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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
Jessica February 9, 2009, 1:39 AM

Kayree no one has the right to raise their children anyway they wish. At the end of the day in your heart you know that to raise a hand to a child is wrong,so it’s up to you and the rest of the world to do the right thing. I know for a fact that raising children is not easy but it doesn’t mean we can just bring them up how we wish. I can’t change your mind nor can I change others minds but I have had enough of this dreadful topic. I’ve absolutely had it with people arguing over what is so obviously wrong,reading and hearing words such as ‘it never did me any harm’ reading over comments that are so defensive,it is sickening. Kayree whether you like it or not a ‘spanking’ is the typical replaced word for violence. Allof you who have the nerve to just sit there and go on and on about how okay it is and how kids deserve it, just shutup we need less people like you in this world. We are not put on this earth to add to violence we are put on this earth to help create cycles of love,honesty and discipline. Not violence. Violence is not discipline.Violence is just violence no matter how you sugar coat it with your gutless words and so-called views. We all share the same view concerning violence. Every one of us on this planet can see very well that it is wrong, ecspecially toward people who are weaker. So no Kayree just shutup because you are full of it and you know it. We have no right to raise our children how we wish.

Mara February 12, 2009, 2:46 AM

I’m on your side Jessica,whatever anyone says you are right we all know that it is wrong.We need more people like you in this world.Thankyou.Your words make a difference,nothing can make me more sick as to think that right now a parent is hitting their child,and to read your two comments has given me a lift more than you can imagine.I am what people call over-sensitive to pretty much everything around me,what I hear,what I see.Your words make me feel better,knowing that there is another person out there who is being an example of love. You are an encouragment ecspecially to people like me who fall into depression-easily- over such topics.

mak March 12, 2009, 2:28 AM

My parents definitely believed in spanking. Even in the car, if there was an argument in the back seat, my dad would start swinging and hit everyone. If one of us were hit in error, he would say “that’s for the next time”. That might sound funny, but it wasn’t at the time. First grade in a catholic school at the tender age of 5 was a terrible experience (I just wanted to be a silly heart) and didn’t realize that I was there to learn and actually be graded. If I got spanked at school (which was almost every day), I would get spanked when I got home (the little “carpool shrimp” who lived across the street always told my parents when I had been spanked). My dad would make me pull my pants down, touch my toes and look straight ahead (every time, he would say “This is going to hurt me more than you”) what a joke! If I flinched, he would add another lash with his belt. Sometimes he used a long knife holster. As you can imagine, I failed the first grade and had to repeat (what a nightmare). I was put into a public school, never had a smack from the teacher, got straight A’s and skipped the 8th grade.

To make a long story shorter than it could have been … I NEVER, NEVER spanked my kids because I believe that it only makes them angry and teaches them to hit when they are mad. However, I do believe that you should have control of the reins in the early years. Children are like little wild horses who need direction for their own saftey. If you don’t pull the reins, they will run right in front of a speeding car.
Another thing … always tell your children that you love them. They need to hear this at all times. I never heard that when I was growing up. It was almost as if were an embarrassing thing to say in the 70’s.






