I recently saw a study that I found rather shocking that showed that most Americans believe in spanking children! As a person who doesn’t believe children should be spanked (even though I certainly believe some of them lack discipline–as do some of their parents), I was surprised by this result. I guess I’m the minority on this.
There were some interesting demographic trends:
- Conservatives are more likely to spank than Independents (me) or Democrats who are the least likely.
- Born-again Christians are more likely to spank than others.
- Southerners are the most likely to spank and those from the Northeast (me for example) are the least likely.
- African Americans are more likely to spank kids than other races.
Some of those demographics probably overlap a bit. For example, Southerners who are born-again Christians are probably mostly politically conservative. Many African Americans also live in the South. The Northeast leans left politically and there aren’t as many born-again Christians there.
Louis C.K. does a schtick on why we should not hit our kids:
“And stop hitting me, you’re huge. How could you hit me?! That’s crazy. You’re a giant, and I can’t defend myself.” I really think it’s crazy that we hit our kids. It really is–here’s the crazy part about it. Kids are the only people in the world that you’re allowed to hit. Do you realize that? They’re the most vulnerable, and they’re the most destroyed by being hit. But it’s totally okay to hit them. And they’re the only ones! If you hit a dog they… will put you in jail for that… You can’t hit a person unless you can prove that they were trying to kill you. But a little tiny person with a head this big who trusts you implicitly, f(orget) ’em. Who (cares)? Just… hit–let’s all hit them! People want you to hit your kid. If your kid’s making noise in public, “Hit him, hit him! Hit him! Grrr, hit him!” We’re proud of it! “I hit my kids. You’re… right I hit my kids.” Why did you hit them? “‘Cause they were doing a thing I didn’t like at the moment. And so I hit them, and guess what? They didn’t do it after that.” Well, that wouldn’t be taking the… easy way out would it?“
On a daddy blog, the author does a series on spanking. He begins the series from a pro-spanking standpoint, but ends up as a dad deciding that he will not spank. His thought process is illuminating.
“Time out? Yeah right. Like that does any good,” I would think to myself.
I believed that “non-spanking” was part of a liberal media agenda which led to uncontrollable children and even, overall, a higher crime rate for the adults who were not spanked as kids.
Then I changed my mindset. I stopped looking at opposing groups of people as “wrong” or “right,” based on their opinions. I stopped feeding into the polarization of America, based on our divided cultural leanings and preferences.
(Even to the point I now think Republicans and Democrats are equal. I realize it’s heresy to both sides to say that, though.)
But it’s true that I use to totally stereotype parents who didn’t spank their children.
I assumed that if a parent didn’t spank their child, they definitely didn’t effectively discipline them. Or it meant, in theory, they didn’t really discipline them at all.
Something that always kept me close-minded to the concept of discipline without spanking is a Bible verse (Proverbs 13:24) that I had always interpreted in a preconceived way:
“Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.”
I always took that to mean “the rod” (or the paddle, etc.) exclusively equalled discipline. In other words, I thought it would be impossible to properly discipline a child without ultimately resorting to spanking. But now, I read that verse differently:
My interpretation is, “It’s better to spank your child in an effort to discipline them, than to not discipline your child at all. But the main thing is, that you do discipline your child- not necessarily how you discipline them.”
Therefore, I totally don’t care how other parents discipline their children. I used to, but I’m way over that.
What I do care about is how I discipline you. And for Mommy and I, that means not resorting to spanking. For us, that’s what we feel is right for our family.
I had not previously associated spanking with the political right or non-spanking with liberalism. I tended to think that spanking was a generational question. Spanking was the norm in the 50s and 60s and probably even the 70s, but it grew out of favor and was replaced with “time outs” at least by the 90s. I simply assumed this was because it was seen as ineffective. My parents talked about spanking their children (my older siblings) back in the 1950s and 1960s, but I was not spanked. Of course, I was a model child. *cough, cough* Plus, they were probably worn down by then.
A few months back, a friend was telling me about an incident in which her father-in-law roughly handled her nephew, spanking him, yelling, and pulling on his arm. That was a recent incident that I would consider child abuse, although if I heard of it happening 60 years ago I would not find that surprising. If a relative handled my children that way, I would no longer have let that relative near my children.
My own views on spanking:
- It sends the wrong message. You can’t teach a child hitting is wrong when you are hitting them.
- It’s a fine line between “disciplining” the child and a parent venting his or her feelings of anger. Hitting a child in anger feels like assault.
- Hitting someone else’s child is completely unacceptable. Hitting your own is ill-advised.
I’d like to hear what you, our readers think of spanking.
<noscript> <a href="http://polldaddy.com/poll/9652133/">How do you feel about spanking?</a><br/> <span style="font:9px;">(<a href="http://www.polldaddy.com">polls</a>)</span> </noscript>
- Were you spanked as a child?
- Did you spank your children? Did you allow others to spank your children?
- Do you think spanking helps or hurts discipline?
- Do most of your fellow ward members believe in spanking or not? How do you know?
- Do you see this as a political divide, generational, educational, cultural, familial or some other divide between spankers and non-spankers?