My parents never spanked me as a child. In fact they never hit me at all. I think this is where my dysfunction began. In the absence of spanking.
I was punished, albeit, benignly. Spanking wasn’t in my parent’s handbook of discipline. I was sent to my room or put in the corner or even occasionally prohibited from seeing my friends for a few days—grounded—they called it. But I was never hit. And that is wrong.
As a functional adult, I often struggle with how to manifest my power without violence. In my professional management position, I routinely counsel subordinate employees through discussion and logical understanding supplemented with suggestive coaching or even leading by example. I simply cannot bring a subordinate employee into my office and beat the shit out of them as a display of both my power and disapproval for whatever unacceptable action they just committed. For my inability to physically dominate and humiliate otherwise innocent humans in the workplace, I blame my parents.
When my 4-year-old son misbehaves, I often find myself trying to learn why he has misbehaved instead of spanking him. For perhaps it is my fault—my poor parenting—that caused this. At times I’ll even stoop to unimaginable lows and give him a hug, trying to console him with loving touch instead of physical violence and degradation. For my unwillingness to punish my son with physical aggression, I blame my parents.
Sometimes my wife and I argue. Sometimes we outright fight. But that’s the nature of long-term monogamy, right? Tensions build but ultimately the greater good shines through. I find it pretty simple to argue with my wife. I even get irrationally mad at times, particularly when she is right and I am wrong. But I just can’t bring myself to hit her. I cannot lay hands violently on a woman, especially one whom I love. For my inability to solve my marital conflicts with violence, I blame my parents.
I’ve been known to dabble in the illicit substances. As a young man I was wrapped up pretty deeply in drug use and even to this day as a man I’ll go through periods of excessive alcohol consumption. But my rationale and ultimately, my self-conceived justifications for these less-than-desirable personality traits are on me. If only my parents had beat me for my wrongdoings as a child I would have an eternal set of alibis for my disgusting habits. If only my parents had hit me, I’d never have had to learn about accountability. Because I have to be accountable for my mistakes, no matter how much I might resist it at times, I blame my parents.
I dropped out of college. Once. I picked up the pieces of my shattered education, regrouped, and went on the graduate with honors. Unfortunately, my collegiate failures were due to my addiction and inability to get my priorities together. My teachers, professors, and associated educators never hit me. And that is truly sad. I had to own my failures as truly my own, regroup, and persevere. For the lack of physical abuse I took in school leading to mistakes that were wholly my own, I blame my educators and by proxy, my parents.
I’ve had some marital strife in my life. Who doesn’t? But my wife and I have typically been able to work together through any problems by admitting faults and amending mistakes. In these scenarios, I have to face my failures as a man. I can’t lean on the crutch of childhood abuse as a reason for my shortcomings as a man. For my inability to justify my marital vices by way of a violent childhood, I blame my parents.
This is where the problem lies for me. Spanking. I was never taught that physical violence solves problems. Because of my inability to exact physical violence on others by way of spanking, hitting, swatting, or punching, I am forced to use my mental faculties and love to understand and solve problems.
I have problems at work that I cannot bring myself to solve with violence. I have moments with my son that are perhaps deserving of punishment yet all I can do is love him. I have marital problems that I have to be accountable for and own. I have a personal history of poor health choices, poor life choices, and educational failures. I don’t get to blame any of this on my violent childhood. For all this, I have to be accountable. And for that I blame my parents.