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Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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458 Responses

  1. chava
    chava June 30, 2011 at 11:34 am |

    I think there is some new research on the effects of “time out” as well (re: sitting on the stairs). Isolation isn’t a null effect either.

  2. JPlum
    JPlum June 30, 2011 at 11:42 am |

    I was spanked-on my bare bottom, by my dad, until I was maybe 9 or ten? My mum once threw me to the floor and started kicking me because I came home from the pool, crying, because my older sister had been mean to me. My mother’s concern was that my sister would she was going to get into trouble when she got home. And into my teens-until I moved out at 16-my mother would leave nail marks and occasional bruises on my arms from grabbing me. My dad threw me into a wall one time because I didn’t want to go out for dinner with the family, and I didn’t move quick enough when my mother told me to go go change into some decent clothes (my jeans had designs on them that I’d painted).

    But it wasn’t abuse, right? Every family has one child who gets singled out as the rebel who serves as the scapegoat for anything that goes wrong, or anything that the parents are upset about. And I’m perfectly fine!

    Well, except for the depression, anxiety, eating disorders, self-esteem issues, fear of loud noises. But that’s all normal, and couldn’t possibly be related!

  3. Amanda
    Amanda June 30, 2011 at 11:42 am |

    I was spanked as a kid, but not beaten, and I do have depression issues, but looking at the maternal line of my family I’m pretty sure it’s genetic even if undiagnosed in older relatives. It worked well on me when I was too young to understand– or to care about– reason and rationalization. I mean, you can tell a kid to go to time out, but if the kid (me) tries to run away as soon as your back is turned, what are you going to do? Our rooms didn’t have locks so it’s not like my parents could force me into isolation if I was going to be a terror (which I was!) and not stay put.

    To the book example here–smacking the hand away? Probably something I’m ok with! Smacking the face or body? Less ok. If it stings for a couple of seconds, but doesn’t really hurt, it doesn’t seem like a problem, UNLESS it’s to the face, because seeing it come in to the face seems like it would just be terrifying.

  4. MisukoB
    MisukoB June 30, 2011 at 11:48 am |

    The saying on this subject often seem to be: But I was spanked as a child and i turned out well.

    Yeah? Well I was never spanked as a child and I turned out well. The same with most of my friends.
    My parents was both spanked from time to time when they grew up, especially my dad. And they both promised themselves that they would never spank their children.

    So for me it is obvious that spanking is not needed at all. And I say this to those who often seems to think it is.

  5. Will
    Will June 30, 2011 at 11:50 am |

    Oh man, you think that little page-turning example is bad? With a cousin as a social worker and living in various poor neighborhoods in Louisiana, New York City, and Los Angeles, I’ve seen and heard child abuse that boggles the mind. I think many of us underestimate how widespread it is. Kids literally thrown about for no reason at all, dragged around in the public, and there are more cases than social workers can keep up with.

  6. Esti
    Esti June 30, 2011 at 11:57 am |

    Has anyone seen a study on the effects of spanking that controls for abusive behavior from parents? Like Jill, I was very occasionally gently spanked as a child, and it never bothered me. Studies seem to confirm that occasional spanking doesn’t have negative effects. I wonder, when looking at studies that link regular spanking to negative effects in children, whether it is the frequency of spanking that causes harm or if parents who spank regularly (even gently) are more likely to also engage in verbal or physical abuse.

  7. Emolee
    Emolee June 30, 2011 at 12:00 pm |

    In my opinion, parents do not have the right to hit their children for any reason. (Swatting a hand away in a moment of actual danger could be an exception- the point there would not be to hit them or punish them but to save them from something worse.) In my opinion, whether or not spanking has long term negative effects on people, should not be the litmus test here (although it is an interesting question). I believe that children deserve a certain amount of bodily autonomy (even though it is not complete) and that includes the right to not be hit by the bigger, stronger people on whom they depend. Even if it doesn’t lead to depression, etc., what about what it does to them right then, in that moment? Children are people, too.

  8. Andie
    Andie June 30, 2011 at 12:04 pm |

    I’m one of those “My parents spanked me and I turned out fine” types, and mind you in my family spanking meant a swift swat on the arse and nothing else. I think the last time it happened was when I about about 6. As I got older, other methods of discipline became more effective (such as lost privileges, grounding etc) so spanking wasn’t a necessity anymore.

    I’ve spanked my own kids, but I’ve tried to be very choosy and make sure I’m not doing it out of anger, and to make sure they know why they were getting spanked. I don’t like the idea of just hitting out at a kid without warning. Like with my parents case, over the years the need to spank has dwindled to nothing (not in the last 4-5 years), because my kids have become more able to understand actions and consequences.

    I can understand why many people are so “No, not ever” about it, because for many people there are gray areas as to what constitutes abuse.

    Predicting thread turns to shitstorm in 3… 2….. 1…..

  9. Jadey
    Jadey June 30, 2011 at 12:05 pm |

    While I’m not a huge fan of spanking, I really think it’s not so much the “to spank or not to spank” as the whole parenting package. Parents who punish more out of a desire to hurt than to teach or who discipline inconsistently and with confusing boundaries (both of which have been linked to negative outcomes in research, if my memory serves) are going to run into trouble no matter the tactics they use. It may be that spanking is more likely to be used by a frustrated parent who feels they have no other options, who is maybe more likely to be a parent struggling with effective discipline practices overall (’cause, hey, it’s not like there actually is genetic memory for this kind of thing – parenting is frickin’ hard), hence the negative outcomes. But the worst parent-child interactions I’ve witnessed have generally involved emotional withdrawal or manipulation (whether out of maliciousness or ignorance, it was hard to say), and as far as I know, abusive parents use every weapon in their reach, not just physical assault. The physical stuff seems to be easier to measure, though.

    When I was in charge of disciplining kids (not my own), I went with loss of privileges (linked with the actual unacceptable behaviour) and timeouts (not alone – I would sit with the kid and chat with them, but they couldn’t play or interact with the other kids for as many minutes as they were old). I have no idea if that was long-term effective (I wasn’t raising the kids – just supervising them through the day), but it was something I could live with and it seemed to keep a handle on their behaviour within the relatively short time frame I was responsible for them.

  10. chava
    chava June 30, 2011 at 12:10 pm |

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/15/health/15mind.html

    “The child psychologist Bruno Bettelheim, who readily acknowledged that the version of negative conditional parenting known as time-out can cause “deep feelings of anxiety,”

    Anyway, I think time-out can be like spanking; either relatively benign/helpful– or really, really not, depending on the situation. (Negative reinforcement tends to work less well than positive across the board, anyway). But it–along with yelling, withdrawal of affection, etc–seems to have started replacing spanking in the “how to properly parent” manual.

    I would have rather been spanked by a parent who wasn’t angry, with a clear understanding of when the punishment was over, than endure the psychological torment that was my mother’s idea of “discipline.” Point being, I don’t think that spanking is the end-all be-all example of Bad Ways to Disicpline Children. I think its a convenient example/gets used that way because it’s common, it lets people make the clear line of physical/not physical, and it’s a single disciplinary behavior, rather than addressing the wide spectrum of potential harmful “disciplinary” behaviors dished out by parents.

    Jill: Is it really “isolation” to sit on the stairs in the middle of your living room for two minutes? The punishment was that I missed out on two minutes of playing with my sister and our My Little Ponies, which were 6 feet away.

  11. Florence
    Florence June 30, 2011 at 12:12 pm |

    What defines “spanking” in this study — and how are we defining “spanking” in our discussion?

    I’m not looking to excuse or exclude certain behaviors from criticism, but it already looks like we’re talking about spanking/hitting/abuse on a pretty wide spectrum.

  12. chava
    chava June 30, 2011 at 12:13 pm |

    And I suppose I should let the record state that I was also hit/smacked around by an angry parent a handful of times in my childhood, which was Not Ok, either. I’ve never been spanked.

  13. molly
    molly June 30, 2011 at 12:14 pm |

    Esti:
    Has anyone seen a study on the effects of spanking that controls for abusive behavior from parents?Like Jill, I was very occasionally gently spanked as a child, and it never bothered me.Studies seem to confirm that occasional spanking doesn’t have negative effects.I wonder, when looking at studies that link regular spanking to negative effects in children, whether it is the frequency of spanking that causes harm or if parents who spank regularly (even gently) are more likely to also engage in verbal or physical abuse.

    I agree. I would say “I was spanked and I turned out fine,” but that isn’t 100% true. My father spanked me. I believe, although it would impossible to say definitively, that being spanked by my father did no serious damage to me. But it was part of a larger climate of violence, intimidation and dysfunction in our family. My father spanked me when I deserved it (and, as a latchkey kid with a serious sense of mischief, I deserved it a lot), but my mother slapped, kicked, punched, and threw things when she was tired, cranky, irritated, impatient, or just felt like it.
    It’s impossible to separate out the two and I imagine my situation was not unique.

  14. Ashley
    Ashley June 30, 2011 at 12:14 pm |

    I was spanked on the bottom by hands and if I remember correctly, sometimes smacked on the hand (but not too hard) and nowhere else, which I see nothing wrong with. Now I have heard some people claim that there are better ways of teaching kids than spanking whatsoever, but since I’m not a parent, I’m not too sure of the effectiveness of that theory.

  15. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie June 30, 2011 at 12:15 pm |

    Spanking or hitting a kid teaches the kid that if you’re big enough, you can hit someone with impunity. It’s absolutely unnecessary. My kids are well adjusted, balanced, amazing human beings and neither of them has ever been hit. They are courteous and well-mannered, too.

    One problem with spanking, swatting, or smacking is that too often, that turns into hitting, slapping, and beating.

    Just don’t hit. Would you hit another adult with whom you were angry? If so, you have a problem. Same goes for kids. There is no reason to treat them as sub-human just because they’re smaller.

  16. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. June 30, 2011 at 12:19 pm |

    Why is it with children that we concentrate of the effects?

    If I smack my neighbor out of frustration that would be assault, a wrongful act. When examining whether I did something wrong we aren’t concerned with whether “it hurt”. How much it hurt may go to the severity of my punishment, but that there were no long term effects does not negate the fact that I did something wrong.

    Frankly, I find this analysis infuriating. Every.single.time I talk about what happened when I was a kid with my parents, their response is “it must of been okay, since you turned out alright”. Way to avoid the point there.

  17. glitterary
    glitterary June 30, 2011 at 12:21 pm |

    I think physical punishment should be kept to a minimum, but in some cases I think it’s the best response. If a parent has told their child not to run into the road, and they continue to do/try it anyway, a quick smack and a stern “And if you run into the road again a car will hit you and it’ll be worse than that!” seems the best way to connect a dangerous activity to an unpleasant experience when kids are so inexperienced and sheltered.

    I was occasionally smacked as a child and yeah, I was scared of it, and it was a very good deterrent even though I’m sure I was never smacked more than once every couple of years. Frankly, my brother and I were constantly at each other’s throats and hurt each other far worse than any physical reprimand we got from our parents to make us stop. (Because both of us were constantly provoking each other, sending us to our respective rooms wouldn’t have worked; I was happy to sit and read, so not really a punishment for me, while it drove my far more active brother up the wall.)

    But, what I consider acceptable might be seen as shocking by someone else, and some other people experienced more physical punishment than I ever did and are completely unfazed by it. Depends on the parent, depends on the child, and it’s difficult to define what “reasonable force” is when there’s such a huge variety in the way smacking can be used. It’s a tricky one; I see how it’s almost impossible to define how far is too far other than by banning smacking altogether, but I still think that’s an overreaction.

  18. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie June 30, 2011 at 12:21 pm |

    Physical abuse of a child, or infringement on her physical and bodily autonomy through force (if you prefer), is not made better by the bigger, more powerful person explaining why the child deserves to be spanked; i.e., why the bigger, more powerful person has a right to do it.

    I’m with Emolee on this. I’m hard-line, no exceptions.

    And no, “time out” is not abusive. It is an excellent lesson in how to remove oneself from a difficult situation, take a deep breath and calm down, etc. If our kids were acting out inappropriately, we tried to be calm and remove them from the situation, with hugs and words of reassurance.

    And YES, of course we have screwed up and yelled and lost our tempers and regretted it and apologized and not been perfect and done things wrong and felt shitty about it.

    But we’ve never hit them. Never would.

  19. matlun
    matlun June 30, 2011 at 12:32 pm |

    tinfoil hattie: Physical abuse of a child, or infringement on her physical and bodily autonomy through force (if you prefer), is not made better [...]
    I’m with Emolee on this. I’m hard-line, no exceptions.

    Really?
    Aren’t all parents infringing on the bodily autonomy of their children? If I carry a screaming and wildly protesting toddler out of our local convenience store I am doing just that.

  20. matlun
    matlun June 30, 2011 at 12:40 pm |

    @Jill: Even though my basic view is “do not spank your kids ever,” I can understand the impulse, when you’re exhausted and your kid is being a terror, to hit.

    I think this is problematic. This would be an example where the parent loses their temper and hits out of anger.

    I do not think spanking as punishment is a good idea, because of the risk of how it can be perceived by the child. If it is harsh enough you will be fostering an atmosphere of fear which is seriously unhealthy for everyone involved (but mostly for the child).

    But hitting your child out of anger or out of a genuine wish to hurt the child is in my eyes much, much worse.

  21. Julie
    Julie June 30, 2011 at 12:45 pm |

    I’m hard line on this one too… not ok, not ever. I was spanked excessively as a child and it screwed me up in ways I cannot fully describe. My house will not be the battlefield that I grew up in and I don’t see how it’s ok to ever hit my children. I’m not saying there have never been times that I was tempted, but I am the adult and it’s my job to keep my temper under control. I don’t spank my kids and they are 7 and 5 (well and a newborn, but I think you are a jerk if you so much as think about spanking a newborn). They are well behaved for the most part, my son is a bit headstrong and stubborn, but he knows he loses privileges if he doesn’t listen.

  22. Shannon Drury
    Shannon Drury June 30, 2011 at 12:47 pm |

    Jill, would it be possible to ask everyone replying to this thread to identify if they are parents or not? As a parent myself, I think it’s germane to the discussion.

  23. Julie
    Julie June 30, 2011 at 12:49 pm |

    I agree 100% with what tinfoil hattie said here: “Just don’t hit. Would you hit another adult with whom you were angry? If so, you have a problem. Same goes for kids. There is no reason to treat them as sub-human just because they’re smaller.”

  24. little sister
    little sister June 30, 2011 at 12:58 pm |

    I was spanked as a child, by my father (most likely on demand of my mother) several times when a child. He usually spanked my brother first and then me, locked in a bathroom, over his knee, on bare buttocks. It wasn’t so much about the pain (which was quite mild) but the humiliation. I can still remember how lonely, powerless and ashamed I felt, full of pent up rage – not exactly a state of mind that would encourage learning. Otherwise on paper, my parents were perfect parents.

    I used to say that “I was spanked and I turned out fine” until I started to realize that no, I didn’t. I don’t know how much of it is because of the spaking, and how much beause of the way of parenting that leaned heavily on humiliation, demonstrations of unquestionble authority, mockery, belittling and denial of respect. As a form of psychological violence, the baring of buttocks and spanking them was just perfectly in line with everything else.

    If I ever have children, I will _never_ do that. And I will show zero support for parents doing that to their children, no matter how reasonable they might otherwise be.

  25. Farron
    Farron June 30, 2011 at 1:03 pm |

    Shannon Drury: Jill, would it be possible to ask everyone replying to this thread to identify if they are parents or not? As a parent myself, I think it’s germane to the discussion.

    I don’t think this request is appropriate. Someone’s statement should be judged on its own terms, and it’s offensive to imply that only parents have experience relevant to the issue of child discipline.

  26. Amanda
    Amanda June 30, 2011 at 1:10 pm |

    tinfoil hattie:
    Physical abuse of a child, or infringement on her physical and bodily autonomy through force (if you prefer), is not made better by the bigger, more powerful person explaining why the child deserves to be spanked; i.e., why the bigger, more powerful person has a right to do it.

    I’m with Emolee on this.I’m hard-line, no exceptions.

    And no, “time out” is not abusive.It is an excellent lesson in how to remove oneself from a difficult situation, take a deep breath and calm down, etc.If our kids were acting out inappropriately, we tried to be calm and remove them from the situation, with hugs and words of reassurance.

    And YES, of course we have screwed up and yelled and lost our tempers and regretted it and apologized and not been perfect and done things wrong and felt shitty about it.

    But we’ve never hit them.Never would.

    Very interesting. I would think yelling and losing temper would be more harmful than a calm spanking administered as a deterrent.

  27. Amanda
    Amanda June 30, 2011 at 1:12 pm |

    Julie:
    I agree 100% with what tinfoil hattie said here: “Just don’t hit. Would you hit another adult with whom you were angry? If so, you have a problem. Same goes for kids. There is no reason to treat them as sub-human just because they’re smaller.”

    Spanking isn’t treating them as subhuman though, it often has nothing to do with anger, and other adults aren’t kids who are your responsibility, without developed reasoning abilities who you are trying to teach proper manners to.

  28. Jenn
    Jenn June 30, 2011 at 1:16 pm |

    I think the woman in the example, hand swatting while reading, probably wouldn’t self-define that as spanking. Using my own parents as an example, she probably considers anything less than a few (or more) seats on the butt as less than spanking and therefore, not harmful at all. My parents, particularly my father, thought they were “spanking” but they weren’t, they were beating an it was WAY too easy to slip into that mode. A “spanking” from my father usually entailed 12-20, HARD, raps on the butt (but as he got tired, they regularly ended up striking the upper thighs or small of the back), with a wooden paddle (eventually broke on me), leather belt, leather cowboy belt with metal decorations on both edges of the belt as well as in the center of the belt, and sticks and switches if we were outdoors. He didn’t favor his bare hand too much because it would sting and he’d have to stop sooner. We were most often “spanked” for lying, back talking, and “disrespect” which meant contradicting my father’s opinion on any given subject. If he said the sky is brown with purple stripes and you said anything differently, you were “spanked.”. Often simple complaints or disagreements quickly turned into him yelling, “why are you disrespecting me?!” while he pulled off his belt. After these “spankings,” he would tell you, “stop that blubbering or I’ll give you something to cry about” and you immediately had to try to swallow your sobs while he then tried to pit his arm around you (and if you shied away from his arm, you got it again) while he told you that “spanking” you had hurt him more than it hurt you and that he was in charge of making sure you turned out well and that’s why he “disciplined” you. One day, my brother and I were sharing crackers in the car when my brother started choking. He was 4 and my Dad got scared, pulled the car over, and after performing the heimlich, proceeded to “spank” him. He “spanked” out of anger, fear, rage, disappointment, and any questioning of his authority in any area.
    I know nothing else when people talk about spanking. I’ve never seen parents near me who only swat once or twice and not that hard. I honestly don’t believe you can do it, particularly in a moment when you’re angry, frustrated, or exhausted.
    I absolutely will NOT spank my children, I don’t care what any study says. The chain of pain, physical and emotional, ends with me.
    I won’t agree that parents need to be told that they and or shouldn’t spank but any parent who directly asks me, I’ll tell them why our family has made the decision we’ve made. In the end, it’s up to you.

  29. Ellie
    Ellie June 30, 2011 at 1:16 pm |

    I am not a parent, but have extensive experience working with children. I worked in a day care where we had a policy against punishing children. If a child was behaving badly, depending on their age, we might do different things. Very small children were moved to a different area with no other attention given to the behavior, to discourage them being bad for attention. Bigger children were talked to about why their behavior was not okay. Sometimes behavior was reported to parents, who were free to handle it on their own terms.

    When I first started there, I was like, no way, this is nuts and is going to be super stressful. No time-outs? No lost privileges? But it actually went really well, and it felt like it was a pretty positive environment for the kids.

    While I am not a parent and may not have the same understanding as others here, I don’t like the idea of teaching my imaginary children that bigger, more powerful people can cause them even minor physical pain. It feels an awful lot like bullying to me. (I guess that depends on what we’re talking about when we say “spanking”; I know there are different definitions.) Is bullying okay if it’s for the “right” reasons?

  30. Allison
    Allison June 30, 2011 at 1:24 pm |

    JPlum:
    Every family has one child who gets singled out as the rebel who serves as the scapegoat for anything that goes wrong, or anything that the parents are upset about. And I’m perfectly fine!

    Well, except for the depression, anxiety, eating disorders, self-esteem issues, fear of loud noises. But that’s all normal, and couldn’t possibly be related!

    I’d say we grew up in the same family but there can only be one scapegoat. We are like the Highlander.

  31. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable June 30, 2011 at 1:27 pm |

    Amanda: Spanking isn’t treating them as subhuman though

    This is a matter of perspective. I think it is treating them as subhuman, and frankly, I resent the idea that my parents felt they had to do something they knew would terrify or shame me into behaving rather than talking about my behavior with me. (If I have memory of it, I probably had the mental capacity to talk about stupid shit I might have done). No seriously – to all parents who use spanking – why do you think it’s effective? Or why was it effective for you? It was effective for me because it made me scared. Using fear against a person to get them to comply with your wishes? That, imo, is treating them as subhuman. I’m open to the idea that it works because of something else in other situations – but for me, it was fear and shame. Nothing else.

    Also, to get back to something tinfoil hattie was saying, it modeled to me that hitting is okay if the transgression is bad enough. To this day, I get strong urges to smack the shit out of stupid people, and I assume it’s because I never had better behavior modeled for me.

  32. Laurie
    Laurie June 30, 2011 at 1:28 pm |

    Amanda, I have to disagree that a “calm spanking administered as a deterrent” is less harmful than having a parent yell and lose their temper. At least my experience was the opposite. My mother occasionally yelled and lost her temper but even as a young child, I could appreciate that she was just stressed out and having a rough time, and I trusted her to never ever hit or harm me in any way. My father delivered the “calm spankings” and let me tell you, that there is very little more shame-inducing and terrifying than ritualistic humiliation and violent beating delivered calmly by a primary caretaker. I have the therapy bills to prove it.

    Yes, I’m among the hard-liners (and no, I don’t think my childless status is germane to the discussion). I suppose you can try to draw a line between the occasional swat and a real spanking (which in my experience, involves the being partially undressed by force, held down in a position of helplessness, and smacked repeatedly for a period of minutes on a part of the body that is normally considered very private) but under U.S. law, both are considered equally legitimate parenting techniques. I can’t fathom how the latter can be anything but harmful to a child and to the parent-child relationship. As to the former — it is debatable whether it is more benign and it certainly makes it difficult-to-impossible to protect children from the latter. How is the law supposed to effectively draw a line between “good spanking” and “bad spanking?”

  33. Amanda
    Amanda June 30, 2011 at 1:34 pm |

    PrettyAmiable: This is a matter of perspective. I think it is treating them as subhuman, and frankly, I resent the idea that my parents felt they had to do something they knew would terrify or shame me into behaving rather than talking about my behavior with me. (If I have memory of it, I probably had the mental capacity to talk about stupid shit I might have done). No seriously – to all parents who use spanking – why do you think it’s effective? Or why was it effective for you?

    I’m not a parent, but as I mentioned upthread, I was spanked as a child, and it was effective. I didn’t fear it, it didn’t shame me, but I didn’t like it. It was effective because it was unpleasant, and couldn’t be ignored. Tell me to stand in the corner? I’ll run off to play as soon as you turn your back. Take away my toys? I’ve got one hidden somewhere, and I’ll just hide and play with it. Give me a lecture about why I was doing something wrong? Whatever, so what. I didn’t care if i was being annoying. I was a self-centered, selfish little brat in a way my older brother never was, and while he listened to everything my parents said like a little angel, I really didn’t care.

    Once I got old enough that reasoning worked on me, they stopped spanking. But i’m guessing it took me a little longer to care about reasoning than it did some others.

  34. Ann
    Ann June 30, 2011 at 1:36 pm |

    My dad hit me several times when I was a kid as a punishment. The trouble was, he was out of control, and did it out of anger. As a result, if I ever have kids I don’t want to ever hit them. I’m over it – I have forgiven my dad. But I haven’t forgotten how it felt to be hurt by him, either. I don’t want my future kids to ever have memories like that of me.

  35. Amanda
    Amanda June 30, 2011 at 1:41 pm |

    I’m not talking about

    Laurie:
    ritualistic humiliation and violent beating delivered calmly by a primary caretaker.

    It seems like you’re conflating spanking with actual violence. A few swats that sting but don’t leave any lasting pain, to a clothed body, is what I experienced as spanking. If it was violent, I’d think you’re discussing beating, rather than spanking.

  36. Brian
    Brian June 30, 2011 at 1:43 pm |

    other adults aren’t kids who are your responsibility

    The point being repeatedly looked over. Parents have to be responsible for their children, and while the “just well behaved” kids might never need spankings, children who refuse to engage in time outs, who aren’t dissuaded by revocation of privileges, etc., need to be considered as well.

    No, I’m not a parent, and yes, I did get spanked (mostly for setting things on fire, if I recall correctly).

  37. shfree
    shfree June 30, 2011 at 1:43 pm |

    I was never hit (and I include spanking in that because spanking is hitting a child) as a child, and I never hit my daughter and she is nearly thirteen now. I keep a hardline because I do not want her to associate ANY level of violence with love.

    Currently she does engage in playful hitting of her friends at school, and it does seep over into the house, and I try to discourage it at home. But really, there is little I can do with that at this point, as she does get to defend herself from her peers when they playfully hit her.

  38. William
    William June 30, 2011 at 1:46 pm |

    I think most forms of spanking aren’t likely to do a lot of long-term damage and I would suspect that the studies which have found damage have been poor at controlling for the kinds of actual abuse which often get excused under the general umbrella of spanking.

    My issue with spanking, ultimately, is that it doesn’t work well. Discipline is about teaching the subject something, its a form of coercion designed to create an effect. Spanking is discipline through pain, but the main thing it is likely to teach is how to avoid pain. For some kids thats going to be submissive, obedient behavior. For others its going to be more sophisticated methods of deceit. For some it might be oppositional behavior. Theres an incredible range of messages which might be learned, especially given the nonverbal context of the discipline and the family environment, and because spanking isn’t clearly linked to a behavior its unlikely to create predictable problem solving skills. Spanking is preferred because its clearly obnoxious and because it allows the authority figure to feel in control and vent their rage.

    Still, theres a reason the military and the courts don’t focus on corporal punishment anymore and it isn’t because they’re more enlightened than they were a few centuries ago. Discipline like spanking is very good at preventing behaviors when consequences are likely, but long-term behavioral control requires internal mechanisms of coercion. Spanking just isn’t very good at instilling the guilt and shame which underlies discipline.

    I’ve got a lot of patients who were severely physically abused as children. They tend to be scared, they have a lot of trauma symptoms, some of them are reactionally aggressive. What they don’t tend to do, though, is beat themselves up. Patients who were verbally and emotionally abused though? Thats where you find the folks who believe that its their fault they were raped, who have trouble sleeping because a little voice in the back of their heads won’t stop telling them how useless they are, who are terrified at the idea of going to the grocery store because they can’t handle the rejection and humiliation of tripping over an unknown rule and getting a dirty look from a cashier.

    The ugly part of discussions like this is that discipline, as a concept, is about hurting people to make them do what you want. Whether you’re using hands or words theres a chance you’ll fuck up somewhere along the way. Its a difficult balancing act because sometimes you have to hurt or scare someone out of doing something really dangerous (running into the street) especially when they’re not cognitively mature enough to understand why that bus doing 40 in a school zone is dangerous. I think that the dangerous thing about disciplining children isn’t necessarily the method but how well you think through what you’re doing to another human and why. We’re learning creatures, what are we teaching?

  39. Laurie
    Laurie June 30, 2011 at 1:54 pm |

    Amanda,

    I don’t think I’m “conflating spanking with actual violence.” What I described — having your pants pulled down, put over a parent’s knee, and smacked repeatedly on the buttocks — IS a standard spanking in our culture.

    I realize it’s not the same thing as the occasional swat in passing over clothing and I addressed that in my comment. But a swat is still hitting someone. If that isn’t “violence,” what exactly do you consider violence to be?

    What I am getting at is that when we are in a situation where we are trying to distinguish “good spanking” from “bad spankings,” we aren’t doing much to protect children. Every parent thinks that what THEY are doing is benign and completely different from the “bad” or “abusive” spankings other parents might give. But the fact is that what I described is completely and absolutely within the realm of what is considered normal, legal, and acceptable parenting in most of the U.S. (and certainly in the 1970s U.S. when I was growing up).

  40. Jennifer
    Jennifer June 30, 2011 at 1:54 pm |

    I think the real question is the best way to raise the children that exist now and how everyone can support parents in doing that. There’s also some sociological interest in what people are doing, so I thought the TIME article was interesting.

    I agree with tinfoil hattie in theory, and always have, but have not always managed to live up to that standard myself. So I can read the comments here and feel like I’m a horrible person who should give my kids up and be locked away because I’m obviously a menace to society, but that’s not a practical solution and doesn’t give me the tools I need to be a better parent. We already have a lot of kids taken away from their parents who no one else wants, and yet most discussions just focus on heaping judgment on those of us who are imperfect (which is probably 99.9-100% of us).

    On the Justin scenario, I think you probably had to be there to judge the context. Some people are very physical in their communication and the slap–if it was a light one to his hand–may not have hurt him physically or mentally. There’s probably no way it fits in a “good behavior” column, but it’s an open question how harmful it was.

    Regarding some of the assault comments, I’ve had my hand slapped as an adult reaching for something, and I hit someone’s hand or arm out of the way when she was trying to touch my pregnant belly, and I didn’t regard these things as a big deal.

    I was glad to see that the TIME story ended with a mention of an alternative method to use when things seem to spiral out of control. It seems like most articles on parenting are 95+% about why you shouldn’t do X (yelling, hitting, etc.) and 5% or less about what you should do instead. Maybe if these percentages were reversed, people would do less of these things. It’s a little ironic, because the overall gist of childrearing research seems to be that you need to be a good example and use positive reinforcement, but advice to parents is usually all negative reinforcement about how awful we all are–and then we feel ashamed and horrible, and, surprise surprise, our childrearing behavior doesn’t improve.

  41. William
    William June 30, 2011 at 1:56 pm |

    It seems like you’re conflating spanking with actual violence. A few swats that sting but don’t leave any lasting pain, to a clothed body, is what I experienced as spanking. If it was violent, I’d think you’re discussing beating, rather than spanking.

    It seems as if you’re minimizing the effects that pain compliance have on some people. The spanking she described is pretty common place and, like all spankings, was an act of violence. I mean, you’re causing pain to another human being in order to make them do something. Thats violent in other contexts, just because the victim is smaller doesn’t really mitigate it much.

    Say my wife and I were cooking and my wife, being careless, didn’t look where she was going, walked into me, and splashed a little boiling water on my foot. Say I responded, calmly, by explaining that I really could have been hurt and that she needs to be more careful. Then I swatted her a couple of times through her clothes hard enough to sting but not hard enough to leave a mark. Would you call that domestic violence? What if I only did it once or twice a year? Would that be cool?

    I’d call that abusive. I don’t see how being a child rather than a spouse somehow changes that.

