Cal spanking law. Did you get spankings growing up ?

kitchen_mom_402January 22, 2007

Somebody in California is trying to outlaw parents spanking kids. Did you get spankings growing up? Any funny stories from them? I got my last one from my mom when I was about 12. My best friend dared me to try to drive one of the family cars down the driveway while my mom was out for awhile. I did it, but a neighbor saw us and told my mom. My mom had a "discussion" with me afterwards and I wasn't able to sit down to even ride in a car for awhile. But I didn't touch the steering wheel again until I had my license !

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Funny-- when I was a kid, most of the spankings I got would today, definitely qualify as child abuse. My father had a size 48 belt and a 13EEE shoe and had no problem using either one. Although I don't agree with the thinking that every time a kid does something wrong they should get a spanking, I DO agree that it's got its place and time, and to outlaw it would be a grave mistake.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2007 at 12:16AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Spanking is hitting; an adult hitting a child in order to teach them a lesson.
If the law protects kids from being hit repeatedly by their parents, I'm all for it.

Regular spankings are a method of disciplining kids is cruel and outdated, imo; I'm glad the law is addressing this so that more kids are protected.

I remember slapping my son's bum when he ran off in the street unexpectedly and scared the wit out of me; the fear made me do it and I felt like such a lowlife afterwards.... the look in his eyes pierced my heart and I vowed never to do it again.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2007 at 6:16AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I somewhat disagree with mitch. Spanking *is* about discipline - hitting is different. My mother was not above spanking me or my sisters. BUT she did make sure that she was in control of herself when she did so. Many a times she would tell us to go to our rooms because she would have to deal with us later coz she was too angry to deal with us then. And then later, well we got the length of her tongue but maybe we got spanked, maybe we didnot but she wasn't lashing out. In my opinion, some kids are such brats these days that I think it would bring them up short and perhaps do them a bit of good to have someone spank them once in a while. The whole business of endless negotiation with kids instead of discipline (of which the most inarguable imo is spanking on occasion) is, in my opinion, creating a generation of kids who control their parents and parents who are too hamstrung to control their kids.

That said, I don't think that the sort of vengeful angry beatings and shakings are at all acceptable. 'Course, I don't know how to prevent the latter and allow the former.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2007 at 9:30AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

To my knowledge, there's already a law against beating children. Of course, that doesn't prevent it. And if a 'spanking' law is passed (unlikely, even in California), I expect that law won't prevent spankings either.

I'm with Mindtsorm on the spanking issue. There's only so much 'reasoning' you can do with a very young child, and time outs, while wonderful, aren't the answer for every child and every situation. We use a variety of discipline methods - mainly 'counting' and 'natural consequences' with mostly good results.

But when my two boys were little, they were occasionally spanked. Not often - maybe once or twice a year - and always when we were under control and had made the conscious decision that a spanking was appropriate. With one child, spankings were very, very effective. One spanking solved that particular problem pretty-much permanently. But our younger son has an unusually high pain tolerance. In order to "get through to him", a spanking had to be harder than I was comfortable with, so we stopped, because for him, it was ineffective.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2007 at 11:42AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

There is a huge difference in beating a child and spanking as used correctly for discipline.

DivaD1 was strong-willed and defiant- that's all there is to it. Time-outs didn't work because she didn't mind them at all. She would look us dead in the eye and say "It was WORTH it." This was from a precocious 3 year old. We didn't spank for making messes, kid stuff. When she understood cause and effect we told her "You are not to do "X". If you do "X" then you will be spanked. Do you understand?" "X" might equal leaving the yard, climbing on the counter and turning on the range, running off in a crowd, refusal to be buckled into a car seat- behaviors that could endanger life and limb.

We didn't want to destroy her spirit, but she had to have some effective controls. This way it was her choice, and she knew the consequences beforehand. We could see her little mind working- disobeying was worth time-out, but not a pop.

To answer the inevitable, yes, she was obeying out of fear and not from a sense of responsibility. But these were basic safety measures and it didn't matter to us WHY she behaved, just that she did.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2007 at 11:56AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

It was generally a single wack on the behind. Never a "drop your drawers and get the belt" sort of thing. My mother also put soap in our mouths if we swore or talked back excessively. That is something that most parents should do, IMO. I am sick of hearing "b!tch", and the "eff" word out of little kids' mouths.

I don't think they should outlaw spanking. There are aleady laws on the books to deal with the situations where it is abusive. If they outlaw it entirely even more kids will threaten to call the police when their parents try to discipline them.

Several years ago my nephew hit my SIL. He was about 12 at the time, and already much bigger than her. She gave him a MILD swat on the behind and told him to go inside. He immediately burst into angry tears and said, "you can't touch me! I'll call the police!". DH and I were there, and were shocked. My SIL asked me if I thought she was wrong. I told her no, because a 12 yo that will hit his mother will be a 18 yo that will hit his girlfriend and a 25 yo that will hit his wife.

My personal opinion is that the vast majority of kids are spoiled brats. They have no respect for adults and are very "gimmee". I was raised that the marriage is the most important thing in the house. Now, it is the child that is the most important thing. Everything revolves around the kids. A little deprivation would do them all some good.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2007 at 11:56AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Nothing funny about the beatings I got as a child. I was like Bill, the way I was disciplined growning up would be considered child abuse today. We were hit and spanked with switches, belts, wooden paddles, anything handy. And it wasn't always on the butt. Slaps across the face was common.

I swore I would never hit my child and I haven't. Only once when he was 2 did I give him a swat on a diapered bottom to keep him from touching a wood burning stove. He kept trying to touch it and wouldn't listen. I felt terrible about hitting him afterwards.

I think you can discipline any child without hitting. You have to work really hard with that child's personality and find out how to change the behavior. I did it with a child that had Autism. With our son, it was taking away privleges like TV or computer time.

And you have to be persistant and consistant. It won't happen over night. I am sorry and don't mean to offend, but I think spanking is the lazy parents way of disciplining. It is easier to hit then to take the time and effort to come up with something more creative. And all it teaches is it is ok to use force to get what you want. If you have to use force to get your child to behave, then maybe there are other issues going on and they need to see a professional.

Now all that said, I think the law is silly. How are you going to enforce it? As mitchdesj said, there is already a law that protects children from abuse. I think it is too much 'Big Brother' invading our personal lives.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2007 at 1:05PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

We already have laws against child abuse. Outlawing "spanking" would be more slip down that slope of governmental social engineering. You don't know what you've got til it's gone - and while governments are chip, chip, chipping away at our rights, it's done slowly, incrementally.

So you won't notice anything's wrong until the day comes you discover you're no longer your child's parent, just a designated guardian - and that guardianship can be taken away from you if you don't follow the government rules. Oh? It's that way already? Well what do you know?

I don't want Big Brother & Sister able to take our pets or worse, our children so easily and at a whim.

All that said - my 5 siblings and I were never spanked and I don't know about effectiveness.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2007 at 3:55PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

The whole business of endless negotiation with kids instead of discipline... is, in my opinion, creating a generation of kids who control their parents and parents who are too hamstrung to control their kids.

Mindstorm, I couldn't agree more. It's like putting the inmates in charge of the asylum!!

When my oldest son was 13, we were living in south Florida. He'd started hanging out with a bad crowd of kids. At one point, he and his "friends" took someone's golf cart for a ride, figuring they'd have it back before anyone knew it was gone, but as fate would have it, the owner returned home just in time to see them getting ready to head out the driveway with it. The woman was very gracious about it. She didn't press charges. She was willing to accept apologies from each of the boys and leave it at that. It wasn't enough for me, though. I needed to impress on this kid how close he'd just come to being arrested, and when we got home, I got right up in his face. As most of you know, I'm ex military, and when needed I can still bring that back out. Well, I didn't even have to do anything physical. All I had to do was THREATEN to give him a good spanking, and he was threatening me with calling the cops and having me charged with child abuse. I was beside myself, for two reasons. First, I'd NEVER even come CLOSE to some of the things my parents had done to me, and second, I saw this as throwing down the gauntlet. If I backed down then, he had control, and that couldn't happen. So I grabbed him by the shoulders and pinned him against the wall, and handed him the phone. I told him to go ahead right then and dial 911, that I'd wait. But I told him if he did, he'd best tell them to send an ambulance, as well, because if I was going to pay the price, I was going to play the game.

He never pulled that on me again.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2007 at 4:15PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

See the link below for a good example of how many parents now expect the world to revolve around their kids. All I can say is, safety record aside, good for Air Tran!

I have one of those resistant kids as well. Our problem with time outs is that he would not stay in them, and I was extremely consistent. In the end, I did resort to the occasional swat on the behind for those rare moments when his temper was so out of control that he needed to be brought back to earth, so to speak. It always worked, but it was always a pretty soft swat on the bum, nothing more.

Here is a link that might be useful: Family kicked off plan for toddler refusing to buckle in

    Bookmark   January 23, 2007 at 6:28PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I was watching the view today and they were talking about this topic. It sounds like the law they are trying to pass is for spanking children under the age of three.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2007 at 6:32PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I don't recall anything more than a swat on the behind and I don't think that happened very often. This law is ridiculous - more foolish legislation to increase our already horribly bloated, inefficient government bureaucracy - initiated by the incompetents elected to public office.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2007 at 11:13PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

When I was a child we got spanked, not very often, and it did make an impression. But back then children knew how far they could push, what they could get away with. We knew the look and when moms limit had been met. Boy not in todays world. I see 12 year olds through them self on the floor having a screaming fit at Costco and just have to wonder who is running that household. I really don't like to go shopping any more in the summer when school is out because of all the screaming kids. It gives me a head ache. From what I see the kids usually win and get what they want.

I heard that this new legislation is for children under 4. But the topper for me was the woman trying to get it passed DOSE NOT HAVE CHILDREN!!! I think she should have to baby sit a couple of 2 year olds for a week and maybe she would rethink this issue.

True story:
A very nice man that works for DH has a 13 year old son who was bullying some kids at school. A teacher got in between them and the son hit the teacher. Well the man had to leave work and go pick up his son at the principals office. He took him home and tried to reason with him and the kid tried to hit him so he turned him over and spanked him. He didn't beat him he just spanked him with his hand. Later that afternoon the police show up at work and arrest the man for child abuse. The son called the police and said his father had beat him. He was in jail overnight. It cost him a fortune to get out of this mess and he missed several days of work. A few months later the principal called and wanted to know what this man was going to do to get his son to stop bullying the other kids. All he could say was his hand were tied. He couldn't do so much as look at his son crossed eyed because now he had a record and the son knew it. How sad is that! DH says this man used to be a happy go lucky kind of guy but this has changed his whole personality.

I know when my grandson was in the second or third grade his teacher told the class that if anyone spanked then or even yelled at them she would have the police put a stop to it. We all laughed at the time and told him to go for it. Grandson is now 21 and he was never spanked. Well he is my grandson so naturally he is perfect !

    Bookmark   January 24, 2007 at 1:48AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

YOU GO, BILL! RIGHT ON! Ha Ha! You have one fortunate son. I tell you what is child abuse - child abuse is when people send strong-willed kids to endless counseling sessions when a good whack on the bum would cure them in a jiffy, with their esteem MUCH more intact!

