Ryan Michelle Bathe has created her own path when it comes to parenting her two children — and it’s one that doesn’t mirror her childhood.
In an exclusive essay for PEOPLE in this week’s issue, the St. Louis-raised actress opens up about her younger years, which often included physical punishment.
“When I was growing up, where my culture and religion intersected, corporal punishment was the order of the day,” writes Bathe, 42.
“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.
The use of corporal punishment — both on her and her cousins, she writes — was one Bathe “never thought to question,” calling the beatings that sometimes included belts and extension cords a form of discipline that encouraged a child’s fear of authority.
“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,’ ” the star of the upcoming First Wives Club TV series writes.
But it wasn’t until Bathe and Brown, now 43, welcomed sons Amaré, now 3, and Andrew, 8 this month, that the then-new mom found herself questioning her family’s strict stance on raising children — and quickly realized her approach to parenthood would be much different.
“And then I had kids. And everything changed,” she recalls. “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.”
“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.”
To read Ryan Michelle Bathe’s full essay, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.