Dear Mamma (an open letter to those who spank)

Dear Mamma who spanks (or swats, or hits),

I know we sit on different sides of the same coin.  The slightly tarnished, well-worn coin of parental discipline.  Chances are one, or both of us, sit on the same side as our parent and even their parents parents.  It is hard to flip to a new side.  We both love our children deeply.  I don’t deny that the sun rises and sets in your baby’s eyes as it does mine.

You worry about the future.  What will this crazy world hold for them in five, ten, or twenty years?   We hold the responsiblity for all of their triumphs and failures.  They are burned inside our hearts forever, even if they don’t truly belong to us, they will live there.

I agree with you that our babes need boundaries.  They need parents, not friends.  Someone who is firm and clear about what is safe and acceptable behavior.  Out of respect to them we must show them that we are the calm, loving and leading adult in charge.  Out of respect for them we must give them freedom within clear limits.

I agree they need to know who the ‘adult’ is.  But…what is an ‘adult’?  If we want them to grow to be a certain type of ‘adult’ then we must model this for them now.  Our hopes for their future must be reflected in the actions we take today.

I hope that when my boy is grown he will be full with the intrinsic understanding of his own value.  As an adult in his life I grow this by showing unconditional love and understanding, I love him now so he can love himself later.

I hope that my boy will be able to navigate the world using reasoning and critical thinking skills that guide him into making good choices.  My job as an adult is to allow him to explore things safely, have some control over his world and let natural consequences teach him as they may.  As he gets older I will be able to discuss more and will allow him to join in the analysis of his own trials of life.

I hope he will be deeply emotionally intelligent, with an ability to express his own feelings and needs.  I hope he will receive others with empathy, love and understanding.  I teach this now by giving him words to express what he feels and listening for the need/emotion behind his behavior.  I do my best to express my self and my feelings clearly to him.  I apologize if I am wrong.

I hope he will respect others so I respect him now.

I hope he will be gentle and kind so I am gentle now.

I am far from perfect.  Everyday I work toward being a better Mamma.  I know you do too.  I have bad days, I get too angry.  I lose my way and expect developmentally inappropriate things. I don’t always say the right thing and some nights I go to bed wishing I could do the whole day over. This, for me, is why I choose not to spank.  I can’t give myself an option that I don’t feel comfortable modeling.  I can’t do something I wouldn’t want him to do to others.

So you see I am worried too.  I hear you saying you are scared about what will happen if you don’t use firm enough discipline.  I hear you saying you are wonder how anything else might work.  I understand that you were raised with spanking and you love your parents.

Everyday is new with our child.  We have every opportunity to do what is best, to build the best relationships possible.  This is why I practice (and believe me everyday I am just practicing!) compassionate parenting. We can let go of the stress of punishing and controlling our babes and move towards the teaching of life lessons and compassion that will truly make a difference.

Our parenting today will simply be a shadow of the adult they become.  A soft whisper that speaks only to the deeply quiet parts of their souls.  A script they can barely hear that will color everything they do.  I hope I can leave my boy with a heart full of love.
With respect for all Mammas out there,


6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Gmalisa
    Feb 09, 2012 @ 06:45:11

    I’m starting to learn from (and appreciate) your posts Missy! Now….if you could teach me how to be a Gramma (without making the boy sad without never telling him no) we’d be golden! 🙂


  2. Rochelle
    Feb 09, 2012 @ 12:05:55

    We can let go of the stress of punishing and controlling our babes and move towards the teaching of life lessons and compassion that will truly make a difference.

    Wise words. I’m lucky my mum-in-law practices this approach and she’s my inspiration when disciplining my toddler. Thank you for sharing.


  3. Elizabeth Winston
    Feb 09, 2012 @ 17:00:41

    Fabulous and so well written! Love you.


  4. gmalisa
    Feb 12, 2012 @ 07:10:42

    I think the trouble is….I always want him to have fun and be happy, but I want to enforce rules without making him give me “that look” (the, “really Gramma, you gonna make me do that”?!). I know that was part of the deficit I had with the girl (even though she has turned out amazing!). How do you find that “happy medium”? Lately I’ve kind of been making a “game” of it. But I’m not sure tha.t’s the correct approach, but I don’t want to be the hard a**. Any ideas?


    • melissacady
      Feb 27, 2012 @ 04:15:09

      At their age they need boundaries set in a calm, firm and gentle way. If you are enforcing a rule because of his safety or because you know something goes beyond your own personal tolerance level (i.e. if he continues to throw the signed Dodger baseball it may get ruined and you and your hubby will be upset) then it is well within your duties as his loving caregiver to do so. As much as you want to give him everything, if he never gave you the look he would never feel there are limits and would end up respecting and trusting you less. Calm words like “Grandma can’t let you throw the vase, but we can go throw a ball.” will help him and you. You never need to yell at him and will end up less frustrated in the end. Good luck!


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