The CA law is for UNDER 4 yrs old? Are they serious? Under age 4 is when it is most needed rather than wordy "reasoning" sessions. I never had to spank mine after the age of 4, because the spankings when they were 2 yr. olds (deliberate and under control, not out of anger)were effective in establishing that a parent's word was law.

Children need boundaries - and while there are kids who can experience them with alternative methods, MOST, IMO, need that more instant unpleasant stimuli when young.

"Spare the rod and spoil the child" is so correct. The Bible knows what it is talking about.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2007 at 2:41AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

"Children need boundaries - and while there are kids who can experience them with alternative methods, MOST, IMO, need that more instant unpleasant stimuli when young."

jubileej, I agree with your first statement: young children not only need boundaries, they desperately want them - boundaries help them feel safe as they begin to grow into a big, uncertain world. And consequences for behavior are indeed an important part of teaching children what good/appropriate boundaries look like. But there are MANY consequences that we can structure for our kids that don't involve the child being hit by the most trusted person in his or her life. As adults, we may be able to discern the difference between "hitting" and "spanking," but young children can't. To a young child hit is a hit, and while in the short run it may serve to end an undesirable behavior, each time it happens it adds one more experience of broken trust and confusion - especially to a child under three (the window of time when a child's experience of attachment to his/her primary caregiver is critically important).

As a mom of 2 very spirited young ones who does not spank - ever - I can tell you that there are a myriad of consequences that can be used to help discipline in ways far more positive than hitting someone smaller and weaker than I am. Often the logical consequences of a child's behaviors - the ones that are most closely connected to the undesirable action - are the best motivation to change their behavior: if you throw your food, you don't get seconds and you don't leave the table until you've cleaned it all up, for example. The fact is, though, that this method of discipline often requires more thought, patience and energy from the parent. But I really do feel that the extra effort on my end is infinitely worth it: my children are indeed "spirited" but they are also well mannered & well behaved at home and in public, and are (I believe) becoming better able to assess consequences of their actions on their own as they grow.

"Spare the rod, spoil the child" is one of the most often misunderstood passages in the Bible. It does not endorse corporal punishment as an acceptable means of parenting. Won't go into the Hebrew, but it actually endorses a much more gentle approach than striking a child.

For a great rationale against spanking, I recommend this website:

    Bookmark   January 24, 2007 at 3:35AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thank you Halfdecaf, I think you put that very well. I am in complete agreement. As a teacher, I certainly see the consequences of children who lack boundaries and discipline in their lives, but I don't believe that spanking is the way to create those. Neither do I think that the only other option is lengthy reasoning discussions with children. I think the use of simple, repetitive rules with clear logical consequences can accomplish a lot. Of course it is hard and exhausting. Even with my daughter - a very sweet and gentle 3 yr. old - it is exhausting and she is nowhere near as "spirited" as some of my 6 nephews were!

    Bookmark   January 24, 2007 at 10:39AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


I am in complete agreement with you on the AirTran incident. I was disapointed to hear the airline offered the family free tickets.

The parents "needed more time" to calm down their daughter - while everyone else on the plane waits and possibly misses their connections! The child is THREE! Pick her up, put her in her seat, and strap her in. Why is that so difficult? The father looked like a pretty big guy, I bet that between the two of them they could get her into the seat.

The interview with the parents disgusted me. The mother tried to joke with the other passengers ("aren't you glad you are sitting near us?") and said "we weren't given an opportunity to hold her, console her or anything." Huh? The flight was already 15 minutes late. She was on the floor flailing around. If they wanted to hold her or console her all they had to do was pick her up. They were probably too busy negotiating with her.

Why were they are to bundle her up and get her off the plane, but they weren't able to get her into the seat?

Why is it that 25 years ago kids would obey if they just got the "don't mess with me" look from their parents, but now there are endless rounds of negotiation with the child about why they are disobeying and would they "please do mommy and daddy and favor and get in the seat"?

    Bookmark   January 24, 2007 at 2:03PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

" I never had to spank mine after the age of 4, because the spankings when they were 2 yr. olds (deliberate and under control, not out of anger)were effective in establishing that a parent's word was law."

jubilee, are you serious ? my grandson just turned 2; if my daughter in law would act the way you are describing your child rearing philosophy, I would have a fit.

It's your opinion and you're entitled, but I cringed when I read what you wrote.
It makes me understand why there is a need for the law.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2007 at 2:45PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

"It's your opinion and you're entitled,"
"It makes me understand why there is a need for the law."

These two statements contradict each other. If you see a need for a law dicatating parenting on this issue, then you don't see the nuance that this thread illustrates so well. Namely, that there is are many smart and thoughtful people who hold a wide difference of opinion on how to best raise children. At the risk of sounding like a complete libertarian, why do we need a law so that parents with one opinion can impose it on parents who see their world differently? Makes no sense to me.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2007 at 3:09PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Makes no sense to me.

Nor me.

if my daughter in law would act the way you are describing your child rearing philosophy, I would have a fit.

If you were to pull a fit in my house contradicting my discipline, it'd be the last time you came into my house or around my kids AT ALL until you could control it.

Some times a "pop" on the diaper-- where it's more noise than anything else-- is more effective than when they're older, and they feel a little sting on their buns.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2007 at 6:00PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Yup - all it used to take was "the look" - there was no discussion, negotiation, etc. - and little/no need for spanking either. My parents had their problems but they had high expectations for their kids and made it very clear if we were falling short - and I didn't want to fall short. In spite of their various deficiencies, I give my parents alot of credit for my success as an adult.

I don't have kids - which probably makes me really cognizant of which kids are obnoxious and out of control and which are a joy to be around (no matter what their age). At least among people and their kids that I've spent alot of time with over the years I have notced that the "joys" have the parents who give them "the look" and a "non-negotiable" verbal to go along with it. The others have a more "namby-pamby" approach. Just my observation - obviously I know nothing from personal experience as a parent.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2007 at 6:40PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I was emotional when I responded so maybe it did not come out right; for me , the thought of a 2 year old being hit, spanked, call it what you want, is something that bothers me. I reacted to that.

We're all too different in our views of parenting, this is getting nowhere.

It boils down to a big person hitting a small person.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2007 at 7:51PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I was spanked several times as a child -- because my parents *lost it.* I remember the spankings but not the reason why, so that tells me those spankings weren't terribly effective. I have never laid a hand on my child (now a teenager), and she has only had a couple of time-outs. In large part this is because she is an easy kid who wants to please. No doubt if we had a second kid, the temperment would be the opposite! But we also avoided situations where kids tend to melt down, like long shopping trips in the late afternoon with no snack in sight.

Philosophically, I am very much against spanking (and capital punishment for that matter), but I really don't think there should be a law. I do, however, sympathize with frustrated parents who are at their wits' end. My role model on this is my daughter's former pre-school teacher who had The Look and The Voice down pat and is able to pull herself back from escalating tensions with her highly emotional kids and not get sucked in.

Don't get me wrong! I DO believe in well-behaved kids with manners and that limits need to be set. I just happen to believe that self-regulation can happen with practice and not spanking.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2007 at 8:48PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Calliekarin, very well said! Not just are not all parents the same, but not all children are the same either. Different children - often in the same household as Sweeby pointed out and as I saw in my own childhood - need different handling and the idea that the same sort of methods of discipline should work on all is ludicrous. I'm sure there are many kids who don't need a spanking to learn to behave. Just as there are those that do. & I'm just as sure there are those who didn't get one but boy! they sure deserve one! I'm quite sure a kid doesn't absolutely need to have long drawn out patient discussions about why they shouldn't dash across a busy street, defy the pilot, or use foul language. If a quick spank does the job with a trenchant kid the first time, "the look" will be all that is needed the second time (boy! do I remember "the look" *shudder*), and it will be instinct before long (okay, simplifying, but whatever).

Mitchdesj, as you can probably surmise from the posts here, several people here (me included) are also reacting to what bothers them - children out of control and with parents who can't or won't control them. You don't seem to be willing to distinguish between a parent and the schoolyard bully. A parent does want to raise a child that knows good-behaviour and respects certain limits regardless of whether or not they "get" the limit at the time or not. The list of "no"s spans everything from being the consummate pest to endangering oneself: Not doing what the parent asks such as refusing to get into the aircraft seat when told to, Ignoring parent and running across busy roads (is there a family that doesn't have a child that did this? In my family, I was that fleet-footed experimentalist.). If you choose to feel guilty about spanking a kid and prefer instead to see a parent's role as that of a vengeful bully who only wanted to one-up or squash their child - well, that is your own prerogative and, I'm afraid, that you are the poorer for it. I certainly don't see the parents' stories above as establishing one-upmanship or superiority over their children - just trying to get them to eventually be "good citizens" in due course with a respect for laws and consideration for others (parents included). This is true of the parents who have and have not spanked their kids.

Poor parenting is poor parenting. It can be with or without spankings. But making this the acid test is negligent and irresponsible on its own.

Gosh, I wonder how long it will be before someone doesn't like a post, complains about content and this thread is yanked too! :-)

    Bookmark   January 24, 2007 at 9:04PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

"As adults, we may be able to discern the difference between "hitting" and "spanking," but young children can't. To a young child hit is a hit,"

I'm going to respectfully disagree here. I was spanked occasionally as a child by a parent who was always in control of her/his emothions at the time. He/she may have been angry, but they were completely in control of their behavior and had made a conscious decision to spank me for my own deliberate misbehavior. Even as a young child, I recognized that the spanking was a punishment for behavior that was deliberate and wrong. Did I like it?! Heck no! But I knew it was a predictable resonse to my own actions. Now, I should also point out that it wasn't the only tool in my parents' bag o' tricks. There was also "go to your room", 'the look', "Shame on you! / You should be ashamed of yourself!", counting, logical consequences, lectures, loss of priveledges, restriction, writing essays, appologies - written and verbal, cash penalties. But spanking was the punishment I disliked the most - hence, a very effective deterrent.

I think the real issus is of self-control -- Once when I was a young teenager (and at times, a very nasty, mouthy rebellious one), my mother slapped me in the face. I remember that instance 30 years later, because my mother lost control - something she never did. This was very, very different from the spankings I got as a young child, and there was absolutely no connection between the two. Did I have it coming? Well, there was certainly nothing else that would have gotten through to me at that particular instance. Her response told me exactly how far 'over the line' I'd gone with my behavior, and I never went there again.

As a mother, I have sometimes spanked my own two boys. But like my mother, it is only one tool in my parenting 'bag o' tricks' - and it's a tool they both disliked intensely. If not over-used or used poorly, it can be a very effective tool.

Anyone remember the episode of Desparate Housewives when Lynette threatens her boys with a spanking? They counter with "You don't believe in spankings!" and she volleys back with "Yes, but Brie Van De Kamp does..." which brought them instantly into line.

As to the AirTran parents, I do hope they learn something from their experience. I'd have definitely strapped my screaming child into his seat, administered "the look", and threatened a spanking in the restroom if necessary. Sometimes, just having the kid KNOW that you are prepared to 'go there' if you deem it necessary makes all the difference.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2007 at 9:37PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I would support such a law though I don't think it would ever pass any time soon. Did you know that corporal punishment in schools is still legal in 22 states? (Not California though)

I have never spanked either of my two kids (they are 6 and 11) and I consider myself a good and strict disciplinarian. There are *always* alternative ways to discipline a child when they do something wrong no matter the child OR the action. I know this because as a teacher, I have always been able to control a roomful of 30+ kids without ever laying a finger on them or raising my voice. I've taught kindergarten, 2nd, and 4th, and I've had some doozies when it comes to kids that act up.

