Ryan Michelle Bathe, actress and wife to This Is Us actor Sterling K. Brown, recently opened up about being raised in a strict, religious household and how it’s influenced the way she chooses to raise her kids.
In an open letter to PEOPLE, Bathe says that corporal punishment was the norm growing up. “I have been beaten for staying up late doing homework that I left to the last minute, not washing dishes, talking back, sticking my tongue out at my cousin, breaking a flower pot. . .and many other infractions that I can’t even remember,” she adds.
Bathe says she, along with her sisters and cousins, would be beaten with belts and extension cords. “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.’ ”
Though Bathe admits she “never thought to question” the ways in which she was disciplined as a child, that all changed when she met Brown in 1998 and they had children of their own. “Everything changed,” she tells the magazine. “I was exposed to articles about discipline and the science around corporal punishment. It rocked me to my core…. 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.”
According to The New York Times, a 2016 analysis of multiple studies found that children do not benefit from spankings. “One of the most important relationships we all have is the relationship between ourselves and our parents, and it makes sense to eliminate or limit fear and violence in that loving relationship,” said Robert D. Sege, M.D., Tufts Medical Center pediatrician and member of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Elizabeth Murray, M.D., assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Rochester, told PEOPLE, “Further studies have demonstrated increased aggression and behavioral outbursts (the things the parent was probably trying to prevent in the first place) when hitting is used as punishment. Physical punishments also do nothing to teach a child how to handle their emotions.”
Ultimately, Bathe says she and Sterling are choosing a different path to parenting their two sons Amaré, 3, and Andrew, 8. “The good news is that my husband and I are in agreement about corporal punishment.” She adds, “So we continue forward. Praying for guidance. Hoping that love will be enough.”