Actress Ryan Michelle Bathe, the wife of actor Sterling K. Brown, recently revealed how her childhood has influenced her as a parent.
Bathe, 42, opened up in an essay for People that she and Brown have chosen not to punish their two sons Andrew, 8, and Amare, 3, with “beatings.”
The star of “First Wives Club” made the decision after some reflection on the way she was raised.
For instance, she wrote:
“Spare the rod and spoil the child.” When I was growing up, where my culture and religion intersected, corporal punishment was the order of the day.
Furthermore, Bathe listed things her family beat her for. Among them were waiting until the last minute to do homework, talking back, and breaking a flower pot.
The mom recalled:
I can remember being a child and seeing other children in the grocery store throw epic temper tantrums, and having my mother or grandmother comment that their behavior was because “they never got beat.” Yes, beat. Not a few whacks on the bottom with an open hand. No, what I am talking about is being hit with a belt, extension cord or a switch on your legs and back and butt, and sometimes, in the heat of the moment, whatever part of your body could be reached.
Additionally, she reflected on phrases that many people of color heard from their elders growing up.
I can remember crying while nursing my welts after being whipped, and hearing, “Stop crying, or I’ll really give you something to cry about.” This will feel all too familiar to many black people reading this. Phrases like “I’ll knock you into the middle of next week” or “I brought you into this world, I’ll take you out,” have become a part of our lexicon and are cultural markers, things we share as a people. It is so familiar that almost every black comic has at least one riff on the beatings they got as a child.
The actress said that she never questioned this form of discipline. She believed that instilling fear in your child was love and the way to make them behave. However, those feelings changed after having her own kids and doing some research.
For example, Bathe explained:
Of course, when you have kids you read everything you can get your hands on. […] So I was exposed to articles about discipline and the science around corporal punishment. It rocked me to my core. Without going into all the details, research shows that corporal punishment is highly questionable at best, and by no means is it the best way to discipline a child at all, according to science.
Luckily, Bathe said her husband was in agreement. So instead of spankings, she and Brown use timeouts and take away privileges as a form of discipline.
Although they have made this decision, the actress said she still questions if it’s the right one. Lastly, Bathe said that she and Brown are simply praying for guidance along the way.