I don't consider most spanking *abusive* but I do consider it hitting and in most cases, ineffective. I was spanked as a child and it didn't do diddly squat for me. I knew my punishment would just be over in a matter of minutes and that it most likely wouldn't even hurt. My mother tried to just hit harder - I was a resilient kid I suppose.

When my son was a toddler another girl hit him, and her mother walked over to her, yelled at her, and then hit her hands saying "NO HITTING!" The irony in that just speaks for itself. Then 5 minutes later she hit him again. The mother groaned and said to me "just wait until you have to start spanking him." I think witnessing that really cemented my decision (that I had made long before having children) that I would never intentionally hurt one of my children.

I know my decision isn't popular and I know that many people consider me "lucky" to have such well behaved kids, believe me when I say that I have worked long and hard to raise them and discipline them just like everyone else and that work is so far from over. I mean, if I spanked my children, when does it stop? My 11 year old is almost taller than me - when does it move from a spank to a two-sided fist fight? How do you discipline a teenager? If spanking is just one of your discipline tools and when your child reaches a certain age and you decide to no longer use that tool, and it all works out fine, why can't you eliminate that tool now and be a gentler parent?

Ok, I hope y'all still like me. ;)

    Bookmark   January 24, 2007 at 9:50PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I remember the spankings but not the reason why, so that tells me those spankings weren't terribly effective.

kitchenobsessed-- you might not remember what the lesson was, but I bet if someone were able to rewind the film of your life and SHOW you what the lessons were, I'd be willing to bet that it was about values that you just take for granted as being engrained in your personality. Not that it's right that you were beaten, or that ANY child should be beaten. But I just don't see what harm comes from a pop on the patutie from time to time, when it's called for.

Mindstorm-- very well said (concerning different ways of raising different children)

mitchdesi-- I have to apologise to you-- you actually brought out something that's been "put away" for years. As far as my mother was concerned, neither my ex nor I had any idea about how children were supposed to be raised, and we had some pretty loud arguments about it, and that ultimatum DID come up at one point.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2007 at 10:26PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

As I said before my son is Autistic, and the discipline that works with "normal" children won't work with ones that have that disability. You have to learn to be creative and very, very, very patient.

And only someone who has spent a lot of time with an Autistic child knows what a tough job it is to raise someone like that. I not asking for pity or praise, just stating a fact. From the age of 3 to 5 he would have fits that you could not deal with. He was totally out of control and no amount of hitting or spanking would have "cured" him and taught him anything. It would have made the situation worse and driven him further into his shell.

Maybe all parents should treat their children as "special", which in fact they are. I agree I am sick and tired of all the spoiled brats out there but I really don't believe hitting is the answer. And when did it become such a kidcentric universe? But you have to be there 120% for your children, not just to discipline them and make them behave.


    Bookmark   January 25, 2007 at 1:14AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Halfdecaf (and kteach), Dr. Sears does an admirable job defending and defining his "no-spank" approach, though I am quite convinced he is playing word games with the clear teachings of scripture. I am sorry if I implied that non-spankers are ineffectual disciplinarians. I was just appreciating Bill's willingness to train his son in a no nonsense approach.

I really appreciate mindstorm's and sweeby's posts pointing out the variety of tools that parents have at their disposal, and the need to tailor them to each child.

I would summarize my own discipline technique philosophy as follows:

Children need to learn instant obedience to authority. We're talking about them learning to freeze instantly when Mom or Dad says STOP! It can save their or someone elses life!) If it takes an instant POP to teach STOP - so be it. Explanations can follow. Some of us don't have "THE LOOK" or "THE VOICE". (I'm a soprano - singer, not mafia star.)

Authority needs to be reasonable, loving, and consistent - and take the child's needs and development into consideration.

Logical consequences are perfect for children old enough to reason logically.

Parents should get exhausted from their child-raising only for two reasons: 1) they are being consistent in training or disciplining the child on a new point 2) they are working hard to provide quality and quantity time with their child.

If they are constantly exhausted because they have to verbalize for a half an hour to get the child to half-way comply to an everyday request - then perhaps they missed using the spanking tool at a key point somewhere - or whatever other consequence proved equally or more effective with that child.

At any rate - I think all of us are in agreement that we should raise children who know boundaries and can respect the needs of others, and that is the important thing.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2007 at 10:37AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I like the turn this thread seems to be taking: it sounds like we're moving a bit more toward recognizing that spanking isn't always a good option. One piece of advice that I'd simply share - one that's been so helpful to me - is that when it comes to how we decide to discipline our children, it behooves both us and our children if we make our decisions from as informed a perspective as possible. We no longer need to use the "my parents did it to me, so it's OK if I do it," reasoning, because today there's been a lot more research published about discipline and child development than our parents had. So much of this research on the emotional development of children and how it interacts with the discipline process has been published in easy to understand formats that most every parent can learn about it if they choose to. I'd offer just a few excellent resources, for anyone who may be interested:

"Parenting With Love & Logic" - Cline & Fay
"Positive Discipline" - Jane Nelsen
"Raising Self-Reliant Children in a Self-Indulgent World" - H. Stephen Glenn
"Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child" - John Gottman
"Emotional Intelligence" - Daniel Goleman (deals more w/ parents' issues)
"The Discipline Book: How to Have a Better-Behaved Child From Birth to Age Ten" - Dr. William Sears

    Bookmark   January 25, 2007 at 6:44PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I like the turn this thread seems to be taking: it sounds like we're moving a bit more toward recognizing that spanking isn't always a good option.

Actually, it seemed pretty okay until just now. I don't think that any of the original posters have argued that every time a parent sees their kids that they should spank them. Whatever are you saying?! It sounds pretty condescending whatever it is.

Regardless, I think that parents should not be quite as afraid of spanking as some would like them to be. It won't break a child to know that parents have boundaries - that it isn't a talk-talk-talk world out there.

BTW, I really really liked jubileej's previous post and, for more reasons that one, I especially liked her point that: Children need to learn instant obedience to authority. We're talking about them learning to freeze instantly when Mom or Dad says STOP! It can save their or someone elses life!) If it takes an instant POP to teach STOP - so be it. Explanations can follow. This is precisely what I've had in mind but haven't articulated.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2007 at 7:30PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Mindstorm, forgive intention to sound condescending at all. Actually, I was feeling quite encouraged by what seemed to be a very thoughtful process of "vetting" this issue, and was simply trying to convey that encouragement. That's all. It sounds like I touched a nerve, though, and I promise that it was never my intention to hurt anyone. Sorry for any offense to you. I have appreciated much of what you've shared here, and value your opinions.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2007 at 7:58PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks for the explanation halfdecaf, and my apologies for flying off the handle too. I suppose you did indeed "touch a nerve": the truth is that not two months ago I got into just this sort of a discussion with somebody else who disparaged my mother for this very subject based on a candid discussion that she and I had had some time ago. I didn't take kindly to her sitting in judgement over my parents; whatever anyone's own perspective may be, it is beyond the pale to be making broad assessments of somebody else they've never ever met - least of all, your parents (even if they did smack you as a child ;-) ). Hence my instant objection to your post. My apologies for my own lack of equilibrium.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2007 at 8:34PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hey Mindstorm - thanks. Boy, am I sorry you had to hear such unfair things spoken about your mom. That was pretty out of line. I'd have been very frosted if I were you, too!

:) friends? :)

    Bookmark   January 25, 2007 at 9:20PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Of course! I too have thought that this exchange has been intelligent, interesting, thought provoking and insightful and [mostly] civil (apologies for my testy bent that veered it off that path).

-fullCaf ;-)

    Bookmark   January 25, 2007 at 9:27PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Remember when the French Muslim youths were rioting a couple of summers ago? Everyone wondered where they're parents were while these kids were burning up the neighborhoods... I read an article that quoted many of these troubled kids parents claiming that they were out of control of their children because French law said that they couldn't spank their children. Now that answer is debatable, but it points to the fact that parenting becomes a lot harder when the parent is not in control and the children exploit it. I resent the state imposing a certain parenting style on it's citizens. It's absurd.

And I will second the notion of instant obedience. This is primary in all relationships between parents and their children, it fosters love and respect. I love the annecdote from the story "Little House on the Prairie" where Mama tells Laura to leave the barn. Laura leaves immediately. As it turns out, there was a large bear in the barn (that wanted to eat their cow), and Laura could have lost her life had she not obeyed quickly.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2007 at 1:53PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

When I was a teen, one summer in Florida, I was out swimming in the Gulf. Having done so for every summer since I was three, I smiled in amusement as the newer folk scrambled hastily out of the water at what I thought was a shark-on-the-horizon warning. I decided I would take my sweet time and lazily swim all the way in shore. Now what intrigued me was that my mother instead of barking a command had frozen, watching me intently. I arrived and stood up, only to turn and realize I had just swum through a school of stingrays who had parted and reformed around me! It was a great reminder of those earlier "instant obedience" lessons!

Now even though I am now of the spanking-inclusive school of thought, I would always provide "reason whys" with every command. Having boys, they take what they can get - and feel entitled to the explanation prior to cooperating - or is that just a teen thing?

    Bookmark   January 26, 2007 at 5:08PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Kitchen mom, you originally wanted to hear some funny reminiscing from this - so while I am in a gabby mood-

when I was 6 yrs. old, I was allowed to roam the neighborhood until dusk, but then had to come in before supper. One afternoon, I managed to tie myself securely to a tree- don't ask me why - but I could not undo the knots I had done and couldn't budge. It grew darker and darker - and finally mother came out, sassafras switch in hand. I was filled with alarm! "I'm over here!" I cried! When she asked me who did this to me - I conveniently blamed the neighborhood ne'er do well child - (after all, I had thought - there's probably enough he gets away with, and she would never believe me if I told her the truth!) I never told her about that little lie until I was 38! (last year, of course :-) ).

    Bookmark   January 26, 2007 at 5:19PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I was spanked once as a child, or so my parents told me. I don't remember it. They didn't spank my 3 younger siblings at all. They raised four responsible, considerate, productive children without spanking. We were not without discipline, although we were rarely punished.

We were raised to feel capable and responsible for our own behaviour, and for its effects on others. I think that their method would best be described as "logical consequences." There didn't seem to be a lot of rules, but there were expectations. The main one was that we were expected to think about what would result before we acted in a new situation.

I won't say that we always acted perfectly. Once the temptation to own a package of beads overcame my better judgement and I walked out of the store with them, without paying. I got caught. When my parents found out, my father quietly said, "You know, Sharon, that we are very disappointed in you." My head still gets dizzy when I think of those words. There was no other punishment, except fom the store, I was banned. There was no further discussion. I never stole anything again, never ever.

I have raised my own four to adulthood in the same manner, with similar results. I am watching our oldest daughter do the same with her 5. (She is often complimented on the behavoiur of her kids in public.)

