Being a parent isn’t easy. At least not for me. I’ve wanted to become a mom since I was very young, but am still surprised how challenging it can be. The daily demands of caring for others is something I wasn’t prepared for.
Over the years I’ve tried to educate myself on ways to make my parenting more effective. Most of the time things go well, but sometimes not. I have made mistakes and errors. There are times I have regretted the way I have handled a situation with my boys.
In a recent conversation with Tall Boy he reminded me of something I did as a parent which I now regret. I don’t know how the conversation started, but he recalled an incident in which I spanked him.
I was surprised Tall Boy even remembered the incident because he was four years old when it happened. At the that time he was a very difficult child to handle. Each day was filled with struggles. He was (and still is) very strong-willed and I had to use all of my parenting and teaching skills constantly to deal with him.
The day of the incident we were getting ready to leave for an appointment. He was resistant toward putting on his shoes. It was raining outside. I wanted his shoes on before we left the house. He refused and ran away. The more I pushed the issue the more he pushed back. It became a battle of wills.
We needed to be at an appointment and we were are the verge of being late. I told him either he put his shoes on or I was going to spank him. He refused and I swat him on the butt.
I don’t like spanking or hitting for that matter. Some folks reading may be thinking, “A spank on the butt is not the end of the world. My parents spanked me and look at me. I came out just fine.” I have heard the spanking argument for years. I was raised by parents who spanked. My reason for bringing this incident up is not to debate the spanking issue. Everyone has a different opinion of how they want to raise their kids. Mine is to do so without hitting.
Because I don’t often lose it often or spank Tall Boy was shocked. So much so he still remembers the incident. What bothers me most about that day was how out of control I felt. The intense anger felt foreign to me. I knew better ways to handle the situation and I chose not to use any of them. I lost it.
The spanking was not done to teach my son a lesson, but to express how angry I was. It was a release of frustration. Spanking never seems justified to me. I certainly wouldn’t want someone hitting me if I had made them angry.
Every parent has done things they are not proud of. Things they never thought would do. The guilt I felt after spanking consumed me. I didn’t like the person who was so out of control they did something they didn’t believe in.
The hardest part of doing something you regret is to forgive yourself. Parents often hold unrealistic expectations for themselves to handle every situation perfectly. It can’t be done. I have yet to meet a parent who has handled every situation with their children flawlessly.
My Tall Boy and I spoke about the incident. I asked for him to forgive me. I told him I was sorry how I handled the situation years ago. We talked about what I could have done differently. After we were done he hugged me and told me he understood.
I learned a lot about myself from that incident. Things I needed to learn in order for it not to happen again. I get it now.
I still think about what happened sometimes, but not too often. Today needs my attention more than my past does. That’s where my energy needs to stay.