Mom Logic's Jenny writes:
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.
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.