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I May Spank My Child

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Mom Logic's Jenny writes: This weekend my friends and I got in to a heated debate at a big group dinner. It started as a casual aside to a friend that my 1-year-old son's new thing is to throw his food off his high chair on to the floor. Sometimes he thinks it's just hilarious. Other times he just does it and then swings his head over the tray to see where the food has landed. I said that I chalk this normal behavior up to his discovery about "cause and effect" and that he has learned to test me, something that he will continue to do for another 18 plus years.

child about to be punished

But somehow, suddenly the conversation shifted from how I'm wasting so many Cheerios to how to discipline my child. Before I knew it, a heated debate had broken out. At one end of the table, two friends (who could have been feeling a little more loquacious than usual due to the world's strongest margaritas) said that using physical force on a child -- as a means to discipline -- was okay. In fact, one friend added, "Sometimes you've got to beat your kid."
"WHAT?!" we all screamed. BEAT? Like with a bottle? With a belt? BEAT???
"Are you crazy?!" I shot back. "NOTHING could ever make me 'beat' my child."

Now, let me just say that everyone at the table, including Mr. Beat-Your-Kid Guy is extremely well educated, bright and near and dear to us. To listen to these people who I know are a bunch of big gushy teddy bears tell me that they'd hurt their child if they had to shocked me. "I can't continue a conversation with you when you use the word "beat,"" I said, "That's just absurd, and I know you don't mean it." He went on to tell me that he believes in "beating with love." Meaning: Sometimes, in some cases, it's not only okay to use physical force, but it's beneficial in teaching your kid a lesson.

One friend said that getting "beat" can may make a child do the right thing. He told us that he was raised by a single mother with five children and she sometimes had to physically force him to stay inside and do his homework. He accredits her "tough love" and forceful nature to his successful college career and subsequent role as a father. He's never had to get physical with his own now grown-up, but that if he had to, he would. Another woman, who even has a background in early childhood development, agrees. She said that she's never believed in using violence as a means to discipline but now that she has two grown boys, she wishes she had been more forceful. She says that if they had "feared" her more, maybe they would have a little bit more respect for her now as adults.

Certainly, there are probably some situations that arise when instilling fear in order to explain or deter your child from doing the wrong thing (taking candy from strangers, etc) may be necessary. But is fear really going to make your child respect you more? It certainly didn't stop me from acting out and testing my limits. When I was four, my mom washed my mouth out with soap for telling my aunt to "shut up." I'm not proud of it, but the soap incident didn't stop me from being an angry teenager and telling my parents that I hated them and to "f*ck off" at least a dozen times. Other than literally leaving me with a bad taste in my mouth, (and turning me off to scented soaps forever), I learned nothing from that lesson.

Almost everyone at the table recounted a time when they were spanked, or threatened by their parents and almost all of us -- including the "beat them with love" cheering squad -- agreed that we hope to never have to get physical with our own kids. While my son is only 14 months old and we have a lifetime of "you suck" and "get out of my room" ahead of us, I truly don't ever see using violence as a means to discipline. That said, if he ever runs into the street and almost gets hit by a car, I can't promise I won't spank him...

Do you spank your children? Tell us in the momlogic community.



next: Casey Complained about "Mommy Duties"
27 comments so far | Post a comment now
Jenny November 17, 2008, 9:38 PM

Im not sure what to say. I dont think that one spank requires the title of violence. Words work with some children, time outs work with others and some children respond to spanking. I do believe that as long as its just as stinging swat that is not done in anger that there is nothing wrong with it. The problem is when that becomes the ONLY solution and when its more out of frustration or anger on the parents part. If its the only solution your child will become desensitized and resentful. If its out of anger and frustration then the parents need a time out themselves. I dont think anyone will ever know which way is best, obviously parents on each side will think their way is best which is why it is THEIR way.

