A Spanking A Day Keeps Failure Away?

January 5, 2010

I’ve spanked my daughter. I wrote about it earlier this year. It was just once, and under very specific circumstances – she was putting herself and her baby brother in danger and she needed to be stopped, quickly – circumstances that don’t excuse the spanking but do, I think, explain it. I didn’t spank out of anger. I didn’t spank as a matter of habit or consistent practice. I spanked because nothing else was working in a given moment and circumstances demanded that I do something. I’m not proud of it. I hope that it never happens again. I fully intend that it never happen again.

A report was recently released that suggests that spanking might be a good thing, that kids who are spanked might be better off, might turn out better, than kids who are not spanked. This, I think, is troubling. Not because I think that spanking and spankers are in all circumstances evil and terrible – my own parents were spankers – but because I think that although spanking is not always or necessarily abusive, it tilts too obviously and too dangerously in that direction and anything that encourages the practice just might, you know, grease the slope.

I spanked my daughter because she put herself and her brother in danger; it was a one-off, a much-regretted one-off, and although I forgive myself for it, I still regret it. As I wrote earlier this year, I would hesitate to judge any parent for doing what I did, simply because, as I said at the time and have said a thousand times since, I think that it is wrong in any but most the most obviously abusive circumstances to condemn the decisions that other parents make (discuss amongst yourselves.) But a study like this – one that argues that corporal punishment might contribute positively to our children’s success in life – could provide justification for the practice of corporal punishment, for the use of such punishment as a matter of course, as a child-rearing tool to be wielded regularly, as something to be provided as a matter of need, in doses, like vitamins. Have we smacked Junior enough this month, darling? We don’t want him to go soft!

This is where my commitment to relativism in the field of parenting runs into trouble. I do have trouble with corporal punishment as a mainstay of discipline, as a disciplinary tool that is used before or instead of other, less aggressive tools. And this study, because of its conclusions, could be taken to recommend corporal punishment as a parenting tool that should be used before or instead of others. The study might be on to something – I doubt it; as someone who has deconstructed her fair share of ‘studies’ in the academy, it seems to me that this one smacks of biased conclusions – but it doesn’t matter. Even if you could prove to me conclusively that hitting my children as a matter of regular practice could guarantee their acceptance, someday, into Harvard, I would still not do it and I would argue strenuously against it. Because there are other ways of disciplining them, ways that don’t involve hitting. And because raising them in a loving and safe environment, raising them to be gentle with themselves and with others, matters more to me than whether or not they might some day be able to face down a future incarnation of Donald Trump in the boardroom.

That in itself might prove my bad mother bona fides – that the future material and professional success of my children matters less to me than does their love and trust – but that, as might be expected, doesn’t bother me. That the contrary might be held to be the better parenting does bother me. That corporal discipline might have worked, once upon a time, to turn potentially unruly children into disciplined citizens is beside the point. That it might work now is beside the point. That we might be raising a generation of soft, coddled moppets who grow up to be tree-huggers or sitar-players or stargazers or artists or poets or flower-weavers or dreamers or lovers or all of the above is beside the point. Or maybe it’s not.

I’m trying to raise my children to love the world gently. And that means that we try – we really, really try, so far as is possible – to never cause each other pain.

budge-jib-ashcroft

And if that means no Harvard, so be it. The world needs more soft-hearted sitar-playing poets, anyway. And the Canadian university system is fine for that.

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    { 88 comments }

    Motherhood Uncensored January 5, 2010 at 7:06 pm

    Ever since the UK released that whole “G-spot does not exist study” I was a little wary. But now after this, I really have to wonder.

    I think it’s the whole driving on the left thing that has them all a bit backwards.

    [no offense to the brits out there, of course]

    Now off to find my G-spot. And spank my husband.

    Her Bad Mother January 5, 2010 at 10:11 pm

    The Brits obviously didn’t get spanked enough growing up.

    Minty apple January 10, 2010 at 6:12 am

    What on earth has driving on the left got to do with any of this?

    Best Wishes

    From Minty apple of the UK who drives on the left, is certainly not backwards and got the occasional slap as growing up.

    Joie January 5, 2010 at 7:08 pm

    Well said.

    avasmommy January 5, 2010 at 7:28 pm

    I spanked Ava last week. At the time she had a death grip on my arm – with her teeth. She would not let go. I have never felt more terrible in my life as I did right then. I have not gotten to the point of forgiving myself for it. I was abused as a child. My mother was not a loving, cuddly mother. I have vowed for 19 months to NOT be like her. Last week scared me. I don’t want to be on the slope that leads to me shoving her against a wall or hitting her in the face with wooden spoons.
    .-= avasmommy´s last blog ..My 2010 =-.

    Her Bad Mother January 6, 2010 at 11:49 am

    do you feel that you could have done it differently? I think the key to forgiveness is reflecting on what might have been done differently, and working toward that. In my own case, I still don’t know what I could have done. I was truly at wits end. That *could* be comforting, but in truth is more discomfiting: what DO we do when nothing else is working?

    Bella January 6, 2010 at 12:35 pm

    I think one thing we can do is keep trying to do things differently. Forgiving yourself is important. But also, DOING something about it afterwards, for me, is important. So, the intent to be open to new ideas, new approaches (because regardless of what’s working now – spanking or any other discipline method – as they grow up, new discipline strategies are usually called for only because they mature and with that maturity comes a growing understanding of what punishment, fairness, justice, morality, love and forgiveness mean). I think if we’re earnestly trying to implement new strategies that have worked for others (that are non-violent), if/when we slip up and do something that horrifies us, we may be able to forgive ourselves easier, and our children may also forgive us. Because we ARE trying, we are constantly evaluating, worrying, caring about how we act and react and what that teaches our children. What truly mystifies me is those who feel that smacking is the BEST strategy and the go-to choice.
    .-= Bella´s last blog ..Best discipline strategy EVER =-.

    verybadcat January 5, 2010 at 7:37 pm

    While I do believe that some physical dominance isn’t abusive (as observed in the animal kingdom), the problem is this:

    You shouldn’t ever hit in anger. So how can you ever use spanking for discipline. Your kid does something wrong, you’re angry. You may not be acutely angry, you may wait until you’re “calmer”, but by that point, won’t a time out or other restriction suffice?

    I was spanked as a child, and it taught me to hide my sins to avoid being slapped.

    I was also abused as a child- kicked, pinned, throttled (literally), and the scars it leaves will haunt me forever, despite the fact that I have long forgiven my father his horrible temper.

    The worst part is this…

    When I get mad, I want to hit. So I don’t get mad. I don’t let myself get mad, because I don’t know how to be angry in a safe and healthy manner. I’m working with my therapist on that, but I’m starting from scratch because my parents were screamers, slammers, spankers and hitters.

    I strive for excellence and am responsible and dependable, almost always did well in school and have accomplished much in the adult world.

    Getting a mild concussion for a bad report card will do that to a girl.

    I just don’t believe that you can spank without at least hovering at the line of abuse, because we are human and we go too far without meaning to, without realizing.

    The end rarely justifies the means when it comes to hitting.
    .-= verybadcat´s last blog ..Not Looking Back =-.

    avasmommy January 5, 2010 at 7:42 pm

    If I wasn’t an only child, I’d say you and I were siblings. Sounds remarkably like my childhood.
    .-= avasmommy´s last blog ..My 2010 =-.

