As I write, I have in front of me the parenting handbook that my parents’ church gave out in 1987. I won’t scan it and share it with you in whole for several reasons (not least an unwillingness to perpetuate their abusive tactics), but there are some segments I will copy out for you directly. Under the heading of ‘Discipline’ comes this gem:
Boys and girls need different types of discipline, though these methods are not hard and fast rules. Some hardy girls will need boyish discipline, some delicate boys will need girlish discipline.
All this said, spanking is a universal tool. It should not be a first approach, but as we know – he that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes! The aim is to discipline, not to humiliate, so baring the seat should be done with caution. Boys tend to require several firm spanks on the seat, while girls will tend to become compliant with just the threat of spanking.
Well. this may have been what was written, but it certainly wasn’t the reality! My sisters and I didn’t become compliant from just the threat of a sore bottom, and we regularly got more than ‘several firm spanks’!
As I remember, most spankings involved being taken to our bedroom by either Mom or Dad. We’d told what we’d done wrong and the matter would be prayed over. Then we would be bent over their knee, our skirts would be raised (and often our underwear lowered too), and we’d get 30 or so firm spanks on our butts. It hurt a lot while it happened but the burning sting would fade in a couple of hours.
The handbook’s segment about spanking older children is also interesting:
Once children get to seven or eight, especially girls, they should rarely need spanking. However, do not cross it from the list of consequences arbitrarily: older children can and do benefit from spankings.
Given their larger size and harder hearts, as children grow older they need firmer spankings. Baring the seat may seem counterproductive in the goal of discipline over humiliation, but many older children require the additional infliction of pain that a bare seat provides.
Indeed, the hand is no longer sufficient for discipline once a child begins to laugh in the face of a spanking. The rod of correction shall drive [foolishness] far from him. Acquire a piece of wooden curtain dowling or a raspberry cane. Test it on your own thigh. It should sting and leave a mark, but not cause permanent damage or severe pain. Three licks of the rod of correction will do for a 12-year-old what 50 spanks with a hand cannot!
My parents didn’t go on to use the rod, continuing to spank us with their hands until we were ten or so, and then stopping spanking. They did threaten us with it, though. There were several lush trees in our yard and sometimes they’d cut a switch from one, trim it down, and then leave it on the kitchen table to remind us what could happen.
The thing I remember most about spankings was the warmth. The warmth of my parent’s knees pressing into my tummy, and the warmth of my bottom as the spanks stung it and taught me my lesson.