When I was a child, I spent most of my life trying to figure out if I was going to get a beating that day. Did I look at my mom the wrong way? Was she in a bad mood after work? Did not eating vegetables that night mean opening up the closet door and listening to those belts knocking into each other as she made her choice for the weapon to “tear my behind” as she used to say? I was a straight A student and never got into trouble but there was something about me that irked my mother and beatings were just part of my life. Most likely, it was that I looked like my father, at least she told me that on several occasions. At times, she would pull me by the hair and take me in front of the bathroom mirror so I could see the red blotches on my face, made by my tears and point out to me how ugly I was. Now, she is in denial and says it never happened. I made it up.

The scariest moment in my life was when I was either pregnant or my daughter was little, I can’t remember any more, but I was watching Oprah – of course! She said most abused children become abusive parents.It was as if Oprah came through my TV set and slapped me across my face, punched me, and then kicked me down a flight of stairs, where once at the bottom of the flight, I uttered the word,”what!”

I couldn’t imagine giving my daughter the same life I had to endure. It just couldn’t be possible. But what if she were right! I mean, after all, she was Oprah Winfrey! I wasn’t going to take any chances. I started to read many books about raising children. My favorite:¬†How to Talk to Kids so they Listen and Listen so they Talk. I checked out so many books. Most of all, I was honest with my daughter. I told her it is never ok for me to yell at her and if I ever scream at her and scare her, just say to me calmly, “Mommy, I don’t wish to speak to you when you’re yelling at me. I will talk to you when you calm down.”

So Rachel and I had a life together of mutual respect. I never hit her. I only yelled at her a total of three times in her life. She never had a Curfew. She didn’t need one. We respected each other enough to be honest with one another and lying was just not allowed. Rachel grew up with a great sense of self. She is smart and confident and enjoys her life. She is currently in grad school. She is respectful and of course for me – an amazing human being.

She was never spanked. She turned out fine and special and loves her self. So which way is better? Teaching your children to fear you and the one with power is the one you have to listen to? OR mutual respect should be earned and you are just as important as anyone else – no matter what. The healthiest children are the ones who love themselves as well as others.

Don’t spank your children and steal who they were born to be. Honor them. Respect them. Love them. Teach them to do the same for themselves as well as for you. You don’t ever need to spank. The five letter word you need is TEACH. It is a privilege to be a parent or a guardian, remember that. When they look in the mirror, they should only see love.

Jeannine Marie


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