Reader's feedback, Apr 2003

Here are some letters from readers of this website, the newest letters on top. All e-mail addresses and names have been anonymized to protect the sender's privacy. Brackets in red (...) indicate deleted portions.

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Subject: reader response
Date:    Wed, 30 Apr 2003

Although my wife has never been a great fan of spanking, she spent thirty years in the public schools classroom and became increasingly aware that that the thoroughly unpleasant was sometimes necessary. During the early 1990s she became so concerned with undisciplined students and parents afraid to lay a hand on their children that she began to instruct parents on how to spank. She advocated a *layer cake* method.

The *layer cake* approach is the blending of two older methods still commonly used by parents. One of the older methods was to load a dialogue (or more commonly a lecture) either before a serious spanking or after a less strenuous exercise. The other method was to punctuate the dialogue between parent and child (or lecture to the child) with spanks.

With the *layer cake* approach, the necessary preparation and explanation are followed by sufficient spanking to ensure the child's attention. Then, with the child either repositioned so that he or she is standing at the parent's knee or still in position, the parent reasons with the child. The parent then spanks enough to make sure that he or she has the child's undivided attention before pausing to reason with the child once more. A little more talking is then followed by a little more spanking.

My wife emphasized that all comments made by the parent during the punishment should be POSITIVE, specifically addressing the parent's faith in the child to fulfill the parent's reasonable expectation, since the spanking addresses the parent's displeasure with the child's past behavior (as well as maintaining the child's undivided attention). The reasoning is meant to provide balance in the child's mind as the parent directs and amends the child's thinking process from the past and into the future. Repetition, ritual, and reinforcement are key components of *layer cake*. So the lesson the parent desires to teach is not likely to have to be repeated.

The *layer cake* method is not looking at the clock or counting the number of smacks. It is not even about how hard. It certainly is not a shortcut in discipline. Although the parent should never unload his or her frustration upfront, the spanking and pauses for discussion should proceed at a pace with which the parent is comfortable and the child is appropriately responsive. The planned pauses allow both the parent and child to reflect on the disciplinary process. In particular, it permits the parent to concentrate on one task at a time while gauging the effectiveness.

*Layer cake* sessions involve two-way communication that is, given the behavioral difficulties of the child, necessarily directed by the parent. As with all matters of discipline, the details should be crafted to fit the needs of both parent and child under the circumstances. *Layer cake* sessions are best suited to changing *attitudes* in children who have acquired sufficient verbal skills to engage in dialogue rather than punishing for more mundane misbehavior. It is certainly not intended to be used as a consequence for inadvertent childhood misadventures.

The alternating pattern of reinforcing *layers* spanking and dialogue continues until the parent is absolutely sure that the child has *gotten the message*. Then, the parent finishes the session with sufficient spanking to bring the child to a full flow of cleansing tears and repentance. Of course, it goes without saying that, unreserved reconciliation follows.

While the *layer cake* method comes with no guarantee, and results may vary, the mother of a pugnacious ten-year-old confided to my wife that it was the most behavior-changing experience she had ever witnessed in her daughter! No parent to whom she suggested the technique ever told her that his or her child failed to respond appropriately to the application. More interestingly, no child ever reported that they had been victims of *abuse*.

My wife has also recommended a variation for parents who, like her, preferred not to spank. In this version, the child is placed in a corner or other timeout circumstance for some fraction of a half hour. Every five minutes or so, the parent summons the child for a discussion on expectations for their future behavior before returning them to consider the future.

My own theory on spanking is that, when properly used, it buys the parents time when they (especially in the case of a younger child), or along with the child in the case of an older child, have failed to sufficiently monitor the child's behavior. While the amount may differ from child to child, I further believe that children will only take so much spanking before it becomes ineffective or even counterproductive. Thus, when used, it must be effective.

With our own offspring I discovered that even older children are not always totally averse to being spanked if things are beginning to spin out of control in their life. Nor are they necessarily disingenuous when faced with the prospects if the practice has not been abused. They likewise realize it is more effective than haranguing.

After several years of hiatus, during which she was remarkable obedient before experiencing some behavioral challenges, our youngest submitted to her parents during her senior year in high school. At the time, she volunteered that "something" had to be done to turn her around. That "something" she had realized, even before her parents reached a similar conclusion, was a well-deserved paddling.

