Skip to comments.Why smacking is a hit again
Posted on 02/25/2008 8:57:10 AM PST by qam1
At lunch recently, a father of four who works in publishing told me he occasionally gives his children "a clip around the ear".
The threat of minor violence, he said, was the fastest way to get his brood into the people carrier if they were all to get out of the house on time. It wasn't so much the fact that this otherwise modern thirtysomething father would slap his children that shocked me, but the fact that he spoke about it so openly. A decade ago, he might have been worried that I'd call social services - or at least recommend an anger management course.
In the 21st century, however, discipline is in. Thanks in part to the rise of television programmes about parenting, such as Supernanny and House of Tiny Tearaways, naughty steps, finishing what's on your plate and strict bedtime routines are back in vogue.
And this week the Sentencing Guidelines Council, which sets down rules for Britain's magistrates and judges, called for leniency in sentencing parents who are brought to court for smacking their children - a sea change in attitudes from just four years ago, when the right to a defence of "reasonable chastisement" was removed under the Children Act.
As a mother of two, I know how testing small children can be. The closest I came to lashing out was when one of mine almost ran into a busy road. I stopped her just in time, but I was so lost for words, so horrified at what might have happened that a smack felt almost natural - the only language either of us might have understood. Although I stopped myself before the message transmitted from brain to back of hand, because I feel slapping is a lazy form of discipline, I couldn't promise I would never lash out. So when friends confess, as many have, that they have hit their children, I find it impossible to be too judgmental.
My generation grew up in a culture in which smacking children was commonplace. Talking to friends, it is clear that they all remember, in vivid detail, when they were smacked. My primary school in the 1970s offered the slipper - in front of the school - or the cane for the very naughty.
Now those days are back - for some families, at least. Smacking is no longer taboo. Recently, on mumsnet.com, the popular parenting website, whether or not to smack your child was the hottest of topics. "I don't, because I don't like it or find it a necessary way to discipline my children," said one mother. "But others find it effective and don't have a problem with it."
Said another: "I have smacked my son twice and he is four. Both times it was for something quite serious. I have threatened a smack when I have been tired or ill, but not followed through."
Another mother said: "I smacked my seven-year-old disabled child when he was trying to gouge out his father's eyes, quite deliberately. My husband was strapping him into the car and couldn't defend himself. Violence with violence. Not great. But I did it."
Justine Roberts, co-founder of the site, says women are becoming more open about their anger towards their children: "A few people are saying [smacking] is a strategy for managing their children and it's the only effective one they've found. But most admit they've done it once or twice in anger but feel awful about it. There's a huge amount of sympathy for parents who are being pushed to the limit."
None of my friends needed any persuasion to off-load a little guilt about parental crimes. One, a 37-year-old marketing director, said: "It was three years ago when my daughter was two and I have never, ever forgotten it.
"We were with my husband's family and we'd had a taxing day on the beach. My daughter was hot and sandy and exhausted and so was I. I was trying to change her nappy and she just would not stop wriggling. Suddenly I lashed out and whacked her on the leg. She was stunned and just froze. She stared at me and all I could see was that she had been humiliated and betrayed. I felt sick and then cuddled her and said sorry. I'm ashamed to admit that I said: 'Please don't tell Daddy'."
Another, a 40-year-old novelist, told me: "One afternoon after school I held on to my 10-year-old and just shook him. I felt very stressed about work and my relationship, and he had broken an expensive toy. I felt terrible afterwards, apologised and promised to myself never to do it again. I think it's really bad parenting to hit children."
Children can't defend
While some parents may be more relaxed about corporal punishment, Elizabeth Hartley Brewer, an expert in child development and parenting, believes that such attitudes must be resisted. "Children can't defend themselves verbally or physically," she says.
"Psychologically, smacking can do them enormous harm. And it's a lazy way to look after children. Physical punishment can delay and confuse moral development and does nothing to preserve their self-respect. When I've talked to children who've been hit, every one of them can remember when it happened. When my daughter was about two, I lashed out about something and I regret it enormously. She was totally let down by me and burst into tears."
Those who have never lost their cool and hit out should not be feeling smug, however. There are, Hartley Brewer admits, worse forms of punishment for children. "Some of those horrible TV programmes have made people proud of disciplining their children, regardless of how they do it," she says. "I've met people who don't hit but think it's perfectly OK to make their child wash their mouth out with soap or even eat their lunch naked as a punishment. As for the naughty step, that can be just as damaging as a smack if it is used to humiliate a child."
Imperial Leather for supper hardly counts as "reasonable chastisement". Perhaps if modern mothers knew more about such extreme parenting styles, we'd stop beating ourselves up about the occasional outburst.
that’s funny dead....
Ya, I’ve seen just about enough of kids who’s parents think like this author.
It is not about “BEATING” your kids, it’s about getting their attention, and letting them know that you’re serious.
Not to mention an early introduction into the concept of “CONSEQUENCES”!
That should piss just about everyone off, not just liberals.
This says it wasn’t his child, but his grandchild who killed himself (ironically, perhaps, off the building at which his father worked so hard).
And there is NOTHING in here about him revoking his views. In fact, his 1994 ed. (pretty late!) has a whole other “explanation” apparently included.
Note the section on “permissiveness”. There is nothing in there describing just how Spock DID NOT believe in permissiveness. He only states that “fact”. Doesn’t give an example, even.
I read the accompanying story on another site. They’d been in court, two different families, in regards to a trial. Coworkers had had a car accident, two were killed, one was severely injured. The woman who was hit was talking loudly about one of the victims, saying there’d been an affair and there were drugs and generally badmouthing the victim. The puncher was a member of that person’s family. No charges were filed over the punch.
You can find it on snopes.com, the clip and the story.
LOL, one time I heard my friend tell her son “If you DON’T quit TEASING your little brother, I am going to RIP your ARM OFF AND BEAT YOU TO DEATH WITH THE BLOODY STUMP!!!!” I couldn’t help it, I snorted with laughter when I heard that. Because pretty much, she was an easy going mom and I knew she wouldn’t hurt her sons. Let alone start swinging amputated limbs around. I think my laughter kind of lessened the impact of her declaration though. The visual was just too much for me.
I don't think the people in the article have a problem controlling their tempers. The problem is that these parents think that a simple time-out is enough for every situation. The parents don't do enough to set their kids straight.
Kids are smart, and they quickly learn how to get their way. I think this article shows the situation of undisciplined kids doing their usual thing in order to get their way, and the parents instinctually smacking them out of frustration.
Of course in our current society, the parent quickly feels like they are the Devil and immediately apologizes to the kid. Because after all, no good parent would ever strike their kid.
And yet another generation of unruly, undisciplined, and entitled kids springs up.
Yup. HUGE mistake apologizing to the kid, right away.
If the kid truly deserved it, there should be no apology, period.
Sometimes we actually do unfair things, and for that we should apologize - but rarely. And if so, again, leave it till later on.
I wish I could post the Irma Brown video skit. ;-D Too funny, if you ask me! Probably on YouTube.
You might want to recheck the article, one of the people is a 40something who admits being frustrated in her relationship and work and shook her child violently because he broke a toy... these people can’t control their tempers, and as such think everyone else who’s punished their child with corporal punishment are like them.
These are children in adult bodies as far as I’m concerned.
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