Hands are Not for Hitting (and not for Shoving, Slapping, Swatting, Pinching, Jerking, or “Spanking”).
We read this book to my son when he was three. Hands help and love and wave goodbye. Hands paint and cook and communicate. But some adults still use their hands for corporal punishment of children. Maybe you know someone who still hits. Please share this post with them. Corporal punishment destroys natural impulses that are healthy and creative – it breaks relationship and leads to a host of emotional problems.
I work mostly with adults. At least 80 percent of my clients were hit as children by someone who was supposed to love them. Most do NOT want to talk about it. They come to me for other reasons, such as anxiety or difficulty concentrating. But their adult symptoms are usually related to their experience of physical punishment as children.
Being hit as a child is so horrifying, so degrading, so demoralizing, we resist even allowing ourselves to remember it happened……much less connect it to our current problems. So let’s analyze the practice a bit, so we can see how it affects us long-term.
Kids get hit for:
*going against their parents’ instructions
*forgetting to do something
*making too much noise
*making too much mess
*having open conflicts
*saying things that upset their parents
*adding stress to the parents’ experience (e.g., whining, complaining).
These infractions come mostly from impulse. And children are creatures of impulse. Kids need those impulses to learn and define themselves in the wide world. We rely on our parents to calmly teach us how to use our impulses in an organized, regulated way. But being hit teaches us something else:
……….if we express ourselves honestly, if we have needs or desires, if we’re not always on the alert for our imperfections, we could get whacked.
Exercise: Make a list of offenses for which you were hit as a child. How has this list affected your adult life?
My list created an inner censor that stops me from speaking up when I should. It taught me: I’m not safe to speak or move or act. My novel, Wife Material, deals with religious abuse and child maltreatment and the repression of all sorts of natural impulses and voice……things that would be good to have…….natural elements destroyed by hitting.
I’m DONE being inhibited by my list of punishable offenses. I’m ready to bust out of that list. I’m ready to paint really outrageous things and write insurgent poetry and use words like bastard. I’m ready to go up to strangers in the mall and say, Please! Hands are not for hitting! You with me?
Please send this to everyone you know.
Contact me if you’d like to learn more about recovery from childhood trauma, including being hit – or if you’d like to make amends with your own child and start making better use of your hands.