As the adult in the situation, it is important to remember what the child is capable of, and not attempt to put them in situations which are way beyond them. You don't take your kid to a store on a protracted shopping trip which requires them to miss their mealtime. You make their surroundings as safe as possible. You give them the lead in safe ways before you let them out on their own.

You can't do this kind of parenting from a distance. It is a very hands on, involved kind of experience. I like to think of it as carefully supervised neglect.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2007 at 8:12AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

When my parents found out, my father quietly said, "You know, Sharon, that we are very disappointed in you." My head still gets dizzy when I think of those words. There was no other punishment, except fom the store, I was banned. There was no further discussion.

Man, you got off EASY!! I had the same kind of experience when I was about 8, but instead of beads, it was a pen. First, I got my butt beat by my mom when the store owner brought me home, and then I got beat again when my father got home! Then I was sat down to the kitchen table and I wasn't allowed to get up from that table till I'd written the following line 2000 times: "I will not take what is not mine"

Trust me-- my parents' form of dicipline was "hands on".

    Bookmark   January 29, 2007 at 5:53PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

sharon sd,

"As an adult in the situation, it is important to remember what the child is capable of, and not atempt to put them in situations which are way beyond them."

That is such an important factor. I used to try to model attentiveness in church to my young children, but to give them one or two breaks in the foyer before they became fussy. (I also advocated for junior church during the sermon.) It worked well for the most part. I hate to see parents get worked up in anger at their childrens behavior when they have kept them up too late or out too long, or when they yell at them when they have been inconvenienced in some way by a childs tiredness or clumsiness. Dr. James Dobson has some great tips on that sort of thing.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2007 at 2:22AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

It is never appropriate to repeatedly hit or beat anyone, including children, as a way to impose discipline or power. Spanking is, in my opinion, a parental temper tantrum, that achieves a result based on fear, pain, humiliation, and emotional distress.

I am a parent of an 8 year old boy and a 10 year old girl. I have, when they were younger, given them one swat on the butt when I was angry with them on rare occaisions and lost my temper. Thinking back on it, I just think there is NEVER an occaision where it is appropriate to impose physical pain on another human being as a disclinary measure.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2007 at 4:53PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Rosecmd, the best way to avoid parental temper tantrums is for the parents to have a system where they can successfully train the children to obey without backtalk. When a child knows that the parent is in charge, and is not afraid to discipline them effectively, (including a swat when called for (IMNSHO), then they settle down and are freed from the anxiety and lack of peace from always trying to get their way.

Parenting can be well or poorly executed, no matter what underlying approach is taken. As has been observed here already, appropriate spanking is done without anger or random "hitting", and can be effective in keeping a child from endangering themselves or others. It is only one of an array of tools and strategies available, and most parents who utilize it strive like other parents to use wisdom in guiding and shaping their children.

My advice to all parents of elementary students is this: make sure that it is you who are training them, and not vice versa.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2007 at 2:25AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Very well said.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2007 at 7:22AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

jubileej - I consider myself to be a loving, involved parent. However, I will never see spanking (hitting, however controlled it may be) to be a part of effective discipline. I do not want my children to learn that they better do what mom or dad says or they will get hit. There are other ways, and I'm not talking about endless negotiation, to raise obedient children.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2007 at 8:51AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hi jubileej - although we come from very different mindsets on this issue of spanking, I think you completely captured the discipline issue in your statement that "When a child knows that the parent is in charge...then they settle down and are freed from the anxiety and lack of peace from always trying to get their way." This pretty much sums it up, IMHO. I am the mother of two children, now 20 and 25 years old, whom I am extremely proud of. They were rarely discipline problems at home, and were considered model citizens at school and in the general outside world. They have grown to be wonderful, caring, responsible adults. I know that I'm lucky, but I'm also sure that the discipline methods I learned working on an adolescent mental health unit really helped. So heres my contribution to this discussion, even if it is pretty far from the OP's original question.

1) It is very hard work, but parents must NEVER give in to bad behavior or they are going to make their own life and the lives of their children immeasurably harder. It really helped that my kids knew that when I said "No" it meant that No, and no amount of wheedling, whining, pouting or acting out was going to change my mind.

2) I worked hard to catch them being good and to praise them. I told my kids in a million ways that they were good people and they believed it and usually acted like the good people I expected them to be.

3) They also knew that if I got a report of them being disrespectful of others or misbehaving I was going to be very, very unhappy. I never spanked, rarely punished or raised my voice, but living with a mom who was VERY UNHAPPY with them was apparently a pretty big deterrent. Conversely, it was clear that wonderful things were available to those who behaved responsibly. My daughter got to live out her "Dr. Doolittle" dreams at 15 when she went on an Earthwatch trip, living on a college campus for 2 weeks and teaching sign language to chimpanzees. The program wasn't usually available to kids that young, but I lobbied for her, explaining that she was very responsible for a girl her age. The following year, she got to be the youngest person allowed to work with the gorillas at another facility. IÂm sure there were a few temptations she steered clear of, knowing that she could lose these opportunities if she didn't tow the line.

4) Lastly, once they reached adolescence and peer pressure and all manner of dangerous behaviors beckon, I stayed on my kids like a hawk. If they were going to someoneÂs house, I called the parents. If they called me from a cell phone and said they were at someoneÂs house, I made them call me back on a landline so I could verify their whereabouts. Hell, I admit it, I snooped. I once heard my daughter tell someone that she wasnÂt going to do something because "my mom ALWAYS finds out". They thought I could read minds. But it was just another part of what jubileej said  reassuring the child that the parent is still in charge - while trying to help them to develop their own sense of responsibility and moral compass, which I think they do by observing their most important role models.

I offer these words to young parents who may think the only choice they have is to have their children run amuck or to spank them. Parenting is hard work, but boy do I miss it! Give your kids an extra hug today.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2007 at 10:10AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


As long as there is an effectual ending to your third sentence (after the "or"), then more power to you. I would never insist you change your methods.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2007 at 10:27AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hi honeyb2! Was typing by last response when you posted yours.

Wow - that is a much appreciated post - with some extremely sound methods! Teaching kids that "No" means "No" is the prime thing that one of our elementary school principals in town would impress on parents of kindergartners on their very first informational night. Reinforcing good behaviors with praise and "catching" kids being good is also extremely powerful.

As an elementary music teacher, I remind myself constantly to observe and give positive feedback to children who are being cooperative rather than just keeping an eye on the ones who want to act up when you turn your back. Positive rewards - and showing kids that you believe in them are just huge. So glad to see it spelled out on this thread!

I still believe in parents having spanking and other painful consequences in their arsenal when needed.

Your specifics for parents of adolescents is much appreciated. I would add, having sorrowfully learned the hard way - as have other parents - that:

  1. you cannot always trust your previously mature and responsible child to continue in good choices, and

2) even knowing that other kids' parents are at home or have signed a school pledge, or who talk to you conversationally with impeccable manners - does not guarantee that your teen (or even younger school-aged child) is being well supervised.

That is why I think that we all have to engrain the fear of lying so deeply into our kids early on and continuing in adolescence - with perhaps what seems like disporportionate consequences when they do get caught. Don't soften up when the school counselor smiles blandly and says to you, "All kids lie about their homework." SO - WHAT? Bring out your big guns if a lie was involved. I was too joking around with mine at that point. Bad mistake.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2007 at 11:00AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

jubileej - I agree about lying needing to be considered a very serious offense. When it came up with my kids, I talked with them about how lying seems so tempting - you get to do what you want with none of the consequences! Heck, that's why kids AND adults do it so much. But in reality it's the coward's way out and there are some big consequences - like how can a family work without trust and how can I trust them if they lie? It may sound odd, but I also tried not to put them in a position of making themselves liars. If I knew they had done something wrong, I wouldn't ask them, I'd just say that I knew about a situation and it needed to be corrected. Or rather than asking if they've done their homework, just making the statement "homework needs to be done before TV". It's just a variation on taking a breakable item out of the reach of a 2 year old. No sense tempting them to perjure themselves.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2007 at 12:19PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I'm late to the fair, as always, but I'll throw in my two cents. Many people have indicated that their own children, or some hypothetical children, are too difficult or resistant to non violent forms of discipline--that their kids won't accept or don't feel "time outs" or that their children (or some hypothetical other person's children) don't experience shame or fear of parental anger/disappointment. The argument seems to go that under those circumstances violence is the only or the best form of discipline.

I strongly disagree. I'm the parent of two girls--when they were too little to understand the reasons I didn't want them to do something (run into the street) it was my job to control and confine them to protect them while explaining to them and showing them why what I wanted them to do was necessary. I didn't bother short cutting that activity by hitting them because hitting them wouldn't have taught them anything but that I had the power to strike them. If I'm afraid my child might run into the street hitting them stops them and makes them afraid (of me, of the street) but it doesn't teach them not to do it if I"m not present. And I'm not always going to be present.

Its really, really, really hard work raising a child to be the person you dream of: confident, active, brave, thoughtful, generous, intelligent, self motivated and self controlled. It takes hours. And it can't be demonstrated with a blow. Someone up above said that the real world didn't involve serious negotiations--of course it does. Any social interaction that ends in a blow is illegal when it happens between two adults (unless its a prize fight or a hockey game!).

I heard a comic say this once.
Question: "What do you call a guy who leans on his horn when he sees a beautiful woman walk by?"
Answer: "Out of ideas."

Hitting a child, especially under the age of three but definitely over the age of three, is a sign of a parent being out of ideas.

Years ago, when my oldest was about four and my youngest two I spanked my youngest because she was acting up in the bath and I thought she was going to slip and hurt herself. My oldest regarded me with a frosty eye and said
"why did you do that?"
I answered "I thought she was going to hurt herself"
and she responded

"I see.

That was really all it took. We've used reason and discussion ever since. Maybe it has unfitted my children for a world full of violent confrontation and anger. It appears to have made them very thoughtful, considerate, and organized people who don't act on impulse and never without considering the consequences.

Now posters have alluded to all those difficult teens who will "call the cops" on their parents. I don't know, I presume those kids exist. But I'd like to point out that if a child is that angry with their parents, that hostile to the world (the bullying child, the thieving child) they have way, way more problems than a simple spanking is going to cure and they are way past spanking anyway. The time to work on a child is when they are young. If you are having to resort to violence when they are a teen you are fighting a losing battle. As for the hypothetical bad french muslim kids whose parents only wish the french state would let them beat their kids let me remind you all that those parents would probably also like the right to beat those girls for not wearing muslim garb, for refusing arranged marriages, etc...State law that protects the individual from harm from other family members is a good thing, not a bad thing. Children's rights not to be beaten are an extension of women's rights not to be beaten and, yes, of the creation of an age of emancipation for young men. These are novel, modern rights and I for one am grateful for them.


    Bookmark   February 6, 2007 at 6:06PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

abfab, you write so well; I enjoyed reading your views on this.
I dislike double standards so your linking child beating to wife beating is a good point. Why can you hit your child and yet, you'll be prosecuted for hitting your spouse.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2007 at 7:20PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Years ago, when my oldest was about four and my youngest two I spanked my youngest because she was acting up in the bath and I thought she was going to slip and hurt herself. My oldest regarded me with a frosty eye and said
"why did you do that?"
I answered "I thought she was going to hurt herself"
and she responded

"I see.

