Sunday, January 5, 2014

Humiliation as parenting


After posting Thoughts on spanking and respect, I wanted to add to the greater subject of humiliation that I think is key to what's wrong with spanking and how too many people who give up or seriously restrict spanking their children.

In Pop, RIP, I alluded to issues in my relationship with father, things I didn't think my eulogy for him was an appropriate time or place to go into any sort of details about, but were a big enough part of our relationship and my life that I couldn't leave unreferenced.

My father was abused as a child.  I believe that is the way he would - and did - describe it, although certainly he was prone to downplay the importance and impact of it, when confronted directly about it.  That's not only a common thing among abuse victims, but it certainly matched his way of dealing with issues in general, whether because of that or not.

I was only spanked a small number of times, and, as far as I recall, they were all "by the book", not in anger, as a consequence for an action I was warned would lead to that, etc.  I remember all of those details quite well.  I don't, on the other hand, remember my infractions one bit, which could hint at how effective the lesson was.

My father was a big one for humiliation, though.  Humiliation is the key lesson of spanking, probably the only lesson of, truth be told.

Obviously, humiliation can be achieved through any number of means, though.

My father liked to stay on a lecture about something long, long after it was serving a point.  He would twist around and demand answers for obviously rhetorical questions, then make a point of not wanting an answer for questions that would seem necessary to answer and calling it interrupting.  He would dismiss discussion harshly.

I don't remember the details well, only the humiliation, which again speaks to the effectiveness of the lesson, I think.

They would go on for far too long and eventually, my mother, sensing the humiliation and the lack of any useful purpose would try to cut him short, which would just shift the humiliation over to her, which I'm not sure I preferred, except that I felt in some way protected.

There were a number of things that I think damaged our relationship beyond repair, but I think I can point to the point of no return.  When I was an adult and we were trying to mend our relationship, or something of that nature, we were out having beers, playing pool and such, he led the conversation to that topic.

I can guarantee that I didn't.  My part, however pathetic, of the mending fences was to avoid subjects like that that at all costs.

He ended up going on an unsolicited and unnecessary rant again criticizing my mother for interceding in these.

Whatever of my desire to build our relationship or strengthen it or even really to maintain it died at that moment.  He maintained that his right to humiliate me was the foremost point of order.

Or relationship stumbled along awkwardly and, at best, occasionally, for a while after that.  My memories of whatever happened after includes many more things that made the relationship worse than things that made them better.

The tendency to humiliate as a tool of "winning" an argument lives on with me.  I know I've done it in all of my relationships.  I think I've done better with each one, but I know I'm better with Kim than I've ever been before in the past, but it's there, and I'm genuinely terrified of doing it to Conan.

I hope I never do that at all.  It's destructive.  There's no lesson in it, whether it's physical or emotional. I can say that don't have any respect for the people who avoid humiliation through spanking but have no qualms with it when it's done through other means, including - perhaps especially - verbally.

I know for sure that if I ever fail myself and do that to him, I won't defend it to him when he's an adult.  I wouldn't dare.

I know better.

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