Smacking in the family

I’m a long-time reader, first-time writer! Thank you very much for the website you run. My parents were both smacked as children, and they in turn smacked me and my siblings.

I and my siblings then smacked our children, and I know they have smacked their children too (some are still minors, so I won’t give any details about them). Smacking was ubiquitous when my parents were children, extremely common when I was a child, fairly common when my children were little and it’s still not all that uncommon nowadays, no matter what people may say!

When my Dad was a boy, his father gave him and his brothers the belt on the seat of their underpants. From the stories they told us, this was quite an ordeal, and would leave the boys with quite a bruised bottom.

Grandad once gave one of my own brothers a belting, and I remember Dad and Grandad having a real barney over it. My brother had little bruises down one side of his bottom from where the belt had dug in. This inspired a healthy level of awe in the rest of us, who never misbehaved for Grandad again!

Mum was an only child, and her mother and father were both quite middle class. Mum was privately educated, and spent most of her time away from home at boarding school. The school didn’t use corporal punishment (which surprised me when she told me, given this was the 1940s), but emotional shaming and manipulation.

However, when Mum was home, Nanny dealt with her very strictly, with the help of a cane. Mum got whacked in multiples of six strokes – the first six would be administered on her hands, while any following sixes would be given on her bare bottom and thighs. It was a ritual, and Mum occasionally spoke of the twisting fear in her tummy as she bared her bottom and bent over the arm of the armchair in Nanny’s library, her hands already stinging and knowing her bottom was about to feel the same. Mum often told us how lucky we girls were to just get smacked with her hand!

We didn’t see Nanny and Grandad much when I was a child – they were very distant from Mum – but I remember Nanny telling Mum once that she wasn’t too big for a thrashing. She can’t have been serious, of course, but it definitely made my ears prick up!

My siblings and I were smacked by our same-sex parent. Dad gave the boys the belt over their underwear, just like how he got it as a boy – but lighter, which they always said wasn’t too bad. They’d have a red bottom afterwards, but the colour would vanish quickly.

By contrast, Mum gave my sister and I long, bare-bottomed hand smackings. We’d have our knickers pulled down, our skirt or dress whisked up, and we’d be put firmly across her lap. These spankings would last anywhere from half a minute to a solid ten, and were generally administered right in front of anyone who happened to be there at the time.

The smacking I remember most vividly happened when I was nine, and I refused to come inside for tea on a warm summer’s day. Mum marched out, hands on hips, and pulled me over to the low brick wall in front of our house. Before I knew it, I was across her lap and my bare bottom was being tanned right in front of all my friends. I’d seen friends received similar public punishments before but had never experienced this myself, and I remember the burning shame and embarrassment I felt as I received that smacking.

School was fairly typical of the 1970s – the teachers at our primary and middle schools would hand out random smacks and slaps, and give occasional over-the-knee smackings. The headmistresses of both schools kept a cane for boys and a slipper for girls. Although I was never slippered, I did once get my hands smacked with a ruler in assembly, alongside the rest of the rounders team, for fighting at a match.

The high school wasn’t a very good school, and there wasn’t much formal corporal punishment, just a lot of ear pulling, head slapping, and board rubber throwing. I do remember one home economics teacher who would smack the backs of pupils’ thighs in front of the rest of the class. It didn’t hurt all that much, especially for the boys wearing their school trousers, but it was embarrassing to get such a little child’s punishment.

I got my last smacking at home when I was 15. I had not been spanked for a year or two before this, but on this particular occasion I was brought home by the police after they caught me and some of my girlfriends in an over-18 club in the nearest city.

Mum and Dad were furious, and I think I already knew I was going to get smacked. It was the one and only time Mum used something other than her hand on me. I fought her every step of the way, but she got me over her lap and whacked my bare bottom with her big plastic hairbrush. The horrid sting spread across my bottom as she furiously smacked away, and I had bruises for nearly a week. I completely deserved that smacking, and honestly probably deserved worse than I actually got!

My husband got his legs slapped a lot at home as a child, and his Dad leathered him now and again. Hubby struggled at school – he was diagnosed with autism and ADHD a couple of years ago, which explains a lot of his problems – and was regularly strapped (he grew up in Newcastle, where schools seemed to favour the belt over the cane).

Nevertheless, we both felt as adults that corporal punishment had done us both good. So it was a ‘no-brainer’ decision that my husband and I would smack our own children. I must say that we didn’t smack anywhere near as hard as our own parents had spanked us, but we did it for their own good.

My eldest loves to tell the story of her first smacking – over my knee she went for six smacks on the seat of her knickers. When I had finished administering the punishment, she jumped up and shouted ‘my bum’s fallen off!’ before marching off in tears. My husband and I were in tears too, though ours were from laughter.

My oldest grandchild is now 23, and she’s a very sensitive, delicate soul. She never got smacked because it wouldn’t have done her any good, and would likely have done a great deal of harm.

By contrast, her little sister is now 21 and the exact opposite ≠ she’s smart and passionate and warm and funny, but goodness gracious is she headstrong. Nothing except smacking worked for her.

My daughter and her husband gave her a proper, hard, over-the-knee smacked bottom (perfect for a naughty girl) maybe once a month, and it really settled her down. I gave her a few smackings, too – Gran is no pushover! She wasn’t damaged by it at all – she recently told me at a family party that she thought she’d have ended up in real trouble with the law without the firm discipline she received growing up.

For myself, I think a tanned backside is the exact thing many children lack nowadays. Bottoms are made to take discipline. Not every child, of course – and if they can be raised without smacking, more power to their parents! But for me, my children and my grandchildren, there’s something cleansing and powerful about being truly punished – given a good sore bottom to communicate that a behaviour is unacceptable. My husband probably shouldn’t have been smacked, but I definitely needed it.

Thank you again for your website.

Contributor: Saran