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Comments

Ash

I don't spank my son for some of the very reasons you listed.

I don't tell a lot of people that though. People can become judgmental real quick. I told my best friend once and she started asking a bunch of questions. As if I was doing something wrong and had to defend myself. She finally settled on "Well that may work for a kid like Austyn but not all kids are that way." If you tell people that you don't spank they can act like you are telling them they shouldn't either.

bmmg39

People react like this: "So you don't believe in disciplining your children, then? You just let them run all over the house?" Because, to them, physical discipline is the only TRUE discipline, and everything else is a joke. (How many standup comics do jokes about "time outs"?) They don't want you insinuating that they're bad parents for spanking, but they feel perfectly at east insinuating YOU'RE a bad parent for NOT doing it.

Another argument: "I was spanked and *I* turned out okay." All right, and so were a lot of people who WEREN'T hit.

Jay

One of the things that really struck me about that salon article was the recommendation by the sicko preacher that parents use a small switch for children under one year old (instead of the plumbing pipe). While there are decent, loving parents who spank (because they don't know what else to do), anyone who is really adament about the absolute need to hit all children regardless of how young they are is just a sadist who gets off on the power-trip of inflicting pain. The sheer fanatical devotion of pro-spanking advocates to the practice of striking children is deeply pathological.

Nietzsche wrote "beware those in whom the instinct to punish is strong". Eagerness to punish through the use of pain and humiliation is nothing but sadism with a veneer of self-righteousness.

TangoMan

What I learned from being spanked:

Don’t get caught.
Don’t show your emotions even when you’re hurt.
Shut up and take it b/c whatever it is, you deserve it

What would the alternative life-lessons have been? She could have learned that when it came to a battle of wills between her and her parents, that:

She could do as she pleased because the punishment was never severe enough to modify her behavior;
That the analytic reasoning they tried with her didn't sink in;
That her immediate desires should be acted upon without restraint.

Great life lessons that have crippled my social, professional, and personal development

She could have learned that staying out all night with her new friends was a lot of fun for a 13 year old and that her parents couldn't do anything to stop her for she always won the battle of wills. It's too bad that she got into the car with that drunk driver.

You know, these scenarios can play out in a lot of ways and we don't really learn any lesson from anecdotal stories unless we consider the opportunity costs of a decision. What would have happened to the commentator if she didn't bend to the will of her parents, if they had no tool at their disposal which could have swayed her behavior? It's a mistake to think that the life outcomes would have been unchanged except for the emotional baggage she carries from her spanking. What other road would she have taken? Now that would be interesting reading.

Dean

I have to respectfully disagree. Spanking per se is not necessarily harmful and if properly applied can be very beneficial for a child.

I dont see any problem with indicating my own upbringing as an example of the appropriate methodology. My parents were extremely conscientious in this regard. There were a number of guidelines (which my parents followed quite strictly) that I will admit are probably somewhat hard for many parents to adhere to as they require some measure of self-discipline. I'll discuss them in my blog (with a link below), please feel free to check it and comment if you disagree.

I had the somewhat unique experience of being something of a prodigy, and extremely mature for my age. As a result I was conscious of the process of socialization as it occurred, and I was aware of the intent, practice, and effectiveness of properly applied corporal discipline on myself and my siblings from a unique standpoint.

I didn't want to write a book in your comments section ;) so here's a link to the article in my own blog.

http://middlewingwacko.blogspot.com/2006/05/pavlovian-socialization-or-abuse.html

annamal

Tangoman, she said she learned to "not get caught" not that she learned to think. She didn't "bend to their will" she bent around their restrictions.

What are the chances that she honestly told her parents where she was going as a teenager, does my "mother might find out" trump "my mother isn't here and can't stop me" and most importantly of all, does she trust her parents temper enough to phone home for a lift out of a dangerous situation?

TangoMan

Dean, that's a very well written and well reasoned essay. Spanking is a tool, it is not retribution.

aisy

if parents give spanks as calmy as you have suggested dean, then do they really need to spank at all? is there really something that bad that would require a spank? time outs can be just as effective without the hitting. i guess it seems paradoxical that we try to teach our children that physical aggression is inappropriate (say hitting the kid on the playground) but then at home they can get a spanking for misbehaviour. young children cannot reason the same as adults. so in their mind it may be perfectly reasonable to hit the other child who was "naughty" as their consequence. there are plenty of other consequences for behaviour that do not include spanking.

i remember being spanked only once. i don't think it had any long term impact on me, but if it was a routine thing in my home i don't know if i could say the same thing.

Richard

My gosh Happy, you might have convinced me. Not having any kids myself, I've never had to think much about spanking, but have kinda' sorta' thought, "What's the big deal?" But your statement about being a child "seeth[ing] with hatred and anger" hits home with me.

I was spanked a lot, and was an astonishingly "good" child, but probably good for a lot of the wrong reasons. I felt unusually intimidated and frightened by adults and would sacrifice my own wants, desires or opinions for anything I perceived that the adults wanted or admired. (I also had the double whammy of being significantly bullied by older kids at school, and I mean physically assaulted on a regular basis, but that's another story).

Spanking can help subdue not only bad behavior, but also unique personality traits and positive individualism. It took me years as a young man to finally let myself out of the box I had created for myself (I know, you probably think I'm overcompensating now, huh? ;) So, count me in the no-spanking crowd.

Good post.

mythago

Another argument: "I was spanked and *I* turned out okay."

"Really? I don't think you turned out so okay."

Parents who rely on spanking may run into a little trouble when the kids are 'too big to spank'. What disciplinary measures are you supposed to use then?

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