Flashback: With a stick

Once upon a time, there was a police officer who went to our church who had a nice tip for parents who believe in corporal punishment. “Use a ping-pong paddle. It hurts but it doesn’t leave a mark.”

Flashback Friday buttonToday Linda asks… Were your parents strict, permissive, or somewhere in-between when you were growing up? Did you tend to be compliant or rebellious? What did you tend to get in trouble for doing? How did your parents discipline/punish you…

My parents believed in corporal punishment. We were spanked when we disobeyed–sometimes with a hand, sometimes with a ping-pong paddle (yes, if that happened to be handy), but most often with a wooden spoon from the kitchen.

I don’t remember any specific instances of being spanked–although I know that I was probably spanked rather often, at least as a young child.

The one spanking memory that I do have actually turns the tables a bit.

I remember the time we kids spanked my dad.

Dad had gotten home from the store and was bringing in his purchases when something was discovered to be missing. I’m not sure what it was, but it must have been something that was pretty desirable to us kids. Maybe candy or something like that.

Anyway, Dad couldn’t find it anywhere, so he launched an investigation of us kids. I’m not sure what the investigation entailed–but I do know that Dad got pretty steamed. I don’t think he spanked anyone because of the incident, but I could be wrong.

At any rate, we kids were held responsible for this missing item, which Dad later found. When Dad found it, he realized that the fault was his.

So he gathered the kids together, took us outside and showed us what had happened. And then he put his hands on the top of the zucchini car (our station wagon), bent over, and invited us kids to spank him for punishing us (or yelling at us or whatever) for his own wrongdoing. And so we did, lining up for a chance to smack Dad’s butt (we used our hands.)

I don’t remember any form of punishment other than spanking being used until we were old enough for grounding from friend’s houses to be an option.

In this day and age, I think most people would consider that sort of scheme abusive. But really, even if our family might sometimes SOUND abusive, it certainly was not.

Two of our favorite games to play with Dad had names that sounded abusive. “Kicks in the Butt” and “Chasing around the yard with a stick.”

“Kicks in the Butt” were offered as inducement to do some small task. “I’ll give you a kick in the butt if you…fetch me a glass of water” for example. “Kicks in the Butt” involved Dad picking one or another of us up and lightly kicking our backsides with his knee, causing us to swing back and forth in his arms. We loved it.

“Chasing around the yard with a stick” was a common cure for cabin fever, more often known as “You kids are driving me UP THE WALLS” (an exclamation occasionally heard from Mom after a long day homeschooling a half dozen squabbling children.) When Dad saw that Mom had had enough and needed the house to herself, he’d have us children bundle up and we’d go outside where he’d “chase us around the yard with a stick.” He took a pencil in hand, and off we all went, running and laughing that Dad couldn’t possibly catch us.

Those were games, not discipline. Dad’s kicks and sticks were fun, not fury.

Really, the primary form of discipline in our home was what my Grandma Menter (deep in the throughs of dementia) termed “beating religion into their heads.”

Again, the term is a complete misnomer. Religion wasn’t taught us by beatings–it was taught by modeling. We learned to obey, not because we were compelled by a stick, but because we were drawn by love–love for God, love for our parents, love for one another.

My story of spanking Dad is a metaphor for what “beating religion into their heads” looked like. It looked like my parents humbling themselves, even before their children, modeling Christ-likeness and urging us to follow after the same God they served.

And ultimately, it was not a stick but a carrot–the grace of God bestowed on sinners such as we–that taught us discipline.

Hear about how other people were punished/disciplined with Mocha with Linda’s Flashback Friday Meme

4 thoughts on “Flashback: With a stick”

  1. my parents used corporal punishment and I don’t think I was abused. I also use it where necessary. My children were not abused. They are learning a deep respect for obedience. They know we love them and only want to form the best character possible. Sounds like you had a wonderful childhood!


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