(in another mail, Wed, 7 May 2003)

The *layer cake* method may not be for everyone. Rather it is more suitable for significant *attitude adjustments* that need to be implemented before things in the child's life get so far out of hand that there is no turning back. Also, remember, that *layer cake* was originally intended for those parents who were reluctant to decisively spank an out of hand children for whom the ritual of a memorable spanking was either an all too rare or, more frequently, a non-event in their lives.

Some parents may not be anymore comfortable with *layer cake* than others are with spanking and may, for legitimate reasons, prefer alternative disciplinary strategies and consequences. *Layer cake* is a means to an end rather than an end within itself. It is, by no means, certainly not the only means to the same end. As with any disciplinary strategy, no parent should continue to use the *layer cake* method if they find that it does not improve things in their situation. Good parenting is about sincerity and *layer cake* is no exception.

The reason for the repetition is, even "if everything has already been said in the first one or two iterations," to reinforce what has already been said and to make sure that the child understands the message. Keep in mind that the goal of *layer cake* sessions is for the parent and child to come to a clear understanding. While most parents suspect otherwise, some parents believe that they can accomplish this goal better without an occasional firm spanking.

Reinforcement in dialogue serves the same purpose as, for example, the rule of thumb method of spanking as much after the child begins to cry lustily as was necessary to bring the child to a full flow of tears, or promising a child a minimum number of licks or timeframe in which smacks will be delivered. It is simply an attempt to make sure that the message gets through the first time.

Much the same thing happens in *layer cake* as takes place in a functional education process where repetition and refreshers are common. Just teaching something once and signing off on it, as if that insures that the student has learned it, is seldom enough to guarantee mastery of the material. Many children's stories that evolved from folk traditions, and that children still love, involve repetition. It is a time tested teaching tool that has its uses when the time comes the parent to enforce sanctions for undesirable behavior.

*Layer cake* does for consequences what a laser does to light in that it collimates the rays and prevents them from scattering. The necessity for positive dialogue also keeps the parent's mind focused on the real reason for the spanking, as a means of improving attitude and behavior, rather than as a venting of parental irritation and disappointment. It also serves to prevent verbal abuse that is often more harmful than the physical variety and certainly causes more lasting harm than spanking.

The positive reinforcement element in *layer cake* is likewise similar to what competent traffic enforcement officers do when writing a ticket. Only a rookie chews out the speeding driver and writes a ticket. Experienced officers do one or the other, either issuing a warning or a ticket, but not both for the same offense.

Positive reinforcement should be consistent with what the parent and child have already discussed during the preceding days or weeks rather than an attempt to sugarcoat the spanking. Children understand, sometimes better than parents who have been indoctrinated to the contrary by experts, that spankings are supposed to hurt! Most certainly any dialogue should never be an apology for what has become obviously necessary to all concerned. That sends a mixed message sufficient to undermine the experience in the child's mind.

However, the dialogue may include reminders of previous promises to improve or correct deficiencies in deportment. It may also included expectations for behavior such as, "I know that you can do better and you know it, too, don't you?" Then wait for an answer. "You are much better than your recent behavior is telling the world that you are; isn't it?" Again, wait for an answer. "Way down, deep inside, you really are a good kid; aren't you?" After an answer, continue, "You know, I would not trade you for any child in the whole wide world. You are mine and I am keeping you.

"Even now, I love you more than you know at this moment. You really are a good kid. I am never letting you go. But, we are here because we are not going to let the way you have acted get in the way of who you are and what you can become! You really are bunches and bunches better than you have behaved recently. Why just the other day your grandmother [teacher, whoever, or I] was saying [praise, praise, praise] . . . ."

Any specific wording should come from the depth of the parent's soul with the best interest of the child in mind. However, the parent should not be phony or lie. Kids hate phony parents!

Global examples of positive dialogue are difficult to present because a rambunctious 6-year-old boy with repeated behavioral difficulties at grandmother's house or at school is going to have different needs and cerebral capabilities than a 14-year-old girl who has just alluded to, for the third time despite previous warnings, the prevalence of hell-bound canines in her mother's family tree.

