A few adults and I were talking about getting beatings, and our parents foolishly inquiring about the reason for our tears. We also discussed the fact that we weren’t ever allowed to voice our opinions about the beatings or the events that lead up to the incident we were being beaten for. We all collectively recalled stories of severe beatings with any apparatus which can be used to whoop ass, but the conclusion was we were somehow better for the beatings we received. Realistically, I beg to differ and whether that’s a popular opinion or not, I don’t care but what I do know is that not being allowed to express myself AND receive physical, emotional and verbal punishment DID NOT MAKE ME A BETTER PERSON.
Let’s talk about beatings. Why did our parents feel like it was a good idea to beat us to teach us a lesson? Why is beating children a good idea, but we know a husband beating a wife is a bad idea? What are the logical and factual reasons for beating children so badly they have black and blues and welts all over their bodies? Is the lesson; if you do something wrong, you should be punished by getting beaten down? When you fuck up the only recourse is to get hit by anything someone can find so you know never to do that thing again? An adult asserting power in this way is simply abusive and there are no real positive results stemming from a practice rooted in dominance, fear, and total and utter compliance. Why are we spanking toddlers? We do it so they can listen better? How come it’s frowned upon to spank puppies or kittens when they don’t listen, but it’s okay to spank little people who do not speak yet? Beating someone breaks them down emotionally and mentally. The lesson will never be learned if it comes along with a memory of being physically harmed. A child will remember the physical pain, and the emotional and mental abuse endured could last a lifetime. The same lesson could have been learned through conversation, teachable moments and patience. Beatings are barbaric and lack empathy. It’s a tool used to oppress and train. It also teaches children that if someone loves them, they have a right to express their version of love even if it’s harmful to them. This is not loving.
How can an adult tell a child to stop crying, after they clearly just whopped their ass? Why do they say I’ll give you something to cry for after repeatedly belittling and verbally assaulting their child? The thing that stands out for me, is that I hear this narrative from varying ages, races, and country of origin. However, I hear the same expression verbatim amongst African American, Caribbean, Latin American and African countries. Why were our parents dead set on fucking us up? And why were they all saying the same shit to us, to make us learn? Folks say that they can tell who wasn’t beaten and who was based on how they behave. Honestly, flinching when someone innocently raises their hand or shutting down when a conversation becomes too intense definitely reflects someone who was beaten as a kid. I have reflected on my own trauma, and there have been times when I felt myself playing out the same vicious cycle that fucked me up, and I stop dead in my tracks. I have heard similar words carelessly falling out of my mouth when addressing my child, and those words hurt her, and I feel horrendous repeating a cycle that hurt my mom, her mom, and a series of women in my long lineage. The cycle of abusive words and deeds will end with me. I will not do it to my child, I know better, and I will do better.
I believe in discipline. Discipline is learned through repetition, practice, consistency, and patience. I have to exemplify discipline in MY words and deeds if I want my daughter to follow suit. When I fuck up, and make mistakes, I want the space to self correct, and I want grace from the person I may have offended. I am a grown up and I do not like to be spoken to in a way that’s belitting and unkind. I would imagine that my 8 years old would want patience and grace afforded to her as well. There are healthy ways to teach lessons that do not include physical harm. I am not better for having been beaten. Being beat traumatized me emotionally and mentally, and I am just now finding my way past the pain of those things. I know my peers have said they are better for it, but I do not believe them, and I am pretty sure there is evidence to prove we are not better for getting fucked up. Let us start having this conversation in a candid and honest way, it is time.