Spankers Can #Suckit

It’s been awhile since I’ve jumped into the traditional parenting wars. With my mind usually on politics and how that affects my family, and those diaper and breastfeeding days long behind me, it’s been easier to ignore the usual tiffs that pop up in the parenting blogosphere.

Until today, when I came across this new study basically saying hitting your kids can have some benefits.

I’m guessing hitting your wife can have some benefits too. Keeping her in line, and what not. Hell, I would probably vacuum more often if I thought my husband would hurt me if I didn’t. Smacking your dog around probably has some benefits too, I mean…I bet you that mutt won’t pee on the carpet again if you give him a really good whack! So why not, Jr. too?

After all , you are much bigger than your child. Much more intimidating. And your little bundle of joy no doubt trusts you more than any other person on earth. Trusts you with a love and devotion only a helpless child can. So why not purposefully inflict pain upon that sweet face? Right?

Yeah, I have some strong opinions on this.

I will admit to having whacked a child on the butt once, out of frustration and anger. And it not only served zero good but also served to make me feel like a rotten bully. I broke our trust. I’m my child’s protector, not his monster. And the example I set by intimidating with pain and violence and fear isn’t one I want emulated.

This really isn’t one of those issues where we’ll agree to disagree or anything, and that’s ok. I’m never going to believe threatening or inflicting pain on a child as a way to keep that child in line is ok, and you’ll continue to see no harm (emotionally or physically) in the occasional spank that “doesn’t leave a mark.”

So why bring up this study? Because I’m afraid it will give abusers backing to keep doing what they are doing. Because I’m afraid it will keep up that traditional idea that a good spanking is your God given right to dole out as an American parent.

And I’m afraid it will negate the piles upon piles of other studies showing just how harmful your little whacks really are to your child’s heart, mind, and body.

But never mind that, because you’ll continue to do how you do and I’ll continue to do how I do and we won’t agree. And as a respectful adult I’ll have to suck it up and say things like “I guess we just parent differently” and “well that’s just not how we do things in our house.” And you will go your way thinking I’m crazy and I’ll go mine. Such is life, right?

However, I would ask that you remember when my kid makes the right choice, stays out of trouble, or otherwise does the right thing…it won’t be out of fear…it will be out of love.


  1. I agree 100%, hitting a child (or woman/man/animal) is never okay. It is a fear tactic, an attempt for someone to have power of another, but in the end … useless. and evil.

  2. Actually, whacking your dog is a terrible way to potty train and teach them to potty outside. You may get something resembling the desired behavior but you’ve taught the absolutely wrong lesson. That’s what I learned in puppy kindergarten, where I learned everything I need to know about good parenting, too. I found our puppy kindergarten lessons summarized really well in a book called Whale Done! This great book even demonstrates how important it is to expand this into all areas, including work!

  3. Giving you a standing ovation.
    Striking children is not teaching children. It’s creating frustrated, frightened and confused children.
    I was never hit.
    My husband was never hit.
    We have never hit our two children.
    Amazingly, we are all hard-working, tax-paying, church-going members of the community. And for the record? We all got citizenship awards in elementary school.
    If more people like you would stand up and call bullshit on socialized child abuse, we’d have a lot more confident happy people and a lot fewer bullies and criminals.

  4. “socialized child abuse” …wow. great phrase.

  5. Lawyer Mama says:

    I couldn’t agree more.
    I was spanked as a child, usually out of anger, and I still remember exactly how it made me feel. Powerless, angry, resentful. Notice remorseful isn’t listed there.
    Spanking teaches all the wrong lessons. We are the adults. Our children deserve better.
    .-= Lawyer Mama´s last blog ..BlogHer Interviews Secretary Kathleen Sebelius =-.

  6. Erin, I totally agree with everything you’ve said. I know a few people who swat their kids, whereas I do not. And based on my unofficial study (which would consist of me reading your blog post, tapping my fingers on my desk while I thought about it a minute and then writing this comment) I have to say that my kids are much better behaved than kdis I know who get swatted. So there.
    Stupid reserachers can put that in their pipe and spank it.
    I’d also like to add, who pays for these studies anyway? If scientists REALLY want to help us moms out, they should use the money they waste on stupid studies and just give it to us to buy our kids new shoes, or pay for dance lessons, or the new Star Wars game, or groceries, or a vacation….
    .-= Meghan´s last blog ..The Truth About Mommy =-.

  7. Good lord, I feel like I’m picking up a time bomb by leaving a comment, but I’m doing it anyways. I’ve always been stubborn.

    I was spanked as a kid. The truth is that, despite really good parenting, I was out of control a lot (my older sister? Was an angel, it was just my disposition). I had a temper that got away from me all the time, I would frequently get so riled up about something that I wouldn’t even realize what I was doing until someone showed me later (like, um, biting my mom at Macy’s or breaking a glass in our kitchen out of anger.) My parents never spanked me out of anger, and they never spanked me on the spot. They sent me to my room, talked together over what had happened and decided if it warranted a spanking or just the time out. Often I only got the latter. When I did get the former it was with a hand and it was followed by a talk and a hug.

