Anecdotal evidence showing that the
impact of non-violent parenting is
starting to convince even once skeptical Christian blocker communities
Since I have been engaging in advocacy in favor of non-violent parenting among Christians against the practice of spanking/smacking/corporal punishment, I have noted a very common message from parents (mainly mothers) who have embraced non-violent parenting. That message can be summarized as follows.
When a Christian parent (in my experience this is overwhelmingly undertaken by mothers primarily) chooses to stop spanking, for many extended families, this moment is in no way a happy moment.
On the contrary, for many parents who were raised in the previous generation that basically only had spanking/smacking/corporal punishment as their sole parenting tool, any signal of stopping this process is a major cause for concern.
Really, we find a great insecurity among the previous generation (and many generations before) concerning this issue because they have basically had the idea of the absolute necessity of spanking/smacking/corporal punishment drilled into them from religious leaders.
Phrases like 'spare the rod, spoil the child' and 'this is going to hurt me more than it does you' and 'this is for your own good' or 'I am better person for being spanking/smacked' are just hammered into people's heads over and over again especially by religious leaders.
Many families, in fact, have been broken up over this issue. Parents refuse to speak to their children who abandon spanking/smacking/corporal punishment. I have heard this happening over the years repeatedly.
However, times are changing, for the better in fact! And now, not only are we starting to see changes in how particularly women who themselves were spanked are reacting to spanking/smacking as they now have become parents themselves, but something else is happening and I have just started to see anecdotal information concerning this.
What am I talking about?
It concerns the fact that some parents of these mothers who have embraced non-violent parenting are now starting to change their views! This is an exciting development and I hope to have more to say about this in the near future as I collect more information. But not the following. Recently, I have received these two testimonies. Let us look at them in a before and after. The first one is from Julie and she posted the following on my blog:
I just wanted you to know that I am one whose mind was changed after reading your book on corporal punishment. I know that it was a process for me to get to the point where I would even read it...but the Lord used "secular" books on child training to begin to open my eyes. When I had my first I was given every Ezzo, Pearl, Bradley, Fugate book available by well meaning relatives..including my mom (who didn't read the books herself). My first child had severe reflux and was a terribly fussy baby. 10 years later he has been diagnosed with a severe learning disablity that has to do with auditory processing. So much of his inability to "listen and learn" had nothing to do with defiance and everything to do with his disability. I hate the fact that for the first couple of years of his life, I felt like if we were just consistent with spanking that he would learn. Thankfully, God gave me enough common sense to not do any of the extreme spanking but I still feel horrible about the spankings he did receive. I feel like a burden was lifted after reading your book. I had stopped spanking before that but always somehow felt like I was "disobeying His Word" by doing so. Your book gave me a new found freedom and I want to shout it from the mountain tops. Unfortunately, I have many relatives and cousins who were deeply into the Gothard movement and are now part of Vision forum. So the conversations are not easy. Even the conversation with my own parents has been difficult. I think they are afraid that my 4 very well behaved children are going to go bad because of it. My dad has agreed to read your book. It will be interesting to discuss it with him after. We were spanked as children but I only remember a few my entire childhood. My youngest sister was spanked once. I'm not sure why my mom gave me all the Pearl books. Anyway, just wanted to say thank you. (Note that this is unedited)
Now, this message was posted in 2011. Now let's look at what Julie just sent me by email a week or so ago!
"I know it was a few years ago that we decided to quit spanking and we are still reaping the benefits! I am also proud that my little sister who has a 2yr old and an 8 month old has also chosen gentle parenting because of my choice. My parents have been very impressed with the outcomes and seem to be embracing our viewpoint and have been nothing but supportive. Woohoo!" (Email dated March 1 2014)
Now, this change is dramatic. The witness that Julie is providing to her family is changing her whole families view of corporal punishment/spanking/smacking.
Julie is not alone!
This is also an important testimony from Alicia Ovalle-Hunt from my FB page saying the same thing:
"I promise that the book is being used. I have shared it with several people who believed in corporal punishment. One example is my mother. She read it and told me later that she wished this book was around 30 years ago. She is sharing the book with some of her friends as well. Keep up the good work. God is using what you wrote even if you can't see it all the time."
I am not 100% sure what to conclude from this. For sure, I am delighted and I think we need more anecdotal information, but it seems obvious to me that if someone embraces gentle parenting and encounters resistance from their families on the basis of religious beliefs and then after a couple of years, the party who exhibited the resistance sees the positive evidence of gentle parenting, it seems reasonable that their reaction would follow what we have seen in the posts above. At least, I am praying that that is the case.
What it shows me is that if you are encountering this resistance from your family, look to what happened to Julie and Alicia and be strengthened.
I would also ask anyone else who has a similar story to please post it here so we can collect more information and hopefully give strength to others facing this challenge.