  42. vanessa
    vanessa June 30, 2011 at 1:58 pm |

    It makes me physically ill to read feminists defending hitting children. It is not okay. It is never, ever, ever okay. Period. Full stop. There’s no gray area here. Do not hit your kids, end of story. I fail to see what is so complicated about it. Sure, you’re going to want to. You may even do so, once or twice, without really meaning to–almost everyone does, especially with toddlers. That is very, very different from a premeditated idea that you will hit your children. It is completely unethical.

  43. sam
    sam June 30, 2011 at 2:00 pm |

    “Even though my basic view is “do not spank your kids ever,” I can understand the impulse, when you’re exhausted and your kid is being a terror, to hit.”

    Read this sentence: Even though my basic view is “do not hit your wife ever,” I can understand the impulse, when you’re exhausted and your wife is being a nag, to hit.

    NOT OKAY

  44. vanessa
    vanessa June 30, 2011 at 2:03 pm |

    Oh–and there are SO MANY resources out there for parents to use instead of hitting their kids. SO MANY. The How to Talk books, for example. The Explosive Child. Nutureshock. PEP classes. There are just a ton. Saying “nothing else works” is both incorrect–in fact, spanking only works in the very, very short term–and lazy.

  45. Amanda
    Amanda June 30, 2011 at 2:03 pm |

    William: It seems as if you’re minimizing the effects that pain compliance have on some people. The spanking she described is pretty common place and, like all spankings, was an act of violence. I mean, you’re causing pain to another human being in order to make them do something. Thats violent in other contexts, just because the victim is smaller doesn’t really mitigate it much.

    Say my wife and I were cooking and my wife, being careless, didn’t look where she was going, walked into me, and splashed a little boiling water on my foot. Say I responded, calmly, by explaining that I really could have been hurt and that she needs to be more careful. Then I swatted her a couple of times through her clothes hard enough to sting but not hard enough to leave a mark. Would you call that domestic violence? What if I only did it once or twice a year? Would that be cool?

    I’d call that abusive. I don’t see how being a child rather than a spouse somehow changes that.

    The difference is that your wife, in theory, would understand and care about not hurting you without the swats, and that if she continued to endanger you or her, you could get a divorce. You wouldn’t just discard kid who plays with axes or matches (which may not be obtained from the parents house).

  46. Matt
    Matt June 30, 2011 at 2:08 pm |

    Amanda:
    I’m not talking about

    It seems like you’re conflating spanking with actual violence.A few swats that sting but don’t leave any lasting pain, to a clothed body, is what I experienced as spanking.If it was violent, I’d think you’re discussing beating, rather than spanking.

    Spanking is when your parent pulls down your pants, puts you across their lap or over their knee, and hits you with the palm of their hand multiple times. Hard enough to be more than stinging.

    What you are talking about is called swatting. Hence why you referred to it that way.

  47. matlun
    matlun June 30, 2011 at 2:08 pm |

    Perhaps we need to try to agree to terms a bit here?
    It seems different posters have very different pictures of what a “spanking” means.

  48. Brian
    Brian June 30, 2011 at 2:08 pm |

    Say my wife and I were cooking and my wife, being careless, didn’t look where she was going, walked into me, and splashed a little boiling water on my foot. Say I responded, calmly, by explaining that I really could have been hurt and that she needs to be more careful. Then I swatted her a couple of times through her clothes hard enough to sting but not hard enough to leave a mark. Would you call that domestic violence? What if I only did it once or twice a year? Would that be cool?

    You’re not responsible for your wife. If she repeatedly (either due to reckless disregard for your safety, or malice) dumps boiling water on you, you’re supposed to leave and not come back. Parents can’t just abandon their children in a field because they keep setting things on fire.

  49. Laurie
    Laurie June 30, 2011 at 2:19 pm |

    My father spanked because he is a malevolent bully, and I suspect that is the case for a significant number of spanking parents. (Having power over someone small and helpless brings often brings out the dark side of human nature). BUT many parents spank because they simply feel helpless, as if their kids hold all the cards. (“If I just take away a toy, he will just play with another toy . . . “) Parents tend to forget how much power they really have. Even the most intransigent kid cares about his parent’s approval.

    Yes, I understand that very young kids may not have the cognitive development yet to understand why they shouldn’t do something or to have empathy for others. But doesn’t that make spanking so much worse? Isn’t it unreasonable to terrorize and shame someone for failing to comply with standards that are impossible for their level of development? Why not remove the child from the circumstance in which he can cause harm and then teach the child basic mores and life skills at a stage appropriate to his level of cognitive and emotional development, i.e. when he or she is ready? Yes, of course, that is more difficult than just controlling the child through pain and fear, but I doubt that a child who lacks the cognitive or emotional ability to understand the consequences of his actions is going to suddenly “get it” because he or she gets whacked.

  50. Lis
    Lis June 30, 2011 at 2:28 pm |

    chava:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/15/health/15mind.html

    “The child psychologist Bruno Bettelheim, who readily acknowledged that the version of negative conditional parenting known as time-out can cause “deep feelings of anxiety,”

    Bettelheim also believed that autism was caused by emotionally distant mothers. He is maybe not the best expert here.

    The problem with saying “Oh, that isn’t spanking, it’s beating/abuse” is, most of the time, no matter what, parents think what they’re doing is right and reasonable. It’s not like some parents say, “All right, little Jimmy, come here so I can abuse the shit out of you.” No, it’s just spanking, it’s just the obvious response a parent has to their children (“I wouldn’t have hit you if you hadn’t _____!”), it’s the bare minimum they have to do to raise their kid right. There are “experts”, like Bill Gothard, who have taught for years that if you don’t beat your kids early and often they will turn out evil, or atheist lesbians, or possibly both.

    One of the big tasks for somebody leaving an abusive situation is being able to realize what they experienced was abuse, that it was abnormal, and that it wasn’t okay. So asking people to be able to easily separate their “bad spanking” from “good spanking” is actually a tall order.

    (I myself was spanked exactly three times as a child, and all three times shocked me deeply. I don’t think I was abused, though.)

  51. CQ
    CQ June 30, 2011 at 2:29 pm |

    I would appreciate the use of some trigger warnings in a post like this, and especially in some of the comments after the post, where people describe their own experiences of being spanked, experiences/stories of child abuse, etc. in detail. I’m genuinely interested in the discussion — however, the conversation is a bit triggering for someone who has, as an adult, experienced negative effects of related to childhood experiences of spanking/punishment.

  52. EasilyEnthused
    EasilyEnthused June 30, 2011 at 2:33 pm |

    I just want to say how many warm-fuzzies this thread gives me.

    I was spanked exactly twice. Once, before learning how to talk, I had climbed onto the oven. I got a brief, gentle spanking on the butt. The next time, (I was about 4) I refused to get in the car after church. My father spanked me on the butt with a wooden spoon 3 times. I ran into my room and cried for the next 4 hours – and my parents never spanked me again. From that point on, the mantra at our house was “Hands are for loving, not for hurting.”

    The punishment that REALLY worked (even into my TEENS!) was along the lines of saying “If you don’t blah-blah-blah, that will make Mommy and Daddy really sad” and because I was so emotionally tied with my parents, this worked. They basically never needed to discipline me.

    Kristen J.:
    Frankly, I find this analysis infuriating.Every.single.time I talk about what happened when I was a kid with my parents, their response is “it must of been okay, since you turned out alright”.Way to avoid the point there.

    I highly recommend the comeback: “And my parents never made me wear my seatbelt!” See what they say.

  53. Laurie
    Laurie June 30, 2011 at 2:50 pm |

    We put adults in “time out” all the time. It’s called “jail.” But we would never take even the most hardened criminal and beat his buttocks. I think a majority of Americans would find that barbaric and wrong — yet doing the same to very small children is mostly seen as okay.

  54. Jadey
    Jadey June 30, 2011 at 2:53 pm |

    Laurie: We put adults in “time out” all the time. It’s called “jail.” But we would never take even the most hardened criminal and beat his buttocks. I think a majority of Americans would find that barbaric and wrong — yet doing the same to very small children is mostly seen as okay.

    Have you worked in a prison? Have you read the research on punitive attitudes toward offenders? I’m not saying it’s a complete free-for-all on prisoners, but, yes, physical violence against them is condoned and even encouraged from many in the interests of security and punishment. (Note: it does a pretty bad job at both.)

  55. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. June 30, 2011 at 2:54 pm |

    Re: Other adults are not your kids

    Yeah, other adults can hit you back, call the police, even leave your presence.

    Re: But you’re responsible for them

    Should we “spank” criminals? We’re punishing/rehabilitating them and they did things far worse than “talking back” (usually). And yet I don’t see many feminists calling for corporal punishment for convicted persons.

  56. Michelle
    Michelle June 30, 2011 at 2:59 pm |

    One of my favorite books on spanking is “For Your Own Good” by Alice Miller. This book speaks to the hidden cruelty in commonly accepted child-rearing practices and how they can sometimes serve as the roots to many forms of violence. She does a masterful job of unpacking the all-too-often unchallenged myth that spanking children is “for their own good”. Highly recommended.

  57. ACG
    ACG June 30, 2011 at 3:00 pm |

    I feel odd saying “I was spanked as a child,” because it makes it sound like I was spanked regularly, when that wasn’t the case. In my family, spanking was basically the nuclear option, reserved for the infraction of lying. It was always bare bottom, bare hand, after private deliberation by both parents as to the nature of the offense, and delivered by whichever parent was feeling less emotional about the issue at the time. I don’t think either my brother nor I received a spanking after about age six, at which point we were more capable of understanding reason and discussing consequences.

    I’m hardly a representative sample, but the message that I received (and I assume my brother received, although I can’t speak for him) wasn’t that our parents had the power to violate our physical autonomy and do whatever they wanted to us. It was that our house had rules, that they were clearly and reasonably defined, and that they were governed with the consistency and reliability of a mini-legal system–I was never punished because one of my parents was angry with me or because I was bad. I was punished, whether it was a spanking or a grounding or just a “no,” because I did something wrong–specifically, something I knew was wrong and chose to do anyway.

    That was the thing that defined discipline in our household: There was no punishment for things we didn’t know were wrong and/or couldn’t help. There was respect, but never fear. We can debate about whether or not physical discipline is appropriate for that extreme high end of the punishment scale, but it was the nature of the delivery that I feel made all the difference.

  58. ACG
    ACG June 30, 2011 at 3:03 pm |

    EasilyEnthused: The punishment that REALLY worked (even into my TEENS!) was along the lines of saying “If you don’t blah-blah-blah, that will make Mommy and Daddy really sad” and because I was so emotionally tied with my parents, this worked. They basically never needed to discipline me.

    Ohhh, that was always the killer for me. The worst part was when the parents would sit down with me after I screwed up and Dad would open with, “I’m very disappointed in you.” Drive over me with a semi–nothing in the world was worse than my parents being disappointed in me.

  59. Esti
    Esti June 30, 2011 at 3:07 pm |

    I have mixed feelings on this. I was spanked a few times as a child, gently (I don’t remember it hurting, but if it did, it wasn’t for any longer than a few seconds). I remember liking it a lot more than the method of punishment my parents moved to when I was older, which was sitting me down to talk about what I had done (seriously, I remember asking my mother on multiple occasions to just spank me, because I hated those talks. And it wasn’t because I was getting yelled at, I just found it frustrating to sit through). I don’t have any problem with that kind of spanking, particularly when it is only used on young children who can’t yet understand a talking-to or a time out.

    But I do agree, on the whole, that hitting children is not okay. I recognize that I had a particularly benign and even positive experience with spanking, and that’s not true for a lot of people, and that it may be difficult enough to separate “okay” spanking from “not okay” spanking that we need to get rid of all spanking. And I really don’t like it as a justification for “but this kid is setting things on fire!” because I don’t think there’s any point in using spanking for discipline on a kid old enough to understand when you tell them they’re doing something wrong. At that age, if the kid is a perpetual troublemaker, I don’t think spanking is going to correct the behavior unless it is done to such an extreme that it is clearly abusive.

    Along those lines: my feelings on spanking are really dependent on the definition I apply to it. For me, spanking was a few light taps on the bottom, and if it hurt (I don’t remember that it did, but it was a while ago), it wasn’t for more than a few seconds. Using a spoon, a belt, hitting that goes on for an extended period, hitting that hurts for more than a second or two — whether or not you think there’s a type of spanking that isn’t abusive, I think we would all agree that all of those things are firmly on the “abuse” side of the line.

  60. LoriA
    LoriA June 30, 2011 at 3:16 pm |

    I really hope we can start applying the ‘traumatized for life’ standard to all abusive behaviors. That would go really well, I’m sure.

    Just kidding! It’s different with kids because they’re not people… or something.

  61. Becky
    Becky June 30, 2011 at 3:18 pm |

    Laurie –

    Laurie: Amanda, I have to disagree that a “calm spanking administered as a deterrent” is less harmful than having a parent yell and lose their temper. At least my experience was the opposite. My mother occasionally yelled and lost her temper but even as a young child, I could appreciate that she was just stressed out and having a rough time, and I trusted her to never ever hit or harm me in any way.

    I also have therapy bills, and they weren’t from the occasional spankings my dad administered. They’re from the times my mom lost her temper, and screamed at me. She rarely hit, but the screaming was harm.

    I don’t think you can make a blanket statement that one is always worse. And I’m not a parent but I will be soon and I don’t plan to either spank or yell at my kids. (And I hope very much that I can hold to those plans). But as someone who was both spanked and verbally abused – I feel really erased when we have a thousand discussions about spanking where everyone piles on to say how horrific it is to use even the mildest forms of physical discipline, but meanwhile verbal discipline which also has the potential to move into abuse is completely ignored and unexamined.

  62. August
    August June 30, 2011 at 3:18 pm |

    My brother and I I were spanked growing up. We got bare-ass spankings, usually with a belt. The last time I was spanked, I was old enough to have pubic hair and he was FURIOUS because I refused to take off my underwear so that he could beat me. I still have a scar on my thigh which I got while fighting him off of me.

    To this day, my brother maintains that spanking is no big deal because “we turned out fine.” He and my parents have heavily hinted more than once that they think I should be hitting my daughter when she misbehaves. I have a good relationship with my parents today, but whenever the subject of that last spanking comes up, I have to leave the room because they still maintain that I deserved it for my bad behavior.

    That line between spanking and abuse that so many people seem to think is so glaringly obvious? Is not so obvious to me.

  63. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable June 30, 2011 at 3:22 pm |

    Yeah, the responsibility thing doesn’t sit well with me. If anything, I feel like since you’re responsible for the child, it makes it more effed up.

    So here’s an example that works a little bit better than friend or wife – your dog pees on the carpet. Do you hit it? Do you hit it enough to know it fucked up but not enough to cause anything more than a sting (or whatever the metric above was)? You’re responsible for it and can’t put it in time out.

  64. Laurie
    Laurie June 30, 2011 at 3:22 pm |

    Jadey,
    I don’t disagree with you. I have often bemoaned the fact that too many Americans relish the notion of violence against inmates in prison. I am also very aware of the violence that actually does occur in jails and prisons. But beating inmates is against the law, and I am pretty sure a majority of Americans would oppose laws permitting spanking or flogging as a criminal sanction.

    Jail may not be a perfect analogy, as Jill points out. I think the biggest problem with my analogy is that we do, in fact, employ the death penalty on offenders, which is inarguably a worse level of violence than a spanking.

    That said, when I was a child, it was apparent to me that I was treated with less dignity than most criminals or the family dog.

  65. Safiya Outlines
    Safiya Outlines June 30, 2011 at 3:24 pm |

    I was spanked as a child. It wasn’t great, but I think it was seen as an acceptable parenting technique and often people didn’t explore others.

    I am now a mother and I do not spank for the reasons that others, mainly Tinfoil Hattie have stated above. My daughter is two and a typical toddler. Sometimes, when she’s cross, she might hit or kick me. When she does this, I ask if Mummy hits her, to which she’ll reply “No”. Then I say “So don’t hit Mummy”. It often works, because it’s stressing that hitting is wrong.

    Someone upthread asked about spanking versus restraining, moving your child. If it was left to my daughter, she’d walk round looking like Pigpen, so yes, some restraining, doing things against her will etc, has to happen. The difference is although those actions upset her, they aren’t intended to hurt her (and generally don’t). This is the huge difference between spanking which has those sole purpose of causing pain.

    For anyone interested in further information on not smacking, Children are Unbeatable is a very good resource: http://www.childrenareunbeatable.org.uk/

  66. Rachel
    Rachel June 30, 2011 at 3:26 pm |

    @Esti, I hated those “talks” too. Mostly because both my parents are masters of the guilt trip.

    I can remember being spanked as a young child, but one of my most vivid childhood memories is me, my sister, and my parents sitting on the floor, my sister and I crying our eyes out, begging to never be spanked again. And we never were. When I think of it now, I assume that my mom probably spanked us. She suffered from depression for 10 years and was a very angry woman for most of my childhood. Luckily she’s much better now.

  67. Paraxeni
    Paraxeni June 30, 2011 at 3:29 pm |

    @JPlum & Allison – hugs for my apparent triplets.

    I still shake and cry if I hear shouting, especially drunk guys walking home, past the house, on a friday night.

    As my younger (by two years) brother grew bigger than me, he joined in with them. It didn’t stop until I was 26. Because I was the ‘bad one’ too.

    You’re not alone.

    Kids aren’t property. You hurt them? They’ll remember. A light swat to get a child away from danger, fine and usually instinctive. But for those mini future adults, never punish in anger, in any form. Put yourself in time-out, have a cuppa, then explain calmly and rationally why you’re giving whatever punishment. Please don’t scream, or call them names, or lash out. Especially at little ones. Oh and please try to say something like “While Mummy/Daddy may not like you very much right now, I promise I will always love you, OK”. Let them know they’re safe.

  68. Laurie
    Laurie June 30, 2011 at 3:32 pm |

    Becky,
    I 100% agree with you. I didn’t intend to imply that one kind of abuse is worse than the other. I was actually trying (and possibly failing) to make a point similar to yours.

    I think one way abuse gets normalized is that people tend to say, “Oh, well, such-and-such abusive behavior isn’t so bad. Why some parents do such-and-such, which is much much worse.” Indeed, my own spanking father used to pat himself on his back because he didn’t belt me across the face like his father had done to him. In my father’s mind, whacking someone across the face is “abuse” whereas whacking a child’s behind is legitimate discipline.

  69. Esti
    Esti June 30, 2011 at 3:32 pm |

    PrettyAmiable: Yeah, the responsibility thing doesn’t sit well with me. If anything, I feel like since you’re responsible for the child, it makes it more effed up.So here’s an example that works a little bit better than friend or wife – your dog pees on the carpet. Do you hit it? Do you hit it enough to know it fucked up but not enough to cause anything more than a sting (or whatever the metric above was)? You’re responsible for it and can’t put it in time out.

    So I really don’t like the animal comparison, because animals are not people and (at least to me) it’s obvious that we should treat people differently than we do animals. That being said, the answer to your quesiton is yes. I ride and own horses, and if one of them makes an aggressive move toward me (which almost all horses do at some point, even if they never follow through) or even if one accidentally gets on my foot or is yanking me around on the end of his lead line or stops at a fence I’ve asked him to jump? I give it a smack — not hard enough to hurt for more than a second or two, but hard enough for the animal to feel it and know that it did something it shouldn’t have. Because you can’t sit a horse down and talk to it, so that smack *is* how you tell it that it did something wrong.

    And again, I AM DEFINITELY NOT SAYING THAT KIDS ARE LIKE ANIMALS. Just wanted to make that clear, because I foresee your analogy setting off a shit show here.

  70. vanessa
    vanessa June 30, 2011 at 3:38 pm |

    Um. Hitting animals is no better than hitting children (I suppose a BIT better, but I confess that I do not actually think that, if only because you cannot later apologize to the animal) and actually, there are LOADS of ways to train animals that DO NOT involve hitting them. Clicker training, anyone? (and yes, it works with horses. Hell, it works with goldfish!)

  71. Brian
    Brian June 30, 2011 at 3:42 pm |

    Should we “spank” criminals? We’re punishing/rehabilitating them and they did things far worse than “talking back” (usually). And yet I don’t see many feminists calling for corporal punishment for convicted persons.

    I’m skeptical that many people would find mini-jails an acceptable treatment for children. Nevermind the kind of wealth one would need to keep a child under continuous corrective treatment (with indefinitely long periods of isolation for non-cooperative behaviour?). Kids at least have to go to school, what have you. The assumption that kids being told off, or worrying that they’ve disappointed their parent(s), or a five minute time out, will invariably correct problematic behaviour, is just so mind-boggling to me. (Of course, my sister being confined to her room until she cleaned it – which took a couple months – might’ve made an unduely strong impression on me.)

  72. ACG
    ACG June 30, 2011 at 3:43 pm |

    PrettyAmiable:So here’s an example that works a little bit better than friend or wife – your dog pees on the carpet. Do you hit it? Do you hit it enough to know it fucked up but not enough to cause anything more than a sting (or whatever the metric above was)? You’re responsible for it and can’t put it in time out.

    Well, if he pees on the carpet, we generally just yell “no!” and try to get him outside before he turns the living room into Lake Skip. If he’s peeing inside, it’s generally because we didn’t let him out early enough, and he’s new and hasn’t learned to ask to go out. We can’t punish him for something that really isn’t his fault.

    If he goes after the other dog, we don’t have to do anything, because he’s learning that going after the other dog carries its own consequences. If he goes after one of the cats, he gets swatted and shouted at, because, “Now, Skip, the cats don’t like to play with dogs, and Harvey is really old and can’t handle a lot of stress” doesn’t seem to have a lot of impact on him.

    And I’m going to have to stupidly stand in the firing line and say that, yes, children actually are animals. Adults are animals. We’re heavily socialized animals with animal instincts and really, really huge forebrains that can make us really, really hard to deal with. And that’s why we have discussions like this.

  73. chava
    chava June 30, 2011 at 3:47 pm |

    This. My mother didn’t scream, but she would socially withdraw for days until I’d acted sufficently “contrite.” Silent treatment on an elementary age child with the flu? NOT OK. Weeping and refusing to tell your child what they’ve done wrong until they beg? NOT OK. And I’m actually more angry at her/screwed up about that than I am about the times my father got physical with me. My father also used to scream his head off–I was/am more traumatized by that than by the time he slammed me into a car door for kicking him.
    One isn’t “better” or “worse” than the other, but I don’t like when these discussions turn into OMG spanking is the worst form of discipline ever NEVER do it.

    Becky:

    I don’t think you can make a blanket statement that one is always worse.And I’m not a parent but I will be soon and I don’t plan to either spank or yell at my kids.(And I hope very much that I can hold to those plans).But as someone who was both spanked and verbally abused – I feel really erased when we have a thousand discussions about spanking where everyone piles on to say how horrific it is to use eventhe mildest forms of physical discipline, but meanwhile verbal discipline which also has the potential to move into abuse is completely ignored and unexamined.

  74. Amanda
    Amanda June 30, 2011 at 3:48 pm |

    Paraxeni: “While Mummy/Daddy may not like you very much right now, I promise I will always love you, OK”.

    My mom said something similar to that to me once. I was old enough she had stopped spanking me, but still pretty young– maybe 7 Maybe 11? Maybe older or younger? I don’t know. I don’t remember why she said it, or what I’d done. I just remember how deeply, deeply unlikeable and unworthy it made me feel. Like she had to love me, because she was my mother, but if even my MOTHER couldn’t like me all the time, what use was I do anyone else?

  75. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub June 30, 2011 at 3:49 pm |

    I spray water at my cat when he jumps on the table, where he’s not supposed to be. I probably would not do that to a kid.

    If my parents did that to me, I’d keep misbehaving because the consequences would be FUN.

    My parents swatted me once or twice out of fear/frustration/unthinking reaction, but that was it. They would send me to my room. And when I was a teenager, they’d threaten to make me come downstairs and watch TV with the rest of the family.

  76. Amanda
    Amanda June 30, 2011 at 3:52 pm |

    Jill: I spray water at my cat when he jumps on the table, where he’s not supposed to be. I probably would not do that to a kid.

    I give my kitties a gentle wap on the nose when they do something they have repeatedly been “NO!”ed at for doing. What’s especially frustrating is when the cat stares me down, then casually reaches out and knocks over a picture frame or a water glass. I also unintentionally hit one of the cats somewhat harder, because when you’re not fully awake and something is batting at/licking your face, you sometimes react without knowing what’s going on. My little alarm cat will get knocked off the bed two or three times before I wake up enough to realize that it’s just her.

  77. Esti
    Esti June 30, 2011 at 3:53 pm |

    vanessa: Um. Hitting animals is no better than hitting children (I suppose a BIT better, but I confess that I do not actually think that, if only because you cannot later apologize to the animal) and actually, there are LOADS of ways to train animals that DO NOT involve hitting them. Clicker training, anyone? (and yes, it works with horses. Hell, it works with goldfish!)

    I’m aware that alternatives like clicker training exist. That fact does not mean that hitting a horse who tries to bite you/yank you around/whatever is wrong.

    (And while this conversation is getting massively off-topic from spanking children, I’ll just say that clicker training is often (virtually always, in my experience, but YMMV) ineffective and is really not an option for a lot of people (for example, those who board their horses and know that they will need to behave for their caretakers, who may not be familiar with clicker training or willing to spend time doing it with every one of the 60+ animals they deal with).)

  78. Jadey
    Jadey June 30, 2011 at 3:54 pm |

    I think what we’ve learned from this thread is that there really are no good analogies for the parent-child relationship.

  79. Julie
    Julie June 30, 2011 at 4:00 pm |

    I don’t think it makes you the worst parent ever if you swat your child over clothes occasionaly. I think it’s wrong, but I don’t think your children should be taken away or that you are abusive. The minute you pull a child’s pants down or get out a belt/paddle/switch/spoon, etc…. I think you should immediately have your child taken away. Without question.
    And I just don’t get what’s so hard about not hitting your kids. My son is NOT a quiet, compliant or naturally well behaved child. He is stubborn, willfull and bound and determined to do as he sees fit, pretty much whenever he wants. Discipline is a constant battle with him, but he has still NEVER been spanked, hit, swatted or otherwise physically punished. Never. He has learned to behave without being hurt. My kids both learned not to do dangerous things without me hitting them.

  80. EasilyEnthused
    EasilyEnthused June 30, 2011 at 4:01 pm |

    I’m so happy to see so many voices coming out against spanking.

    Retributive, preventative, and initiative violence is always wrong – against any person. But so is verbal assault. No matter what the age of the person.

    But how do you define violence? Is physically holding down a child violent? What do you do if they refuse your non-forced punishment? (Honest question here.)

    If spanking’s wrong, and the child won’t comply with other punishments, where do you go?

  81. Julie
    Julie June 30, 2011 at 4:03 pm |

    I have a friend who sprays her kids with water when they are fighting, just to get their attention. I actually think it’s pretty funny.

  82. Paraxeni
    Paraxeni June 30, 2011 at 4:09 pm |

    @Amanda – sorry, my wording is so bad tonight. I apologise for hurting you. I actually meant to type “I may not like what you did, but I love you”. Sadly, I typed what I was told as well. Freudian finger-slip, brought on by how awful the subject is.

  83. Angus Johnston
    Angus Johnston June 30, 2011 at 4:10 pm |

    Can I just note that none of the spanking advocates here are saying “I was spanked once, and it made such an impression on me that I never misbehaved that way again”?

    If spanking “works,” why does any kid ever need to be spanked twice?

  84. Andie
    Andie June 30, 2011 at 4:12 pm |

    Julie:
    I have a friend who sprays her kids with water when they are fighting, just to get their attention. I actually think it’s pretty funny.

    If I didn’t worry about mildew from wet carpets, I probably do this.

    I want to add, that my comment above was my personal experience and if I had a do-over I’d want to find other means of discipline besides spankings. Which is partly why I don’t do it anymore, it’s not just ‘because they’re older and understand..’

    I’m older and understand some things better too.

  85. ACG
    ACG June 30, 2011 at 4:14 pm |

    Angus Johnston: Can I just note that none of the spanking advocates here are saying “I was spanked once, and it made such an impression on me that I never misbehaved that way again”?

    If spanking “works,” why does any kid ever need to be spanked twice?

    Because very rarely does any lizard brain-based behavior change following a single correction?

  86. Seisy
    Seisy June 30, 2011 at 4:16 pm |

    So what exactly does “smacks” mean in reference to the transcript?

    (“Then at 2:03:34 she smacks him, and says, ‘No, Justin. If you want me to read, quit messing with the pages. Cause you’re moving it while I’m reading.’”)

    Everyone is reacting to it with shock and horror, but to tell you the truth, what first popped into my head is the kind of hand-slapping I did to my sister last weekend when she was trying to steal a piece of bacon. So am I just picturing something more mild, or am I a horrible monster for not really having a problem with it?

  87. tg
    tg June 30, 2011 at 4:20 pm |

    I recall two times during my childhood where I was slapped severely across the face and looking back I feel that I deserved it. The first time involved deliberately setting out to annoy my mother all day while she was working and the other time by my father when I arrived home at 1am from a friend’s party (I was 10 and 13 at the time respectively). I never repeated those mistakes afterward.

    As for the last paragraph, was the mother slapping the child’s hand as they were trying to turn the page or was it a slap across the face? The hand is fairly minor whereas the face is much more severe.

  88. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. June 30, 2011 at 4:22 pm |

    Brian: I’m skeptical that many people would find mini-jails an acceptable treatment for children.Nevermind the kind of wealth one would need to keep a child under continuous corrective treatment (with indefinitely long periods of isolation for non-cooperative behaviour?).Kids at least have to go to school, what have you.The assumption that kids being told off, or worrying that they’ve disappointed their parent(s), or a five minute time out, will invariably correct problematic behaviour, is just so mind-boggling to me.(Of course, my sister being confined to her room until she cleaned it – which took a couple months – might’ve made an unduely strong impression on me.

    Huh? Who suggested prisons for kids? Hell, I don’t like prisons for adults. Or at least not our prison system.

  89. Jadey
    Jadey June 30, 2011 at 4:30 pm |

    Paraxeni:
    @Amanda – sorry, my wording is so bad tonight.I apologise for hurting you.I actually meant to type “I may not like what you did, but I love you”.Sadly, I typed what I was told as well.Freudian finger-slip, brought on by how awful the subject is.

    Separating behaviour from identity is huge. I think the ability to do that (whether learned or instinctive) is what separates good discipline from bad discipline (if “good” and “bad” can be thought of as relative to the likelihood of producing a person who can feel good about themselves and contribute positively to their communities). Honestly, even when I did things right, I often felt like I was loved because I did something right and not because I was intrinsically loveable, and that had a terrible effect on me (relative – still better than being outright abused). I would presume that many others have experienced something similar.