That was really all it took.

I see-- soooo, then falling and splitting her head open can be equated with a spanking? I learned a long time ago-- you don't allow the children to dictate how they should be raised.

I dislike double standards so your linking child beating to wife beating is a good point. Why can you hit your child and yet, you'll be prosecuted for hitting your spouse.

There's a HUGE difference between child beating and a disciplinary spanking. Like you, I can't stand to see anyone hurt children, in any way shape or form. But I also believe that there's a big difference between a spanking and a beating. BIG difference.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2007 at 7:52PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My girls got a smack on their diapered bottoms along with a 'NO, we don't do that', when they engaged in a dangerous action. Quite honestly, I think the stern tone of my voice got their attention moreso than the smack. I can only recall having to do that a couple of times, but in hindsight I think it was the right thing to do. That, along with tons of positive reinforcement for good and kind behavior.

I have to address the comments made regarding kids that threaten to "call the cops" on their parents - they bothered me. This kind of manipulation (that's really what it is), is not reserved for bullies, thieves or bad or hostile kids (and I really hate saying bad kids, because it's the behavior that's bad, not the kid usually). It's a poor choice the child makes in trying to gain control over an emotional situation.

Also, I'm concerned over equating violence, abuse & emancipation rights with the type of spanking, that *I think we're discussing and referring to*. Please, lets not belittle or deny the importance of those issues by including among them spanking by responsible & loving parents.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2007 at 7:43AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Bill V,

Excellent point--I certainly didn't want my child getting her head split open! However, spanking her to *get her attention* wasn't the only option I had. I could have simply removed her from the bath she was enjoying saying "We don't jump around in a wet slippery bath, we can try again tomorrow" and that would have done me just as much good as hitting her bottom.

My brother adopted wonderful twins at 21 months. He was a very uptight father partly because he didn't have the luxury of getting to know the kids when they were really helpless and partly because there were two and partly because he's an uptight person. I well remember one of the twins picking up a sharp knife. I would have held out a cookie and traded it for the knife. My brother grabbed her wrist and *fought with her for control of it* nearly slicing both their hands in the process.

If the situation is so dire and so dangerous that you must do something drastic to rescue your child I think we are all in agreement that you should do something. I would, of course, grab my child back from a precipice even at the risk of dislocating her shoulder. But does spanking or hitting my child really fall under that heading? As paulines observes her own spanking was really a sharp way of calling her childs attention to the issue and she herself says that her tone of voice was probably more important than the swat.

No one is comparing a swat on the behind to abusive beatings but it seems the case that the swat on the behind by "responsible and loving parents" could easily be replaced by a sincere attempt to reinforce the tone of voice Paulines talks about, to find otherways of reinforcing parental teachings, and a little calmness on the part of parents. The downside to allowing parents to hit their minor children (chidren under three?) Bruises, injuries, and occasionally death. Shaken baby syndrome grows out of people with poor parenting skills who think that getting the childs attention through violence will solve the problem of a screaming child.

The question here is a little complicated by the fact that it was asked thusly "did your parents spank you?" So all our answers are colored by our memories of our parents, who we mostly seem to have loved, and our ideas about ourselves as parents. No one wants to say that their parents beat them and were also bad people, or that they beat us and we are bad people, or that we beat our children and we are bad people. And the situation is more nuanced than that. But let us put ourselves and our upbringing aside and simply ask whether in each of the cases we have described of child rearing needs the child needed to be spanked and only spanking would solve the problem?

Child doing something that endangers the child that the child does not fully understand (under three, running into street). In this case though I think spanking or swatting is "natural" it is hardly effective. If the kid has already run into the street they are either dead or badly scared. Spanking is the least of all our worries. If we have the ability to catch the kid before they run into the street a serious scolding should suffice. Neither spanking nor scolding removes our responsibility as parents to make sure the child is safe or to continue to watch the child like a hawk thereafter.

Older defiant children? You can spank or hit but what is the point. If you think the child won't respond to your loving concern, to your worries, to your reasoning you have much bigger problems than can be solved with violence.

Still older children threatening to call the cops on you? Again, violence against the child is just one of many resources you have. If you can't reason with a child at that point its doubtful that you can beat them into more than temporary submission. I'd suggest explaining the concept of the "emancipated teen" to them if they don't want to follow the rules of your house.


    Bookmark   February 7, 2007 at 8:29AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Although your illustration of the knife incident was not funny in the least, abfab, I had to chuckle. After a sweet trade like that, DivaD1 would have sought out all manner of utensils to get cookies!

And not to split hairs, but we have little traffic, and a small child running into a street with no cars is neither 'dead' nor scared in the least. Nevertheless, it cannot be allowed, and if explaining a swat (and guaranteed follow through) as a consequence of the action is necessary for deterrance for a certain personality type, then that may be what it takes to keep a child safe. Again, we are not talking about 'beating' a child!

Explanation worked first time with our other two. If I'd had only compliant children, I wouldn't see a need for spanking either.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2007 at 9:23AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

abfab's story reminds me of something that happened when my sister's daughter, now 15, was a baby. My sister was a young mother, only 21 when my niece was born. When my niece was about 18 months she managed to find a toothpick my father left around and proceeded to stick it in her ear. We were all in the room, but I was the only one who saw what happened. Since I was 10 feet or more away, and couldn't get to her quick enough, I yelled, "Lucy, NO! Put it down now!", very loud. She stopped, which is what I wanted. I then walked to her and took the toothpick. And my sister was royally POed because I told her daughter, "no". No one was allowed to say no to this child. Instead, you were supposed to say "Lucy, would you please take that sharp object out of your ear and give it to me. It is very dangerous for you to do that". I'm not kidding. There was a whole movement in the early 90s about not saying no, you were supposed to explain instead. So if any of you are wondering why there are so many obnoxious teens who think they are the center of the universe, here's one cause.

My niece is a lovely girl. Bright, beautiful, and completely incapable of being told what to do. Thank God she makes pretty good decisions on her own (the lip piercing being one exception).

    Bookmark   February 7, 2007 at 10:02AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Children's rights not to be beaten are an extension of women's rights not to be beaten and, yes, of the creation of an age of emancipation for young men.

I laughed when I read this! It brought me to mind my debating days on school debate teams and all the good memories associated with that time.

Anyhow, the above is a classic but puerile tactic used in many a debate to cut down an opposing point of view, not with an intelligent parry-and-thrust, but to associate the opposition's argument with an automatic gag-reflex such as "wife-beating"/"girlfriend-beating" and any of the other egregious but inarguable societal ills. It never gets the debater any debating points with the judges because the tactic is a cheap ploy and not considered a sophisticated or intelligent debating rebuttal relying as it does on evoking a visceral response. However, what that tactic does do very well, is it scores points with a less well-versed audience and therefore has some showman-ship points.

OK, pedantry and pedagogy aside, I'll bite with that argument and play along:

The physical act of beating a grown woman aside, the strict bottom line in any defense of the anti-woman-beating arguments is that a grown woman is an adult and beyond the purview of any grown person to "discipline". Therefore, any of the other "non-violent" disciplinary mechanisms if applied to the same grown woman such as scoldings, sit-in-corner, write-100-times-that-I-will-not-deny-my-BF-s@x etc. are all actions that would also be regarded with a jaundiced eye by any judge or jury.

Do those of you who want to equate wife-beating with children beating ALSO want to take that tautology all the way down? That you must treat your children the way you'd have a grown man treat a grown woman? That your children are not to be disciplined but perhaps, merely manipulated into doing things your way?

Just FYI, abfab, I pulled the run into a busy street trick too. A busy street, at that and right in front of a bus. Not only am I lucky to be alive but my dad, who ran into the street behind me is even luckier to be alive. At 4 years old, I had considered the traffic, knew how fast I could run, done my own risk-analysis and was confident I could make it across before the traffic got to me. I thought my own chances were pretty good, so I took the chance. Well, Dad scolded me and I'm very sure my Mum smacked me when she got to the other side (she waited for traffic to die down). I still recall that incident - not for the spanking, but for how terribly frightened they were - their faces and their voice showed it. THAT is my biggest memory of that incident and when I was a kid, that rigid fear on my parents' fact is what is primarily what I recall. The spanking may therefore have been incidental, but did it scar me? Heck no. What it did do was to convey to me how much that act of mine scared them. Any calm, rational "discussion" - I doubt that would conveyed the same urgency. You'll recall, I'd done my own rational risk analysis before I waded across the street. :-)

    Bookmark   February 7, 2007 at 10:13AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

As I always say, nothing teaches you the fallacy of "nurture" like having a second child. Look, not every child rearing strategy works for every kid and that goes for spanking as well as for talking about stuff. But let us also recognize that spanking or swatting, despite its hallowed place in the imaginary (along with "the look" and the absurd notion that either parents were better parents in the good old days or kids were better kids) spanking is *just a tool* and to the extent that it has other side effects not necessarily a good tool.

I think we are all talking at cross purposes here because of our inability to talk seriously about different family styles--not parenting styles alone but different models of what the family is and how it should be constructed. I'm not at all interested in compliance from my kids. I'm not worried about their going to the bad, doing too much sex, drugs, or whatever. I'm just not. I'm not worried that if I trade a cookie for a knife once that my too clever children will start grabbing utensils and trying to trade them all the time. Its just not a problem for me. I'm not worried that my "child will set the tone" in my house or determine my child rearing strategies to use bill v's phrase. That happens the moment you bring a kid home anyway. You can't be the same person you were before you had kids so the trick is to figure out what kind of person you want to be with kids.

I'm very concerned to raise children who can think for themselves, who are not selfish, greedy, loud, or thoughtless. I simply don't see that hitting them ever taught them any of the things I would want them to know. In fact, hitting them short circuits the things I want them to know. The pro-swat team (granting the non abusive form of swatting) are implicitly arguing that the same behavioral modification tricks we use for dogs or cats (hitting, spraying them with water, etc...) work for children. Of course they do! It absolutely works to spank a crying child, to spank a wandering or inattentive child. They will absolutely stop doing what they are doing and pay attention to you. Whether they will continue to pay attention to you when they are old enough to resist violence with violence, or old enough to run away, or old enough to realize that they have to make independent judgements on situations you never faced is not clear to me.

But I want to stress that I never had the problem of *getting my child's attention* through speech. In fact most great teachers will tell you, and actors, that dropping your voice when you want people to pay attention is much more effective than shouting. Maybe to an outsider the discussions we have seem to take more time than the outsider wants--perhaps it ticks people off to have me say to my daughter "you know, when you pull the hair off the doll like that it makes me not want to give you another doll another time..." rather than hauling off and swatting her. But I don't let my relationship with my child be dictated by other people's expectations of how stupid and unreasonable children are. Children are extremely reasonable and love to talk about things and think about things. That's what they are--little machines for thinking. The endless real and apocryphal stories about other people's little darlings being indulged and ruined and spoiled by talking are, to me absurd. You can't look at a child in the middle of its education and determine how it is going to turn out any more than you can look at a cake while its baking and say "the inside is gooey, it will never cook." Its a long process with a lot of phase changes along the way.

