How Spanking Changed My Life

The following is Beth Fenimore's open letter to, Roy Lessin, author of the book, Spanking: Why, When, How.

Fenimore's father illustrated Lessin's 1979 book, and her family attended the church where Roy Lessin preached. Her parents regularly exchanged babysitting care with the Lessins, and Beth was, as a result, spanked by Lessin's wife, Charlene, when she was in her care.

In this letter, Beth describes the many ways in which Lessin's "loving correction of the rod" changed her childhood, development, and life as an adult in monumentally negative ways. Beth was impacted, as are many children, by the long lasting psychological, emotional, mental, social and physical detriments of being spanked in "Lessin" fashion.

Dear Roy,

After 19 years I have found the courage to write you this letter declaring how your choice to teach and write about spanking has affected me. My purpose in writing you this open letter is to share with you and others that the spanking approach you recommend is harmful. My parents both know my view on this issue. I have talked to them, as well, about how their decision to implement your spanking recommendations affected me. I have a mission. My mission is to warn new parents who are innocently trying to raise happy, healthy children. Should just one parent spare their child the kind of pain that I endured at the hands of my parents implementing your spanking recommendations, my pain will have more meaning than it does now. I want to begin by talking about your spanking approach so that we'll both be using the same language. In your book, you describe a process by which a parent performs a spanking on their child.

The first step is to use the right instrument; if a parent uses their hand, the child might become fearful of the parent's hand.

The second step is to spank promptly.

The third step is to find a private place in which the parent can conduct the spanking.

The fourth step is for the parent to explain to the child why they are going to be spanked.

The fifth step is to get the child into a good spanking position (when my parents and other adults - such as your wife, Char - spanked me, the ritual involved removing the child's clothing); you recommend bending the child over a bed, or bending a smaller child over the parent's lap.

The sixth step is to hit the child on the buttocks with a stick or other spanking implement.

The seventh step is to continue spanking until the child yields a broken cry, which indicates a broken will.

The eighth step is reconciliation. You recommend that parents comfort the child until sufficient time has passed, and then ask the child to stop crying. You recommend that parents spank a child who displays a "wrong attitude" by continuing to cry too long after a spanking.

The language in your book is much more "sugary" than what I've just written. But my description does not come close to what it feels like to receive a Roy Lessin spanking. So I'll describe what a Roy Lessin spanking is like.

My first spanking was when I was six months old. My mother spanked me for crying after she put me to bed. She had to spank me repeatedly to teach me to not cry when she put me down. I know about this incident because my mother used to tell all new mothers about how young I was when she started spanking me. My last spanking occurred when I was thirteen years old. The Roy Lessin spankings that I remember most vividly took place between the ages of three and seven, because I hardly went a few days without a spanking at that time. I'd like to share with you, and others, what it was like receiving a Roy Lessin spanking.

The moment I found out I was going to get a Roy Lessin spanking, I felt physically ill. Because the Roy Lessin spanking is a ritual, the ordeal could take a long time. (When I refer to a spanking ritual, I'm referring to the steps you outline in your book.) This was hard for me because I had a child's sense of time. The dread bubbled up and consumed me, and stayed with me until the spanking ritual was over. My parents usually sent me to a private room, such as my own room, and there I would wait until one of my parents came. (My dad spanked me the most, so in my illustration let's assume my father is conducting the Roy Lessin spanking.) My father would explain the reason for the spanking. This was an excruciating process because I had to listen while knowing what was coming. Since I might face back-to-back Roy Lessin spankings, I had to be careful not to be disrespectful in my listening to my father. I had already developed irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and would feel my guts cramp up with anxiety during his speech. Then he would ask me to take off my pants and underwear. I would feel deeply embarrassed because my father was not supposed to see me naked. (My family had a high standard for modesty.) My humiliation and fear would grow immeasurably as I leaned over the bed, my father's knee, or whatever was around. My private parts were helplessly exposed as my dad laid his hand on my back. Trying to pull away and defend myself would only mean that the spanking would be longer, or I'd get a back-to-back spanking. The stick, paddle inscribed with scripture verses, or belt would swish violently through the air before slapping painfully on my buttocks or thighs. I would scream in pain and anguish. I cannot remember a moment of thinking of resisting, rebelling, or trying to "win" anything, as you recommend parents should watch for as they hit their children. I just tried to survive the best way I knew how. The screaming, the hitting, and the pain would continue for unknown amounts of time. When the gruesome pain ended, I would begin to battle with my emotions and my body. I knew that crying too much could mean that my father would start a Roy Lessin spanking ritual all over again to correct my "wrong attitude."

My parents were never concerned about the marks they left on my body. We never talked about the painful marks on my body, or how clothing, baths, chairs, etc. hurt. The message was clear: there was no pain. Pulling up my pants was incredibly painful, and so was sitting on my father's lap. Because "there was no pain," I had to pretend my buttocks and thighs didn't hurt even though they did, while my father would wrap his arms around me and "comfort" me. I was not like the idealized children you describe in your book, not knowing the difference between the spanking implement and the parent. My father caused me that pain - not a stick! My father's arms scared me, and I feared my father like I've feared no other man. His touch repulsed me. I was the same with my mother. (To this day, I cannot physically tolerate either parent touching me. I feel physically ill at their touch.) My father would pray, and I could hardly go along but for fear of yet another Roy Lessin spanking. After we prayed, it was time for me to be happy. But my insides would be a mess. Tears would threaten to come back and cause me more pain and anguish. I had to pretend that I wasn't sad, and that I wasn't in pain. This would be my greatest lesson: to be happy no matter how I felt inside. It would take me a few back-to-back spankings, but I would learn. It would be a lesson I'd learn for life - being falsely happy regardless of how my body felt.

One aspect of receiving a Roy Lessin spanking is the sexual aspect. It's taken me years to even begin to allow myself to speak of this aspect. You see, as a child I had no idea what sex was. I just had this funny sensation that came and went during the Roy Lessin spanking ritual. To my great dismay, I learned that sexual stimulation can be cross-wired with the painful ritual of spankings. This cross-wiring was a real problem for me. Because I couldn't cope with the double message of love and pain, I avoided developing an intimate relationship with a man for a very long time. It took years for me to find a healthy sexuality outside the memories I have of the Roy Lessin spankings. I struggled with this double message as a child. I feel a deep sense of shame as I remember hitting and torturing my dolls and Barbies when no one was around. I needed some way to express the fear, pain, and sexual confusion I felt inside; yet my childish mind couldn't comprehend the significance of what I was doing.

My parents were your "A" students. They followed your eight steps occasionally reducing the entire Roy Lessin spanking ritual to a few swats - not very often, though. My butt and thighs would sting for a long time after a Roy Lessin spanking ritual, so I'd go into the bathroom and use my mother's mirror to look at my behind. I remember seeing red stripes crisscrossing my buttocks and my thighs. At times, I had old marks underneath the new marks. My parents conducted several Roy Lessin spanking rituals a day when I was a young child. I remember a teacher at school asking me one day why I didn't just sit still. I couldn't tell her that it was because the marks on my butt hurt so bad sitting in the little wooden chair.

Now that we've established what a Roy Lessin spanking is and what it felt like to receive one, let's move on to wrong attitudes. I'd like to begin by telling you a story of what it was like having an adult, in this case your wife, address my "wrong attitude."

One day my parents were moving. I was four, and woke up to a house that I no longer recognized. I asked my mother what was happening. Whatever answer she gave, I didn't understand. She sent my brothers and me to your house, where your wife Char was to baby-sit us. On the way out the door, I saw our small parakeet Chirpy sitting in his cage outside our house near some bushes. Now, Chirpy wasn't supposed to be outside. A dark feeling of dread came over me. I was frightened as I walked to the car, looking at Chirpy frantically chirping in his cage next to a stack of boxes. At some point, at your house, Char put all of us down for a nap. The confusion and fear filled me, and I wondered if I'd ever see my home again. When the room was quiet, my emotions burst out of me. I cried. Char came in and told me to stop, and I couldn't. So she performed one of your spanking rituals. I went back to my napping spot. I lay there for the remainder of my nap - unable to sleep, afraid to move, filled with emotions of dread and fear so large I thought I'd explode. But I had to make Char believe that I was cheerfully obeying her. I put on whatever face I could to convince her, and pretended to be asleep. I had to pretend I felt different than I did inside.

There are two points I'd like to make about bad attitudes. The first is that, as you can see above, adults do not have "powers" that allow them to read the minds of children. My parents made this mistake over and over again. They weren't much better at reading my mind or how I felt than your wife was that day I stayed at your house. You see, parents make mistakes. There's no getting around this. But when a parent uses a force as violent as a Roy Lessin spanking, mistakes are truly damaging, especially when the spanking ritual involves breaking the child's will - or breaking any part of a child's psyche!

The second point about "wrong attitudes" is that you tell parents that their children will be happy with your mode of discipline, or even prefer being spanked. I want to say that I didn't experience that joy. I built myself a cheerful, obedient shell. I lived in that shell, only peeking my head out when I felt safe, for 30 years. It took me another seven years to actually try taking the cheerful, obedient shell off - only to run back into it when something felt like the "old fears of my childhood." I have not been happy living in this shell, constantly pretending to be happy when I felt miserable inside. When I think of a happy child, I think of a child who feels free to express their ideas, thoughts, and emotions. I think that a parent's job is to teach a child how to express their emotions, not hit them with a stick until the child displays the emotion of the parent's choosing.

You write about parents disciplining children for disobedience. It seems pretty simple. The parents set up some rules and the children follow them. When disobedience is based on a child doing or behaving just as the parent asks, following those rules becomes much harder. As your teachings played out in my growing-up years, I found that I violated more rules than I could keep track of. Not only that, one of the rules was to follow through without my mom or dad asking a second time. So perfection became the rule, and perfection was something I failed at miserably. Even in the cheerful, obedient shell, I was not completely safe. The life lesson I took away was that there is no such thing as second chances. I took this lesson to school, and found that I was afraid to try. Not that my parents didn't encourage me - it was just that if the encouragement didn't work, which it often didn't, they'd spank me for getting letters backwards, words wrong on spelling tests, and so forth. Basically, they spanked me for not trying hard enough. I haven't even mentioned the hundreds of other issues they spanked me for. I learned how to live helplessly. Not only did I face my own internal disappointment at not getting something correct, I faced a Roy Lessin spanking at home when I wore out my encouragement. I grew up thinking that I was mentally handicapped. Later, as a grown adult, I found out that I'm dyslexic - something a Roy Lessin spanking would never cure.

For most of my life, I worried that I'd remembered all this wrong. About eleven years ago I called Char and asked her to listen to while I recalled a Roy Lessin spanking for her. I described to her in as much detail as I could remember the beatings I endured again and again. Char told me that my memories were exactly what you and she had taught my parents. I had not remembered wrong!

I read your book a few weeks ago. I was again surprised to realize I knew and remembered your teachings very well. After the years of growing up around your family and hearing you preach at Outreach, your book brought back your painful teachings and the painful memories I've been trying so hard to live with. I kept wanting to grab my cheerful, obedient shell because to this day I feel scared when I think of all the Roy Lessin spankings and teachings.

Both Char, during my call with her, and you, in your first book, talk about spankings having a higher purpose in saving the soul. You reference Proverbs 20:30: "Blows that wound cleanse away evil; strokes make clean the innermost parts." Those "blows" left horrible marks on my body that made sitting difficult and bathing with soap sting horribly, and they terrified my spirit.

Feeling terrified isn't the only outcome I live with. Ten years ago a gastroenterologist diagnosed me with IBS, a condition I've had since I was around three years old. Because of the fierce anxiety I felt because of the Roy Lessin spankings, I had terrible chronic stomachaches and diarrhea while I was growing up and as an adult. Five years ago my psychiatrist diagnosed me with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and I began to work through my deeply rooted fears of my parents and the Roy Lessin spankings. Later a physician associate (PA) diagnosed me with asthma and severe allergies from a poor immune system, a result of my chronic anxiety. The same PA told me that I'm at high risk for colon cancer because of the years of IBS as a result of my anxiety. Roy, these problems are all due to my parents implementing your teachings using Roy Lessin spankings to correct a multitude of childhood blunders and attitudes. I can't imagine why a parent would want these outcomes for their child. I may have looked happy and acted lovingly towards my parents, but I was emotionally and physically sick inside! Your teachings gave me no option but to live a horrible lie of looking happy when I was miserable.

For almost every day of my life, I fear people. If people like my parents, and friends of my family such as you and Char, would hurt me this badly, what horrible things would others do to me? I was supposed to be safe with my family and friends growing up! I especially fear men in authority roles. I occasionally look even at people I know, and who I know to be safe, with terror just because they've spoken in a tone that reminds me of those early times. I fear making mistakes. I choose not to have children of my own because a child's screams scramble my insides.

Remember all those sermons at Outreach that you, Don Leetch, Dean Kerns, and a few others delivered? I still hear children screaming as their parents spanked them outside the church sanctuary during Sunday morning service during those sermons. I remember the screams of my siblings. I remember on a Friday night, someone was preaching and a dad took a baby outside for a spanking, and a neighbor called the police. We stopped the church service, and you went out with your bible to explain to the officer why it was fine for the parent to spank their baby. All of us inside prayed that the officer would understand and not take the baby away.

As a grown woman I still fear Roy Lessin spankings. I sometimes wake up in the middle of the night begging my husband to "not let them get me."

My father and I have talked several times about Roy Lessin spankings. He has asked for forgiveness, and is horrified by what he has done. These conversations have been incredibly painful for both of us, and I'm now 37 years old! I believe that he thought he was doing the right thing. You were a leader in the church he believed in, and you were his friend. Our families socialized together. This was not some teaching he picked up somewhere, and then went off to make the best of it.

I hope that by this point you begin to see how your simple, sweet words about raising children are actually harmful. Perhaps you're wondering if I want to have a dialogue with you, and talk about what you really meant by your early book. Perhaps you've adopted a policy of grace, and now recommend that parents spank less and not on bare skin? The truth is, I don't want to know. If I needed justification or reasoning for your teachings, I could use your book as a reference. What I'd like you to do is reconsider your position after carefully looking at how your teachings affected me. Would a loving parent really want to raise a child to fear people, to wear a cheerful and obedient shell, or to live with PTSD and other ailments? I hope the answer you come to is No. I hope that you realize that hitting a child for any reason is not loving. Then, I hope, you join the cause to end corporal punishment in the homes of children. I came into this world a happy, healthy baby. For no other reason than the Roy Lessin spankings, I now fight for my physical and mental health. Please help others and me so this doesn't happen to any more children. Help end corporal punishment. Help end child abuse. If Jesus said, "Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung round his neck and he were thrown into the sea," (Mark 9:42), I can't image that God would condone such behavior in people who claim to be loving parents.

Bethany A. Fenimore

Beth, as a child

"I was on the watch for the moods and emotions of others. I was usually distracted with anxiety wondering if I had done anything wrong that would cause me to get a Roy Lessin spanking...I remember knowing my mother was watching me and telling me to smile for the photographer. I felt intimidated by my mother to smile. No matter what facial expression I had, my eyes seemed to show my anxiety. Looking at this photo now, I feel deeply sad."

Related Reading:

Why Love Matters: How Affection Shapes a Baby's Brain [book]

The Science of Parenting: How today's brain research can help you raise healthy, emotionally balanced children [book]

The Continuum Concept: In Search of Happiness Lost [book]

Our Babies, Ourselves [book]

The No Spanking Page alternative ideas to spanking

Why Do We Spank Our Babies?