    As so many have now said, it’s not just what you do in terms of parenting, but why you do it and what it means to the child. While I am still not a fan of spanking and can’t bring myself to encourage it, I think ACG above articulated a scenario that makes sense for why spanking isn’t necessarily a destructive form of discipline, when it’s paired with love, respect, structure, and procedural fairness. I think a lot of us see that kind of physicality as fundamentally unfair (because adults are bigger than kids), unloving and disrespectful (because applying non-defensive, non-consensual physical force is a sign of disrespect and often dislike or hate in a lot of our various family, community, and national cultures), but I can imagine a scenario in which it is not, even if it’s not a scenario I feel the need to live in.

    I very much prefer to err on the side of “don’t hit kids” because I don’t think that kind of fairness, structure, love and respect are as common as they should be, but if I had to choose I would much rather be in a family in which that climate existed with regard to physical punishment than a family in which there was no fairness, respect, structure, or love in the way that non-physical discipline was administered.

  90. Lasciel
    Lasciel June 30, 2011 at 4:30 pm |

    Angus Johnston:
    Can I just note that none of the spanking advocates here are saying “I was spanked once, and it made such an impression on me that I never misbehaved that way again”?

    If spanking “works,” why does any kid ever need to be spanked twice?

    Can you say that about any form of punishment though? Time-outs and being sprayed with water won’t make kids stop occasionally breaking the rules. No reasonable punishment ever makes someone stop doing something forever; only the most dread-inducing, hideous abuse can keep you from slipping up most of the time.

    Spanking is just like any other form of punishment; it can leave no or little damage, as in the case of people that were just lightly swatted and their parents didn’t go apeshit on them. Time-outs can also be harmless. Or they can be as harmful as the fiercest spanking parent. Put a child in “time-out” for 24 hours and don’t give them access to food, water, or a bathroom, or any social contact.

    Even if we distinguish being painless swats and bleeding swats here the study doesn’t. It would have been more helpful if it did. -_- It doesn’t say whether that was a painless swat to just move her son’s hand out of the way or a vicious slap like the one detailed in that post the other day-the guy who slapped his daughter hard enough to make her lip bleed for licking him. It could and probably does make a difference how much force is behind a hand, what impact it makes and how much damage it causes. (I say probably because I know it does from my experience, but my experience isn’t everyone’s)

  91. Angus Johnston
    Angus Johnston June 30, 2011 at 4:31 pm |

    Jill, ACG, fair enough. I should have been clearer.

    I was responding particularly to Amanda and Brian, who suggested that spanking was necessary in their cases because they wouldn’t have responded to other discipline. But by both of their accounts, the behavior in question was ongoing, even in the face of spanking. So what does that mean?

    I’ll admit, too, that I’m skeptical of “X wouldn’t have worked on me” arguments. Unless your parents made what you know to have been a sustained and conscientious attempt at X, how can you know that?

  92. Lasciel
    Lasciel June 30, 2011 at 4:34 pm |

    Lasciel: Put a child in “time-out” for 24 hours and don’t give them access to food, water, or a bathroom, or any social contact.

    And no I don’t mean that as parenting advice, I mean if you put a child in that situation regularly it will probably be extremely damaging. I’ve been accused of advocating child abuse before on here when mentioning things I’d been put through.

  93. Amanda
    Amanda June 30, 2011 at 4:38 pm |

    Angus Johnston:
    Jill, ACG, fair enough. I should have been clearer.

    I was responding particularly to Amanda and Brian, who suggested that spanking was necessary in their cases because they wouldn’t have responded to other discipline. But by both of their accounts, the behavior in question was ongoing, even in the face of spanking. So what does that mean?

    I’ll admit, too, that I’m skeptical of “X wouldn’t have worked on me” arguments. Unless your parents made what you know to have been a sustained and conscientious attempt at X, how can you know that?

    For me, it means spanking got me to stop for the day, maybe for even more than the day, and that “Do you want to get a spanking?” was also a good deterrent, at that age. It also means that the attempts at time outs and taking things away didn’t work. I mean, you can tell a kid they have a time out, and if they just get up and walk away from their “time-out”, or sing to themself, or keep doing whatever they were doing before, it isn’t terribly effective, is it? But a spank will stop the behavior, at least for awhile.

  94. Amanda
    Amanda June 30, 2011 at 4:42 pm |

    That is to say, it would stop the behavior in ME when I was a kid for a little while.

  95. Angus Johnston
    Angus Johnston June 30, 2011 at 4:44 pm |

    Amanda, I’ve seen time-outs “work” and not work, by that definition. Ditto spanking. If spanking was the way your parents could get your attention, that’s a point in its favor, I suppose. But it doesn’t mean they COULDN’T have gotten the same results another way. Maybe they just didn’t find what clicked.

  96. August
    August June 30, 2011 at 4:50 pm |

    I find the fact that so many folks here feel that bare-ass spanking or using tools is what defines it as “abuse” and not “spanking.” Because where I grew up, that’s how EVERYONE was disciplined. Kids in my neighborhood and family were hit with switches, shoes, brushes, hands, and belts. If you DIDN’T hit your child, you were seen as being soft and any of your child’s misbehavior was immediately attributed to the fact that you don’t hit your kids.

    It was (and still is, in my local community) the norm. I know many many white folks who do not hit their children, but among other black parents, I and my husband are the odd ones out, and we find ourselves having to defend our decision not to hit our child constantly, from both my side of the family (which is full of people who are overwhelmingly poor and uneducated) to his side (which is full of folks who are firmly middle class and highly educated), not to mention coworkers and neighbors and whoever else.

    If bare-ass spanking or using tools is what differentiates abuse from spanking, then almost every household in my community would have lost their children to the state. Where I come from, not hitting your kids was, and still largely is, considered “a white thing.”

  97. Muse142
    Muse142 June 30, 2011 at 4:54 pm |

    For those of you who are wondering about the severity of the “smack on the hand” from the parent who was reading to the child who wanted to turn the pages, the audio recording is reproduced in the first of the videos here: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/audiotapes-catch-parents-spanking-children-real-time-petty/story?id=13962609

    It sounds like a pretty healthy whack, to me.

  98. vanessa
    vanessa June 30, 2011 at 4:55 pm |

    re clicker training–I’m not going to bring this up again because I don’t want to derail further, but actually, yes, clicker training works well for horses. That has been quite well documented. Sure, its harder when you board your horse–that doesn’t mean it isn’t a good idea.
    And I think hitting an animal is wrong, full stop. That doesn’t mean people who do that occasionally are bad people. I’m not saying anyone who every once in a blue moon swats at their dog/cat/horse/llama is the same as Michael Vick, not by a long shot.

    Also, I think it is important to look, as others have said, at the idea that physical abuse is not the only kind. And I DO think that there are families where children are spanked very, very rarely that function a lot better than families where the children are never hit but often screamed at, degraded, etc. I just think that it is still better not to shame and hurt your children if you can possibly avoid it. Not hitting them is once very easy to avoid that.

    I’ve also read bits and pieces about spanking being somewhat equivalent (not quite equivalent, that’s not the right word) to sexual abuse. I’ve always thought this was a very interesting idea. I teach a sex ed class and when we were talking about sexual harassment as unwanted sexual touch (among other things) one of the kids said “well, parents who spank their kids are basically touching a sexual part of their bodies, so isn’t that harassment?” And she had a point.

  99. Amanda
    Amanda June 30, 2011 at 4:55 pm |

    Angus, I’m not advocating everyone spank their kids. I’m saying that my parents did it. It worked. And it wasn’t abusive. I’m trying to show, not just through hypothetical arguments, but through lived experience, that spanking is not automatically violent or brutal or even a bad idea, though done by the wrong people or in the wrong ways it can be those things.

    Since I’m not a parent, and don’t intend to be one any time soon, I haven’t read up on modern theories of discipline. I just know that 20+ years ago, it was my parents’ best option.

  100. Li
    Li June 30, 2011 at 5:02 pm |

    Amanda: Angus, I’m not advocating everyone spank their kids. I’m saying that my parents did it. It worked. And it wasn’t abusive. I’m trying to show, not just through hypothetical arguments, but through lived experience, that spanking is not automatically violent or brutal or even a bad idea, though done by the wrong people or in the wrong ways it can be those things.

    Amanda, I’m not sure how parents are meant to know whether they are the wrong people or doing it in the wrong way. Because also, different kids will find different things traumatic. Like, THERE IS NO DEFINITIVE LINE THAT WILL MAKE USE OF CORPORAL PUNISHMENT NON-TRAUMATIC FOR ALL CHILDREN.

  101. james
    james June 30, 2011 at 5:07 pm |

    Even if it’s not ‘abusive’, doesn’t spanking just end up giving people a fetish? Not that I think that there’s anything bad about fetishes per se, it’s just a bit creepy to think of a parent doing something which would give one to their kid. I wouldn’t raise a hand to a child because of that, and wacking someone on the ass is clearly so sexualised too. Pretty inappropriate if you ask me.

  102. LoriA
    LoriA June 30, 2011 at 5:11 pm |

    @August
    “Everyone does it! It can’t be bad!”

    Sure.

    And this is crap: “Where I come from, not hitting your kids was, and still largely is, considered “a white thing.” “

  103. Li
    Li June 30, 2011 at 5:17 pm |

    Also, since my original comment appears to have been eaten: I woke up in the middle of the night last night in a pool of sweat after a nightmare in which my father slapped me hard enough to knock out two teeth. I am sure my dad thought he was doing corporal punishment the “right” way. There is a reason that many countries have worked to eliminate corporal punishment from the justice and education systems. Frankly, to get up this morning to a bunch of people trying to justify the use of corporal punishment on minors fucking disgusts me.

  104. Esti
    Esti June 30, 2011 at 5:20 pm |

    Li: Amanda, I’m not sure how parents are meant to know whether they are the wrong people or doing it in the wrong way. Because also, different kids will find different things traumatic. Like, THERE IS NO DEFINITIVE LINE THAT WILL MAKE USE OF CORPORAL PUNISHMENT NON-TRAUMATIC FOR ALL CHILDREN.

    But isn’t that true of all discipline methods? People in this thread have talked about being traumatized by parents who yelled or who used time outs or who guilt tripped. The problem with parenting is that there aren’t any bright line rules for what is Definitely Okay. There are obviously some rules for what is Definitely Wrong, and there are also some areas of Maybe Okay In Certain Circumstances But It Can Be Hard To Draw Those Lines So It Might Be Safer To Avoid Them Entirely (which is where I come down on spanking).

    I do think at some point, though, we stray into the territory where we’re policing everyone else’s parenting in a not-helpful way. That’s not in reference to spanking, which is close enough to the line that I understand the need for public discussion of the subject. But when someone above said that time outs hurt children and shouldn’t be used? That seems like exactly the kind of other people’s parenting (and usually of mothers, specifically) that we get upset with people for in other circumstances.

  105. Laurie
    Laurie June 30, 2011 at 5:22 pm |

    Vanessa, I firmly believe that spanking is more frequently experienced by children as sexual abuse than people realize. I certainly experienced it that way. It may depend on context. But modesty was highly valued in my household growing up, so being forcibly disrobed by my opposite-sex parent and then beaten on a private area was a major part of the trauma for me.

    I didn’t mention that aspect of it earlier because that idea tends to cause a major shit storm. It is incredibly disturbing. But I don’t think my experience of spanking as a sexual violation is unreasonable or unusual.

  106. Archie
    Archie June 30, 2011 at 5:27 pm |

    This is a really difficult issue, and I do think that it is relevant to the discussion whether or not you have children of your own (as opposed to say, have experience babysitting or teaching in a pre-school or daycare environment.) No two kids are alike, and some of you are lucky to have kids who will actually go and sit quietly on the stairs for their brief time outs.

    Both of our wonderful boys are strong characters. We have never had to spank one of our kids, and the conventional methods of discipline have worked perfectly well with him. With the other, discipline is much more complex, and it sometimes takes a physical prompt to get him to focus on what he needs to do or to stop obnoxious behavior (get dressed in time to catch the school bus, go to bed, stop tormenting his brother, etc.) It sometimes escalates to the point where I (or my wife) am escorting him to the door or physically restraining him from hitting his brother. In these circumstances, it is very hard to not feel a sense of violence. While not exactly a spanking, it is definitely physical discipline. I don’t think it is any better than a spanking, and I feel terrible about it.

    I wish that he would just listen, but he won’t sit in a time out, and hasn’t learned yet to connect the loss of privileges (dessert, TV time, certain toys, trips out) with his behavior. I think this is a learning disability, a sort of behavioral dyslexia, and I hope that we can teach him the skills he needs to deal with his perception of the world before too long (he’s 6.) He truly does WANT to behave and, when he thinks about it, is able to understand and empathize with the people around him. A great resource for bringing understanding to the issue is Ross Greene’s Collaborative Problem Solving.

    I guess what I’m saying with this comment is that where there is a spanking, there is probably a deeper problem that needs to be corrected.

  107. LoriA
    LoriA June 30, 2011 at 5:28 pm |

    Li: “Frankly, to get up this morning to a bunch of people trying to justify the use of corporal punishment on minors fucking disgusts me.”

    This. This is all that can be said at this point.

    If we were trying to justify abuse against any other class of people, it would not be allowed. But this gets a whole thread.

  108. Valhallie
    Valhallie June 30, 2011 at 5:46 pm |

    @LoriA
    Umm, I think you may have misunderstood August’s point. She’s not saying that hitting children is okay because everyone does it, but that hitting children, especially with objects, is a widespread thing in the black community. I didn’t catch a positive value judgement from that, especially since she goes on to mention how she faces pressure for not hitting her children. I can definitely attest to this myself. I don’t have kids, but my sisters are fond of giving me shit when I give my nieces time-out instead of spankings when I watch them. And there was a lady at my church when I was a kid who routinely told the congregation how not hitting was okay for white children, but black kids needed to be beaten to get the sin out.

    Both my parents hit me with belts and switches, and made me pick which one would be used, which is a complete mindfuck for a 6 year old, and then would hit me harder and get angry if I would cry. Not a pleasant experience, and I still have a lot of issues surrounding the whole business, but it wasn’t really that different from a lot of the kids around me.

    But I do agree that it is crazy how many people here seem to think that hitting kids is a way-cool awesome thing to do with no repercussions unless you’re doing it wrong. I’m just glad we haven’t gotten to the “mom’s have a hard time, why are you picking on them” abuse apology meme. When I see that, I seriously lose my shit.

  109. Paraxeni
    Paraxeni June 30, 2011 at 5:47 pm |

    @Li – I have screaming, thrashing nightmares about my mother. I always end up clawing gouges into myself, thinking it’s her. My mind, I think, is trying to work through it for me. I had a 4 hour panic attack last night, while I should’ve been sleeping, because a dream had triggered me so badly.

    @Laurie – I understand your POV. There are certainly times when that boundary into SA is crossed.

    I wish everyone, who has suffered alongside me, peace and the chance to reclaim yourself as your own, and not the property of your parents.

    Big safe e-hugs. I’m out for now, because… well, I’m sure you know.

    Parents who abuse physically or emotionally – kids may forgive because it seems society holds that as compulsory, but I guarantee they never forget. Neurotypical Kids aren’t born ‘out of control’, they’re made.

  110. Sydney
    Sydney June 30, 2011 at 5:49 pm |

    I still haven’t decided how I feel about this issue. Fortunately, I never intend to have kids, so I won’t have anyone to spank anyway. ;)

    I was spanked as a child, but not for every little thing. Generally it was a hand over clothing, but if I really pissed her off, my mom would use a belt. I’m pretty sure she always used the end without the buckle. I really can’t remember. Getting spanked by my dad was the worst – that was the ultimate punishment. He never used a belt, but damn, it hurt.

    As I got older, spanking was phased out. During that time, my mom would sometimes smack me on the arm. After the spankings finally ended, I still would instinctively flinch when I got in trouble. I would also want to experience pain when I got in trouble. I would slap my leg, dig my nails into my leg, or if I could get away, lightly slap my face (although I was never hit on the face).

    Despite this, I harbor the most resentment for some of the things they said. When I was eight and nine, I had undiagnosed OCD and was thought to just be a brat. “You just don’t care [about other people]!” “Don’t you smile at me.” I was also compared to my douchebag doctor.

    Sorry for the essay. I meant to give two cents, but I think I gave two dollars. :)

  111. Angel H.
    Angel H. June 30, 2011 at 5:56 pm |

    August,

    That was also the belief among my family and family friends.

  112. Angus Johnston
    Angus Johnston June 30, 2011 at 5:56 pm |

    Amanda: Angus, I’m not advocating everyone spank their kids. I’m saying that my parents did it. It worked. And it wasn’t abusive. I’m trying to show, not just through hypothetical arguments, but through lived experience, that spanking is not automatically violent or brutal or even a bad idea, though done by the wrong people or in the wrong ways it can be those things.

    But again, you’re not just saying that it worked, you’re saying it was their “best option.” And I just don’t see how you can know that.

    My position is “Don’t hit kids. It’s often abusive and never necessary.” Your claim that it was effective when used on you isn’t a counter-argument to the argument I’m making.

  113. Ellie
    Ellie June 30, 2011 at 6:00 pm |

    A lot of people use personal experience to justify feelings of why spanking is okay. But not only does one instance in which it “turned out alright” NOT mean every instance does, but you can’t possibly fully consider the context in which it’s being delivered.

    I don’t remember the objective details of my childhood spankings all that well. (I’ve blocked out most of my memories from that time pretty well.) But they weren’t that frequent and not that severe. Not a beating by any stretch. But my skin still crawls thinking of the humiliation, the systematic way in which they were approached, and how terrified I was of it, despite the fact that they really couldn’t possibly have been that physically painful, there was never a tool involved, and they never left any marks. The other things going on in my home life at the time made it god awful horrible, and the memories of it still put me on edge.

    And I’m downright offended at all the analogies going on here. Are we really comparing spankings to spousal abuse, or pet training to child rearing? I’ll use a good analogy from time to time to illustrate a basic concept, but some of these analogies are just fucking horrible.

  114. August
    August June 30, 2011 at 6:08 pm |

    @LoriA:

    “And this is crap: ‘Where I come from, not hitting your kids was, and still largely is, considered “a white thing.’”

    Oh, I didn’t even realize that you had any idea where I grew up, or what the norms in my community are, or the policing that goes on in my community regarding “acting black” versus “acting white.” Thanks Nice White Lady for your contribution! I mean, I’m a grown-ass woman with a child and I *still* have folks chastising me for using non-violent forms of discipline with my child “like them crazy white folk,” but that must all be in my head!

    It’s normal to hit your kids with shit where I come from. The idea that everyone in my community deserves to have their children taken away, but that everyone else who hits their kids *just the right way* (i.e., without tools or while the kid’s wearing shorts or some shit) does not, doesn’t sit right with me.

    I was hit as a child. And it fucked my head up in more ways than one. But as much as it sucked, I’m glad that I wasn’t taken from my parents. And I have a wonderful relationship with them today. And I don’t think that they are bad people, even though I DO think that hitting me was a bad thing. It’s a complicated subject, especially when you consider that for some black communities, corporal punishment is actually considered an integral part of their identity and a way to differentiate themselves from their oppressors.

    @Valhallie: Thank you! :-)

  115. Angel H.
    Angel H. June 30, 2011 at 6:13 pm |

    August: And I don’t think that they are bad people, even though I DO think that hitting me was a bad thing. It’s a complicated subject, especially when you consider that for some black communities, corporal punishment is actually considered an integral part of their identity and a way to differentiate themselves from their oppressors.

    Reposted for truth.

  116. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable June 30, 2011 at 6:26 pm |

    Jill: I spray water at my cat when he jumps on the table, where he’s not supposed to be. I probably would not do that to a kid.

    I feel bad, but I kind of want to spray water at a kid when they misbehave because of this comment.

    Jadey:
    I think what we’ve learned from this thread is that there really are no good analogies for the parent-child relationship.

    Ohh but I didn’t mean it to be an analogy for the entire relationship so much as the idea of “responsibility for a living thing” aspect. It was used upthread to justify spanking, which was just ridiculous to me. You’re responsible for lots of things you don’t think are okay to hit. And, sorry animal-rights-activists, but I implicitly put humans above animals. If you think it’s wrong to hit a pet, it sure as hell better be wrong to hit a child for whom you’re responsible.

    But shrug! Failed analogy has failed. :(

  117. LoriA
    LoriA June 30, 2011 at 6:27 pm |

    @August
    I apologize for not clarifying; I can barely engage in this conversation right now. I did not say that to deny your experiences but because I thought you were using it as an excuse, which is denying the agency of people of color in the extreme. No one is too oppressed to reject violence and stating otherwise is dehumanizing. Not that that’s what you meant, but that’s what I got out of it after reading dozens of comments justifying abuse. Clearly I’m not able to have this conversation at the moment. I need to walk away.

  118. Nahida
    Nahida June 30, 2011 at 6:31 pm |

    PrettyAmiable: I feel bad, but I kind of want to spray water at a kid when they misbehave because of this comment.

    I have actually done this to a kid, but it backfired because he enjoyed it and tried to get me to chase him around and spray him.

  119. Emolee
    Emolee June 30, 2011 at 6:46 pm |

    I do think spankings can definitely be sexual abuse, epsecially “bare bottom” spankings. Most people would probably say that forcing your child to remove hir pants and underwear against hir will is sexual abuse. Why is it that if a parent is doing it *in order to hit hir* that that makes it ok?

    Spankings often include forcibly holding the person down, forcibly removing hir clothes, forced nakedness or partial nakedness (specifically of the butt, which almost always means the sexual organs as well), humiliation, and sexual vulnerability. Spankings can lean even more toward sexual abuse when the child is going through puberty or older and if the spanking is performed by a parent of the opposite sex (these factors are just examples… not saying younger kids or kids who are spanked by a same-sex parent can’t experience it as sexual abuse, too).

    I am not saying that all spankings are like this or even that all spankings are sexual abuse. But, as I said near the top of the thread, I am against ALL spanking of children, and do consider all spanking physical abuse.

  120. Florence
    Florence June 30, 2011 at 7:33 pm |

    Is spanking problematic? Yes. I think it can be done in a way that’s non-traumatic, as has been detailed in this thread, and as was my experience getting spanked as a kid, but I think it’s probably best avoided since there are generally better ways of disciplining most neurotypical kids. Physical parenting, like Archie mentions, is hard to avoid. I think it’s unusual to parent a child from birth through 18 without having to restrain, steer, or grab your kid in a way that removes them from harm or prevents them from harming others. Like Archie said, it doesn’t feel good for either kids and (hopefully) parents, but sometimes you have to do it. There are times when being physical with physical with people — not just children — is necessary.

    And I hate to be the one pulling this card, but I feel like a lot of people commenting here don’t have kids or have a lot of experience as a primary caregiver. Recommended parenting styles change depending on your generation, your social class, and a variety of other factors. Sometimes I feel like choosing not to co-sleep, breastfeed, and discipline with hugs makes me a parenting monster, but this is the current trend, so. While my parents spanked me, they would be horrified if they heard I spanked my own children. August says she is called into question among some of her peers for choosing not to spank her kids, and there is a lot of writing about parenting and corporeal punishment in the African-American community that can’t be sniffed at. There are pressures. They are painful and cause a lot of anxiety when choosing how to discipline your kids, especially when you’re faced with dilemmas with your children that you didn’t anticipate. Drawing hard lines about socially fungible parenting is extremely unhelpful for good faith, non-abusive parents.

    I am skeptical that it’s spanking alone that leads to trauma. Spanking-as-abuse is correlative, it’s not THE THING that makes or breaks parent/child relationship, but it is a solid indicator of authoritative parenting which is pretty well considered an undesirable parenting model anymore. Except for some specific outliers, it became outre, what, after 1970s? 1980s? And along with spanking, this undesirable model includes isolating children, not giving children choices, making the children feel powerless, unsafe, unstable. Spanking can also be an indicator of a stressed out, frustrated, or angry parent that needs better or more support.

    I was spanked a lot, and of all the shit bags my parents handed me, spanking is involved in none of them. My mom once lost it and beat me, but my trauma was more her complete and total loss of control than even the physicality of it. And it’s a psychological quandary to be in now, as a parent, feeling frustration at my kid for the same things that earned me spankings (and yes, that beating) while being the parent on the verge of a loss of control. Sometimes it’s difficult to rein it back in, but I do, I do. I have to.

  121. Florence
    Florence June 30, 2011 at 7:39 pm |

    August: It’s a complicated subject, especially when you consider that for some black communities, corporal punishment is actually considered an integral part of their identity and a way to differentiate themselves from their oppressors.

    Word. I’m trying to google it but my google must be broken. I read some essays online about how corporeal punishment in the black community is not only a way of differentiation, but also born partly out of anxiety in that being black and not following the rules in America means you get jailed, beaten, shot, or worse, often by the police or government. So the dilemma in the black community is different than in the white community, where the debate on spanking is almost an esoteric evaluation of your personal values. For many black folks, you might spank your kids to teach them how to keep in line, or risk seeing them hurt or killed for falling out of line with, say, a police officer. And even then.

    Anyway, if I can ever find it, it’s not like this view isn’t controversial, but it isn’t something to ignore either.

  122. vanessa
    vanessa June 30, 2011 at 7:53 pm |

    Can I just secondthirdfourthwhatever the fact that it is literally sickening to see people attempt to justify hitting a child? I cannot think of any way where that would be even remotely feminist.

    @Archie I do think there is a difference in restraining a child so that he or she does not hurt anyone–including themselves–and spanking them. Spanking is *designed* to hurt. Restraining your child, while obviously not ideal, is not designed to hurt them (at least not the way you are describing: obviously restraining a child can be used for other purposes). Also, a book I have found helpful when dealing with kids who may be similar to your boy is The Explosive Child.

    I will say, though, that I hate the framing of “we’ve never HAD to spank our child.” Well, sure, but the people who DO spank have never had to, either.

    I know a lot of older black women who are disgusted with the fact that spanking is considered okay in their communities. Not just the occasional swat, either, but full on beatings. Essentially abuse. And while I don’t think these children should be taken from their homes–for one thing, I’m guessing that some parenting classes might help, and before you jump on me parenting classes would help a LOT of people, white and black–that does not change the facts. (and of course some children, sadly, SHOULD be taken from their parents, but that is not what we are talking about here).

    I was in an education class at my HBCU a few years ago and was arguing with an older black guy. He was kind of jerk. He kept saying that hitting kids was fine, its how they learn, etc. I am a bit embarrassed to say we were yelling at each other towards the end. Anyway, the prof–also black–came back into the room, looked us over, and said, very sadly, that the black community really needed to realize that spanking is not okay. I will never forget the way that she said that. She was not an especially good prof, but that was something else altogether.

    Florence–I’m not sure, actually, that you do get to play that card. Having or not having children doesn’t always mean shit. There are loads of terrible parents and there are loads of people who know a LOT about children–not just developmentally but about the day to day–who do not have kids.

  123. Andi
    Andi June 30, 2011 at 7:58 pm |

    @August
    “It’s a complicated subject, especially when you consider that for some black communities, corporal punishment is actually considered an integral part of their identity and a way to differentiate themselves from their oppressors.”

    This point really hit home with me. I went to an inner city middle school in St. Louis. I couldn’t count how many times my peers got into long conversations about their experiences of corporal punishment. And these conversations weren’t “oh, my life’s so horrible…”, they were kids trading stories about what they’d done to deserve what. Light hearted, and somewhat funny. I didn’t share this experience, so I wasn’t part of the conversation. That wasn’t a problem for me, being white made it ok to not have a story to trade. But it was a point of comraderie for them.

    Disclaimer: I didn’t write this post to say “people should spank their kids because it makes them fit in.” It’s just interesting to me since I grew up as the minority (used in the ‘numbers’ sense, not the ‘oppressed’ sense) in my community and always heard kids comparing the “white” way of doing things to the “black” way of doing things.

  124. Florence
    Florence June 30, 2011 at 8:08 pm |

    vanessa: Florence–I’m not sure, actually, that you do get to play that card. Having or not having children doesn’t always mean shit.

    Sure, but having experience raising children is very helpful when having a conversation about raising children.

    On my tangent-google-search-thing, I didn’t find the essay I was looking for, but I did find a good round-up of anti-spanking quotes on What Tami Said that sets up the spanking-for-submission argument and tears it back down again. Great food for thought.

  125. vanessa
    vanessa June 30, 2011 at 8:28 pm |

    Florence: Sure, but having experience raising children is very helpful when having a conversation about raising children.

    True. But not entirely necessary.

  126. Vigée
    Vigée June 30, 2011 at 8:31 pm |

    Florence: Sure, but having experience raising children is very helpful when having a conversation about raising children.

    I would think that having once been a child, who either may or may not have experienced spanking, should be sufficient.

  127. queenrandom
    queenrandom June 30, 2011 at 8:37 pm |

    Laurie:
    Vanessa, I firmly believe that spanking is more frequently experienced by children as sexual abuse than people realize.I certainly experienced it that way.It may depend on context.But modesty was highly valued in my household growing up, so being forcibly disrobed by my opposite-sex parent and then beaten on a private area was a major part of the trauma for me.

    Word. (trigger warning) Additionally, being bent over a knee so one’s genitals in addition to buttocks are exposed (which is what naturally happens when forced to bend at the hip nude, although I’m sure most parents doing this sort of spanking don’t stop to consider this fact of physics)? Yeah. Completely panic-inducing and humiliating. I don’t even remember pain, just complete fear dissociated from everything but my immediate situation. Having survived childhood sexual abuse by a someone else prior to that (or possibly concomitant to it- my timelines are a bit jumbled, but the spankings were ongoing past the onset of puberty I just don’t know when they started) , it just messed me right up. I think it’s very important to remember the potentially sexual nature of the trauma when discussing spankings, especially bare-bottom or bent over the knee.

  128. Florence
    Florence June 30, 2011 at 8:37 pm |

    Vigée: I would think that having once been a child, who either may or may not have experienced spanking, should be sufficient.

    I won’t suffer anyone’s right to their opinion, but really. Many parents give non-parents who are brimming with parenting advice the stinkeye for a reason. This is like thinking that because you went to school you can teach as well as anyone who has specialized training and experience. There’s really nothing like being a primary caregiver but being a primary caregiver, and being a primary caregiver lends a lot of perspective to one’s own childhood experiences, hence it being kind of a universal cultural trope.

  129. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable June 30, 2011 at 9:12 pm |

    I’m fairly confident that having children wouldn’t change my fundamental belief that hitting people is wrong.

    I really don’t understand the idea that this is a parents-only topic. What experience do only parents have that is germane to this conversation?

  130. vanessa
    vanessa June 30, 2011 at 9:28 pm |

    PrettyAmiable:
    I’m fairly confident that having children wouldn’t change my fundamental belief that hitting people is wrong.

    I really don’t understand the idea that this is a parents-only topic. What experience do only parents have that is germane to this conversation?

    Exactly. There are some things that you just know. Having children is not going to change my basic self. And my basic self does not believe you can hit children. Full stop.
    Frankly, the “only parents get to have opinions about how children are treated” trope is bullshit. And there are ways to be primary caregivers without being parents.

  131. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie June 30, 2011 at 9:29 pm |

    If you “have to” hit your children, YOU are out of control. Not them. If you don’t have children and you’re all “but what if they REALLY REALLY REALLY disobey, THEN YOU HAVE TO SPANK THEM!” you’re forking up a huge pile of straw.