But a lot is at stake in the way we raise our children and the way we comment on other people's children. I don't excuse myself from this at all--there is a lot of self love in my model of the family. I am very close to my parents and my brother--there is very little hierarchy in our family. My father didn't have a "special chair" and my parents didn't have any "special priviliges" and it would never have occured to either of my parents to say "because I said so" or "because I'm the parent." If you couldn't give a darned good reason for what you wanted done you couldn't just fall back on authority and rank to make stuff happen.
As a result I'm not looking to recreate authority and hierarchy within my new family. From each according to his ability and to each according to his need seems like a great model of the houeshold economy as well as the household economy of love.

Authority over children is just one aspect of authority in society. Historically the family preceedes the state and the rights of the fathers (and sometimes the mothers) preceedes and even supersedes the right of the individual to any kind of self determination. We are limiting our discussion to whether parents can without state interference discipline or instruct children under three using physical violence. But the conversation of course engages much larger issues--for Bill V his relationship with his 13 year old son and the law, for jubileej her relationship as a certain kind of christian with her reading of the bible's injunctions on childrearing. I don't think its unfair to say that for all of us how we choose to raise our children is integral not only to the kind of family we want to produce but to the kind of society we want to live in.

For that reason I want to assert once again that it matters to me that I am choosing a violence free childhood for my children, that I privilige discussion, explanation and exploration over settling any argument suddenly (whether through violence or an ipse dixit like "mommy told you.") Sure, it can get tedious sometimes, and it can drag on a bit (though some of our most wonderful conversations have come about through discussion of something that others would prefer never be discussed). But I choose that form of discipline because I think its best not just for my family or my kids but for society as a whole. And that is why, when we talk about even something as minor as spanking, our discussions can become a little heated. Because we are also and always really talking about ourselves and how we want to fit in with society--whether we want to recreate the society we think we grew up in, challenge it, amend it, etc...

In conclusion I'd like to say again that I think that spanking or swatting and, of course, even beating small children is not only absolutely understandable but even culturally approved and very normal in this society. Is it necessary? No. Does it have repercussions for some kids? Sure. If its "effective" it teaches them that larger people get your attention by striking you, and enforce rules you don't understand by hitting you. IF it is not effective it simply hardens the child until, like the poster's child who said of her time outs "it was worth it" you are raising a child who simply can't be reached without a further escalation of violence.

You pays your money and you takes your choice. I choose otherwise.


    Bookmark   February 7, 2007 at 10:36AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Man, you guys are good! "Side of the debate" aside, I'm just impressed with the eloquence and thoughtfulness I've been reading this morning. Mindstorm & abfab, you both express yourselves so beautifully, and add great value to this debate. While I do fall squarely into the "spanking is a tool that should never even come out of the box" camp, I am gaining much from this very thoughtful conversation. Thanks.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2007 at 11:30AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have to chime in and say that some kids are just nuts. When DD was just a toddler she'd participate in some "play groups", which were basically a bunch of parents and kids sitting around playing with toys, etc. Even at the age of 18-24 months or thereabouts, there were a couple kids that were just psycho. No amount of yelling or timeouts or reasoned discussion from the parents could get those kids to behave. I really felt bad for the parents as they obviously cared and were trying their best.

Would spanking work - I don't know. But it did bring home to me that "nature" is much stronger than "nurture". Now I absolutely know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that I cannot generalize my own discipline methods with my child to other families. And I ratcheted up a couple notches my respect for those willing to adopt. One of the psycho kids from that playgroup was adopted, and both birth parents were in jail. Those adoptive parents later had a daughter naturally, who turned out to be a total angel.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2007 at 11:55AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Some of this is blown way out of proportion. Swatting a crying child? Spanking for inattentiveness? That's barbaric and nowhere near administering a swat on the behind of a child who has been warned that defiance will result in a pop on the bottom and who makes that choice.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2007 at 12:02PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I couldn't agree more--some of this *is* way blown out of proportion if by that you mean that some posters see the end of civilization dating from the 90's when permissive parenting began (or maybe from Dr. Spock in the 60's?) and some (like myself) discuss the implications of spanking and beating in the same breath with the overal political economy. But that's natural, isn't it, when the terms of the the debate have not been properly set? The california law at issue applies to corporal punishment for children under three. I don't know whether that includes or excludes the "pop on the bottom" or whether a child of under three can be expected to "make a choice" with regard to parental pops on bottom, especially for a first time infraction. But this thread certainly makes very little distinction between forms and varieties of spanking. Posters have variously posted about their need or desire to express their anger or their fear through spanking with children as old as 13 or 14 (sometimes they are alluding to their own parents behavior). People have complained that other, unspecified, bad parents have failed to discpline/spank their crying children in public places. People have asserted that only bad parents refuse to set lines for children and that absent such lines (enforced by violence) children are spoiled, impossible, ruined.

I don't see a slippery slope between the "pop on the bottom" and a real beating and I think parents in general can be trusted to know the difference but its a very cultural thing--what you, today, call "barbaric" (swatting a cryign child, spanking for inattentivness) simply used to be perfectly acceptable. The number of people who have quoted the chilling phrase "I'll give you something to cry about" as their mother's precursor to a spanking/beating is quite high, in my own experience.

So we are talking about where the goalposts ought to be and where they are. Its clear from the posts on this thread alone that pop's on the bottom, spanking, and the *idea* of spanking hold a hallowed place in people's imagination of good parenting. That's true even for parents who would never cross the line and spank their own kids. Its as though we can't help ourselves from believing that there is a silver bullet out there that will make other people's kids behave or that will ensure our own children never make mistakes so serious we can't save them from them.


    Bookmark   February 7, 2007 at 12:21PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thoughtful, intelligent and entertaining posts - thank you abfab and mindstorm and everyone.

I was trying hard to remember why my parents had such good control over us 6 kids without spanking. I think sue36 gave me a glimmer of remembrance. My mom and dad were soft-spoken and non-verbose people. They didn't yell, scream, speak loudly, etc. They both used a stern voice command when they wanted us to change what we were doing. They did it very infrequently, and they didn't repeat themselves. So I think this tone got our attention in a big way.

My mom also perfected "the look", along with "the voice". So if any of us got the look, that's all it took to make us behave. We took these commands seriously.

Not to belittle child-rearing at all, but I experience the same result with training my dog. I don't keep repeating over and over "no!" or "come!" You should say it once, then if the dog doesn't comply, you must follow up with an action - a result for non-compliance. In my case it's easy - the dog is small, and I can pick him up. With a child you can force a timeout or "naughty-corner" or what have you.

But even with a dog, I find that with the right resolve and tone/volume of voice, the dog will comply. "Come?" doesn't work. "Come!" does.

All the stories and analyses aside, I am still vehemently against any governmental "social-engineering" laws being enacted.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2007 at 1:44PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

But this thread certainly makes very little distinction between forms and varieties of spanking.

Actually it does. See post 4 above and then regularly repeated by various posters thereafter. Indeed, I do believe that your post is one which has lumped them all together as you say here: I don't see a slippery slope between the "pop on the bottom" and a real beating ... .

True, the terms of the debate have not been formalized, but it is implicit, at least so I assume, that the system structure within which this debate is meaningful at all, is whether responsible parents may or may not use spanking responsibly. There are and will always be folks that fall within the tails of any distribution: there will be spankers who are violent people and violent parents and not all the tying of their hands will make them good parents. There are non-spankers who will completely ignore their children, perhaps not even bothering to be home or spend time with their kids. Are we really talking about either of these set of people? I'm not interested in a debate that includes that set.

As for child-rearing practices - of course, it is up to the family to determine pedagogy, but frankly, abfab, some of the methods you've described with your kids sound just like what I had in mind when I mentioned tedious debates with recalcitrant or trenchant kids. You may be inculcating in your children the very values you would like them to have, and more power to you for that. However, based on my experience being around kids of parents who eschewed discipline for debate, the net result is children who have no respect for anyone else's time, energy or effort because they are so used to being the front-and-center focus of all their parents' attention all the time. I have a couple friends like this with kids. IMO, I find it incredibly tedious and draining to being around these kids - or their parents when the kids are around - because the kids expect that they can have my OR their parents' (who may be in the middle of their own conversation) ear any time they choose, regardless that they may be interrupting. Not, mind you, that they are not told that it is rude to interrupt/xxx (fill in blank here), but frankly, that itself is a hypocritical message because the kids live every day engaged in long, time-sucking debates about ANYTHING at all whereby they get to say when the debate is done, and thus have no concept that their parents could possibly have anything else of importance but to argue/explain/debate with them. Not the kids' fault at all: they've been bred to believe by such dedicated actions, not just that they are most important to their parents - which I imagine most responsible parents believe - but that they are the only thing of importance to their parents.

Now this may be hyperbole, like most other instances pulled up here have been, but frankly, I do think that there should be a better formula than just these tedious debates. Admittedly, you don't need to consult me for parenting tips. Likewise, I imagine, you don't expect others to consult you for parenting tips. ;-)

Now, this is not to say that if those parents had only spanked their kids, all would be right in the world. Even I am not that naiive. i just simply am trying to say that there are, I suppose, many flavours of good parents and many flavours of good parenting. Absence of spanking does not make a good parent. Furthermore, your definition of what you basically want in your children is noble: I'm very concerned to raise children who can think for themselves, who are not selfish, greedy, loud, or thoughtless and is perhaps what most people want in their children. Certainly, that is what my mother parroted over and over and over again to us. If, in the two cases, the parenting tools are different, it is disingenuous to assume that you have the sole and solitary answer to what, I understand, is a difficult problem - good parenting.

Halfdecaf, for my part, I thank you! :-) I came to really enjoy this thread a good while into it once I realized what I wanted/not want from this debate. I realized that I did not want someone who doesn't "buy" into the spanking concept to use it as a tool - they afterall are going to be the ones most wont to misuse it. Just like you, I don't believe in pounding a child into submission. I don't believe in shaking a baby to get its attention or to stop it from crying or peeing or whatever else. Unlike abfab, I don't think that either of these were ever, in any time, considered culturally acceptable. And if someone doesn't understand how and what the purpose of a spanking, well, they are likely to be just the people to practice the above. That could *never* *ever* be acceptable. Ok, so once that realization hit, this thread became totally stress-less and totally fun.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2007 at 2:32PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


I've got to go pick up my kids but I'll put this very short and sharp.
One, to go back to an earlier part of this discussion I never use cheap debate techniques to please a debate judge because I'm not a debater and I'm not interested in winning.

Two, obviously there is quite a bit of disagreement about the nature and focus of this thread because individual posters have very different perspectives on what does or does not consitute a spanking or a beating.

Three, the original question referred to a particular law in a particular state but most people are discussing their own preferences and why they think those work or don't work.

Fourth, despite your breezy assertion that shaking a baby or striking it for typical baby behaviors is never, at any time, considered culturally acceptable that is simply false. There are many cultures and socieities elsewhere and within the US specifically where shaking, beating, burning, and shrieking at very young infants is not only not seen as wrong but is seen as de rigeur. You'd be surprised what doctors, lawyers, and nurses see in emergency rooms and you'd be surprised to discover that many of these activities though life threatening to children are, in fact, culturally acceptable and even mandated. And very often the parents think they would be culpable if they *didn't* perform these acts. I have no doubt that the california law, like others like it, derived from a perceived need for the state to act to prevent children from being severely manhandled and even killed. I don't have an opinion on whether this is the best way to prevent undereducated or unacculturated or otherwise dangerous parents from harming small children. I'm sure there could be better ways but I doubt very much that this law was instituted in order to create whiny neurotic upper class kids.

