Date: August 17, 2011 12:26PM
It is cultural. My mother was from a big Columbian family. She hit me and my sister on the bare behind with my dad's leather belt, which I used to hide under the bed. I was five. Abruptly, she stopped.
Then, when I was fourteen, I called my father "Buster" (because I heard it in a movie, "Listen, Buster....") He whacked me really hard on the buttocks, which felt strangely really good, so I laughed. It was first arousal experience.
In my own Nazi Mormon household, I used hot wheel tracks on the little boys' bottoms and the backs of their legs. I stopped it when my third boy said to me (when he was four), "You wouldn't do that if you knew how bad it stings." I was suddenly filled with memories of my mother and fears that, yes indeed, I was becoming her and forgetting what it was like to be a child and be afraid.
I switched to a paddle in the seventies but looked the other way when the girls stuffed newspaper into their pants--I could always spot the guilty party by the bulges. I told the kids I had eyes in the back of my head, under my hair, and they used to look for the eyes when I was driving.
There is a lot of pressure on Mormon mothers to control children, especially on Sundays. It's like a competition and mothers trade "tips" in Relief Society. I used Binaca breath spray (which stings) on kids in church who misbehaved.
The church had people who wrote books and spoke gave advice on using humiliation, peer pressure, fear of hell, fear of being separated from family in eternity, isolation, darkness as symbol of outer darkness, etc. I acted against my own motherly instinct and I regret it to this day. I am sure it cost me my relationship with my oldest son.
In those days parents were all afraid our children would become "hippies" if we let them do anything different than Mormon missionary look. And you were judged if your kids were listening to rock music, had long hair, played Nintendo, etc.
People think the old days were more fun being Mormon, but I don't think it was much fun at home for kids in big families whose parents listened to leaders' bad advice about child discipline.