To be avoided at all costs are guaranteed child-killers and spirit-breakers such as, "You are just like you father [or mother]; how could you be so stupid?" or "Why can't you be like your sister [or older brother, cousin, etc.]; she [or he]ís so perfect; why can't you be just like her [him], uh; tell me that; why?" (There should be a special place, sitting on very hot coals through all eternity, reserved for adults who mess with the basic self-respect of a child by blaming him or her, especially for things over which they have no control, on top of heaping on them excessively humiliating or cruel punishment.)

Also to be avoided are open-ended questions for which no real answer may exist. These may include, "Why do you behave like that?" Often, the child has no idea. Hence, the dialogue should be steered in the direction of what the child knows about him or herself rather than heading down some dead end from which the parent has to clumsily back out under already trying circumstances. In general, the dialogue is intended to benefit the child rather than to enlighten the parent.

Nevertheless, while the dialogue may begin quite simplistically, at some point during a *layer cake* session, the child may really open up. In the anguish of the moment, beyond the usual excuses and promises, things that they have never discussed before may come tumbling out. While it may be something that neither parent nor child knew was really a problem, it might open doors into understanding the child's behavior.

For example, the 6-year-old above may be bored in school or wish grandma would watch something other than old black and white reruns the TV Land channel. The 14-year-old above may still be angry over her parents' acrimonious divorce, or she may just be sharpening her verbal claws on a handy family scratch pole.

Every child wants to believe that, despite the common lapses in decorum, he or she is good. That a child has basic worth and dignity should be reinforced whenever possible by the parent. Those opportunities should not be limited to only those times when things are going well or when the child has made the parent look good. Like hugs, positive reinforcement should be given even when things need to be turned around in the child's life.

Subject: spankings
Date:    Sun, 20 Apr 2003

Spank with love:

I think my husband, J(...), emailed you all a couple of months back to give you all a thumbs up on your website. I myself would like to echo that. It has been a valuable tool for us in trying to correctly discipline our three young children.

You know, there is no more valuable possession on the face of the earth than our children. And there is no greater responsibility than to train up our children to be men and women of integrity and character. How can this be possible without discipline and correction?

Let me say that I had the wonderful blessing of growing up in a very godly home. My mom and dad were wonderful Christian people. They were the most loving parents you will ever meet. There was never a day in my life from birth to age eighteen when I left home for college that they did not hug me and tell me they loved me. I never doubted for even a brief moment that I was loved and valued. I know my sister and brother would tell you the same thing.

Let me add to that, though, that while I grew up in a very loving home, there was no absence of discipline. There were certain behaviors that were not tolerated such as disrespect to parents, disobedience, or dishonesty. Let me also add that I know all to well what a good old fashion spanking is like.

When a spanking would occur, the procedure was always the same. My mother would take me by the hand, we would go to the master bedroom. She would then sit down on the edge of mom and dad's bed and briefly tell me why I was about to be punished. Then she would ask me to lye down across her lap. Once she secured me in position, she would pull down my pants then push up my shirt so there would be absolutely no cushion protecting my bottom. Then the licks would begin. By about the second lick, I was crying like a baby. She would not give that many- usually 5-7 never more than ten. But boy did they make an impression!! Afterwards she would let me pout for about 3-4 more minutes. Then she would hug me, tell me she loved me, and that was the end of that. As painful and unpleasant as the spankings were, I never doubted for a second that I was loved.

Within the last couple of years, two of our three children have gotten to the age where spanking has become occasionally necessary. I duplicate very closely the same procedure my mother used on us. Most of the time I am the one that gives them since I am around them much more than J(...) and he usually gives me the responsibility of doing it even when he is around. I have spanked our seven year old, and our six year old each four times. To be honest with you, I doubt I will ever have to do it again. Whenever their behavior gets just a little out of line, all I have to do is threaten them with a trip to the bedroom and they straighten up almost instantaneoulsy. J(...) and I have almost perfect control over them.

There are probably a few parents out there who have never once spanked their child, and their child still turned out wonderful. All I know to say is "more power to them." That is not the norm, however. We must remember that children are born with an innate nature to challenge authority and rebell. It is our responsibility as parents to break that tendency. Sometimes inflicting a certain amount of physical pain on the bottom is the only method strong enough to do it.