Gretchen November 18, 2008, 1:45 AM

Absalutly!
For actions right or wrong there must be actions! It’s all a picture. Sin must be paid for. I believe “time outs” as disipline perpare our kids for suicide. Think about your actions… what good does that do? Getting a consequence and paying for it…now that’s life. We are to train our kids to prepare them to survive in the out side world. Not to beat them into submission for our benifite. If you love your kids…do them the favor of truly preparing them for life.

celeste November 18, 2008, 4:05 AM

I was beat as a kid. My parents,mainly my dad,began all of this by spanking us on the but.It then evolved to spanking on the bare but,then to spanking with a belt with the pant up and finally with the pants down. After that it went to being smacked in the face when we chewed with our mouths open (on accident,we were still learning our table manners),to my father standing over us at the dinner table with belt in had,ready to hit us in the head with it if we “got out of line” (funny,we never did find out where that line was,it was always a guessing game).
My mother’s way of disciplining us was to hit us with anything she had on hand,ie,broom,hair brush or she would just throw us down and kick us.
All of this evolved to my mother breaking my nose and my father throwing me across the room and beating me in the face with his fists.
My parents for of disciplin came from them trying to instill boundaries and even fear into us and then they weren’t able to control their rage for everyday life and took it out on us kid. What did we do to “deserve” it? we were kids being kids. After a while,we did end up hitting each other,my parents swear that they don’t know where we learned it from.
If you hit your kids,you’re teaching them that it’s OK to hit. You’re also setting yourself up for some problems. Where do you draw the line for reasons to hit them? What about when you’re tired or stressed and they do something,will you hit them then? I don’t believe that there is ANY good reason to hit a child or anyone else,with the only exception being if someone if attacking you to kill or rape you and the only way you can get away would be to hurt them.

Children learn through anything. If you teach them fear and pain then they will grow up knowing that and will be really messed up. If you teach them through love,respect and understanding,then that will be what they know.

Anonymous November 18, 2008, 8:02 AM

my son doesn’t respond to time outs too well or trying to talk. a swat on the hand or butt, he gets that, and stops immediately. it’s not hard enough to hurt but hard enough to get his attention. when time outs work i will use them. thankfully it rarely happens…he’s pretty much a good kid, or just hasn’t gotten to that phase yet.

Anonymous November 18, 2008, 11:31 AM

i love parents who take their “time-out”kids to restaraunts, parents become harder to put up with then the kids. as if it is possible to raise a child without being physical. you know the child is going to hit or scream or bite or throw at one point. how do you magicians stop your child? wait until he stops biting you? what happens when you touch a hot stove or say the wrong thing to the wrong person…..you get burned, should you wait until your child is an adult before they learn this??

GWEN BEAN November 18, 2008, 12:03 PM

I raised 7 children and 3 grandchildren.Yes, they did get a few spankings, not beatings. They survived and are good productive adults. From what I see the time outs don’t work,in walking through Wal-Mart, I have viewed little darlings from the age of 2, yelling at the top of their lungs, hiting and kicking their mom and dad, and yelling verbal abuse everytime they didn’t get their way. I now days the kids rule the parents and the parents and the parents are led by the kids. I don’t think kids need to be beat, but a good old fashion spanking on the place God provided is in order when needed. Yes, I have grandchildren that need a good old fashion spanking too. Some of them are now ready to go off to college and haven’t learned to respect anyone, simply because they were never made to mind and given everything they wanted. Kids need guidelines and rules to help them learn how to respect and love others and to appreciate the good things they have. First off, the parents need to be examples for these little ones. It is sad to say, but there are no real role models for our kids these days, from the parents to the government. If you listened to the presidential debates, everyone slamming each other, it does not give our children any thing or anyone to follow. One last thing, these kids are smart, they know almost from birth how to work their parents. Yes a little spanking along with a few responsibilities will go along way in helping our kids.

Anna November 18, 2008, 12:48 PM

I was spanked as a child and I had no negative psychological effects because of it. There are many worse things out there then spanking, freaking out and getting scary-mad at your kid is waay worse. I know because one of my parents spanked me the other did the latter.

