This is for Megamom’s tag :To cane or not to cane?
“My son is severely autistic. I mince no words and tell people that up front. In the wide spectrum called Pervasive Developmental Disorder, my son is at the tail end of the most severely affected and severely limited group. Even now, eight and a half years after diagnosis, my son is, in many ways, still at the far end of the bell curve of normal — a little child trapped in his own world and in his own body. The label, however, is only that: a label. For despite his many disabilities, Alphonse is everything beautiful and hopeful and wondrous in this world.
“My son was violent for close to five years. For a little child no more than 50 pounds in weight, Alphonse had uncontrollable strength that could inflict a most terrible physical pain. He pulled my hair daily for almost three years, no matter how short I wore it. Clumps of hair wrenched violently from my scalp left me bruised for many months after. Many times, too, while he held me down by my hair, he would kick me repeatedly in the chest and abdomen. And when he clamped his little jaws firmly and solidly on my flesh, he tore away more than just flesh; he ripped open my heart.
“Today, I can look back at those times with renewed hope and wonder if all those moments of anguish were simply part of an extended nightmare. For once, I can even joke and laugh about all the times of pain. I can see with clarity the silver lining in the desperation of those months and years and I am all the more thankful that we lived through those trying times. Autism in our lives has brought us to hell and back again.” ~ From “Getting Back the Laughter,” HerWord.com, 19 November 2004
My family and I know firsthand the horror of violence in our home. Late last year, just when we thought that we were over it, my son went on a rampage again. Living under the shadow of anger and pain is a nightmare. The lesson we’ve all learned from all those days and weeks and months and years is unanimously clear: violence is always unacceptable.
Long before marriage, my then-boyfriend-soon-to-be-husband and I agreed that corporal punishment would not be our form of discipline for our children. Truth to tell, our personal experiences completely defined our principles in parenting. I was never spanked or hurt as a child even when my more adventurous younger sister Joee or my two rambunctious brothers often got a swat in their behinds for misbehaving. (I was really a sweet pink girl! J) My husband, the eldest of three and the most precocious, was his mother’s favorite bongo drum. Years later, my mother-in-law would often express regret at having spanked her son, even when he turned out perfectly normal and adjusted. “There is no excuse for hitting in anger,” she would often say.
And we agree.
There are many reasons NOT to beat or slap or swat or spank a child, just as there are many other ways to instill discipline with love. (For our eldest, we use positive reinforcement coupled with a token economy system; our youngest son thrives on positive reinforcement and extinction for more aggressive behaviors.) Ours is made even simpler by the circumstances we live in: having been on the receiving end of Alphonse’s anger, we know how pain feels firsthand. Why would we wish it intentionally on someone we love?
Just a couple of resources to look at :
Spare the Rod, Spare the Child at http://www.thenewhomemaker.com/node/697
The Center for Effective Discipline http://www.stophitting.com/
Since I don’t have anyone to tag (except maybe Leirs, mare, a little help, please?), I leave it to readers to ponder on the question with the hope that they will find compassion in their hearts for the littlest and weakest of our society, our children.