    I remember most of it very clearly. I know that it’s hard to understand if you’ve never experienced it, but I never felt like my parents were violent and even the idea of that is confusing to me. Even when I was young I never felt like they were wrong for spanking me or like they were breaking that trust that I had in their protection. They were punishing me when I had done something that was truly wrong.

    All that said, I’m not a parent. I have no formal stance on spanking yet because I haven’t had to make the call. I don’t buy the studies on either side of the debate because there are way too many outside factors that are not accounted for. You can’t tell me that spanking is the reason that kids succeed or fail in school, that’s pure bullshit. What about parent education? Quality of schooling? Home environment? Just no, it doesn’t work.

    In the end, no one has to agree on this, but all parents have to make that call on their own, for their family and for their kids. My family will be different than yours and yours will be different from the next person, there’s no one right answer except what works (and is most definitely NOT abuse) for each person and family.

  8. I’m curious when you think any sort of tap or smack crosses from ‘spank’ to ‘abuse’ …this is a line for me I can’t seem to find. And I think it’s where a lot of spankers and non spankers have a disconnect. The line you hear most is ‘so it doesn’t leave a mark’ but if the aim is to inflict pain, I’m not sure the mark matters much?

  9. oh…and no, I wasn’t spanked as a child. FWIW

  10. I think that’s exactly where the confusion lies. My parents did not spank with the intent of inflicting pain. I know that sounds entirely counterintuitive because they were, for all intents and purposes, hitting me, but it was not about causing pain, it was about making a point so that I wouldn’t repeat the same offense. I can’t articulate this is as well as I understand it in my head, but I know that my parents never set out to hurt us.

    I think that when you spank a child with the hope of actually hurting them, you’ve crossed the line. I don’t think it matters if you leave a mark or use just your hand, but if you’re doing it, hoping it’ll hurt, it’s not punishment, it’s abuse.

    Punishment is used to enact change, abuse is self-gratifying.

  11. Spanking is an exceptionally rare thing for us. My oldest has only been spanked once, when she tried to dart out into the street in front of an oncoming car. No doubt more out of my own fear than anything else, but also to give her a fast lesson to not do that. I think she was 2 or less at the time. I don’t know that a lecture would have had enough of an effect on her then. And only one quick, fairly gentle swat, not a major paddling. About the same for my son.

    I don’t consider it a good form of discipline on the whole. I was spanked as a kid (wooden paddle sometimes even), and I don’t think I particularly benefited from it.

    My kids can be feisty, difficult, loud, active, even disobedient at times. But they aren’t afraid of their parents. And they know they’ll get time outs or loss of privileges for most punishments. And at their ages, where words can suffice and taking something away means something, I can’t imagine resorting to even a quick swat with them again.
    .-= Stephanie – Home with the Kids´s last blog ..My Daily Work Plans for the New Year =-.

  12. I heard spanking called a “parental temper tantrum” and I wish I could give credit where it’s due because I think it’s the perfect explanation.

    We don’t spank and it’s the number one argument we have with my in-laws. They believe in spanking, not only their own, but each other’s children. My husband has told them in no uncertain terms that NO ONE will spank, hit or otherwise physically discipline our child. They have all but laughed at this decision of ours because we’re amateurs.

    While this may be true, it’s just not in our plan. Honestly, I don’t think there’s a definable line between spanking and abuse. Where does it stop? I don’t want my child to fear me. I do want me to respect me, but he’s TWO. It’s his job to try to defy me right now and he’s not going to learn the right way to behave in the time it takes me to spank him.

  13. Good post. I usually talk my kids into submission. (j/k my kids wouldn’t submit to anything!) Well said! I talk to my kids about good behavior. I ask them what they think they should do. I get a lot of negativity for the way I parent. It’s sad. If you were to meet Pat you would see how difficult he can be. He does things that can endanger him or others. I have had to hold him back to protect him from himself. I have also let him spin out. I have let him cry. I didn’t get angry at him for his feelings. I tell him he is allowed to be angry but he is not allowed to hit me. The same goes for me. I can be angry but I can’t hit him. Pat is a different child. He has some issues that cause him to spin out of control. If anyone has taught me the importance of patience it’s Pat.
    .-= Jenni´s last blog ..About God =-.

  14. My husband and I don’t spank our kids and over the years we’ve taken some crap about it from my in-laws. We’ll just put that as the number one reason on the great big list of why they’re not allowed to babysit the kids.

    I can chalk a lot of things up to parenting differences and say “You do what works for you and I do what works for me and it’s all good” but I can’t say that about spanking. It’s wrong. I don’t think hitting your child, either with the intent to cause them physical pain or humiliation, is ever ok.

    Have I ever had the impulse to spank? Yes. But the fact that I only have that impulse when I’m really angry and maybe not thinking totally clearly is a good clue to me that it’s not a choice I would be making out of love and concern and a well thought out plan. That alone is enough to make me not spank. Well, that and the fact that I kind of like my kids and don’t like the idea of deliberately causing them pain.
    .-= Jen´s last blog ..Let’s compromise and not be tacky =-.