Uly November 18, 2008, 12:53 PM

Have you noticed that none of the people advocating hitting your kids can write a coherent sentence? Can’t spell, can’t capitalize, can’t punctuate, and some of them can’t even string words together as well as I’d expect a 5 year old.

I wonder if that might, possibly, indicate something….

(And I’m very curious how hitting people smaller than yourself counts as being an example for your children. Gwen? Any ideas?)

Anonymous November 18, 2008, 1:43 PM

I and my husband raised three boys into mature, loving adult men. We did spank them when they needed it, and never once in 30 years have we ever been called by the principals, teachers, or police for bad behaviour from our sons. They grew up with respect for authority. Two of my sons were in the Navy as nuclear engineers, and the other one is graduating from a Christian college to be a youth pastor. None of them nerdy, and they are socially well-adjusted adults.

Bill proud parent November 18, 2008, 1:45 PM

Giving you kids a spank here or there might be ok. But you have to give your kids choices first. We explain the situation and give choices of what punishment could happen either loss of toys, t.v, etc. We as adults have our choices laid down to us by laws, so why not do the same for your kids. The key thing is the punishment has to be followed through or else it is just meaningless to them. Screaming at your kid only angers them to resent you or get even with you. Most kids will act out if that is the only attention you show them. Kids are there and want to be noticed most of all by their parents. Also make it, differnt crime differnt punishment, it can’t all be the same.

Kayree November 18, 2008, 3:45 PM

Look everyone has the right to raise their children any way they wish, but is no way I could ever tell my mother to f-off like the author told her parents, that ould’ve been the end of me. Mabe if her parents had a firm hand she ould have been more respectful. As for me and my house…spanking, beating( not abuse) will given consistently with love when my children do things that warrant chastisment. I would never chastise my children when I am angry or without explaining to them why. The bible says in Proverbs 22:15 Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him. Pro 23:12 Apply thine heart unto instruction, and thine ears to the words of knowledge.


Pro 23:13 Withhold not correction from the child: for [if] thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die.


Pro 23:14 Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.

Let it be clear I am not talking about abuse I’m talking about chastising your children in love & teaching them a lesson. God said if you beat him he shall not die! Kids are dying everyday in gangs ect because there was no one there to keep them in check.

Jenny November 18, 2008, 4:31 PM

Bill,
I agree 100% percent. Spanking should be used as little as possible and as a last resort.

Uly,
I don’t see why you have to resort to insulting people with whom you disagree. Why don’t we stick to the subject. When you insult others you are putting yourself down to a juvenille level as well.

Jenny

Gloria November 18, 2008, 4:36 PM

With any type of punishment you have to look at the result to see if it’s working. Does it have a positive effect on the youngster’s behavior, for more than just a moment, AND does it also have a positive effect on your relationship with your child. If there is a need to punish, let’s say because one of your kids is hurting a younger sibling, and you decide to spank, does it result in the offender getting this thoughtful look on his/her face, and a half hour later you have this sweet cooperative child on your hands who even mumbles an apology? Then I think it is working. The offender has seen the justice in what has befallen him/her. There is no long term alienation. You have not destroyed love and respect.
However, if you spank, and the kid has a nature of the kind that even one swat will be remembered and resented until you’re eighty, and he/she distances immediately, and stays distant, then I’d say you’d better start trying something new.
The two scenarios above are descriptions of the reactions of two of my own children. I spank very rarely but it really works in the one instance with a very temperamental offspring. I know for sure it would never work with the other. So, what am I saying here? Personalities matter. Results matter.
And I’m really really convinced not to get physical with your kids if you are going through a profound trauma of any sort, like a messy divorce. They’re hurting as much as you. You might be feeling so bad temporarily that you can’t see farther than your own pain, but please, don’t add to theirs by turning into a punitive monster. They are really hurting incredibly, too.

anonymous November 18, 2008, 6:47 PM

I am a child and am spanked once in a blue moon if I do something wrong. But obviously no child likes spankings it just leads to more comtemptuous behavior towards the parent if the child gets spanked alot. Overall I think parents should form a bond with their child not push them away with a belt or cane

Uly November 18, 2008, 11:25 PM

I don’t see why they can’t type like adults. I mean, if they can reach the keyboard, they should be able to type.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t take advice from people who can’t spell or, worse, speak, any better than my five year old niece.

