Last week, Tamera Jo Freeman, 38, was arrested for allegedly abusing her two children on a Frontier flight from San Francisco to Denver. Witnesses said that Freeman appeared intoxicated when she slapped her children, ages 2 and 4, repeatedly on the legs, arms and shoulders, as well as cursed at them. She was also charged with interfering with a flight crew after a flight attendant intervened and Freeman allegedly threw a drink at her and followed her into the aisle yelling in a threatening manner.
Freeman’s behavior was clearly out of line. Since Freeman was flying from California, the story made me think of California assemblywoman Sally Lieber’s anti-spanking bill earlier this year. Lieber attempted to make spanking a child under 3 years of age a criminal offense in California.
My parents spanked my siblings and me, and simple spanking didn’t leave any long-lasting scars on our psyches. I think kids need to be swatted on the ass once in a while. (Hell, I think some adults need to be swatted on the ass once in a while.)
By definition, spanking is swatting a child’s bum with an open hand. I really can’t define this type of spanking as abusive. However, spanking with a belt or paddle or punching your kid is abuse. “Spanking” a baby is abuse. Leaving bruises and breaking bones is abuse. But people who claim that simple spanking is abusive probably need to spank their little brats.
Has anyone else noticed the demise of well-behaved children? Every day I see children demanding, commanding and talking back to their parents and ignoring what they’re told. I hear parents tell their children, “no,” and the kid looks at his mother and goes right on doing what she told him not to — or he starts screaming in the middle of a store. Then these kids grow into teenagers and become even more heinous. They not only talk back to their parents, but they also disrespect their teachers and anyone else with whom they come into contact. Then they become adults who slack off at work because they never expect a pink slip. And the reason for this is that blasted form of “discipline” known as time out.
I first heard of time out when I was about 12. I babysat for some former hippy-turned-yuppy people who gave their children time out at the dining room table when they misbehaved. I was confused by this form of discipline. Time out from what? What is the lesson learned from time out? What’s so bad about time out? You have to sit at the table for 15 minutes? Who cares. I’ll tell ya what’s bad: Acting like a jerk when you have a slumber party and refusing to listen to your mother, then getting spanked in front of your 8-year-old friends. Another thing that’s bad is when you say a very naughty word and your mother scrubs a bar of soap all over your teeth. You’ll be spitting bubbles for two days.
Were those punishments abusive? No. They were punishments that taught me what I shouldn’t do. And I certainly never again acted like a jerk in front of my friends or said that very naughty word aloud. Of course, I said other naughty words, so I did get the soap a few more times. The only lasting result of that, though, is I won’t buy gold-colored bars of soap.
Had my mother given me time out for acting like a jerk or swearing, I would have acted like a jerk and sworn the very next day. Time out is no consequence for bad behavior. Kids need a consequence they dread, fear a little, something they don’t want to happen and that they care if it does. It’s like if they touch a hot stove and get burned; next time, they know that if they touch the hot stove the consequence is that they will get burned.
Children need to learn that there are consequences for their actions. They need to learn to think before they do something and carefully consider the consequences. Learning to think this way will help them throughout their lives: What would happen if I told my boss to suck it? What would be the consequence of ignoring a police officer trying to pull me over? What if I just took something from a store because I wanted it? I'm reasonably certain that the consequences of these actions are more than a time out.
Trust me, when I was growing up, before I did something forbidden, I always weighed whether it was worth the spanking. Sometimes it was, sometimes it wasn’t. But having the spanking hanging over my head sure made me think before I misbehaved. These lessons served me well; as an adult, I consider the consequences of my actions and am prepared to face those consequences.