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Mum describes devastating moment she decided to never spank her son again - and it broke her heart

Mirror logo Mirror 12/02/2018 Joshua Barrie
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A mum who grew up in 'the heart of spanking culture' has revealed why she stopped spanking her kids.

Mary Katherine wrote a heartfelt post on Scary Mommy about how she grew up in a small southern town in the US, where hitting children as punishment was commonplace.

Katherine writes that given that smacking was normal when she was a youngster, she thought it reasonable to perpetuate.

"As a child, I knew that if I was gonna do something naughty, I’d better be sneaky or prepare to pick my own switch," Katherine writes.

"I didn’t find myself in the hot seat very often, but I have very intense memories of the few times I did. I remember walking the long, Green Mile to my room in fear, stuffing my pajamas with washcloths, and covering my butt with my hands while screaming for a last second reprieve.

"Honest to God, the memories make me sick to my stomach."

Katherine goes on to explain that she never really considered the long-term impact spanking had on her until she herself became a mother.

She says: "It was my first night home from the hospital with my baby boy, and I had been in the rocking chair for hours.

"There he was, a seven pound human, snoring quietly against my chest. In that moment, I was struck by how profoundly helpless this baby was in my arms, and what an incredible responsibility motherhood was going to be.

"I still can’t tell you where it came from, but as the tears streamed down my face, I leaned in and whispered, 'Mommy will never lay a hand on you, I promise'."

But years later, Katherine adds, she smacked her son for the first time. She describes it as a 'visceral reaction' – something that happened in the heat of the moment.

The mum says she was angry, grabbed her son's arm, and 'struck his butt'. She says she can still remember the look on his face: "one of confusion, anger, and betrayal".

"I instantly justified the choice in my mind because this is what parents are supposed to do, right?," writes Katherine. "Tough love, even when it feels wrong?"

Katherine says she believed in the logic that 'this hurts me more than it hurts you' – a sort of double punishment for she and her son.

She writes that she believed herself when she told herself she hated hitting for punishment, but physical discipline was a viable and effective punishment in order to bring up kids correctly.

But Katherine says she realised something; an unavoidable irony: "His behavior didn’t improve by spanking. In fact, it worsened.

"My boy was physically escalating conflicts, and one particular day, he lashed out and hit his little sister. I was so horrified that my son would do that, and I raised my voice to let him know it.

"'We do NOT hit in this family, son. You know better!'

"With tears in his eyes, my son gritted his teeth and yelled back, 'But Mommy, you hit me!'

"My son was right…and it broke my heart. That was the first time I was confronted with the logical fallacy of spanking.

"I comforted my son until he scampered back to whatever toy he had been playing with, but for the rest of the day there was a heavy feeling in my gut, and growing conviction that what I had done to my child was wrong. Deeply wrong."

Katherine says she and her husband talked long and hard about their parenting methods that evening. Both come from 'spanking households', but thought to change. Both thought it abusive.

Katherine says: "We discovered that the scientific community agrees that spanking is not only ineffective, but also harmful.

"That the large body of evidence proves that physical punishment – including spanking, hitting, and other means of causing pain – can lead to increased aggression, antisocial behavior, and even mental health problems for children."

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Katherine concludes that admitting she was wrong was a 'tough pill to swallow'. She knew she'd harmed her children, and had attributed it to her cultural and moral justifications.

She says a simple parenting technique has since stayed with her. A book asks:

"Is the child old enough to understand reason? Yes? Then reason with them.

"No? Then they’re not old enough to understand why you’re spanking them."

Read Katherine's full blog here.

Related: 10 Parenting Tips From Around the World That Will Make Your Jaw Drop (Provided by POPSUGAR)

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