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Fierce and Mommy: To Spank or Not To Spank


A blogumn by Stephanie Myers

According to Slate Magazine:

The typical parent, when whacking a misbehaving child, doesn’t pause to wonder: “What does science have to say about the efficacy of corporal punishment?” If they are thinking anything at all, it’s: “Here comes justice!”

[S]cience…shows that corporal punishment is like smoking: It’s a rare human being who can refrain from stepping up from a mild, relatively harmless dose to an excessive and harmful one. Three cigarettes a month won’t hurt you much, and a little smack on the behind once a month won’t harm your child. But who smokes three cigarettes a month? To call corporal punishment addictive would be imprecise, but there’s a strong natural tendency to escalate the frequency and severity of punishment.


Now, I am not proud to say that I have spanked my children, Jillian and Aidan, on occasion, though I would never  think of striking them now. I just can’t see how it teaches them anything more than to be afraid. And I don’t count it amoung the tools i use as a parent.

I think it stems from the fact that I was raised by a mom who crossed the line often, and I know first hand how easily things can escalate.  I don’t mean to disparage parents who feel that judicious use of corporal punishment is a helpful tool. But I do think that it’s hard to define what constitutes “judicious”.  I’m sure if you asked my mom today, she’d swear that she was totally justified and not violent.

It’s also hard to tell a little boy why its wrong to hit kids on the playground when they do something “wrong,” and yet okay for adults to use hitting as a way to discipline.

When Aidan acts less than well behaved, I  let him know that I don’t like it and ask him to use his “good manners.” I  always try to be clear about what he is doing that I don’t like, why he shouldn’t do it, and explain to him what will happen if he doesn’t behave.  Kids understand a lot more than most adults give them credit for, I think.  Anyhow, on the not-too-infrequent occasion that he keeps it up, I  hold him in my lap for a timeout.

And sometimes we have to leave wherever we are if he lets loose into a full out fit.  I have no problem with that and I let him know that it doesn’t really matter to me if we left the playground or zoo. I really don’t care if his fit means we leave early.  But he does.

Long story short, since I’ve started doing this again with Aidan (it had been a while — Jillian learned quickly) the tantrums decreased, and I was able to stay calmer and discipline Aidan without getting physical.  When you hit a kid i think they remember the pain and humiliation more than they remember what they were being punished for.

That’s just my two cents.  I don’t presume to judge any parent who spanks because I once did and I can understand that it still has a place in some homes.

But what do you think?  To spank or not to spank?