Why my Dad regrets spanking his children


Last Christmas, my dad called my two brothers and me down to the basement of his home for a private conversation. He started to speak and then paused. His eyes searched the ceiling for what seemed like eons before filling with tears. Saline collected and then began to stream down his cheeks. “Will you boys please forgive me for the way I often disciplined you in anger growing up?” he asked with a cracking voice.

All three of us accepted his apology.

This sobering picture of an emotional father, now more than 60 years of age, asking for his children’s forgiveness is a perfect portrait of who James Merritt is. Humble. Honest about his failings. Wrestling, like many of his age, to make peace with the way he’s lived his life. That Christmas moment is now a lasting memory that will forever remind me of why he remains my hero.

It also underscores the seriousness of the national conversation taking place on the issue of spanking and how it impacts parents as well as children. I’ll bet that my dad isn’t the only 60-something today who wishes he owned a time machine.