Infant Pain Impacts Adult Sensitivity

Early Spanking Increases Toddler Aggression, Lowers IQ

Spanking Decreases Intelligence? 

Project No Spank

Dr Sears: 10 Reasons Not to Hit Your Child

Gentle Discipline Book Collection 



  1. This is very heavy. I would love to know if Roy Lessin has ever responded to it. I am so sorry for what you have been through.

  2. This is completely heart-breaking. And I've heard from others who were more involved with Roy Lessin (in person) that the dysfunction in the subculture he was in was rampant, and abuse was common. It is completely heartbreaking.

  3. Sounds like straight up child abuse to me. I am flabberghasted that anyone would consider it anything different, no matter who prescribed it.

  4. This story is very difficult to read. I am sure many children have been deeply affected by spanking and corporal punishment of children in the name of religious training and parenting. I have witnessed how devastating it can be to a grown adult- my ex (my son's father) told me stories for years of the abuse he endured by his father. For his dad, it was more an expression of frustration- working long days and not getting the recognition that he needed. He then went home to drink and pass those feelings of negative self-worth and defeat onto his youngest son. For years my ex went through this til he ran away at 17.
    When I met my son's father he was one messed up man with a masked exterior. When we became pregnant his mantra was not "to repeat the cycle". But it was apparent once my son was born that he had never even delved into the abuse he had hidden and blocked. I lost him as a lfather, a lover and a friend as his past took over him through PTSD, and eventually putting us at risk through attemping suicide and threatening abduction of my son.
    It is years later, and my son and I have no contact with him. There was no way I could listen to a man repeat over and over that he would not continue the cycle yet would then raise his hand to his partner or child. People come out of situations like this in all forms. My ex's experience is completely different than that of the author who was abused by Roy Lessin. However NOTHING ever good comes out of hitting your child for discipline. The cycle can only end when it never begins in the first place.

  5. Hard to read in places. Heart wrenching. Hard to see how a child who is looking only for the sense of security is broken by abuse.

  6. I just looked on Amazon because I have never even heard of him. He has another book printed in 2002, and the pictures alone on there are disgusting. And the comment section is sickening as people defend him and their actions. I am in shock! My heart is broken for Beth and anyone else who experienced this type of abuse! WOW! What an eye opener.

  7. Thank you for sharing your story. Makes me resolved to not use any level of spanking as a means of disciplining my children. What you have described is blatently child abuse. We had started disciplining with a single slap to our 3 1/2 yr old's behind. But we've now stopped a while back, it may have been getting results but at what cost? I didn't grow up with spanking, just was told I had been spanked once when I was 4 and supposedly never needed it again. Your story makes me wonder if at 4 that spanking set me up for life of fear of people? I have an abject fear of conflict. Who can tell.

  8. Gosh this post breaks my heart. I am saddened for you and for all the children who are experiencing, or have experienced, such abuse. It is very brave of you to share your story.

  9. this is absolutely heartbreaking. how can anyone do ths to their own child ? words can not come close to the sadness i feel when i read this. stop child abuse.

  10. Beth, I am so sorry to hear of the abuse that you have experienced. Your letter was quite moving to me, as I had a somewhat similar experience growing up and I struggle emotionally today in many of the same ways that you do. I'm so impressed that you had the courage to put all of this in writing. Like you, I have long wished that I could devote my life to ending this practice so that no more children will suffer needlessly. Best of luck to you in your continued journey toward health and healing. warmly, Beth G.

  11. This is a treasure! I think some might try to dismiss it because it clearly shows a high level of punishment/spanking. I can hear the excuses now. "We only spank a little" or "Oh my! We would never remove her underwear!"

    But you know what? This letter carefully and thoroughly outlines why any physical punishment is harmful. Regardless of the degree of pain or the process of inflicting pain, it is clear from this letter HOW the child is impacted by the violence.

    I wish all my friends would read this. I am in a teeny tiny minority as a GD mama.

  12. Wow. I had no idea this would even be possible for parents to hit their kids like this. Very disturbing. I typed it into amazon too to see what the book review said and the results had other spanking and erotica stuff in not appropriate to spank!

  13. I've been sitting here with the comment box open and I am speechless... heartbroken. I had no idea there was even such a book and I find it to be an utter disgrace.
    I am so very sorry this has happened to you - this is nothing less than child abuse.
    I have never agreed with a child being spanked for any reason.

  14. I can't even get through this story. What an awful thing to do to a poor, innocent child. How could anyone do this?

  15. This is very heart breaking. I would like to share a spanking experience from a different perspective that is NOT an abusive experience.

    My parents spanked me and my two sisters. It was never done in anger. They never left welps or bruises or any marks. Any spankings were normally in private and not lengthy. We were always asked to reiterate what the problem was and to confirm or deny that we understood. They would take time to make sure we understood the problem, and we were not diciplined without having disobeyed clear directions. We were told afterwards we were loved.

    Neither my sisters or I suffer ill "effects", no disorders, no abusive tendancies, no relationship problems, no sexual diviances/disfunctions, no physical problems. We are happy competant adults.

    I understand that all parents make individual choices, but I suggest not judging everyone who may choose a form of spanking as one option for dicipline as an abuser. I certainly will not judge your methods.


  16. Beth,

    Thank you for sharing your story. It took a lot of courage on your part to even think about Lessin again after the trauma he caused you. I hope it will help heal your heart to know that my husband and I are part of the growing number of American parents who have never spanked our children. Messages like yours really do help.

    Light and love,
    Renee K.

  17. Reading that really hit home with me. I tried to find a way to contact Mr. Lessin but to no avail. I replied with the following to his blog post today, though I doubt if he will let it through. I hope he is at least aware of the terribly negative effects of his sort of "discipline". :(

    * * * * * * *

    "Not meanness. Not cruelty. Not unkindness."

    Really? That's truly what you believe in? I think this

    says otherwise.

    I cried when I read this on the Peaceful Parenting blog.

    I was raised in a good-intentioned but terribly hurt and psychologically damaged Baptist family. Although we never encountered your particularly insidious pedagogy, a similar approach was in effect throughout my and my siblings' childhoods. My mom used the wooden spoon on me fairly frequently; she was abused by her father, who reportedly used a garden hose on her. Papa has told me personally that he thought that his wife, my grandmother, held and comforted their children too much. We don't know much about his childhood, only that he left home at 16. He is very sad inside, and won't talk about it. My stepfather occasionally used the belt on me. He always used to brag about how he had to cut his own switch from the tree, as if that was a mark of how tough he was or perhaps his self-justification for abuse. I ran away from home when I was 14 and still struggle with mental health and trust issues to this day (I am 35 now). My sister cut herself for awhile and struggles with depression. My brother has an anger problem. My mom is still terribly hurt. My aunt moved away to do social work in the Christian adoption field, and is a wonderful woman, what you would probably derogatorily refer to as a "liberal Christian". My whole family has been damaged by abuse rooted in ideas such as you have propagated, but we realize it and are slowly struggling toward healing.

    I have abused my own children, and my wife. I have repented and continue to repent for it.

    You should be spending your time seeking to eradicate every copy of your sinful and evil book from existence, rather than feeding your own aging ego with webs of words. How can you, as a pastor, quote the comfort of Psalm 23 and in the same life's breath wax self-righteous about "breaking childrens' spirits"? I suspect your own spirit and heart and conscience were broken long ago by your own parents, and you take refuge in the twisted morass of anti-life Judeo-Christian blasphemy, imagining that it will somehow save the hurt and fearful part of yourself that is racked with inner guilt. That's how it was for me, for awhile.

    All I know is that your millstone is heavy, sir. I carry its weight in my heart. Cycles of abuse pretending to be righteousness is a severe karma, and your years are running short. Please, if you haven't apologized to Ms. Fenimore, I would urge you to do so. And search your heart for a deeper truth than you have ever had the courage to face. The world is already dark enough - don't force children into fear! That is the work of the Enemy!!

    Christos Aneste! Alethos Aneste! +

    with utmost seriousness,
    musician, x-Christian

  18. I was spanked as a child, but even though it was rare, I remember almost every single time I was spanked. As an individual with mental health issues, many of them stem from the inconsistency of my parents' discipline styles and entirely because of the spanking (although I agree with all the points the author makes). Despite how rare my spankings were, I distinctly remember the day I developed the most awareness of my mistrust for my mother. I was about 12 or 13 and back-talked her. She slapped me so hard in the face that I could not hear out of my ear for over a day. I cried and told her that I couldn't hear and she told me to shut up. I was so scared to tell her hours later that I still couldn't hear in fear that she'd hit me again. My face hurt so bad and after then I thought very differently about my mom. I did not trust her to meet my needs and discuss problems with me in a non-violent way. I also realized that I had been raised with little to no discussion about feelings and how to communicate them. If I had a problem with anything my parents did, especially my mother, I was punished no matter how obvious it was that they were the ones who faulted. My little sister got lucky because I started telling my mom and grandma that if they hit her I'd call the police. I was not the trouble child that threatened to call the police with made up stories, either. I just knew it was wrong. The only thing that ever came from my parent's spanking was mistrust and confusion about why parents were mean to me, even though it was done less than 10 times in my childhood.

    The spanking and hitting was such a horrible addition to the lack of communication as a child, and contributed my issues with self-esteem and trust, ultimately. My fiancee talks about how he was spanked very rarely as a child when he did something that had major consequences like sneaking out of the house and into the busy street. He thinks there are very rare times in which it's ok to spank a child, and he'd never do it hard. I told him that if I caught him ever doing that I'd take the kids to my mom's house, plus why would he spank our child if it essentially has no effect? He has pretty much agreed now that even rare cases of intentional physical harm can change a way a child thinks about their parents forever, although it's not as extreme as I make it out to be. And both my parents and grandma know that if they ever hit my children they are not seeing them for a long time.

    Thank you for this post.

  19. Goodness I am so sorry for your enduring pain.
    My parents too spanked me or rather, whipped me with a belt. I can remember my mother chasing me around and around when I was finally old enough to realize I could run. I had horrible re-occurring nightmares as a child. I could go on and on but in the end the message is simple. All spanking does is teach a child that love is conditional. That to cause pain is what big people do to little people because they are bigger and they can. That while the young are taught to not hit, the older will make any excuse as to why it's OK.

    Having a child now I vowed to Never Ever raise my hand in anger and to speak/act with love. It took years after he was born to work through my own grief..seeing such innocence and trust how could this have been done to me?? How could my childhood have been so trampled, my spirit so diminished? I take heart that I am now spreading unconditional Love and Respect. That my child is loved deeply and completely. That I have broken the cycle.

    1. I'm only 12 and used to get spanked with a belt by my dad but now, mostly from my mom, I get slapped in the mouth, choked, slammed on the ground or wall, or by my dad, get things thrown at me such as the tv remote which luckily I dodged. The tv remote is broken now. Since my mom is my mom I can forgive her no matter what but one with my dad he was talking with his friend and I was just walking over to him and he reached into his pocket and that made me flinch. All he did was get his phone and yet from painful childhood memories, I flinched from seeing his hand move quickly. And all of the beatings I've gotten from my parents have caused me to be sensitive. I'm a 12 year old boy who still cries like a 6 year old girl because my parents still hurt me. I vow to never spank my kids.

    2. Wow. So sorry this is happening to you! i hope you're able to get some support and actual love from some place else, like a pet, friend, sibling,neighbor or teacher...someone...or something. I used to get a lot of support from our backyard cherry tree....(i know..kinda desperate). Please know I, and many of us out here are sending you good thoughts and hope.

  20. I have no idea who Lessin is, but I am one of those who was spanked at least once a day because my mother didn't like my attitude - or for some reason or another. And also from a strict conservative Baptist family. My mother used her hand or wooden spoon until my aunt informed her that a slotted plastic spoon hurts more. Your statement about your parents touch repulsing you really described my feelings towards hugs my mother tries to give me - even now at 38yrs old.

    I pray we can both be healed from the emotional scars from this.

  21. There's no way I'll ever spank or hit my kids. I was abused verbally & physically by my mother - it really does affect u later on in life.

  22. The cultural idea of ignoring children - never listening to them - never letting them feel and own their own emotions - is abusive, plain and simple. Occasionally people are surprised when that denial of a child's self leads to abuse like this, but I don't know why. Thanks for publishing Beth Fenimore's letter.

  23. I have the exact same feelings. In fact, while reading your letter, I had feelings of dread come over me, as if expecting to be spanked because I was reading it. Thinking about getting a spanking creates a physical reaction and a sense of panic, I actually begin to feel ill. This feeling also comes about whenever my parents raise their voice in the house, and I find my fight or flight instincts engage as I become evermore aware of their bodily movements, ready to duck if they take a swing at me, and I haven't been spanked in at least 5 years! I empathize with you and though I'm only 17, I refuse to put my future children through the unnecessary torture of spanking.

  24. This is one of the most heartbreaking things I've ever read. My heart goes out to the writer. I can see the anxiety in the eyes of the little girl in the picture included. I empathize.

    My mother did the following things to me to punish me for various transgressions. I've been spanked by her. I've had dishes full of food and water thrown at me by her. I've been punched in the nose so hard by her that it bled. I've been slapped by her. Sometimes these things happened in conjunction with being screamed at: usually a demand to explain whatever behaviour my mother deemed incorrect. My mind would always go blank, and I'd end up being hit in some fashion for not being able to speak.

    I'm 31, and I clearly remember being three years old and realizing after a spanking that my mother's love was conditional upon me behaving in a way she'd find good.

    I have an anxiety disorder and had two bouts of severe depression. I haven't talked to my mother in four years because she started being verbally abusive to me again. It dawned on me one day that I was grown up and self-sufficient, and I didn't have to put up with her behaviour as I felt I had to as a child. This decision to stop speaking to her has been to the benefit of my mental health.

    I have a son who is nearly a year old. He will not go through what I went through with my mother. I've worked hard on learning communication skills that weren't taught in my home and have worked on various issues in therapy. I believe there is no justification for hitting or being abusive in any way to a child.

  25. I have to read this whole thing in's very emotional and I'm tearing up reading it. I was never spanked as a child, and I am so thankful for that. I vow to do the same for my child(ren)...Thank you so much for sharing this with us. I hope I can convince others to read this as well...

  26. Tragic. Thank you for sharing. You have unbelieveable strength and your awareness is somthing to aspire to. I am greateful that you have shared the things you have learned.

  27. I had never heard of this form of spanking. How is he allowed to sell books that encourage child abuse???

    My dad spanked me once with a plastic baseball bat, and from then on I was afraid of him and had no relationship with him until I was 17, when he was dying from cancer and became repentant of his parenting style. Like the woman who wrote that letter, I was repulsed by him. It doesn't take much to damage a child.

  28. Thank you for sharing. I'm going through a lot of issues myself right now. I recently posted something on facebook about this type of parenting not being Christian at all. I've since been suffering the backlash. Turns out, tons of people do it. Go figure. I really wish there were a way to give parents the connection with their child needed and the skills needed to guide them through childhood without control/submission ideology. But it seems like it can never happen because the people who do it are so fearful of liberal ideas and psychology, they are impervious to reason. I'd tell them to read the Science of Parenting but since it isn't about the impossible love between a teenager and a vampire, not gonna happen!

