me something like that, I spank him first and the I call 911 myself.
Looking at the other side with my friends that are african americans and they spank their children the story is the opposite. Their children are well behaved. Off course,once in a while they get out of line,that’s normal, but I don’t see the disrespect,the trash language,etc… When their children misbehave,they just give them the LOOK, the one that say “Keep going like that,I’ll get you later” and that’s it! The children knows that they don’t play with mom or dad.The same with my friends from Israel or Thailand. They spank their children and they stay in line.
Like I said before,spanking is not abuse.Abuse is pysical harm,a bruise,pulling hair,kicking,etc…That is TOTALLY unacceptable and uncalled for.Spanking is a controlled way of physical punishment, to let a child know that it’s enough of the bad behavior.

Am not saying in any way that you should spank all the children and all the time.Spanking I see it as the last page when everything else fails or when the aggraviation is way off limits.
Am not attacking either the white moms for not spanking. I know like any other mom in this world they are concerned with their children welfare and they don’t want to harm in any way,shape or form their babies (I will always consider my children as my babies),but sometimes the old school of spanking can be beneficial or necessary.
Let the children love us but let them have a little bit of fear too.One thing don’t cancel the other.

I was raised by my greatgrandmother (she is 98 years old now) and I love her with my whole soul and I thanked her for every time she spanked me because it kept me in line. The last time she spanked me (well,actually she slapped me) I was 16 and I dared to #1 raise my voice at her and #2 I talked back at her. I don’t know what I was thinking that day,but I crossed the line and I got it.Of course that at the moment I tought that she was an abuser, but years and 4 children later I understood her love and dedication.I understand now that the phrase “It will hurt me more than you” is so true! It’s hurt me spank them,more than physically,my heart suffers for them,but is necessary sometimes.

Just as a last note:love you children,but love them in the right way.Sometimes we need “tough love”. I just wrote my personal experience in the spanking chapter. We have to understand that different cultures have different ways to raise children,but we can learn from each other.Not only one community or skin color have all the answers and sometimes is good that a third party that is watching from the outside can point what they think are our mistakes as parent.Maybe they are right,maybe they are wrong,but is always good to receive some kind of input with a open mind and heart because at the end,when we chit chat from mother to mother the goal is the same:we want the best for our children and the neighbors children too.

ps.Sorry for my broken english :)

Gail Cooke December 12, 2009, 2:17 PM

I’m white and I believe in giving kids a swat if they need it. It’s not a racial this just posted to incite a flame war?

Anonymous December 12, 2009, 3:25 PM


Anna December 12, 2009, 11:03 PM

I’ve been teaching for twenty years. I can say without a doubt that the best behaved kids in all my classes (hundreds if not thousands of them) are not spanked. The kids that are constantly out of line grew up in households that used spankings. Period… end of discussion
- Anonymous

What? Did you do a survey at your parent teacher conferences? “I just wanted to ask? do you spank your child?” I was spanked as a child and teachers used to praise me for my classroom behavior.

Jaqueline December 13, 2009, 3:08 PM

You go Nanad! I also pop my kid in the head when he gets out of line. Everyone was raised with different values and parenting skills. DON’T critize my values and parenting skills as I don’t yours. If you don’t like it join the back of the line. For all I know, you might have a long line of haters critiquing your parenting skills. As for race issues, why does everyone have to pull that card out?Labeling “racisit” into everything seems to be right away. If you are calling someone a racisit, look at yourself first. You might be the issue.

April B. December 13, 2009, 3:22 PM

After reading all of these comments, I have to say that this is really out of hand!!! All the back and forth face thing is just crazy. No she should not have played the race card and its is very out of line. But, us as adults should not be so childish to go at it with each other. It juts proves how silly we all are. I sure do woop my kids when its need. And I do know that no matter what race it it calls for it do it, if thats how you raise your children. If thats not how thats not how you do it than don’t. Every house has different rules, no matter what race we are. But we still have to face the fact that some children will do what they want no matter what we do to them, in any race. So all this race thing need sto stop. Cause when it comes down to it, God does not care what color we are!!! Don’t think that our childre are not reading this. CAUSE THEY SURE ARE. Did any one stop to think about that. Are childre are who we are and if we play the race card so will they.

Atheist December 13, 2009, 3:31 PM

Why bring religion into this now?? “God” has nothing to do with race and parenting. It’s ALL about you.

April B. December 13, 2009, 3:38 PM

sorry about the spelling every one i can only type with two fingers but i am sure every knows what i am saying

kiki December 13, 2009, 5:25 PM

I think this country is screwed up why lots of black boys end up in jail and has nothing to do with spanking. Where I come from It was the norm to spank your kids and respecting authority was hardly an issue. Yes I am black ,but my point is, if this country allowed adults to control and not the children then , there would hardly be any of these issues. My son gets spanked for serious wrongdoing and he has never mouthed off at me or allowed to be rude in anyway. I am not saying it may not happen later but it begins from birth. Train your kids right and you will have no problem . My mom raised six kids and to this day not one of us would think of disrespecting anyone older than we were. Its about training them right and ain’t nothing wrong with spanking. it did not drive me or my siblings to commit crimes. Its all about involved parents and training and letting kids know their place as CHILDREN not adults at age 3. but most parents want to be their kids friends.
here are my rules to my son:
YOU shall never say the word Hate to me..i feed you and clothe you
You shall never throw a tantrum in public…
YOU shall speak to me with respect at all times….express yourself with respect i can still hear you
YOU shall do as I say as long as it is the best for you>>>YOU ARE A CHILD
YOU shall have choices as long as it is within good reason
‘YOU shall work your butt off to earn ALL that you have…GOod grades earns you a PSP.
YOU shall lose your most loved items in any instant of wrongdoing with warning of course

there are a lot more. The key is you people need to be the parent, and understand they are the kids.

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