I made my case for the kind of child rearing I engage in and I also made my case for the kind of person I expect to produce with it. For me that is tied in to the kind of society I want to see around me, and the kind of person I think best contributes to that society. I don't expect others to agree with me.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2007 at 3:08PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

The downside to allowing parents to hit their minor children

abfab-- I'm in no way advocating that parents be allowed to "hit" their children. If I were EVER to see an adult hit a young child, that parent would have alot more to deal with than just the child. However, a spanking isn't the same thing, and in a family where love is freely given and received, even children will realise they're not being abused, that the did wrong, and their parents are acting in their best interest. I will also agree, though, that alot of parents DON'T know the difference between discipline metered out with love and beating their kids for "being bad kids". THESE are the people who need to be addressed, and believe me when I tell you, there are already enough laws on the books to go after these parents. What we need is enforcement of existing laws-- not more laws added that also won't be enforced.

One last thing-- abfab, I really hope this all doesn't sound like I'm gettin on your case about this, because nothing could be further from the truth. You seem to be a good person and a very caring mom, and I'm happy that you've had success with your kids without having to use any kind of spanking. As has been mentioned, though, no two kids are alike.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2007 at 6:53PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I liked sweeby's post--I identified with it greatly, both as a spankee and an occasional (very rarely) spanker.

And I agree also, actually, with the idea that a spanking is a parental temper tantrum.

But I don't want to end up in JAIL for an occasional temper tantrum!

I cling to the right to make mistakes, and yes even be a very bad parent, and even mistreat my children, from time to time and NOT end up in JAIL!

    Bookmark   February 8, 2007 at 1:50PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have come back to this thread for a couple of days now and read with interest the comments.

The post that prompted me to respond was from Chiefneil. I beg to differ with you on your nurture nature observation. If nature was the strongest, then wouldn't you want to lock up the entire Kaczynski family? You never know which of his siblings could turn out to be the next Unibomber. I am convinced it is more of a 40% nature 60% nuture situation. I think children are like clay and are molded by their experiences. The kid who was out of control wasn't that way because he was the spawn of jail birds anymore than the angelic one was that way solely because he was their biological child. You were right about this Now I absolutely know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that I cannot generalize my own discipline methods with my child to other families. In fact, I would go so far as to say I can't generalize my discipline methods with one of my children for the others. We're all made up of a different clay formula and what works for one doesn't necessarily work for the other.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2007 at 9:23PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have a question for those that do spank their children.

When I was a kid, I was spanked. After getting my spanking, I would turn around and say "that didn't hurt." As a result my mother would just spank me again and harder. This would continue until she'd storm away frustrated.

And really - it didn't hurt. I guess I was a resilient kid. In fact I used to PLAN whatever I was doing wrong knowing that the spank was useless on me.

What kind of discipline should I have gotten?

    Bookmark   February 9, 2007 at 1:58AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

snookums, you must have gotten the point though, you knew you were doing wrong but knew the consequence wouldn't hurt physically. Would grounding you have worked ?

DH recalls his spankings as hurting but it would make him giggle hysterically,
nerves I guess.......... he had 2 brothers close in age and they would be spanked as a group, one after the other since usually they would all have misbehaved the same day and he said after his dad left the room, they would have fits of giggles.
The worse punishment he remembers is when their bikes got stored for a month in the summer, that one hurt more than the spankings, he said.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2007 at 6:30AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I was spanked, and sometimes I'm sure they'd qualify as beatings.

I remember distinctly sitting at the lunch table in second grade, and for some reason we were talking about spankings. I was the only one who was spanked on a regular basis. There were a couple of other kids who'd been spanked once, and one girl who said only 3 times ever. That day has stuck in my memory because it was the day I realized that getting spanked every time you did something wrong wasn't normal, but I was too young to really understand why that was.

Matter of fact, I preferred spankings to the alternative punishments my Mom got wise to. Oh, how we'd wail "please, just spank us!!!" as tv, or outdoor play was taken away for the rest of the day. It was sooooo much better in our opinions to take a few lumps and then get back outside, to our favorite cartoon, or the activity that had gotten us in trouble to begin with.

I promised not to spank my kids, and am proud to say my DD has never been spanked. In my heart, it was important to me.

When I was growing up I was quick to fight (cousins, siblings, kids at school, etc.) whereas my DD at 14 has never been in a physical altercation.

I was very rebellious, at home & at school, whereas DD is adored by her teachers, and is such a great kid, I can't help but consistently count my blessings. She's not perfect, but I don't see the anger & short temper I went through a large part of my life with. I'm so proud of her.

I'm sharing my own personal experience, and my intention is not to judge other's styles of parenting. Each of us does the best we can, and I'm sure each of us is doing whatever it is we do out of love.


    Bookmark   February 9, 2007 at 7:43AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

When I was a kid, I was spanked. After getting my spanking, I would turn around and say "that didn't hurt." As a result my mother would just spank me again and harder. This would continue until she'd storm away frustrated.

And really - it didn't hurt. I guess I was a resilient kid. In fact I used to PLAN whatever I was doing wrong knowing that the spank was useless on me.

What kind of discipline should I have gotten?

The thing is that spankings aren't SUPPOSED to hurt! Maybe have a slight sting, but that's it. They're more for shock value than anything else. Parents that are TRYING to hurt their kids-- those are the people that need to back up and regroup. That IS abuse.

Snookums, I know what you mean, though-- after a while, you just numb yourself to them as a child, and it DOESN'T hurt. If anything, it makes you more rebellious. This is another one of the reasons why spanking shouldn't be metered out every time a child looks at you crosseyed. It loses its shock value, and will start becoming counterproductive.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2007 at 8:21AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Snookums, You've asked a question seriously and in trying not to be coy, I'm afraid my answer may sound glib but know that it is not meant to be. Obviously you don't provide much detail but that your mum had a one formula for disciplining or correcting you and that she hauled it out time and again. Now, one definition of madness is to do the same thing repeatedly, in the same way, on the same system and to expect different results. Now, I'm not calling your mum mad, esp. since you, correctly, haven't provided much details just announced a certain action, but the truth is that that formula would have become impotent and ridiculous if repeated that often regardless whether she spanked or not ... the same "I'm so disappointed in you" speech or the most loving recital of your sins recited verbatim all become pretty meaningless if they are the only tool ever used and used for everything.

... I also made my case for the kind of person I expect to produce with it. For me that is tied in to the kind of society I want to see around me, and the kind of person I think best contributes to that society.
I've been rather busy for a few days but I've been thinking about this thread quite a bit. I have to say that I REALLY REALLY like this statement from abfab. Gosh, if there is a mission statement for parentdom IMO it should read something like the above. We often rail at society but forget that we ARE our society and that parents are shaping society by the values they cop to and those they impart to their kids. My parents have said in a sense the same thing - associating values they wanted to impart to us with their sociological responsibility, in talking to us or their friends and, in one of her more vociferous moments (don't quite know what brought it on) I recall my mum remarking that she does not intend to leave trash behind for the next generation. Still, abfab's writeup crystallizes a well of wisdom in those two lines - the essence of both hers and my parents' avowed outlook behind the underlying principle of their interactions with their kids.

I don't believe that that can't happen with spanking as one tool in a parent's disciplinary arsenal, but nevertheless, I respect the profundity in that particular realization.

However, the last paragraph, abfab, seems to indicate that you want to make cultural calculations through what is seen in the ER. This is patently wild! and my "breezy assertion" still stands that no culture will mandate that you shake a baby for any reason, or beat it into a coma. Darwinian mechanics pretty much precludes the survival of any such mores, if such ever existed. That such behaviours are practised is not in doubt - however, bad parenting is not a cultural dictate. ERs see plenty of the worst of society but to ascribe an entire culture around it? That's a little over-dramatized.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2007 at 7:35PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

mitchdesj - grounding me definitely would have worked and DID work at the older age in which my parents utilized that. They only spanked me when I was younger, grounded me when I was a teen.

As the mom of two young kids (6 and 11), I can't see grounding working with them, especially my youngest. It's not something I use, but most likely will start in the next couple years with my oldest. Right now he doesn't really go anywhere on his own that I would ground him from, kwim?

When I was a teen, being barred from my social life was HUGE. That definitely spoke to me and will be a method that I use with my kids.

I don't think though that the kids that are grounded are the same age as the kids that are spanked.

And yes, as far as I can recall, my parents only used spanking and/or sending me to my room. I remember there being a "time out" egg timer in my room that I would have to watch until I knew I could come out. Many times, though, it was only a spank. I don't remember much else.

I'm glad to read that many parents who spank aren't trying to hurt their kids. Unfortunately, I think many are.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2007 at 12:52PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

They only spanked me when I was younger, grounded me when I was a teen.

Hell, the last time my father tried to swing on me was a month after I got out of the navy, and I think the only reason THAT was the last time was because I decided it was time to put a stop to it, and took a fighting stance and told him to take his best shot.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2007 at 3:32PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I actually agree w/ abfab that a parent who spanks is out of ideas. And unfort. people who spank often, have gotten lazy and aren't TRYING to come up w/ ideas.

The very few times I've spanked my kids were when I felt I needed something big, right now. And I didn't have other ideas.

I'm sure that were I perfect, I'd have had time, and energy, and creativity, to find something ELSE that would have worked. But I'm NOT perfect. And so I spanked them. And I'm not going to apologize for it.

I'm a firm believer in the idea that your punishments should make your kid cry. Otherwise, why bother. So if spanking isn't making your kid cry (as in snookums' case), then mom and dad need to immediately figure out what WILL make them cry. What WILL they mind?

I can reason w/ my kids forever, but at a certain point--and I much prefer sooner than later--I need them to just do what I've told them to. I go for the big guns right away. It's faster, and my kids will spend more minutes happier, if they learn they can't string out the process of misbehaving until there's a punishment.

Your punishment needs to be ready to change. Kids will adapt. Time-outs stop working eventually, and you need to be ready with something else.

I've taken toys away for a month (until DD started saying, "for how long?" and then "OK, you can take them away for a month") and escalated to throwing them in the garbage. (a woman I know makes her KID throw them in the garbage). I've made them stand in the corner, not allowed them to do anything fun (no books, no TV, no conversation, just sit on your bed and be bored).

I prefer, when I can, to motivate my kids by pointing out what they SHOULD do. By setting a goal, and rewarding them. But I refuse to give up punishment.

And while I'm not in love w/ spanking, and I'm not particularly proud of having done it, I'm also not going to apologize for it or eliminate it completely from my repertoir.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2007 at 9:34PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

A neighbor had a old son who suddenly, at 13 took on a gangster swagger & totally different attitude toward parents, rules, homework, teachers, etc. His Mom went to school several times in response to his behavior problems; got him in counseling, etc. One day three different neighbor girls went to her to complain that he hassled them incessantly- pushed, shoved & called them names from the time they got to the school bus stop until class began with a repeat all the way to their doors after school. Mom first had a "discussion" with Son...second time the young girls came to her she got a belt & popped his rear end all the way to each door, where he was made to apologize, then all the way home. Another neighbor yelled at her to "Stop beating him or I'm calling police!" Mom told her to go ahead & cops arrived very shortly. They asked if she'd "beaten" her son. (Son was right there too- grinning from ear to ear.)

