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February 28, 2005

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» To spank or not to spank from As Jack Grows
Spanking. It's a big issue in parenting circles. Opinion seems evenly split between those who consider it "abuse" and those who consider it a reasonable tool for the discipline kit. Thanks to MetroDad [Read More]

» Spanking as a form of discipline from Just another Geeks Blog
Before I get too far on this post let me offer some thoughts on why I am writing this: 1. I watched a five year old girl get handcuffed 2. I see my neighbors children openly disrespecting them without correction 3. I see the prevailing attitude of... [Read More]

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Dr. Johnny Fever

I have never spanked my kids, but I believe that to be more a circumstance of the fact that they haven't done anything bad enough to feel my wrath than the result of a conscious decision by my wife and me. I foresee a day in the not-too-distant future when my son will throw a rock at someone or take my Honda CR-V for a joy ride, whereupon I will invite him into The House of Pain.

Erika

You say "My respect for women would never allow me to raise my hand in anger againts them." What the hell does that mean? Do you not respect men? I hate the commercial that is running now that says "Let's teach our boys that violence against women is wrong." Let's teach them that violence against anyone is wrong!

Anyway, to the question at hand, I do not intend to spank my son but I am not a stalwart opponent to spanking. I have seen (through interaction with nieces and nephews) that, as in all sports, follow through is the key. Threatening discipline and not delivering discipline is how we end up with the obnoxious brats that we see running around today.

There was a great scene in Sex in the City a few years back. Charlotte and boyfriend are visiting friends with children and the mother says to a misbehaving son "That's one!" When Charlotte inquires "How many does he get?" the husband says "612."

Stacy

MetroDad, I'm totally swiping that poem for today's entry on my blog. I'll credit you, of course.

I do (though very rarely) spank my daughter. Since my Mom had a bit of an anger management problem, I'm extremely careful about how I do it. She always gets a warning first ("If you do that again, I WILL pop your bottom") and if she does whatever it is again, I place my hand across her bottom, flex back from the wrist, and pop. I'm not using all the strength in my arm and I take a deep breath first. She understands that certain actions (willful disobedience) have consequences.

Do I wish that my Mom had been that controlled about it? Absolutely. But you know what? I got spanked and it NEVER would have occurred to me to take a gun to school. Mom would have kicked. my. ass. In my opinion, the pendulum has definitely swung too far to the permissive side of parenting.

David

No shit! I completely deserved it everytime I got the belt across my ass.

As cyclic as this world tends to be...I foresee "the spanking" coming back in like bell bottoms or those gross bangs chicks wore about five minutes ago.

Brent

I couldn't agree with you more regarding the free rein being given to today's kids. We were at a restaurant Saturday and sat next to a family with two small kids. The kids were running and screaming all over the restaurant. At one point, they even started throwing food. The parents would tell them to sit down and behave but the kids would just totally ignore them! We glared over at the parents and they just gave us one of those shrugs like "kids will be kids." I was furious. The kids needed to be spanked and told to sit down. They were completely undisciplined and spoiled. When my son acts like this, I give him one smart slap on the bottom, sit him down in the chair and explain to him why we do NOT behave like this in restaurants. And yeah, I've gotten looks from strangers for doing this in public. But my son now understands clearly how wrong his behavior was. Now, when we go to public places and he sees other kids his age acting wildly, he wonders what's wrong with them. I don't spank him often. But when I do, it tends to be effective. And I always explain to him why he was spanked. I agree with David. I think spanking will be coming back in vogue as we see more and more kids running around without any discipline.

david parmet

Personally, we don't spank. But I'm not up to passing judgement on other people's parenting styles since I'm sitting here in front of the computer while my kids are vegging out in front of the TV.

Vendela's Mommy

We spank. Our son is 8 and our daughter is 6. After some discussion, we decided that my husband would spank our son when he misbhaves and I would spank our daughter when she does the same. We kind of came to this conclusion because my husband couldn't bear to raise his hand in anger against our daughter. I guess, like you, he seems to have some sort of genetic reflex that naturally prohibits a man from spanking his little girl. Not a bad reflex to have when you think about it. Maybe it will teach the next generation of men that while it may be permissible to roughouse and fight with other boys, it's never ok to hit a woman.

