Mothers Talking: Elizabeth

Elizabeth lives in the rural northern midwest of the United States. She has four children, three girls and a boy. At the time of the interview all but the two younger girls had left home. One was 19, still in college but home for breaks, and the youngest girl was a 14-year-old high schooler.

What made you decide to spank your children when they misbehaved? Do you think it has definite advantages over alternative punishments?

I honestly never considered not spanking them. I very much had an attitude of ‘I was spanked and I turned out fine’.

How old were the children when you began using corporal punishment?

With each of them, around three years old or a bit younger we started them on light smacks to get their attention. I suppose they get their first real spankings aruond four years old.

I know I’m supposed to say how hard it was the first time, but, honestly, it wasn’t. I don’t even remember the details of the first real spanking my oldest got. She was naughty, I spanked her.

Do you use your hand or do you use an implement? What position do you place the child in for punishment and do you bare bottoms?

At this point, for the two still under our roof, it’s always an implement and always bare. When the kids were younger, sometimes they were allowed to keep their underwear on.

I used my hand until they were around six or so, then began adding in a wooden spoon. Around 10, give or take, the hand was off the table and the hairbrush became the more serious choice. At this point, I pretty much only use my brush. They go over my lap for that.

On rare occasions, when one of them is in big trouble, their father will take the belt to them. That’s administered with them bent over the side of their bed. But that happens probably less than three times a year.

How hard do you spank and how long is a typical spanking? What sort of state is the child’s bottom in afterwards?

I spank hard and fast, and I’m in no hurry to end it. I would guess three to five minutes, depending on the offence. Their bottom usually has light bruising, occasionally worse. It’s always a deep shade of red and they’ll have difficulty sitting the rest of the day and at least a day or two of tenderness.

Do you use corner time or sending to bed after the child has been punished?

When they were younger, it was usually nap time right afterwards. Now, it’s generally an hour with their nose in the corner, reddened bottom on display. I always give myself plenty of time to calm down before I spank, usually with the child squirming in their bedroom.

Are spankings given in private?

They are nearly always administered in their own bedroom, but with the door open. So nobody really watches, but everyone hears. Corner time is done with their nose against the back wall at the end of the hallway. You would have to make an effort to go see, but the punished child certainly isn’t hidden. I would be very wary of spanking with most other people in the house, minus a few exceptions.

Have the spankings needed to get harder as the children grew up?

Yes, they certainly have.

How do they tend to take their punishment?

It varied by child, of course, but thankfully I’ve never encountered significant resistance. There is always plenty of tears and yelling. They are less embarrassed to be spanked than you might expect, but the hairbrush is still terrifying for them, even to my oldest who hasn’t felt it in several years and no longer needs to ever worry about it.

Is corporal punishment something you discuss much with your husband?

As I’ve mentioned above, he’s pretty much the nuclear option. We discussed the subject of spanking briefly while I was pregnant the first time, but we were very much on the same page and it’s not really been a topic that comes up much except when discipline has recently been dispensed or is needed.

Were you spanked yourself as a girl?

Yes, often. Both of my parents spanked me, usually across their lap with my bottom bared. My mom mostly used a brush, my dad usually his hand.

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