    Anyhow, you're not alone in being scarred by this and I will never do this to my children, even if it means they will be ostricized by the rest of the family.

  29. Hitting a child is assault. Assualt physically, emotionally, in the case of spankings it is also sexual abuse and spiritual abuse.

  30. I was "disciplined" in this same way. I am forever haunted by it. Because of the effect it has had on me I will never lay a hand on my children, and I vow to raise them with love and respect.

  31. So sad, and so unjust. I am so sorry that you had to endure such a childhood. Thank you for having the courage to share about it.

    I was not familiar with Roy Lessin until reading your letter, but he reminds me of Debi and Michael Pearl's practices of abusive "child-training". It'd doubly sad, because they act our of a religious conviction that is so flawed and does not reflect the God and Savior so clearly outlined in the Bible.

    Jesus was and is The Gentle Shepherd, and asked us to pray for the fruits of the Spirit - love, joy, PEACE, patience, KINDNESS, goodness, faithfulness, GENTLENESS and self-control.

  32. This is a wonderful letter and I commend Ms. Fenimore for writing it. Thanks for sharing. It was a great read and of course-heart-wrenching.

    In comments Annie said it best:
    The cultural idea of ignoring children - never listening to them - never letting them feel and own their own emotions - is abusive, plain and simple. Occasionally people are surprised when that denial of a child's self leads to abuse like this, but I don't know why.

    People who are "shocked" and "surprised"? What? If you're "shocked" and "surprised" you're not paying attention to how the vast majority of the mainstream treats children. And if you're not paying attention, perhaps you should start. Our children can't advocate nearly as well for themselves as we can.

    Thank you again for this post. I am tweeting and sharing it muchly.

  33. This is how I was raised also. I remember having so many bruises that my rear end was black and blue and purple most of the time. I remember becoming dizzy and lightheaded and Dad screamed at me before a spanking. The world would be spinning around me, but I had to look at him, and listen to what he was saying.

  34. I'd like a couple hours alone with Roy Lessin. This man should be in jail.

  35. This was very hard to read. I wasn't ever a victim of a Roy Lessin spanking, but I grew up in an abusive household. I can't believe that anyone could spank a baby as young as 6 months!!! That sickens me! (The whole Idea of spanking, sickens me, but that part the most)

  36. My fear is that society in general is adopting an attitude to authority in general is a bad thing. As a former school teacher, I noticed a gradual decline in discipline because of this attitude. Spanking is just one example of how parents have over reacted to a problem. On balance, spanking when administered correctly is the most effective form of correction. But, it is only effective when the child knows that it will come when there is inappropriate behavior. They should know that punishment will be swift and sure from any adult that is in charge.

  37. To the last Anon -

    Also as a former school teacher (at both the high school and collegiate level) I agree that students are becoming overwhelmingly self-centered, self-seeking, and have a general attitude of "you owe me" - they think that by coming to class (or even not coming to class, just by paying tuition) they deserve the diploma. I've watched as younger generations become increasingly arrogant, unruly, and disrespectful - to themselves, their peers, to girls/women, and to those in positions of authority. I've watched them become increasingly violent as well - again, to themselves, peers, adults - and the world around them.

    However, I do not believe this is due to a lack of physical correction as children - rather, I believe it is from a lack of just the opposite - a lack of *LOVE*, a lack of caring, a lack of secure attachment development in their first 3 years of life. As we became increasingly distant from our babies and children - putting them off to cry alone, to sleep alone, to fend for themselves at ever younger ages, to literally be in survival mode from day one of life - we have impacted their ability to normally function as socially healthy adults later in life as well.

    Guidance and authority and loving, caring, adult interaction and learning by example is so important - and those first years are crucial. But when we do not respect our babies and children, how can we possibly expect that they, in turn, will respect others?

    There are those who have theorized that the most violent of men are ones who were cut apart at birth (circumcision), who were denied their mother's milk and warmth and love, who were treated as commodities to be kicked around as babies and kids... I'd venture to guess there is some truth to that.

    The book, "Why Love Matters" (written by a neuroscientist) is absolutely a must-read on this subject:

    "Hold Onto Your Kids"


    "The Science of Parenting" are two other good ones for those looking into discipline and raising socially/emotionally healthy and respectful children.

  38. I would also like to say that the author's experiences are pretty heartbreaking, to say the least. There is no doubt in my mind, that was straight up child abuse. No two ways around it.

    BUT I also think that spanking administered correctly, in the right circumstances, has value. My brother and I were both spanked *on seldom occasions* when we repeatedly disobeyed. They were always done quickly, and with the open hand. NEVER with a belt or paddle.

    I am now 30 years old and my brother is 27. We both have wonderful wives, and my wife and I have a wonderful 8-month old little boy. We were never harmed or in any way damaged by spanking. I made straight A's all throughout high school, and have a degree in architecture. My parents are two of the most loving, caring, Godly people I know of on this planet. And yet they did spank, on rare occasions.

    I think it's wrong to just straight up assert that "all spanking is child abuse". That is just wrong, plain and simple. It has its place, as a last resort.

    What IS wrong is doing it to the point of physical injury, instilling fear and angst in a child, etc. There is absolutely no merit for that sort of "discipline" as some would call it.

    1. Hitting isn't discipline.

      If you wouldn't use it on an elderly person who couldn't fully understand, then you shouldn't use it on a child. Period.

  39. Wow, I got sick to my stomach reading this, just as the author did before a spanking. I can't say that my parents spanked to this extent, but I did get spanked and I remember thinking that the only thing it made me feel was anger. I did not feel sorry for whatever offense I had committed, I did not feel their "loving correction", I did not feel that I should have known better, that I would never do it again, that I was getting a rightful spanking that was justified by my misbehaving, I just felt anger, pure and simple. My husband was beyond spanked, he has told me stories of his step father beating him with a chain, a wrench and whatever else he could get his hands on. I try to make him think back to how he felt, to make him see that the spanking wasn't constructive discipline, it was just his step father abusing him. But sometimes you parent how you were "parented" . It is an ongoing argument on how to discipline our kids and I am going to make sure he reads this.

  40. Man i would never do anything like this to my son.. i have given him the occasional swat on the tush but it was him standing fully clothed and he didn't cry he just looked at me with the "hurt feelings" pout. then i explain to him why his behavior is not acceptable. i use it mostly as an attention grabber.

  41. This sounds very similar to Pearl and Dobson.
    Dobson also said use an implement instead of your hand so your child won't fear you.
    He also talked about spanking if attitude at the end of the spanking wasn't correct. He was the accepted guide in the 70's to now, Pearl came in just after him.
    I read "The Strong Willed Child" and came to the conclusion, that his book was DANGEROUS, and that is Dobson! I've never heard of Roy Lessen..... all of this from Fugate to Dobson is REHASHED HOGWASH!
    We used some rare spanking when our boys were little, but quickly, my gut told me no. It was HIGHLY ENCOURAGED in all churches, and expected....but my gut said no. I too was a child who grew up in fear. I didn't want that for my children. It took a while to become free from the idea that not spanking will send your children to hell, but thank the Lord I do not believe this today. The Lord guided us and brought us to a place of understanding. Frankly, I wish corporal punishment would be outlawed. I know that may sound extreme, but it seems that if the church is unwilling to address it and keeps coming up with more books like Pearl and Tripp.... that is what should happen.

  42. I could have written a very similar post - I was raised in a home where similar spankings were a daily or many times a day event in my youth though they weren't based on religion just my parents philosophy of control of children. I was also screamed at, belittled and abused in other emotional ways.

    I too have a damaged immune system (Crohn's, Asthma, Eczema, auto immune based cancer), I too have social anxiety and great fear of mistakes.
    I'm 55 and my father who was the main spanker is dead and I still carry fear inside of me. My mother seldom hit me, her abuse was more emotional - she also usually left the house while my father hit us - she would go next door to her parents and pretend it wasn't happening even when she requested it - we often waited in our rooms all day for him to come home to spank us :(
    I am so sorry this happened to you and I'm sorry that so many children today are still living n fear of their parents and caregivers because so many still feel it is OK to hit a child :(
    I have two children - I never hit either one. I did yell far too often and carry extreme guilt over that

  43. I am physically ill that some of the comments on this are justifying spanking after reading this.

    Beth, you are an extraordinary woman. I can't even comment further because I am so speechless. I am so sorry you didn't have a beautiful childhood.

  44. Wow this is well written!

    I remember spatula spankings that left bleeding welts (and those were the "controlled" angry spankings).

    My dad didn't follow this particular method, but as a victim of child abuse (both physical and emotional as described),

    I can attest that yep, this crap seriously screws with your whole life all your life.

  45. I wanted to stop reading, but felt that the least I could do was listen to your story since nobody was there for you when it was happening. I remember those feelings of shame when my father made me take my clothes off too. I guess I never really considered all of the ramifications of spanking; I just knew that I would never spank my own child.
    What makes me the most upset is hearing people say that it's the "christian" thing to do. As if God would ever condone such a thing.
    I hope that you will continue working to free yourself of this burden. You deserve to move on to something better.
    Take care <3

  46. How very difficult this all must be for you. I think you are very brave and I hope that you can find inner peace and healing.

  47. Ugh I had to stop when she said how she still cannot stand her parents touch, I so relate, my mom usually spanked with her bare hands. Thanks for speaking out.

  48. Thank you for sharing - I feel pretty physically ill after reading. I stopped "spanking" years ago with my oldest and am so glad that the physical abuse is gone from our lives! I needed better communication skills to parent without hitting. I hope the love that you receive today allows you to heal.

  49. Maybe this will help you feel a little better - one of my children was 8 years old, walked to Wal-Mart in the middle of the night, stole some Pokemon cards, then said to please have the cashier call the police since his mother left him there.

    It was 1 a.m. I do not shop at Wal-Mart. Both kids were in bed at 11 when we checked and turned in. Pretty shocking to see all those policemen at our door! Dear child continued his outburst - calling us and the policeman an @*$)@& and my husband finally walked him to his room by his arm and put him in there and shut the door. The officer turned that in to SRS and we were fully investigated for possible child abuse (wow really stressful!). Later this turned out to be part of "mania" and signs of other dangerous decision making by dear son - don't worry, he's better today!

    So, a child being physically directed by his parent when he's in the middle of a mental illness episode can be reason enough to launch a full fledged investigation. I think, after our experience, that our society is starting to take abuse seriously.

  50. I am deeply proud of the fortitude within you to write this, and also to put it forth in the public eye. You are healing and growing as best as seems possible from the sickening and tragic circumstances of your childhood. I wish you great support as you continue this process.

    Changing patterns is terribly difficult. Thank you for being such a strong example of the work it takes to evolve. Your continued example may even aid those who currently resist change to reconsider in due time. I sure hope so. Thank you.

  51. This was wrenching and disgusting. If someone were to plan a strategy to cause deep psychological damage to a child, it might look something like this. My heart goes out to Beth and to the countless others who've experienced various forms of child abuse. Here's to peaceful parents for trying to be the change we wish to see in the world!

  52. Don't throw out the baby with the bathwater. Extremes in anything are bad. Child abuse is absolutely wrong, but spanking is alright if it is not taken to the extreme of child abuse. To throw out spanking as a means of discipline, on the other hand, is just as stupid. It needs to be done in love. - David Atnip

  53. My heart just breaks for this woman.

    I did not grow up with Roy Lessin spankings, but I did get spanked. And that spanking got out of hand and turned into more. It started out infrequent "Oh I only spank her when she runs in the street or touches a hot stove because she needs to know and associate the danger with pain." Well that might sounds good in theory but as time progressed it was not just a swat for crossing the street, it was slaps in the mouth for talking back and being kicked when I was misbehaving. It turned into a reactionary punishment rather than a thought out one.

    This was all at the hands of my mother, not my father. And I do believe she started out with good intentions of just spanking me when it "was necessary" but it can and will get out of control for many people.

    This is why I do take the stance that no amount of spanking is necessary. There is always a more loving way to discipline a child. I am now the proud parent of a 3 1/2 year old who has never recieved a spanking. Yes he has tested the waters and reached for a hot stove or talked back or run into the street but parenting him with my words instead of my hands has proven to be much more effective. The message has gotten across to him, he even tells the neighbors about "safe choices". The neighbor boy who gets swatted for crossing the street, still runs across it at every opportunity. Seems his spankings aren't teaching anything but to run harder cause he knows what's coming.

    Spanking to me is an easy way out. It's a physical reaction that seems to be a quick way of "punishing" an action where words would do.

    Before I was a parent I said that I wasn't against some carefully used spanking but I wouldn't choose it as a parent because I didn't trust myself to not let it get to far as my mother had. Then I gave birth and realized that it goes against human nature and every maternal instinct I was given to ever cause harm to my precious child. So I did in fact trust myself to lvoe this child. And I also learned that I trusted my own belief that there is no such thing as a "right spanking".

    And as time wears on your children test you and bring a frustration to you that you didn't anticipate where for many the instinct reaction is a physical one. That does not make it the right one. It takes a stronger person to take a breath and explain to a child the difference of right and wrong than it does to commit wrong against them.

    Thank you Beth for the courage of sharing this horrific tale. I hope that it is a caution to every parent of the dangers of any spanking. Having held a child in my arms that will learn to do to others what I do to him, I can honestly say spanking is not the answer to any disciplinary situation I might face.

    I hope that more people, whether victims of spanking or not, will choose not to harm their children.


  54. This was very difficult for me to read. My children are 4 and 6 and I cannot IMAGINE how brainwashed a parent has to be to hit a small, defenseless child. My heart breaks for this woman, and for the child she used to be. That picture at the end truly says it all. The anxiety and fear are clearly lurking right under the surface. This kind of abuse is never acceptable under any circumstance and should absolutely be considered a crime.

  55. I was also spanked as a child, and I personally think it did have an effect on me. To this day, I have a strained relationship with my father and I think it's partly because he was the "spank happy" parent. My dad does regret spanking us, but that regret came a little too late I'm sad to say.

    Ironically, my mom does not regret spanking us, but she wasn't usually the one who did it. I tried telling her that it has affected me emotionally, but she refuses to believe me. *sigh*

    My husband and I have decided that we will NEVER spank our children. He kind of had to talk me into it, because I admit that I was kind of pro-spanking. I don't want my children to be afraid of us.

  56. I cringed reading this, thank you so much for speaking out against this kind of abuse through misplaced love. I'm surprised the book Positive Discipline didn't make the list. I highly recommend it, there is ways to discipline a child without degrading them or hitting them.

  57. It's terrible what you went through. The author is awful to say the least, butit was your parents who chose to abuse you. The anger toward the author is understadable, but your patents had a choice. Shame on them. My mom and dad were also spankers. Always quoting the 'spare the rod' scripture to make them feel better. Even as a young child I knew it was not meant to be taken literally. Discipline should not hurt physically. Dad used a belt. Mom used a paddle. Hitting kids proves a Lack of intelligence and laziness in my opinion.

  58. I also had difficulty reading this. I'm so sorry for what you went through. Roy Lessin is an awful man to say the least, but your parents are the ones who did this to you. They had a choice. They made a terrible one. My parents believed in spanking. Never on a bare bottom, but they did it saying they believed in the scripture... "Spare the rod, blah blah blah..." Even as a very young child, I knew this wasn't meant to be taken literally. Discipline is necessary, but it shouldn't hurt physically. Dad used a belt and Mom used a paddle. Spanking is just used by parents who are either lazy or unintelligent. Again, I'm sorry that you suffered abuse by the two people who were supposed to love you the most. Terrible. Hopefully you can find the comfort and healing you need. God would never condone this. He loves you. Good Luck in all you do and God bless.