She grabbed the belt she'd used & said, "Beating? No, but I did whip him & very soundly too," and told them of his behavior, trips to school, etc. before sticking out her wrists, saying "If you want to arrest me, go ahead! I can deal with him here at home in my way or you can deal with him on the streets in six months or so...your choice, Officers."

The officers tipped their hats and said "You have a nice day Mam."

Talk about an instant change in a kid & it was permanent!
He is now in senior year of college pulling 3.7 average & often tells how grateful he is for his Mother keeping him in line.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2007 at 9:28AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I am blessed with a child with strong impulse control and excellent anger management who has always wanted to please her parents. (She may change on the last part since she is now a teenager, but I recognize that she should rebel at least a bit in order to grow up.) IOW, it would be hard to be a bad parent to her, and I can't think of any circumstances where ANYONE might have been tempted to spank her. And you know, I don't think she is the result of excellent parenting or anything like that.

My heart goes out to those parents who are raising challenging kids; I wonder whether I would be up to the task or whether such kids and I would constantly feel at odds with one another. IMHO, society at the adult level needs all types of temperments and personalities. Making it from childhood to adulthood in one piece is the challenge!

    Bookmark   February 15, 2007 at 4:40PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I rarely used spanking, but I felt it was sometimes necessary raising my 4 kids. Last time I spanked my oldest, she was 18 and was having a screaming, pulling match with her 5 & 6 year old brother and sister over an infant toy. They all three got a swat and had to stand in a corner like the brats they were acting.

We are raising my husband's 12 year old grandson who has a behavior disorder. I have given him one swat on three different occasions. He decided that wetting and messing his pants was "fun" as he told me. We tried every method we could think of for months and nothing worked. After he learned that he'd earn a swat if he did it again, he stopped. And believe me, it hurt me more than it did him.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2007 at 9:55AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My brother moved to the midwest from San Diego because he didn't want to raise his kids in SoCal. Maybe this is what he was talking about?
In college, I took an Early Childhood Development class along with Marriage and Communication classes. In Early Childhood Development we would have labs where we watched 2 or 3 year olds and record their motions. The way the cartakers disciplined the little ones was to get on their knees, look the child in the eye and give it to them short and sweet with a low voice. I've have had 3 boys, 2 nephews, 6 Tiger cubs, 2 Bear and 1 wolf troops, 9-1/2 years of playground duty, and give "Survive Alive" programs for children and I have had very good luck using this disciplinary technique.
There is no negotiation or reasoning, the really tough cases end up sitting on my lap because I think they are wanting attention. When they are older, I'll end with "Do You Understand?" or "What Do You Not Understand"
I can't "spank" other people's children but when my own were younger, a smack on the rump usually got their attention. "Instant unpleasent stimuli" I must be doing something right because people will complement on how well behaved they were in school, church and at other peoples homes.
Every spring, my oldest and the girl down the street would square off and "draw lines in the sand" on who was going to "run the neighborhood" that summer. Typical "Dennis the Menace and Margaret" situation. She could run circles around him in every way so the only thing he could think of doing was to drop his drawers and "moon" her. Well, her mom called me up and told me all about it. (Looking back, we now have a real good story to tell his girlfriends, if need be)
I had to be an adult about this and told him he would walk down to the girl's house and apologize to the girl and her mother.(the mom was a good friend of mine)This was a fate worst than death and he declared that he wasn't going to do it. So I picked him up, he was screaming and kicking, and carried him down to her house and He Did Apologize. After that he knew not to "draw any lines in the sand" especially with his mom. And since he has no sisters, this also taught him it not an appropriate thing to do to any female.
I've only had trouble with 3 kids in my experiences and I pity their parents.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2007 at 9:03PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

What an amazing thread! Is there any way we can preserve it? At any rate - it should cause each and every one of us to reexamine what we do and why we do it.

Our motives are not just that we want the right to discipline our own kids our own way, but, as adfab and mindstorm have pointed out, that we want society to "get it right" in turning out loving and responsible future citizens.

Spankers and non-spankers alike have, imho, the same tasks to accomplish with their children:

1) Teach children to respect parental (and by extension) other authority, that a parent's word is law.
2) Show them joy, interest, and heartfelt love. Be a good listener.
3) Teach them that they are not the center of the universe, and teach them right from wrong, and that there are absolutes. Teach them to trust God.
4) Spend quantity and quality time with their kids.
5) Model and praise good behavior.
6) Ensure that children understand why they are being disciplined.
7) Take the time to train children in life skills, social behaviors, and developing their own talents and interests.
8) Learn each child's learning style and temperament, and fashion discipline accordingly.
9) Understand the fundamentals of child development, and differentiate accidental mishaps from willful defiance.
10) Have fun together. Often. Consistently.
11) Don't let the kids get away with wrong behaviors, or it won't be fun.
12) Be consistent in expectations, but willing to evaluate and adjust means to achieving them. Whatever it takes to win! - and it will make them winners.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2007 at 10:19AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Very nice, Jubieej - Thanks for summarizing. I, too, am fascinated by reading this thread. I think your list is great, and only want to add one more:

13) Teach and model remorse and empathy. When children learn at an early age how to feel genuinely sorry when they hurt someone else, and how to imagine how another person feels by being able to stand in their shoes, they will have two of the most important tools they'll need for their adult lives (especially once they have their own spouses and chilren). The best way for them to learn it is to see it in ther parents toward them. Thanks again for the nice summary!

    Bookmark   February 20, 2007 at 12:26PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks halfdecaf -

You add a hugely important one! How many divorces could be avoided if both parties practiced that! My husband never misses giving an apology - even over little grievances. It is a wonderful salve.


    Bookmark   February 20, 2007 at 6:20PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Isn't it, though? My husband is similar, and it makes such a difference - and reminds me to try to do the same! We remind each other often that some of the most important things our kids will remember about our parenting isn't necessarily that we get it right every time, but how we "repair" things with them when we blow it!

    Bookmark   February 20, 2007 at 9:27PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

WOW - I'm just seeing this thread - amazing!

I have a couple of points to add; after having been spanked as a child, I was determined not to use that tool. I read everything that was available on parenting because doing it "right" is so important to me. Then my two boys changed everything I had ever thought I knew. With exactly the same parenting, they are so different!

What I found is that every child has their own "currency". Approval is my older child's currency - he's the easier one. Jane Nelsen's Positive Discipline has worked 100%. My younger son is very different. I have spanked this one. I never thought I would do that. I do it rarely, I would concede that it may be a parental temper tantrum, but I'm not quite sure. What I will say is that I use consistant good parenting techniques. If they don't work, this child needs to "get" that he has crossed a line in the sand that will not be tolerated (usually safety related, and connected to defiance). It is the very act of crossing the line that makes the statement to him how very important this is to me. So far, that has worked with this child. I have probably spanked him 5 times. I never thought I'd see the day.

One more thing - One day in Costco, my 2 year old (now 12)was having a tantrum. I was so embarassed, just mortified. I had limited options; tell him that no matter what he wasn't getting his way and then stop and wait for the tantrum to pass, leave (which for some reason wasn't an option), give in or spank. I took the first option, and stood there for 10 of the longest moments I've ever endured. I got dirty looks from so many people. Then a kind soul walked by and said "good work mom". That brings tears of gratitude to my eyes even today. Please remember that sometimes those kids that seem so "rotten" are just learning. Often the parents are doing the best they can to teach, and that teachable moment may not be pretty.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2007 at 3:33PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Bump! This is one of the most intelligent discussions I've ever read. It's particularly interesting because I was of the "occasional swat on the behind" school and DW was of the "no hitting under any circumstances" school which made for some conflict and a lot of negotiation when my daughter was little.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2008 at 4:25PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

yes, chefkev, you are right... very interesting. I was spanked as a child... lived in fear of my dad and still have just a luke warm relationship with him although I do think he is a good person and has many great qualities... our rocky past is just difficult to move beyond.

I on the other hand would never dream of spanking my kids and in all the tough moments I've had with them I can honestly say I've never once wanted or thought of doing it. I think to spank a kid is to teach them that as long as you are bigger and older than someone it is okay to use painful force on them as a way of enforcing your dominance. This is something I don't want to teach my kids because it won't be long until they are the older and bigger kids and I can't imagine imprinting their personalities that way.

Browsing quickly through the posts, I most agree with Honeyb2's post and it is the way I try to raise my kids. I will admit to losing my patience but not often. My older child is very much into pleasing and following the rules and my younger child is a little rascal who is always pushing the envelope so they have needed different sorts and amounts of disciplining, but never with force and only with a raised voice when they've done something that could kill them such as running in the street or such. When I raise my voice with them, the fear and panic I see in their eyes makes my heart stop, but I only do that under extreme circumstances and for their own safety. I am sure if I were yelling at them all the time, it would have no effect at all.

forunately my husband is a softy and would never hit either and the relationship he has forged with both kids makes me so happy. they will not live in fear of their father the way I did.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2008 at 9:35PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I think what's interesting is that this topic REALLY is not just about's about parenting. As a person who CHOSE not to have children I find that all too often parents these days seem to often forget that not everyone wants to deal with their childrens' wants or needs or spoiled fits. I find myself OFTEN saying to my husband that people simply don't parent their kids these days.

I was a pretty easy kid but I did get spankings (could count them on one hand and have fingers to spare) but as mentioned above by a wise poster, it was one tool in my mother's arsenal. Always administered when she was calm and under control. I did however NEVER receive one from my father who could simply get the desired result with "the look". Obviously, different parents use different techniques (even in the same household) for the desired effect. However, what seems to be missing these days is ANY form of discipline or control over children. Rather, they run the parents and other citizens are just expected to put up with their exceedingly poor behavior. It's shameful.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2009 at 2:44PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Need help on storing root vegetables
Can anyone help me with ideas to store my root veges...
Week 45: He'p me!
He'p me! I have no idea what to ask about this week,...
Strategies for washing dishes in a large single sink vs double sink
Hi all, We have in our plans to get a large (33 inch)...
Ikea cover panel installation question (Akurum line)
Hi all! I was ready to post this to and...
Anyone used solid surface backsplash with granite countertops?
I am considering doing full backsplash in Corian (or...
Carol Vesier
Sponsored Products
Loop Flushmount Ceiling Fixture by Leucos Lighting
$821.70 | Lumens
6'x9' Oriental Rug Burgundy Rajasthan 100 Percent Wool Hand Knotted Sh18874
1800 Get A Rug
10' Thermoplastic Coated Standard Perforated Picnic Table
GE 16 in. Slim Nickel-Finish Picture Light 15931
$27.97 | Home Depot
Domusworks Summer Stripe Decorative Pillow - DM40
$79.99 | Hayneedle
Hughes Leather Ottoman - Brighton Zinc Beige
Joybird Furniture
Super Duty 8 1/4" High Bronze Outdoor LED Spot Light
$39.98 | Lamps Plus
Magic Mail Stationary Set & Polar Bear Mug-o-Matic
$9.99 | zulily
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™