  15. “When an adult hits an adult,we call it assault and battery.
    When a child hits a child, we call it aggression.
    When an adult hits a child we call it….discipline?”
    Giving you a standing ovation.
    If you had to do my job for one day and hear what I hear. They bring me their kids…aggressive, hurting, scared, anti-social kids and they want me to “fix” them and then they take them home and hit them. It’s infuriating. Our society knows so little about child development, and that’s my reasoning for why it happens.
    Great post…
    .-= Tina´s last blog ..morning goodbye =-.

  16. (This is going to come off mean. I REALLY don’t mean it to be. Sorry. Sore spot)

    I was beaten within inches of my life damn near every day for most of my childhood.

    All of my children have been spanked at some point in their life. And I’m fairly certain they will be, again. Maybe. If the need arises.

    I fully well know where the line from a swat to abuse is, and my children aren’t abused.

    You know I love you, Erin, but you’re dead wrong on this. Not that you don’t spank, because that’s fine, but to call me a child abuser? Yes, you’re wrong.

    You’re wrong mostly because when all of you scream “child abuse!” when my child receives their well-negotiated spanking, you are taking away the ability for the actually abused children to have any validity to their claim. Because a child like I was will finally, after a decade of torture, go to someone for help and will be told that crying CHILD ABUSE because you’re mad at your mommy isn’t cool. You know why? Because my mommy was smart enough to never left marks, and because every child services agent is up to the eyeballs with false accusations of child abuse and they can’t filter out the honest ones.

    Don’t spank, that’s fine. But making sweeping assertions about my children’s lives and my motivations isn’t helping anyone.
    .-= Mr Lady´s last blog ..On Life And Death =-.

  17. The vast majority of professionals agree that child buttock-battering isn’t healthy. A marginal few (mostly religious fundamentalists as those at Calvin) think that child bottom-slapping is good. They use the same selective literalist interpretation of the Bible as was used to justify “witch”-burning, depraved torture methods for those accused of sin and heresy, slavery, racism, wife-beating, oppression of women and a host of other social ills.

  18. Child buttock-battering vs. DISCIPLINE:

    Child buttock-battering (euphemistically labeled “spanking”,”swatting”,”switching”,”smacking”, “paddling”,or other cute-sounding names) for the purpose of gaining compliance is nothing more than an inherited bad habit.

    Its a good idea for people to take a look at what they are doing, and learn how to DISCIPLINE instead of hit.

    I think the reason why television shows like “Supernanny” and “Dr. Phil” are so popular is because that is precisely what many (not all) people are trying to do.

    There are several reasons why child bottom-slapping isn’t a good idea. Here are some good, quick reads recommended by professionals:

    Plain Talk About Spanking
    by Jordan Riak,

    The Sexual Dangers of Spanking Children
    by Tom Johnson,

    by Lesli Taylor M.D. and Adah Maurer Ph.D.

    Most compelling of all reasons to abandon this worst of all bad habits is the fact that buttock-battering can be unintentional sexual abuse for some children. There is an abundance of educational resources, testimony, documentation, etc available on the subject that can easily be found by doing a little research with the recommended reads-visit

    Just a handful of those helping to raise awareness of why child bottom-slapping isn’t a good idea:

    American Academy of Pediatrics,
    American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry,
    Center For Effective Discipline,
    Churches’ Network For Non-Violence,
    Nobel Peace Prize recipient Archbishop Desmond Tutu,
    Parenting In Jesus’ Footsteps,
    Global Initiative To End All Corporal Punishment of Children,
    United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

    In 26 countries, child corporal punishment is prohibited by law (with more in process). In fact, the US was the only UN member that did not ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

  19. Mr Lady I’ll ask you the same question I asked overflowing brain…where is the line? To not leave marks? To inflict pain? to not inflict pain? If raising a hand to inflict pain isn’t abuse…what is it?

  20. I spanked my son once. I’m pretty sure I cried harder than he did AND I have no idea now if it changed his behavior or not because I’ve tried to block the whole thing from my mind and hope he has too.

    That said, I wasn’t just spanked as a kid, I was paddled with a wooden spoon from the kitchen drawer.

    Still, I wouldn’t classify it as abuse. Harsh discipline? Yep. But it was fairly rare, and the threat of the spoon was probably more effective than anything.

    My neighbor swats his kid all the freaking time – on the mouth and on the butt and it kills me, mostly because it doesn’t change his behavior AT all and I think that if they would just stop saying don’t do this and stop doing this so freaking much it would help a hell of a lot more than a smack to the butt…but that’s another story.

    Anyway, we joke about spanking each others booties around here ALL THE TIME. I would guess that if an outsider listened in, they would be confused on our stance – lots of butt spankin’ but not SPANKING.

  21. Me, personally? Inflicting pain. That’s my line. I’ve never hurt my children spanking them. Spankings in my house are these great big orchestrated things that aren’t just, “I’m mad…whack.” When my children are spanked, they know it’s coming. They’re sent to their rooms for 5 minutes. Then I come up and we talk and then they get three swats on the butt. And then we talk more. Then end.

    The last time my kid got a spanking, he looked at me after and said, “That’s IT?”

    It’s not about causing him pain. It’s about the fact that there has to be an absolute end of the line with my children (one in particular), one ultimate punishment. (I can’t enforce a rule for one and not all three, hence all of them receiving a spanking.) It’s about the fact that I love these kids more than anything and I know what happens when a child is led by fear, but I also know what happens when I let a child like I have live his life without a consequence he can respect.