  59. I, like many who have commented before me, can relate all to well to Beth. My mother was so extremely abusive to me as a child that to say I lived in chronic fear is a gross understatement.

    I was abused physically (hand on bare bottom spanking as a very young child, graduating to belt on bare bottom as I got older, then when I was in middle school and high school, it was slapping across the face, punching, ripping handfuls of hair out of my head, slamming into walls, throwing down to the ground, kicking in the stomach and back while on the ground,kicking in shins when standing, spitting into my face) for various reasons. Sometimes it was for misbehavior of some sort (i.e. not obeying strict household behavioral guidelines), sometimes it was because of "the look on my stupid face", sometimes it was because of a "bad attitude" (which was usually what she read as defiance but what was truly my being quite literally paralyzed with terror), and sometimes it was an anger or stress lashing (i.e. she had a bad day and needed to release her negative emotions somehow and I was the "first one in her path.")

    The worst of these anger lashings occurred when I was six years old. I was home after school with my older sister, older brother and father. There was tension in the house because my brother and I had both gotten into trouble at school that day. We were all supposed to be going over to my grandma's house that evening and my dad was working fast and furious to get us all ready before my mom got home. He kept saying "you need to be ready and waiting on the couch before she gets home, or she'll be even angrier with you."

    So I was sitting on one end of the couch, my brother on the other end. It seemed like an eternity in my mind, and I was filled with dread, awaiting my mother's return. The same fear and dread Beth described. Anyone who has ever felt that telltale writhing in their stomachs knows what I'm talking about. I heard the garage door opening and I began to hyperventilate. I was gripped in sheer panic, but I had to try to control it. I did not want to compound my offenses by having a bad attitude or crying when she walked in. Well no sooner did she enter the room and take one look at me, that the torture began. It all happened so violently, so quickly, I even still have a hard time believing the reality of what occurred there.

    She had removed her high heeled shoe right off of her foot and was hammering it into the top of my head over and over and over again. I was screaming and shrieking in pain, but too afraid to fight back or even put my hands up to cover my head. There's no telling how many blows she landed to my little head before my father realized what was transpiring. He had been upstairs. Like I said, it all happened so fast. Anyway, he sprinted to me when he saw the scene and screamed "that's enough" and grabbed me up in one swift motion. As he carried me into the bathroom, I remember looking back and seeing two things. Blood all over the couch, and my eight year old brother, frozen in his spot on the couch, sobbing, clutching the cushion in utter terror. How horribly traumatizing that must've been for him to watch.

    My dad put me directly into the tub and turned warm water on to rinse my head off. It became very obvious that I would need medical care. As I was being rushed out the door, my mom made sure my dad was prepared to give the doctors a fake story so as not to incriminate her. My dad coached me the whole way to the hospital to say I was playing on the exercise bike, and fell off it into our stone fireplace. As I sat there, shivering, dripping in water and my own blood, clutching a clump of paper towels I was holding on my head, I can honestly say the strongest emotion I was feeling was relief. Relief. Because I was nowhere near my mother anymore. And as I was being stitched up (a total of 16 stitches), I just kept praying it would take all night, as long as possible, so I never had to go home again.

  60. [^^ cont'd^^]

    I suffered further humiliation from this attack, as I was made to wear a white, thick mesh hairnet to stop me from scratching the stitches when they started to itch. My classmates ridiculed me and my teachers constantly asked how this happened to me, to which I would have to lie again and again.

    The physical abuse I endured growing up was matched blow for blow with relentless verbal abuse. My mother constantly belittled and insulted me, calling me trash, disgusting, worthless, stupid, repulsive, evil, and a long list of expletives I won't blemish this page with. She emotionally abused me, by insisting that she was hitting me for "my own good" and telling me no one loved me more than her. Making me hug her and thank her for my punishments. Thank her for loving me enough to correct my inappropriate behavior.

    I'm sorry for going on so long and so detailed but I honestly have never so vividly shared that story, other than to my husband, and I see now how much healing there is just to get it all out and not be afraid to call a spade a spade. Striking a child is ABUSE.
    To those in previous comments who have tried to defend striking children, I'm sorry to say there is no "safe, proper, healthy" level of hitting children. It is harmful and immature. As adults, we have the power to overcome our physical urges and take a nobler, gentler approach to parenting and disciplining our little ones.

    To Beth, I say thank you for your courage to speak out in such a descriptive, honest way. You gave me the courage to write this post. You give others the courage to heal and educate. God bless you and all who have been hurt by this culture of abuse.


    1. Ca rhodes, my heart goes out to you. Your story made me cry. I wonder what happened to your mother to make her treat an innocent so cruelly. I was abused as a child as well and it is a very confusing thing for me even as a 35 year woman. Thanks for sharing your story.

  61. Dear beth.

    I am sorry you had to go through that. I was severely physically and verbally abused by my mother through out my childhood and it affects me to this day. I have chronic mental illness that I have had since I was very young. I now have a good relationship with my mom, she has changed for the better. But I am still afraid of her when she's angry. I have forgiven my mother but I will never forget all the things she did to me. I understand what you went through and continue to go through. My prayers are with you. God Bless.

  62. While I know that this will not help you personally, I wanted to let you know that spanking can be used lovingly, without breaking the will of a child as part of a discipline package.
    I myself used spanking while my son was little (Using Dr Dobson's revised approach, which prohibited the use of implements) and have given an example of how I would use spanking.
    When my son (then aged 3) was excited to get to visit my mothers house, he was allowed to run ahead as long as he waited for me before he crossed the road. We visited most days and he would regularly run ahead and I would always remind him not to cross the road. However that day, he did not slow down and my repeated calls to wait and to stop were ignored and he ran straight across the road!
    When I caught up with him, I crouched down and gave him 1 slap with my hand on his thigh! When he had stopped crying, I explained why he had got spanked and reminded him how dangerous it was running across the road (I would like to point out there was no one else around). We then had a cuddle and I reminded him that I had spanked him because of what he did, and that I didn't want him to get hurt by a car because I loved him and he was a wonderful boy. I then let him run to my mothers house.
    I knew exactly how much it had hurt him, because it hurt me just as much and he NEVER ran across a road again.
    I have only ever spanked him on his hand, buttocks or thigh. Anywhere else can cause harm! I have never spanked my son in anger and would use a time out if I was angry, as his behaviour was annoying, not a challenge to my authority as a parent or a risk to his life!
    When he was 6 or 7 we had a chat about spanking and when he queried why I said it hurt me every time I spanked him, I let him spank my hand. By this time I had realised that just the act of taking him to one side and explaining that if he continued his behaviour he would be spanked, was just as effective and that it was the break from what he was doing that helped. I don't think he had a spank after his 7th birthday - I no need to!
    It seems to me that as adults, we get confused between the abuse of spanking and the use of spanking
    I have not heard of an adult who calls spanking child abuse, unless then have been the victim of spanking abuse - where they are beaten or hit in anger!
    The pro spanking people had parents like myself and the people who see it as abuse, received physical abuse from their parents.
    I have also come to learn that you can be an effective parent without spanking your child.
    It is very hard to be a parent and 30 years ago everyone was spanking their children, our parents didn't know any different and most of them tried their best.
    We now know that there are other ways and tools to use on out children without spanking them, however if I knew what I know now when my son was 3, I still would have spanked him when he ran across the road!

    1. It's lazy parenting. Your response made me sick.

    2. I would challenge you to hit your arm with your own hand and then honestly repeat that you know how much pain you are giving a child when you spank because you feel it on your own hand. It just isn't true, its a matter of physics. The hand that does the hitting feels as much as 60% less pain than the child being hit.

      Hands have small bones that can be broken, the buttocks are filled with nerves that travel to the lower body. Both are very vulnerable to injury. Further, as has been explained above, spanking a child can arouse sexual feelings they do not understand, and I can assure you that your child is unlikely to EVER tell you if that is the case.

      I have 5 children, none of whom have ever run across a road without permission. Why? Because when they are so young that they can't control that kind of impulse...I hold their hand, or make a game of them holding the grocery cart I am pushing, or in some other way help them to control their energy. With my one son I used to walk across our church parking lot after preschool spinning in circles because he wanted to run, so that was how I let him run--he ran circles around me as we moved across the parking lot.

    3. There is no such thing as spanking with Love sorry by I don't buy that.... Knitted_in_the_Womb you are correct how do you expect a 3 year old to know not to cross the road. They cannot control that kind of impulse.

    4. I agree with these replies. I am an adult who wasn't subjected to what you would call spanking abuse, but I was on a very rare ocasion. I am sincerily whole heartedly against them, and I believe they are harmful.

    5. Reading your justification makes no sense. You hit someone and then tell them you love them. Try that with anyone else besides your child and see how the logic is flawed. How about holding your child's hand and discussing danger instead of letting them run ahead and then freaking out when hey are enjoying themselves and keep going. I'm sorry for your kid.

  63. You hit on it... emotional deadness is a killer; not being able to openly express how you feel inside (heart and body) can become a life imprisonment.

  64. I was so hard for me to read this, I have been very against spanking..... I behaved out of fear, but my brother was the middle child and acted out for attention and was spanked very hard, with awful objects... even made to go GET OBJECTS, and later had to choose what weapon he would be hit with, it makes my stomache turn and I cry as I write this.. and I feel extreme guilt for not doing more... Though I realise, as a child I couldn't have done much.... You have really captured some of the feelings I hide.... :'( And I hurt thinking of people who still go through this..... Thank you for writing this, though it is so hard to read, it helps know im not alone in feeling this....

  65. I'm 63. As I read this, the same emotions came over me as they did when I was abused like this. My father made me choose the weapon to be used & didn't bother caring where the blows landed including on the head & the back even when I was 18 when I left.

    He was a fundamentalist ass listening to the same type of morons as Roy Lessin that caused me great fright as I'm sitting in the pew next to my abuser listening to abuse encouragement.
    I am now an athiest.

    I never saw him for over 40 years, was not happy or sad that he finally died last year, just relieved. I despised him.

    I never spanked or talked to my children in a negative way. I allowed them to be kids & do the things kids do. Thank goodness they are well adjusted adults.

  66. Did you know that this post was quoted in The Official Newsletter of the National Child Protection Training Center? The article is entitled, When the Child Abuser Has a Bible:
    Investigating Child Maltreatment Sanctioned or Condoned by a Religious Leader

  67. I recently read the book to train a child, by Michael and Debbie Pearl. I was horrified and it sounds like Roy Lessins book. I am a christian and it upsets me that so many religions promote child abuse. I believe the bible is taken out of context. The book of psalm is ment to be poetic. Anything in the old testament about using a rod or beating children is not relivent since Jesus died so that we would not have to suffer, thats why we don't sacrafice animals any longer. In the new testament children are instructed to obey their parents, but parents are also instructed not to provoke their children. Does anyone know of any books or groups for christians against spanking. I think we need to find a way to discredit people like roy lesin and the pearls who are misguiding well meaning people.

  68. Becki Vivian - you are a child abuser. At least you got the guts to admit it, but an abuser all the same.

    To all the people who say "I was spanked as a child and I have grown up OK" please take a good hard look at yourselves. You have NOT grown up OK you just THINK you have. Reality is that you have grown up to believe that violence against children is acceptable. You have been conditioned and to claim you are "good" is a result of that conditioning but not a reality.

  69. I am so sorry for the pain and maltreatment you suffered at the hands of your parents and others.

    I grew up in a very abusive home. My father didn't follow any one's prescribed spanking plan, he was just an angry, evil man. When my brothers would do something bad, he would make them pull down the back of their pants, and bend over to touch their toes while he slapped their buttocks with a 15 in x 1 in x 2in board. We all called it "the board". I remember watching in terror as he did this to my brothers and I made sure to never do anything wrong, so as to avoid this type of punishment.

    My mother would hit all of us on various parts of our bodies with a wooden spoon. I remember one time, when I was six, she started walking towards me with the spoon and I grabbed it from her and threw it across the room and said, "No, Mommy! Don't hit me!" She became more enraged and beat me on my back, buttocks and thighs with her hand.

    My parents even resorted to using chemicals in their torture. When I was small, I would suck on my fingers for the comfort I could find no where else. My parents kept telling me not to, because I would have to get braces (BTW, that explanation means NOTHING to a 4-year old!). They tried taping socks over my hand to prevent my sucking and when that didn't work, they would pour hot sauce over my red, raw fingers to keep me from sucking. It was horrible pain and to stop it, I tried to suck it off, leading to more pain and crying, which led them to spank me.

    I also had IBS as a child and sometimes wouldn't defecate for days. When I did, it would take me a while and smelled really bad. My Dad would be upset by the amount of time I spent in there (there were 8 of us and only one bathroom) and the smell so, when I came out, he would make me pull down my pants and would spray Lysol spray directly onto my sore anus. I screamed and cried the first few times but after powerful spankings, I learned to stifle the cries of pain.

    Beyond all of this, my father was emotionally, mentally and/or sexually abusive to everyone in my family.

    My father always liked me "best" because I was the most obedient, sweet child. When I was 18, I told him that I was like that because I was terrified of him and I didn't want to get hit with "the board", so I made sure to try very hard to be good and stay on his good side. Hearing this infuriated him and he hardly spoke to me for the next 2 years, even though we lived in the same house.

    I am married now and I live 3,000 miles away from my parents. I rarely speak to them or see them. While I have no children of my own yet, I know I will never put my hand to them in anything but a gentle, loving way. You cannot spank a child out of love. Spanking a child shows him/her that you cannot control yourself and that the place they thought was safe is really a place of anger and abuse.

  70. I'm sorry that you were so mistreated by parents who obviously had problems themselves and took what Roy Lessin suggested beyond what I believe he meant.

    I was spanked as a childl--I"m now 62--I don't have emotional or physical problems because I was spanked.

    We spanked our children, but they were not only told why, but showed in the Bible what God's Word said about what they did wrong.

    Spankings are not for every little thing. Your parents spanked way too early and for too many little offenses.

    Kids are kids. They are not adults. If my kids lied, they were shown that is a sin, and were spanked. Then they were loved back into fellowship with me or their dad.

    We did not often spank their naked bottoms, but used little switches on their legs, but did not hit hard.

    Don't take the abusive way your parents handled it and make all corporal punishment bad because of a few who spank too hard, too often, on babies who are way too young to be spanked.

    The point is not to break the will, but the stubborn will that says, "I will not listen to anyone. I will do what I want to do when I want to do it, no matter what you say."

    That stubborn will needs to be broken. There are, unfortunately, many adults who still have that stubborn will that was never broken and many are in prison, or harming people.

    You remermber that old saying? "Don't throw the baby out with the bath water"? That's what you're doing. Adults are not perfect. Parents are not perfect. It sounds to me as if your parents had some emotional problems of their own and took it out on you. Doesn't mean all spankings are wrong.

    God's Word says, "Spare the rod and spoil the child." I've seen way too many spoiled kids who turned into bad, ugly, hateful adults.

    Done properly, with a heart of love and care, spankings can bring life and health to a family, not just to the kids.

    1. That stubborn will. That stubborn will that still believes that striking a child is justified. That stubborn will that takes God's name in vain by using him to justify your actions.

