Parents: Don’t Be Afraid!

Carol Daniel
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Here we go again….another debate about spanking.  Call me old school, but I remain unconvinced that spanking my child for defiance will teach them violence.  Spanking them for defiance will teach them that there are consequences when they defy authority!  And I”m not talking about spilled milk or leaving clothes on the floor.  I”m talking about disrespect and destruction and defiance.

The debate rages again after a now-23 year old woman posted a You tube video secretly recorded in her bedroom when she was 16 years old.  Her father, a family court judge, used a belt to whip her after he says she download music from an illegal web site .  And here’s an update.  The father/judge apparently recently told his daughter that he wasn’t going to continue to support her financially if all she was going to do was work part-time at a video store. So he cut off his financial support of this young adult and took away…..are you ready for it….her Mercedes!!!!!  This is a complicated family with real issues.

Point number one:  A 16 year old is too old for a spanking!  I do NOT support what this judge did in any way.  He was out of control.  At that point in a teenagers life, you take away the car, no prom, allowance is taken,  no weekend activities, no cell phone.  And footnote here, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) says in a five year period, some 30 Billion songs were illegally downloaded for a loss of anywhere from $7 to $20 Billion dollars.  He should have just  taken her down to the sheriff’s department instead of pulling out the belt.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) discourages all corporal punishment but reports that an estimated 90 percent of parents have spanked. The AAP also says most of those parents are not pro-spanking.  And before you put beating and spanking in the same sentence.  They aren’t the same.  A beating may leave scars, welts, a spanking should not.

Here are a few other clues. If a parent is shouting profanity or engaging in name calling while spanking, that’s not a spanking but a beating.  If your fists are balled up, you need to leave the room and not try to discipline your child.  If you have ever slapped your child, that is not spanking or discipline but abuse.  If all you do is yell at your children, that’s not even discipline but bullying.  If you are bargaining with your children…go to bed and I”ll take you to the store tomorrow….stop running in the store and I”ll get you some ice cream…that’s not discipline, that’s you caving in and giving your child the upper hand.

I have long said that parents have simply abdicated the throne.  You’ve said it too, “What’s wrong with these parents trying to be their child’s best friend?”  You’ve said, “This self-esteem movement has gone too far.”  You’ve complained about children running crazy in public places?  Some of you have even complained about the lack of respect young adults show today to their parents and to you.  The observations go on and on.

What is the parental answer to all of those shortcomings in behavior?  Is it spanking?  Of course not!  But many believe that teaching your child that there are consequences to their actions and helping them to develop a sense of self-control is a multi-faceted approach.  I believe that spanking is one of those facets.  And I also believe that spanking is ONLY appropriate for a certain age and only under certain circumstances.

Are you telling your five year old child to stop it over and over again?  Instead, tell them that if they don’t stop right now, they are going to get a spanking.  The minute they repeat the behavior(and they will), you swat them on the bottom, and tell them if they do it again, they will get another spanking.  Your use of the phrase, “please stop that….” isn’t going to get the job done.  Send them to bed for not cleaning their room, smack their hand (2 and 3 y.o.) or spank them (4 and 5 y.o.) for spitting in your face or knocking over a lamp on purpose.  Accidents don’t warrant spanking in my mind.

And let me say that I am not a perfect parent.  I don’t always know what to do.  And I have not always done the right thing.   We have given them no scars(and there are no video tapes that I know of).   But some things are clear in our house, our sons will not lie or disrespect us and they will not be lazy.  Do they try?  Absolutely!  But since they are too old to spank now, other disciplinary measures have kicked in.   I try not to talk too much.  I try to be consistent and clear quickly.  I also involve family and friends in the upbringing.

Although I was given a swat in school when there was corporal punishment, I was never spanked by my parents but my three older brothers were. I was placed on restriction numerous times and lost other privileges.  I asked my mother why she chose to spank.  Now keep in mind that she is old school at 75 years of age!   She says spanking was a last resort and only if she had told us to do something more than once and we defied her.  The third instance of defiant behavior resulted in a spanking that we’d been warned about.  And she says as a result of those early spankings, she didn’t have to repeat herself much and didn’t have to spank often.

Are times so different now that we think we have to change how we parent?  Are our children more fragile now than we were in the 50’s and 60’s?  Were some parents left with physical and emotional scars from childhood and that’s why they don’t spank?  Are some parents so intellectual that they are leaning on academics to know how to raise their children?

If you don’t want to spank, more power to you.  A caller said he doesn’t spank and his kids have straight A’s.  As if kids who are spanked couldn’t possibly achieve such a thing!

KMOX © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report

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