    Should everyone who has ever hit or spanked a kid have the kid taken away? NO. Is everyone who ever hit or spanked a kid therefore a bad parent? NO. Do really, really good parents make horrendous mistakes and screw up? OF COURSE.

    Is hitting and spanking therefore okay? No. No, it’s actually never okay to hit someone smaller and less powerful than you in the name of “discipline.” Yelling abusively or verbally taking out your anger on kids is not okay either.

  132. Heather
    Heather June 30, 2011 at 9:32 pm |

    Esti:
    I have mixed feelings on this.I was spanked a few times as a child, gently (I don’t remember it hurting, but if it did, it wasn’t for any longer than a few seconds).I remember liking it a lot more than the method of punishment my parents moved to when I was older, which was sitting me down to talk about what I had done (seriously, I remember asking my mother on multiple occasions to just spank me, because I hated those talks.And it wasn’t because I was getting yelled at, I just found it frustrating to sit through).I don’t have any problem with that kind of spanking, particularly when it is only used on young children who can’t yet understand a talking-to or a time out.

    I’m really curious about what people’s opinions are on the age where children start to understand non-corporal punishment. I’m not a parent, but I have a 3 year old niece who I know understands timeouts, and I personally gave a “talking to” to her about something when she wasn’t even 3 that I felt like she totally understood. So, am I misleading myself on this or are the only kids who can’t understand those punishments* incredibly young? Because to me it seems like an especially bad end of the discipline spectrum if you hit kids that are that little.

    *Granted, these might be totally ineffective at stopping the behavior, but I think even kids who are undeterred by a time out usually understand the reason they are in trouble.

  133. Archie
    Archie June 30, 2011 at 9:33 pm |

    @vanessa – you’re right about the awkward frame – I kind of hate it too. What I meant to say was – I’ve never had to manhandle and physically dominate one of my sons. Maybe I feel worse about it than I should, but I don’t think there is a way to sugar coat a struggle between a flailing 60 pound child and a 180 pound man, especially if you consider it from the child’s point of view.

    It is funny how something like this comes to happen – we start off as parents with no clue about what it will be like, and the first things we do with our infant children is hold them tight, feed them, and rock them. When he cries, you pick him up and hold him. The physical proximity of a child is nothing at all like a lover, a pet, a friend, or any of the other comparisons that I’ve read in this thread. The physical relationship between a parent and child is unique. Nothing I read or heard prior to having children prepared me for this reality.

    Even though I had the conventional cultural expectations for myself (I’m a child of the educated American middle class and the grandson of striving immigrants) – I had no idea what it would be like to teach my child how to behave. And he did misbehave, a lot. I read the advice books – talked intently with my wife about it for hours, worried that he would hurt another kid (which he did once, by the way, and it was awful). We wondered about nature and nurture – discipline, anger, and control, both ours and his. What helped us was to recognize that our boy’s anger, frustration, and lack of control was a – developmental – issue. We saw that children learn to control their emotions and reactions at different rates as surely as they learn to read, dribble a basketball, or make friends at different rates. Once we got that, the heat was turned off, and we had a way to deal with it. But it was a struggle. We had to learn a lot.

    Yes, I think The Explosive Child is Ross Green’s book. I haven’t read it, but there is a lot of material on the website I referenced previously that I found extremely helpful.

  134. Florence
    Florence June 30, 2011 at 9:35 pm |

    Nobody said that this is a parents-only topic. The experience that parents-only (or primary caregivers of children-only) have is the experience of raising children. Which is vastly more complicated than many of the hardliners in this thread are allowing.

    Look, my thoughts on spanking itself are upthread. I’m seeing the parents on-thread who are trying to lend some gray area to this black-and-white rendering of parental discipline being shouted down by non-parents. I’m saying if you don’t have regular responsibility for children, disciplining kids is super-easy. When it’s idealized in your mind. I’m saying it’s complicated. I’m saying that if you think spanking is an issue, period, you ought to be listening to what’s happening with parents, caregivers, and their relationships to discipline.

    But if you really want to hone in on one sentence I said about parenting experience being an important facet of discussions about parenting (which should be an extremely uncontroversial statement), go for it. By all means, let’s derail yet another thread on some pedantic stuff, please.

  135. Miss S
    Miss S June 30, 2011 at 9:39 pm |

    Word. I’m trying to google it but my google must be broken. I read some essays online about how corporeal punishment in the black community is not only a way of differentiation, but also born partly out of anxiety in that being black and not following the rules in America means you get jailed, beaten, shot, or worse, often by the police or government. So the dilemma in the black community is different than in the white community, where the debate on spanking is almost an esoteric evaluation of your personal values. For many black folks, you might spank your kids to teach them how to keep in line, or risk seeing them hurt or killed for falling out of line with, say, a police officer. And even then.

    This resonated with me. Most black people I know also had the “you can’t do what the white kids do, cuz your ass will get in trouble/locked up” speech, and the “you’re gonna have to work twice as hard to get the respect as while people” speech, myself included. It’s a different socialization process.

  136. Miss S
    Miss S June 30, 2011 at 9:44 pm |

    Re: white vs black way of doing things:

    I think a lot of people would be surprised at how often this is talked about. I’m a minority in a predominately white area and I often hear my family members, particularly the women, discussing the way others (white people) discipline their children. Just the other day I heard a boy who couldn’t have been more than ten call his mother a bitch when she asked him to carry something. My sister and I just looked at each other. Most of the black people I grew up with were raised to respect their mothers, and calling your mom a bitch was damn near the worst thing you could do. Hell, calling someone else’s mom a bitch was the quickest way to provoke someone into a fight. This mom just rolled her eyes and kept walking. I can tell you that certainly wouldn’t have been the case with most of the families I knew growing up.

  137. Archie
    Archie June 30, 2011 at 10:01 pm |

    Well I was going to steer clear of the black vs white parenting styles thing, but I have two bits to contribute. I’m white. My wife is black (West Indian, actually.) My sons are mixed. I totally see the “spare the rod” culture that Miss S and others are referencing. What’s more, I’m keenly aware of the risk that my son faces. He is a smart and sensitive boy who will not be given the benefit of the doubt by some people. The consequences of a minor screw-up could be terrible.

  138. karak
    karak June 30, 2011 at 11:36 pm |

    I was spanked–and by spanked, I mean hit with an open hand over my pants and underwear/diaper for committing truly dangerous acts–mainly running out into oncoming traffic. For whatever reason I did this REPEATEDLY as a child, and several caregivers have confessed to spanking my ass as a last-ditch effort to save my life (and because I scared the hell out of them).

    A spanking does not leave red marks, bruises, or welts. And sometimes hitting someone, as awful as it is, might be necessary to impart a traumatic lesson.

    On the other hand, I’ve been hauled off and slapped across the face twice. Once was because I slapped my mother first, and the other was because I called her a bitch. I honestly believed I deserved to be slapped both times (I was an adolescent, not a small child) and it didn’t leave a mark/bruise/welt/cause bleeding.

    But…yeah. I’m a college-educated American who believes on rare occassion, it is acceptable and perhaps even necessary to hit your kids.

    Recently, several friends of mine were sitting around talking about our childhoods and it came up that most of us had been spanked as small children and some of us slapped as teens, usually for disrespect or behaving violently first. A friend of mine from Sweden was there and he expressed bone-deep horror our parents had ever physically disciplined us. So it might be a cultural thing as well.

  139. outrageandsprinkles
    outrageandsprinkles July 1, 2011 at 12:04 am |

    I think spanking is cruel and lazy. I don’t care if it’s done out of anger, I don’t understand how someone can say to themselves “I am not angry at my child, they did something wrong and need to learn about responsibility and consequences, so I am going to hit them”. Spanking is hitting. If you think it’s okay to lightly swat your kids’ behind then it should be okay to lightly smack their face, right? What’s the difference other than spanking being more socially acceptable? I think it’s for parents that are too lazy to bother finding a solution that does not include laying a hand on their children. And while I know plenty of people here were probably spanked and “turned out fine”, I don’t care. If you turned out fine it was in spite of being spanking, not because you were spanked. Spanking is not some magical parenting cure all to make your kids turn into responsible adults.

  140. Jadey
    Jadey July 1, 2011 at 12:21 am |

    Seriously, who here has actually advocated spanking? Because I keep re-reading the thread and really not seeing it. Even the people who have talked about the grey areas of *their own experiences* have pretty much said, “But I still wouldn’t spank my kids”. So where’s this spank-happy joyfest that people keep referencing?

  141. nico
    nico July 1, 2011 at 12:25 am |

    I was spanked regularly by my father and it really messed me up.
    They were over-the-clothes spankings with his bare hand, and they never left a mark, but they hurt like hell for a long time afterward. Much worse than the pain though, was the terror, humiliation, vulnerability, and sense of shattered trust that I felt. I remember being spanked more clearly than almost any other memory from my childhood.

    He always spanked me in anger – my dad has a real out of control anger problems – looking back on it, I think that “discipline” was used as an excuse to take out his own anger and frustration at me when I was misbehaving.

    To this day, male anger absolutely terrifies me. I’ve never been able to really, completely trust a man and I doubt I ever will – as soon as a boyfriend even raises his voice at me I freak out and either freeze up entirely or lash out with anger.

    Anyway, with is all just my own experience and anecdote doesn’t equal data, but in my opinion it’s just not okay to hit a child with the intent of causing pain, EVER. And to parents who think it’s okay to do this, all I can say is that your child will remember, and you will never get back the trust that you broke.

  142. evil fizz
    evil fizz July 1, 2011 at 12:43 am | *

    I’m deeply discomfited by the whole “well, I probably deserved that,” narrative, particularly when it relates to kids under 8 or so.

    It implies to be that it’s a reasonable consequence to be hit when kid behaves in a way that an adult doesn’t like. (Which seems to entail more cases of rudeness and being obnoxious than anything else.)

    I went to grade school with a girl who was very forthright about how her mother hit her for “talking back” and that she’d do the same to her own kids for their failure to be respectful. Even in second grade, I thought her mother was immature and pathetic for not being able to handle a kid being obnoxious without resorting to slapping her across the face. I still think that.

  143. Li
    Li July 1, 2011 at 1:16 am |

    Florence: But if you really want to hone in on one sentence I said about parenting experience being an important facet of discussions about parenting (which should be an extremely uncontroversial statement), go for it.

    Florence, the reason this concerns me is that the discussion is not just about parenting. Parenting is part of it, sure, but it is also about children, and violence towards them, and some of us have already outlined our lived experience as survivors of childhood violence. Our contributions are valid and important regardless of whether we are primary caregivers, and the “parenting experience” things just feels really erasing of that to me.

  144. Robert
    Robert July 1, 2011 at 1:22 am |

    When our first daughter was 3 or 4, we started giving her swats on the bottom. Then one evening when my wife swatted her, our daughter swatted her back. We took one look at this and asked ourselves what did we want to teach our children. I have only given one of our children a spanking, That was when she was caught shoplifting at age 10. The spanking was to reinforce how serious what she did was. It was not hard and not on bare skin. My daughter and I talked about why I spanked her afterwords.

    My mom was the same way. I only got 4 or 5 spankings as a child. I really deserved each and every one. They were with a hair brush so it would hurt. It kept me from laughing it off. But I don’t remember swats as a kid.

    So my opinion is that spanking a child is not wrong. But it should be used very judiciously. Otherwise it just become another form of scolding. And after age 12 or so it just becomes weird.

  145. Li
    Li July 1, 2011 at 1:55 am |

    Li:

    Seriously, who here has actually advocated spanking? Because I keep re-reading the thread and really not seeing it. Even the people who have talked about the grey areas of *their own experiences* have pretty much said, “But I still wouldn’t spank my kids”. So where’s this spank-happy joyfest that people keep referencing?

    Here:

    Andie:

    I’ve spanked my own kids, but I’ve tried to be very choosy and make sure I’m not doing it out of anger, and to make sure they know why they were getting spanked.

    tinfoil hattie: I think physical punishment should be kept to a minimum, but in some cases I think it’s the best response.

    karak: But…yeah. I’m a college-educated American who believes on rare occassion, it is acceptable and perhaps even necessary to hit your kids.

    I’m not going to find all of the instances in this discussion because TRIGGERING but there you go.

  146. Li
    Li July 1, 2011 at 2:11 am |

    And for some reason my top quote is referencing myself and not Jadey? Weird.

  147. little sister
    little sister July 1, 2011 at 4:25 am |

    evil fizz:
    I’m deeply discomfited by the whole “well, I probably deserved that,” narrative, particularly when it relates to kids under 8 or so.

    Thank you for pointing to this.

    I spent years and years defending my parents and their ways of disciplining. I was very outspokenly defending spanking and other ways of making a child feel humiliated, lonely and powerless as “I had deserved it” and “it did me good”. It’s only after I have learned to demand respect for my physical boundaries, to not to blame myself for the mistreatment by others, to trust myself in conflict, that I have also managed to let go of the need to defend my parents.

    I still fail at this all the time and end up blaming myself and I still don’t deal well with authorities, I’m still easily terrified and ashamed, but there’s no way I would believe anymore that any child would deserve to be spanked. To me it stinks like blaming the victim.

  148. chava
    chava July 1, 2011 at 4:52 am |

    Spanking is a lot, a LOT less likely to do permanant physical damage than slapping someone, especially a small someone. My father has some permenant neck damage from being slapped/hit in the face by his mother,and permenent hand damage from nuns hitting his knuckles. There’s a reason spanking is a “entry level” BDSM activity–it’s hard to really hurt someone.

    I’m not saying it’s right–but there is a reason why it’s better to spank vs. hit other parts of the body.

    outrageandsprinkles:
    If you think it’s okay to lightly swat your kids’ behind then it should be okay to lightly smack their face, right? What’s the difference other than spanking being more socially acceptable?

  149. chava
    chava July 1, 2011 at 4:53 am |

    Bockquote: FAIL.

  150. Florence
    Florence July 1, 2011 at 6:16 am |

    Li, considering that we were all children once and are attempting to express our experiences here, I don’t think the children’s POV is going anywhere. As a mom, I’m expressing that I am deeply interested in hearing what other moms, dads, nannies, grandparents, etc., have to say about it too. That’s not “erasure”, nor should it be seen as much.

  151. Dangerbread
    Dangerbread July 1, 2011 at 6:41 am |

    Another issue: what does it do to a person to teach them from a young age that if someone they love hurts them, it’s because they were bad? Because they “deserved” it.

    I never thought of this until my mother was waiting in the ER and a young woman came in with a bloody nose from her boyfriend hitting her. She was astonished, and kept saying “Nobody ever hit me before.”

    It made me wonder if she would have gone for help if she was used to being hit for “being bad.”

    It seems to me that punishing children physically can set them up to blame themselves for being abused in a relationship later in life.

  152. bhuesca
    bhuesca July 1, 2011 at 7:08 am |

    All spanking/slapping on the face taught me was “I’m bigger than you, so I can hurt you”…in fact my mother said that to me several times…too bad for her that I hit puberty around age 10 and was then bigger than her! She really enjoyed her first slap on the face when she said a “forbidden” (curse) word to me and we had just determined that I was bigger and taller as a 10 year old girl than she was now. Parents with smaller children take note: she never hit me again, and she never hit my (8 years younger) sister. Ever. Because I was bigger than her, so I could hurt her.

    PS tons of therapy, will never personally physically discipline any child.

  153. Azalea
    Azalea July 1, 2011 at 7:19 am |

    They have research against every form of punishing a child- taking away toys, time out to spanking. In other words as a parent you are at the mercy of your seedling and there is nobody to blame but you. No matter what your child does you are to ask them nicely, but firmly, to stop it please and if you get too frustrated then YOU go to time out.

    HOWEVER, if you want to strap your newborn down and tear away at his genitals, GO AT IT, want to raise your chld to hate women, homosexuals and minorities , That is your right. No harm no foul its culture and culture trumps logic and basic human decency anyday

    *end sarcasm*

    Seriously, there is a shitload of hypocrisy here when people say that parents have SO MUCH control over their children that they can forcibly change their genitalia permanently and painfully because the parent wants ther child’s genitalia to look a certain way without medical necessity yet popping a child’s hand because saying no and redirecting them isn’t getting the point across that the electrical socket plugs are not toys and are in the socket to keep you OUT of it makes you a bad parent.

  154. Azalea
    Azalea July 1, 2011 at 7:30 am |

    Miss S:
    Re: white vs black way of doing things:

    I think a lot of people would be surprised at how often this is talked about. I’m a minority in a predominately white area and I often hear my family members, particularly the women, discussing the way others (white people) discipline their children.Just the other day I heard a boy who couldn’t have been more than ten call his mother a bitch when she asked him to carry something. My sister and I just looked at each other. Most of the black people I grew up with were raised to respect their mothers, and calling your mom a bitch was damn near the worst thing you could do. Hell, calling someone else’s mom a bitch was the quickest way to provoke someone into a fight.This mom just rolled her eyes and kept walking. I can tell you that certainly wouldn’t have been the case with most of the families I knew growing up.

    I doubt that kid ever got spanked or even timeout for anything. I can understand some people holdng frm against spanking or hitting but to not even SAY anything to your child, not even, “dont call me that” or “dont say that word” NOTHING? That’s………I can’t even begin. He obviously has no respect for her whatsoever but you think, if not spanking and not putting a kid in timeout is supposed to make them so much better than the kids who DO get spanked and most children ARE spanked why arent most people wanted for violent crimes? Why arent most people disresepcting their parents?

    I wouldn’t dare call my mother a bitch. I love and respect her way too much but I also know that her response would be much more than an eye roll. Something of a lecture of the do-you-know-who-I-am variety/slap-the-taste-out-of-your-mouth combo.

  155. Azalea
    Azalea July 1, 2011 at 7:37 am |

    bhuesca:
    All spanking/slapping on the face taught me was “I’m bigger than you, so I can hurt you”…in fact my mother said that to me several times…too bad for her that I hit puberty around age 10 and was then bigger than her! She really enjoyed her first slap on the face when she said a “forbidden” (curse) word to me and we had just determined that I was bigger and taller as a 10 year old girl than she was now. Parents with smaller children take note: she never hit me again, and she never hit my (8 years younger) sister. Ever. Because I was bigger than her, so I could hurt her.

    PS tons of therapy, will never personally physically discipline any child.

    Spanking or punishing experience is different for different people. I know tons who says it kept them out of trouble, the fear of being spanked or slapped was greater than the fear of peer reaction to you “wussing out” or not doing what they wanted you to do. And these people respect and love their parents and dont feel abused.

    I did see a boy on Dr. Phil however who I am guessing was at some point slapped around by his mom because he slapped her when she interrupted him and asked her, how does that make you feel etc. I guess the same thing you mention above. Spanking/slapping him definitely had different results.

  156. Azalea
    Azalea July 1, 2011 at 7:46 am |

    vanessa:
    Can I just secondthirdfourthwhatever the fact that it is literally sickening to see people attempt to justify hitting a child? I cannot think of any way where that would be even remotely feminist.

    @Archie I do think there is a difference in restraining a child so that he or she does not hurt anyone–including themselves–and spanking them. Spanking is *designed* to hurt. Restraining your child, while obviously not ideal, is not designed to hurt them (at least not the way you are describing: obviously restraining a child can be used for other purposes). Also, a book I have found helpful when dealing with kids who may be similar to your boy is The Explosive Child.

    I will say, though, that I hate the framing of “we’ve never HAD to spank our child.” Well, sure, but the people who DO spank have never had to, either.

    I know a lot of older black women who are disgusted with the fact that spanking is considered okay in their communities. Not just the occasional swat, either, but full on beatings. Essentially abuse. And while I don’t think these children should be taken from their homes–for one thing, I’m guessing that some parenting classes might help, and before you jump on me parenting classes would help a LOT of people, white and black–that does not change the facts. (and of course some children, sadly, SHOULD be taken from their parents, but that is not what we are talking about here).

    I was in an education class at my HBCU a few years ago and was arguing with an older black guy. He was kind of jerk. He kept saying that hitting kids was fine, its how they learn, etc. I am a bit embarrassed to say we were yelling at each other towards the end. Anyway, the prof–also black–came back into the room, looked us over, and said, very sadly, that the black community really needed to realize that spanking is not okay. I will never forget the way that she said that. She was not an especially good prof, but that was something else altogether.

    Florence–I’m not sure, actually, that you do get to play that card. Having or not having children doesn’t always mean shit. There are loads of terrible parents and there are loads of people who know a LOT about children–not just developmentally but about the day to day–who do not have kids.

    This isnt knowing about children, its knowing how to RAISE a child. Not just feed, clothe, bathe etc, but how to rear them and guide them to one day grow up and be productive independent members of society. A lot of families PERIOD spank their children because the vast majority n this country (and considering blacks are a minority…) have been spanked as children. The problem here is the definition of spanked is different for different people, for some who were abused spanking is punches to the face, a belt, an extension cord, open handed slaps all over the body leavin marks and bruises, obviously they will have nothing nice to say about that abuse.

    I was once a daycare provider as a part-time job in high school, my younger siblings are 11, 12 and 18 years younger than me but it wasn’t until I had my OWN child that I realized babysitting barely prepared me for shit but how to change a diaper and how to soothe a crying a child and if you thnk that is all there is to parenting you prove the point that a parent knows best.

  157. Azalea
    Azalea July 1, 2011 at 7:51 am |

    outrageandsprinkles:
    I think spanking is cruel and lazy. I don’t care if it’s done out of anger, I don’t understand how someone can say to themselves “I am not angry at my child, they did something wrong and need to learn about responsibility and consequences, so I am going to hit them”. Spanking is hitting. If you think it’s okay to lightly swat your kids’ behind then it should be okay to lightly smack their face, right? What’s the difference other than spanking being more socially acceptable? I think it’s for parents that are too lazy to bother finding a solution that does not include laying a hand on their children. And while I know plenty of people here were probably spanked and “turned out fine”, I don’t care. If you turned out fine it was in spite of being spanking, not because you were spanked. Spanking is not some magical parenting cure all to make your kids turn into responsible adults.

    But who are YOU to tell someone about their own experiences? You dont get to reframe it to fit your argument and your experience. If someone says spanking made them better people or spankng deterred them from etc etc then what authoity do you have to say otherwise? it is THEIR experience and you dont get to take away someone else’s experience because it doesn’t match your own.

  158. vanessa
    vanessa July 1, 2011 at 8:18 am |

    Azalea:

    I was once a daycare provider as a part-time job in high school, my younger siblings are 11, 12 and 18 years younger than me but it wasn’t until I had my OWN child that I realized babysitting barely prepared me for shit but how to change a diaper and how to soothe a crying a child and if you thnk that is all there is to parenting you prove the point that a parent knows best.

    Really? Is that what I said, that people who aren’t parents and advocate for non-spanking only know how to soothe crying children and change diapers? Because actually, that’s bullshit and you know it. Obviously that’s not all there is to parenting, nor did I say that it was.
    Florence, I see what you are saying: nonetheless, we are talking about a larger context of violence against children and its cultural acceptability. If this discussion were about violence against women, NONE of you would be saying it’s ok to swat your wife occasionally. It is not. It is not okay to hit another person.
    Also, I find spanking in anger much less scary (still terrifying though!) than parents who go with the premeditated spanking. What the fuck kind of thing is that to teach your child? Yes, Mommy thought and thought about it, and now she is going to hit you.

  159. Amarantha
    Amarantha July 1, 2011 at 9:21 am |

    For me spanking was just wrong and counterproductive, and it fit into my mother’s larger pattern of inconsistent discipline followed by uncontrolled anger–spanking hurt because i could tell my mom wasn’t in control. I think it should never be considered “okay,” and I would never use it on my kids. Many friends were beaten by their parents growing up, and while none of them thinks spanking is tantamount to abuse, they also said they wouldn’t do it. I still think it’s something that should be up to a parents choice, but that we should discourage with as much of a unified societal message as possible.

    Personally, what hurt me wasn’t two dozen spankings over my lifetime; it was the mean things my mom said when she lost her temper. I think verbal abuse can be more damaging than the occasional spanking.

  160. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie July 1, 2011 at 9:25 am |

    The average two-year-old is about 31 inches tall and weighs about 28.4 lbs.

    Imagine a person 9 feet tall and weighing 250 lbs coming at you and hitting, spanking, slapping, or “swatting” you – because you were physiologically, mentally, and developmentally unable to do things the way that person wanted you to do them – 100% of the time. Or because you kept making the same mistake over and over and over.

    Would this be okay?

  161. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie July 1, 2011 at 9:34 am |

    @Li in comment 151:

    tinfoil hattie: I think physical punishment should be kept to a minimum, but in some cases I think it’s the best response.

    PLEASE CORRECT THIS. THIS IS NOT A QUOTE FROM ME. I ABSOLUTELY NEVER SAID THIS, NOR DO I BELIEVE IT! THIS PISSES ME OFF.

  162. GW
    GW July 1, 2011 at 9:48 am |

    “Children who are spanked occasionally are not thought to be significantly impacted later on, but those who are spanked regularly are more likely to have behavior problems that may escalate into antisocial behavior. They may also be at greater risk for anxiety disorders or depression and ultimately may be more likely to engage in domestic violence and child abuse as adults.”

    Here we have a the great “switcheroo” in cause and effect. You don’t spank a good kid, and a bad kid is going to naturally be spanked more. Is the argument that the more you spank, the worse the kid BECOMES, or is it the worse the kid, the more he is spanked? The answer is obvious.
    Kids are not a blank slate. They have preterdermined factors bubbling in their DNA. Some are more likely to be criminal, whether or no he was spanked as kid. Now, environment can play a role in determining whether or not certain behavior manifests in one way or the other, but, the tendency is there.
    Also, let’s not equate “spanking” with “hitting”.

  163. jillian
    jillian July 1, 2011 at 10:20 am |

    ive debated whether or not to join this discussion and id like to thank florence for some very nuianced opinions. while i theoretically know spanking is counter-productive and never should be done in anger, i also know ive said nasty, mean things to my kids when they were acting beyond obnoxious because i was “using my words” when what i really wanted to do was just spank them and tell them to knock that shit off.

    ive had comments directed to me and my friend when my/our children were being out of control. usually, it’s along the lines of us needing to “do something” – like trying to calmly and rationally defuse the situation isnt “doing something.” ive had people on different occasion with both of my children imply they need/deserve to be spanked/beat.

    it’s demoralizing to the nth degree. and again, there is no adequate analogy to parenting children, but at times it is like having a controlling/obnoxious boss, co-worker and roommate rolled into one that, when they are young, you cant get away from. and while that boss/co-worker/roommate’s character flaws in adults is seen as their own problem, in children it is seen as a character flaw on the parent’s part – as ive experienced in the above instances. you may know their behaviour is perfectly normal for their temperment and age, but that doesnt stop the “parade of nasty looks” in the grocery store/restaurant/mall, etc., etc., despite doing everything possible to make the experience go smoothly. you constantly worry about if there’s something you’ve done to warrant or cause the behaviour from them in the first place and if what you’re trying to do will help or harm the situation.

    i tell my children the only behaviour they can change is their own and to “do what is right, not what the other person is doing.” as a parent, i struggle with it everyday and some days are easier than others.

  164. igglanova
    igglanova July 1, 2011 at 10:49 am |

    Jesus christ, I can hardly believe how much people in feminist communities are starting to use and accept personal anecdotes uncritically. Look at the data. The scientific consensus is indisputable: spanking is not an effective form of punishment, and the more spanking occurs, the more negative outcomes are indicated. It is not a superior teaching method to other, more humane methods. Spanking, no matter how mild, NEVER indicates superior outcomes to NOT spanking. It is unnecessary at best and harmful at worst. This should be the end of the discussion.

  165. Ellie
    Ellie July 1, 2011 at 11:01 am |

    vanessa: If this discussion were about violence against women, NONE of you would be saying it’s ok to swat your wife occasionally.

    We also wouldn’t value input from women’s spouses more than input from average women, either. While I certainly value parents’ input on this one, I don’t think it’s exclusively a parenting topic.

  166. DammitJanet
    DammitJanet July 1, 2011 at 11:04 am |

    I have spanked my daughter, and I have had to say, “I’m sorry. This is what happens when people lose control of their anger. It’s wrong, and let’s all work together to make sure everyone in our family knows how to control our anger.”

    I hate that these words were necessary. I was raised by parents who spank, and that kind of violence is hard to unlearn. I think a lot of parents justify their own violence for that very reason. It’s hard to say, “This hurt me as a child, and now I’m doing it to my own child even knowing the effect it had on me.” This is especially true since there seems to be a general consensus that it is a ridiculous show of weakness to apologize to a child.

    I went through therapy to deal with my anger and to learn how to make my home safer for everyone. It has helped tremendously, and I encourage anyone who struggles with this to seek out assistance. It’s worth it.

  167. Alex
    Alex July 1, 2011 at 11:04 am |

    My grandmother used to tell this story about how once when my dad was two years old, she was on the phone and he kept tugging at the cord. She asked him to stop and when he didn’t she back-handed him. She would tell this story and laugh about it and all I could ever think about was how many other times she had ‘disciplined’ him and whether or not this had any impact on the extreme verbal/emotional/psychological abuse that he piled on my mother, siblings and I.

    Count me in to the “don’t hit kids” camp, but I definitely agree that there is more grey area as an actual caregiver. Not grey area as in, “spanking is ok in some situations” but more complicated than “it would never even cross my mind to hit my child”. Child rearing is an exhaustive, often frustrating experience and I think that one would be hard pressed to find a caregiver who hadn’t reached the end of their tether and thought about spanking their child. Even if it happens once, I don’t think that the parents who slip up should be vilified. My mum spanked me once (I don’t remember at all), regretted it immediately and never spanked either of my younger siblings. Where as my dad once spanked my brother and sister and, shit, it was incredibly violent and traumatizing (didn’t help that he was always screaming and verbally attacking us, throwing things and slamming doors and breaking stuff).

  168. Spank your kids « One Radical
    Spank your kids « One Radical July 1, 2011 at 11:17 am |

    [...] came across this Times article while skimming through a recent Feministe entry on spanking children. It’s safe to say most commenters at Feministe don’t advocate spanking, [...]

  169. Florence
    Florence July 1, 2011 at 11:17 am |

    Alex: Count me in to the “don’t hit kids” camp, but I definitely agree that there is more grey area as an actual caregiver. Not grey area as in, “spanking is ok in some situations” but more complicated than “it would never even cross my mind to hit my child”. Child rearing is an exhaustive, often frustrating experience and I think that one would be hard pressed to find a caregiver who hadn’t reached the end of their tether and thought about spanking their child.

    Right. I feel like a lot of this discussion is centered around whether spanking is right or wrong, and it’s almost a consensus that spanking is, if not “wrong”, than it’s certainly neutral or easily less desirable than other forms of parental discipline. But (and here’s where the parents’ input is important) it is still happening. A lot. Even despite the public displays of moral outrage against spanking, as the OP says, “Research from the 90s showed that 70% of college-educated mothers spank their kids, and other research puts the figure at 90 percent of parents generally.” NINETY PERCENT.