    2. How exactly do you explain away the spanking given by Mrs. Lessin? Surely you don't think that a child crying at her nap time when she is 4 years old is something that merits a spanking?

      Its wonderful that YOU don't think you were negatively affected by spanking. There are many people--like yourself--who also grew up without seat belts without negative effects. Doesn't mean that it is a good idea to skip child safety seats. You have no idea which child will be negatively affected.

    3. AnonymousJuly 11, 2011 12:02 PM

      This is for the above person - I am completely appalled that your post is still on this site - it should be deleted.
      Yes you do have big problems - you hit your kids which is child abuse, not only are you lying to yourself but you are lying to everyone here. Any form of hitting is abuse, if you as an adult think it is okay to harm a child then you are very sick!!

  71. Hey anonymous. Spanking is violence against a child, whatever the reason or way it is done. It is abuse. Hitting your children is not ok. Using a switch?? Sick.

  72. God was not the first to use the phrase, ANONYMOUS. That odious phrase was first recorded in pre-classical Greece, long before the Bible was written in Greek. Your anonymity speaks volumes. And you are incorrect in your view that "Done properly, with a heart of love and care, spankings can bring life and health to a family, not just to the kids. "

  73. Thank you Beth for being willing to speak of this in the public domain.

    Alice Miller pointed out that one of the reasons the German people 'followed' Hitler was due to the culture of child-rearing that was common, 'traditional' in not only Germany, but all of Europe and elsewhere at that time.

    Google the term 'poisonous pedagogy' and read the history of corporal punishment, and the (non0THINKING behind it : that the child's spirit MUST BE MASTERED, or the Devil will take the child...... this speaks of a deep mistrust of the child.

    What she pointed out was that ANY Society that mistreats children in any way (be it corporal punishment, the use of ritalin, the use of psychological manipulations to 'change behaviour') is one which enables war. To thwart the natural impulses of a child, which are to learn, to grow, to connect, to explore, to meet the perceived 'needs' of the adult causes untold damage and lies at the roots of violence in our society.

    The Governments of the US and UK and others have been engaged in wars, pretty much non-stop, since WWII. And those wars have been supported by enough people within those countries such that they are also supported by media, by Churches, by schools, all of whom praise the common soldiery for their 'bravery' and 'sacrifice'.

    How many of these people were mistreated as children? How many of them are projecting the rage and anger and pain they have suppressed fro so long onto others who have been labelled 'the enemy'?

    The same 'bravery' that Beth showed in mastering her feelings, protecting her parents (the school incident when she could not sit still) is shown in veterans who return, and do not speak of what they have done, they have been through and instead conform to the ideal of the 'hero' and are paraded as such as part of consciously applied propaganda, which seeks to justify the wars and beguile more young people into enlisting!

    The same 'sacrifice' she was forced to make by accepting her fathers 'comforting' after each beating, the same 'sacrifice' that no-one in positions of authority have ever shown a willingness to make?

    Beth, the path to recovery is tough, it is long and it is yet worth the effort...

    I am 52, and only in the last 5 years, of a more than 20 year process, have I been able to allay the fear, shame and pain that my childhood experiences had stored up in my body and psyche. It might have taken less time had I met appropriate support, empathic practitioners, had I been able to develop self-empathy earlier. For much of my life I was BLAMED for my distress, and I took that blame on, which did not help matters one bit.

    Part of my process was to re-parent little Corneilius within me myself. To be the loving empathic adult to the little child within, through my own insight and exploration.....

    Finally, we all NEED an empathic approach to children, to people and to the natural world to be at the very centre, the very heart of our culture.

    I and many others, like the author of this blog, like Beth, like many of the commentators here, are working everyday to bring this into the material reality. I might not see it in place in my lifetime, yet it WILL be so.

    My children's children and their children will not be mistreated in these ways, but will be met by empathically aware and alive parents. THAT is the greatest gift any adult can give to the future.

    Then, and only then can we say that there is a sense of heaven on Earth (not a perfect place free of all trauma - think natural disasters, accidents etc) yet free of any Societally mandated abuse or mistreatment of children.

  74. Anonymous - God's Word does NOT say "Spare the rod, spoil the child". Please check your facts. It is from a 17th century poem and is a bawdy metaphor suggesting the best way to curtail amorous passions.

  75. I've always read that "spare the rod and spoil the child" thing as advice to do both - you shouldn't hit your kids, and you should give them all the love and attention they deserve. I'm not religious in any way, but that sounds like damn good advice to me... Pity so many people have taken it the other way...

    The Anon above me had one good point - "kids are kids. They are not adults." Exactly. Young kids don't understand that their actions have consequences. So why treat them as if they do, like they're purposefully "misbehaving"? Positive reinforcement works so much better than negative.

  76. I endure 1/4 of this type of spanking and I can relate to this a little too much. I grew up fearing my father the most and I remember the day I completely gave up ANY hope. The day my father had me pull my pants down to give me a spanking with a belt and left horrible marks. I showed them to my mother who just looked at them and said "You probably deserved them." I knew then and there I had no help for the pain I endured. I coped by avoiding my parents as best I could (oldest of 6). I coped by eating and was always and obese person as a teen and adult.

    I was 9 when I started my periods and it never stopped my dad even while I was menstruating, to have me pull my pants down for him to spank me with a belt, hand or device.

    By the time I was a late teen I feared my father so much that if he came into the same room as me and raised his hand out of the blue I'd flinch horribly or crumble to the ground just BELIEVING he was about to hit me, even if he was just going in for a 'hug'. But the flinch would then catch him off guard and then he'd ask me why I 'did that'. I'd just die a little inside, laugh it off, and say "I don't know." even though I knew full well why.

    I don't know how I coped or was able to find a healthy stable relationship. My flinching continued even with my husband's advances from time to time. I'm 36 now and my flinching is pretty much gone now, but it took at least 6 years or so before I didn't flinch so much.

    I did choose to have kids. I have 8 and they are not abused like I was, or at all. My parents are impressed with my children's behavior and I never resorted to violence like they did.

  77. You can do just as much damage to a child with words. It is easy to point at corporal punishment as wrong, but really there are many ways to implement any discipline.

    There is a difference between the abuse described in the letter and calmly swatting a bottom with a hand. Shame, loss of trust and a whole host of other negative things can be caused just as easily by parents who lose their temper and wield words against their children.

    I was not spanked often as a child, but I still remember things that were said to me. They still cause pain, but I refuse to let it affect my current life, except in making the decision to not harm my children the same way.

  78. I haven't heard of Lessin before but both my husbands & my parents spanked with a very similar method. We have never been happy with raising our three children this way & sourced ideas & help on gently raising our children. I can relate & empathise with all of you who were affected from spankings sexually, in your relationships with other people & whose insides tense & you flinch in certain circumstances even years afterwards. Hug to you all. Thank you for writing this letter Bethany you are a generous & strong woman. My hugs to you & prayers for your continued healing. xxoo

  79. I am a happy, healthy adult, and a mother of 3. I can say that my parents "spanked" me sparingly as a child. My parents had no terrible ritual, and I knew than anytime they used a physical action to correct me, I had done something that jeopardized my safety, or my siblings' safety (so there was rhyme and reason). I love and respect my parents for the way I was raised.

    Everything Ms. Fenimore describes is abuse, plain and simple. I couldn't imagine EVER leaving a mark on my child or my parents leaving a mark on me. I can't imagine repeated strikings, or any other objects being used. My heart breaks thinking about that happening to anyone, and I am so very sorry that you lost your childhood to that.

    I do have an issue with people who judge the parenting of others when it is within reasonable means. Sometimes, parents respond physically- grabbing a child before they run in the street, swatting a child's hand away from the hot stove, or patting a toddlers buttocks before they impale another child with the toy firetruck. Not every physical reaction is abuse (or spanking), and people need to recognize that a parent's quick response to a dangerous situation may be a physical one that does not need to be publicly criticized.

    What is described here is heart-breaking, wrong, and inexcusable. Be careful not to assume that any physical response is spanking or abuse- and if you aren't sure what is going on, ask a question instead of immediately assuming the worst. There are good parents out there in the world, and by looking at the number of readers here, there are a lot of them.

    There is another issue mentioned in the comments that is near and dear to my heart- the younger generation having a very different attitude. These children are not in need of more physical correction, but rather attention. They are increasingly raised by technology and spending less time with adult role-models. If you are struggling with a young person and their attitude, try positive reinforcement and spending time with them. THeir respect will grow quickly, and you are teaching them how to be in a group with people, something the technology they are so absorbed in does not teach. We, the adults, have to lead by example and show them how to lead the next generation. Think about how much time your parents, older siblings, older neighborhood children and other significant adults all put into raising you. It takes a village, it takes patience, and it takes time.

    Thank you for this beautiful forum, and it is truly uplifting to see this many parents who care. To all those who have suffered at the hands of abuse, I am so very sorry and you are in my prayers. May healing energy and light find its way to you.

  80. This was a tough read. I was abused by my mother as a child and taken in by my grandparents at age 11 when she died. They rarely spanked me but would occasionally lash out in anger and slap me or grab and shake me. I still defend their behavior to people saying that I was very difficult to deal with because the 11 years I had lived before that were so difficult. They were doing the best they knew how and sometimes lashed out. I don't hate them, but I do hate my mother for the abuse she put me through. I have always said that I would never hit, spank or abuse my child(ren) in any way, even before I had kids. And people would always look at me like I was crazy and then say that I would change my mind once I had a kid. They act like spanking is the only way to discipline a child because you can't reason with or talk to them. I'm 30 years old and have just had my first child. An awesome and perfect 6mo old girl. When I read that Ms. Fenimore was first spanked at 6mo old, I looked at my daughter and cried. I can not imagine that anyone could even consider using force and pain to 'correct' a childs behavior, let alone such a tiny baby. I still believe that all spanking is abuse and I will never hit her or any of my children. The good thing is that now I can prove to people that you can have happy and well behaved children without inflicting fear and pain on them.

    SPANKING IS ABUSE! Why is this still acceptable?

  81. To 62 yr old anon above... Would you consider it ok for your husband to hit you if you 'disobeyed'? Or your daughters husband to hit her if she disobeyed? Probably not. Why then, is it ok to hit a child for acting incorrectly? And yet when an adult behaves incorrectly it is up to god or the justice system to handle it? Why does an adult go to jail for hitting another adult against their will but an adult hitting a child is just carrying out gods will to shape and mold that child into an obedient person... None of that makes any sense at all. Justify it in any way you choose, spanking is still abuse.

  82. Reading this letter broke my heart. I don't know Beth but I felt myself mourning the joy and the innocent childhood that she was denied, as well as the "normal" adulthood that has been elusive to her.
    I do hope that someone will read this letter and have second thoughts about spanking their own children. But reading all of the comments on here from people saying they were spanked and/or have chosen to spank without consequences I think there is still a long way to go.
    I was also spanked a lot as a child and I remember the dread as a switch was chosen outside for me and the futile attempts to calm down afterward so that the beating wouldn't continue. For a long time I thought that it was what a deserved and that it didn't affect me. Now I realize that what I really needed was structure, guidance, and affection - all of which were lacking from the over busy adults in my life. My parents and grandparents never paid so much attention to me until I was doing something wrong - but I also needed their positive attention. I loved my parents and grandparents and continue to feel great affection for them. But I realize now that having a childhood marred by spankings has made me a person unwilling to open up emotionally. I don't like to be touched, even affectionately. My husband of 11 years is constantly frustrated by this. It also likely contributed to me being a bit of a bully for part of my childhood and my brother abusing our dog. Though I felt guilty about it at the time, we chose those as outlets to vent our own frustrations. So although I am a "successful" and otherwise "normal" adult, I do have lingering effects from those years of spankings and I will try very hard to make sure that my 15 month old daughter never experiences this. I never spank her. Rather I pour affection on her, and when she is not well-behaved I redirect her. Inherently she wants so much to please me that this has worked well even as she has learned to crawl, walk, and explore. She walks around the house and when she stops to look at something that she knows she shouldn't touch she says out loud "no,no,no" while shaking her head and moving on. I hope that she is learning self-discipline and not self-loathing.

  83. I was spanked, as were my brothers.

    I was molested by my oldest brother until I was 9 years old, when I discovered that it was illegal and told someone. Every time my oldest brother did it, he started off with spanking. He was a mean big brother until he wanted to do something sexual, and then he was nice. When he spanked me, he would stop after I cried out once and would sweetly say, "Oh, I'm sorry, did I hurt you?" Then he would stop and move on to something else. I knew it was because he'd been spanked.

    One thing didn't make sense, however. I wet the bed weekly until 12 and monthly until 14. At 16, I still have to be careful about what I drink before bed and can't take sleeping pills. Doctors say bedwetting is a result of abuse. However, my youngest brother (2 years older than me) also struggled with bedwetting, and he was never molested. That didn't make sense to me until I read this article.

    My youngest brother and I both wet the bed because we were spanked and my oldest brother mixed pain with love and molested me because HE was spanked.

    I love my mom (primary spanker) more than anything in the world, and I don't want to hurt her by telling her this; she blames herself enough already. This topic is incredibly difficult to talk about with spanking supporters. After years and years of therapy (which I have recently re-entered), I told someone (my boyfriend) for the first time ever that my brother spanked me; I've had to go over the story time and time again, but that part was too humiliating and I always left it out. After I told him, I quickly changed the subject, but my boyfriend is still a supporter of spanking and I am mustering up the courage to talk about it with him.

    I pray to God that when I lay down a firm NO SPANKING policy with my children, I will not have to explain why to my mom. Every night for years, she cried herself to sleep. She has yet to talk to anyone about how much she blames herself. I can't imagine the pain I would cause her by explaining that her spankings may have caused all of this.

  84. Danielle NethertonJuly 12, 2011 2:03 PM

    You are very brave to share your story with the world. I hope that the debate this brings about pro-spanking vs. not spanking encourages even just ONE parent to change their ways. Spanking is abusive no matter how light or how often it is used. I hope that parents will read the links provided under the article and see that love is a much more powerful teaching tool for our children than anything else.

  85. I am very glad that my parents spanked me and my wife and I spank our 5 kids when they do wrong or are disrespectful towards us or any other adult, however the only people allowed to spank our kids are other family members. The Bible teaches us as parents to spank our kids when they have done wrong, but it doesn't tell us to beat our kids there is a difference between spanking and beating. Beth's experience was beating you should never spank a child with anything but your hand and it must never be on any other body part but the bottom, it should never leave a mark for more than 15 minutes, I live in California one of the most Liberal minded states in the country and the type of spanking I just explained about is how even this backwards liberal state tells parents is the only legal way to spank a child. Although there are bad points to the Lessen way of spanking there are some good points, such as explaining why your child is going to be spanked and the comforting of the child afterwards but this should not be done until the child has stopped crying, how I was taught was to never strike a child more than the age of the child so if my 5 year old son does something that requires a spanking I will not strike him more then 5 times ect. One must not spank a child until that child is old enough to understand why and what you are spanking him or her for which is around 2 years old by then the child is fully aware of what her or she has done wrong. My oldest sister and her ex husband never spanked my niece and now she has told them that she wishes that they had because it would have saved her from doing all the bad things she did as a child and as a teenager. She now has a child of her own and she spanks him when ever he has done something wrong. Even my 13 year old has thanked me for spanking him for being disrespectful towards my wife and I he now has received awards in school for being respectful towards the teachers and the school staff. Now that I have had my say on this touchy subject I will leave you to continue to debate and bad mouth those of us who truly LOVE our children and this is why we spank because we do LOVE them and wish for them to grow up and be respectful and good hard working productive members of society. GOD BLESS
    Chuck in Barstow California.

