Thursday, March 01, 2007

Maggie's Farm has an interesting post on spanking.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

M.F. made some good points, but there's a kind of weird mental flip flop that I see in the essay. In the beginning of her post she points out that authorities including the government will use force to establish ground rules so there shouldn't be any reason spanking's not okay, and then goes on to say we should "never trust the government" Now believe me, I want to hold strongly to both my right to mistrust my government and my right to disipline my kids as I see fit. I can truly see the point of of those who think that anti-spanking laws are just asking for a nation of nasty misbehaving miscreants who will then later be subdued under the feel good liberal nanny state with oh-so-much-more-humane hospital incarcerations, physical restraints and mind numbing medications. I'm just not sure if using the argument 'discipline is good because it establishes order, just see how our government uses it' and 'don't trust the government' work together. At what point does the force become okay just because someone more powerful than you is committing it?

12:23 PM, March 01, 2007  
Blogger Charlie on the PA Turnpike said...

I can rationalize the argument: a parent that abuses a child (read: where a spanking becomes a beating) is not unlike a government that becomes a tyranny.

Here's a link to a Philadelphia-stroy that, in my mind, describes what happens when children are raised with little discipline.

1:46 PM, March 01, 2007  
Blogger knox said...

I'm just not sure if using the argument 'discipline is good because it establishes order, just see how our government uses it' and 'don't trust the government' work together. At what point does the force become okay just because someone more powerful than you is committing it?

I could be wrong, but here's the point I think she's making: if you coddle your children and don't make them realize that there are real consequences for bad behavior, they have a rude awakening coming... because the police *will* use force to make them behave when they get older. I think she's just explaining the reality of harsh consequences in the real world, and that you're not doing your kid any favors by making them think they can get away with anything. Just my take on it...


On the subject of spanking in general:

I have yet to meet anyone who's against spanking who does not equate it to abuse, and most will refuse to admit that there's a big difference. Abusers randomly and severely beat their kids. "Spanking" is a technique used by parents as a last resort when repeated verbal warnings are igored, when kids are too wound up to listen, or are engaged in dangerous behavior, like running in the street. And I would agree with the linked article that, based on my observation, "Time-Outs" rarely work. Sometimes they do--but more often it seems like a technique used by parents who are either too inattentive or too tired from work to have the dedication that consistent discipline requires. Not to mention the fact that a lot of people have been effectively brainwashed by P.C. to make them believe that spanking=abuse...

1:52 PM, March 01, 2007  
Blogger Derek said...

There's a lot of "mental flip flops" in the discussion of spanking. I once saw a list of the top 10 reasons why spanking was bad. But each reason was readily applicable to why any form of punishment was bad. I don't think the organization realized it (or maybe the did, which is even worse), but they were actually proposing the eventual elimination of any form of punishment in the process of disciplining children.

Which brings me to my perpetual point on this issue (I bring my own soap box), and a point that, I think, often gets lost in the rhetoric.

Spanking is not discipline. It's punishment.

Spanking, in and of itself, will not produce "respect for authority, consideration of rules, self-discipline, and awareness of consequences." Spanking is a way to demonstrate to kids just how wrong their actions are. Some kids are responsive to time-outs. I wasn't one of them, but I was never spanked without multiple warnings from my parents about what would happen if I continued to disobey them.

Whether a spanking is preferable to a time-out depends on the kid. I never responded to time-outs and used them as opportunities to daydream. My child, on the other hand, hates them and seems to respond to them.

Unfortunately, I think most discussions about spanking are assumed to be black-and-white. And when I come in with my shades of gray, I annoy everybody.

Then, again, I'd also argue that if time-outs become examples of "withdrawal of love or attention" then they've crossed the line into being abusive, too.

1:54 PM, March 01, 2007  
Blogger Helen said...


The "any discipline is bad" response often reminds me of what happens when you engage in a debate with someone, especially politicians about the war. The reasons they give that war is "bad" are frequently against war in general. I love the reasoning that politicans who vote for war do not have kids who are going there, so this is reason to vote against it. I usually just ask those who utter such nonsense, "Are you against all war, then?" to which the reply is often "of course not."

To all:

Some psychological research shows spanking to be beneficial, particularly with certain groups of children. The problem is, of course, that anti-spanking advocates put spanking in the same category as smacking a kid silly. This black and white way of framing spanking shows that one is intolerant of ambiguity and provincial but those who are against it often cannot understand the shades of grey. For more on spanking studies, take a look at the work of UC Berkeley Professor Diana Baumrind.

2:18 PM, March 01, 2007  
Blogger DADvocate said...

So a good whuppin', when needed, isn't really so bad. It beats humiliation by a long shot.

I have to agree with this. Humiliation does a tremendous amount of harm. A judicious spanking, not beating, hurts for only a few minutes but gets the message across.

I spank(ed) my kids rarely, probably less than once a year per kid. Usually the spanking came about due to the child physically hurting someone else or endangering themselves or others.