    So I think it’s more than fair to say that the issue of spanking is vastly more complicated than good/bad. It’s considered almost universally bad, but is used almost universally anyway. Is anyone else interested in why this is so?

    So no, it’s not “spanking is abuse, end of discussion.” If this is a real concern and not just the blog outrage of the day, we need to figure out how to empower parents and other caregivers (which are usually women, fellow feminists) to avoid corporal punishment, or how to handle their relationships with their children after a point of discipline has become physical. It’s just not as easy as “this is bad, make them all take parenting classes or take their kids away, end of discussion.”

  170. Athenia
    Athenia July 1, 2011 at 11:19 am |

    I got spanked—but only my father would spank me.

    I remember he also pulled my ear.

    I really hated getting spanked because inevitably, he would yell at me and tell me to go to my room and on my way to my room I would have to pass him AND THEN he would spank me. The anticipation on getting hit was horrible.

    Anyway, I just don’t remember being a horrible enough kid to deserve that.

    I suppose I turned out alright, but I don’t think I would be really interested in hitting my kids. Not to say I completely won’t do it, but I think time out gets your point across.

  171. DammitJanet
    DammitJanet July 1, 2011 at 11:19 am |

    I feel like I need to add to my comment. This is just speaking from my own experience, but I’m sure there are other parents out there who have spanked their children because parents are supposed to have control over their children and failing at that causes a lot of internal rage. There’s a lot of guilt and shame and resistance to admitting that yeah, my parents made mistakes with me and I am repeating them. I think if more people said, “Spanking is wrong, but fucking up every now and then isn’t going to fuck up your kids so long as you recognize it and change the behavior,” more people would be willing to change.

  172. GW
    GW July 1, 2011 at 11:20 am |

    igglanova: Jesus christ, I can hardly believe how much people in feminist communities are starting to use and accept personal anecdotes uncritically. Look at the data. The scientific consensus is indisputable: spanking is not an effective form of punishment, and the more spanking occurs, the more negative outcomes are indicated. It is not a superior teaching method to other, more humane methods. Spanking, no matter how mild, NEVER indicates superior outcomes to NOT spanking. It is unnecessary at best and harmful at worst. This should be the end of the discussion.

    This sounds like something coming from someone who doesn’t have kids. You seem to conflate “hitting” and “spanking”. Would you say there is NEVER a time in which a child should be say, slapped on the hand? EVER?

  173. Florence
    Florence July 1, 2011 at 11:23 am |

    DammitJanet: I went through therapy to deal with my anger and to learn how to make my home safer for everyone. It has helped tremendously, and I encourage anyone who struggles with this to seek out assistance. It’s worth it.

    Thank you for saying this. I have done the same to deal with the depression that was making me an impatient, rigid mother. The important of apologizing to my child/ren when I know that I am wrong is one of the major components that I took away from that therapy.

    Gotta say, too: Considering therapy isn’t always available to people who need it, I think it’s important to come up with other routes of learning/coping, too.

  174. DammitJanet
    DammitJanet July 1, 2011 at 11:23 am |

    “It’s just not as easy as “this is bad, make them all take parenting classes or take their kids away, end of discussion.””

    Of course it’s not easy, but why is there such a stigma around taking parenting classes? Parenting is hard, and a lot of us did not have models for what good parenting looks like; but there’s this notion floating around that if you need to take parenting classes, you are already a failure as a parent.

  175. DammitJanet
    DammitJanet July 1, 2011 at 11:24 am |

    (And not saying you’re saying that. Just pointing out that stigma is also a barrier to getting help.)

  176. Florence
    Florence July 1, 2011 at 11:26 am |

    DammitJanet: Of course it’s not easy, but why is there such a stigma around taking parenting classes? Parenting is hard, and a lot of us did not have models for what good parenting looks like; but there’s this notion floating around that if you need to take parenting classes, you are already a failure as a parent.

    Yep. I don’t know what that is. This idea that parenting comes “naturally” and we all just know how to do it? I mean, even the feminist moms I know who rage against “biology is destiny” struggle with a sense of failure if their ideals or skills don’t match up with their realities.

  177. McSnarkster
    McSnarkster July 1, 2011 at 11:27 am |

    A spouse is NOT a child. Unless you’re in a really screwy relationship, your spouse is an adult. Let’s knock it off with the false equivalencies. (It’s especially bad with the wife comparison–adult women aren’t children, and their husbands are NOT their fathers, despite the outdated ideas still floating around our culture. How is this comparison remotely appropriate on a feminist blog?)

    The only comparison I would buy is that a person who’s been married would be much more likely to have informed opinions about what makes a marriage work, the same way a person who’s a parent would be much more likely to have informed opinions about what makes parenting work. Firsthand experience counts for something, and I think if there’s “silencing,” it’s usually on the side of people who don’t have that firsthand experience trying to argue those that do are uninformed.

    Parenting is a difficult job, and I have no real opinion on spanking. I didn’t like it when I was little, but I didn’t enjoy any other punishment, either. It got me to stop certain bad behaviors, anyway, and I think if it had left any long-term scars I could drum up a stronger opinion than “don’t take it too far.”

  178. Angel H.
    Angel H. July 1, 2011 at 11:32 am |

    DammitJanet: “It’s just not as easy as “this is bad, make them all take parenting classes or take their kids away, end of discussion.””Of course it’s not easy, but why is there such a stigma around taking parenting classes? Parenting is hard, and a lot of us did not have models for what good parenting looks like; but there’s this notion floating around that if you need to take parenting classes, you are already a failure as a parent.

    This is probably because many family courts order people to take parenting classes after having been found guilty of abuse or neglect. The stigma is “parenting class = Children’s Services is watching”.

  179. Natalia
    Natalia July 1, 2011 at 11:38 am |

    Amarantha made a good point about inconsistent discipline – that’s what I had to put with as a child, and it sucked. I’m not a fan of spanking either, but I wouldn’t equate it with hitting, and I would also say that whether it is good or bad depends on the parent-child relationship, what kind of parents you’re dealing with, and what kind of child.

    Some kids are more sensitive than others. Some will regard a very light slap on their pudgy little bottom as perfectly alright, particularly when they’ve obviously been made aware that what they have just done is wrong, or, for example, dangerous or harmful (Witness: a mother in a park with her two-year-old. Kidlet decides he’s going to rip up some flowers. Mother’s “hey don’t do that” don’t work, he’s ignoring her. Mother gives light slap on the bottom, asks him if he liked that, he didn’t, she explains that he just hurt the flowers much more than that. Kidlet nods, switches his attention to some ducks.) For someone else, it can truly be humiliating and scary.

    It’s all trial-and-error anyways, with children.

    I have quite a big age difference with my bro, and I certainly never spanked him, and don’t plan on spanking my kid either. But I’m a very sensitive person myself, and I would merely treat my kid like I want to be treated. And certainly work on that consistent discipline.

  180. igglanova
    igglanova July 1, 2011 at 11:48 am |

    What does it matter if I don’t have kids? I don’t trust ‘personal experience’ over scientific conclusions. For all the personal experience of the parents here on Feministe, there is a mountain of personal experience out there that leads people to think honest-to-god beatings are fine and dandy. I’m not acting as a font for parenting advice, so I don’t see how my procreative status has shit to do with anything. So you can can the smugness.

  181. Florence
    Florence July 1, 2011 at 11:56 am |

    This is probably because many family courts order people to take parenting classes after having been found guilty of abuse or neglect. The stigma is “parenting class = Children’s Services is watching”.

    Right. The only classes that are okay (read “not red flags”) for parents to take are aspirational, like cloth diapering or baby wearing.

  182. GW
    GW July 1, 2011 at 11:57 am |

    igglanova: What does it matter if I don’t have kids? I don’t trust ‘personal experience’ over scientific conclusions. For all the personal experience of the parents here on Feministe, there is a mountain of personal experience out there that leads people to think honest-to-god beatings are fine and dandy. I’m not acting as a font for parenting advice, so I don’t see how my procreative status has shit to do with anything. So you can can the smugness.

    Scientific evidence! haha. Most that I’ve seen on spanking has cause and effect in the wrong order. They see a corrolation between spanking and bad kids turning into bad adults, which I don’t doubt. But, the causation is not there. We have correlation without causation, because bad kids are MUCH more likely to be spanked than good kids, and more often, wouldn’t you say? And, unless you believe in the blank slate, you know that people are born with certain tendencies. Some people are more likely to be bad apples than others, simply put.

    Also, it DOES make a difference if you are a parent or not. Now, of course you don’t have to be a parent to believe you shouldn’t beat the crap out of your child. But spanking is not beating.

    Plus, you never answered my question. You got defensive and called me smug so I’ll ask you again.

    Is there ever a time in which spanking a child on the bottom is OK, or, are you still going to make the false conflation that ANY spanking is a beating?

    You also say that people think “honest to god beatings are fine and dandy”. Who? Only if YOU think that spanking is beating which is about as idiotic as, well, thinking spanking is beating.

    People on here also say “timeout is all they need”. Ha. well, what if your kid won’t stay in timeout? What if he gets up and starts running around and doesn’t listen to you?

  183. Jadey
    Jadey July 1, 2011 at 11:59 am |

    @ Li

    Okay, thank you for picking out those examples and I apologize for making you go through that. Obviously I was skimming through some of the earlier comments a little too much and the one by karak I missed entirely as it must have been in mod the last time I read the thread.

    I still think that those comments don’t characterize the entirety of the thread as celebrating or advocating spanking, but I acknowledge that some people have said they were okay with spanking.

  184. McSnarkster
    McSnarkster July 1, 2011 at 12:00 pm |

    igglanova:
    What does it matter if I don’t have kids? I don’t trust ‘personal experience’ over scientific conclusions.

    Because science is never, ever biased? Because accepted “scientific conclusions” have never been later proven wrong? Because there’s absolutely no privilege involved in who conducts science? Should we trust the opinions of a white dude with his *scientific conclusions* over a WOC with lived, firsthand experience, then?

    I don’t see anyone being smug, and nobody here is arguing for beatings.

  185. LoriA
    LoriA July 1, 2011 at 12:07 pm |

    I am disgusted that this thread is still going, and that someone had the temerity to argue that only abusers and would-be abusers should speak here.

    Fucking disgusted.

  186. Dave
    Dave July 1, 2011 at 12:08 pm |

    Hey, I know it was many comments up, was done with the best of intentions, in a “children are real people too” manner, but I have to object to the children: wife analogy. There’s an unfortunate history there. I know it wasn’t meant that way, but I just felt I had to object.

    As a non-parent, this thread has been interesting. I think I’m going to try not to spank my children, just because the line between okay/not okay is so subjective and I can’t trust myself to stay on the right side of that line.

    I also think that teaching children that physical violence, in anything but a very limited set of situations, is okay is problematic, especially because society doesn’t actually allow you to respond to most problems with force.

  187. igglanova
    igglanova July 1, 2011 at 12:08 pm |

    Yes, I do think we should trust scientific consensus over anyone’s personal experience. Does a WOC get magical truthiness powers over a white man in the personal anecdote game because she is so exquisitely oppressed? Besides which, the people who later prove old conclusions to be wrong ARE SCIENTISTS THEMSELVES. Good grief. It’s not like scientists, who are adults with a reasonable social ranking, stand to gain anything from advocating against hitting children the way white people stand to gain from racism. There is no sinister agenda here.

  188. igglanova
    igglanova July 1, 2011 at 12:10 pm |

    Also, read carefully. I never once said anyone was advocating for beatings here on Feministe. But it is undeniable that there are scores of people outside our little bubble who do. And they are not absolved by the fact that they reached their conclusions from personal experience. This is basic Science 101 type stuff.

  189. Miss S
    Miss S July 1, 2011 at 12:12 pm |

    Because science is never, ever biased? Because accepted “scientific conclusions” have never been later proven wrong? Because there’s absolutely no privilege involved in who conducts science? Should we trust the opinions of a white dude with his *scientific conclusions* over a WOC with lived, firsthand experience, then?

    Thank you for saying this.

  190. Florence
    Florence July 1, 2011 at 12:20 pm |

    Parents are now considered “abusers or would-be abusers” and the hands-on experience of parenting is unnecessary to explorations of parenting models because a) Science; b) ‘Cause.

    Right. This makes complete and total sense. Carry on.

  191. igglanova
    igglanova July 1, 2011 at 12:24 pm |

    Holy crap, GW. It’s getting hard to keep up with the number of comments that appear out of order via the moderation queue. I didn’t answer your question because I’m not obliged to and I personally thought it was ridiculous and misrepresentative of what I said. You are seeing defensiveness when it isn’t there. Who the fuck DOES think that light swatting and beating with a mattock handle are equivalent?

    The cause-and-effect question is relevant to whether spanking causes behavioural problems or vice versa. Even if it does not cause dysfunctional behaviour, the available data still indicates against the conclusion that it is a superior discipline method to all others. Given that it has no apparent strengths above non-violent approaches, that leads me to the conclusion that spanking can be safely discarded without ill effect.

  192. LoriA
    LoriA July 1, 2011 at 12:25 pm |

    Parents who hit or would consider hitting their children are abusers and would-be abusers. But oh, excuse me, you wanted to hear from parents who don’t and wouldn’t hit their children too. Just none of us who were hit as children. That would be inconvenient for you.

  193. Laurie
    Laurie July 1, 2011 at 12:25 pm |

    Florence says:
    So I think it’s more than fair to say that the issue of spanking is vastly more complicated than good/bad. It’s considered almost universally bad, but is used almost universally anyway. Is anyone else interested in why this is so?

    So no, it’s not “spanking is abuse, end of discussion.” If this is a real concern and not just the blog outrage of the day, we need to figure out how to empower parents and other caregivers (which are usually women, fellow feminists) to avoid corporal punishment, or how to handle their relationships with their children after a point of discipline has become physical. It’s just not as easy as “this is bad, make them all take parenting classes or take their kids away, end of discussion.”

    But there is not a universal consensus that spanking is bad. A majority of parents in the U.S. think spanking is good and they employ it quite deliberately. So it is necessary to discuss why spanking is bad.

    I agree with you that there is also a discussion to be had about parents who spank out of frustration or helplessness, but I would say an important first step is to establish that spanking is, in fact, bad. One of my hopes in participating in discussions like this one is that some parents who blithely assume their goodness and rightness of spanking will think again about that position.

  194. Laurie
    Laurie July 1, 2011 at 12:27 pm |

    Also, the distinction between “hitting” and “spanking” completely escapes me. If spanking ain’t hitting, what the hell is it? Spanking is a form of striking someone with force, i.e. hitting.

  195. GW
    GW July 1, 2011 at 12:31 pm |

    So, Igglanova, you still are equating hitting with spanking? We obviously cannot continue further if you’re not rational.

    Here’s my own personal anecdote. I have 2 kids, and when they were younger they were spanked, not hard, the point of spanking is not to physically injure the child, but to hurt his feelings.

    Now, as an experiment, I would play around with my kids, in the context of “fun”. While rolling around playing, I would playfully slap their bottom, harder than I ever did when spanking them for being in trouble, and they laughed.

    Now, this is why context is key. Slap a kids bottom when they know they are in trouble, they will cry, but because they know they did wrong, and their feelings are hurt. This is similar to the 1 yr old child who falls down trying to walk. If upon falling, one runs over to the child and says “OMG, are you OK!!!” in a loud voice, the kid will cry. But if you say “come on kid, get up, quit falling” in a playful voice, the kid will probably laugh.

    Anyway, spanking is not evil. It’s not wrong. It’s ONLY wrong once you cross a threshold, but who can be the arbirter of that? Well, liberals would like to be, by barring ANY form of punishment that isn’t positive self-reinforcing.

    Here’s my advice, stay out of people’s personal affairs. Let them spank their kids. If you know a parent is beating a child, do something about it. But, the problem is, many on here, many feminists here and liberals alike, do NOT see a difference between spanking and beating. Again, it’s not rational.

  196. Laurie
    Laurie July 1, 2011 at 12:33 pm |

    Some kids are more sensitive than others. Some will regard a very light slap on their pudgy little bottom as perfectly alright, particularly when they’ve obviously been made aware that what they have just done is wrong, or, for example, dangerous or harmful (Witness: a mother in a park with her two-year-old. Kidlet decides he’s going to rip up some flowers. Mother’s “hey don’t do that” don’t work, he’s ignoring her. Mother gives light slap on the bottom, asks him if he liked that, he didn’t, she explains that he just hurt the flowers much more than that. Kidlet nods, switches his attention to some ducks.) For someone else, it can truly be humiliating and scary.

    It may be true that some kids are more sensitive than others, and more likely to be traumatized by a spanking. But the problem is parents can’t necessarily tell what effect their actions are having on their kids. How do you know the kidlet who nods and switches his attention to some ducks isn’t internally saying to himself, “Oh my God, oh my God, I can’t believe that just happened. I am terrified and humiliated but I am just going to bury those feelings deep inside right now and pretend that horrible thing didn’t just happen.” When I was a kid and the topic of spanking came up, my parents insisted that I was fine and resilient and unaffected by it, and pointed out that I could recover quickly and play happily after a punishment. Meanwhile, I was actually a seething ball of neurosis who was desperately trying to pretend that everything was just fine when it wasn’t.

  197. Florence
    Florence July 1, 2011 at 12:33 pm |

    Laurie, I think you misunderstand the point of what I’m saying. The public and private are in conflict here. The majority publicly declare that spanking is terrible (monstrous, abusive, and equal to a beating) and, based on the numbers, do it anyway. Why? What is at work here?

  198. igglanova
    igglanova July 1, 2011 at 12:36 pm |

    I really wish people would stop blatantly twisting what I said. Come on. The question is: ‘Is spanking a humane or effective method of discipline?’ It is not ‘Construct a comprehensive parenting method.’ If it were, then obviously personal experience would be valuable. The reason it isn’t in this debate is that people are biased and limited by their imaginations and / or skills. (for example, ‘it’s the only thing that works.’ How do I know that it really is, or if something different might have worked better?)

  199. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie July 1, 2011 at 12:37 pm |

    Also, let’s not equate “spanking” with “hitting”.

    GW: Spanking IS hitting, no matter how much you reassure yourself that the way YOU hit kids is somehow different and okay.

    And no, children should NEVER be hit. Nor swatted. Nor smacked on the hand. Nor slapped. Nor beaten. IT IS BAD TO HIT PEOPLE. IT IS WRONG.

    It’s really not that hard to NOT hit your kids. It’s just not. If it is, then yes, you need help.

  200. GW
    GW July 1, 2011 at 12:38 pm |

    “Given that it has no apparent strengths above non-violent approaches, that leads me to the conclusion that spanking can be safely discarded without ill effect.”

    This could only be true if EVERY kid was EXACTLY the same. This is a ridiculous statement. Again, you say “violent”, weird. You obviously don’t differentiate much between different forms of corporal punishment though you do say “Who the fuck DOES think that light swatting and beating with a mattock handle are equivalent?”. Now, you are proving my point for me. You don’t draw a line, you say it’s ALL wrong. So, with no line, that’s the same as calling all physical punishment the same, though with some varying degrees of “violence”.

    You may not be advocating for a law, I don’t know. But many are.

  201. Jadey
    Jadey July 1, 2011 at 12:39 pm |

    Laurie:
    Also, the distinction between “hitting” and “spanking” completely escapes me.If spanking ain’t hitting, what the hell is it? Spanking is a form of striking someone with force, i.e. hitting.

    I don’t have an answer for this exactly, but some people have also distinguished between “spanking” and “swatting”, the latter of which is maybe less forceful, not intended to hurt? That is what I would call spanking from my experience – contact, but not force or pain – but clearly that doesn’t fit everyone’s experiences.

  202. Laurie
    Laurie July 1, 2011 at 12:39 pm |

    No, I understand what you are saying, Florence. But I question your premise. Where I live, the majority of parents say that spanking is A-OK. Is there some data suggesting that most parents actually think otherwise?

    As I said, however, I do think the conversation you wish to have is ALSO worth having. I may not have kids yet (ironically I’m out the door in 5 minutes for my first attempt to conceive via donor sperm so I may be expecting within the hour!) but I do understand the impulse to hit a difficult child, and I do understand the sense of not having any other means to control a child. I’ve experienced both. I’m still a hardline anti-spanker thoug!

  203. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie July 1, 2011 at 12:39 pm |

    GW, you’re the one who’s “irrational” here. Spanking is hitting. It is wrong. So is hitting your kid HARD on the bottom “playfully.” Seriously, dude. You have some major issues.

  204. igglanova
    igglanova July 1, 2011 at 12:43 pm |

    ‘So, Igglanova, you still are equating hitting with spanking? We obviously cannot continue further if you’re not rational. ‘

    Dear God, I would be laughing if this wasn’t so tiresome. Spanking is, by definition, hitting. It might not be very hard hitting, depending on the situation, but that is what it is. Playful punching, like I do with my friends, is also hitting. I’m not making a value judgement just by saying so. And your rant about context being important confuses me. I never said anything to the contrary.

  205. GW
    GW July 1, 2011 at 12:44 pm |

    tinfoil hattie: Also, let’s not equate “spanking” with “hitting”.GW: Spanking IS hitting, no matter how much you reassure yourself that the way YOU hit kids is somehow different and okay. And no, children should NEVER be hit. Nor swatted. Nor smacked on the hand. Nor slapped. Nor beaten. IT IS BAD TO HIT PEOPLE. IT IS WRONG.It’s really not that hard to NOT hit your kids. It’s just not. If it is, then yes, you need help.

    tinfoil hattie: Also, let’s not equate “spanking” with “hitting”.GW: Spanking IS hitting, no matter how much you reassure yourself that the way YOU hit kids is somehow different and okay. And no, children should NEVER be hit. Nor swatted. Nor smacked on the hand. Nor slapped. Nor beaten. IT IS BAD TO HIT PEOPLE. IT IS WRONG.It’s really not that hard to NOT hit your kids. It’s just not. If it is, then yes, you need help.

    Hey Hattie, I can play that game too. Watch this:

    “Spanking IS NOT hitting”.

    See how that works? Basically, those of you equating hitting and spanking know better than us. You know my kids better than I do, YOU should tell me I can’t swat their hand.

    I’d rather NOT go to therapy (as you said “need help”), spank my future children when needed and relevant, so that they grow up to be successfull, like me, my 4 brothers, and my kids right now.

    Hattie, do you have kids?

  206. GW
    GW July 1, 2011 at 12:47 pm |

    igglanova: ‘So, Igglanova, you still are equating hitting with spanking? We obviously cannot continue further if you’re not rational. ‘Dear God, I would be laughing if this wasn’t so tiresome. Spanking is, by definition, hitting. It might not be very hard hitting, depending on the situation, but that is what it is. Playful punching, like I do with my friends, is also hitting. I’m not making a value judgement just by saying so. And your rant about context being important confuses me. I never said anything to the contrary.

    See, now you’re just talking semantics. I can laugh too.

    What do you think when someone says “he hit his kid”?

    Now, what pops in your head when you hear “he spanked his kid’s bottom”?

    We are in semantics battle here. But, if you do not distinguish the obvious contextual difference between a spanking and hitting, then, well, I don’t nkow.

  207. Florence
    Florence July 1, 2011 at 12:49 pm |

    Laurie, I can’t pull up the Time article at work, but I’m recalling that that was the majority opinion expressed.

    Also, good luck! Fingers are crossed for you. :)

  208. Azalea
    Azalea July 1, 2011 at 12:51 pm |

    Brian: You’re not responsible for your wife.If she repeatedly (either due to reckless disregard for your safety, or malice) dumps boiling water on you, you’re supposed to leave and not come back.Parents can’t just abandon their children in a field because they keep setting things on fire.

    No he is supposed to stay and continue to tell her in a calm manor that it hurts, even after she boils most of his foot off doing this same thing about 15-25 times a day. Because leaving her is isolation (time out) and therefore manipulative and gosh if he pushes her away (hit her) from him when she gets too close for fear she’d do it again he’s abusive and subhuman and…oh wait *sarcasm*

  209. GW
    GW July 1, 2011 at 12:52 pm |

    Iggla

    Maybe YOU would say “all spanking is hitting”, but would you also say “all hitting is spanking”? Of course not, because that’s absurd right? But, it illustrates my point. There is a difference in the context, which I don’t’ think you’ll disagree with.

  210. DammitJanet
    DammitJanet July 1, 2011 at 1:01 pm |

    But GW, if your child hit you, as children do, which is very unlikely to cause injury and intended to hurt your feelings, I’m pretty sure this would be unacceptable in your home, just as it’s unacceptable in most homes. And you would tell them they aren’t allowed to hit, even though you consider the same behavior in yourself NOT hitting. It’s inconsistent.

  211. GW
    GW July 1, 2011 at 1:04 pm |

    OK Iggla, I think I figured out something we can agree on…I want to make sure that you are not giving moral equivilance to spanking and hitting.

    Murder/killing another person. I doubt you would give moral equivilance to someone killing someone for wearing a red tee shirt, and someone kill another in self defense.

    This is my point. Again, when someone says “he hits his child!”, NO ONE in their right mind would only assume the child is being spanked on his tushy.

  212. Azalea
    Azalea July 1, 2011 at 1:05 pm |

    Ellie: We also wouldn’t value input from women’s spouses more than input from average women, either. While I certainly value parents’ input on this one, I don’t think it’s exclusively a parenting topic.

    Because only a parent can discipline a child?? I mean seriously, other children aren’t going to be the one to find an alternative to spanking as a deterrent or punishment for misbehaving children. You all seem to forget that misbheavior on the part of the child (usually DANGEROUS OMG YOUR CHILD IS TRYING TO RUN IN TRAFFIC, EAT GLASS, PUT YOUNGER SIBLING IN THE WASHER/DRYER BECAUSE GOING IN CIRLES LOOKS FUN!!!!) ALWAYS occur before the spanking (unless the parent is just beating the kid for no reason). Most parents dont ht first, its the last ditch effort, you say No, Stop it Now, I’m warning you, go to tme out (kid leaves time out or never goes) then what do you do? Small children aren’t reasonable, they will cy because the dog gets to stick his head out of the moving car but they cant, they will throw tantrums because they cant jump off the bridge, they will get very angry about being sleepy, they will eat crayons, coins, dirt, they wll put metal objects in uncovered electricity sockets. They will play with matches or lighters, they will stick their fingers in doors. What do you do to prevent this from happening? What if you try to reason with this child and all you get is a blankstare and 6 words in the midst of babytalk?

    If you are at a park and one kid keeps slapping another chid and the slapper’s parent keeps saying “stop it billy, thats not nice” meanwhile your child is shaking in fear you are now left with having to punish your child by taking them away from the playground just to keep them from getting hit again because punishing billy isnt the answer, talking to him calmly is what should happen right?

  213. DammitJanet
    DammitJanet July 1, 2011 at 1:05 pm |

    And even if your distinction is that you’re not trying to hurt them, but they’re trying to hurt you, how are they supposed to know that? Being struck by another person (especially a person much larger) will automatically make you think that they are out to hurt you. Kids have no way of differentiating between restrained violence and all out assault unless they’ve experience both.

  214. GW
    GW July 1, 2011 at 1:10 pm |

    DammitJanet: But GW, if your child hit you, as children do, which is very unlikely to cause injury and intended to hurt your feelings, I’m pretty sure this would be unacceptable in your home, just as it’s unacceptable in most homes. And you would tell them they aren’t allowed to hit, even though you consider the same behavior in yourself NOT hitting. It’s inconsistent.

    Here, you are giving a child and a parent equal say. This is actually party of the Marxist theory, that children are not “owned” by the parents.

    You’re saying it’s hypocritical, OK, perhaps. But, again, you don’t provide any context. If a child comes up and hits his parent because the parent didn’t let him have ice cream, that’s not allowed. It’s NOT the actual act of hitting that’s so attrocious, it’s the act of disrespect for your parent. This is NOT the same as spanking a child who just purposefully tripped a little girl on the playground and laughed about it, or insert anything you want here.

    As I stated earlier, you do NOT spank a child to induce physical harm, but to make him feel bad, to hurt his feelings (up to a certain age that is. When I was in Junior high and high school, we got “licks” with a huge paddle, and I was ok with that, I knew I deserved it when i got it)

  215. DammitJanet
    DammitJanet July 1, 2011 at 1:10 pm |

    Azalea, there are plenty of parents who don’t spank who are somehow able to prevent their children from running out into traffic and hitting other kids. In fact, kids are much more likely to hit if they themselves are hit by their parents. It’s not like there is an epidemic of otherwise preventable accidents among children who aren’t spanked and are also violent to their peers without consequence.

  216. GW
    GW July 1, 2011 at 1:15 pm |

    DammitJanet: 218 DammitJanet 7.1.2011 at 1:05 pm
    And even if your distinction is that you’re not trying to hurt them, but they’re trying to hurt you, how are they supposed to know that? Being struck by another person (especially a person much larger) will automatically make you think that they are out to hurt you. Kids have no way of differentiating between restrained violence and all out assault unless they’ve experience both.

    Kids are smarter than you think. They know what’s going on. Now, they may not have an understanding on “hurt feelings”, but that’s what it is.

  217. McSnarkster
    McSnarkster July 1, 2011 at 1:20 pm |

    Parents are allowed to do all kind of things that their children aren’t. That’s just adulthood. And I’m pretty sure the reasons for a child hitting a parent are usually just a tad different than a parent spanking their child, but hey, why let context get in the way?

  218. DammitJanet
    DammitJanet July 1, 2011 at 1:25 pm |

    So if your child explicitly said, “I’m hitting you because I don’t like what you just did and I want to hurt your feelings for it” (which is often why kids hit), this would be okay? Or is the real lesson here “adults are allowed to do things children aren’t, like hitting children?”

  219. GW
    GW July 1, 2011 at 1:27 pm |

    McSnarkster: Parents are allowed to do all kind of things that their children aren’t. That’s just adulthood. And I’m pretty sure the reasons for a child hitting a parent are usually just a tad different than a parent spanking their child, but hey, why let context get in the way?

    Right, but Marxists and feminists don’t see it this way. The parent and child are equals. It’s anti-human nature and idealistic, or anti-realism.

    I guess by the same logic, a child should be able to put his parent in timeout?

    Snarky, click on my name. Visit…

  220. GW
    GW July 1, 2011 at 1:29 pm |

    DammitJanet: child explicitly said, “I’m hitting you because I don’t like what you just did and I want to hurt your feelings for it” (which is often why kids hit), this would be okay? Or is the real lesson here “adults are allowed to do things children aren’t, like hitting children?”

    Now you’re getting it DammitJanet (I don’t love you though).

    Yes, PARENTS, not to be confused with some random adult, are indeed allowed to do things children aren’t. Are you kidding? So egalitarianism now has branched off into the parent/child relationship?

  221. DammitJanet
    DammitJanet July 1, 2011 at 1:36 pm |

    GW. Look. I am not saying that kids and their parents should share all the same privileges. I am saying that hitting a child shouldn’t be anyone’s privilege, and if you are trying to teach your child not to hit, perhaps hitting is not the best model. And this has been shown time and again in the literature.