I would like to make a few comments to the anti-spanking crusaders out there as well. Take a reality check!! Do you all actually think that giving a rebelling youngster a spanking out of love will cause long term violence and aggression in him (her)? By no means! If anything at all, it will prevent long term aggression and violence. History itself proves that. After all, how many school shootings were there twenty years ago and more. Why is it that in recent years when spanking and other old fashioned discipline techniques have been suddenly abandoned by many parents, there are so many middle and high schools that check students in with metal detectors every morning. This was a practice that was inconceivable even just fifteen years ago. Do you realize that back in the fifties and sixties, a day and age when spankings were far more prevalent, the worst problem in schools was chewing gum in class?

As to the argument that spanking does not really curb misbehavior, all I can say is "hogwash". If you're a parent that has not gotten results from a spanking, let me say that you probably have not done it thoroughly enough. A mild swat or two on a leg or clothed bottom of course will not curb ill behavior. A hard spanking on a naked bottom across a parent's lap, on the other hand, will make the most strong willed child compliant. I mean think about it, would the threat of getting your bottom completely bared and briskly smacked ten times be a big enough deterrant to keep you from acting up?!! You are a very unusual person if it wouldn't.

It seems to me that it is much better for children to learn the hard lessons in life from the hands of a loving parent than from a juvenile correction officer some day. Let's face it, that juvenile correction officer does not love you near as much as your mother.

Well, I am sorry to ramble so long. I just have too much to say on the subject. Thanks again for this fantastic website, and keep up the good work.


Subject: I have a question
Date:    Sat, 19 Apr 2003

Hello. I'm fourteen and live with my aunt and uncle. This is real strange but sometimes I find myself getting into trouble just to get a spanking. Most girls my age wouldn't think of such a thing and I think I'm crazy for even think it. I read somewhere that this is called testing the limits with parents. My aunt and uncle have never given me a spanking, but he is always telling me he will if I don't do right. A few nights ago I lied to him and got grounded. He said the same thing again that the next time he would give me a spanking. I got up the courage to ask him how and he said that he would probably make me bare and use his belt. When I asked him why bare he said that it just wasn't the spanking alone, but a good dose of shame to make me think twice the next time.

My problem is that something inside of me says that spankings are the only thing that will help me to do right, it says so in the Bible in Proverbs, but I'm scared at the same time. How can I talk to my aunt and uncle about this? Or should I just do something really bad? Am I crazy for thinking these things?

Thank You,

Subject: Re: a concerned reader
Date:    Thu, 10 Apr 2003

Dear SWL


Whilst I found 'Spanking with love' most interesting, I did feel that many of your readers would be drawn by the salacious/fetish aspect of spanking, and it is these people (men mostly) that greatly concern me if they have acess to impressionable children/step-children. If parental spanking really is LOVINGLY administered and the parent DOES NOT relish/enjoy the administering for personal pleasure in anyway, shape or form, then I would have to (albeit reluctantly) concede that we all have our own life agendas and credos as to how best to raise kids - we can agree to disagree here.

My only concern in all this is for innocent children. Whilst my own kids had the occasional spontaneous smack on the leg (even this I regret) there was never the ritualistic discipline that your site seems to champion. I saw enough traditional discipline at school (fully endorsed by British Govt/legal system/police) to be totally against any kind of formal, ritualised spanking/caning. The brutal education system I went through left me deeply confused by many things, but also with a relief that the breathless fear and panic of physical punishment in schools and (most) homes is now consigned to history.

I think I would be most convinced by your sites pro-spanking position if a GENUINE child (not an adult pretending to be a child) actually wrote on your site about how THEY feel about being ritualistically beaten by parents, as opposed to how the parents think the child feels - big difference. I sense parent perspective is rather based on time-warped childhood experiences of decades ago and is therefore not compelling). I rather suspect that despite hugs and caring words following discipline that REAL kids who are humiliatingly stripped naked in front of their 'loving' fathers before punishment would far rather be grounded like all their mates. I am happy for any of your readers to supply reading that would contradict this statement

Sorry to sound so negative about something your site so obviously endorses and encourage. My big watchword which I would tend to emblazon in massive letters across your site is: If you relish, enjoy, or even look forward to administering punishment then you should NOT be smacking children.