    Her Bad Mother January 5, 2010 at 10:13 pm

    It’s the anger thing. You’re right that that compromises its utility as a disciplinary tool. Hitting in anger: bad. Hitting coldly: disturbing. Where does that leave us?

    verybadcat January 5, 2010 at 11:49 pm

    To me, it leaves us just where you are- using spanking only when danger is imminent. Children do sometimes need whatever intervention works in the moment, like slapping a little hand away from a hot burner.

    As far as the idea that spanking results in well-adjusted and successful children, we’ve kind of left that in tatters on the floor.

    Teaching children that actions have consequences, and that we all get angry sometimes and that it is okay to express anger constructively? Without physically harming anyone? That’s where I would like to end up.
    .-= verybadcat´s last blog ..Not Looking Back =-.

    PDeverit January 5, 2010 at 7:48 pm

    The vast majority of professionals agree that child buttock-battering isn’t healthy. A marginal few (mostly religious fundamentalists as those at Calvin) think that child bottom-slapping is good. They use the same selective literalist interpretation of the Bible as was used to justify “witch”-burning, depraved torture methods for those accused of sin and heresy, slavery, racism, wife-beating, oppression of women and a host of other social ills.

    PDeverit January 5, 2010 at 7:49 pm

    Child buttock-battering vs. DISCIPLINE:

    Child buttock-battering (euphemistically labeled “spanking”,”swatting”,”switching”,”smacking”, “paddling”,or other cute-sounding names) for the purpose of gaining compliance is nothing more than an inherited bad habit.

    Its a good idea for people to take a look at what they are doing, and learn how to DISCIPLINE instead of hit.

    I think the reason why television shows like “Supernanny” and “Dr. Phil” are so popular is because that is precisely what many (not all) people are trying to do.

    There are several reasons why child bottom-slapping isn’t a good idea. Here are some good, quick reads recommended by professionals:

    Plain Talk About Spanking
    by Jordan Riak,

    The Sexual Dangers of Spanking Children
    by Tom Johnson,

    NO VITAL ORGANS THERE, So They Say
    by Lesli Taylor M.D. and Adah Maurer Ph.D.

    Most compelling of all reasons to abandon this worst of all bad habits is the fact that buttock-battering can be unintentional sexual abuse for some children. There is an abundance of educational resources, testimony, documentation, etc available on the subject that can easily be found by doing a little research with the recommended reads-visit http://www.nospank.net.

    Just a handful of those helping to raise awareness of why child bottom-slapping isn’t a good idea:

    American Academy of Pediatrics,
    American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry,
    Center For Effective Discipline,
    Churches’ Network For Non-Violence,
    Nobel Peace Prize recipient Archbishop Desmond Tutu,
    Parenting In Jesus’ Footsteps,
    Global Initiative To End All Corporal Punishment of Children,
    United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

    In 26 countries, child corporal punishment is prohibited by law (with more in process). In fact, the US was the only UN member that did not ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

    Her Bad Mother January 5, 2010 at 10:14 pm

    Thanks for all of these resources – very helpful :)

    Andria January 5, 2010 at 7:59 pm

    I think the punishment should fit the crime. Am I going to spank my son for hitting his sister? No. That just seems backwards. It’s like parents who scream at their kids to, “stop screaming!”

    I recently posted a link, which was against time-outs: http://www.awareparenting.com/timeout.htm

    So, what are we, as parents (and guardians) supposed to do for punishment?!

    Some say to redirect the child, and again, I think that’s backwards. If my son breaks something, am I to just redirect him, and say, “LOOK! A shiny object!”

    Again, I think the punishment should fit the crime. Gah. This parenting stuff is hard.
    .-= Andria´s last blog ..Back to Your Normally Scheduled Programming… =-.

    Her Bad Mother January 5, 2010 at 10:16 pm

    It is tough. My daughter was out of control and careening toward danger – I don’t know whether spanking ‘fit’ her crime, if you could even call it that, but it did *stop* her when nothing else was working.

    SIGH.

    Lisa D January 16, 2010 at 11:17 am

    I’m not sure that I buy that time outs are bad. I don’t withdraw love and I don’t think of time outs as not punishment. Of course they’re punishment. And I think there’s a big difference between withdrawing love and withdrawing attention. I’m with SuperNanny on this one.

    Carol January 5, 2010 at 8:34 pm

    This hurts my heart, for children and parents. How many confused parents will spank because “they” say it’s actually good for our kids? How many little ones will feel unloved while Mommy and Daddy do what they were told is best?
    .-= Carol´s last blog ..In the gay old summertime……… =-.

    Her Bad Mother January 6, 2010 at 11:50 am

    That’s the heartbreak for me, too.

    Lisa January 6, 2010 at 12:14 pm

    I’m curious what makes you think the child will feel unloved?

    I was spanked as a child. Not often and the only time I really remember was the last time. I ACCIDENTALLY shut a car door on my cousin’s leg. I was horrified. Then my dad spanked me for it. I thought that was sooooo unfair. I would never have hurt my cousin on purpose. He was older and I adored him.

    Anyway, as a child who was sometimes spanked but never abused, feeling loved or not had absolutely nothing to do with my reaction.

    Miss Grace January 6, 2010 at 6:01 pm

    I must agree with Lisa here, as someone who was spanked as a child (infrequently), but never abused. I never doubted the love my parents felt and feel for me. I always knew it was unconditional and complete.

    I don’t spank my son, it’s wrong to hit, but I don’t think we should necessarily think that children who were/are spanked feel a lack of love or affection?
    .-= Miss Grace´s last blog ..Diptych – Cozy =-.

    Rebekah January 5, 2010 at 9:04 pm

    “And that means that we try – we really, really try, so far as is possible – to never cause each other pain.” – I love this. Pretty good words to live by.
    .-= Rebekah´s last blog ..2010 =-.

    jodifur January 5, 2010 at 9:21 pm

    I haven’t read that study, I’ll go read it right now, but I can tell you I have read at least 20 studies that say the exact opposite. Hitting children teach children to hit. I’m not judging you for hitting that one time, but every study I’ve read about corporal punishment says that one thing. And hitting children in the name punishment can so quickly turn into abuse.

    I’m not perfect mother, quite the opposite. But i find that study appalling.

    Her Bad Mother January 5, 2010 at 10:21 pm

    That’s the whole thing. The study seems to suggest that spanking could be good as a practice. It’s the practice that teaches kids that hitting is okay. Which is a very different thing from those occasions when parents spank under trying circumstances, when they’re at a loss, as I was. There are honest moments of parenting weakness, and then there’s making a practice of those shortcuts, and it’s in the latter where we find trouble, I think.

    Maya January 5, 2010 at 9:36 pm

    This study reeks of being subjective. I mean, how do you define happiness? It’s like some of the maddening Heritage Foundation “studies” I’ve read. Also, this was just the media’s interpretation of the article, so it’s kind of hard to analyze the actual research and the results might have been misinterpreted (though it seems unlikely).

    I wonder what their comparison was…perhaps families who don’t believe in setting any boundaries? I believe kids do best without either extreme. My parents spanked me just once, I don’t even remember it but my mother of course does. I won’t be spanking my son, either.
    .-= Maya´s last blog ..Genetic Testing for Marfan Syndrome =-.

