Monday, April 30, 2012

Dear Daniel, (On Discipline and Love)

Welcome to the Spank Out Day 2012 Carnival

This post was written for inclusion in the Second Annual Spank Out Day Carnival hosted by Zoie at TouchstoneZ. Spank Out Day was created by The Center for Effective Discipline to give attention to the need to end corporal punishment of children and to promote non-violent ways of teaching children appropriate behavior. All parents, guardians, and caregivers are encouraged to refrain from hitting children on April 30th each year, and to seek alternative methods of discipline through programs available in community agencies, churches and schools. 

Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

Dear Daniel,

There are a lot of choices in life, and when you're an adult you have both the privilege and burden of making all of life's decisions for yourself. While you're still a child, though, there are a lot of things that get decided for you. I know from experience how hard it can be to not have as many rights as other people, which is why your Papa and I do our best to give you as much freedom, choice, and control as is practical and safe in any given moment.

You get to choose how to use your hands,
just as Papa and I choose how to use ours.
One of the choices Papa and I have as adults (who are parents) is how to discipline you. "Discipline" is a big word and it may sound kind of scary, but its root meaning is "to teach." Among other things, it is a parent's job to teach her children: about respect, rules, safety...about most everything in life.

Papa and I choose to teach you by example: with compassion, empathy, understanding, and most of all, with unconditional love. That means we love you all the time, no matter what.

Some parents decide that the best way to teach their children when they display undesirable behaviors is to spank them. Papa and I both were spanked by our parents when we were children. We have chosen not to spank you.

Spanking is not a very effective form of discipline, but even if it was, Papa and I still wouldn't do it. We wouldn't do it because we believe that hitting is wrong. We believe that violence begets violence, and it's a choice each of us has to make: to perpetuate the cycle or to end it. Hear this, Daniel: it's not alright for anyone to cause you physical pain without your consent—especially not people who love you.

Your body is your own to do with what you want. You get to decide when and how people touch you. You get to say "yes" or "no" to any physical contact, and you can expect others to respect your request. You also get to choose how you will use your body to touch others.

Above all other things, I want to teach you love. I want to show you love in every moment, even—no, especially—in the difficult ones. Those are the times when I'll be there for you most intensely, most steadfastly. I hope that through using my body to show you love (and not pain) you will know best how to use your body to show love and respect for others.

It's your choice, Daniel: how you use your body. I hope you'll choose gentleness, kindness, connection, and respect. I hope you'll choose love.


Spank Out Day 2012 Carnival hosted by TouchstoneZ
On Carnival day, please follow along on Twitter using the handy #SpankOutCar hashtag. You can also subscribe to the Spank Out Day Carnival Twitter List and Spank Out Day Carnival Participant Feed.

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:


  1. What an incredible gift you are giving your son: the strength to decide for himself, knowing that he will be loved and accepted no matter what he decides.

    The issue of bodily autonomy was something I was hoping would be addressed in this carnival and you've done it eloquently. The ability to understand where your body ends and where someone else' right to touch you ends can be undermined just as it is forming in a child's mind. Honoring him in body and emotion through modeling is going to be with him his entire life.

    Thank you for sharing this letter for The Spank Out Day Carnival.

    1. I remember feeling fuzzy on the issue of bodily boundaries as a child, so it's something I'm trying to be very clear about with Daniel: his body, his choice.

      Thank you so much for your words here, Zoie, and thank you also for hosting this important carnival.

  2. yes. simply, yes.

  3. Great post! As someone that spent time involved in the BDSM community, I especially appreciate the way you worded this, "cause you physical pain without your consent."

    I stumble on trying to tell my children that it is not okay for others to touch them (or not to touch themselves in front of others) because I'm hopeful that they'll have happy, healthy sexual relationships in their adult lives. I know that doesn't apply to them now, but I don't like basically saying "never" when... well, its just complicated, you know?

    Sorry, I know this didn't all specifically apply to spanking.

    1. Please don't be sorry, Jorje! I meant for my words here to apply to other parts of life too, including sexuality. Consent really is the key, as plenty of healthy adults enjoy participating in fighting for sport or spanking in "play." Thank you for sharing your perspective.

  4. Oh I love so much about this post!! From the importance of teaching our children that their bodies are worthy of respect, to choosing love - even when it is difficult. So beautiful!

    1. Thank you, Dionna. Bodily autonomy is something I feel so strongly about—I think I might write about it more often!


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