    You even seem to agree that the targeted behavior in the child doesn’t matter as much as hurting the kid’s feelings (which is kind of fucked up in itself, honestly) and showing them you can hurt them whenever you feel like it because you own them. This is why spanking is not an effective approach to behavior change.

    You want your kids to respect you. I get that. I don’t think bullying them is the way to do that.

  222. DammitJanet
    DammitJanet July 1, 2011 at 1:40 pm |

    “So egalitarianism now has branched off into the parent/child relationship?”

    When it comes to violence, yes.

  223. anonadoptee
    anonadoptee July 1, 2011 at 1:42 pm |

    GW:
    Is there ever a time in which spanking a child on the bottom is OK, or, are you still going to make the false conflation that ANY spanking is a beating?

    You also say that people think “honest to god beatings are fine and dandy”. Who? Only if YOU think that spanking is beating which is about as idiotic as, well, thinking spanking is beating.

    Look, I realize that many of you were spanked in a way that would not necessarily be categorized as abuse. Light swatting on clothed behinds, with explanations afterwards, etc. I am very happy for you that spanking means this for you, and that it didn’t do you any harm. While you may believe that we are wrong for conflating “spanking” with “abuse”….have you thought that it is possibly quite likely that the “mild swatting” that you consider spanking, is the exception to the norm?

    I was spanked. I was adopted at birth by a “good, Christian, married couple” and was raised in a small town by my upper-middle class, church-going, white parents. My parents were taught to believe that spanking was necessary to keep your children “under control”.

    Look at it from my perspective. When you hear the word “spank”, you hear “light swat on rear”. When I hear it, I think “leather belt on bare bottom repeatedly until I can’t sit down…while being told that if I ‘don’t stop crying, I’ll get something to cry about, and be spanked more'”. This was not spanking out of anger, to them it was simply how you were supposed to raise your kids–it needed to hurt in order to be effective. And like others have said, I did NOT turn out ok…and much of it came from being raised in such a religious, controlling atmosphere (spanking was just a part of it)…but I don’t hate my parents, nor do I think they should be arrested. They did what the church and community said was “good parenting”, and I do not blame them, rather I blame the community (and church) that had them believe that force was required to raise “good” children.

    Let’s please stop assuming that the very harsh “spankings” some of us dealt with are the exception to the rule—it might just be that the nice little “swats” you are calling “spanking” are the rarities.

    On another note, I wonder about the differences when being raised religiously (especially protestant)? I am in counseling and I attribute many of my issues as an adult to my religious upbringing (in addition to my adoptee issues…which are plenty). I don’t blame my parents though, I think they really did try their hardest–they were just heavily misguided by the church and their community…and I think we all know that religion can have a major stronghold on people.

  224. Emolee
    Emolee July 1, 2011 at 1:49 pm |

    GW: “stay out of people’s personal affairs”

    This is the same rhetoric that was used to perpetuate wife-beating and so many other forms of oppression for women- that the “home is sacred” and that law enforcement should “stay out of private matters.” I am not suggesting that anyone is advocating wife-beating. But be careful with this argument- especially in defense of corporal punishment, which is, incedently, what wife-beating was once considered by dominant culture.

    Also, spanking is a type of hitting. Some (not me) may think that it is a justified type of hitting, but it is STILL hitting. Denying this is hiding behind semantics.

    And, no, children are not equals with adults and do not have all of the same rights. But, I believe, children do have the right to NOT BE HIT. No human being should hit another unless it is in self defense or with consent. The fact that the human being is your child is not an excuse. Parents don’t “own” their children, and they should not be able to do with their bodies whatever they please in the name of “discipline.”

  225. anonadoptee
    anonadoptee July 1, 2011 at 1:50 pm |

    My parents “spankings” were very harsh. It was abuse. But I do not see them as abusers anymore. They were following their religion and doing what their parents did to them. It was WRONG. It caused damage to me that I’m still working on today–but I can’t call my parens abusers.

    I was in the “I was spanked and I turned out ok” group for so long…even knowing it wasn’t true. But I was trapped in the way of thinking I grew up with–and I am the only one I knew who grew up in my town to have escaped that way of thinking. It is hard.

    We need to acknowledge that our society, especially in religious groups, encourages a very controlling style of raising children. It NEVER excuses hurting your children…but blaming the parents for something that should be blamed on a larger force is harmful too. I don’t excuse my parents, but I don’t blame them either. If it doesn’t make sense then that is because religion, morals, childraising, etc. are all complicated and don’t always make sense.

    LoriA:
    I am disgusted that this thread is still going, and that someone had the temerity to argue that only abusers and would-be abusers should speak here.

    Fucking disgusted.

  226. GW
    GW July 1, 2011 at 1:50 pm |

    DammitJanet: GW. Look. I am not saying that kids and their parents should share all the same privileges. I am saying that hitting a child shouldn’t be anyone’s privilege, and if you are trying to teach your child not to hit, perhaps hitting is not the best model. And this has been shown time and again in the literature.You even seem to agree that the targeted behavior in the child doesn’t matter as much as hurting the kid’s feelings (which is kind of fucked up in itself, honestly) and showing them you can hurt them whenever you feel like it because you own them. This is why spanking is not an effective approach to behavior change.You want your kids to respect you. I get that. I don’t think bullying them is the way to do that.

    In my experience, with my kids, not some part of a study, spanking has been VERY effective.

    ” am saying that hitting a child shouldn’t be anyone’s privilege, and if you are trying to teach your child not to hit, perhaps hitting is not the best model. And this has been shown time and again in the literature.” (sorry, had to quote again)

    OK, I’m not teaching my child not to go up and spank other kids on their bottom when bad. Come on. Or am I? naahh.

    Now, when you teach a kid not to hit, you are teaching them in a sense not to fight, or, not to hit because yes, a child cannot distinguish between a parent patting their bottom for being bad, and his own self knocking a kid on the nose because he took his glitter and paste.

    Parents cannot lay down on things because their child doesn’t have a full understanding of the world yet. That’s one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever heard. If your argument is that you shouldn’t spank (which you also don’t differentiate from hitting) because the kid doesn’t know spanking from hitting or context, then, I can’t understand you, and you will never understand me. I have never heard of a parent with such ridiculous views.

    Now, if I went up and knocked another adult in the mouth for stealing my Elmer’s glue, that’s not right, and I wouldn’t teach my kid to do so, in fact, I haven’t. But, you don’t see the difference here, and argue that since the kid doesn’t see a difference, we shouldn’t give them a love tap on the buttocks.

    THIS IS WHY YOU TEACH THE KID THE DIFFERENCE, LEARNING THROUGH EXPERIENCE. A child will understand once he gets to about 3 yrs old or so.

    I don’t let my kids drink alcohol, but I do. should I not do this so I’m not a hypocrite, or, is being a hypocrite sometimes necessary when a parent?

  227. GW
    GW July 1, 2011 at 1:53 pm |

    DammitJanet: “So egalitarianism now has branched off into the parent/child relationship?”When it comes to violence, yes.

    .
    HAhaha. wow.

  228. Florence
    Florence July 1, 2011 at 1:54 pm |

    I said it up in comment twelve, but it seems like we are talking about a range of things and calling all if it spanking, which is extremely confusing.

  229. Sundown
    Sundown July 1, 2011 at 1:57 pm |

    GW,

    What is with your visceral negativity towards people who don’t have kids?

  230. Li
    Li July 1, 2011 at 2:03 pm |

    tinfoil hattie:

    PLEASE CORRECT THIS. THIS IS NOT A QUOTE FROM ME. I ABSOLUTELY NEVER SAID THIS, NOR DO I BELIEVE IT! THIS PISSES ME OFF.

    Along with the other quotes in my comment, this is incorrectly attributed. The correct reference is comment 18, glitteraty. I apologise unreservedly to those people misrepresented by my quotations. THIS MEANS TINFOIL HATTIE AMONG OTHERS. I do not know why multiple quotations resulted in this misattribution, but it did.

  231. DammitJanet
    DammitJanet July 1, 2011 at 2:07 pm |

    Okay, you are spanking your kids when they are under the age of three years old and you really think they share your distinction between spanking and hitting? THAT is one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever heard.

    And talk about conflating things. You’re now putting physical gestures of affection (patting) in the same category as spanking? You are not engaging in this conversation in good faith.

    And I am not saying that parents should “lay down” on anything. No one is saying that. I’m saying that kids have just as much right as adults to live without being hit (or even spanked if you insist on denying it’s a form of hitting). Does every instance of spanking traumatize a child? No. Is it worth it to take that risk with a child? I don’t believe so.

    You are trying to bully me, right now. This does not build your credibility as a level-headed disciplinarian in my eyes.

  232. DammitJanet
    DammitJanet July 1, 2011 at 2:10 pm |

    Sorry, Jill. I didn’t see you had banned him. And I will also tone it down. I realize I was getting a little heated, as well.

  233. Li
    Li July 1, 2011 at 2:19 pm |

    Florence: Li, considering that we were all children once and are attempting to express our experiences here, I don’t think the children’s POV is going anywhere. As a mom, I’m expressing that I am deeply interested in hearing what other moms, dads, nannies, grandparents, etc., have to say about it too. That’s not “erasure”, nor should it be seen as much.

    Florence, some of us are survivors of parental violence. Frankly, that gives our opinion extra weight. I don’t give a shit that you think that your position as someone that has power over a minor gives you extra experience or however you feel like justifying it, but the fact that everyone is a child at some point is not the same as people being survivors of violence, in the same way that everyone being potentially exposed to violence is not the same as people having ongoing trauma as a result of violence. When I say, “I feel erased” and you say “That’s not “erasure”, nor should it be seen as much.” YOU ARE ERASING WHAT I AM SAYING. If I say that I feel that my experiences as a survivor are being erased, it is your responsibility to stop erasing them, not to convince me that my subjectivities are bullshit.

  234. William
    William July 1, 2011 at 2:32 pm |

    A spouse is NOT a child. Unless you’re in a really screwy relationship, your spouse is an adult. Let’s knock it off with the false equivalencies. (It’s especially bad with the wife comparison–adult women aren’t children, and their husbands are NOT their fathers, despite the outdated ideas still floating around our culture. How is this comparison remotely appropriate on a feminist blog?)

    I think that says a lot about just how much we devalue and disregard children in our society. My wife is an adult, sometimes she does unpleasant things, sometimes she does them repeatedly, sometimes even after having a civil conversation and explaining why something is dangerous (like leaving open the cabinet with the sharp edge thats right at eye level for me and practically invisible because I have some visual scanning issues). Shes human, she forgets. You should see some of the stupid, marginally dangerous crap I do when I’m tired or distracted (ever forgot to use a potholder to take something out of the oven?). We’re people, we’re imperfect, we fuck up. We don’t learn by getting smacked around. If I spanked my wife because I got stabbed in the eye by a hidden cabinet corner it would be abuse. It would be humiliating, it would be a display of power, it would be a way of saying “you have made my life difficult and now I will hurt you so that you think more about me in the future.” To me, thats a pretty disgusting way of interacting with another human being.

    Kids are small, so its easier for us to dominate them physically. We’re also conditioned to disregard them, to see them as less than. At the same time parents have a responsibility to keep their children safe. I just don’t see how that responsibility of guardianship gels with physical dominance and coercion through humiliation or pain. If someone genuinely cannot understand why something is dangerous you don’t beat them until they cower, you find a way to either remove them from the dangerous situation or make the dangerous situation less dangerous. Sometimes that might require physical contact (my wife has had to grab my collar to stop me from walking into traffic because I was distracted, for instance), but spanking isn’t about that. Spanking is about power, thats why a whole lot of people get off on it. On the other hand, I doubt many people get all hot and bothered over having a civil and mutually respectful conversation about why what they did was wrong.

    A spouse is a person. A child is a person. The only reason comparing hitting one to get what you want and hitting the other to get what you want would be a false equivalency would be if you believed that somehow some people are OK to dominate but others aren’t. Thats just gross. I believe that kids deserve as much respect as spouses do, not that spouses deserve as little respect as children. Theres an important difference in there that I think you’re missing.

  235. Florence
    Florence July 1, 2011 at 2:37 pm |

    Thanks for erasing my experience. I am also a survivor of violence. If you want this thread to be about your personal feelings, just say so and we’ll form a drum circle around you.

  236. Hugo
    Hugo July 1, 2011 at 2:42 pm |

    My wife was beaten as a child – by her Colombian-born mother, who herself was beaten, and so forth. The belt across the back, buttocks, and thighs was the standard technique.

    Now my mother-in-law lives with us. She’s mellowed with the years, and she and my wife have done their healing together. Bottom line: Heloise has never been slapped or spanked, and never will be. My MiL understands the rule, and is a tender and loving grandparent. My wife knows the damage being hit did to her — and she’s undoing it.

    Cycles can be broken, cultures can adapt, children can be kept safe. Period.

  237. Azalea
    Azalea July 1, 2011 at 2:49 pm |

    vanessa: Really? Is that what I said, that people who aren’t parents and advocate for non-spanking only know how to soothe crying children and change diapers? Because actually, that’s bullshit and you know it. Obviously that’s not all there is to parenting, nor did I say that it was.
    Florence, I see what you are saying: nonetheless, we are talking about a larger context of violence against children and its cultural acceptability. If this discussion were about violence against women, NONE of you would be saying it’s ok to swat your wife occasionally. It is not. It is not okay to hit another person.
    Also, I find spanking in anger much less scary (still terrifying though!) than parents who go with the premeditated spanking. What the fuck kind of thing is that to teach your child? Yes, Mommy thought and thought about it, and now she is going to hit you.

    A grown woman can be reasoned with,the chances of a grown woman sticking her fingers in a socket repeatedly eating glue putting smaller people in the dryer oven or washer machine, screaming at you because you left the playground too soon, and not being unreasonable about stopping any of this behavior are extremely low. If you know of any women like that though..I guess you have a point in comparing a grown ass woman to a small child.

  238. William
    William July 1, 2011 at 2:53 pm |

    In my experience, with my kids, not some part of a study, spanking has been VERY effective.

    It wasn’t my parents who hurt me, it was a therapeutic day school. If a kid was out of control they would “restrain them.” Restraint was designed to not to permanent damage, to contain the child, but to be physically obnoxious and teach the child who was in control. Of course, the definition of “out of control” depended on who was watching and what kind of day they were having. This school hired a lot of grad students. Looking back I can remember that it always got worse during the times I know know were finals. Odd.

    What physical punishment taught me was that power, strength, will, and pain were ways to get what you wanted. I didn’t like being restrained so I learned that when they progressively released your limbs you could twist a bit as your leg was let go and kick hard. Sure, it hurt like a motherfucker because your shoulder got wrenched but you could probably land a kick to a face. At eight years old I’d figured out that if I was willing to put up with the pain of a wrenched shoulder I could make people think twice about restraining me for going to the bathroom without permission because they didn’t want to get kicked in the face. I also learned that if you always carried a pen and you lifted it up just before someone hit you in the face they’d be less likely to hit you in the face in the future, especially if you knew you could take the beating that would follow and tolerate spending the rest of the day locked in a closet.

    I also learned that one of the best ways to avoid getting hurt was to avoid getting caught. Eventually I learned that escalating behavior was a very good way to avoid getting caught. For instance, you probably won’t get restrained if you run like hell, set off a fire alarm, use the chaos to duck out of an emergency exit, hide out in the McDonalds down the block, and call your mom from a pay phone.

    It took me ten years to unlearn those lesson. In many ways I’m still unlearning them in my personal life. I’ve done very well, I managed to get into a program for gifted students, then a selective entry high school, then college, then a doctoral program. I could even say “look how I’ve turned out.” But I know that doors have closed because I can’t trust people in positions of authority. I’ve had close calls. I’ve been in dangerous situations.

    I hope your kids do better. If not, they’ll end up on my couch talking about how badly you fucked them up and my childless ass will sit there and fix the damage you did.

  239. Angus Johnston
    Angus Johnston July 1, 2011 at 2:59 pm |

    Azalea: A grown woman can be reasoned with,the chances of a grown woman sticking her fingers in a socket repeatedly eating glue putting smaller people in the dryer oven or washer machine, screaming at you because you left the playground too soon, and not being unreasonable about stopping any of this behavior are extremely low.

    Most of the behaviors you’re describing here are behaviors I’d expect to see in a child four years old or older. A four-year-old can be reasoned with. A four-year-old can be disciplined verbally. A four-year-old can be made to understand the consequences of his or her actions without spanking.

  240. Q Grrl
    Q Grrl July 1, 2011 at 3:53 pm |

    Thank you Jill, for banning GW.

    This thread is triggering enough, but GW’s posts pushed right over the edge. I have a feeling that his children will see his spanking (and his play) far differently then he ever will.

  241. vanessa
    vanessa July 1, 2011 at 4:25 pm |

    GW: This sounds like something coming from someone who doesn’t have kids. You seem to conflate “hitting” and “spanking”. Would you say there is NEVER a time in which a child should be say, slapped on the hand? EVER?

    Wow, you guys are remarkably condescending. And no, a child should never be slapped, period. Obviously there may be a moment when you have to grab your child before he/she runs into the street/touches the stove/etc, but to hit your kid as a punishment? even a slap on the hand? totally unacceptable.

    Does it mean that if you slip up and do it anyway you are a terrible parent? Of course not. All parents make mistakes, and most parents are good enough anyway.

  242. vanessa
    vanessa July 1, 2011 at 4:30 pm |

    Annnndddd now I have to leave the thread because of GW. Thanks for being a complete ass, GW.

  243. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie July 1, 2011 at 5:16 pm |

    GW, spanking is hitting.

    It’s wrong.

    I have two kids whom we’ve never hit, which you would know if you bothered to read the thread instead of repeatedly bloviating about your right to hit kids because, well, they’re KIDS and you can HIT them! And SEMANTICS!!!

    You’re a bully. And if the best way you can find to discipline (which comes from the Latin “to teach”) kids is to hit them, you’re a lazy and ineffective parent.

    News flash, all you ‘BUT YOU HAVE TO HIT THEM WHEN THEY’RE IN DANGER!’ advocates: You can save a child from danger without hitting her. Yes, you can! It’s a brilliantly novel concept, I know. When hitting is just such a GREAT option! That we must not take away from adults as part of our god-given rights when it comes to controlling our children, who are not actual people but are little extensions of US!!

  244. Lis
    Lis July 1, 2011 at 6:15 pm |

    GW:
    You don’t spank a good kid, and a bad kid is going to naturally be spanked more. Is the argument that the more you spank, the worse the kid BECOMES, or is it the worse the kid, the more he is spanked? The answer is obvious. The answer is obvious.
    Kids are not a blank slate. They have preterdermined factors bubbling in their DNA. Some are more likely to be criminal, whether or no he was spanked as kid. Now, environment can play a role in determining whether or not certain behavior manifests in one way or the other, but, the tendency is there.

    Ahaha, WOW. Apparently there are “bad kids” who are just bad from the beginning? I assume these “bad kids” are non-neurotypical and have conditions like ADHD, FASD, PTSD, Autism, or Oppositional Defiant Disorder, which, you know, actually limit a kid’s ability to respond readily to verbal/behavioural parenting method. Either they don’t have control over their “bad” behaviours, they have problems connecting the dots between cause and effect in an age-appropriate fashion, they don’t know why what they’re doing is wrong, or their intenal emotional experiences make acting “correctly” torturous.

    Thanks to SCIENCE, we know that, as it turns out, spanking works EVEN LESS on these kids! Spanking makes their behaviour WORSE. The MOST effective treatments for “bad” behaviour involve changing their environments and expectations to something they can manage, and firm, compassionate, consistent rule-setting. Gee, who’d’ve thought?

  245. Sarah J.
    Sarah J. July 1, 2011 at 6:36 pm |

    @GW, as a former bad kid: fuck you. I got spanked. Frequently. And I consider it abuse. My father had a terrible temper, and thanks to our family’s fucked up gender norms he was often in charge of discipline. And I lived in fear of that. He hit out of anger. It wasn’t “discipline” in the true sense of the word, it was simply retribution. In my household, spanking accompanied other forms of physical abuse and copious amounts of screaming. I still can’t handle hearing a man raise his voice. I have an instinctively fearful response to it.

    And my parents’ justification for all of this? I was a bad kid. And it’s true that I was rough. I was angry. Most abused kids are. I questioned authority. I harbored my rage inside of me because I’d seen what a powerful weapon it could be. I was nineteen years old before a therapist finally told me that what my dad did wasn’t my fault. I know I will never hear that from my parents.

    Now I work in a daycare, and yes, there are times when I have to pick a child up to move her out of danger. There are times when a child is kicking and thrashing out of anger and I have to either move them or hold them so I am not kicked in the face. I don’t apologize for that. I don’t consider it abuse. And I would never strike any of them. It is never acceptable. And I will not spank my children, either. I’ve already told my mother that. Should I ever hear of even one instance of spanking performed on my still hypothetical children by either of my parents, I will remove those children from the home, and possibly report it as abuse. It’s what I wish someone would have done for me.

  246. Lasciel
    Lasciel July 1, 2011 at 7:18 pm |

    tinfoil hattie:
    GW, spanking is hitting.

    Hitting is usually with a closed fist, or with an object. Spanking and slapping are done with an open hand. I don’t think they are the same thing. Never lost consciousness from being spanked anyway, can’t say the same for being punched. Restraining, time-outs, can’t we just try some positive reinforcement or something instead of any punishment? Any studies on that?

    Extra yard work and pushups are the punishment for minors in our house, but I get why that doesn’t work with littler kids. -_- as someone said, can we talk about alternatives and helping people to not spank? Instead of all just calling people abusers and

    Hugo:
    Heloise has never been slapped or spanked, and never will be.

    What method are you using to teach socially acceptable behavior?

  247. shfree
    shfree July 1, 2011 at 8:59 pm |

    My daughter is nearing thirteen now, and I have never once laid a hand on her. Never spanked her, or hit her. And spanking IS hitting her.

    Lasciel I teach her socially acceptable behavior by behaving in a socially acceptable manner myself, and that includes not hitting another human person, no matter their size.

  248. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie July 1, 2011 at 9:28 pm |

    @Lasciel: Hitting with a closed fist? Is called “punching.”

    You do not have to hit your kids. If you can’t think of one single other way to “teach” your children about socially acceptable behavior, I’m sorry for any children you have. And you need to look at yourself. You’re the one with the problem, not them.

    @William, thank you for what you said so beautifully at comment #240. That says it all.

  249. Li
    Li July 1, 2011 at 9:40 pm |

    Florence: Thanks for erasing my experience. I am also a survivor of violence. If you want this thread to be about your personal feelings, just say so and we’ll form a drum circle around you.

    I didn’t mean to do that. I apologise.

    But when people’s personal feelings are “I cannot participate in this thread anymore”, and those people are people that should otherwise have their experiences centred, yeah, I think that’s an issue. Which now includes me. Thanks for that.

  250. delagar
    delagar July 1, 2011 at 10:40 pm |

    Hitting is hitting, whether it is done with an open hand or a closed fist or a belt or a stick or a wooden spoon or someone’s shoe. Yes, I have been hit with all of these. No, I have never hit and will never hit my child. My husband, who also had the shit beat out of him as a kid, on more than one occasion, and whose family also called that “spanking,” discussed this before out daughter was born. We promised each other we would never hit her, and we never have.

    My students (I teach at a working class university in Arkansas) often write me essays about why it’s necessary to hit kids, or why their parents had to hit them. I don’t ask for these essays, let me hasten to add. Something seems to compel students to write them — I can’t imagine what, can you? Years after the fact? I remember one essay from a student in her thirties, about how her mother used to chase her through the house with a belt, or with a doubled up extension cord, beating the hell out of her, for stupid things, for nothing, for things her mother had done wrong — her mother had left her keys in the car, and claimed the daughter had “stolen” them; when she found them later, she told the daughter that was a whipping she got for something the mother hadn’t caught her at.

    The student wrote the essay like it was all a big joke. I said, cautiously, during the conference, “You know this was abuse, right?”

    She stared at me with this utterly blank expression. And told me no it wasn’t, it was just spankings. That her mother loved her. That she did the same to her kids. That kids needed spankings, or else they’d run right over you.

    Well, that’s my point. That’s what you create when you beat someone and tell them it’s love: that kind of false consciousness. Someone like GW, or my students, who are so deeply into denial they don’t know how damaged they are; someone who can do nothing else but pass that damage on.

    Your children have no power. You have all of it. Find other ways to teach them. There are a million other ways, believe me, and one of them — many of them — will work.

  251. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie July 2, 2011 at 7:07 am |

    Thank you, delagar. Beautiful and on target.

  252. vanessa
    vanessa July 2, 2011 at 7:10 am |

    Azalea: A grown woman can be reasoned with,the chances of a grown woman sticking her fingers in a socket repeatedly eating glue putting smaller people in the dryer oven or washer machine, screaming at you because you left the playground too soon, and not being unreasonable about stopping any of this behavior are extremely low. If you know of any women like that though..I guess you have a point in comparing a grown ass woman to a small child.

    and yet…just because children are unreasonable does not mean it is ever all right to hit them. Ever. Period. And for the shit you’re talking about, which is entirely typical toddler behavior? It’s really fucked up to hit a child just because he/she is screaming when you leave the playground.

  253. Florence
    Florence July 2, 2011 at 9:05 am |

    delagar: Someone like GW, or my students, who are so deeply into denial they don’t know how damaged they are; someone who can do nothing else but pass that damage on.

    I agree with 90% of your comment until this, and I just can’t get behind feeling sorry for people because you think they know better about how they feel than they do. It’s condescending and dangerous to tell people they are too damaged to know what they feel due to false consciousness. In other contexts, we call this gaslighting.

  254. Natalia
    Natalia July 2, 2011 at 9:21 am |

    How do you know the kidlet who nods and switches his attention to some ducks isn’t internally saying to himself, “Oh my God, oh my God, I can’t believe that just happened. I am terrified and humiliated but I am just going to bury those feelings deep inside right now and pretend that horrible thing didn’t just happen.”

    You don’t. That’s why being a parent really sucks sometimes. That’s why being a child really sucks sometimes.

    Some people like to pretend as if there’s some sort of One True Parenting Philosophy out there that will magically work 100% of the time – so that no one is ever left terrified, humiliated, hurt (physically or emotionally), or just plain regretful over something. I don’t think it exists.

  255. igglanova
    igglanova July 2, 2011 at 9:45 am |

    ‘as someone said, can we talk about alternatives and helping people to not spank?’

    It would indeed be valuable to discuss this. Beyond the slow, steady march of social change, though, there may not be much we can do. Despite the fact that good information is available online, at the library, etc. (with the caveat that some places genuinely don’t have access to libraries or public internet), some people will still choose to disregard it and revert to what is familiar to them. It doesn’t help that there is an element of middle-class snobbery that inevitably gets attributed to the teaching of better parenting techniques, whether rightly or wrongly.

  256. MomTFH
    MomTFH July 2, 2011 at 10:50 am |

    I have a non hitting household. Full stop. It’s not that difficult. I have a 12 year old son and a 6 year old son. I don’t have any problem controlling myself from hitting other adults, no matter how tired, cranky or annoyed I am, and I can be just as controlled with my children.

    It’s much easier to keep them from hitting each other when I have such an easy philosophy to rely on.

  257. Lottie
    Lottie July 2, 2011 at 11:12 am |

    I think spanking is something that should be a thing of the past. It’s using violence as a tool to control behavior. Moreover, it’s using violence as a demonstration of power. Spanking a child sends them the message that it is acceptable to use violence towards those with less power, which is a dangerous message to send. Moreover, I don’t understand how anyone can support bodily autonomy and spanking. It’s all about using the body to punish. Which as feminists seems like something we try hard to get rid of: things like domestic violence, banning abortion, etc. Why is it somehow different if the person involved is under 18? To me it seems worse because the child is powerless.

  258. Lottie
    Lottie July 2, 2011 at 11:19 am |

    Why is it that all of the things that we fight for for women as feminists are somehow not necessary for children? Ultimately, I don’t think it matters whether the child grows up to be “fine” or not. There’s something truly sickening in using violence as a means of controlling someone. And to see people defending violence towards the powerless on a feminist blog of all places is rather disturbing.

  259. SharonKayMac
    SharonKayMac July 2, 2011 at 1:36 pm |

    We’ve published a series of posts on spanking at Ethic Soup, particularly research results on corporal punishment for children. One study found that children’s intelligence quotient (IQ) decreases when they are spanked:

    http://www.ethicsoup.com/2009/10/spanking-kids-are-struck-dumb-lower-iqs.html

    Another recent study found that spanking creates aggression:

    http://www.ethicsoup.com/2010/04/do-you-want-a-spanking-it-doesnt-work-spanking-creates-aggression.html

    Yet another research study showed how spanking is correlated with spousal violence and psychological abuse:

    http://www.ethicsoup.com/2010/10/spanking-kids-go-hand-in-hand-with-partner-violence-and-psychological-abuse.html

    What else do we possibly need to know before stopping this violent practice?

  260. Mztress
    Mztress July 2, 2011 at 3:17 pm |

    August:
    I find the fact that so many folks here feel that bare-ass spanking or using tools is what defines it as “abuse” and not “spanking.” Because where I grew up, that’s how EVERYONE was disciplined. Kids in my neighborhood and family were hit with switches, shoes, brushes, hands, and belts. If you DIDN’T hit your child, you were seen as being soft and any of your child’s misbehavior was immediately attributed to the fact that you don’t hit your kids.

    It was (and still is, in my local community) the norm. I know many many white folks who do not hit their children, but among other black parents, I and my husband are the odd ones out, and we find ourselves having to defend our decision not to hit our child constantly, from both my side of the family (which is full of people who are overwhelmingly poor and uneducated) to his side (which is full of folks who are firmly middle class and highly educated), not to mention coworkers and neighbors and whoever else.

    If bare-ass spanking or using tools is what differentiates abuse from spanking, then almost every household in my community would have lost their children to the state. Where I come from, not hitting your kids was, and still largely is, considered “a white thing.”

    Now you have made a point worth thinking about. I grew up the exact same way, in the 1990s. My memories consist of a parade of various relatives beating the shit out of me for any and all transgressions, from letting a scraped knee drip blood on new carpet, to playing too rough with a cousin, to “talking back,” to being “disrespectful” (i.e. having my own opinion), to not submitting to my father’s power as a man. In my adulthood, I have deliberately estranged myself from most of my relatives, even though we all live in the same city.

  261. William
    William July 2, 2011 at 7:07 pm |

    A grown woman can be reasoned with,the chances of a grown woman sticking her fingers in a socket repeatedly eating glue putting smaller people in the dryer oven or washer machine, screaming at you because you left the playground too soon, and not being unreasonable about stopping any of this behavior are extremely low. If you know of any women like that though..I guess you have a point in comparing a grown ass woman to a small child.