    Her Bad Mother January 6, 2010 at 11:51 am

    I think that the bases for comparison are where the study seems most problematic, as you and others have said. Did they compare spanked kids with completely undisciplined kids? Or? How did they measure discipline?

    kate January 5, 2010 at 9:44 pm

    perhaps we can take the study just to reassure us that in the absence of all other options – when every other avenue has been explored or there is no time for softer evasive action (as in your case of immediate danger)- spanking will not be permanently detrimental for our children. I believe in any and all non-violent methods of discipline, and I do my best to never spank my children. But that does not mean the situation will not arise when it is necessary. It should never be your primary tactic for dealing with an unruly child. But perhaps we needn’t pile as much guilt upon ourselves if it is called for as a last resort.

    Her Bad Mother January 5, 2010 at 10:23 pm

    Yeah. That’s a very good point. I still worry that it could be used to excuse regular hitting, but yes – I do know that I wasn’t harmed by my parents’ spanking. and I do think we need to forgive ourselves these things. It’s just… if people use it as justification for regular corporal punishment… as I said, UGH.

    Heather January 5, 2010 at 11:24 pm

    I was unaware that Canadian Universities were known for their Sitar Playing Poet programs. ;)

    mimi January 5, 2010 at 11:38 pm

    Oh God I get to be the one who says:

    “This study smacks of bias”

    Smacks of bias? Freudian metaphorization? On purpose?

    (Smacks own knee while softly chuckling)

    Hope you get a little laugh today, hon.
    .-= mimi´s last blog .."You’re Ugly" =-.

    Her Bad Mother January 6, 2010 at 11:52 am

    That gave me one. Thank you ;)

    Marinka January 5, 2010 at 11:41 pm

    Is it that they turn out better the same way that children of alcoholics turn out better? You know, seemingly stronger, able to deal with stressful situation, and basically manage and compensate for their parents’ parenting.

    I don’t know. I’ll risk my kids turning out “worse”, but I won’t spank them.
    .-= Marinka´s last blog ..Censor This! =-.

    Jozet at Halushki January 6, 2010 at 10:00 am

    A-freaking-men.
    .-= Jozet at Halushki´s last blog ..Worldless Wednesday =-.

    Rachael January 6, 2010 at 12:30 am

    I just don’t buy it. It seems like in the study they asked about being smacked – did they ask about other types of discipline? Like, did kids who got time outs or had strong yes/no disciplinary guidelines turn out the same way? I just feel like it’s way too narrow a conclusion to draw.

    I hit my kid once. I smacked his arm when he was 2 years old and he smacked me in the face during a fit. It was almost a gut response, but I have never felt worse about myself as a parent. How can I tell him every day not to hit if I hit him? It just doesn’t make sense with me, and honestly time outs work better for him.

    I feel like this study is just way too simple to be given credibility.

    Her Bad Mother January 6, 2010 at 11:55 am

    I agree totally. And I’ve been close to that place where the urge to strike back hits (no pun) after your child has hit you. I think it’s understandable, an instinctive impulse to defend oneself, without thinking. It’s scary though – you restrain yourself but are appalled at the very impulse. Ugh.

    Stone Fox January 6, 2010 at 12:42 am

    Wow. There is SO much judgment in the comments. You would never spank your kid? Well good for you. Pardon my snotty tone, but this is an issue that really irritates me. I *don’t* think spanking is hitting or abuse (I *do* think that it is insulting to people who really were abused as children to insinuate that spanking is abuse). Just like all the other types of discipline, it is not a catch-all solution. It is situation specific.

    Can YOU look at a group of people and pick out who was spanked? Is it the lower income earners? Is it the druggies, the thieves, the hookers?

    You can feel as superior as you want for not spanking your kids, but it’s a tool in the toolbox. I have spanked and if *I* feel it is necessary, damn rights I’m gonna do it again. So go ahead and judge.
    .-= Stone Fox´s last blog ..Yo. =-.

    Her Bad Mother January 6, 2010 at 9:37 am

    I don’t know that the judgment is toward anyone who spanks, ever – it’s not for me, anyway, as I have spanked, and was raised by parents who spanked in a manner that I think was unharmful. I think that the judgment, here, is about spanking being chosen for its own sake, and not as an only-when-absolutely-necessary thing. I do think that some people DO judge any and all spanking – when I wrote about it earlier this year, I was told by one commenter that she’d have called the cops if she’d seen me spanking my child (which I think seriously oversteps a boundary) – so you’re not wrong to be alert for it, but I think that the discussion here is more about the dangers of turning to spanking *above* other forms of discipline. So far I don’t personally feel judged for having spanked. But then, as I said, I HAVE been judged, so I get the reaction.

    Stone Fox January 6, 2010 at 1:04 pm

    I completely disagree. Look at what Carol above has said. “How many confused parents will spank because “they” say it’s actually good for our kids? How many little ones will feel unloved while Mommy and Daddy do what they were told is best?” I beg your pardon, but I am NOT confused in any way, shape, or form. And the idea that my kids feel “unloved” is laughable.

    What you said in reply to avasmommy: “Hitting in anger: bad. Hitting coldly: disturbing.” I don’t hit in anger, and I am not disturbed.

    I won’t even get started on what PDeverit posted. I am not a religious fundamentalist, to say the least.

    Those are what, three out of however many comments. There is LOTS of judgment here.

    I don’t believe that spanking is abuse. I also don’t believe that spanking is hitting. Spanking is NOT the same as slapping your child on the arms or legs or punching them. THAT’S abuse. The assumption seems to be that parents who spank use it all the time as a first resort. Nope, not true. The parents I know who spank use it to stop a dangerous or destructive behaviour immediately.

    What you said in reply to kate, “I still worry that it could be used to excuse regular hitting,” really bothers me. “Regular hitting” is NOT SPANKING. “Regular hitting” sounds like physical ABUSE. Parents who spank are still going to spank. Parents who spank are NOT going to read this article and start beating their kids. Parents who physically abuse their kids are still going to physically abuse their kids NO MATTER WHAT!!

    You know what I think is “bad parenting”? People who raise their children based on the latest STUDIES. Time out is good, then it’s bad. Naughty chair is good, no it’s bad for the kid’s self esteem. Spanking is bad, no spanking is okay. Horse. Shit. I can find a study to negate or support every type of discipline out there. Shouldn’t we be looking at our kids and asking OURSELVES, “What is appropriate here?” instead of relying on what someone else says is correct?
    .-= Stone Fox´s last blog ..Yo. =-.

    Her Bad Mother January 6, 2010 at 1:17 pm

    My point has been that spanking used as a tool, instead of other disciplinary tools, just because a study said that it might have something to do with later success is potentially troublesome. And I do think that the use of spanking when less aggressive measures will suffice is worrisome – if a talking-to or time-out would do the trick, why HIT? I thought that I’d been clear that I reserve judgment – in my own case, not least – when it’s used to stop a dangerous or destructive behaviour, as a last resort. And my impression was that most of the comments – perhaps not all – allowed for that as well. The remarks about ‘unloved’ and the like, I thought, were directed toward the idea of spanking as a first resort, or simply because some study said it might key to getting into Harvard.

    And why does it bother you that I made a distinction between ‘hitting’ and ‘spanking’, and that I voiced a concern that people who hit their children might feel vindicated by such a study? Of course *hitting* is abuse. That’s why it’s the concern.

    A central point of my post was that studies are very often bullshit. I strongly suggested REJECTING this study. You seem to assume the opposite? Why?