Great post, MD. I'm curious to hear what other parents have to say.

chip

I couldn't disagree more.

I too was spanked, with a belt, by dad. I however have never and never would hit my children, neither my daughter nor my son.

You do NOT need to use violence, even "swats", to discipline children. My kids are well behaved, they have self-control. And we managed this without hitting them.

Why did I make this choice? Exactly because of my own experiences as a kid. I swore that no kid of mine would go through what I went through.

What do kids, and boys in particular, learn from spanking? That violence is an okay way to solve problems.

Would you hit an adult who was not behaving correctly? Obviously not. Then why hit kids?

Yeah, it seems easier. Disciplining without spanking is hard work. You do need follow through, you need clear standards, consquences, etc. It's hard work. And that's a lot harder than threatening to spank.

But our society is already violent enough without having to use physical violence against children. And yes, I consider getting belted to be physical violence. And a "swat" too.

croft

I was spanked, though rarley, as a child, and do not think it did any harm. I think "Time Outs", the new punishment, are completely useless. How is is punsihment to send a child to their room where they most likely have toys, books and possibly even a TV and DVD player? I remember fearing being bent over my fathers knee and geting swatted on the bottom. In fact the fear was probably much worse than the actual spanking.

I will most likely spank my children (#1 on the way) when they misbehave. My hubby and I both agree when used appropriately this is a good punishment. The only thing I would do differently than my parents is the dealing out of the punishment. My mom always caught us in the bad act, but it was my dad who was the enforcer, dealing out the spankings. The "wait till your father gets home" really created a fear of our poor dad, who would come home from work to see his children running from him to hide in their room. It would have been better if my mother was an equal enforcer to my dad....

Grace

I was spanked as a child. There were 3 of us girls and my Dad used the belt. My Mom never spanked us. My Dad did. Now spanking my kids? My hubs will (with his hand) when it's something MAJOR. But we talk to them more often. But they know a spanking will come if they get too out of control so they calm down soon enough. Each family decides what works for their situation. This is what works for ours.

panthergirl

I'm with Chip on this.

To me, "spanking" is a euphamism. Why not call it what it is? It's hitting. Period. And there is absolutely no reason to strike a child, ever. First of all, it's a temporary fix. When do you STOP hitting them? When they are 8? 10? 16? And what are you teaching them? That striking someone is an acceptable way of getting your message across?

Hitting a boy and not a girl is a really weird message, IMO. Do boys feel less pain? Is it ok for boys to use physical means of expressing anger but not girls? How do you stop children from hitting each other when hitting is a part of the culture of your home?

Most of all, I cannot see anyone choosing to hurt a child physically when there are SO MANY non-violent ways to discipline and raise kids that don't damage their psyches. Sometimes it's harder, no question. Hitting is the easy way out.

I love Jamie Foxx but I was appalled at his ode to corporal punishment. Children die daily because of a "spanking" taken to the next level. Who makes the rules? To one parent, spanking may mean a hand to the butt. To another, it's a belt to the butt. To MY father, it was a dipstick across bare legs, or when I got older it was a full fist to the mouth. If you asked him, he was just exercising his parental rights.

I love my children way too much to hit them, and that is the bottom line for me. I find it hard to believe that intelligent people in this day and age still see this as an acceptable way to raise their kids. By the way, I don't have infants. I have a 10 year old son and a 19 year old daughter. And I have never, ever hit either of them.

Charlotte

I was spanked and thank goodness for it.

My parents' philosophy was I was spanked for "willful disobedience." That is that I was only spanked when I knew I what I was doing was wrong and did it anyway. Things that were done accidentally were handled in a different manner. Like some of the previous posters I never had bruises or scars and was never "beaten" - yes, there is a difference!

My dad used the belt, my mom, a wooden kitchen spoon. She carried one in her purse at all times until I was 6 or so. Just the threat of that in public usually made me behave. I was a "good kid," but still tried to push my parents. They always followed through. And I think that's key. I think that as long as a parent doesn't just threaten, that many forms of discipline are effective.

