by Katrina Quitugua
Last week, my daughter drew on our 50″ plasma with one of her washable bath crayons. My husband was understandably upset. He looked at me angrily and said; “since we don’t spank, you need to teach her.” She is 13 months old. He was spanked as a child, and is new to gentle parenting. His animosity grew, and I could feel the reaction that he was barely not indulging… he wanted to spank her.
I looked at him blankly and said, “Do you really want to spank her? To hit her? To hurt her? Your daughter, who doesn’t know what she did was wrong? You gave her the crayon to play with. She was just having fun. How will hitting her make her understand? Tell me, do you really want to spank her?”
He looked over at our daughter sitting on the carpet, now trying to color it orange. He walked over, picked her up, and kissed her. He told her he loved her, and then said, “please don’t draw on daddy’s TV.”
You may think this accomplished nothing- that she will just draw on the TV again. You may be right. But this was a teachable moment. Not for my child of course, but for my husband. He paused and saw that our daughter deserves more than immediate violence or a “swat on the butt”. Our precious little girl should have our understanding. Her action was an age appropriate behavior. If we didn’t want that to happen, there are many things we could’ve done to prevent it. I was so proud of my husband for overriding his initial reaction. In that instant he changed his relationship with his daughter and with me- it made my love for him grow exponentially.
Our children should never be looked at as our property- objects that we can treat as we see fit. They are nothing less than a person in their own right. As parents, we are here to help them understand the world and to guide them in their journey to adulthood. We are not here to instill fear and hostility or make them repress their actions for fear of violence.
The TV is just a material object. One that can be cleaned, repaired, or replaced if needed, but my reaction to my daughter can never be taken back. Some people argue that spanking is ok as long as you don’t leave a mark. Really though, everything we do leaves a mark. The marks we leave on our children will be one of the most important marks we leave on this world. I want for my husband and I to leave marks we can be proud of.