    A lot of my patients are schizophrenics. Some of them have pervasive developmental disorders on top of that. I’ve worked with patients who wouldn’t know not to stick a fork in an electrical socket, who hurt other people because they genuinely do not understand why they shouldn’t, who will never be able to be reasoned with. They’re still human. Using pain to make them comply would be not only monstrous but illegal in all cases. Even if I have a patient with the intellectual and emotional abilities of a four year old, even if they had a legal guardian who OK’d it, spanking them would be a felony for good fucking reasons. A child isn’t any different. We can dance around it all we want or be uncomfortable with the way similar equivalencies have been used in the past, but at the end of the day its all bullshit. Hitting people to make them do what you want is wrong. Its wrong with an adult, its wrong with a woman, its wrong with a man, its wrong with schizophrenic, its wrong with any human being. Hell, its even wrong with animals. Children are human beings. We do not own them. We cannot make them suffer in order to make them obey.

  262. oldfeminist
    oldfeminist July 3, 2011 at 2:13 am |

    One of the things we see a lot in people who are punished in humiliating or painful ways as children, I think: making sure they are ALWAYS RIGHT ALL THE TIME.

    The people who play the semantics games, who say “you don’t know because you’re not a parent but I am and I know what’s best for my kids,” who refuse to ever say they are wrong or apologize, sometimes do this because it has been beaten into them that being wrong means they will be humiliated and feel pain. Being wrong is not acceptable.

    So they avoid the anticipated humiliation and pain of being wrong by defining their actions and therefore themselves as not-wrong, or defining the rules they break as not important, or the person who says they’re doing wrong as without authority over them.

    I say this because I see it in myself way too often, and I was punished physically and have a fear of being wrong and I feel that dynamic in my own emotional responses.

    Like many upthread said, it was “just spanking” meaning being hit with a hand, or later, when that apparently wasn’t enough, the bristle end of a hairbrush, on my naked buttocks.

    It frightened me deeply, though like a couple of people upthread described, most of the time I didn’t act like it did. It humiliated me. It terrorized me. I believed my parents hated me when it happened, or when they threatened to do it.

    I did not have the tools to understand why they did what they did. And here’s the thing — if I did, then hey, I would have also been able to understand why what I was doing was wrong through reasoning and not hitting!

    I distrusted my parents even after I was an adult. I wouldn’t tell them things I would have like to have shared with them because their disapproval was unthinkable to me. It wasn’t worth risking.

    Is this what parents who physically punish really want? Maybe they think their kids are better behaved or turned out better than the unspanked kids because their kids present a good front out of fear of disapproval.

  263. anon
    anon July 3, 2011 at 2:35 am |

    Is this what parents who physically punish really want?

    what I personally really want is an immediate end to the behavior. for whatever reason, I don’t have time for negotiations, times-out, quiet and reasonable conversations. whatever it is that’s going on, it needs to stop right that minute.

    hi, I’m anon, and I’m a spanker. I don’t like it, I never knew I was a spanker until I had an actual child, I wish it was different. but there you have it.

  264. Alphabet
    Alphabet July 3, 2011 at 4:43 pm |

    My only comment here is that, as a mom opposed to spanking, I ask that non-parents opposed to spanking also understand that children who are not physically dominated can’t be instantly “controlled” in public spaces.

    I also think a major issue is understanding what kind of behavior is age-appropriate. Many parents resort to spanking because they believe the child is being deliberately misbehaved, when in fact they are behaving typically for their age. If you understand that a three year old does something BECAUSE they are three, it feels less personally offensive. But if a parent feels a child should be able to behave in a certain way but chooses to do it anyway, it makes the parent feel they look bad, makes them angry, and often inspires harsh punishment.

  265. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan July 3, 2011 at 10:28 pm |

    On the list of “things I was upset/traumatized by as a child”, being spanked wouldn’t even make my top 50. Having undiagnosed OCD, having negligent teachers, being verbally bullied, getting a plantar wart, watching The Temple of Doom… all of these have had longer-term and more devastating effects than spankings. I don’t even remember being spanked, nor do I have a strained relationship with my parents (who were the ones who told me they occasionally spanked me.)

    And I can easily imagine situations in which “hitting” various people/critters/etc. can be both useful and non-violent. For example, this evening I asked my (adult) younger sister to move over in the kitchen, she eyed me with a grin and didn’t budge, and I spanked her hip — at which point we both laughed and she scootched. I’ve also gently smacked horses, gently smacked dogs, gently smacked various family members… none of which upset any of these in the least, at least not more than momentarily.

    So no, I hardly think spanking is the worst form of physical contact. Nor do I think all punishment (or play) must be non-physical, or that anything non-physical is probably safe and harmless. Whether spanking is effective in altering a kid’s behavior I don’t know, but I don’t draw any hard line against it.

  266. Azalea
    Azalea July 4, 2011 at 12:42 am |

    Angus Johnston: Most of the behaviors you’re describing here are behaviors I’d expect to see in a child four years old or older. A four-year-old can be reasoned with. A four-year-old can be disciplined verbally. A four-year-old can be made to understand the consequences of his or her actions without spanking.

    Except when they can’t. Not every 4 year old is the same, some children are less receptive to being reasoned with. There are children who respond a lot better to losing priviledges being put in time out and even being spanked versus having a talk.

  267. Azalea
    Azalea July 4, 2011 at 12:54 am |

    Alphabet:
    My only comment here is that, as a mom opposed to spanking, I ask that non-parents opposed to spanking also understand that children who are not physically dominated can’t be instantly “controlled” in public spaces.

    I also think a major issue is understanding what kind of behavior is age-appropriate. Many parents resort to spanking because they believe the child is being deliberately misbehaved, when in fact they are behaving typically for their age. If you understand that a three year old does something BECAUSE they are three, it feels less personally offensive. But if a parent feels a child should be able to behave in a certain way but chooses to do it anyway, it makes the parent feel they look bad, makes them angry, and often inspires harsh punishment.

    It also depends on the child. Some children learn faster than others, some children understand things “beyond their years.” It all depends on how your child typically reacts. If you can typically go to a store with your child and they understand that you have to put the item on the conveyer bely before you take it home (like the passage way or something) but one day they just GO OFF, they are mimicking anoher child’s behavior and trying it out on you. That isnt what you expect of your child because it isnt what your child typically does, and YOU know that. Teenagers typically talk back to their parents but if your child wasnt the type tp talk back and decided one day not to do a regular chore and THEN talk back, would you chalk it up to normal behavior or would you see this as an intentional display or disrespect?

  268. Azalea
    Azalea July 4, 2011 at 1:07 am |

    William: A lot of my patients are schizophrenics. Some of them have pervasive developmental disorders on top of that. I’ve worked with patients who wouldn’t know not to stick a fork in an electrical socket, who hurt other people because they genuinely do not understand why they shouldn’t, who will never be able to be reasoned with. They’re still human. Using pain to make them comply would be not only monstrous but illegal in all cases. Even if I have a patient with the intellectual and emotional abilities of a four year old, even if they had a legal guardian who OK’d it, spanking them would be a felony for good fucking reasons. A child isn’t any different. We can dance around it all we want or be uncomfortable with the way similar equivalencies have been used in the past, but at the end of the day its all bullshit. Hitting people to make them do what you want is wrong. Its wrong with an adult, its wrong with a woman, its wrong with a man, its wrong with schizophrenic, its wrong with any human being. Hell, its even wrong with animals. Children are human beings. We do not own them. We cannot make them suffer in order to make them obey.

    I dont disagree that a child is a human being, that is just fucking fact. No argument here.

    First, not all spankings hurt. But acknowledging that fucks up a lot of the OMG parents who spank their children are evil pain inducing monsters argument.

    Second, compare children to children. It really isn’t that difficult to have a discussion about children BE about children. It makes as much sense to say “what if a husband spanked his wife” on this thread as it would be for me to say “what if a husband circumcised his wife” on the other thread. Total fucking nonsense because husbands are not to wives what parents are to children EVER!

    Third, electroshock therapy is fucking painful and uh yeah…what was that you were sayign about pain beign illegal to teach someone with behavioral problems? Because spanking is not supposed to be done for shits and giggles, it is a response to bad behavior.

    There are parents who delegate chores to their children to teach them responsibility, there are others who use them as punishment. Is it fair or even logical to compare the parent who makes a child who messed the kitchen up, clean it to the parent who makes a child clean the kitchen from top to botttom every singe day just for the helll of it late at night? Does it have the same effect? Are the people who do this in the same category? If not whyt he broad brush on spanking?

  269. Azalea
    Azalea July 4, 2011 at 2:19 am |

    Let me add that I was spanked as a small child and grounded pre puberty and reasoned with as a teen. A lot of the “typical” teenage behaviors others had just werent part of me, sneaking out, getting drunk, unprotected sex, being disrespectful to teachers and other adults, never made sense to me. I never felt this fear and dominance that others are mentioning here. My mother is a small woman my father is a big man but my spankings came from her. I’m not afraid of people bigger or smaller than I am. Basic common sense taught me that bigger stronger people can overpower physically smaller and weaker people but that you cant underestimate the abilities of those who are short and or petite in stature. Spankings and groundings taught me that negative behavior would garner negative attention and reactions. Good behavior was always praised and rewarded.That is my experience, my parents are not abusive monsters who hated me though I do know that there are people who were spanked who may feel that way about their parents.

  270. chava
    chava July 4, 2011 at 2:21 am |

    Electroshock therapy in the sense you’re talking about is both antiquated and frowned upon/seen as pretty fucking awful.
    That’s not therapy, it’s TORTURE (my grandfather got it when it was still common practice).

    However, there is good eveidence that in severe cases of depression, electroshock (WITH pain meds) may be the only thing that can help certain people. It ISN’T “behavior modification via pain,” for God’s sake, and anyone who uses it as such should lose their practice.

    Azalea: I dont disagree that a child is a human being, that is just fucking fact. No argument here.

    First, not all spankings hurt. But acknowledging that fucks up a lot of the OMG parents who spank their children are evil pain inducing monsters argument.

    Second, compare children to children. It really isn’t that difficult to have a discussion about children BE about children. It makes as much sense to say “what if a husband spanked his wife” on this thread as it would be for me to say “what if a husband circumcised his wife” on the other thread. Total fucking nonsense because husbands are not to wives what parents are to children EVER!

    Third, electroshock therapy is fucking painful and uh yeah…what was that you were sayign about pain beign illegal to teach someone with behavioral problems? Because spanking is not supposed to be done for shits and giggles, it is a response to bad behavior.

    There are parents who delegate chores to their children to teach them responsibility, there are others who use them as punishment. Is it fair or even logical to compare the parent who makes a child who messed the kitchen up, clean it to the parent who makes a child clean the kitchen from top to botttom every singe day just for the helll of it late at night? Does it have the same effect? Are the people who do this in the same category? If not whyt he broad brush on spanking?

  271. chava
    chava July 4, 2011 at 2:23 am |

    This I agree with. As far as spanking, it may be easier to just say “no hitting, ever,” because it avoids any potential issues. But there is a whole spectrum of behaviors that have the POTENTIAL to be abusive if misused.

    Azalea:

    There are parents who delegate chores to their children to teach them responsibility, there are others who use them as punishment. Is it fair or even logical to compare the parent who makes a child who messed the kitchen up, clean it to the parent who makes a child clean the kitchen from top to botttom every singe day just for the helll of it late at night? Does it have the same effect? Are the people who do this in the same category? If not whyt he broad brush on spanking?

  272. Lis
    Lis July 4, 2011 at 3:23 am |

    chava:
    Electroshock therapy in the sense you’re talking about is both antiquated and frowned upon/seen as pretty fucking awful.
    That’s not therapy, it’s TORTURE (my grandfather got it when it was still common practice).

    However, there is good eveidence that in severe cases of depression, electroshock (WITH pain meds) may be the only thing that can help certain people.It ISN’T “behavior modification via pain,” for God’s sake, and anyone who uses it as such should lose their practice.

    Often the two are differentiated by calling the painful-punishment kind “electroshock” and the therapeutic kind “electroconvulsive”, because in ECT, the point isn’t the sensation of shock, it’s the change in brain chemicals caused by seizure. A lot of ECT treatments today are carried out when the patient is wholly sedated and therefore can’t feel a thing.

    There is a school that uses electroshock treatment to “correct” the behaviour of youth with autism and behavioural issues. Its founder has faced criminal charges for how he managed it. I think that when you give someone the power to use cruelty and pain, you are relying on their goodness and strength of character not to abuse it; and that is not always a sure bet.

  273. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie July 4, 2011 at 8:06 am |

    If not whyt he broad brush on spanking?

    Because that’s what this thread is about. And FEMINISTS are adamant about OMG WE MUST HIT OUR CHILDREN OR THEY WON’T DO THE THINGS WE WANT THEM TO DO, and that’s appalling.

  274. Alphabet
    Alphabet July 4, 2011 at 9:33 am |

    @Azalea
    If you can typically go to a store with your child and they understand that you have to put the item on the conveyer bely before you take it home (like the passage way or something) but one day they just GO OFF, they are mimicking anoher child’s behavior and trying it out on you. That isnt what you expect of your child because it isnt what your child typically does, and YOU know that. Teenagers typically talk back to their parents but if your child wasnt the type tp talk back and decided one day not to do a regular chore and THEN talk back, would you chalk it up to normal behavior or would you see this as an intentional display or disrespect?

    Testing out new behaviors and boundaries is age-appropriate. In both three year olds and teens. Expecting a child to always behave the same and to never challenge you or experiment with behaviors they have never tried is not age-appropriate. If they are being rude and intentionally disrespectful, that is frustrating and annoying, but not unexpected.

  275. igglanova
    igglanova July 4, 2011 at 9:43 am |

    This is seriously an argument? Spanking doesn’t merit special attention because, well, there are any number of sadistically creative ways to abuse children? Please.

    We need to discuss spanking because it is so prevalent, and because the people doing it do not fit the profile of unrepentant child abusers. That is, we can actually make a difference if we get the word out about its studied ineffectiveness and possible damaging effects.

    Spanking as a punishment will stand or fall on its own merits. Saying that other types of abuse exist is just a distraction.

  276. William (aka WHORES)
    William (aka WHORES) July 4, 2011 at 10:05 am |

    First, not all spankings hurt. But acknowledging that fucks up a lot of the OMG parents who spank their children are evil pain inducing monsters argument.

    If a spanking doesn’t hurt what is the means of correction? Where is the discipline? Where the the obnoxious stimulus? Where the the means of learning? Either its about pain compliance, humiliation, physical dominance, or a person with power losing control.

    Something simply meant to shock, to interrupt the behavior and startle, doesn’t need to be physical. Current crisis intervention training, the kinds of things designed to be used when you have an aggressive and likely violent grown person in a no-restraint facility, has moved away from physical responses to loud ones because they’re more effective at interrupting a behavior and less likely to cause escalation.

    More to the point though, I’m not saying parents who spank are bad. I’m saying spanking is abusive and counterproductive.

    Second, compare children to children.

    I think that doing that allows us to ignore a lot of the terrible inequities with which we treat children. The idea of husbands physically disciplining their wives wasn’t all that foreign even a century ago. That changed because people challenged it. They called it abuse because it was in every case abusive. People pointed out the ways in which that violated the basic human rights of women. Much the same process has happened with corporal punishment in prisons, in the military, in schools, in psych facilities. Time and again people looks at someone with power hitting someone without power and say “wow, thats fucked up and shouldn’t happen.” I think its an important comparison because I think that a lot of the reason why we spank children is because we’ve devalued and dehumanized them in many of the same ways, and for many of the same reasons, as women. I think the fact that you hear the comparison as offensive because you read it as implying that women are like children (that is, devalued) speaks to just how little we think of children.

    Explain to me why children are the only class of people we can smack around to make them do what we want. Explain to how corporal punishment of a four year old is ok but magically becomes abuse when the person is 18 but still has the cognitive and emotional abilities of a four year old. Its a bullshit distinction. If hitting people is wrong then its wrong for parents too.

    Third, electroshock therapy is fucking painful and uh yeah…what was that you were sayign about pain beign illegal to teach someone with behavioral problems? Because spanking is not supposed to be done for shits and giggles, it is a response to bad behavior.

    Electroshock therapy was discontinued because of the damage it did. Its come back as a treatment of last resort today, with lots of reservations and lots of people arguing against it, only as something done under anesthetic. The theory behind ECT, to oversimplify, isn’t that pain will somehow bully someone into being less depressed or having fewer seizures but that the electrical stimulus somehow resets the parts of the brain that are believed to be working incorrectly.

    Shocking people to correct behavior, though? Thats repugnant. There are a few facilities in the US that do it, they tend to get shut down pretty regularly due to lawsuits and state inspectors. It certainly isn’t a generally accepted standard of practice.

    Does it have the same effect? Are the people who do this in the same category? If not whyt he broad brush on spanking?

    Making a kid clean the kitchen when they make a mess teaches them how to clean the kitchen and that the consequence of a dirty kitchen, out in the real world, is that they’ll have to clean it. The skill they need to solve the problem is built into the consequence of having created it. Thats a very good method of teaching because it both transmits a generalizable, useful skill and it creates a consequence which is directly, realistically tied to the behavior you’re seeking to reduce. It also has the advantage of showing exactly why the behavior is bad. That is how human beings learn lessons. We tie effect to cause, generalize, and internalize.

    What, exactly, does a slap teach?

  277. William
    William July 4, 2011 at 10:07 am |

    Erm…sorry for the handle, folks. I was mocking the guy on the MRA thread and plain didn’t notice that google chrome’s autofill had changed my handle. My apologies.

  278. Niall
    Niall July 4, 2011 at 10:18 am |

    what I personally really want is an immediate end to the behavior.for whatever reason, I don’t have time for negotiations, times-out, quiet and reasonable conversations. whatever it is that’s going on, it needs to stop right that minute.

    @anon:

    You know what’s ironic about this part of your post? You come off sounding a lot like the grown-up equivalent of a spoiled child. You know…the kind the pro-spanking crowd like to use as justification for hitting their children – ie; “I don’t want my kid to grow up like THAT!”

    You also sound like you have some pretty unreasonable expectations about what kids should be like and that you hit your kids out of convenience more than anything else.

    While I appreciate your honesty, and how that you wish things could be different, you’re not going to get sympathy here. At least not from everyone.

    On that note – count me in as another one who is more than a little surprised to see so many here ready to justify hitting their kids. I refuse to dignify it by using a euphemism like ‘spanking’. Let’s call it for what it is.

  279. Jadey
    Jadey July 4, 2011 at 10:34 am |

    William (aka WHORES): If a spanking doesn’t hurt what is the means of correction? Where is the discipline? Where the the obnoxious stimulus? Where the the means of learning? Either its about pain compliance, humiliation, physical dominance, or a person with power losing control.

    I’m really trying not to get sucked into position of defending spanking because I really don’t want to for reasons I’ve stated above, but as one answer to this question (because this is my understanding of spanking as I first understood it), is that the point is not pain, but a symbolic physical demonstration of disapproval, carrying with it as a non-verbal alternative the same sense of shame and embarrassment as a parent shaking their head, frowning, and saying, “I’m so disappointed in you – that was wrong.”* The difference being that one involves physical contact and the other does not, and clearly it is the physical contact element that is so abhorrent to many people, which is understandable. But spanking isn’t necessarily about pain and physical hurt.

    Is that what all spanking is like? Clearly not – many parents obviously use corporal punishment with pain as the fundamental purpose and I wouldn’t claim otherwise. I do not spank, I do not advocate spanking, and I will not argue that spanking is necessary. Punishment is, on its own, a terrible way to teach. Just answering the question of what would be the point of a spank that doesn’t hurt. The stimulus can be purely shame, as it is with almost every other form of punishment-oriented discipline.

  280. Azalea
    Azalea July 4, 2011 at 11:37 am |

    William:
    Erm…sorry for the handle, folks. I was mocking the guy on the MRA thread and plain didn’t notice that google chrome’s autofill had changed my handle. My apologies.

    Thanks for clearing that up. But no I dont spank to HURT, its a light tap on the hand or bottom that occurs when my child misbehaves doing somethign DANGEROUS that I have told him not to do. What I, and any other parents that I know do is spank a smaller child to gain their attention (when attention is a short resource at such a young age) and it is unexepected. There are people who spank older children to administer pain , but of the people I know, spanking a small child is an unexpected attention getter that immediately redirects the child’s attention away from whatever it is they were doing before. They may not understand reasoning but the smallest child who can play basic games understand cause and effect “If I do X , Y will happen” if I try to touch the stove I will get spanked, trying to touch the stove ceases. Telling a child something is bad only works if the child can comprehend what “bad” is in the context of a stove.

    The idea isn’t to allow spanking to be the end all to be all of teaching, but that the first step is cause and effect the next step is reasoning the third step is probably revisiting cause and effect (if you do X you lose Y). My youngest son is 1 and he can understand if you push the button on his toy it makes a noise because he pushed the button and it made a noise. If you give him a new toy and you SAY that without SHOWING him he will look at you like WTF are you talking about, as would the vast majority of all 1 year olds.

    Spanking my older son worked like a charm he doesnt know what being burned feels like but he knows touching the stove might get him spanked and he would never touch the stove or oven. He knows playing with an electrical socket might get him spanked and you can leave the room cameras rolling and if another child tried to touch it he would say “stop that!” (notice no hitting here) and if he did it anyway go and get an adult. But I guess that flies in the face of a spanked child becoming some bullying monster.

    But WRT the comparison, parents HAVE control over their children they HAVE authority over their children that is the relationship between parent and child, that does not never did and should never exist between spouses.

    Your spouse is not, never will be and never should be responsible for teaching you right and wrong. Your spouse could NEVER use religion as a basis to forcibily get you circumcised, your spouse could never forcibly have your ears pierced your spouse could not while you were of sound body and mind and fully conscious make medical decisions for you against your will because YOU ARE NOT THEIR CHILD. This is why the comparison has no room to play here. Children are human beings, so are newborns, so are old people so are dead people so are rapists, so are murderers but what sense does it make for me to compare the way we treat one to the other?

  281. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. July 4, 2011 at 11:46 am |

    @Bagelsan,

    Really? Did you not hear any of the pain and anguish in people’s post on this thread?

    You can’t equate play and punishment to justify spanking. The difference is implied consent. I invite you to watch a game of football and look at what happens when someone violates the bounds of that consent or baseball and look at what happens when its punishment that is the reason for the breach of consen. Hint: People don’t appreciate late hits or balls thrown at their heads.

    @Jadey,

    If that were true, then why hit? It its merely “symbolic” why not have another method of shaming? Shame does not have to connected to physical touch. You can shame people by making them sit in a “shame chair” or make them write down and read aloud what they did wrong.

    Moreover, we’re talking in some instances about children who cannot be reasoned with supposedly. If you can’t reason with someone how will they understand that the smack on the butt is something they should experience as shame rather than hurt?

    Also, shouldn’t we be concerned about drawing connections in children between nonconsensual touching and their experience of shame? That makes me want to hork far more than simple pain stimulus response.

  282. Jadey
    Jadey July 4, 2011 at 12:03 pm |

    Kristen J.: If that were true, then why hit? It its merely “symbolic” why not have another method of shaming? Shame does not have to connected to physical touch. You can shame people by making them sit in a “shame chair” or make them write down and read aloud what they did wrong.

    Yes, there are other ways to shame, which is basically what I said in my comment. Again, I’m really REALLY not trying to justify spanking. I wanted to answer a question of why spanking is not necessarily about pain.

    For what it’s worth, shaming your kids, whether through spanking or non-physical means, is a pretty loaded thing to do no matter what – without context, shaming can be incredibly destructive. (For me, depending on which parent it was, feeling ashamed was either unpleasant but formative, or self-hatred inducing.) But it is a pervasive form of social control regardless – we are even using it in this thread to convince people not to spank their kids. That’s not necessarily a bad or wrong thing to do. It’s just one piece of a very big, messy puzzle of socialization.

    I am not trying to promote, encourage, validate, or justify (or any other synonym you can think of) spanking. I do not want to do that and I am frustrated and sorry if that is what I did in earlier comments. But I am interested in understanding it – why we do it, what it means, and how exactly it does hurt people, in a variety of ways, and what can be used to replace it. I think it’s more complicated than hitting is bad, which is why “hitting is bad” will never be a sufficient argument to stop some people from spanking their kids.

    Also, at this point I pretty much disavow any connection with any other comments here on this subject, because I can’t keep track any more who I agree with and who I don’t, so don’t assume that just because someone else has made a statement about something, I concur with it. I can only stand behind my own comments.

  283. Mr. Kristen J.
    Mr. Kristen J. July 4, 2011 at 12:03 pm |

    I’ve always found its relatively easy to get a child’s attention if you hold them upside down for fifteen or so seconds. They also tend to remember it.
    Your milage may vary.

  284. Azalea
    Azalea July 4, 2011 at 1:07 pm |

    tinfoil hattie:
    If not whyt he broad brush on spanking?

    Because that’s what this thread is about.And FEMINISTS are adamant about OMG WE MUST HIT OUR CHILDREN OR THEY WON’T DO THE THINGS WE WANT THEM TO DO, and that’s appalling.

    I don’t see the logic in equating a painless swat on the hand to relentless and merciless beatings with fists that break bones on small children and labeling everyone on the spectrum an abusive monster. There IS no logic in that and it makes absolutely no sense at all to say that painless spanking is equal to bone breaking beatings which is what everyone here is doing when do you do not differentiate abusive beatings from spankings.

  285. shfree
    shfree July 4, 2011 at 1:29 pm |

    Azalea, there are plenty of other ways to convey to a small child to not touch the stove, keep out of the street, not stick metal objects in the outlets, etc. etc., without hitting your child’s hand or spanking them for emphasis when they do dangerous things. It takes a commitment to not hit your child, which is really fucking hard I know, a strong NO!, an eagle eye on your child and safety devices in the house. But it’s entirely doable with toddlers. I’ve done it. So please stop saying that there isn’t any other way, it was just easier for you to do.

  286. Azalea
    Azalea July 4, 2011 at 2:04 pm |

    shfree:
    Azalea, there are plenty of other ways to convey to a small child to not touch the stove, keep out of the street, not stick metal objects in the outlets, etc. etc., without hitting your child’s hand or spanking them for emphasis when they do dangerous things.It takes a commitment to not hit your child, which is really fucking hard I know, a strong NO!, an eagle eye on your child and safety devices in the house.But it’s entirely doable with toddlers.I’ve done it.So please stop saying that there isn’t any other way, it was just easier for you to do.

    I am by no means saying that there is not any other way. Yes, spanking is easier, it is effective and it is quick. I am saying this from my own experience as an older sibling, a former childcare provider and now a mom. Different parents will use different methods of child rearing, discipline/punishment. I think I have mentioned this before on this site but I refer to my boys as my angelic hellions. They fight each other for toys, will take each other’s snacks when the other isn’t looking and my youngest is a master at the art of tantrum, gently lying himself on the floor before giving a few wails and looking to see if anyon is going to give in to his demands, a simple “get up Ken” suffices and he gets up and giggles and runs off somewhere to play with his brother. Spanking isn’t the first or last answer to every single incident of misbehavior but sometimes it is the answer I use. What I do to my children is painless, they have never cried from a spanking but I don’t call those who administer pain in their spankings abusive monsters. I think there are clear lines between spanking and abuse.

  287. vanessa
    vanessa July 4, 2011 at 2:06 pm |

    anon:
    Is this what parents who physically punish really want?

    what I personally really want is an immediate end to the behavior.for whatever reason, I don’t have time for negotiations, times-out, quiet and reasonable conversations. whatever it is that’s going on, it needs to stop right that minute.

    hi, I’m anon, and I’m a spanker. I don’t like it, I never knew I was a spanker until I had an actual child, I wish it was different. but there you have it.

    If you don’t like it, don’t do it. It’s not that hard. There are SO MANY other things you do aside from hittiing your child. and you know what? you can’t always get immediate changes with small children. But you can teach them without violence.

  288. vanessa
    vanessa July 4, 2011 at 2:11 pm |

    Wow. Just, wow. @Azalea, especially, and at others, I am just stunned that there are people on here literally talking themselves into circles, trying to convince themselves that HITTING THEIR CHILDREN is somehow acceptable behavior. You know what the difference between a child learning not to touch a stove by touching the stove and being spanked? the stove is NOT SUPPOSED TO TAKE CARE OF THE CHILD.
    It is some serious serious bullshit and self-delusion to claim that spanking is ever good for kids. And now I am leaving this thread, because every time I read it I become physically ill. Suffice to say I remain stunned and horrified that FEMINISTS are justifying hitting.

  289. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. July 4, 2011 at 2:13 pm |

    Azalea: I think there are clear lines between spanking and abuse.

    So where’s the line? If its so clear then where is it? Extension cords? Belts? Bare bottom? Enough to “sting”. When its out of anger? When its accompanied by a clear explanation of what the punishment is for?

    Because all of these things have been defined as “spanking” on this thread, so I’m a lot less sanguine about that “clear line” you speak of.

  290. LeftSidePositive
    LeftSidePositive July 4, 2011 at 2:16 pm |

    You know what’s really interesting? None of the kids of households who refuse to spank seem to get themselves electrocuted, burned, impaled, or run over by traffic at very significant rates, so this whole “but we have to spank them or they’ll get into DANGEROUS!!1!!eleventy1!! things!” just seems like self-justifying nonsense.

    Oh, and Azalea:

    Azalea:
    Let me add that I was spanked as a small child and grounded pre puberty and reasoned with as a teen. A lot of the “typical” teenage behaviors others had just werent part of me, sneaking out, getting drunk, unprotected sex, being disrespectful to teachers and other adults, never made sense to me.

    The plural of anecdote is not data. This issue has actually been very extensively studied, and it has been found that kids who are corporally punished do NOT have better reasoning skills, make better life choices, or behave better. If anything, it’s worse.

    So, you didn’t screw around as a teen. Good for you. But you know what? There are lots of teens from all sorts of parenting backgrounds who don’t screw around. To plat dueling anecdotes, my parents **NEVER** laid a hand on me (my mother made it very clear to me from a young age that parents who even tapped their kids’ hands were absofuckinglutely unacceptable), and I was never even grounded, and I turned out just as responsible as you claim to have. Furthermore, my little sister, who was a much more willful toddler than I (she would resist time outs, break toys when she was upset, & similar types of behaviors that people are using as “but those are the kids you just have to spank!!”) was also never ever hit or spanked, but was always reasoned with patiently and lovingly, and she grew out of her “terrible twos” and has been a responsible, considerate, and immaculately well-behaved child from preschool all the way into her teens (i.e., the present).

  291. becky
    becky July 4, 2011 at 2:25 pm |

    Azalea: I don’t see the logic in equating a painless swat on the hand to relentless and merciless beatings with fists that break bones on small children and labeling everyone on the spectrum an abusive monster. There IS no logic in that and it makes absolutely no sense at all to say that painless spanking is equal to bone breaking beatings which is what everyone here is doing when do you do not differentiate abusive beatings from spankings.