    It is a personal decision, based on personal experience, advice of respected parents and doctors. It isn’t abuse in any way.

  22. Ok help me out here… but why is there a spank if it doesn’t cause pain? Is it supposed to be a threat of pain?

    I truly do not understand.

  23. It isn’t supposed to be a threat of pain. It’s a getting of their attention, a reminder that they are not, in fact, the boss.

    You know on the dog whisperer, when he teaches dog owners to tap their dogs, not shove them? It’s a firm, assertive touch, not an injury. Same thing here.

    In my experience, these children occasionally need a ground. When they’re rowdy, I make them move a dictionary for me. When they are lying out of control or shoving each other into traffic, I spank their butts as I explained above. The force exerted is about the same and the snap back to reality is immediate.
    .-= Mr Lady´s last blog ..On Life And Death =-.

  24. Erin,

    What I like best about you and your blog is that you do not pretend to be above me or better but that you say there are mistakes you’ve made and then point them out…all of which I RELATE to. For example,

    ” will admit to having whacked a child on the butt once, out of frustration and anger. And it not only served zero good but also served to make me feel like a rotten bully. I broke our trust. I’m my child’s protector, not his monster…”

    Been there and done that and a) it doesn’t work b) I feel horrible c) I’m no better than the person that did it to me right or wrong c) what did I teach my child? d) in a world of violence do I really want to hit to reinforce a point and e) is there no other way?????

    Thanks for this post.

  25. I don’t understand. Why is it a punishment or discipline if there is no real consequence? If it doesn’t hurt, if it’s not a threat of pain, if there is no punishment but a tap- why is this the ‘ultimate’ discipline? Is it symbolic?

  26. I can’t make you understand it, because in the end, you don’t agree with it. And that’s okay. Though I will not #suckit. 🙂

    My point was not to try to sell anyone on spanking. My point was that wrapping everyone who choses to spank up in a neat little ball of evil child abusers is misguided and wrong and detrimental to children who are actually victims of child abuse.

    Just because you don’t spank, that doesn’t mean your children are wild, undisciplined, feral heathens, does is? They’re not. They are fine, happy, well-adjusted and loved children, yes?. AND SO ARE MINE. My children do nothing out of fear. They do the right thing because they chose to, because they know what the right thing is, and they know what’s expected of them in life.

    It’s the same gross generalization the other way. Saying “parents who spank do it out of anger/to inflict pain” is no better than saying, “parents who don’t spank don’t discipline.” It’s just untrue.
    .-= Mr Lady´s last blog ..On Life And Death =-.

  27. Well said. I’m not a spanker and never intend to me. I was spanked twice as a child, my husband was routinely hit with a belt. My parents used other forms of discipline such as time outs, etc and I find that it was very effective with us. My husbands parents went the hitting route and I don’t see where they benefited, or where my husband benefited. If anything it sounds like his behavior was probably worse as a result. Luckily he doesn’t believe in spanking either and we are both on the same page when it comes to discipline.

    I don’t get spanking, I don’t understand how it is in effective form of discipline. Using discipline that your child can learn from and that shows them you are the boss but that you also respect them as people seems to me to be much more effective.

    Anyway, great post. I’m glad you wrote about it.
    .-= Lisa´s last blog ..Prenatal Screenings =-.

  28. Not just speaking as a parent but as a child and family therapist I feel the need to point out something very important here.
    PUNISHMENT IS NOT DISCIPLINE. They are two VERY different things. So to “Overflowing brain who says “punishment is meant to enact change”…in fact, it is not…it is meant to punish. (We could roll this discussion right on into why the prison system set up to punish rather than reform has such a high recidivism rate…but whatever). Discipline is meant to enact change.
    Some folks have left some really good information about why not to spank and I applaud that.
    To those who say they don’t do it to inflict pain, but to “snap them back to reality”??? I am so confused. There are other ways to get the attention of children that MODELS for them what to do with their anger and frustration. There are other ways that actually TEACH them what to do.
    As I said before, I think most people who hit their kids (and yeah, I say hit because that’s what it is) haven’t picked up a book and studied child development. Sounds harsh, but that’s my experience. I have NEVER worked with a parent who hits who hasn’t realized they were doing more harm than good, because the bottom line is…it’s too f’ing easy! It’s MUCH easier to threaten and hit then to keep control of yourself, think on your feet and take charge of the situation like a calm, rational person. When a child is hit, whether it’s on their butt or across their face, they LEARN to hit. I see it EVERY day. And NOW, I personally want to thank the folks who hit their kids at my son’s pre-K…because it’s not just client anymore…now my kid is getting hit.
    And I agree Erin…I really like how candid you are. I am not the perfect parent either…we all have our moments etched in our brains. Thanks for making folks feel normal about it.
    .-= Tina´s last blog ..morning goodbye =-.

  29. My children are grown, 35 and 30. When they were growing up they received a spank, touch, whatever to draw attention to what they were doing wrong. It wasn’t used often but was used. When they were very small and being taught not to reach out for things, a touch on the hand as they reached with a no. Not a slap on the hand. We also talked to them.