But I have found that pain is a great motivator, especially for children. You cannot use logic or rationale with a young child, they do not grasp abstract thought yet. Pain they get. You do something wrong, pain is a consequence. Don't misbehave, no pain. It's real simple to learn.

panthergirl

God, I am seriously frightened by what I'm reading here. "You cannot use logic...with a young child" and "Pain they get"??? Where the hell do you draw the line?

Newsflash: My parents beat the crap out of me and it only made me rebel harder. They hit me from the time I was a toddler and by 13 I was doing drugs and screwing the neighbor's husband. Yeah, that was a really effective way to parent.

The end result? My mother is 84 and I can honestly say and I will not feel ANY pain when she dies.

panthergirl

Because this is SUCH a hot-button issue for me, I will add one final comment:

Consider this the next time you hit your child: I grew up in a house with a man who was supposed to love me, who hit me. Big surprise that I moved out and went to live with a man who was supposed to love me, who hit me. And broke bones.

Now go listen to the John Mayer song, "Daughters", and take it to heart. But apply it to your sons as well.

chip

Charlotte, you can hit your kids if you want, but on this point you are wrong:

You cannot use logic or rationale with a young child

You can. You have to figure out how to communicate with a young child without using violence.

It is hard work. Much harder than giving them a swat to the bottom. But if you undertake that hard work, they will internalize good behavior. They'll behave not because of the threat of violence, but because they understand why it's good for them to behave.

You don't think little kids can understand this. And obviously you can't get this across using big words and philosophical discussions. But kids even little ones can understand this.

Obviously the choice is up to you. You can do whatever you want to your kids. But it's important to understand that there are other ways.

And just to clarify, my dad's belt use was very similar to MetroDad's, no marks, etc. And his attitude was the same.

Now though, my dad regrets having spanked us. He has seen, from his grandchildren (none of whom are ever spanked), that hitting is not necessary to discipline kids. He's also seen the price he paid for using violence to discipline his sons. For him to admit this is amazing. And very telling.

Cindy

Panthergirl...I understand what you're saying but don't you think your strong opinions are formed by the extreme abuse that you took from your parents? I don't think that being hit in the mouth with a closed fist is any rational person's idea of spanking. And I don' think that's what all the other parents here are talking about. I'm sorry you suffered at the hands of your parents but I really think that what they did can clearly be categorized as child abuse, not the mild physical discipline that everyone else is talking about. Don't get me wrong. I don't entirely disagree with what you're saying. In fact, I pretty much concur. I don't spank my child but that's a matter of personal preference. My sister spanks her child and I don't have a problem with it. To each, his own. Anyway, that's my two cents.

Jennifer

I was the child of a spanking family. My mother would often spank me, but then again so would my dad. I think that a good old fashiond spanking is fine if it is really deserved. For me I have yet to raise a hand to my sweet little daughter. Colby Grace is 10 months, and I am sure a spanking is just around the cornor when she starts to know right from wrong. I do think spankings can get out of hand. As long as my husband and I keep them reserved for the right times, and don't go to far with them (beating a child is quiet diffrent)

I know I will be using spankings from time to time, and I know my husband will use them to.

Spankme

http://cms.psychologytoday.com/articles/pto-20041112-000010.html

Sal

Gosh MetroDad! I like that you always bring controversial issues to the table.
I think there are many different issues on this post, besides the spanking thing. Spank or not spank is one of the questions, but there are many others:

Is there a difference between spanking in order to discipline a child and spanking out of anger?

Why is physical pain more "effective" than words or other type of communication?

What makes you think that spanking a boy is fine, but not a girl? testosterone makes boys a good target for physical punishment? whose testosterone?

