I don’t believe that corporal punishment works. It only demonstrates that I’m bigger and more powerful than our son or our grandchildren.
This one time that I hit our son, though, seemed to be the only way to reach him. His attitude was so arrogant.
He was in eighth grade, and we were sitting at our kitchen table. He was genuinely proud and showed mock innocence of how he and a friend had addressed their English teacher. They were convinced that it was perfectly acceptable to say “fothermucker” since they had exchanged two letters. Of course, both boys knew perfectly well how they had started with a disgusting word.
I wasn’t getting across to him that speaking in such a way was not innocent. His listeners knew perfectly well that he was behaving atrociously.
So I slapped his cheek. He was astounded because I had never hit him before. Besides this, the suddenness was shocking. With that slap, he promised that he would never speak that way ever again.
He may have behaved atrociously again in the next year or two. I reminded him of how I couldn’t reach him then, and I didn’t seem to be reaching him again. “Listen. I’m not going to hit you again. You’re older and wiser. Think about your audacity then and now. I expect you to behave better.” Then I walked away.
I really believe that his memory jolted him. I’m not aware that his behavior was other than “age appropriate.” He was a teenager and lapsed into the poorer behavior and attitude that teenagers sometimes exhibit. But teenage behavior during the teenage years wasn’t going to change much with chastisement. In addition, I had already taught him a life-long lesson.