    As a teacher, I have seen both sides with no “hitting” and “hitting” parents. It really didn’t seem to matter as long as the child knew what was going on and knew the parent cared. Often the “hitting” parents hit because the kid was misbehaving in order to get attention. I have seen that negative attention is something kids crave when there is no other attention offered.

    I think discipline should be exactly that. We each have to choose what the child needs in order to grow up to be a success in the world around them. What the child needs to feel loved and confident in the love of those who are supposed to be the protector. If spanking is being done and not causing a change in behavior or worse behavior, then discipline is not being done. If something results in fear, it isn’t good whatever that discipline is called.

    As Erin says, we are the chief protectors of our children. We need to protect and love them.
    .-= Lela Willey´s last blog ..Merry Christmas and Health Care for all!!! =-.

  30. Wow, you opened up a can of worms!

    As a child, I was spanked. I was sure I would do the same thing when I became a parent. Until I came to school. My degree is in child development. I will tell you this: SPANKING DOES ABSOLUTELY NO GOOD. I’ve noticed readers mentioning they talk, then spank. What is the lesson learned? If you do something wrong, we will talk about it. Then, I will spank you. I don’t get it. The reason your child changes behavior is because the talk, not the spank.

    Think about it this way, when you spank it is usually because you lost control. How often do you spank when you are happy with your kid? What is spanking teaching them?

    Plus, you teach your kids not to hit. Yet, you hit them. Isn’t that a bit hypocritical? Your kids mimic what they learn. Teaching “no violence” with violence serves to confuse your children.

    Spanking, as with yelling, is a way to achieve fast results. Does it work? No. Spanking will yield immediate compliance, but do they internalize what you are teaching? Not usually.

    For those of you who spank, sorry if this sounds mean. I do not think you are a horrible parent. I want you to think.
    .-= Ambrosia´s last blog ..Schedule, Friends, and Why I Didn’t Post Yesterday =-.

  31. Hmmm, I’m not sure it’s that I think spanked kids will be, for sure, fucked up. My husband was spanked and he turned out ok…

    It’s that there are other ways, and hitting, in my mind, shouldn’t be on the table.

  32. Tina,

    I have read many books on child development, particularly in boys, which my oldest two are. My children are not babies. I am not new at this. I’ve been a parent for 12 years. I do not “threaten” my children and the do not “hit”. Spankings are NOT the easy route. Spankings are time-sucking, horribly complex affairs that have happened maybe 5 times in the 12 years I’ve had children.

    Insinuating that I am an irrational mother who doesn’t teach her children does not make your point. My children are about the finest three children you’ll ever hope to meet; kind, loving, respectful, and the type of kids who would stand up for your child getting hit at school, because they are aware that there are things that CANNOT be done, things that are just WRONG. Why? Their fly-off-the-handle child-abusing irrational mother taught them that, that’s why.
    .-= Mr Lady´s last blog ..On Life And Death =-.

  33. Ambrosia,

    I did think. I do every day. I never thought I would spank a child, and I have never ONCE spanked a child because I’ve lost control. I DON’T lose control with my children. We work together, and they know there are actions that will warrant a spanking, and if they chose those actions, they will get a spanking. If they chose to not do their chores, they will get the discipline that comes with that. (Loss of allowance) If they choose to swear, that has a repercussion. If they choose to “forget” their homework, so does that.

    And the eighty million good things they do every second of the day have consequences, too.

    Being a survivor of horrific childhood abuse, I HAVE to make guidelines for discipline. It has to be consistent and regular, because I was not taught to do anything but rip skin off children. If me laying out clear guidelines for my children so they are aware of exactly what I expect and what will happen if they screw up makes me a monster, so be it. You can think that all you want, and I will sit here with my very happy family and not care.
    .-= Mr Lady´s last blog ..On Life And Death =-.

  34. Generally speaking, I don’t smack my kid. But there have been a few occasions when I have hit him – hard, and with intent to cause both fear and pain- and I think it was the right choice. I would do it again.

    Those occasions were when he was actively endangering his life. There is a car park on the beach we take him to, and a busy road beyond that with cars and buses passing all the time. He was about 1 and a half at the time and the Good Behaviour In The Car Park was always an issue between us.

    I walked around and showed him cars. I explained to him what would happen if one were to hit him. I talked about how dangerous it was. I showed him how people walk around etc. etc. I instructed him to hold my hand and to stay close etc.

    Most of the time he was fine with this, but I could see him becoming more and more curious and I could see him planning something because to him DANGER and DEATH were still fairly abstract concepts.

    My kid learns best through experience. And while I was willing to let him touch the outside of a mug of tea to learn ‘hot’ I had no equivalent way of doing that with DANGER and DEATH. One day he started acting up, trying to run between cars. I got hold of him, saying No No No, yadda yadda yadda. We went down to the beach. He looked at me and broke at a dead run at the car park. I ran after him and caught him. I gave him a lecture again on road safety. He looked at me, grinned like a devil, ripped himself out of my grip and then sprinted through the car park, and towards the road into the pathway of an oncoming bus.