    1. Okay Chuck in Barstow...I challenge you...WHERE does the Bible say to spank children?

      What I see is the Bible saying to BEAT fools on the back with rods. Certainly nothing like the spankings you have described.

  86. I got spanked a few times in my life, but it was not like in your story. I had my pants on and it was only one spanking and go to your room and think about what you just did or said. It had to be extremely bad what I did to deserve a spanking. I don't remember why and I don't consider in my case that I was abused. In your case it was purely criminal. Religion can be very dangerous when it is in the hands of psychopath like Roy Lessin. He gathered a bunch of idiots to listen to his crap and they never questionned anything he said and preached. Sorry to say but your parents where not too bright. I feel bad that he ruined your life (probably many others) and your rights to live in the sun. What a bastard!

  87. IF YOU HAVE TO SPANK YOUR CHILD YOU ARE WORKING ON THE WRONG END!! (and you obviously lack the mental capacity to discipline any other way but by using physical force-you should seek help.)

  88. I felt sick reading this story, but thank you Beth for sharing. I know it must have been extremely difficult to type this, and it's not a level of detail I can manage to describe myself. But what you describe fits very much in my experiences as I can remember them. There are parts that I cannot remember, as I tended to black out when the beating started. But the whole ritual of it all, especially, I think that is what hurt me the most. It's had a profound effect on me sexually, as you described. Because of this, I feel not just like I've been physically abused, but also like I have been raped. That's a difficult thing to tell anyone, because I feel like they will judge me for it, either think that I am a sick, perverted person for sexualizing my painful experiences, or that they will think I am making light of people who have been sexually penetrated. But it's a difficult feeling to shake, all the same. I also suffer from PTSD, and it's a struggle in most of my daily life. I desperately hope the world is changing, and people will stop advocating this sort of abuse.

  89. oh oh oh this hurts to read. I feel as though you've put into words what I felt as a child, especially the sexual part. I've never been able to describe it before to anyone accurately. I am thankful and grateful that my parents didn't hit much, and by the time their youngest were born, they didn't hit at all. But it doesn't take much to make awful horrible memories... so people, don't hit your kids. please, please don't hit your kids. :(

  90. More resources covering this topic:

    Spanking Kids Increases Risk of Sexual Problems

    Use of Spanking for 3-Year-Old Children and Associated Intimate Partner Aggression or Violence

    Plain Talk About Spanking
    by Jordan Riak

    The Sexual Dangers of Spanking Children
    by Tom Johnson

    by Lesli Taylor MD and Adah Maurer PhD

    "Spanking" can be intentionally or unintentionally sexually abusive (educational resources documentation, testimony, etc):

    You can visit Unlimited Justice on the web or on Facebook to add your voice.

  91. Just saying, there is a way to spank without being abusive. I was spanked as a child, and don't remember more than about two or three of them (and they were not bad - maybe one smack to a clothed bottom that barely registered) but what I remember more is the words that were said to me...I was bullied a lot in school and that was worse than spanking was. Abuse and spanking are two different things. Spanking should never be the first thing you think of when you hear the word "discipline", but you shouldn't be afraid to use your hand to give a small swat on the bottom to get a child's attention if nothing else works.

  92. My parents ecspecially my father are always slapping, beating me, with shoes, throwing stuff at me, tying me down and whipping me i m soooo scared help!

    1. Andrea von SchoeningJune 16, 2012 8:14 PM

      Call the police. That is not OK.

  93. I grew up in a very toxic houshold. My father was feared and little to no communication existed between us. I had nothing of any value to contribute or say. Verbal and emotional abuse for many years and he was a very physically abusive bully who did not hide the killing of our pets for their minor normal animal infractions! Not good for a 6 year old.

    This layed the foundation for an school teacher to express her "spanking" fetish on me in front of her class. Crazy, but I wasnt spanked at home!(not in the typical sence) at home I was beaten and smacked around.

    ... as follows: She had the rituals. 1)Taking me up front. 2)Dragging out a chair. 3)Ordering everyone to be quiet and face front with hands folded. Some of you are old enough know what Im talking about. 4) she sat down. 5)placing of me across her lap. 6)She used her hand to pound my bottom soundly. Not less than 25-30 times on clothed bottom. 7)When finished I was stuck in the corner up front or made to sit in my seat to endure the invisable fire on my hardwood desk chair.

    She played out her spanking games with me freely and without guilt because she had my parents permission to do it. Maybe she knew of the hell I was living at home. Nowhere to run and no one to tell. I was alone and hurting and in silence. The other boys and girls in my class were not touched. This made me different. Watching others make trouble that she was spankng me for yet themselves getting away with it. I realized that the whole school and all its children were different. They werent "conditioned" like I was, they werent being "brainwashed" through physical torture as I was. They werent being spanked as I was. I felt alone and swallowed up in this twilight zone world that was 3rd grade.

    She hadnt broken me yet though, not until she took my clothes off in front of the class. And the ritual exactly as before. Only now it was hand on bare bottom. A relentless number of slaps of her hand to get the desired results that Beth mentions above. Compliance, blind submision. I was spanked until I had no fight left and exhuastion consumed me. Only after I stopped struggling and only after I was openly sobbing did she give me my final number of smacks to finish her job. Her job of making me a good boy. Of making me a complient boy, her boy! And they all saw everyting. Bare from shoulders to ankles front to back.

    Making me a good adult. I have to laugh at how sick it all was. Im left with a lifetime of anger, struggle to hold down a job, hate authority, I.B.S. , P.T.S.D. extreme social anxiety. Drink, drugs..on and on.

    She had me many times in front of that class full of kids. Across her lap praying for her to stop. But the pants down beatings were the ones that finally broke my will, changed me. I never returned to the child /person I was before.

    My last session from her was private with clothes off, that famous school strap. I couldnt sit right for a few days after. No one home saw the bruises? And this was a public elementary school teacher!! I graded and moved on to never put up with her again!

    Job well done! I was a terrified, obedient, pee running down my leg at loud noises kid with a spanking fetish. A walking ghost of a soul. Like Beth wrote, scared to smile wrong or laugh wrong or do anything wrong! A robot. And talking about a child who is sexualized to the fantasies of spanking in his private(alone) time before he even had a clue what THAT was.

    I can assure you all that spanking is sexual, can derail a persons sexual soul for the remainder of their life. And for what, talking in class? (sigh) This was in the 7o's

    I wish I could find in her comfy retirment home and give her a kiss on the cheek and a thank you card. What a special person she is and a true role model for teachers to come. Maybe she taught at teachers collage and showed them how to ruin a child. Think about it, Where did she learn it?

  94. I had a few spankings as a child, too. Not like this, though! Insane! For a "man of God" to advocate ABUSING A BABY FOR CRYING?!?! My mother mostly spanked me, but not like this. And NEVER as a baby, good lord. I doubt that I will spank my children. I've never spanked any child in my care, and considering I love my own child more than any other, I can't see me spanking him.

  95. I yelled at my young child once and he yelled back. I immediately pictured me as a single Mother with this boy that I couldn't control after a series of incrimentally worse, negative discipline efforts on my part. I have since, spoken to him in a loving soft tone and he tunes right in to every word. Simple magic!

  96. So hard to put into words the suffering spanking causes. My Father spanked much like as described by Beth in fact almost the same 'rituals'. He thought that he was 'spanking' for a purpose to disciplne and raise well behaved children not that he was abusing. He also regularly required perfection and not to have to ask twice for my brother and I do something,that when he did he belittled us to point of something awful.
    I could sit here and painfully descibe these horriable things. But those things are nothing compared to the EVERY day battle I live with b/c of my childhood. I'm a perfectionist and when something does not go according to plan I beat myself up something awful and feelings of being 10 again and my farher 'spanking' me and telling my how stupid I am enter my mind over and over again. No matter how hard I try I can't not think about this.
    Unlike Beth I did chose to have children, I wanted to be better then my parents...I wanted to be completly different! But it is a daily struggle for me to not hit 'spank' my own children. Lord knows they don't derserve it! But I admit I have done it not in the same way my father did and I don't on purpose I litterly find myself doing it and stop and shocked that I am doing it. When I have done it, it's almost as if I can't remember why the incident began and how I came to spank. It's just so horrible and awful I can't describe how being spanked as child has affected my life!
    Don't get me wrong it's only happened a few times but that's more than enough I know that. I have to remind my self everyday to be a good parent to love and cherish my children and not harm them in's so hard and an internal battle. If you've never experienced this you can't know what it's like. But my biggest fear is hurting my children emotionaly and physically.
    I have since received a BS in Family Studies, A Child Development Assocaite and working on another. I am a home daycare provider and participate in monthly trainings on child development. I am trying endlessly to educate my self and others...but no matter all that it's a daily battle.
    PLEASE NEVER SPANK!!! It brings tears to my eyes..I just can not descibe the pain and emotional toll. In case your wondering I have not spoken to my father in years he is not allowed to see my children. And to this day sees nothing wrong with what he did. The mere sight of him make me crumble with fear!

  97. I wish that I could give you a big hug! Some parents don't realize that the choices they make in how they raise us shape the way we are as an adult. Because I was constantly told to be better as a child as an adult I forever feel like I have done something wrong and just wait for someone to lash out at me. I try to choose my words so carefully when dealing with my 3 year old. My physical "abuse" was more of something that was treated as playful and I remember fearing having to sit on my father's lap afraid of what he would do to me and what the consequences would be if I cried. I do however remember feeling lucky that I was not spanked with a belt like my cousin was as a child. I was terrified of my Uncle and still to this day cringe everytime he wants a hug from me. This article makes me want to hug my babies tight and to try to be an even better parent that I already try to be!

  98. I think it's fascinating how many of you spankers feel like you have to post lengthy explanations as to why *your* method of spanking is okay and isn't actually abuse. You might want to examine why you feel the need to justify yourself so much.

    My parents were the "reasonable" kind of spankers who always explained why I was getting spanked, did it when they weren't angry, and cuddled me afterward. They put all the same parameters around it that I hear all of you describing. And yet all I remember from being spanked is not "learning how to behave", but being utterly and completely terrified of the people who were supposed to be safe. One day my partner was cooking dinner and we were joking around in the kitchen, and she affectionately swatted me with the wooden spoon she was holding. I *instantly* was triggered back to childhood and felt terrified and ashamed. It felt exactly like when my very reasonable parents used to spank me.

    Violence toward a child is abuse, period, end of story. I was spanked as a child, and I DID NOT turn out okay.

  99. I have a sore jaw after reading this post and the comments ... from clenching my teeth against the anger and sadness for all of those that got spanked like that. I was spanked with a wooden spoon a few times, but only a swat and i don't remember it at all. I believed that it was ok, that i turned out ok, and didn't have an adversion to spanking my future children...that was until one day i was at my granparents and my cousin (3 or 4 at the time) was there with her mum. the mum playfully spanked the girl for doing something cheeky, shortly after the girl hit her mum several times with a smile on her face. that was when i decided it wasn't going to teach my kids anything except that hitting was ok, which it isn't. Hugs to all the people that have had to struggle with this in their childhoods and lives.

  100. to the lady that wrote this letter, you were not spanked you were abused.

  101. Its hard to read Beth's story. It makes me sad to know she endured such abuse as a child. Sadly I can testify that many people abuse children in the name of discipline. My own mother was a good example of that.

    My mother and father got divorced when I was about age 8. My two sisters and I were raised by mom and I didn't see dad very much during my grwoing up years.

    My mother worked. She was financially stressed and she didn't know very much about raising children. Spanking was a big part of the discipline she used with us. I was the only boy and I got it the worst. I think there was a certain amount of anger she felt towards my father that she chose to take out on me, since I was the only boy.

    In any event, spankings at our home were a real big deal. First, Mom didn't conduct them in private. Her attitude was that if you screwed up and needed a spanking that she would use it as an opportunity to teach the rest of her chlidren how to behave. So, she spanked us in the living room. There was a ritual to it. Whomever was getting spanked would have to wait in their room. When it was time, Mom would insist the two kids who weren't being spanked sit down in the living room. She would than go get the child being spanked. Usually, she'd make me strip to my underwear in my room and walk out in my briefs. That alone was terribly embarrassing for me since my sisters would see me walk into the living room that way. She would than talk about whatever misbehavior had occurred and describe why that behavior had lead to a spanking. All this would occur as I stood in front of her. When I was young, she would than turn me over her knee. As I got older, she'd make me bend over the edge of the couch and stick my butt out. She would ordinarily spank with a leather belt she doubled up. The spankings were drawn out and I remember a lot of crying before they ended. It was not uncommon to have both welts and bruises afterwards. The worst part though was just the feeling of shame the spankings gave me.

    Today having grown up, I have tried to make my peace with her over this. I see her now as a stressed single mother trying to work and raise her kids. I don't think she consciously meant to do anything other than discipline. Unconsciously, though, I see her as taking a huge amount of anger over her situation out on us. Its just wrong. I think many people would defend her. They are wrong. My siblings and I struggle to this day to have a relationship with her. She made it very difficult.

  102. I was spanked, I have a great relationship with my parents, and I believe they did the best they knew at the time.

    However, I will not spank my children.

    In the long run, there are better ways to achieve the goals that my parents spanked me for (and as a child I assumed I would spank my children for). Yeah, it might take more time and effort on the parents part, but--as my parents found out--reasoning and logical consequences work much better than a smack that you suffer through only if you get caught. As well as fostering self control and intrinsic motivation instead of teaching that not getting caught is the big goal. And yes, it was usually 1-3 smacks, given with hand or belt on a clothed posterior, that never bruised or hurt longer than about 5 minutes. I don't even remember crying.

    1. This exactly, I was spanked, I wasn't seriously damaged but I do see some effects. I have a wonderful relationship with my parents. They did the best they could with what they knew.

      I too will not spank my children anymore. I have until recently, though only rarely, but no more, ever.

  103. Thank you for posting your story. I too was abused by fanatical "Christian" parents. Their spankings were so horrible I still have nightmares about them. They used a whip and always made me get completely undressed. I hated for anyone to see me naked and they knew it. I'd have to lay on a bed with my legs spread apart. I'd close my eyes so I wouldn't see the whip coming, but I could hear it whisting through the air, and then the incredible pain as they lashed my bare genitals over and over. I thought I was the only one spanked like this, so it's good to read other's experiences on this site.