Why anger always seems to be the "male" emotion? and the "only" male emotion? is it true that 90% of our behaviour is pure instinct?

bottom line: my opinion is that there are many, many issues floating around spanking, but the bottom line for me is: if you spank, are you doing it for the child's sake or for your own personal release? just a question...

also, there are some very good books about "moral development" (yeah, we are soooo used to read about physical and psychological development) that explain how the differentiation of good-bad evolves, and I think discipline should go along with this evolution. Is not the same to discipline a 4 year old than a 12 year old...

by the way, i'm planning to be more "creative" when it gets to discipline my little one.

alice, uptown

In the 1960s, my mom was the primary childcare-giver, to use today's jargon. "Wait til your father gets home" was not a notion ever voiced in our house. The kids were her department, and, damnit, we were going to learn to be "good," well-mannered, and behave in public and in private. If a spanking was required to enforce the lesson, she wasn't going to hand over disciplinary duties to my dad. I assume she spanked us because that was how she had been raised.

I'm not a parent, but judging from the behavior I see from kids in public, it's the parents who should have had their asses kicked, because they don't seem to have acquired the self-discipline to behave well themselves, let alone try to make their child behave "appropriately" in public.

Then again, we live in a weird world, where you don't have to be licensed to be a parent, but your dog has to be licensed to cross the street.

As for "time outs," time out my ass. I think my parents were very good at conveying that while they would always love me, they weren't happy and didn't like a particular behavior I was exhibiting. I think that is the critical distinction: love can be unconditional, but liking a given act/temper tantrum is not.

However you choose to convey that message is your responsibility as a parent and as a citizen out in the world, where not everyone is going to fall all over you for having brought another being into the world.

Old Horsetail Snake

One time my Dad whupped me with a three-layer razor strop because I stole a little glass ring from Woolworth's. I never stole anything little again.

Mary A.

I don't have any children of my own but I find this discussion fascinating. I think we're all so used to being the generation of the new millenium that we tend to abhor the role that old-fashioned spankings can have in the new parenting paradigm. We all want to be sensitive parents. And we want to be better parents to our kids than our own parents were to us. So we reject many of their old tactics right off the bat. But maybe it's time we look back and see if those tactics work. I'm not sure where I stand on this topic. Like I said, I don't have kids of my own. But I'm enjoying reading all of your responses. I had no idea that this was such a heated topic! Thanks for raising the discussion, MetroDad!

Stacy

Panthergirl, I do understand where you're coming from -- there were many instances when my parents crossed the line. However, not all of us who choose to spank, even rarely, are raging out of control at our children. Please give us enough credit to decide for ourselves what parenting methods are effective.

To say you love your children too much to hit them seems to imply that our version of carefully thought out discipline negates our love for OUR children. This is not true. I do not spank her BECAUSE I love her, or NOT spank her because I love her. I love her. Sometimes I spank her.

I'm sorry your parents didn't know when to stop. Sometimes mine didn't either. In my case, that simply means that I am so, so careful about what I do to my child.

DollyMama

Metro Dad, you are so brave to bring up this subject and dare to say that you don't see that spanking is all that terrible.

I think that most of today's pop-psychology messages to parents is that anything you do from spanking to time-outs to raising your voice, to even making their child do anything they don't want to do (no matter what their age) is a bad, bad, bad, bad, bad thing. I think that parents who buy into this are completely castrated of their power and authority and ability to do a good job of guiding, teaching, and protecting their children.

Have you heard of the Taking Children Seriously (TCS) movement? You will be BLOWN AWAY by the kinds of things they think! (Mom has stomach virus and realizes that she needs to get into the house FAST to the bathroom, but they're out in the back yard and junior doesn't want to come along, and she can't leave him unattended. What should mom do? Well, what she did was pick him up kicking and screaming and book it into the house so she could go to the bathroom. But what did the TCS bulletin board people tell her? She should have had diarrhea in her pants and cleaned up later so as not to harm her little son's fragile psyche by forcing him to do anything against his will! Sign Me Up for this club!!)

I've seen a lot of kids, and the ones who get no or very lax discipline (in whatever form) are always easy to spot. And the ones who do get good, solid, firm discipline (in whatever form) can be seen easily too. I don't think spanking is a requirement for good parenting, but I think that parents who are afraid to be the authority in their child's life are setting their family up for a lot of problems. I've seen kids that barely need a cross word to get into line. And I've seen others that needed a *lot* more motivation to do the right thing. Usually the fervent non-spanker people have kids that are unusually easy to deal with, OR they have a high threshold for putting up with horrible behavior. (and they usually don't have very many children, and don't have them very close together, because you just can't survive in a household of brats!)