    When I caught him you’d better believe I smacked his ass twice, hard. He burst into copious tears and I picked him up and gave him a hug and explained why his butt hurt, and that it would indeed hurt again if he ever tried a stunt like that again.

    The second time I walloped him was when he was roughly the same age and he managed to wrangle open the cupboard under the sink and extract a bottle of bleach and open it and try to drink it. (Yes, prevention better than cure, it wasn’t my house and I was only a few feet away getting him a clean nappy). Anyway. I smakced the bottle out of his hand, and he cried and I hugged him and I explained again about DANGER and DEATH and he has stayed away from chemicals since then.

    The point is that I remember both of those incidents really clearly and more importantly, so does he. Of course now that he is 2 his understanding of the world and things like DANGER has grown considerably, so there’s been no need to resort to those measures. It is enough that he trusts now that when I say something can hurt him he takes my word for it and stays away.

    I have a spirited child. He is curious and intelligent and adventurous. I love his nature and I wouldn’t change him for the world, but I did decide that until he learned to fear traffic and chemicals he could fear me.

    I think part of the reason why it was effective was that it was such a rare thing. I don’t hit him when he spills his tea, or throws stuff around, or refuses to go to sleep by himself. I don’t hit him when he tantrums and whines even though sometimes I can feel my teeth grinding with frustration and my hand itches with the desire to give him a really big slap, but I don’t do this. I walk away if I need to, but I don’t hit him out of anger because that would teach nothing except that his mother was having her own temper tantrum.

    All children are different. For some, spanking is more harmful than others. But I agree with Mr. Lady. Spanking is not automatically abuse, nor does it bad parenting make. It’s all about the context and why.

    As for abuse, I have worked with many abused children in my life and to me the line you mentioned is something that is felt. In abuse scenarios punishment is typically disproportionate to the crime and it is often random, which adds to the fear because things are unpredictable and they could go wrong at any moment. Nor does not spanking mean there is nothing wrong, because plenty of people who were never hit were plenty neglected and emotionally abused. How do you decide whether something is abuse or not? I think it starts by understanding that there is a whole cotinuum of ‘hitting’ and being curious to understand the specifics and logics of a particular situation.

    A friend of mine told me a story from her childhood about how her parents used to tie her to a tree in the garden when she was about 3 or 4. I was horrified when I heard that, but she just shrugged and said that it didn’t bother her because she had been a wild and completely impossible child. Since then she’s grown up to be a very calm and well-adjusted adult who remembers her parents as kind and very loving people.
    .-= Nina´s last blog ..the road to hell is paved with problem-solving skills =-.

  35. What’s funny is that I was cleaning up my kitchen just now and as I wiped the stove, I realized that I am twisted my own truth a little here. I was coming back to fix that and here is Nina’s comment.

    I have smacked my children to cause pain. My oldest has always been obsessed with flame, and we have a gas stove. Time after time I pulled him away from the fire, explaining hot and owie and no-no. As he grew tall enough to reach the flame, we’re talking a YEAR into this, he still reached for it.

    So one day, I swatted his hand away. I told him no, OWIE. And I will defend my decision to be the inflicter of pain in that situation to my f’ing teeth. He never reached for the flame again.

    My middle son? EXACT same car scenario as Nina described. Also, I swatted him enough that it hurt. I’d much rather him learn that chasing moving cars hurts on him bottom than chasing moving cars hurts on his broken bones.
    .-= Mr Lady´s last blog ..On Life And Death =-.

  36. Spanking does suck.

    I was never spanked but the threat was there, sitting on top of the kitchen counter. A wooden spoon bigger than me. Certainly did the trick.

    My cousins were spanked. Hard. With a belt. While I visited. After seeing that, it’s something I would never do to my kids.

    I just threaten them. I tell them Mommy will pick them up from school wearing her pajamas. Does the trick.
    .-= Amanda´s last blog ..The Worst Invention Ever. Trust Me =-.

  37. Erin – I’m with you on this. Although I see Shannon and Nina’s anecdotal points, I would rather find exceptions to the “No Spanking Ever” rule that say that it’s even close to a gray area.

    Obviously, I don’t have kids (that I know of). Still – I remember being a kid and I wouldn’t go so far as to say my parents were abusive, but there were at least a few times that child services were called because their punishment may have crossed the line. You know what – that f***ked me up. Seriously – I have trust issues like you wouldn’t believe. A little quirk of mine (one that girlfriends often abuse) involves back massages. You see, I’ll give them out a plenty. But try to touch me? NO WAY. There’s this intimate trust thing that I just can’t handle. I need to be able to see the person touching me. I’m not going to diagnose me, but I am pretty confident that this has to do with the fact that my parents hit me.

    The trust issues go deeper and not all of it has to do with a spanking here, a slap there. My parents, at the end of the day, were just shitty parents and not stewards to protect my innocence. It’s something I’ve had to struggle with. Obviously, I’m pretty awesome so it’s nothing that one can’t get over. And the experiences of childhood shape each individual in their own way (I know mad kids effed up because their lives were perfect and they had shell shock during/post college). Still, after the way I feel from my own personal experiences – I feel pretty set in this way.

    Then again – talk to me when I have kids.

    Much love
    .-= George G Smith Jr´s last blog ..America’s Tweethearts =-.

