01 August 2006

Is it Okay to Spank?

There is an article in this month's issue of Parenting titled "Is it Okay to Spank?" The very first sentence says:

94% of 3- and 4-year-olds have been spanked at least once during the past
year, according to one study.

Really??? It goes on to say that a majority of parents say they spank their kids. I was really surprised by this. Shocked, actually.

I only know of one friend who openly admits to spanking their child and while I prefer not to judge other people (well, maybe just their clothes and shoes) I really can't believe spanking is ever a good idea. When I say spanking, I'm talking about deliberately smacking a child's bottom (or whatever) as a form of punishment for some wrong-doing or misbehavior on their part.

I was spanked as a child and those are my most terrifying and vivid childhood memories. Don't get me wrong, I don't hold a grudge -- I have a great relationship with both my parents and I honestly believe they were doing what they thought was right. But now there has been a lot of research and many studies about the affects of spanking and I haven't heard of one that says spanking is a good thing.

I admit there have been moments of incredible frustration with my daughter where I was more than a little tempted to spank her or inflict some other kind of physical pain like a good pinch (something my first grade teacher was good at), but I held back because I am an adult and ultimately in control of and responsible for my actions. Just as I could never hit my husband or my friends, or really anyone unless it was self-defense, I could never hit my child. But I can see how it could happen by mistake and I think in those cases an apology to the child is warranted after the storm passes. An apology and an explanation.

However, most of my disciplining moments are fairly calm and rational. I think about the punishment I want to hand out and I simply cannot imagine deliberately spanking my child in one of those moments.

According to Parenting I am in the minority. To be fair, the article ultimately answers it's own question with a resounding "no."
The question of whether spanking works, or is safe, is beside the point.
Maybe the question should be "Is it really, absolutely necessary?" And, given
the moral Pandora's box that it unlocks, the less fraught options at your
disposal for addressing childish misbehavior, and the fact that your child is
watching, waiting, and learning from your decision, the answer seems clearly to
just be no.


karenzsmith said...

I read the same article. I'm with you all the way!

Andrew said...

This debate just doesn't seem to go away. It seems we're not more than a generation removed from a "Spare the rod, spoil the child" mentality. Hopefully articles like yours will eventually make a difference.

To Love, Honor and Dismay