I mean, if you’re not bright enough to type a simple sentence without getting it wrong, how valid can your opinions *be*? The answer to that, I’m afraid, may well be “not very”.

Rebecca November 19, 2008, 3:40 AM

I was spanked and paddled with a wooden board as a child. More often than not, the spankings were given in anger at the spur of the moment. On occasion, my back and face were hit. I never thought of it as abuse until a couple of years ago. (I’m 25 now). Sure, some kids had it WAY worse than I did, but I have really bad memories of lying face down on my bed, waiting for the extreme pain of the wooden board. A few times, my siblings and I cried so hard we threw up. All of this was done in the name of the book of Proverbs, which talks about the rod of correction, but I knew other Christian parents who didn’t take that verse so literally and their kids turned out better behaved than my siblings and I did, plus they didn’t hit each other. Funnily, my parents wondered why we were so violent with each other — wherever did we learn that??? The mistake people make is thinking that not spanking means you won’t discipline your child. When I have kids, they will be taught rules and respect, but my correction will be done in love. Parents, before you raise a hand to your child, really think about why you’re doing it and if there’s a better way.

Jenny November 19, 2008, 9:11 AM

I respect your opinion Uly.

Anonymous November 19, 2008, 5:27 PM

When spanking is used there are children that it will have no effect on, as mentioned in a previous comment. When it is used too much, it is even less effective, as you will get the child that laughs at you afterwards rather than taking it the way you intend, creating more anger than there may have been initially and making a bad situation worse.

Personally, when I do spank, it is because of a dangerous situation - i.e. going into the street - and I explain to my child when I see him heading towards this type of behavior that it is dangeous and if he does it he will get spanked to reinfoce how serious the situation is.

All other times I lean towards time outs, but when that is not effective and his safety is in question, something stronger seems warranted.

Karen November 20, 2008, 1:06 PM

Kayree, I live in gang territory, and I have seen these kids grow up from cute little boys to tattooed dead men, and believe me, they were smacked around as children. I’m glad that we live in a country where I don’t have to follow the Bible’s teachings, because many of them are just wrong. Beating your kids with a stick is one of the wrong teachings.

Jessica February 6, 2009, 8:13 PM

Firstly, you are lieing everytime you replace the word for violence with ‘Spanking’. Second, you should be facing charges because no doubt you have already ‘spanked’ your child. And lastly, no one has a right at all to raise their hand to harm anybody unless they need to defend themselves. We all know that violence should only be used when we are being attacked.We all know that it is wrong,unfortunately there are just alot of people like you in this world who claim it isn’t because it makes them feel better about themselves.And it does children harm. It does everybody harm. When I was smacked growing up it did me harm.PHYSICAL harm. I would get the ‘quick smack’, I never got the strap but there is no difference,violence is violence and it does people harm.To read some of these comments is downright hurtful. They are so offensive. What if my husband was to create a blog stating ‘I may hit my wife’ I am sure many of you would be eager to get him in jail,yet children,who are physically smaller than we are,who cannot defend themselves like we can,it is dismissed and shrugged off quite quickly. It isn’t fair and it isn’t about how it makes us feel. No matter how inscure we are feeling we have no right to claim that smacking children is fine, we have no right ecspecially as parents to smack our children.We are the first people they look to for protection and learn from.They learn from us first! So how dare any of you parents who state you are doing the right thing by hitting your child.You are not doing the right thing nor are you being a parent.You are being a bully and are only teaching them that violence is acceptable when it cleary isn’t.


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