  38. Mr. Lady,

    I am so glad you responded. After writing the comment , I talked it over with my husband. I finally figured out exactly what I wanted to say. Passion does not make for great communication.

    When I was growing up, I feared my dad. Literally. I was terrified. I was terrified that he was going to do something horrible, like give bruises or throw us into walls. He never did, but still, the fear was there.

    I am sorry that I insinuated that you don’t think. An unfinished thought. Of course you do! You want what is best for your children! I disagree with your spanking philosophy, but I am sure you are a wonderful parent.

    As for me, I don’t want my children to fear me like I feared (and still fear) my dad. I want them to think about me in different terms. I hope that clears up what I meant.
    .-= Ambrosia´s last blog ..Anger =-.

  39. Hells to the yes. You hit the nail completely. There’s a huge difference in teaching a child to not do something because it’s wrong, and not to do it because mommy or daddy will hit you if you do.

  40. And, I wanted to add to Mr. Lady. I think it’sd a bit dishonest to say spanking is not abuse simply because it is not done is the typical violent, abusive way. We’re all well aware that there can be shades of gray in the same thing. A woman violently assaulted by a stranger in a dark alley and a woman mentally manipulated to sleeping with her husband without wanting to are all shades of rape. To say the latter is rape does not take away from those who were violently assaulted. There can be shades of abuse as well.

    My mother rarely laid a hand on me, yet I consider her verbal attacks abuse. Does that take away from your childhood experience? Does being told that I was stupid and worthless not matter in the light of other children being beaten nearly to death?

    There can be two things in the same category on different spectrums, and yet still remain in the same category.
    .-= Summer´s last blog ..Sally Kern Says No Divorce For You =-.

  41. Bob Beardsley says:

    This spanking issue is not such a black and white issue as some would make it out to be. If a child can learn self-discipline through time-outs and rationale discourse, then there is no need to resort to other methods.

    The schools today are filled with children — even from the youngest grades –who cannot abide to rules in the learning environment and show no respect to teachers. Ask any teacher. My daughter gets the f-bomb dropped on her every day at school.

    I am not saying that spanking is the answer. I am just saying don’t condemn those who do spank. By the way, I have raised four children. They are all good people. One is a high level FBI agent, one a successful engineer, one a Special Ed Teacher and one still in college. We did not spank first, but there was an infrequent time when spanking was used. And there was the threat of it other times.

  42. lhamilton says:

    as I wrote on Erin’s FB post, my biggest pet peeve when my kids were younger and we had to do those gawdawful playdates were parents who did NOT discipline their children.

    As far as I’m concerned a spank on the bottom in a time of extreme brattiness is not necessarily a bad thing. Prob. is people overdo it. Like you should have gotten maybe 1,2, or 3 of those in your life, and it made an impression to set you straight.

    But the playdates with the kids who are bullying others, pushing, shoving, stealing toys from other kids, hitting their parents AND THE PARENTS DO ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. That would blow my mind.

    Or the parents give them a “time out” and the kid walks out of the room and the parent does nothing. Or there’s a talking to and the kid ignores everything because s/he knows the parent is weak.

    That would drive me up the wall (seriously). I’m so happy I don’t have to do any more playdates. My kids are now teenage boys and they know they have to talk to me a certain way.

  43. Tina-

    A) You are arguing semantics with me here. Substitute the word discipline in my comment. My point remains the same.

    B) I have a degree in education and was a teacher for 3 years. I’m now in training to become a pediatric physical therapist, don’t insinuate that I don’t know what I’m talking about. The sheer volume of child development and child psychology courses and books I’ve been through might amaze you.

    C) The assumptions you make about my parents are disgusting and upsetting to me. Both of my parents are elementary educators, again, pretty well versed in child development. They NEVER threatened me with bodily harm. If you think that spanking is bodily harm, you’re doing it wrong. To insinuate that they weren’t acting rationally is also wrong. It’s fine if you don’t agree, but watch what you say, because these are my parents you’re talking about and they’re not the child-abusing monsters you want to make them out to be. They’re well educated, loving people who raised kind, well-mannered and successful girls. Do I think spanking was the reason that we succeeded? Certainly it was not the sole reason, but I know that it played a big part in my ability to check my temper and remember rules.

    I think it’s wonderful that everyone has such strong opinions on this, but you have to remember that there are people on both sides and to call names and to act as though those your disagree with are monsters will get you no where. In fact, it’ll get you worse than nowhere, because once you start name calling, you point is completely lost in a swirl of judgement.

  44. People used to think that “spanking” adult members of the community, military trainees, and prisoners was necessary. In some countries they still do. In our country, it is considered sexual assault, but only if one is 18 years of age or older.

    For one thing, buttock-battering can vibrate the pudendal nerve, which can lead to sexual arousal. There are multitudinous other physiological ways in which it can be sexually abusive, but I won’t list them all here. One can use the resources I’ve posted if they want to learn more.

  45. lhamilton says:

    My main concern is that children understand who is the parent and who is the child. In too many households these days, particularly upper-middle-class ones, the child controls the household and has a lack of respect for the parents. When I first went to predominately white private school I was shocked at how the kids talked to their mothers.