All your readers should be really honest with themselves and ask this simple question.

I look forward to any thought you or your readership may have!

Subject: The Formation of Self Discipline for Life
Date:    Sat, 5 Apr 2003

I went to a very strict school in the UK and of all subjects it was in P.E. that the most discipline was used. Perhaps because the head teacher believed that this subject more than any other would provide us with the self discipline we would need during our later adult life. Although I did not appreciate it at the time, this was indeed the case.

The gymnastic class was very regulated and we had to form perfect straight lines and march with absolute precision. A Mr. H would make us form 4 groups of 5 boys always standing to attention and in always in total silence. When Mr. H felt we were ready, we had to march to a set of gym equipment and stand by this equipment until ordered to use it. After 12 minutes we would be told to stand by the equipment and to attention, and would then march with precison to the next set of equipment. Eventually, everyone toured 4 sets of gym equipment and the supervision required was minimal since even the most unruly pupils soon learned to do exactly as they were told.

In the first year and aged only 11, we were all warned not to misuse the gym equipment and we were informed of the punishment. However, 6 months later I did misuse the gym equipment. Mr. H informed the class of what he had seen me doing and what my punishment would be. I had to bend over and touch my toes while Mr. H took the gym rope and gave me 4 strokes with it across my thinly clad backside. We were only allowed to wear thin cotten shorts since it was a school rule that we had to strip completely prior to PE and don the very minimum of clothes.

The pain of the rope across my buttocks was excruciating and made me cry intensely in front of the whole class. When the class was over my very bruised and marked buttocks provided a warning to the other boys in the changing room of what they would receive for breaking the rules. Everyone learned a lesson from my punishment, and the marks were seen prior to the next 3 gym classes as a continued warning to all. I was told that if I did this again it would be 6 very severe strokes of the rattan cane from the headteacher with PE shorts slipped down to my knees but fortunately a proper caning did not prove necessary for me or anyone else.

The threat of this punishment for the gymnastic class enabled all the boys to follow the rules of the gymnasium until 16 or 17 and everyone had a safe time with no accidents. I explained to my Mother a few days before I left school about the strict gymnasium discipline we had encountered over the years. She simply said it was good training for life and that she was pleased with the PE teacher for his gymnastic classes and the punishment I had been given during the 1st year. My mother told me if I did this again she hoped I would be severely caned and that at 17 I was not too old to benefit from a proper caning even if it had to be given on my last day.

I recently made contact with Mr. H through "friendsreunited" and thanked him for his PE lessons and the punishments which had installed the essentials of self discipline in us, not just for his gymnastic class but also for our future. He did not remember this one particular incident but thanked me for complimenting him on his gymnastic classes and the benefits it provided us with.

Subject: thank you
Date:    Fri, 4 Apr 2003


I am a 15 year old boy living in England. I stumbled upon your site sometime last year. before this I was never punished at home and my parents were very permissive and I was losing out on it I would do something and my parents would let it slide this was leaving me with guilty feelings I then stumbled across the getting parents to spank me area of the site which I read but never plucked up the guts to talk to my parents about it however hat changed when after I was caught shoplifting my parents as usual told me off and let it slide, I then realised that my behaviour wasn't good and was unacceptable and that I needed some help to turn me around and help me get over he guilt I then went and talked to one of my moms friends who I know spanked her teenage children and told her about my dilemma.

she agreed to talk to my parents. she also took me over her lap there and then for a short spanking as she could tell that I needed something to at least start to get over he guilty feelings inside.

she then took me home and had a long talk with my parents and we discussed the subject further. they agreed to start spanking me (I have no sexual interest in spanking which was suggested to me a few times) my mothers friend had brought a hairbrush with her there and then and my mom and her friend decided to try it out on me. it consisted of about 50 good hard spanks then 10 minutes stood in the corner she then hugged me and told me I was forgiven.

though I hated the spanking and the fire in my bottom I was glad that I was finally getting what I needed. since then I have gone from getting one or two handspankings a week and about one dose of the hairbrush a month to about one spanking a month and hardly ever feeling the hairbrush back. my performance in school has improved and I feel a lot less guilty.