And, last but not least, if you think you've got it all figured out and you have all of your perfect theories firmly in place, just go ahead and have a few more children. I guarantee that you'll find some new perspective along the way......

(~Dollymama, mother of 6 children)

to spank or not to spank

My husband and I are not yet parents. We have pondered this issue as much as anyone else, though, but have not come to a definite conclusion as to what we will do if/when we have children. To chip, panther girl and others, you say you DISAGREE with this statement: You cannot use logic or rationale with a young child. You claim that there are plenty of other options and creative ways to deal with a child's behavior rather than spanking, but none of you have suggested any alternatives. I am curious to know what techniques you have found to be effective?

Todd

Can you picture the Oscars in 20 years. An actor wins an award and gives an acceptance speech.

"When I would act the fool, she would put me on Time Out. She would Time Out me hard. And she could get an Oscar for the way she put me on Time Out because she was great at it. And after she put me on Time Out, she would talk to me and tell me why she put me on Time Out."

It'll never happen!

panthergirl

The other effective methods of discipline can be observed weekly, oddly enough, by watching "Supernanny". It's a no-bullshit approach to parenting that does involve timeouts (which kids hate, btw), losing privileges and positive reinforcement for good behavior.

I still maintain that all of you who "spank" have different ideas of what that means. I could understand it more if a parent got so pissed off that she impusively smacked her child and then apologized for it, than I can understand a methodical whallop.

There is no grey area for me on this topic. I don't think that hitting children is loving, no matter what euphamism to use to pretty it up. And with all of the non-violent options available, I can't see why any rationale parent would choose to hit.

My questions remain: At what age do you STOP hitting? How do you teach a child not to hit, when you are hitting? Do you really want your child to fear you? As Chip said, that's not a reason to behave. And it certainly does not foster feelings of love in a child.

Yes, my parents went the extra mile. But my point was that THEY DIDN'T THINK SO. And many good-ol'-boy-type parents out there don't think they are crossing any lines, either. They truly believe they are "spanking" their kids.

Statistically, children who are hit misbehave more often than those who are not hit. They know that there is a breaking point (the "spanking") and will push and push until it reaches that point. I always found that a slow count to 3 was enough to let my kids know that I was serious. If I got to 3, they lost whatever. I rarely got past 2.

Todd: You may not hear that speech, but I guarantee that you've heard more speeches from people who thanked their parents for being loving and supportive than speeches thanking them for that good beating.

chip

I find it troubling that people seem to be setting it up as either spank or there's no discipline and the kids run wild. I'm not going to make excuses for parents who don't know how or don't choose to discipline their kids. But the problem is NOT that they don't spank the kids, it's that they don't discipline them at all. Kids absolutely need discipline and structure, they need to know what's right and wrong. But you don't have to use violence to teach them that.

As for what I did, I have to admit I'm not entirely sure. My kids are 14 and 11, so their baby and toddler years are lost in the mists of my memory.

What I do know is that I never was tempted or felt the need to hit them. And they were not angels, they were very active and rambunctious, just normal kids.

I followed my instincts. I just did what I knew to be right. Sorry I can't give you a step-by-step instruction, but it's something you have to feel comfortable with, that you feel, not that you read in a book.

It also depends a huge amount on their age and developmental level. As a parent you have a good sense of where your kid is at and what the best approach is, and that's a moving target, constantly evolving. When a baby is just crawling, you're going to teach her what's okay and not in a very different way than with a 4 year old, for example. Common sense, maybe, but unfortunately I feel like I need to say it.