  104. This letter brought tears to my eyes, both for the author and for my own personal memories of being spanked by both my parents, who, I am sure, thought they were doing the right thing by spanking me and my syblings with belts, ping-pong paddles, heavy old-style pancake turners, iron skillets, tree-limbs (aka "switches", we were forced to find our own and it better be a "good one" or we faced the consequences if mom had to find it herself!), hair-brushes, hand mirrors and occasionally my parent's bare hand all the while telling the victim that "this hurts me more than it hurts you". I also was subjected to spankings by a teacher in grade school who liked to use a large wooden paddle with holes drilled in it, the only difference being she didn't pull down our pants. My mom also hit me over the head as a little girl with a supposedly "unbreakable" plate that broke in half on impact. She never apologized for it and I remember the pain she inflicted. I grew up in fear and thinking I was never good enough. I still feel that I'm not good enough some times. I never knew there was a book written that advised parents to spank their children in the manner I was spanked till I came accross this story and I remember that I wasn't the only child in my childhood that was subjected to it. I always thought I was raised that way because that was how my parents were raised. I know my mother was horrifically abused by her step-mother as a child and eventually ran away from home as a teenager but I don't know how my father was disciplined because I don't recall him ever talking about it. I threatened to run away once and my father packed up my clothes in large, brown paper grocerie bags and told me to get out. When I didn't leave, but apologized, he gave me 5 minutes to put away all my clothes "correctly" and get to the dinner table, the "Sunday dinner table" sunday afternoon after church! He would attend church, acting all high and mighty, the great christian and then leave church, arguing with my mother in the car and using the Lord's name in vane amoung other cuss words and believe it or not, I had friends who didn't know the real man known as my father who thought he was a preacher! I remember it made me angry and sick to my stomach. I love my father and I loved my mother, but I wish they would've known the right way to discipline their children, the way God would've wanted with love and kindness, not "spare the rod and spoil the child" attitudes.

    Thank you for speaking out about your experience. I think in some families, it has gone from one extreme to another, where the parents don't spank, but don't do anything at all to raise their children properly, letting their children run all over them, disrespecting them and others. There has to be a middle ground that works without abuse and I pray someone will find it soon. I chose not to have children because the abused become the abusers more times than not and I didn't want to be one of them. Bless you on your road to recovery and peace.

  105. I took five yrs of psychotherapy to address my denial of a life long sexual damage from spanking as a child. I still live with it but my PTSD symptoms have subsided and it no longer controls my sexuality as strongly. I can remember the moment in time when still a young preadolescent child with now knowledge of sex at all how the desire to be spanked ritually with partial nudity to over my thoughts and actions. Parents as caregivers are ignorant that forced body exposure of their child to them for spanking is a form of sexual assault! The act is quite different than for intention of hygeine or medical care and sexual feelings, both postitive, arousal, and negative, humiliation, occur with this punishment. The damage sexuality lasts a lifetime, some love it in their sex life but it is a form of sexual addiction, and for those who find it distracting it's a burden. No child offense could ever warrent a life time punishment of a damaged sexuality. Parents please remember your child is a sexual being at birth!

  106. I will first admit I have not read this entire letter. After about the third or so paragraph, I became physically ill and couldn't finish. Six months? Just a baby!! I do promise to come back and finish reading it. My heart goes out to Bethany-I am so so sorry you ever had to go through this. I was spanked as a child, but never to this extent. I was always a very "tender-hearted" child who grew to be a very sensitive adult. I can not imagine the pain you have gone through. If I could find you and hug you right now, I would do so in a heart beat. I would also like to do many nasty hurtful things to Roy Lessin, but that's another story. Thank you for sharing. I do hope this reaches a wide audience and helps other parents to realize the true impact that "spanking" has on a child.

  107. I say, SUE HIM!!! It'd be in the news and people will learn more about spanking and the harmful effects.

  108. I'm not the kind of person to want revenge, but my dad beat me, not spanked, until I was 15, in which I struck back. Every since then he has not laid a hand on me, but I wool not allow my children to stay in his house for their, and his own safety.

  109. Reading this makes me feel brings back memories of my parents' daily spankings as a kid...

  110. Beth,

    I am so sorry for what happened to you, and to all who were spanked. I'm so sorry.


  111. I can relate Beth. I was molested by My SPECIAL EDUCATION teacher and I was walloped when I "told" I remember sitting in a chair in the living room and a belt came thrashing hitting my body - arms breasts tummy everything. I didn't cry - I couldn't cry I was just hurt impossibly. A few months later I was dumped in a psychiatric hospital - the teacher is rotting in a jail cell and I'm guilty as sin - psych didn't help! My teddy bear wasn't allowed! I cried and screamed they tied me down in a dark room I was scared screaming they shut off the lights I freaked more! They finally let me up and I just hid everyplace I could find - to not be bad. I had the cognitive ability of a 7 year old. Anyway Beth you give me hope I'm 28 now and my PTSD COMES BACK - I still live at home and occasionally a spanking is threatened but I just get time outs now! I have a form of autism. I manged to graduate from college. But that's all. Anyway in time outs I meltdown and cry and cry scream, kick the wall - I can't really express what's wrong unless I type it which takes forever too.

    It breaks my heart that I'm not the only one to know torture! I suck my thumb and pinky in the psych ward they slapped it out as it wasn't "socially acceptable" but I could as an asthmatic smoke because it's acceptable behavior! Even then I smiled sweetly curtised and said I am better off without an asthma attack or lung cancer. I hid in my closet because they slapped my hand and cried! It was scary because patients were not on my side and they tried to get me in trouble.

    My parents do more now to stop or help my meltdowns because they realized from a few conferences with professors and therapists that I process information differently! Background is more noticeable that conversational - I trust animals over people. Animals don't play guessing games they aren't as ambiguous.

    Anyway I hope we find the healing we need somehow!

    Somewhere Over the Rainbow :) - Jessica Christi

  112. This is actually the first time I've ever really spoke up about my own childhood. I often WANT to share my experiences because I've never fully told anyone and keeping it hidden makes me feel as if I'm ignoring what happened, that it made it okay. And it wasn't. Seeing all these experiences makes me feel not alone and that I can share my own injustices without negativity.

    My mother was very religious and strict, not to mention very controlling.

    She was prone to quick anger and though they weren't spankings, she would pinch or belittle me for small things like accidentally spilling a cup, or over accidents as I had always been a clumsy person. These were the frequent ones.

    She would spank me for things like not keeping a tidy room, bad grades, and sometimes would get out of hand in these situations for what caused them. Even for 'reasonable' spankings I hated them intensely.

    Here's where it got out of hand. There are three specific examples are traumatizing experiences that I can point out, others too but these stick out the most and hurt me mentally.

    One time one of my siblings (I have a sister and brother, the youngest was three at the time and the oldest, me, was 6) left a piece of bread-crust in a mop bucket. My mother called out all of us to point it out and ask who it was. She told us to confess who it was and if not all three of us were getting spanked by a coat hanger. I was scared because I didn't want to get spanked, because I had no idea who did it and I myself was not at fault. My siblings looked equally terrified and were not going to speak up so rather then all of us getting punished I decided to lie and say it was me. She spanked me and I remember the anger I felt during said spanking.

    Another one I remember was during still set age I didn't want to finish eating my rice so I hid it under the table (the table had cubicle holes). My dad found it and he went up to my sister, thinking it was me while she was facing her back to him, and right when she turned he smacked her directly across the face. She started crying then he realized it wasn't me so he calmed her quickly and I was watching, I remember laughing but I think it was out of nervousness and then he turned to glare at me and I remember how SCARED, how freaking terrified I was that I would get the same or worse. Thing is, all he did was glare and leave. I don't remember why. But just the plain fear of his actions still made it stick out painfully for me.

    This one was the worst. I was either in sixth or seventh grade but my sister and I hadn't cleaned our rooms. My mother was upset... beyond upset, furious and while driving us home from school she said she had a 'surprise' for us. When we got home and entered our rooms, she got a belt and told me to lie face down on bed so she could spank me. I obeyed of course and she proceeded to just spank me again and again and again and I was crying, screaming I was sorry and that it hurt and for her to stop while my sister was watching fearfully. I would reflexively try to cover my behind with my hands but the hard strike against them hurt even more and at the same time she threatened to make it worse unless I pulled them away. After several strikes, she then did the same to my sister, returned and gave some more to me then my sister once again before leaving and angrily saying that was our 'prize'.

    There are other things she did but I won't share as it was just plain terribleness and I suppose not relevant to 'spanking'.

    What I'd like to say is though, I don't think parents should use spanking as their first disciple instinct, and certainly even use it at all. Even if they say they won't 'do it out of anger' I think the temptation, frustration, or stress and lead to it much too easily. And doing it out of anger will cause severe hurt, as well as pain that may be temporary but last as scars.

  113. I was spanked as a child. It happened very rarely and I never questioned the validity of the spanking, I knew I deserved the discipline. It was usually a quick swat on the fat of my legs or my hinney. I have no emotional scars because of it.

    Today I have eight children, I have spanked all but my youngest who, at 22-months, is not old enough to spank. I have never done it out of anger, but out of love for my child. So far my children seem to be very emotionally well.

    My brother lived in Finland for 2 years where spanking is illegal. He said the children are very ill behaved and that parents feel impotent to discipline their children.

    The above described spanking is awful and yes abusive. Spankings should be few and far between and only for the most grievous of misdeeds. There are better ways to deal with small childish indigressions.

  114. Does anyone know how Beth is doing now? Has she ever posted again? Has the evil sadist ever replied to her letter? Have her parents ever apologized to her? This is so terribly sad!
    I pray that she has found peace and happiness now.

  115. I'm yet another person who can relate to Beth's story. I was spanked from a very young age by my parents, as well as by a sadistic teenage babysitter (who was probably recreating the same punishments she'd had at the hands of her own parents). What's crazy is I used to block these memories out. They would resurface from time to time, and each time, I felt surprised - as if it was the first time I'd ever recollected them. It's only in the last couple of years that I've stopped allowing myself to forget them.

    Shortly after my parents' divorce, I started to act out. This led to more spankings from both mom and dad. The babysitter incidents happened around the same time. This all led to my first sexual fantasies at the tender age of 6. Is sexual the right word? I didn't even understand what sex was, exactly. The fantasies didn't involve sex at all. They only involved dominant, sadistic adults. But the pleasure I received from them was definitely sexual.

    I didn't understand it, didn't connect it with the spankings I'd received. In fact, the thought of being spanked by my parents or anyone else I actually knew turned my stomach and made me feel physically ill. The pleasure I got from my fantasies was always followed by intense guilt, humiliation, and feeling like something was very, very wrong with me. Especially as I aged and hit puberty and realized that none of the things that seemed to sexually excite other girls excited me whatsoever. Only spanking and domination excited me.

    I am still that way at 34 years old. In this case, awareness was not half of the battle. My sexual wiring is permanently screwed up, never to be set to rights. Pain, humiliation, pleasure, love...these are all confused for me (well, my parents did often tell me they spanked me because they loved me). I don't feel loved without the rest. I can't orgasm with normal sex unless I'm imagining that it's not just normal sex. It's the only way for me to achieve sexual gratification, which means that - perversely enough - I have to relive my negative childhood experiences over and over again just to fulfill a fundamental human need. This led to many bad relationships in adulthood, as there's still a frozen-in-time child inside of me who utterly believes, "I hurt you for your own good".

    Believe it or not, I'm mostly okay with this now. Yes, a part of me is still very angry, but I don't know what it feels like to have a normal sexuality. I never felt it, so it's difficult to miss. Still, there's a sense of loss, a sense that something was stolen from me. I guess it's like someone who's always been blind trying to understand what sight might be like.

  116. This is continued from my Anonymous post above:

    I am nowhere near alone. I've personally talked to approximately 8,000 people around the world who are sadomasochists or have spanking fetishes. Fetish is a serious thing. It means normal sexual pleasure pathways have been rerouted to the point where pretty much only the fetish can provide that pleasure.

    8,000 is just the tip of the iceberg. Statistically, SM and spanking is the most common fetish in the world. The countries in which corporal punishment is or was used the most have proportionately higher incidences of it. For instance, in the UK where caning was used in homes and public schools until relatively recently, ritualistic caning fetishes are extremely common. In the southern US, it's often paddles or switches or belts.

    I view spanking as sexual abuse. This isn't just because it can cause sexual dysfunction, but also due to the horrifying psychological effects of continued spanking of children who have already developed the dysfunction. After it all became sexualized for me at age 6, I started to fight like crazy anytime my parents tried to spank me. I'm talking kicking, screaming, biting - to the point where I seem possessed. It felt incestuous and I felt violated as if I were being sexually molested. To my psyche, I WAS being sexually molested. The cognitive dissonance of having your otherwise loving parent subject you to that kind of abuse causes lifelong effects. Thankfully, the spankings tapered off quickly for me.

    You will never know if your child is like me. It breaks my heart to think of all the children out there being spanked now and to KNOW without a doubt that some of them are going through the same and their parents don't even realize what they're doing in the name of "discipline" and never will.

  117. It disgusts me that some people think that this is the "best" or even an appropriate way to discipline children. I know that I was spanked as a child and it absolutely revolted me and I never knew until I was an adult exactly why. I also know I'll never spank my baby, and I will bite off the hand of anyone I see try to use physical discipline on him.

  118. What a very sad story although your parents I believe meant well they were influenced by "the spare the rod spoil the child teaching" and followed it 100 percent. My mother was a very strict disciplinerian and was also influenced by the rod off correction teaching which she heavily used in her numerous spankings which I received as a result. She in her way was trying to raise a respectable young lady and used the switch on my backside to correct me when I needed correction. Mother hit very hard and my backside was blistered afer each spanking session she would let me cry for an hour and a half then she would come to my room and say you and I need to reconcile we both cannot harbour any anger. I spanked you for your disobedience (or whatever reason she had spanked) and I truly love you now I need for you to come over and let's embrace as a sign of forgiveness. Many a time I didnot want to embrace (my pride would get in the way) yet I could never resent my mother and I learned to forgive easily. Those times of embrace conviced me that my mother did love me and was trying her best to bring me up in rightiousness. I myself have children of my own but have not chosen to spank there is a better way and I'm grateful that I discovered it. God has been good to me.

  119. I too received harsh belt strappings I know how the pain parents thought they were doing the right thing.I hope we can both heal.

  120. This whole page has made me physically ill. My heart is breaking all over again.

  121. Go to hell, Roy Lessin. You screwed up a lot of childhoods, including mine.

  122. This is so fucked up. What the hell have you people been doing to kids before I was born ? I'm 16 years old and I find this sickening.

    Jesus my ass, this is Satan's teaching. A good God would never want people to feel pain.

    Jesus is gonna burn all your souls purgatory for torturing and molesting children in such evil wicked ways.

    PS: Jesus loves curse words and so do I. I love Jesus.

  123. This was so difficult to read. It brings back a lot of thoughts about how I was raised. Although I was raised by two wonderful parents, who I have no doubt loved my sister and I very much, they too believed in spankings. I would not go so far to say that the spankings were abusive, however may have been close and I am sure to some would be considered abuse. We found ourselves over our parents lap numerous times from about the ages of 4 to maybe 12 or so. The spankings were always to our bare bottoms, my dad always used his hand and our mom either used her hand or a mean looking hairbrush that she had. I know for a fact that our parents loved us and truly thought they were
    providing us with discipline that was good for us, however looking back, they were very painful spankings that left our bottoms red.

  124. Very well written.
    This type of punishment makes it impossible for a child to confide in their parents because of the fear of the abuse (Sorry punishment)
    For me is was simply less painful and fearful to accept being punched unconscious and raped than it was to try to broach the subject with my parents.

  125. This is very sickening, Roy Lessin sounds like a pervert and a child molester trying to excuse such horrible acts. He probably just wanted to watch parents beat their children like this for his own perverted sexual pleasure and is using God to instill fear into parents so they do it. Go to hell Roy!
    I've received harsh bare ass spankings when I was a kid from this Jehovah's Witness man who thinks he is one of God's chosen and if I cried in pain, even had tears in my eyes, the spankings would continue until I some how manage to not cry or have any tears.
    I was terrified of him and couldn't even look at him.
    You are a very brave person Bethany for sharing your story and I am so sorry you had to do through that, I know the feeling and the fear.