    Stone Fox January 6, 2010 at 2:35 pm

    Why is this study potentially troublesome? Would you have written this post if the subject of the study was time out? Or taking away toys/privileges? Or any other discipline tool? Any form of discipline can be misused to the point of neglect or abuse. Why do you regard parents who spank as “potentially troublesome”? Do you see how insulting that is? The inference is that parents who spank are slobbering, snapping beasts living on the edge of insanity, ready at the slightest provocation to beat their kids.

    You ask why HIT when a less aggressive measure would do? I agree!! Hitting is bad!! Again, I feel you are making an assumption here that parents who SPANK will not hesitate to HIT. I *don’t* see that you differentiated between spanking and hitting; on the contrary, it looks like you think they are the same thing.

    Parents who spank should NOT be lumped in with parents who physically abuse (HIT) their kids. As I said previously; parents who abuse their children will continue to abuse their children. Abusers are really good at finding justification anywhere; a study on spanking isn’t going to make a difference.

    What I wrote about rejecting studies was directed more at the comments that mentioned other studies, experts, and books on parenting.
    .-= Stone Fox´s last blog ..Yo. =-.

    Her Bad Mother January 6, 2010 at 5:05 pm

    The study is potentially troublesome because it seems to promote spanking for reasons other than immediate disciplinary needs, and so potentially provides an argument for someone who wants to spank for reasons other than what you and I are saying are reasonable – intervening in dangerous/destructive behavior. Because there CAN be a thin line between spanking and hitting, caution should be exercised. There is no potential slip between time-outs and hitting, right? Therein is the difference.

    Suggesting that for some people there is a slippery slope between spanking and hitting is not suggesting that all parents who spank or have spanked are hitters, no more than saying that the handling of guns should be exercised with caution is suggesting that all gun owners are murderers. I made the distinction between *uses* of spanking to distinguish between spanking and hitting, and have stuck to it – I’ve stated repeatedly that a parent who uses it sparingly and only when absolutely necessary, as a last resort, is not doing the same thing as a parent who hits because it’s easy or because it ‘toughens a kid up.’ THAT for me is the difference between spanking and hitting, between spanking and abuse.

    And the fact of the matter is that there IS such a thing as child abuse and that it does often come in the form of over-aggressive discipline. THAT’s why this is an issue, why it needs to be treated carefully, why any promotion of spanking needs to be taken with a grain of salt. There’s a reason why corporal punishment by teachers et. al. – because it is so easily abused. Saying that isn’t saying that any corporal punishment by anyone is abuse – some HAVE said that, but I have not, and I’d thought that I’d made that clear.

    Stone Fox January 7, 2010 at 5:25 pm

    I think this is the point where we agree to disagree. I don’t see that this study promotes spanking as a first-line discipline. I tried to find the actual study with no luck (I only spent a couple of minutes looking for it); however, even the article you linked to has a quote from the doctor who completed the study where she clearly states spanking is a big gun for a big job (to paraphrase).

    Yes, there are abusers who will cross the line with discipline, but it’s not just spanking. Forcing a 5 year old to wear a baby’s diaper and sit in the corner for 3 hours because she peed her snowpants and calling it “time-out” IS abuse. Is that less bad than being hit? I don’t think so. There may not be a direct connection between time-out and hitting, but like I said before; ANY discipline can be twisted around to suit an abuser.
    .-= Stone Fox´s last blog ..Childhood friends =-.

    Her Bad Mother January 7, 2010 at 6:43 pm

    Fair enough ;)

    Notaspanker January 6, 2010 at 5:06 pm

    I am pretty sure I said, “call the police”, I would not say “cops”
    And to be honest, I still maintain that it is not ok to spank, under any circumstances.
    Do I think that your children are in any harm? Not at all (they make lovely, yet a bit creepy snow”people”) and it seems like they have a wonderful life.
    That being said, I will admit that I do judge any and all spanking and will probably not be swayed from this position.

    Her Bad Mother January 6, 2010 at 5:36 pm

    Police, cops, semantics.

    I’m glad that you think my children seem to have a wonderful life – they do. I’d hope, though, that if you saw a mother struggling with an out-of-control child in a dangerous situation you’d offer to help, rather than judge her and call the police on her. And assume that maybe her kids, too, have a wonderful life, and that she’s just struggling with difficult circumstances and need assistance more than condemnation.

    Notaspanker January 7, 2010 at 11:00 am

    By calling the police, I would be providing “help” for her children.
    I have never gotten to the point that people here have spoken about of getting to the edge where you felt like you might hit your children, does that make me a better mother…absultly not, but I think it does mean that I have developed a “tool kit” of alternatives to hitting my children. Sometimes that means that I walk away from the situation, sometimes I do not handle it as well as I could have, and sometimes I do the right thing. We are all struggling through. But, one question – would you hit your husband or any other adult if they were behaving dangerously?

    Her Bad Mother January 7, 2010 at 11:21 am

    How would calling the police help her children? That assumes that the primary danger is from the mother, which I don’t think is a safe or reasonable assumption in all cases.

    Would I ‘hit’ my husband or another adult if they were behaving dangerously? Yes, under specific circumstances – if they were, say drunk, or for some reason not in their right minds or otherwise able to control their behaviour. Would you never intervene physically with someone in hysterics or out of control, if they were about to put themselves or others in danger, and there were no other means (ever try to reason with someone in hysterics? someone drunk?) Really? If not, why not? Is not the imperative to keep them and others out of danger greater than any ideological opposition to physical intervention?

    I didn’t slap my daughter on the face or punch or beat. I grabbed her arm and paddled her bottom, not hard, but forcefully enough to get her attention and break her freak-out. As I’ve said repeatedly, I don’t like that it happened. I wish that it hadn’t. But I also don’t regard it as abuse, and I think that I made the best choice that I could under the circumstances. And I think that I was the best judge of those circumstances. Not every parent is. But do we call the police every time we disagree with another’s parenting choices? We’d all have our children taken away.

    Notaspanker January 7, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    I have never said that I would call the police based on the fact that I disagree with anothers parenting choice. I would call the police if I saw one person hit another person, period.

    kootnygirl January 6, 2010 at 8:34 am

    I hit my child once as well, when I was at the end of my rope, when I couldn’t get her attention any other way, when I was frustrated and angry. All the wrong reasons. It was among the worst moments of my parenting life, and I hope to never repeat it.

    I understand the difference between hitting as a reflex and spanking as a planned consequence for a specific action; the problem is that once you put that ‘tool in your toolbox’, you risk pulling it out when you are angry or frustrated, and I’ve never encountered anyone who was able to use it ONLY in the neat little pre-defined circumstance for which it may have been intended.

    I don’t spank primarily because I don’t think it is effective. Hurting a child because they are putting themselves at risk of hurting themselves? Hitting to teach them not to hit? Inflicting physical violence as a means of solving your problems? How can we expect children NOT to model this behaviour? My own kids are sponges, learning how to be people from the example me and my husband set for them.

    I don’t think that this study will make non-spankers spank, but it might make occasional spankers feel okay about it, and regular spankers feel vindicated. That’s troubling.

    Finally regarding the comment above regarding judgement, I don’t think anyone has said that if you spank you are a horrible person, but if you are feeling persecuted by the comments, maybe you need to ask yourself why you are feeling that way? Why, if you are so sure that spanking/hitting/buttocks battering is okay, would you be bothered by comments to the contrary?
    .-= kootnygirl´s last blog ..crash =-.