Leon Valeur August 25, 2009, 3:27 PM

Jessica wrote something about defending yourself. I guess most of us probably think of spanking as protection for immature children who doesn’t react to words and explanations. There are two things I will like to say about this protection. First, in 1965 it was forbidden danish schools to use a stick on the childrens bottoms, and in 1967 it was also forbidden teachers to slap in the face. Why? Because parents since the beginning of time had protested against that the state led strangers beat their kids. If I had been a parent before 1965, I would probably have killed several hundreds of politicians and teachers. It’s the greatest scom in history, that a lot of politicians nowadays wants to decide whether parents shoould be allowed to smack their children a couple of times, or not. It is my opinion, that a lot of parents in the past were far too violent to their kids, because the parents were confused because the law INSTRUCTED strangers to beat their children, and many of these parents had been beating by strangers themselves. It’s so sad that this still takes place in a lot of countries. But six years ago, I became lovers with a girl that I have known for 25 years. She have had a daughter in between, a lovely girl that was 11 at that time. We were so happy, and I loved both my girls, but my bonusdaughter - who called me her bonusfather, so .. - was extremely childish, and had me in the red field all the time, for things like denying to eat nothing but cake to press us to order fastfood etc., etc. We didn’t live together, except for the weekends because we worked in different cities, so I couldn’t and wouldn’t intervene in my bonusdaughter’s behavoir, but her mother’s helplessness irritated me. She did loose her patience at a time, and started threatening my bonusdaughter with a spanking, but nothing happened, except that my bonusdaughter provoked for that spanking more and more intensely, as all children do to relieve the tension, so I had to tell my girlfriend to either stop threatening or to actually spank her daughter. She choosed to stop, and lost her cheerfulness completely, and after a while, she wouldn’t even sleep in the same bed as I. A few weeks later we got separated for a year. Then we got engaged, and everything was okay for a while. Then my bonusdaughter reached 15, and I gave her a scooter that she had wanted totally badly. After a short while, she begged me to allow her to have it made illegal fast, and I gave her my permission on the condition that she should always wear a safety helmet. She promised, but she never kept that promise. Her mother was sick of worries, because my bonusdaughter was as childish as she was, and at an earlier time had crashed with her cycle so badly, that her mother had to take her to a hospital. Well, a couple og month later she drove the scooter into a lamp standard, without wearing safety helmet and with a girlfriend riding pillion. She had also started both drinking and smoking, and the next year she left school and started on a boring job to get money to party. My lovely childish bonusdaughter, who just had become cynical because her mother was to weak to be in charge. My girlfriend became weird again, even before her daughter left school, and we had to separate again, for ever. Don’t EVER say to me, that it’s wrong to spank a child, even a 15 year old child, for not keeping promises. Yours, Leon

Leon Valeur August 25, 2009, 3:36 PM

Then we got engaged, and everything was okay for a while. Then my bonusdaughter reached 15, and I gave her a scooter that she had wanted totally badly. After a short while, she begged me to allow her to have it made illegal fast, and I gave her my permission on the condition that she should always wear a safety helmet. She promised, but she never kept that promise. Her mother was sick of worries, because my bonusdaughter was as childish as she was, and at an earlier time had crashed with her cycle so badly, that her mother had to take her to a hospital. Well, a couple og month later she drove the scooter into a lamp standard, without wearing safety helmet and with a girlfriend riding pillion. She had also started both drinking and smoking, and the next year she left school and started on a boring job to get money to party. My lovely childish bonusdaughter, who just had become cynical because her mother was to weak to be in charge. My girlfriend became weird again, even before her daughter left school, and we had to separate again, for ever. Don’t EVER say to me, that it’s wrong to spank a child, even a 15 year old child, for not keeping promises. Yours, Leon

robert September 9, 2010, 2:32 PM


I believe spanking is one of those things that should be used rarely in life, but that there is a place for it.

I’ll give an example that comes from my own life. I’m not proud of this, but when I was 12 a group of boys persuaded me to destroy property and commit vandalism. We broke into a shed in a park that the city used to store tractors and maintenance equipment. In the process we broke windows and poured salt and other chemicals on the floor of that shed.

I got caught.

My parents seldom spanked and prior to this time, I don’t remember ever getting more than a single swat to the butt while standing. This was different though. I had upset my mom and dad alot. Mom and Dad took me to the garage of our home. Once in the garage, my father pulled my pants down which was an enormous shock to a boy who had never been really spanked before. He put me over his knee and used a paddle to do the spanking on the seat of my underpants. I remember having a combination of shock, embarrassment, and a little pain too. I remember crying there in front of both my parents.

Looking back on it, I think they did exactly the right thing. I had to work off the damage I caused too. However, a good paddling is exactly what I needed after doing this. From that day on, I never engaged in any behavior like that again. Other punishments would not have given me that lesson so quickly and thoroughly.

Ryan March 27, 2011, 10:30 PM

What most people dont seem to see in spanking a child is that it is a form of discipline like any other. It works for some childeren but not all of them, and in some situations, but not all, it is appropriate.

Likewise physical force is sometimes neccesary for dealing whith childeren. Such as grabbing a child before they do something dangerous, or grabbing the hinge of their jaw when they bite someone. But in this case you must be extremely careful that you dont use too much force and hurt them.


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