To spank or not spank our children? Your answer now, your beliefs about spanking children, is a predictor of whether or not there will be abusive arguments between you and your spouse throughout your relationship.
This is an essential conversation topic to having during an engagement. You, as the guardian of the safety of your child, need to make a decision, now.
It's a decision* (an agreement you must insist upon), one that requires impeccable integrity because you will definitely be tested as to your resolve. Will you make your security, having a roof over your head for another 24-hours, and any reason your mind can manufacture, more important than the safety of your child?** Your intended already, intuitively, knows whether you can be trusted to adamantly enforce a no-physical-abuse agreement, just as they intuit that you will forgive cheating (read, Creating a Marriage Agreement that Precludes Cheating). A test is the respect with which they relate with you and how they handle their knee-jerk unconscious abuses (verbal and non-verbal) with you and both sets of parents.
- For example: If you are verbally abusive to your parents in front of your date and he/she condones the abuse by silence (often so as to not cause you stop seeing them or, to cause you to withhold sex/affection) then you know they will eventually be abusive to you.
Once hitting takes place neither the child nor the hitter is ever the same; the child operates from fear—for life—possibly acting tough but underneath is a fearful child. Yes, an angry head-slap or arm-jerk is abuse.*** A hitting parent no longer knows for certain whether their child is behaving and succeeding from choice or from fear of being punished, of disappointing their parent(s). Verbal/physical abuse begins to create an imperceptible distance between the abuser and the child; the child distances him/herself ever so slightly in anticipation of possible abuse, spontaneity is diminished. Unresolved/unacknowledged abuse causes a breakdown in communication, often for life.
An aware teacher can tell if a child is being abusively yelled at or hit at home. A child who has been abusively yelled at or hit at home carries the fear with them daily, they look somewhat shut down, bound up, less alive, comparatively less happy (it's an aura thing, it's written on their face). Compared with other children a yelled at, or hit child is comparatively less spontaneous. Typically a happy (spontaneous) child is said to be precocious (usually not a flattering adjective, never-the-less accurate). Such a child has no problem interrupting adults as adult do with each other; no fear of being made wrong, and most importantly, unabashedly willing to put in correction when adults are wrong.
Non-verbal communications and misbehaving (even getting sick) are the only ways a child knows how to bring to someone's attention that there's something wrong at home; the experience of communication is missing. An abused child can't totally be with school subject matter because his/her mind is partially occupied (still processing) the last abuse; it (their mind) is fearful of the possibility of more to come when they get home. Like a beaten dog, the child continually forgives and makes excuses for the parent's anger, honestly believing they deserve to be yelled at or hit.
Adults resort to abuse when they've lost their ability to cause desired behaviors verbally using their leadership communication skills. Most often a parent will spank their child rather than acknowledge that something about their leadership-communication skills have caused their child to "misbehave." In other words, the child gets hit (blamed) for the parent's inability to produced desired behaviors without hitting. Ironically, the abuse, the yelling or hitting, is not the worst part of the problem; what's worse is that the parents hide the fact that they are addicted to abusive yelling, this verges on evil because each day they submit their child to 24 more hours of abuse. A child can remember back when they were loved and adored; they honestly think they did something to cause the parents to mistreat them and each other.
Most abuse happens when a parent is carrying around anger left over from previous interactions, in which case a parent unconsciously (not by choice) lashes out verbally or non-verbally (physically) in anger. The leftover anger is most always about something similar from the parent's own childhood or, a less-than-satisfying interaction with his/her spouse.
Perhaps you grew up in a household where spanking was considered abusive so you might consider spanking an abusive no no. Have you communicated to your fiancé your beliefs about spanking? Communicated is entirely different than telling, advising, discussing, informing. It comes across as a deal-breaking ultimatum. i.e. "Never, for any reason! Can we agree that hitting/spanking our child is the same as insisting upon a divorce, with absolutely no second chances?" A smart follow-up question is: "Have you ever hit or unconsciously intended (caused) someone to hit you?"
Just what are you going to do if your spouse yells abusively at, or spanks, your child? Again, your answer now determines what problems you will generate during your marriage. Actually, the question should read: What do you presently think you'll do if your spouse hits your child? I say "think" because most spouses are unaware that they have been programmed to put up with verbal and non-verbal abuse and so they unconsciously chose a partner equally addicted to abuse (to abusing and being abused), and so they cause and put up with the abuse, until it "gets too bad." In other words, as both the cause and the enabler, they will continue to stand by and complain as they watch their child be abused, and, blame their partner, accusing them of being more abusive (read Abusive behavior passes from father to son).
The time to communicate your boundaries, the things with which you will not tolerate, things such as cheating, hitting, bank robbing, group sex, drugs, and spanking children, is now. If you are not specific up front then it's considered a set up; you will be deceitfully setting it up for your partner to believe that you possibly will tolerate/forgive such perpetrations.
To let a perpetration go unacknowledged (through-to-mutual-satisfaction) is you unconsciously masterminding a divorce. Silence is a powerful controlling communication that causes all future breakdowns in communication. —Gabby
* I say "decision," because one typically lashes out verbally and non-verbally (physically) when they are unconscious and dragging around several incompletes (upsets from earlier interactions) and have lost their ability to choose to honor the no-abuse agreement.
** Virtually all therapy participants spend hours resolving their very first physical abuse.
*** It's not that, from time to time, you and your partner won't lash out abusively (verbally/non-verbally), or upset each other with broken agreements. That's what most couples do en route to mastering mutually satisfying communication. The ideal behavior you're looking for during the engagement is whether or not each abusive communication is followed up with an acknowledgment of the abuse. Children observe how a parent follows up when they abuse the other, therefore, if the abuse takes place in front of a child it should be acknowledged (cleaned up) in front of the child so as to effect completion. Read a definition of the word abuse.
Partner: "Nice going klutz!"
You: "That didn't feel good." [Sharing one's experience without making the other wrong. The test for abuse is to ask the other, "How did that feel?"]
Partner: "I get that it didn't feel good." [as opposed to, "Shit, I was just joking. Lighten up." [invalidating make-wrong]
You: "I get that I lied earlier this morning when I said I didn't know who . . ." [A simple clean acknowledgment. Most importantly, delivered without an apology.]
or, "I get that I [broke my agreement] didn't pick you up by 6:00 pm ." [The implied communication being, "I get that it didn't feel good and that it was abusive of me to treat you that way."]
Each and every abusive communication must be completed through to mutual satisfaction. What causes all future abuse is when you let the first one slide without requiring a mutually satisfying acknowledgment from them that they know the communication didn't feel good.
Clearing Process for Couples (free)
Communication Clearing Process for Parent and Child (free)
More about Newton's Law as pertains to spousal abuse.
More about spanking.
Do print out this tip and share it with your partner.
Last edited 3/26/16