    Annie @ PhD in Parenting January 6, 2010 at 9:50 am

    I agree completely with your conclusion. When I saw the study, I tweeted something to the effect of:

    (a) Even if it turns out my kids would be better behaved or smarter from being spanked, I wouldn’t do it.

    (b) I’m sure women whose husbands hit them are “better behaved” too. Doesn’t make it right.

    (c) “well behaved women rarely make history”
    .-= Annie @ PhD in Parenting´s last blog ..Redirecting RSS feed =-.

    Her Bad Mother January 6, 2010 at 10:17 am

    Amen.

    kootnygirl January 6, 2010 at 11:17 am

    “well behaved women rarely make history”

    This is awesome!
    .-= kootnygirl´s last blog ..crash =-.

    Jozet at Halushki January 6, 2010 at 9:58 am

    Spanking is lazy, sloppy, bad parenting. Have I done it? Yes. Was it the best parenting or just me not thinking better on my feet? The latter.

    Where’s the whole study? Did they compare alternative forms of discipline? Were the kids not spanked given any discipline, inconsistent discipline, or none at all? Unfortunately, consistency is the key, whether it’s hitting or not. I’d prefer not, and it is possible to not. Give me any situation, any child, and I’ll show you a parent who dealt with it without smacking their kid. Is it still god awful when it does happen, when we can’t think of anything else in the moment? Kind of. But we do a lot of bad parenting that “works” – just because it works, we don’t keep doing it. We say, “Damn. What can I do so I can handle it better next time.”

    No matter how bad, how conniving, how smart, how mentally or physically challenged your kid is, if you smack them, they are someday going to meet another child with the same temperament and history who is a perfectly lovely and successful adult, and who got there via parents who didn’t reach out and smack them as a first or even second line parenting tool. And your child is going to ask themselves, “What’s wrong with me that I had to be hit?” Believe me. I know.

    Finally, define spanking. Because no matter what you think it is, there are people who think that “spanking” is “smacking a two year old with a length of rubber hose” or “hitting a 10 year old with a hair brush for mouthing off.” These studies do nothing to change their mind, and the feel good it offers for a few people who can’t think of any better way to deal with a stubborn toddler doesn’t offset the kids who are now going to be hit/spanked/smacked/slapped into oblivion.

    But, you know, people don’t need parenting books to raise their kids, yet they’ll buy books to learn how to train a dog. Erem. Okay.

    Lisa D January 16, 2010 at 11:20 am

    I agree. I think that the moments I have been most tempted to spank are those that I was least in control of myself and my son. That’s not discipline, then– that’s just lashing out.

    Lisa January 6, 2010 at 12:07 pm

    Don’t the children of alcoholics often become super achievers? Reacting to their effed-up childhoods by becoming super-dependable, responsible, successful career-wise?

    And the children of parents who make it clear they must be perfect or they won’t be loved – they often follow the directives and graduate from prestigious universities, get high-paying jobs.

    Sure, there are lots of ways to ensure your child’s “success,” but that doesn’t make it good parenting.

    Lisa January 6, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    Oops. I missed where someone had already made this point.

    Lisa January 6, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    By the way, I hope you can get over your regret about the spanking. I’m no fan, either, but it sounds like you may be too hard on yourself. I bet you think about it way more than your daughter.

    Erin January 6, 2010 at 12:21 pm

    I could not agree more.
    I have an almost 11 month-old and before I had a baby, I believed that a little spanking was OK. I was spanked a handful (ha, no pun intended) of times but for the most part, punished via an early bedtime and loooooooong talks with my parents about my behavior.

    Now that I have a child though, I realize how weird spanking is as a go-to discipline tool – not that I’ve had to discipline the baby yet. A parent shouldn’t hit out of anger – that is abuse and can go too far much too easily. But as an earlier commenter said, spanking when you’re not angry doesn’t make sense either. I will say, I’m not looking forward to the first time I have to discipline my baby. It won’t be easy (and hopefully not for a while!??). I’m sure I’ll do things I regret, too. I’ll probably follow in my parent’s footsteps and make her talk to me until we’re blue in the face.
    .-= Erin´s last blog ..Adjusting to Mass Chaos =-.

    Lisa January 6, 2010 at 12:22 pm

    After reading all the comments, I guess I don’t exactly understand the degree of angst on this subject, at least from those weren’t actually abused as children.

    As I said before, I’m not an advocate of spanking. I don’t plan to spank. I could see doing it as a response to a dangerous situation, like you mentioned. That’s what I remember about being spanked – like when I played with matches.

    So I was spanked and don’t feel it did anything to my psyche. I don’t think anyone need torture herself and feel like a bad mother because she spanked when she got to the end of her rope. Of course, you make efforts to avoid the problem before it gets there the next time, but you are always just doing the best you can.

    I see the *rare* spanking as more comparable to letting your kid watch tv when they are under 2. Yeah, they shouldn’t do it, the AAP advises against it, and some days, you just are really, really tired and don’t have the energy to fight it. Is it good for the kid? No. Will a rare spanking hurt her? No.

    Her Bad Mother January 6, 2010 at 1:01 pm

    You have a point about the degree of angst. I guess it’s reflective of how powerful is the desire to be a ‘good’ mom.

    Ironic ;)

    Jozet at Halushki January 6, 2010 at 12:26 pm

    Catherine, listen: There are going to be 4,267 things that we are going to do between now and graduation day that we are going to question, wonder whether we could have handled better, wonder if it make a lasting psychological mark, etc….?

    The answer is: Yes.

    But that doesn’t offset the enormous amounts of amazing parenting we are going to do. And it doesn’t blot out the fact that what we have going for us most of all is that 1) we admit that we aren’t perfect; 2) we will ask our children’s forgiveness for those times we weren’t perfect in doing the exactly best thing at the right time; and 3) we don’t get swayed by every fantastical study that comes down the road just as we don’t ignore the wisdom of real science and the experience of other amazing-though-flawed parents.
    .-= Jozet at Halushki´s last blog ..Worldless Wednesday =-.

    Her Bad Mother January 6, 2010 at 12:48 pm

    As I said on Facebook, it’s the nexus of forgiveness and judgment that I find challenging and head-hurty. Of course this is true of 4,267 (probably more like 4,298, but I won’t quibble) things that we do, but it doesn’t make the head-hurtiness any less acute. If I forgive myself, I have to forgive others, and, as I said, easing up on the judgment. Easing up on the judgment means recognizing the gray areas. Gray areas make things complicated. And head-hurty ;)

    And god, if I didn’t make my own head hurt, I’d probably be at a loss as to what to do with myself.

    Glory OskiZero January 6, 2010 at 2:39 pm

    WAY TO GO… STONE FOX ! ! !

    Maybe if we held our kids responsible for their actions and let then know what is NOT acceptable this world would not be in such a sad state.

    Kids know their parents will bail them out no matter what they do.

    They don’t RESPECT others! Not their parents, teachers, neighbors, friends or even theirselves!

    They don’t DO THEIR BEST all the time, give 100%! They just do what needs to be done, put forth the littlest effort… or just wait for mommy to do it…

    Kids now a days… have no fear of their actions -> if they do something that is wrong -they cry and whine and grandparents or mommy and daddy FIX it.

