LISA, ALL WE CAN SAY TO YOU IS, WWMGD: WHAT WOULD MRS. GARRETT DO?

Growing up, we hated Blair Warner, the snooty schoolgirl with perfect hair played by Lisa Whelchel on "Facts of Life," and we've had no problem with Whelchel's subsequent fall off the face of the earth. Well, now Blair is back, with a new book endorsing an old tradition: Cruel and unusual punishment. Seems Whelchel is an advocate of "hot saucing" children under 10 when they lie or say hurtful things (an example of a hurtful thing a child might say, I imagine, might be, "Mommy, I hate you for hot saucing my tongue!"). We guess it's an update of the old "wash out your mouth with soap" routine, except it burns, Mommy, it burns!

But wait, there's more! Whelchel's book, "Creative Correction: Extraordinary Ideas for Everyday Discipline," a Focus on Family book, is excerpted on beliefnet, and it offers an eye-opening peek inside Mistress Lisa's home. I share with you some excerpts:

When my kids were little, for example, I sometimes felt it was more effective to administer a spanking than to try to reason with them. . . . when my children were toddlers and constantly getting into things, it seemed my only alternatives for discipline--other than spanking--were distracting or confining them. And I didn't like either of those choices. . . .  keeping them confined to their playpen for half the day seemed even more cruel than a slap on the back of their hands.

This is of course the temptation of corporal punishment. FD prefers "confinement," or time outs, and we've found that when three-year-old Small Fellow gets time outs (and we confess that those time outs typically involve our having to pick him up and haul him into his bed), he as often as not falls asleep within minutes. He misbehaves (sometimes) because he's tired, not because he's inherently bad. Similarly, since he's become potty trained, many of his worst behavior spurts can be traced to his delaying a needed trip to the bathroom. Once he gets to the potty, or gets to sleep, the behavior passes. Our way takes a bit more time and effort, as compared to, say, throttling him, but it hopefully teaches him that his behavior has causes (need to sleep, need to pee) that he can learn to recognize and fix. We're gratified when he finds himself misbehaving or crying and tells us, "I'm having some trouble. I need some rest." Mistress Lisa offers a different lesson:

. . . They intuitively know spankings are good for them, and that they receive them not only because they deserve it, but also because their parents love them. . . . One evening, when Haven was only two and a half years old, Steve and I left the kids with a baby-sitter. . . . When we arrived home at 8:30 . . . . She was in the midst of a full-blown temper tantrum . . . . When I went to talk with Haven, I expected to be met with more screaming and crying. But instead she said, "'Pank me."
"Did Miss Shawna spank you?" I queried, confused.
"No. 'Pank me," she urged once again....
"Do you want Mommy to spank you?" I asked, my jaw dropping in astonishment.
"Yes!" said Haven, and she jumped out of bed for her correction. Afterward, she locked her arms around me in a bear hug.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, this young woman was ASKING FOR IT!

But we're just getting to the really hot material. I think I saw this next scene in a movie, with James Spader in the dominant position [itals added]:

Recently my older daughter defied her grandmother's instruction to put the Popsicle back in the freezer until after dinner. I stopped my work and called to her. "Haven, meet me in the bathroom!" A few minutes later, I found her there. . . .

"Now, Haven," I began, "why are you getting this correction?" Her head hanging, she mumbled, "Because I went ahead and ate the Popsicle even though Grandmother told me not to." "Why was that wrong?" I persisted.
"Because Grandmother is my authority and I need to obey her." . . . .

"Haven," I told her, "I'm going to need to spank you because Proverbs 23:13-14 says, 'Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish him with the rod, he will not die. Punish him with the rod and save his soul from death.' " . . . .
I beckoned her toward me, where I was seated on the toilet lid.
"Now, lean over my lap."

She bent over, submitting to my instruction.
After I spanked her--eight times for her age--I invited her to sit on my lap. Cradling her in my arms, I said, "Haven, I love you and forgive you, but you need to ask Jesus to forgive you for not obeying Him. . ."

Beckoned? Submitted? Sally, get me Harlequin on Line One! I've discovered a hot new talent for them!

What's amazing about this passage isn't even the fact that Blair's getting off on the dominance trip. It's that her daughter actually acknowledges her mistake and even understands why it was wrong, yet she STILL GETS SPANKED! EIGHT TIMES!

The problem with even a "creative" corporal punishment like hot saucing, as actual parents know, is that it's no easier to administer than a dose of medicine. You know that until Blair broke her children's spirits and made them willing, and apparently eager, partners in her dominatrix fantasies, she had to chase them around the house and probably pin them down before she could get that pyro diablo on their tongues. When you introduce violence, the child naturally responds with defenses and then the violence simply escalates. You'll always win, but the battle, and the actions he takes in the battle, then become more of an issue than the original behavior. And then you retreat to your corners to await the next round. Now, what do the experts call that?

August 26, 2004 | Permalink | Subscribe to RSS

Comments

God save us from the anti-spankers, the holier-than-thou types who think they know how to raise other people’s children better than their own parents do. I always say that anti-spankers can have their brats – they deserve them!

Posted by: Emily | Jul 6, 2005 9:54:39 AM

Emily, if we're not mistaken, when Lisa Whelchel invokes Jesus in a book advocating that parents everywhere hit and hot-sauce their children as much as she does, we're pretty sure she's being one of "the holier-than-thou types who think they know how to raise other people’s children better than their own parents do" - which was kind of our point ...

Posted by: Freelance Dad | Jul 7, 2005 12:14:24 AM

Both the “spanking is child abuse” and “you better spank or your child’s going to hell” types can be obnoxious. However, I think the Golden Globe award for obnoxiousness at this point goes to the former. Spanking enthusiasts aren’t pushing social service agencies to require potential foster parents to use corporal punishment on the children in their care, for example. On the other hand, anti-spankers are trying to impose their personal belief on all families through anti-corporal punishment laws, requirements that foster parents not use physical discipline, etcetera. If you don’t believe in spanking, don’t do it, I want to tell these folks. Then shut up.

Posted by: Emily | Jul 7, 2005 9:33:42 AM

Emily - Fair enough. We do not spank the kids here, but we're not strictly "anti-spanking." We know people who do it, and we can certainly imagine scenarios in which we would consider it as well (child heedlessly running into the street, for example) ...

Posted by: Freelance Dad | Jul 7, 2005 1:51:16 PM

I am not for spanking, but sometimes really, they are just begging for it. Nobody is talking about hitting. I was spanked as a kid, so was my husband, but we turned out ok.

Posted by: Cat | Feb 18, 2009 7:49:42 AM

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