    1. It is hard to know what lies inside someone's heart. However, I think many of these people are just terribly misguided and victims themselves. If you knew the truth, they were probably punished in a similar way themselves, so for them this abuse is "normal". Child raising practices have changed a great deal over just a generation or two. Sadly, there are people who believe they have to whip or beat their children to raise them properly. Changing this behavior is going to take a lot of education.

  126. Bethany, I hear you as hearing myself. With the exception of the IBS, I have experienced all of the same. I do not know if my parents read that book, but their method was exactly that. I do know they meant the best for me and intended to do me good, not harm. And yet, as you, I also have the same underlying fear issues and memories. It is hard to realize this, that the harm was inflicted out of a sense of duty and love. So twisted. I have resolved not to spank my children. My firstborn was spanked a few times - neither of us really wanted to, but felt we had to - so it was a hand swat that left no mark and only after 2 years of age - and it felt so wrong I have vowed never again. What stood out to me was how he was afraid of The Spanking, even if it wasn't more than a pat -- which is what was done, a gentle hand on fully clothed bottom that would have been a suitable pat for a cat! It was a gesture and IDEA to symbolize we would do something punishing for disobedience. It was the emotional buildup that did the obedience trick: "You will get...a spanking." If just the emotion of a spanking hurt, without physical pain, what on earth are we doing?!!! No, never ever ever will I condone this. My son and I have talked about this, he is 6 now, and I have apologized. He said to me, when I told him I would never spank him again, "How come I had spankings when I was little but not now? It would make more sense the other way 'round." I told him that he was right and no little child understands enough to be hit, that is the truth, but that there are other ways he can understand what is bad and good. We had a very thoughtful discussion about what he thinks helps him understand when he is doing something hurtful or bad: talking. I wish to God he had never been spanked once, but I thank God for the wisdom of this child and how he reached out to me and even said, "So you will never spank [little brothers] right?" I was the child who had to hold back the tears of pain and fear for fear of more pain. At first I believed thia was how children were "taught," but now I know, "the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these (little children)." They teach me more than I could ever imagine of unconditional love and forgiveness. Bethany, do not be afraid of children. But neither feel obligated to start a family, it's not easy especially when you're terrified of doing wrong! Be well, sweet woman, and may the wounds heal.

  127. I want to thank the author of this letter for what she has said. In her own case, spanking was clearly carried on to the point where anyone would describe it as abusive. As a child, I was not spanked on this level. However, all my experiences with it were awful memories. I have resolved never to spank my own children because of it. I was probably spanked less than a dozen times between about age 3 and 14. However, several of the spankings were to the point of abuse. I remember when I was twelve, I smoked a cigarette with some friends and got caught doing it. My parents dealt with that by making me take my pants off and whipping me with a switch. My father made me bend over his knee while he sat on the living room couch and whipped my unclothed butt. I remember it was extremely painful and embarrassing. I had welts on my butt for days afterwards. Another time, I was at a relative's home. I didn't like my cousin. She was always trying to get me into trouble and sometimes succeeded. I pushed her down and she made a big deal about it and pretended to cry. Mom's response was to make me strip to my underwear and to spank me with a belt. She deliberately spanked me in front of my cousin to the point where I cried. The shame I felt over that was just awful. I highly recommend that parents find other punishments for their children. Spanking is not a positive or helpful punishment.

  128. The most vivid memory I have as a child is my mother chasing me upstairs after I lied to her about stealing a pack of gum and slapping me across the face. I was four years old.

    She never slapped me again after that, and even told me that she regretted it deeply. However, being struck by someone I trusted and loved taught me a very powerful lesson - it wasn't to be obedient and truthful, it was to lie, lie, lie when I did something wrong, because otherwise I would be hit. She remarried when I was young and my stepfather subject me to psychological abuse. He would get upset at me for seemingly no reason. I couldn't tell which days would be 'happy with me' days or 'mad at me' days. There was no rhyme or reason to his treatment of me, and any disobedience, or *disagreement* whatsoever, resulted in punishment.

    I was not allowed to talk back. I was not even allowed to disagree. I was not allowed to ask questions. He expected absolute obedience and even asking a question would result in punishment. As a result, I built that 'cheerful, obedient shell' around myself, just like you did. I pretended to be happy all the time. I would mindlessly agree with anything he said. He was racist, and even though on the inside I knew racism was wrong, I'd go along with it because to speak my mind meant punishment.

    As an adult as 29 years old, I am still fighting against this instinct that is a part of me. I was raised to be a fake person, I was raised to lie to protect myself from abuse, and it's hard for me, even now, to speak my mind because of that ingrained fear of punishment for disagreeing with others. Parents are supposed to raise their children with respect. Children ARE ALLOWED TO EXPRESS THEIR OPINIONS. Children ARE ALLOWED TO DISAGREE. Disagreement does NOT equal disrespect or disobedience, and treating them as the same is harmful, and teaches children that they need to pretend, rather than be truthful and real individuals.

    Abuse - physical and psychological - never helps a child develop. Like the author before she married, I, too, cannot develop relationships. The idea of being with a man scares me, because of the psychological abuse I suffered. I have tried therapy, and it has done nothing. All I can hope for is eventually becoming stronger, mentally, and being able to have a basic relationship with a man without feeling nauseous and terrified.

  129. Reading the steps to this spanking punishment is literally exactly what both my parents did to me while I was growing up. They would tell me to go to their room and wait, and then when they came in they would explain why I was being spanked, pull down everything put my underwear, spank me with a belt or wooden spoon, and then give me another speech afterwards.
    What you experienced is definitely a more extreme version, as I was not spanked multiple times a day or even a week. But my parents would also pull my hair and force me to apologize.
    I wouldn't say I liked these forms of discipline but I'm also grateful. I learned how to respect my parents at an early age and i learned to think about things twice before I did them. The Bible does say if you spare the rod than you spoil your child. However, alot of parents unfortunetly use the rod alot more than they should and not in the right way. I believe spanking is necessary. The buttocks can handle a few swats here and there and the child will be fine and not have any mental or physical trauma. But what you received was too much and wasn't necessary. We expect kids to think the way we do, we forget that they are young and can't comprehend or make any sense of the same things we can. I'm sorry for what you experienced, it puts a sour taste of any kind of discipline in parents mouth's. But I do still believe that a light spanking is good, I would rather spank my kid for running out into the middle of the road and have them remember not to do it again then have them get hit by a car.

    1. You may be interested in this article (and the book also by Dr. Sears) on the subject of "spare the rod..." There is also a group called Gentle Christian Mothers - excellent to look into on this Biblical reference and others.

    2. Thanks I'll look into it

  130. I couldn't finish reading; it was too disturbing. I don't understand how anyone can support this sort of abuse.

    I've been spanked several times as a kid, though it wasn't a common thing in my household. I grew up in a very loving family and both my parents never hesitated to show me affection, but they also made mistakes.

    The two spankings that I never forgot were the only times my dad spanked me with something else than just his hand. I was six years old and supposed to watch over my two years old brother. We were in a park where my friends were playing, and there was a road right next to the park (obviously, you can already see how bad idea that was). I got involved with my friends' game and forgot about my brother, and he wandered off (the park was just in front of our aunt's house and he went there). When I noticed him gone, I panicked and immediatelly went to my parents. We found my bro' at my aunt's, relieved that he was okay, and then my dad took me home and spanked my bare ass with a cooking spoon for not being responsible enough and not taking care of my baby brother. The second incident was the same thing, same reason, just a few months later. I never forgot to look after my brothers after that - if anything, to this day I'm overprotective of people I'm in charge of; but my upbringing screwed me up. I was expected to be way more responsible than was appropriate for my age and I often played a third parent to my younger brothers (I have four of them), so I was like a young adult, too concerned with responsibility and not allowing myself to have fun. I very rarely got home late or did anythind even remotedly dangerous; I had great grades, but I was also self-conscious and never fitting in well with my agemates. When I was young, my dad would yell at me sometimes, and I honestly hated that just as much as getting spanked (he doesn't yell anymore and I don't think he has ever spanked my youngest brother - apparently parenting is also something you teach by trial and error).

    I can't tell how much I was influenced by those two spankings and how much by my general upbringing. And there are worse ways to grew up than being "too responsible". My parents were very young when they had me, dealing with a lot of stuff and frankly barely prepared to handle parenthood, but they were very doting and I never worried that they would stop loving me. But at the same time, even the threat of disappointing them left me almost sick and I worshipped this idea of them in my head.

    There are many ways to screw up a kid and not all of them have to do with spanking. I honestly don't see a problem with giving a smaller child a few swats on the rear with your hand to keep him running into a street with cars, especially at the young age of two or three years when the kid is still too young to recognize concepts as "death", but will understand that he will get his ass smacked if he runs across the street. Anything more can be problematic and should be approached with extreme caution. I would be very hesitant to impletent spanking as a correction tool with my kids and I would look for other options before resorting to it. Then again, prolonged psychological abuse can be more damaging than a carefully handled spanking. If you exhaust other options such as lecturing and grounding... maybe. Depends on the age and circumstances. I just don't know.

    Either way, a child has to grow up feeling loved and safe. If there is a constant fear of being punished, clearly you're doing something wrong.

  131. I actually vomited. I had a McDonalds beg nearby fortunately. My sentiments and compassion for you. I get physically ill when I hear about things like this. I was researching something funny when I came across this. I believe that the government should pay you for this negligence. It's a shame they are too busy worrying whether or not gays can marry! I send you love, and I hope it helps.

  132. Totally heart breaking, I hope you find peace in your life Beth. To me, hitting a child in ANY way is wrong, especially if done in a calm and premeditated manor. To make a rational choice to hurt another human being, especially a vulnerable child, and then guilt trip them by telling them that it's out of love is just sick and damaging. Those who claim 'i turned out ok' in spite of corporal punishment, maybe suffering from Stockhausen syndrome, in which one identifies with their abusers in order to justify what happened to them. Again, just another example of the horrendous psychological consequences of how the actions of parents sets their kids up for a life time of emotional conflict.

    Sending love and grace your way xxx

    1. The correct term is Stockholm Syndrome. Please try to educate yourself before commenting on something as important as this where misinformation, intentional or not can be greatly damaging.

    2. The correct term is STOCKHOLM syndrome. Please try to educate yourself if you are going to comment on such a serious subject as this where misinformation can have a very serious effect. Your definition of the condition is incorrect as well. It has nothing whatsoever to do with justifying one's actions but is a description of a condition which develops when someone in a hostage situation begins to develop an attachment to their captors that is a result of continuous exposure to a repeated indoctrination forced upon the captive.

  133. Don't blame Roy Lessin. Blame your parents. THEY beat you.

  134. I did not finish reading your letter to Roy Lessin, nor did I read any of the other comments scrolling down to write my two cents worth. My parents spanked me often in the same manner as Roy Lessin apparently advocates. Both my parents were firm believers in the pants down over the knee method, my mother more so. I am now 58 years old: the tremendous psychological harm caused directly by spanking has had a profound effect on me DAILY the whole of my adult life. Like many people I am critical of my country's government, but when I heard that Canada had outlawed spanking I applauded my government whole-heartedly (the Supreme Court struck down the law, but held that a parent must not spank younger than 2 and not older than 12, must not leave a mark, must not use any kind of implement, must not spank anywhere other than the bottom--and it must be through clothing). Spanking is a lot like cigarette smoking: not everybody gets cancer--but enough do that smoking is a foolish risk. Not everybody who was spanked as a child suffered lasting psychological harm, but it is firmly established that spanking is harmful by the very people competent to make such a declaration--psychologists and child psychologists--that people who continue to back spanking are as foolish as those believe smoking isn't harmful.

  135. How sad
    As a boy my father spanked me from a very early age for real naughtiness and for what still seems like no reason, a favorite was talking back "talking back" how pathetic, he always bared my bottom and spanked for maximum pain, he only used his hand but had the idea that the spanking only began when I started sobbing then he would spank my bottom and tops of my legs till marked and crimson even spanking 20 or more times in the same spot then 20 or so more in another spot I remember trying to twist my bottom to stop the incredible pain then twisting back the other way when he spanked the other side, I nearly always received another spanking for crying too much after and cant describe the fear of my trousers and underwear being pulled down again. I have also never had children and although married (I am now 54) we now have no physical contact as I find it hard to display any loving physical contact, I must add I am and never have been abusive in any way shape or form and in fact I have a spanking fetish and sometimes meet other men not for sex, I ask them to beat my bare bottom till badly bruised. I know I am emotionally scarred but I still have a reasonably good life and as you said I am good at concealing what is on the inside. I am a firm believer in discipline but spanking is not discipline it is abuse, just because the slaps are applied to the bottom does not make it ok a slap is a slap and a child should never ever be slapped for any reason. All this said I loved my father very much and still miss him every day, and although not an excuse he was badly abused as a child and to him a spanking was very mild compared to what he endured

  136. Spanking is no doubt child abuse and any parent who does it needs to realize this and not only beg for forgiveness and repent to God but take responsibility and pay for therapy and medical treatments for what they cause if they are still alive.I have Asperger Syndrome and no about of beatings can change that.I myself dealt with abuse and torture as a child and not only deal with mental issues like depression and PTSD but after a mental breakdown I got Graves disease 2 years ago and ended up losing my thyroid because of the terrible effects it had on me. I also got Fibromyalgia at 18 which I believe was brought on by stress. I'm 29 and am have been dealing with the effects being spanked (assaulted rather)had on me coupled with being tortured and bullied. I too had to suppress my emotions to the best of my ability but I failed quite a lot which brought on more pain. If anything I didn't let them break my will because that was so important to me. I realized once I was grown I could say anything I wanted and confront my mother properly and she couldn't do anything about it unless she wanted to be charged with assault. She knows the damage she did and tried to pretend she didn't spank me "that much" which is doing nothing more then trying to gaslight me. I hardly ever let her touch me and sadly she will have to live with that all her life as the one that caused the problem. I work at my church with special needs children and do everything I can to make sure they are never mistreated. Thankfully my church is very strict on us in child care and we are never to lay an angry hand on or humiliate a child. Anytime I see it out in public it cuts me and I make a point to give the adult an angry disapproving look so that they will know they didn't completely get away with it without some albeit silent opposition. Even after doing that it still ruins my day. I have a feeling that all this is why kids are becoming more and more violently out of control and are on so many psychotropic drugs. Personally I quit the drugs many years ago and am in psycho therapy which has helped quite a lot but spanking has got to stop and if anything I want to see it become a crime against children because that is exactly what it is.

  137. Anything beyond 1-3 swats on a clothed bottom with an open hand and NOT HARD is child abuse, plain and simple. I have a 7 year old, and ONE swat is normally sufficient, the intent is not to physically hurt, but to jar her out of misbehaviour and reconsider her actions. I use this less and less as she gets older, threatening to confiscate the Nintendo often has the same results if not better results. Physical disipline has a place, but that place is very limited and shouldn't ever be used on older children and NEVER used severely. The goal is to suprise the child so that she will not continue whatever they're doing, not to terrorise, hurt or traumatise. What you endured is child abuse, and is NOT how any parent should approach discipline.



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