A Research Guide for Students by I Lee

Autobiography of Carl Kaas

A Member of the Dutch Underground in World War II

Chapter 122: Family Life

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It was not a bad environment where we lived. Next door was a family from Quebec, the Raymonds, and next to them were Charlie and Alma Lee. Mr. Lee was a WW2 veteran and now a beer delivery man. They adopted a boy and a girl, Grant and Diane. The Raymonds had to feed six or seven mouths. Those children were about the same age as ours, so there was no lack of friends. However, they seemed to prefer to play at home most of the time.

This made me think back to my childhood. We seldom were home, always trying to find ways to get away from it. What was the difference? Our mother supplied us with food and shelter, and once I remember, or maybe twice, we rubbed noses. I thought that was fantastic, but no hugs or kisses. Father worked hard and long to bring home the bacon. He did not bother with any of us. I presumed he had a very hard life. It seemed that his Dad had a large farm at one time, but drank it all away. He went to the market one day with a horse, and came back with a dog, a belly full of whiskey and empty pockets. When I asked my Dad about anything he would say, "I am too old." What did he mean by that? Too old to talk to us because we were only kids and would not understand? Maybe too old to play with little kids. Was he afraid people might think he was childish to talk and play with us? Whatever, we did not have a very happy childhood.

Margaret and I talked about those situations in life through the years, having no one to ask for advice or ideas, no one with experience about raising children. We had to steer our own ship of life through the stormy seas. We watched others: how come some had beautiful well-behaving children while others turned out to be despicable? One thing we found for sure: the children who got everything they wished for, became very selfish. One family in our neighborhood had two girls who got all their wishes fullfilled. When they became teens, they told their parents what to do. First, the mother had to get rid of her clothes, they did not match the taste of the girls. Then they had to move to the big city. The girls said, "We don't want to live in the ghetto any longer." By that they meant in the village, they got the idea they belonged to a higher society, they felt ashamed their father was a laborer.

What should the policy be in our household? We knew nature urged us to love and protect our offspring. This worked fine when the children were small, helpless and innocent, no trouble at all. But as soon as they started to walk and used their feet and hands, their little brains started to work too, much more so than many mothers realized. They wanted to touch and grab everything, any object that attracted their curiosity. It did not matter if it was cold, hot, greasy, dirty, slippery, dangerous, or wet. Then they put it in their mouths and sucked and chewed on it.

Here was where parenting ccame into focus. Should we let them do everything they liked, and only watch so they didn't hurt themselves, or should we start giving them lessons in obedience at this early age, even before they could walk and talk? Kids were very inquisitive and didn't see any danger, so we had to teach them the no-no's and stop them from destructive engagements which they seemed to delight in. But how should one go about doing this? We all loved our children, that's our nature. Should we talk to them and try to explain the why's and why not's? We tried, in our limited capacity, different avenues with varying results. At a very young age, they did not understand, or if they did they could be stubborn and wanted to do it their own way, even if it's wrong. Little children are sometimes smarter than we realize, and they try to test their parents with what they can get away with. In this situation, we had to resort to the most powerful persuader a parent had available, a good whack on the buttocks. This medicine we only resorted to if all other means were exhausted, and our pleas were ignored.

I believe that in most instances it hurt us more than the offender. Yes, it was difficult, but common sense had to prevail over the feeling of one's heart. In the end we felt it was the right thing to do, because the rewards were fantastic. After a heating of the bottom end, the screaming of the culprit tore at our hearts. We put him or her in their bedroom and told them to stay there until the hurting stopped. After about 8 to 10 minutes, stillness would return, then after a few more minutes, the door would slowly, ever so slowly, open, and the little sinner would shuffle out to test the air for hostilities. If all seemed to be peaceful, the move to the executioner would continue, with a bowed head and side glances, alert for any unfriendly gestures. I believe they were testing to see if we were still in the the mood to deal out another spanking. Of course, this was the furthest thing from our mind. Instead, we would lift the little one on our lap, and give it a big hug like a long lost sweetheart, and never mention the incident.

I vividly remember how appreciative those children were after the difficulties were settled. Probably not everyone would agree with our way of raising children, and I also know we made mistakes, but the end result was really what mattered, and in that respect, we'd like to believe we succeeded one hundred percent. After forty some years, Ma and I were as proud as any parent ever could be.

Related resources:

Spanking Children, Growing up in the 1950's and 1960's. Blog posted by dawnsage in Uncategorized, Oct. 2013.
"My Daddy never spoke much about his own childhood, his silence was a clear indicator that those memories were either too painful to talk about or he had simply blocked them out as a way of coping ... A true southern Father, my Daddy spanked me with a belt. Not all the time, but often enough that I remember rubbing the welts on the back of my legs and putting my hands across my butt to block the impact as he swung. I remember that thick leather black belt like it was yesterday ... In those days spanking was the 'acceptable' form of disciplining one's children ... My childhood memories are happy ones despite being aggressively spanked and often feeling very frightened of my Dad. I loved him. He wasn't perfect and neither was Mom. They were doing and living what they had each learned growing up in their homes when they were children."

Disciplinary reaction: Is spanking kids still considered acceptable discipline? "Spanking children often is viewed as a way of discipline that is antiquated, outdated, harsh and unnecessary. Spanking may have been something your grandparents or even parents talked about having done to them as kids, with varying levels of intensity depending on the generation. If your mom and dad were kids in the 1950s, spanking may have been more than just a quick, light tap to your backside, for example, compared to the form spanking has taken today."

When parents lift their hands by Ben Harder, Los Angeles Times, 19 Feb. 2007. "WHEN Murray Straus was raising his children in the 1950s and '60s, spanking was de rigueur in the American household. The Straus residence was no exception, with the father of two occasionally reacting to their misbehavior with a swat to the bottom ... Yet the mildest forms of spanking have not been proved harmful. 'A family that hits once in a while? The research is equivocal about that,' Kazdin says."

Spanking: Facts and Fiction by Nadine Block. "Spanking: Hitting with the flat of the hand usually on the buttocks for punishment or for stopping a behavior.

In the United States, spanking as punishment has shown a long-term decline. In the 1950's, ninety-nine percent of parents supported the use of corporal punishment of children. In recent years that number has fallen. Surveys generally report about fifty percent of parents supporting its use. Studies show that a majority of parents who use corporal punishment feel badly about it and don't think it works to improve behavior.

Parents who support spanking often use one of the following arguments:
● Spanking is an effective way to manage behavior.
● I got hit when I was a kid and I turned out OK.
● If we don't spank children, they'll grow up rotten.
● The bible says, 'Spare the rod and spoil the child' ..."

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