I would just like to thank you for making a site and a section on this topic.

Subject: i was spanked and it works
Date:    Thu, 3 Apr 2003

just because you're spanked doesn't mean that you'll turn out to be a rotten person it just means that you were naughty, you broke a rule and you got spanked for it. once i got spanked for fighting with my brothers and i learned that i should fight and i should respect others. a bare bottom spanking will not kill you i mean that sure it'll hurt more and there will be more redness but you deserved it and you got what you deserved. i was spanked on my bare bottom only three times, once for running into the road,once for fighting and once for trying a cigerette. it really does work and i never tried any of those things again i learned my lesson and i will spank my children when i have them. i am 17 years old.

Subject: (none)
Date:    Thu, 3 Apr 2003

Thank-you for this informative web-site. I am a well educated, successful professional who was spanked, when necessary, as a child. As a father, I also spank my own children when I feel it is in their best interest. Spanking, when done correctly, is an effective, loving, and acceptable disciplinary choice.

Spanking, when done in a fit of rage and anger, by a loud and out of control parent, is harmful and does nothing for correcting the behavior of an errant child. I strongly feel that that type of spanking is, without question, wrong! When making the decision as to whether or not to spank my own precious children, I employed a great deal of critical thought, concluding that spanking itself isn't wrong, the way in which a child is spanked can be very wrong.

When I spank, it is for clearly defined behaviors; open defiance, doing something harmful to themself or someone else, breaking agreed upon house rules. My children know that I love them--above all else, and when I spank them, it is merely another expression of that love, unpleasant, but necessary.

A spanking is always given privately, usually in my bedroom. I spank my children with my hand, over my knee, on a bare bottom. I don't spank hard, but I do spank with determined resolve, and I spank long enough that the child does not want another spanking. As for spanking a child's bare bottom, I don't choose to have my child undress his or her bottom to add humiliation and embarassment to the punishment. To ask my child to remove his/her pants and underware for the express purpose of embarassment and humiliation would not be right. I spank them on their bare bottom because I feel it is the most effective way to spank. In fact, I had to spank my fourteen year old son last week, for the first time in almost three years. I asked him to remove his jeans, but told him that he may leave his briefs on, he gave me a puzzled look, and asked "why?" I explained to him that because he was getting older, he may be uncomfortable with having to remove his briefs in front of me. He kind of snickered and reminded me that we had both been in our hot tub, stark naked, the night before! He then removed both his jeans and his underware and placed himself over my lap. I spanked him until he cried softly, but not until he was sobbing, it just didn't seem necessary. Even at fourteen, he still sat in my lap until long after he had stopped crying.

I maintain a close and loving bond with my children. Giving them a well deserved spanking, when necessary, has enhanced our relationship, not hurt it. I am open and honest with my children, about everything, including spanking, and they have all (I have three children--a son, 14--a daughter, 10--and a son, 8) expressed an acceptance of being spanked when I feel it is needed. Until a week ago, I would have believed my fourteen year old was too old for a bare bottom spanking over my knee, but his reaction has told me that it was the correct choice. He did, in fact, in a discussion we had last night, tell me that it is "cool" with him that I still spank him when he needs it--he hates being spanked, but he understands why it must be done. I am very proud of his mature, articulate, and well thought out position. (However, I do hope his days of finding himself over my lap for a spanking are now a thing of the past) His testosterone induced defiance of last week, met with my fervent opposition, has deepened our bond and given him, once again, the security of knowing that his Father is still taking care of him, and he needn't grow up too fast. I honestly don't believe that any other form of discipline would have been as effective as being placed over my knee and spanked, like the child he still is, has been.

Considering all of the above, let me state that I do not spank my children often, nor is it my only form of discipline. I spank when a spanking is in order and appropriate given the child's behavior. My oldest son has received more spankings than his sister and little brother combined--because he always tested my resolve just to find his limits--and I haven't spanked him more than a dozen times in his entire life. Having to spank so infrequently is another form of proof that spanking is an effective form of discipline and that it has had a positive and constructive impact on the development of my children.

Thanks again for this web-site, it has provided the further affirmation that I need as my children transition into adolesence and young adulthood.


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