    The other extreme is inner-city poverty where when i lived in NYC I saw young, stressed-out black/brown parents screaming, swearing and hitting their kids on the subway.

    In both cases there is a lack of consistent discipline. Children should know how to be mannerful and treat their teachers with respect. Parents should act like parents and not permissive caretakers, and not like their kids are punching bags either.

  46. Well. I was spanked as a child (rarely and in extreme circumstances). I didn’t feel abused. Looking back I still don’t. My parents loved/love me and I knew it then and I know it now.

    That said, I don’t spank my child, because I don’t want to teach him that hitting is ok, and it seems to me like it’s abuse, or at least, like there’s not a very clear line between one and the other.

    So I guess I agree that spanking is not okay, but I don’t necessarily think that parents who spank occasionally are abusers?
    .-= Miss Grace´s last blog ..Diptych – Cozy =-.

  47. I wsn’t going to weigh in, but I guess I’ll just say this….. I totally agree with and support Mr. Lady and Overflowing Brain. I was raised by two incredibly supportive and loving parents who thought I hung the moon — and occasionally spanked my behind with a wooden spoon. I was never once spanked out of anger, or frustration, and it was never a first resort. In fact, I had to be pretty darn out of line to get one. I was sent to my room to sit – sometimes for quite a while – and think about my choices. And frankly, the anticipation of getting a spanking was worse than the spanking itself. But it was the firm line in the sand. The “you crossed it and you knew full-well what the consequences would be…” line. Did it sting? Yes. But I was, and am ok with that. And the biggest lesson I took from that was that when I make bad choices, life can sting me in the butt. And it taught me to be accountable.
    In our house, with 2 young boys, it’s the same. Spankings are rare, but they do happen. We go other routes first. We have a behavior chart in the kitchen. You move your guy when you break a rule… you may go to time out… you usually get a talk about your choices….. But we also spank. On occasion. And the temperment of the kid matters too. One of my boys responds extremely well to time-outs and talks. The other one? Not so much.
    In any case, we have 2 very courteous, respectful, *mostly* well-behaved boys that we are very proud of. And I’m not saying that because I’m their mom — but because numerous other people who didn’t ever have to tell me so have told me so.

    On a side note… My youngest son just came out of his bedroom and I stopped him and asked him if he could tell me why he gets spankings when he gets them and he grinned at me, jumped up and down and said “Ummm…. I get them when I am behaving really, really badly!” And I laughed and he giggled and he hugged me and went downstairs. Hmmmm….. Poor kid. Clearly Abused and Scarred for life.

    I guess I’m just disapointed with your rant Erin. Holier-than-thou-gross-overgeneralizers can #suckit.
    .-= Rachel´s last blog ..Parenting Lesson #367: How to be a hypocrite =-.

  48. lhamilton says:

    I think we all need to be very careful about bragging about how awesome our kids are going to be when they’re grown… and they’re only 2 or 3 or whatever b/c we did/did not spank.

    Trust me as a parent of a teenager, there is a lot of stuff out there that your kid will be exposed to that you have no control over. And your child/teen will be making choices that you are not aware of, and probably will never know about.

    All you can do is give them the arsenal to make the right choices. Sometimes they’ll make them just because … sometimes they’ll make the right choice b/c they know that they’ll get in trouble (you can call it fear if you want to)… however they make it is ok by me.

    Sometimes they’ll make bad choices because they don’t get into enough trouble at home. Sometimes they’ll hide information because they’re scared of getting in trouble.

    The most important thing is regardless, that the child feels that s/he is loved.

  49. This debate was obviously very interesting to me…but I just have to clarify, because I am looking over my posts. I never called anyone a monster or an abuser. I truly believe that every parent makes decisions based on what they think is best for their child…despite what I might think about that. Every parent I know who hits their kid, truly thinks that is what needs to be done. In my opinion, ANY time a child is hit, it is developmentally inappropriate. I know many educated parents who hit their kids…and I still feel the same way. As for me saying something “disgusting” or “upsetting”…I sincerely apologize. But to me, simply saying to a child “you will get a spanking for that” is in fact, a threat and spanking a child is bodily harm in my opinion so…I don’t understand how I could be “doing it wrong” because a threat is a threat of harm and it’s all the same to me. I don’t consider that a rational act. I’m not attacking anyone’s parents here and I really don’t see any comments I made insinuating that anyone was a child abusing monster. I have a passionate opinion about this issue? yes…but I could get fired up by the several messages here that my child is not disciplined AT ALL because I don’t hit him. But I’m not. And no, my child at 2 1/2 is not perfect…neither am I. I never said I was or he was. So to be clear, because I did not comment to offend or piss anyone off, believe it or not: I did not call anyone any names and my definition of a “threat” and “fear” and “harm” are just different than yours it sounds like. I have my soapbox issues just like anyone else, but I don’t want to be accused of attacking someone just because I have a different view than you.
    .-= Tina´s last blog ..morning goodbye =-.


  1. says:

    Spankers Can #Suckit…

    After all , you are much bigger than your child. Much more intimidating. And your little bundle of joy no doubt trusts you more than any other person on earth. Trusts you with a love and devotion only a helpless child can. So why not purposefully infli…

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