2:37 PM, March 01, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

dadvocate, your final statement reminded me of my great-grandmother's saying, "I only spanked for things that could hurt them, hurt someone else, or make them bad citizens."

She raised eleven children to be good, decent, contributing members of society. She was one of the most gentle, soft spoken women. Grandpa said he couldn't remember her ever raising her voice to any of them, but that she she could sure wield a switch.

4:26 PM, March 01, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mercuria over a has a good article on this: Spare the Rod.

From the article:
"The only reason to ever spank a kid is to get his or her attention, after all other means have failed. This means you've told the kid "no," and you've told him WHY it's "no," and the child has let you know that further verbal interaction will be met with continued disobedience anyway...(Or, as my partner says, "Sometimes, you have to get the mule's attention...even if it means hitting it on the head with a 2x4.")."

7:33 PM, March 01, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course you don't want to teach children that all authority is automatically legitimate and good. There is a lot of criminal, corrupt, dishonest, racist, abusive, incompetent, etc. authority.

9:46 AM, March 02, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've only gone as far as giving my kids a "spank". I haven't engaged in "spanking".

I've used a spank on the rear when the kids were younger as a way of letting them know that I'm serious when they wouldn't take me seriously or figured they could ignore my demands that they do as I said. I read somewhere (and don't remember the source) that a stinging smack on the rump can serve as an attention grabbing exclamation point at the end of a parents demand that something be done. It helps snap kids out of their state of being out of control or choosing to ignore you.

I see a spank as a tool to enforce discipline.

A spanking, as I see it, is more of a punishment, and punishments can help enforce discipline as well. But when I think of "spanking" I think of it is, "OK, come over here, I have to take you over my knee and give you ten whacks for what you did earlier."

I've never done the latter. Not because I'm against it, but the single spank at the point in time when the offense was taking place usually worked well enough.

But even the single spank on the child's rear was too much for my ex-wife. She hated me for it and said that there was NEVER a justification for hitting a child.

I watched her and my 8 year old son wrestle over a video game that my ex-wife wanted to take away from him. I stood by and watched for 15 minutes as she unsuccessfully tried to get it away from him. During that time, she asked me for help, but I said that since she didn't like the way that I disciplined the kids that I would watch and learn from her. She refused to give him a smack and he knew that she wouldn't. He also knew that if he held on long enough that he'd eventually win, and he wasn't concerned with punishment (grounding, having it taken away for a month) because she always makes those punishments so painless that the kids never remember them. (loose the game for 1/2 a day, etc)

At the end of it all, I did rub her nose in it (which I don't normally do). I said, "Now wouldn't this have been all that much easier and more effective had he gotten a good smack for disobeying you right up front?"

To this day, she still refuses to be forceful in demanding obedience. Negotation is the norm between here and them. Life is much better, for me at least, now that there are different homes and different rules.

And since she feels guilty about divorcing, she's become one of those single parents that things that she can make it up to her kids by buying them everything that they want.

I hope to be able to help them grow up right, but it's an increasingly uphill battle when I have to counter her poor parenting. Ugh.

9:35 AM, March 05, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

While I think the California law is foolish, I am almost always a bit disturbed by people who vigorously defend spanking and "smacking" and poo-poo other methods of discipline. Children really do differ widely in their responsiveness to physical discipline, or any other form of punishment. I know spanking had absolutely NO positive effect on me as a child. And I learned from trial and error it was highly counterproductive with my own daughter. Some people are not afraid of pain, just angered by it.

1:02 PM, March 05, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not vigorously defending anything as a silver bullet fix for all behavioral problems in children, and I'm not poo-pooing other methods.

I just know that there have been times where the spank was very effective when other methods were not.

Also, Anonymous... you say, "I know spanking had absolutely NO positive effect on me as a child". Curious as to how you'd know that, since I don't think that a child necessarily has the capacity to be the judge of effectiveness of a punishment being given to him/herself.

Is there such thing as a child that will readily admit that spankings are effective? Maybe we should ask our kids to give us their consent before we do punish them.

7:35 PM, March 05, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So a good whuppin', when needed, isn't really so bad. It beats humiliation by a long shot.

I am amazed by this comment. It is hard for me to imagine anything much more humiliating than being taken over someone's knee, one's pants taken down, and one's private area smacked repeatedly -- which is what spanking frequently entails in our culture.

A couple of other points that people tend to forget with regard to spanking:

-- The buttocks are a private erogenous zone. Do we really know what effect childhood spankings may have on some children's sexuality as they grow up? The possibility of imposing a sexual kink on my child against his or her will is not a risk I am willing to take.

-- As far as whether spanking works, I agree that it certainly produces a compliant child in the short term. But is compliance the primary goal of discipline? I think that the development of conscience and empathy in one's children should be the primary goals. I would prefer my children to be driven by conscience and empathy than by fear of being discovered in an act of wrong-doing by an angry authority figure.

5:55 PM, March 09, 2007  
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