Dr. Johnny Fever

DollyMama, I think any "movement" (pun intended) that advocates someone going diarrhea in her pants is a voice worth laughing at.

antikva

Sensory deprivation? nah, just duct tape them to the wall and throw darts at them *g* also saves damaging your hand from smacking a solid object.
Seriously though, I think it's the parenting rather than not spanking that causes unruly children. A lot of people tune out their children, it's almost like they expect the child to raise themselves.
I'm a mean Mum though and have a voice like a drill sargeant when I'm irritated and I am always on alert for children running amok. So, it only takes the *look* for my mob to act like angels. Strangely, all my kidlets friends like me and think I'm cool, Go figure! heh.
On the other hand, Hubby gets the opposite reaction as in "Huh? You're gonna what me? LOL." as he has always been the more laidback parent.

enygma

I think there is a difference between spanking someone and beating someone. So, while I feel very bad for panthergirl's experience, I don't think it's very fair for her to be judgmental regarding other people's parenting practices. Her childhood was bad, sorry. But not everybody had the same experience. I am a girl and whenever I crossed the line, I got spanked and when I have kids, they'll get spanked. To tell the truth, whenever I got punished, it wasn't a big surprise since I had spent most of the day hiding and hoping that my misdeed would go unnoticed. Did it hurt? Yeah, at the time, but in an hour or so, the pain subsided and I only remember why I had been punished. Did I get spanked often? No, punishments were handed out based on the seriousness of the misdeed. Usually, my mom just yelled and chewed me out. It was only when I was unusually bad that I had a spanking.

David

Todd's comment is freaking hilarious.

Matthew

While I certainly understand the effectiveness of a good spanking, I have worked with children for a while now and I have never had any problem instilling discipline through rules and consequences. The problem with this technique is that It... is... HARD. You have to be consistent and make sure the child understands that the adult is in charge - not the child.

Of course, once my babies are born in a few months, my views on all of this may change. However, I'm hoping I'll continue to have the patience with my own children that I currently have with other's.

kate

Ummm....spanking is a sexual act, as far as I'm concerned. It's very odd for me -- embarrassing, even -- to see people spank their kids on the butt. The butt is a rather sensitive erogenous zone, and everybody knows it. And parents who bare-butt spank? I think that's downright perverted, especially if the kid is older.

I say keep it in the bedroom with your adult partner and leave the little kids out of it.

sharon

i'm not a parent yet, but i really enjoy reading ur entries

i love how you dish out controversial topics...and i love how all ur readers are heatedly discussing topics that are very personal to them in such a non-spazzy, non-attacking manner. i enjoy reading the comments just as much as your entries because it is filled with raw feelings and also diff perspective on things

aidan

Fully agreeing with Kate

JEFFREY

Fully agreeing with Sharon

landismom

Interesting post. I personally have never spanked either of my kids, and I never will. Like panthergirl, I grew up in a family that used physical violence as a method of discipline (I never got punched in the face, because my parents were smart enough not to risk bruising in such a visible area). I don't want my kids to go through that.

But that's not the reason that I would never spank them. The reason that I would never spank them is that I don't know how I would stop. For me, the only times I have been tempted to raise my hand to my daughter were times when I was out of control. Sure, she may have triggered my temper, but I, as the adult, am the one who should be in control. Expecting a young kid to always be in control of their anger is not realistic. Expecting an adult to know when they are losing control, and are showing their anger because sometimes it feels good to lose control, is realistic.

It is very hard to instill discipline without using physical punishments. But for me, it's worth it. YMMV.

Tom

My mother was korean and like most korean parents(/asian parents?) she used corporal punishment liberally. I hated this, she would constantly hit me on the back side of my head. Now an adult, i have learned that this is a common way for korean parents to hit children (and other adults for that matter). While i'm not traumatized by these experiences, i do want to say that hitting the backside of a childs head is the most demeaning and wrong way to punish a child, or anyone for that matter. On the other hand my white father rarely used corporal punishment but when he did it was across the bottom, just as painful and not nearly as demeaning.

When i have children, i will probably follow my fathers methods of punishment. I also agree with some of the others that i could never hit a daughter. I'm a little afraid that when a child of mine "intentionally disobeys" i will be tempted to hit the child on the head.