    … a wack on the butt never hurt anyone…

    Hold your children accountable!

    kootnygirl January 6, 2010 at 3:43 pm

    I think you’re making a common mistake in assuming that no spanking = no discipline.

    I completely agree that there are a lot of spoiled, over-entitled and irresponsible children in the world, but I disagree that spanking (or not) has anything at all to do with hit.
    .-= kootnygirl´s last blog ..crash =-.

    Her Bad Mother January 6, 2010 at 5:12 pm

    HOW, exactly, is spanking the only means of holding anyone – never mind children – responsible for their actions? Should we apply this principle to life in general? Maybe start ‘wacking’ jaywalkers and debtors and people who don’t scoop after their dogs? WORLD PEACE THROUGH WACKING!

    Sigh.

    See, Stone Fox? This commenter just kinda made my above points for me.

    Stone Fox January 8, 2010 at 6:22 pm

    I am almost tempted to not comment, but I like to see my name in print. Ahah hah hah.

    Glory sounds like someone from an older generation, where there was very little (according to my parents and their siblings) “talk” between parents and kids when it came to discipline. You did what you were told or you were punished. “Hug it out” was not invented yet.

    What Glory says is true. Even the latest studies (and we love our studies, don’t we? :P ) show the next generation to be entitled, selfish, and lacking a work ethic. They DO want things to be handed to them, without working for anything. No, I can’t name a specific study, but Dr. Phil recently did a show on this exact topic, so I’m sure his website lists his sources.

    I’m not sure how Glory made your point that parents who spank use it too much? Nowhere does s/he say that spanking was his/her only discipline method or that s/he used it all the time.

    I don’t completely agree and I don’t completely disagree with, “a smack on the butt never hurt anyone.” I think it’s, “If the situation warrants it, a smack on the butt is what my child requires.” I can’t speak for anyone else’s child.

    What you said about applying the principle of wacking to life in general? We already do. The police apply this principle every day. If you fail to obey an order from a Peace Officer, you will find yourself on the wrong end of a Taser doing the funky chicken as 50,000V shoot through your body, OR face-down in the gravel with a knee on your back. The cops are not interested in hugging it out.
    .-= Stone Fox´s last blog ..Childhood friends =-.

    Rbelle January 12, 2010 at 4:53 pm

    Dr. Phil is about the least reliable source for true science a person could possibly name.

    ERIN January 6, 2010 at 5:51 pm

    I had to write about it too, because it’s one of those issues for me. I can’t agree to disagree.

    http://queenofspainblog.com/2010/01/05/spankers-can-suckit/
    .-= ERIN´s last blog ..Spankers Can #Suckit =-.

    toyfoto January 6, 2010 at 5:54 pm

    I’ve swatted my oldest on a few occasions. I felt awful about it. Didn’t stop me from doing it again or feeling like an awful failure, which in all honesty I think it makes me in those instances.

    Looking at how and when they happened it seems as if I was at my lowest ability to cope. I was exausted, sleep deprived, stressed at work and feeling helpless.

    Because of it I can definitely understand how abuse (verbal and physical) can be perpetrated by all humans.
    .-= toyfoto´s last blog ..Here’s a 21st Century Epiphany for you … =-.

    Miss Grace January 6, 2010 at 6:05 pm

    I was spanked as a child, don’t feel abused, and that said, times have changed, and I no longer think it’s appropriate.
    In that vein, I’m one of five children, and my younger brothers (now 17 and 12) were raised in a different parenting ‘era.’ They were never spanked, and my parents have acknowledged that it’s because with changing time came changing knowledge as to how to deal with and discipline children, and that they were better equipped after they’d already been raising kids for over a decade.

    I don’t necessarily think that those who spank are abusers, but I think it’s a very fine line, and, as a practice, it’s something that we should all strive to avoid.
    .-= Miss Grace´s last blog ..Diptych – Cozy =-.

    ame i. January 6, 2010 at 6:13 pm

    I swatted my daughters when they were younger, not listening to me, doing something that could hurt themselves or others.
    I hit them with a wooden spoon a few times. I still feel guilty. I haven’t struck either in several years, but I still feel guilty.
    They may rather I swat them on rather than have them sit in a dining room chair with nothing to look at besides the wall, taking their cell phones/ipods/video games/computer away,but my current methods work better, I think, than hitting.
    I grew up in the “smack your kids 70′s”. I love my parents, they were the best parents I could have asked for, but I still resent being struck.

    Bella January 6, 2010 at 6:29 pm

    My head is exploding with all the things I wish I could properly articulate — and you’re awesome, Catherine, for keeping this conversation so civil. It’s very important, I think.

    I’m writing a series of posts in the next couple of weeks on empirically-based effective discipline approaches and I worried that I’d have to cover the issue of spanking. I worried about the backlash and the possibility of offending people and the possibility that I cared more about offending people than getting the straight data across (I haven’t yet been able to get a hold of the actual empirical article your post refers to, just the media report).

    From a strictly empirical point of view, corporal punishment has been shown in many MANY studies to lead to poorer social/emotional outcomes for children. One other, perhaps questionably designed, study does NOT negate those findings and I worry about the same thing you do, Catherine. That those who want to condone and justify regular use of physical discipline will feel vindicated and not worry about trying alternative approaches, approaches that may be EQUALLY effective (but perhaps harder to implement sometimes).

    I understand why people spank, and I understand that it is often done from the best intentions, but it IS hitting. It can be VERY LIGHT hitting, but hitting nonetheless. And indeed, even this light “spanking” has been found, in repeated studies, to cause harm to children in terms of their emotional and social well-being.

    But then there’s the less “empirical” approach. I know many people, including myself, who were spanked and feel like it made NO lasting impact on their psyche (or at least not in a harmful way). And I know others, others in the SAME FAMILY, who are convinced that those spankings (from the same adults) made a significant dent in their self-esteem, ability to trust, proneness to shame, and so on.

    From my understanding of the developmental literature, I would say that it has A LOT to do with the developmental stage the child is in when she is being spanked (As just one example, 3.5 years old is a transition period when most children begin to understand for the first time that other people can judge them differently than they judge themselves — called “theory of mind” — often this cognitive acquisition is accompanied by huge gobs of shame. This may be one of those stages where I’d really want to caution parents to avoid, at almost all costs, spanking).

    I also think the impact of spanking will have a lot to do with the TEMPERAMENT of that child. There are more sensitive children who will interpret being hit as a betrayal, a basic violation of love and trust and keep a single spanking in the vault for the rest of their lives and there are more resilient children who will be spanked repeatedly and insist they laughed the whole thing off and preferred smacks to being grounded. Problem is: Do we know what kind of child we have? Do we know what our child is thinking ABOUT the spanking to judge whether it’s what we really want to be doing? And if there are EQUALLY effective, non-physical forms of discipline, why wouldn’t we try those consistently first?

    In terms of spanking during times of danger, I get it. When my 3-year old ran out into the driveway while a car was backing out, I ran out to him more scared than I’ve ever been and pulled him to safety and I screamed at him louder and more fiercely than I ever knew I had in me. I made that child cry and he was deathly afraid… of me. Yes, I can say that I traumatized him enough that he’ll always remember to stay out of the driveway, but I don’t consider that a good job done in disciplining. I lost it. If it wasn’t for my own emotional craziness, I could have pulled him aside and told him he could have been squashed, dead, hurt, bleeding… whatever. Frighten him about the possibilities, not of his MOTHER.