Steven

I know a common refrain heard from parents today is "my parents spanked me and I turned out fine." And to a certain extent, I think that's a somewhat valid point. However, I don't think that should be the main criteria or rationale used when debating whether to spank one's own children. All of us grew up in a different era, one where corporal punishment was used frequently by parents. There were no debates or discussions about whether it was a legitimate parenting tool. It was simply just done. But I think now we see the effects that spanking may have had on OUR generation. It seems clear from the comments here that many parents went way over the line and entered the realm of child abuse. Hitting your child with a closed fist? Smacking them on the back of the head? Bare bottom spanking? All those methods definitely have no place in disciplining a child. Personally, I think every parent has to make his/her own decision on whether to spank their child. But if they do, they've got to communicate with their child, be an involved parent in their lives, listen to them carefully, and teach them the difference between right and wrong. If you don't do that, then you'll never develop a close bond with your child and the spanking will end up having a long-term detrimental effect on your relationship with them. But again, YMMV.

Sheryl

I haven't read the other comments yet, though I'm sure there are some passionate ones. I admit it. I do sometimes spank my kids. I try not to do it when I'm mad. I wait until I'm calm, I explain in simple terms why I am about to give them a swat, and then I do. I have three kids, and it worked well with the first two, who are girls by the way. My son is by far my most sensitive kid, and he cannot handle it at all. It doesn't help, and only makes things worse, so I don't do it with him. You have to go with what works for each child, and I believe you should use spanking sparingly.

Queen of Ass

My son gets spanked when it's deserving. I'm not about to put up with some of the attitude and mouthing off he does. On the other hand, I DO think I'd be a little more reserved with a girl, but I don't know. Don't have that experience, so I couldn't tell you for sure. Often times, that's the one and only thing that works with my son, though.

Nikki

Great topic, MetroDad! I love seeing you throw out these controversial parenting subjects out there for discussion. It's really neat hearing everyone's different opinion on this issue. I'm not even a parent and I love coming here all the time. By the way, when's the next installment of the Mailbag? Your last one had me in stitches! Keep up the great work, MD!

Krissy

Dad, I didn't have time to read all the responses, so I'm just going to weigh in.

I was spanked on the very rare occasion that I'd put myself in harm's way. I got spanked for trying to put a knife in a light socket. I got spanked for repeatedly running into the street without looking. I got spanked for almost drinking bleach. The spank, because it was rare and very seriously delivered, was a marker. This wasn't on the same level as spilling milk, any time I got spanked it was a BIG DEAL.

On the other hand, one of the things to remember is that the spank was used when I was pre-verbal. Before you could reliably tell me something and have me understand it.

I, personally, think that whacking a kid regularly is a problem with the adult, not the kid. If you find yourself spanking your kid more than twice a year, in my opinion, something is wrong with your parenting or impulse-control.

Time outs are extremely effective when done correctly, however they take time to do correctly. For a parent who doesn't have the patience or understanding or who just doesn't feel like it, time outs are frustrating and the shorthand is a smack on the ass.

I can't imagine hitting Charlie. I can't imagine smacking his hand and making him cry. I can't imagine smacking his butt and physically hurting him.

I CAN imagine driving him crazy with frustration and boredom by putting him in his car seat for a time out. Holding him firmly on my lap for a time-out. Or putting him in an uninteresting room for time-out.

There may come a time when I spank Charlie, but I tend to think that it will be when I'm frustrated and have lost control, not when he's doing typical kid things that it's my job to train out.

I don't think that spankings are child abuse. But for me, personally, the idea leaves a foul taste in my mouth. I doubt we'll be doing it.

And for what it's worth - I tutored a little girl who was always getting into trouble for fighting (physically) with classmates. I talked to her about it and it turns out that guess what her mother does when she's mad? Right. Hits her.

What did the little girl learn? That when you're angry or upset, hitting is the answer.

So we had a talk about how, when you're defending yourself, you are absolutely allowed to hit, but that in all other cases hitting is NOT OKAY.

Two weeks later she had two gold stars for two weeks without fighting.

Kids learn what's demonstrated. I don't want Charlie to think that if things aren't going the way he wants that the answer is to pop the other person.

chip

If anyone's interested I've written up a more detailed explanation of my opposition to spanking over at my blog, daddychip: Hitting kids.