    Sorry, I know I’m rambling, but one more thing: we often talk about spanking when we’re NOT angry, as if that’s the ideal way to do it. From lots of experiences with children who have problems with anger and aggression (I’ve evaluated several intervention programs), my sense is that the spanking delivered in a neutral tone, with calm emotional displays can be EQUALLY damaging, if not more. One adolescent, explaining early childhood experience of being spanked, recalled to me the fury and shame he felt when his father would say to him that he was going to calm down first and then give him the spanking he deserved — this boy remembered those minutes leading up to the spanking (which never hurt physically, he insisted) as the most rageful periods where he fantasized about killing his father and wondered what kind of monster would hit his child, whom he claimed he loved, without even being angry at him. At least if mom or dad was angry, then he could justify their “mean-ness” but to do it with no emotion? This can feel really disorienting, at best, to a child being spanked.
    .-= Bella´s last blog ..Best discipline strategy EVER =-.

    Her Bad Mother January 6, 2010 at 10:51 pm

    My parents spanked, and I never once doubted their love or gentleness. But my mom was spanked by HER parents, and it felt abusive to her. The most uspet I ever saw her get about spanking my sister and I (it was rare, but it did happen) was when she spanked my sister for running in front of a car. For some reason, at the time, I found her upset reassuring, even though my sister was WAILING about being spanked and I was crying for my sister’s upset. We were ALL upset, and afraid, and the spanking made sense to my childish 70′s self, at the time.

    On the occasions that my parents did spank, danger or no danger, they were always upset about it. I knew they hated it. That made a difference. Does it make a difference to me, now, as a parent? Not so much. I don’t want to do it, and I live in a time where that feeling is supported, so.

    So complicated and messed up.

    breedemandweep January 6, 2010 at 7:01 pm

    I love your honesty. I love your acknowledgement that this absurd and surreal world of parenting—even when full of love and gritted teeth and “I am going to do my best”—is anything but black and white reading material.

    I have sat upon my six-year-old to brush her teeth while she screamed. I can’t wait to see the results of the PTSD study for that. Who wants to spank me?

    Her Bad Mother January 6, 2010 at 10:45 pm

    I’m pretty sure that I deserve a shitload of spankings. I’m also pretty sure that the day I sit on E to brush her teeth is coming.

    Jessi January 6, 2010 at 7:29 pm

    Abuse is about degree and intent, not action. Spanking can be abuse, or it can be discipline. Just like using your words can be abuse or discipline. The difference is that no one tells me that I am abusive for discussing wrongdoings with my kids because some people are verbally abusive, but people line up to tell me I’m abusive for spanking because some people are physically abusive. Yes, I do hope that people don’t use this as an excuse to abuse. Because abusive parents don’t need another excuse, they have plenty. But I will never understand people who want to throw out all the screwdrivers because someone bludgeoned someone to death with one.

    By the way, Catherine. I adore you. I adore the way you make me think. And cry. And examine what I really believe. I don’t always agree with you and I sometimes let you know it because you push my buttons. But that’s part of what I love about you and part of why I’m still here. Still reading. Still arguing. Because this is what good friends do.

    Bella January 6, 2010 at 9:26 pm

    Very well articulated… I may not agree with the end conclusion (or even some of the premises — from first-hand knowledge, I’ve realized that the same physical discipline can feel like abuse to one child and silly parental power-tripping to another), but it’s made me really think about the logical arguments.

    Forgotten January 7, 2010 at 11:32 am

    I grew up being spanked. I also grew up with one parent who spanked and one who didn’t. It did sometime border on abuse. I’m pretty sure the marks I wore at different times would have gotten me removed from the home were it this time and place instead of then.

    I think I turned out ok IN SPITE of what happened to me. It’s a conscience choice to do something with your life or relive your past. I have chosen to write my own future. I have spanked my children but again it was under the same duress that you express. I only did it because they were endangering themselves or each other and only because the scared tone of my screaming voice when trying to get them to stop immediately didn’t deter them. After snatching them away from the danger and explaining to them why they couldn’t do it didn’t work, I then spanked when they were caught doing it again. They haven’t repeated the dangerous things they were doing and so it seems to have worked, if only for the shock factor. I still don’t feel good about it though.
    .-= Forgotten´s last blog ..Walk Softly and Carry a Big Stick… =-.

    Jennifer Juniper January 7, 2010 at 11:54 am

    I wholeheartedly agree with Jesse about degree and intent.

    There are many things that we do as parents that we wish we could have handled differently. Raising my three sons, there have been times when I’ve spanked and wished I’d handled it differently and there are times I’ve spanked and understood that though it wasn’t nice, I would have done it again.

    I do know that with age and experience, I’ve learned that the spanking I do relates directly to the amount of physical aggression my kids show toward each other. I learned that is isn’t a solution for me in most circumstances. Almost never, in fact.

    I really can’t remember the last time I spanked one of my children, but I know it has happened. I also can forgive myself as they forgive me because we are all finding our way here. We are all learning from our mistakes and finding out what works and what doesn’t.

    We are trying to separate compulsively repeating what happened to us with what we choose to do. All of this comes with age and experience.

    I’m glad I didn’t have anyone threatening to call the police on me as I stumble down this path of parenthood trying to learn what works best for us. I’m glad I was surrounded by people who listened and offered some insights and advice without judging or condemning me for my actions. I’m also glad I can admit I made mistakes and learn from them as I continue the journey.

    Will I never spank again? I can’t answer that question, but I know how to evaluate the situation differently now, after 11 years of motherhood, and I will come up with the right solution for our family. But if I do spank, the intent and degree will not be that of abuse.
    .-= Jennifer Juniper´s last blog ..The Soul Sister’s Christmas Party Recap! =-.

    Jennifer Juniper January 7, 2010 at 12:01 pm

    Oh, and by “spanking” I’m referring to a swat on the tush, not a repeated beating. A quick swat is much different that repeated hitting on the bottom. Just wanted to clarify my post.
    .-= Jennifer Juniper´s last blog ..The Soul Sister’s Christmas Party Recap! =-.

    kblogger January 7, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    “Because there are other ways of disciplining them, ways that don’t involve hitting. And because raising them in a loving and safe environment, raising them to be gentle with themselves and with others, matters more to me than whether or not they might some day be able to face down a future incarnation of Donald Trump in the boardroom.”

    Agreed. I might add that when we discipline and teach our children through gentle methods, we give them the gift of internal control (vs. behavior being determined by external control factors) – and that gift may well help them become far more successful than the adult who was raised as a child to obey authority (of course, only when authority is watching).
    .-= kblogger´s last blog ..Getting Beyond Punishment =-.

    Meagan Francis January 7, 2010 at 2:06 pm

    I don’t really “get” spanking as part of the “parenting toolbox”, because there are just so many options. That said, I have spanked, and screwed up in thousands of other ways that were possibly more harmful than the average total of two butt-swats my kids have each received. (Actually, my youngest two have received no butt-swats at all, but my second son skewed the numbers. Let’s just say I was still a rookie at dealing with defiant, impulsive preschoolers who laugh as you try to establish a reasonable consequence…)

    I guess my point is, there are lots of ways to mess up your kids. What about withholding love or giving the silent treatment as punishment (I have witnessed both of these–it can be subtle and isn’t always something a passerby would be aware of, but damaging? Ohmyyes)? Or what about my occasional yelling when I get overwhelmed, or heaving great sighs of frustration when my kids don’t pick up on a math concept as fast as they should (the frustration is because I don’t really get it either, but OF COURSE it just makes them feel bad). My point is that THANK GOODNESS, good or bad parenting is defined by its whole, and the whole is greater than the sum of the little screw-ups and parenting sins we all commit every single day. That said, you’re right that allowing for the fact that we all mess up doesn’t mean we should start promoting spanking as a reasonable tool, any more than we should promote yelling, or frustrated sighing. There are almost always better and worse ways to deal with any parenting issue, and I keep reaching for those better ways, even while knowing I’ll fall short much of the time. That’s the only way to be a mother without being unreasonably hard on a) yourself b) everyone else or c) both.

    Her Bad Mother January 7, 2010 at 6:53 pm

    Agreed. As I wrote in the earlier post, I found that guilt had a much longer-lasting and deleterious effect upon me.

    And yes, thank god for the whole. We all fare much better, viewed through the lens of the whole.

    Rebecca @ Playground Confidential January 7, 2010 at 2:31 pm

    I was never spanked (not really) growing up and I don’t spank my children. Instead, I take away toys or send them to their room or whatever else I can dream up. But that doesn’t mean it’s always pretty.

    It is possible to scream at a young child so hard that it brings tears to their face and yours. It’s possible to *drag* said child to his bedroom and toss him on the bed. It’s possible to completely lose all of the love and patience and control that is the cornerstone of your parenting in one fell swoop. And that is just as bad, if not worse, then a well-measured slap on the rear. Saying “I don’t spank,” doesn’t necessarily protect us from our uglier side, nor does it protect our children. So, no, I don’t judge. I wouldn’t dare.

    But it is also why we should not support spanking as the go-to method of discipline. Because if anger and frustration can manifest themselves so violently *without* ever striking a child, then I don’t even want to think about what could be if corporal punishment was the norm.
    .-= Rebecca @ Playground Confidential´s last blog ..The Infant-Toddler Cusp =-.

    BoozleBox January 7, 2010 at 5:55 pm

    My children are ten and eight and I have spanked them on a very few occasions when they were quite little and I had hit the stage where nothing else was working. I always regretted it immediately and was mortified for days. however now I feel much more upset about the things I have said to my children over the years. Sometimes I hear my older child say things about how he can’t do things, or doesn’t deserve something and I wonder… Was that me? Did I put that thought in his head? Also my father dished out physical chastisement, sometimes bordering on abuse, but I can’t think of many instances where he made feel bad because of something he said. My mother on the other hand was the opposite. If I’m honest, I loved my dad much more than my mum and I think this is related to the way I felt they thought about me. My dad was much more positive in his view of me and my siblings.
    I guess what I’m saying is that smacking young children is almost always wrong and makes you feel crap however I personally think the way most children experience it – an unusual event on a very few occasions – does very little damage. All the thoughtless, over-reacting stuff that comes out of your mouth on the other hand – that’s the stuff that does the real damage.

    Val January 9, 2010 at 1:21 am

    Give yourself a break about the time you spanked your daughter. As you said yourself, you did it because at the time it was the only way to get her attention and help keep her safe. You were acting instinctively in a moment of panic. You were not doing it to inflict pain or as a punishment.

    With that said, I was spanked a few times as a child and it was less about the pain than a signal to me that I had really crossed the line in my behavior. I was never afraid of my parents because they never spanked or hit in a fit of anger – just as a last resort to show me that I had really crossed a boundary. I won’t say that I’ll never spank my son. But luckily, he has yet to misbehave to the point where I felt something stronger was necessary to get his attention (he’s only 15 months). I agree that it is not productive to try and teach your child not to hit, when you have the power to swat their bottom and get away with it. But it is nice to know that there is somthing “stronger” available to get his attention if his behavior is completely out of control. And it is nice to know that I have a great loving relationship with my parents – even though they spanked (or perhaps because they loved me enough to teach me when I was seriously out of line???)

    jonesidosio@blogspot.com January 11, 2010 at 1:03 pm

    i spanked my children (now 11,10,and 7).
    on rare occasions they still get a spanking.

    the old “stick and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” is a lie. words do hurt.

    i think some can tear their kids apart with their words, with yelling at their children.
    that is a wound, a blow that hurts.

    a spanking is for the incident, and the sting hurts for a moment. it makes a heart that is clinging to self-will, turn and comply. giving way to conversations that communicate the matters of the heart, and how to live in truth, value self and others.

    i spanked my children because i love them.

    and they are AWESOME KIDS. they have always been well behaved,been well loved, had a healthy fear (if you can’t spank and not do it without anger than don’t)of authority. they have always been DELIGHTFUL children, ALWAYS.

    momtrolfreak January 13, 2010 at 5:51 pm

    My husband was spanked as a child (I once saw his mother hold a two year old grandson in the air with one arm and swing at his bottom like a pinata, so I can only imagine what she did to them when she was younger, though none of them feel as if they were abused), I was only spanked once. My one spanking incident was odd and stood out in my mind because it was done coldly, with a belt. Not in anger. I had done something at school and was told to wait til my father got home, so it was a premeditated spanking, and some might think this is odd but I think that’s worse than spanking in hte heat of the moment when you lost your shit out of fear that your kid almost walked into traffic or whatever. Neither my husband (who was always spanked) nor I (almost never spanked) “believe” in spanking as a disciplinary tactic. It is not in my “bag of tricks” for discipline. However, I have done it a handful (ha) or times. Less than five. in extreme situations that involved danger. I was not proud of it. It was not hard and it was on his bottom, through a couple of layers of clothing. Bare hand, not a belt. He’s three. Am I happy that I did that? No. But it did get his attention at times when nothing else would have and when he was in danger. I have not spanked him for mouthing off or anything like that. The thing that I think is important is that we talk about it once the situation has passed. We talk about what it means to love eachother and treat each other with respect, and that Mommy did not like spanking you but it was the only way I could keep you out of danger right then, and i’m sorry. We talk about listening carefully so that you can hear me when I tell you to step back from the curb or not run around the back of the car. Etc. I explain and we discuss, and we both apologize (him for not listening, me for yelling or spanking or whatever). i think it’s important for kids to know that their parents are human, too, and make mistakes and have regrets about behavior and that we MODEL FOR THEM how to apologize to people that you have hurt (either emotionally or physically). I do think that there were other ways I could have handled the situations in which I spanked my child (I can think of four times I’ve done it). There are other times he’s been in danger and I have not resorted to spanking, so clearly there is a a workaround. Spanking is probably never “unavoidable.” I feel guilty because I do believe it’s hypocritical to tell our children not to hit other people and then turn around and hit them ourselves. it’s sticky territory, like much of parenting. My son has learned in preschool to make his fist into a little ball and punch me in the leg when he’s mad at something I’ve made him do–I don’t haul off and punch him back (even though it hurts like hell). Its hard to know the right thing to do, you know? My husband is one of the nicest people you’ll meet, and his mom beat him. I am selfish and have a horrible temper, and was never spanked. So, you know, I think kids turn out whatever way they turn out for a whole host of reasons that have nothing to do with spanking. That doesn;t mean I won;t keep feeling guilty, though.
    .-= momtrolfreak´s last blog ..I’m HUGE in Australia* (*"HUGE" = "virtually unknown except for this one cul-de-sac") =-.

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