Alex

I never spank my child. Strangely enough, I do spank my girlfriend. I hate doing it but she really likes it. What's a guy to do? Seriously, folks, I think spanking (like all parenting decisions) is very much an individual decision. Some folks will choose to spank. Others will find it abhorrent. But that's what's great about America, isn't it? It's all about freedom of choice.

eemie

My son is three and I have never and will never hit him. Lets leave the child abuse question out of it for now. As far as effective discipline, I am sure lots of methods would work, but lets think about the values we want to pass on to our children. Our children learn what our values are through how we behave, not what we tell them. And if we get them to do what we want by hitting them, that is what we are teaching them about how we treat other people.

There is a great book about parenting in a way that is consistant with your beliefs, it is called, "Becoming the Parent You Want To Be" and I highly recommend it. I have found "Playful Parenting" very helful as well for finding a way to discipline and maintain connection as opposed to just punish undesirable behavior after the fact. Both are excellent resources and promote better behavior through more connection not more controll.

Lori

I have 2 kids. A boy, 6 months, and a girl, 26 months. I will and do spank. I would never "beat" my children for any reason. My sister and I were spanked, and yes, I do think we turned out better for it. We are basically good productive people and while we were growing up, we thought twice about doing something wrong. A lot of kids today, any age, seem to have a problem with that. We were only spanked a handful of times in our lives, the spankings were reserved for the extremely serious wrongdoings. My husband on the other hand grew up with a mother that was physically abused and she did not believe in spanking her children. If we compare our teenage years and beyond, I was the "good" one. My relationship with my parents is almost that of a best friend. He barely speaks to his and barely respects them. I am not saying that either choice is right or wrong. When it came time for us to discuss how we would discipline our daughter, he said no spanking whatsoever. I will tell you he soon changed his mind. A proper spanking works wonders. By proper I mean not abusing your kid and dealing with the situation with a cool level head. My daughter is a fun loving well mannered child. My son will be too. One look at children shopping or in a restaurant and you can tell the children with proper discipline, whatever the method. I love my kids. So much that words cannot describe the feeling. I want them to grow up to be proud of themselves and have respect for everyone. Including themselves. It is a very personal decision and everyone has their own opinion. When the time comes you will know what is right for you and your child. Boy or girl.

mothersong

I have 5 kids. The youngest is 2, the oldest is 26. I don't spank. I tell my children that hitting is wrong, hurting others is wrong, and then I do the hard, hard work of following through on making my children behave without hitting or hurting. I never saw the sense in using a method of punishment for my children that would cause them to be disciplined if they were to use it themselves.

My siblings and I were never spanked, either. We all grew up to be educated, productive members of society, so I guess spanking isn't a requirement.

I think there is a difference between spanking and abuse for many, even most people. I also think that noo spanking does not mean no discipline. Some spanked kids still misbehave, and some non-spanked kids are terrors. That depends on personality and parenting skills as much as the type of discipline used, I think.

One thing I have noticed is that children who are spanked tend to be less well behaved when their parents are not around. That has been a real problem for my children over the years. We homeschooled for several years, and were around lots of children from homes who believed in spanking. The kids themselves were not well behaved when their parents weren't around, and my children were often teased for caring about their behavior.

In 26 years of parenting, I've yet to find a spanking parent that admits that their own child might behave worse when they aren't around. I guess it's every other child.

My kids aren't perfect, and neither am I. Still, my goal for discipline is a child who learns to think for him or her self, who grows to have self discipline. To me, hitting children is just a short term, stop gap measure that makes the parent's life easier. It stops the behavior without teaching anything, and without much effort on the parent's parent's part. I am not particularly interested in teaching my children fear of pain, I figure they will learn that without me.

I prefer that my children do not learn that it's better to take an easy way out, even if it's painful for others. I also prefer they don't learn that their wishes and desires are so important that it's permissable to hurt people smaller than themselves just because those small people are less socially adept, or particularly annoying.

Luckily for me, my husband doesn't hit me when I'm particularly annoying, either.

Jung

Even though it is not officially encouraged, I don't think it's a bad situation to find a kid hitting another kid in retaliation for some terrible wrong done to his or her friend, and this could be an offshoot of the parents instilling in their kids the idea that certain moral boundaries when crossed deserve pain. Yeah, we adults never are supposed to hit another adult, but everyone knows that in some extreme circumstances, a beatdown is what that person deserves.

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