    Um… a swat on the hand is not painless – if it were, the kid wouldn’t notice that it isn’t supposed to do something (if the swat is the immediate and only reaction of a parent). If it is indeed almost painless, it at least induces some sort of shocked surprise (and is supposed to), so it has an effect on the physical level and regarding the bodily integrity of a kid. I realise that kids can behave very frustratingly and I have been angry at children for their behavior before. But they are human beings, FFS, and it should be their guardian’s responsibility to explain to them why they’re doing something wrong/somethings is dangeorus/unpleasant, etc. I don’t think that screaming at a child is any better, of course – but the line between “painless swat” and “actual” hitting is so close, it makes no sense to condemn the one and defend the other, in my view.

  292. Azalea
    Azalea July 4, 2011 at 4:31 pm |

    :
    Wow. Just, wow. @Azalea, especially, and at others, I am just stunned that there are people on here literally talking themselves into circles, trying to convince themselves that HITTING THEIR CHILDREN is somehow acceptable behavior.

    I dont need to convince myself. Point blank fuck anybody else’s opinion when it comes to my children me and my husband spanking them the way we spank them is ok and not abuse. Nobody not the Pope not Obama NOBODY could convince me that I am an abusive monster for administering painless swats on the hand. I think the abuse that so many here have mentioned where they were relentlessly and incessently beaten mercilessly by their parents is not ANYTHING like what I do to my children I would never, no matter what they did, hit them to inflict pain let alone SERIOUS pain. People are going to defend themselves when they don’t think they are wrong, especially when you are accusing them of being monsters.

  293. Azalea
    Azalea July 4, 2011 at 4:34 pm |

    becky: Um… a swat on the hand is not painless – if it were, the kid wouldn’t notice that it isn’t supposed to do something (if the swat is the immediate and only reaction of a parent). If it is indeed almost painless, it at least induces some sort of shocked surprise (and is supposed to), so it has an effect on the physical level and regarding the bodily integrity of a kid. I realise that kids can behave very frustratingly and I have been angry at children for their behavior before. But they are human beings, FFS, and it should be their guardian’s responsibility to explain to them why they’re doing something wrong/somethings is dangeorus/unpleasant, etc. I don’t think that screaming at a child is any better, of course – but the line between “painless swat” and “actual” hitting is so close, it makes no sense to condemn the one and defend the other, in my view.

    A swat on the hand isnt painless? Perhaps not to you but my kids are pretty dramatic and if something hurts, even a tad bit they have NO reservations about letting you know the oldest will TELL you it hurts and or cry the youngest will cry. They don’t cry when they are spanked because it doesn’t hurt. It’s a surprise more of an annoyance than anything because its distracting.

  294. anon
    anon July 4, 2011 at 4:54 pm |

    vanessa: If you don’t like it, don’t do it. It’s not that hard. There are SO MANY other things you do aside from hittiing your child. and you know what? you can’t always get immediate changes with small children. But you can teach them without violence.

    I’ll let you know how it works. Every week I vow to stop. and I go a month or so with no incident. but there are days. days when my commitment to gentle parenting goes right out the window. days when my vows of non-violence are but a distant memory. days when I’ve asked nicely, asked patiently, asked repeatedly, counted to something, timed-out, redirected, distracted, non-violent-parented my ASS off, and gotten nowhere. and it’s time for an immediate end.

    I’m quite aware that I can’t always get immediate changes with small children. in fact, I’d venture to say that one can’t EVER get immediate changes with small children. He’s three, there’s a limit. and I know what he’s capable of and what eludes him. It’s not about him and his behavior, which is fairly age- and situation-appropriate. it’s about me and being unable to cope at that moment. but thanks for the reminder.

    The first time I did it, I was quite surprised. I’d made the usual vows of non-violence, and thought I could stick to them. but there it was. I was faced with blatant defiance of a (gently, patiently, consistently) repeated request. I whomped him one on the butt – and it changed the game. suddenly whatever it was he was doing stopped. and I had a crying child on my hands. listen – I can handle a crying child. I know what to do. there are times when I can’t handle what he’s doing, and I don’t know what to do. so I spank.

    oh, hey, guy upthread? I need sympathy from a bunch of internet strangers like I need a hole in the head. but I do think parents need to admit when they’re wrong, mistaken, backward-thinking, overly punitive, and even abusive. if more parents were willing to talk about being non-perfect, more progress would be made on a lot of levels. so, here’s to progress, not sympathy.

  295. Matt
    Matt July 4, 2011 at 5:16 pm |

    Natalia: You don’t. That’s why being a parent really sucks sometimes. That’s why being a child really sucks sometimes.

    Some people like to pretend as if there’s some sort of One True Parenting Philosophy out there that will magically work 100% of the time – so that no one is ever left terrified, humiliated, hurt (physically or emotionally), or just plain regretful over something. I don’t think it exists.

    There is a perfect parenting method. The question is whether parents are emotionally, socially, economically, or physically capable of executing the method as written.

    As for saying that kids are too emotionally damage to know they are emotionally damaged being gaslighting, I guess telling an abused woman who refuses to admit to abuse that she is abused is also gaslighting. Better send her back home to her husband.

    Stockholm syndrome anyone? It is literally a case where they are so abused that they can’t accept what has been done to them emotionally. I guess saving that child is gaslighting.

  296. igglanova
    igglanova July 4, 2011 at 5:49 pm |

    ‘Point blank fuck anybody else’s opinion when it comes to my children me and my husband spanking them the way we spank them is ok and not abuse.’

    Well, I’m convinced. Obviously a punishment is only unacceptable if the punisher hirself thinks so.

    We could argue all day about whether spanking qualifies as abuse and at what severity, but nothing is going to change the fact that hitting children confers no advantages over other methods. It’s short term relief at the expense of long-term compliance.

  297. vanessa
    vanessa July 4, 2011 at 5:53 pm |

    …yeah, hitting kids is a game changer. So true. Why on earth is that a good thing?
    If people are actually interested in learning to parent without violence, there are lots of resources out there. Nobody is saying that the occasional hit is the same as regular abuse: we ARE saying that it is completely unjustifiable all the day.

  298. LeftSidePositive
    LeftSidePositive July 4, 2011 at 5:54 pm |

    Azalea: I dont need to convince myself. Point blank fuck anybody else’s opinion when it comes to my children me and my husband spanking them the way we spank them is ok and not abuse. Nobody not the Pope not Obama NOBODY could convince me that I am an abusive monster for administering painless swats on the hand. I think the abuse that so many here have mentioned where they were relentlessly and incessently beaten mercilessly by their parents is not ANYTHING like what I do to my children I would never, no matter what they did, hit them to inflict pain let alone SERIOUS pain. People are going to defend themselves when they don’t think they are wrong, especially when you are accusing them of being monsters.

    I get more concerned for your kids with every post you make. At the very least you have some pretty major defensiveness issues and you should seriously consider where your clinging to this power- and intimidation-based ideology is coming from. Seriously. If your “swats” are really as minor as you claim, they aren’t doing anything that clapping your hands loudly can’t accomplish, but for all your telling us to fuck off and being so self-righteous about your parenting, I’ll bet you are more wedded to this ideology of power and physical control than you care to admit. I recommend seriously re-assessing your values and your goals in parenting.

    Trying to control another human being by asserting your ability to cause or threaten to cause pain is wrong. Full stop. A “minor” demonstration of your ability to cause them pain deeply undermines the love and trust a child deserves to feel toward a parent.

    And, while we’re on the subject, if you are so sure that the spankings you received as a child did not adversely affect you in any way, why are you so defensive about your need to hit/slap/swat/spank your children? Isn’t your reliance on any level violence in your own household more than adequate evidence that you are not in fact all right as a result of your upbringing?

  299. shfree
    shfree July 4, 2011 at 5:58 pm |

    igglanova:
    ‘Point blank fuck anybody else’s opinion when it comes to my children me and my husband spanking them the way we spank them is ok and not abuse.’

    Well, I’m convinced.Obviously a punishment is only unacceptable if the punisher hirself thinks so.

    We could argue all day about whether spanking qualifies as abuse and at what severity, but nothing is going to change the fact that hitting children confers no advantages over other methods.It’s short term relief at the expense of long-term compliance.

    Word.

    And the fact of the matter is, whether or not there is pain, the sudden shock of being hit, or whatever, you are still teaching a child that striking a person that they love is okay. And at the heart of it, I just can’t get behind that lesson.

  300. LeftSidePositive
    LeftSidePositive July 4, 2011 at 6:05 pm |

    anon: I’ll let you know how it works. Every week I vow to stop. and I go a month or so with no incident. but there are days. days when my commitment to gentle parenting goes right out the window. days when my vows of non-violence are but a distant memory. days when I’ve asked nicely, asked patiently, asked repeatedly, counted to something, timed-out, redirected, distracted, non-violent-parented my ASS off, and gotten nowhere. and it’s time for an immediate end.

    Am I the only one who finds this post absolutely terrifying? Anon, you need anger management classes. You need a therapist. You need to be on a very reliable form of birth control until you get your parenting strategies sorted out.

    It’s not about him and his behavior, which is fairly age- and situation-appropriate. it’s about me and being unable to cope at that moment. but thanks for the reminder.

    Get yourself help now. That’s all I can say. You owe it to your child to get help now. Not tomorrow. This is not okay.

    I whomped him one on the butt – and it changed the game. suddenly whatever it was he was doing stopped. and I had a crying child on my hands. listen – I can handle a crying child. I know what to do. there are times when I can’t handle what he’s doing, and I don’t know what to do. so I spank.

    I find this so revolting I just don’t know what to say. I honestly can’t imagine a parent making a child they ostensibly love feel such sadness and fear just so they can be “handled” conveniently. I can’t imagine a parent who loves their children intentionally causing their child to suffer and considering it a good outcome because it’s easier for the parent to deal with.

    oh, hey, guy upthread? I need sympathy from a bunch of internet strangers like I need a hole in the head.

    What you need is professional help.

    but I do think parents need to admit when they’re wrong, mistaken, backward-thinking, overly punitive, and even abusive.

    So start admitting it already, and take definite steps toward respecting your child’s rights to be respected, unhurt, and safe.

  301. anon
    anon July 4, 2011 at 6:25 pm |

    LeftSidePositive: Am I the only one who finds this post absolutely terrifying?Anon, you need anger management classes.You need a therapist.You need to be on a very reliable form of birth control until you get your parenting strategies sorted out.

    Get yourself help now.That’s all I can say.You owe it to your child to get help now.Not tomorrow.This is not okay.

    I find this so revolting I just don’t know what to say.I honestly can’t imagine a parent making a child they ostensibly love feel such sadness and fear just so they can be “handled” conveniently.I can’t imagine a parent who loves their children intentionally causing their child to suffer and considering it a good outcome because it’s easier for the parent to deal with.

    What you need is professional help.

    So start admitting it already, and take definite steps toward respecting your child’s rights to be respected, unhurt, and safe.

    I’ll let my therapist know you were willing to help. Thanks! :)
    and my IUD is functioning just fine, also thanks, Personal McPersonalpants.

    the problem with discussing things like this online, is that you only know what’s in the post. you don’t know the backstory, front story, what happened last week, what happened ten minutes ago, etc. you only know what I tell you. which, admittedly, isn’t much.

    It’s scary, in the middle of the night, with no support from the partner who promised to support you, with a child you love more than your very life, with whom you have tried EVERY THING YOU KNOW, every gentle childrearing, attachment-parenting, earthy-crunchy non-confrontational nonviolent strategy you can possibly think of – and nothing has worked for the past three hours and you’re all alone with your precious jewel of an offspring whom you suddenly feel quite okay about smacking into next sunday.

    and that feeling shocks you. you’re not that person. you’re not your mother. you’re not your dad. you had a baby to love it, not to harm it, not to repeat patterns of abuse. here’s your wonderful little person to watch grow and evolve into a healthy beautiful human being with bodily integrity and good boundaries and all that stuff. and that little person is driving you right around the bend. when the rubber meets the road, stuff happens you’re not proud of.

    my three year old (currently running around in circles and singing “Bob the Builder” – not cowering in a corner fearing Mommie Dearest’s terrifying wrath) certainly appreciates your sympathy, given as it is from a safe distance. let me ask you, when are you free to babysit?

    don’t talk to me like I haven’t done the reading, like I haven’t explored resources, like I haven’t sought help. I HAVE help. and help has been helpful. medication is helpful. therapy is helpful.

    Hi, I’m anon, and it’s been three weeks since my last spanking. but I still know I’m capable of it. I’m saying – nobody knows what we’re capable of until we’re In It.

  302. vanessa
    vanessa July 4, 2011 at 6:29 pm |

    and we’re saying: everybody is capable of great violence. everyone. that does not mean you get to act on it, no matter how much easier it makes your life.

  303. anon
    anon July 4, 2011 at 6:42 pm |

    .I honestly can’t imagine a parent making a child they ostensibly love feel such sadness and fear just so they can be “handled” conveniently.I can’t imagine a parent who loves their children intentionally causing their child to suffer and considering it a good outcome because it’s easier for the parent to deal with.

    “ostensibly” is a harsh word, fellow commenter, and, I assume, fellow parent. because you are clearly speaking with the voice of experience, you’ve been in the parenting trenches and survived, hey, maybe even tiptoed through the parenting tulips whistling “you are my sunshine.” in which case, you have my admiration and respect. good for you for being able to keep your temper 100% of the time.

    I don’t think spanking is a particularly good outcome. however, I think certain types of affection-withholding (i.e. some types of “time-out”) and other sorts of psy-ops can be even more damaging than spanking. and I’m not that kind of parent.

    obviously I should not have let the situation get to the point of a three-hour battle. obviously. New parents fuck up, even older, married, educated white parents with straight teeth who have read Dr. Sears and all that happy crap. in the case I’m speaking of, I had already tried time outs, he didn’t respond to privilege-removing (he was two, he had no kind of thinking-ahead skills), I had tried simply removing myself from the situation — I tried everything I knew.

    the spanking was The Nuclear Option. and I used it. I’m just as sorry about it as one human being could be. the worst thing about it is that after you’ve done it once, it makes it easier to do it a second time.

    so, yeah, I got some help, got some medication to manage the PPD (which came along with my second child – don’t get excited, man. it’s not like I had another kid AFTER I found out I was a spanker) and it’s been useful.

    but there but for the grace of god goes ANYONE.

  304. LeftSidePositive
    LeftSidePositive July 4, 2011 at 6:43 pm |

    William:
    Erm…sorry for the handle, folks. I was mocking the guy on the MRA thread and plain didn’t notice that google chrome’s autofill had changed my handle. My apologies.

    Hey, it earned one pretty major belly-laugh here, at least!!

  305. anon
    anon July 4, 2011 at 6:49 pm |

    vanessa:
    and we’re saying: everybody is capable of great violence. everyone. that does not mean you get to act on it, no matter how much easier it makes your life.

    you say “easier” like suddenly my life is all blue skies and chirping birdies, thanks to the wonders of Spanking! which, please.

    I’m not looking for justification. I know we don’t get to be violent and out of control just because we can. what I wanted to add to the conversation is this – parenting surprises people, in good ways and not-so-good ways. and all the love and promises and plans and vows of non-violence in the world may not do much good when one’s parenting shit hits the fan. I reached out when I realized I was Not That Person. but it’s an uphill climb, that’s for sure.

  306. anon
    anon July 4, 2011 at 6:51 pm |

    There is a perfect parenting method. The question is whether parents are emotionally, socially, economically, or physically capable of executing the method as written.

    ok, let’s have it.

  307. jjuliaava
    jjuliaava July 4, 2011 at 6:55 pm |

    No hitting! Got that?! Just wait ’til mom gets home.
    My child is a perfect angel no spanking required. Instead, I like to use reasoning and positive reinforcement. It’s a little more time and energy consuming than hitting/spanking/time out, but totally worth it. Point is: there are other options out there, is your child worth the effort in this fast paced society? Mine is.
    Parenting is a choice and privilege. So, don’t hit your kids, ok? …or else.

  308. Lis
    Lis July 4, 2011 at 6:56 pm |

    Azalea:
    What I do to my children is painless, they have never cried from a spanking but I don’t call those who administer pain in their spankings abusive monsters. I think there are clear lines between spanking and abuse.

    I am not saying that what you are doing to your children is abusive or cruel.

    I am saying that TO ABUSERS, abuse is spanking. TO ABUSERS, whipping a child with an electrical cord is every bit as blameless as your hand-tap. Which means that when you defend your right to give your kid a physical redirection, they think you are defending their right to beat their kids. Because there is not a clear line.

  309. LeftSidePositive
    LeftSidePositive July 4, 2011 at 6:58 pm |

    anon
    the problem with discussing things like this online, is that you only know what’s in the post. you don’t know the backstory, front story, what happened last week, what happened ten minutes ago, etc.you only know what I tell you. which, admittedly, isn’t much.

    There is absolutely no backstory that justifies hitting a child. Period.

    It’s scary, in the middle of the night, with no support from the partner who promised to support you, with a child you love more than your very life, with whom you have tried EVERY THING YOU KNOW, every gentle childrearing, attachment-parenting, earthy-crunchy non-confrontational nonviolent strategy you can possibly think of – and nothing has worked for the past three hours and you’re all alone with your precious jewel of an offspring whom you suddenly feel quite okay about smacking into next sunday.

    These are excuses, not justifications of spanking. This is not okay. I don’t care how stressed you feel. It’s not okay, and I’m still pretty shocked that you seem to be stating this is a defensible attitude to take. It’s not. I’m glad you seem to be getting therapy, but I am still baffled and disturbed that you seem to be trying to justify spanking, or acting like it’s an inevitable or necessary part of parenting.

    and that feeling shocks you. you’re not that person. you’re not your mother. you’re not your dad. you had a baby to love it, not to harm it, not to repeat patterns of abuse. here’s your wonderful little person to watch grow and evolve into a healthy beautiful human being with bodily integrity and good boundaries and all that stuff.and that little person is driving you right around the bend. when the rubber meets the road, stuff happens you’re not proud of.

    Are you posting on this topic to say that you’re not over your own history of abuse, and you’re a case study in why spanking is bad, or are you trying to defend your own actions? It seems like you’re posting here to say that spanking is understandable or defensible (which it isn’t).

    my three year old (currently running around in circles and singing “Bob the Builder” – not cowering in a corner fearing Mommie Dearest’s terrifying wrath) certainly appreciates your sympathy, given as it is from a safe distance. let me ask you, when are you free to babysit?

    Oldest self-serving excuse in the book. People who are traumatized from all sorts of different events can function pretty well most of the time. In fact, isn’t it a pretty classic rape-apologist trope to claim someone wasn’t *really* raped because they don’t seem traumatized enough? I’m not saying your kid is definitely traumatized (despite the fact that getting zir to cry seems to be the point of the spanking?), but the fact that they ‘seem okay’ on the outside isn’t proof positive that ze isn’t.

    Also, there are many, many parents (my own included) who have successfully managed to parent children into adulthood without ever once hitting them. So don’t pull that “when are you free to babysit?” line on me.

    don’t talk to me like I haven’t done the reading, like I haven’t explored resources, like I haven’t sought help. I HAVE help. and help has been helpful. medication is helpful. therapy is helpful.

    If that’s the case, then I just don’t understand where the self-justifying tone is coming from.

    Hi, I’m anon, and it’s been three weeks since my last spanking. but I still know I’m capable of it. I’m saying – nobody knows what we’re capable of until we’re In It.

    Is this supposed to be justifying? I don’t even want to get into what this line of ‘logic’ could be used to try to justify.

  310. Yonmei
    Yonmei July 4, 2011 at 7:08 pm |

    Hi Anon- Don’t worry, this is Feministe, people here are like that.

    In my unprofessional opinion what you need is a childminder to take over your three-year-old and give you a break.

    I can say, as a former childminder, I only ever spanked a child once: I was 17 and the kid was following me around touching me on the butt. I was annoyed with myself afterwards, and concluded that as the adult (teenagers can be pompous) and as the person whose job it was to care for the child (teenagers can be very pompous) it was always going to be my responsibility to keep my temper and, no matter what, not hit the kid(s) I was looking after.

    And in ten years of being paid to look after kids, that was one promise I always kept: I’ve lost my temper and shouted sometimes – and apologised to the kids for it when I cooled down – but I never spanked a kid, not even when I knew the parents would be just fine with it. But I had two major advantages: One, for me it was always just a job – a three-year-old is frustrating, my job may be to sit with the three-year-old on my lap for half an hour, reciting poetry if necessary, until the kid stops screaming that s/he wants a doughnut: Two, for me it was a job with a fixed end time – no matter how exhausting or wearisome or frustrating the kids got, I always knew that at the end of the day I got to go home. So I never ever got to the point that I think many tired weary frustrated parents get to.

    …and that’s one of the many reasons why I know I don’t want kids.

  311. LeftSidePositive
    LeftSidePositive July 4, 2011 at 7:10 pm |

    anon:
    “ostensibly” is a harsh word, fellow commenter, and, I assume, fellow parent. because you are clearly speaking with the voice of experience, you’ve been in the parenting trenches and survived, hey, maybe even tiptoed through the parenting tulips whistling “you are my sunshine.” in which case, you have my admiration and respect. good for you for being able to keep your temper 100% of the time.

    I stand by that “ostensibly” because of your attitude of justifying your actions which are simply indefensible. It’s the insistence that we should understand or support this kind of behavior that I find really worrisome.

    Also, the “you have to be a parent to criticize my parenting!” has already been debunked further upthread. No, I am waiting to have kids until I finish school, but I can assure you that my comments are a pale echo of my mother’s statements on parents who spank their children. So, if you absolutely insist that someone must have kids to criticize you, I hereby criticize you on behalf of my eminently-qualified mother who raised to wonderful, dedicated, and well-behaved children without even ONCE resorting to any type of physical punishment.

    I don’t think spanking is a particularly good outcome. however, I think certain types of affection-withholding (i.e. some types of “time-out”) and other sorts of psy-ops can be even more damaging than spanking. and I’m not that kind of parent.

    The “but other things can be even worse!” excuse has also been debunked further upthread. As another poster said, if you support spanking, let it stand on its merits. Don’t bring in distractors.

    Also, have you noticed that no parent thinks they’re that kind of parent?

    the spanking was The Nuclear Option. and I used it. I’m just as sorry about it as one human being could be. the worst thing about it is that after you’ve done it once, it makes it easier to do it a second time.

    Again, I’d be less harsh if this discussion were happening in terms of a ‘these are really difficult mental health issues I have,’ but that’s really not how it’s coming across. It’s coming across as ‘well, I feel bad about it, but I do still think spanking is necessary’ and that’s just not okay.

    but there but for the grace of god goes ANYONE.

    Actually, I know a lot of people who don’t hit their children, and it has more to do with a commitment to non-violence, patience and understanding, and coping skills than the grace of god. I also don’t think putting “ANYONE” in capital letters justifies or excuses hurting another human being.

  312. vanessa
    vanessa July 4, 2011 at 8:07 pm |

    big fat word to that. I know a TON of parents who do not spank, ever. They just do not. It is of the table, not the nuclear option.

  313. shfree
    shfree July 4, 2011 at 8:10 pm |

    Anon, my parents were spankers, then they decided to stop spanking my siblings, and never spanked me. So you can decide to stop spanking, if you want to. I’m 41, my brother and sister are 48 and 46 respectively, they grew up in the spank them! years, so it isn’t as if my parents were following some trend, they were bucking it.

    Sure, you feel guilty about crossing that line. But you have the choice to not cross it again, as opposed to just throwing your hands up and accepting spanking as being a part of your parenting, even if it is only as a last resort. That is really your call. I’m sure you aren’t looking for validation from any of us here, and as a parent, I do understand the frustration you feel with your three year old, and I certainly don’t condemn you for crossing that line. But I am really upset by the fact that you seem to want validation for continuing to spank, I just can’t give you that. To hit a child teaches violence is okay in a loving relationship, and I don’t care if it is a small smack on a hand to keep it away from a hot stove or a hard spank on the butt because a toddler was about to run out into traffic. You can redirect that hand or put the fear of danger in the mind of that child without hitting, a strong NO! with a physical removal does the same damn thing.

  314. vanessa
    vanessa July 4, 2011 at 8:10 pm |

    and to tag onto that–I had a teacher in HS who would say that people use violence because it works. It works in the immediate short term. If you hit a child, they stop. If you kick a dog, they stop. If you bomb a country…etc and etc. The problem is that not only are these things cruel, they also do not work long term. At all. And I remain stunned that anyone is working so hard to justify hitting their children. I am actually really saddened by this.

  315. shfree
    shfree July 4, 2011 at 8:46 pm |

    shfree:
    Anon, my parents were spankers, then they decided to stop spanking my siblings, and never spanked me.So you can decide to stop spanking, if you want to.I’m 41, my brother and sister are 48 and 46 respectively, they grew up in the spank them! years, so it isn’t as if my parents were following some trend, they were bucking it.

    Sure, you feel guilty about crossing that line.But you have the choice to not cross it again, as opposed to just throwing your hands up and accepting spanking as being a part of your parenting, even if it is only as a last resort.That is really your call.I’m sure you aren’t looking for validation from any of us here, and as a parent, I do understand the frustration you feel with your three year old, and I certainly don’t condemn you for crossing that line.But I am really upset by the fact that you seem to want validation for continuing to spank, I just can’t give you that.To hit a child teaches violence is okay in a loving relationship, and I don’t care if it is a small smack on a hand to keep it away from a hot stove or ahard spank on the butt because a toddler was about to run out into traffic.You can redirect that hand or put the fear of danger in the mind of that child without hitting, a strong NO! with a physical removal does the same damn thing.

    And because I am so frustrated that I contradicted myself in my own post, I need to walk away from this thread. I am just not able to deal with this topic at all.

  316. Miss S
    Miss S July 4, 2011 at 10:03 pm |

    Vanessa i dont think anyone is talking in circles to justify spanking. I think people disagree on this issue and I think there is an element of superiority coming from some of the commanders which is annoying. People are ‘disgusted’ that different people have different views on parenthood? Welcome to the real world.

  317. Azalea
    Azalea July 4, 2011 at 10:38 pm |

    LeftSidePositive: I get more concerned for your kids with every post you make.At the very least you have some pretty major defensiveness issues and you should seriously consider where your clinging to this power- and intimidation-based ideology is coming from.Seriously.If your “swats” are really as minor as you claim, they aren’t doing anything that clapping your hands loudly can’t accomplish, but for all your telling us to fuck off and being so self-righteous about your parenting, I’ll bet you are more wedded to this ideology of power and physical control than you care to admit. I recommend seriously re-assessing your values and your goals in parenting.

    Trying to control another human being by asserting your ability to cause or threaten to cause pain is wrong.Full stop. A “minor” demonstration of your ability to cause them pain deeply undermines the love and trust a child deserves to feel toward a parent.

    And, while we’re on the subject, if you are so sure that the spankings you received as a child did not adversely affect you in any way, why are you so defensive about your need to hit/slap/swat/spank your children?Isn’t your reliance on any level violence in your own household more than adequate evidence that you are not in fact all right as a result of your upbringing?

    You can take your pity for my children and save it for when you have your own because with every post you lead me to beleive youd teahc your child that all physical human interaction victimizes them. There is no such thing as painless human physical contact in your world.

    My defensiveness comes from me defending myself against allegations that parents who spank are abusive monsters. I am a parent, my children are happy healthy little princes, they have been spanked. I do not think all spanking is ok, I do not think inflicting pain upon a child without medical necessity is ok. In fact I am against circumcision for ANY reason outside of medical necessity yet I am an abusive monster for painlessly spanking my child on the hand and you worry about why I am disagreeing with you and defending myself. You cant be serious.

  318. Azalea
    Azalea July 4, 2011 at 10:44 pm |

    Also, intimidation…are you kidding me?

  319. Azalea
    Azalea July 4, 2011 at 10:51 pm |

    Kristen J.: So where’s the line?If its so clear then where is it?Extension cords? Belts? Bare bottom? Enough to “sting”.When its out of anger?When its accompanied by a clear explanation of what the punishment is for?

    Because all of these things have been defined as “spanking” on this thread, so I’m a lot less sanguine about that “clear line” you speak of.

    Causing physical pain when it comes to physical contact and discipline, that is the line. That is crystal clear. If your intent is to cause pain or harm you need to stop and cool down before taking any action. That is as very clear line to me. For some reason, to most of you on here ther eis NO difference between physical contact that causes pain and physical contact that doesn’t when it comes to physical abuse.

  320. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. July 4, 2011 at 10:55 pm |

    Miss S:
    Vanessa i dont think anyone is talking in circles to justify spanking. I think people disagree on this issue and I think there is an element of superiority coming from some of the commanders which is annoying. People are ‘disgusted’ that different people have different views on parenthood? Welcome to the real world.

    Right…people who are survivors of child abuse are expressing an “element of superiority.” WTF, people. Seriously. When did we get to the point where survivors of abuse aren’t permitted to speak out against it if it oftends the “feelings” of people who want justification for smacking their kids. No dice. You don’t get a pass for hurting a child just because (1) someone did it to you, (2) everyone in your community does it, (3) its hard not to, (4) you had a bad day, or (5) my personal favorite – they deserved it.

  321. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. July 4, 2011 at 11:02 pm |

    Azalea: Causing physical pain when it comes to physical contact and discipline, that is the line. That is crystal clear. If your intent is to cause pain or harm you need to stop and cool down before taking any action. That is as very clear line to me. For some reason, to most of you on here ther eis NO difference between physical contact that causes pain and physical contact that doesn’t when it comes to physical abuse.

    That because we EXPERIENCED spanking as something different than what you’re describing.

  322. LeftSidePositive
    LeftSidePositive July 4, 2011 at 11:07 pm |

    Azalea: You can take your pity for my children and save it for when you have your own because with every post you lead me to beleive youd teahc your child that all physical human interaction victimizes them. There is no such thing as painless human physical contact in your world.

    I will teach my children that it is never okay to be touched **without their consent** and that someone who loves them should never intentionally touch them in a way that could or is designed to hurt. By the way, since you seem to be confused–painless human physical contact means hugging, the occasional prudent pillowfight, handholding, piggyback rides, etc. This does not include spanking by any stretch of the imagination.

    My defensiveness comes from me defending myself against allegations that parents who spank are abusive monsters.

    I’m getting really sick of this conflation. It is still fair game to criticize someone’s parenting when they are inflicting “minor” pain (or painful actions that they somehow insist could not possibly be painful but are still simultaneously absolutely necessary for discipline?!) on their child, because physical control is not okay. You can still fall well short of of “abusive monster” even while some of your parenting techniques are harmful or at least counterproductive, and be in need of introspection and development. Just consoling yourself that, well, you’re not the worst parent ever, so clearly there’s nothing you’d possibly need to change, is a pretty low bar to set.

    I am a parent, my children are happy healthy little princes, they have been spanked. I do not think all spanking is ok, I do not think inflicting pain upon a child without medical necessity is ok. In fact I am against circumcision for ANY reason outside of medical necessity yetI am an abusive monster for painlessly spanking my child on the hand and you worry about why I am disagreeing with you and defending myself. You cant be serious.

    I still get back to: if you’re so sure it’s painless, what exactly is the point? I’ve not gotten a straight answer from the pro-spanking faction on this topic.

  323. Azalea
    Azalea July 4, 2011 at 11:30 pm |

    Kristen J.: That because we EXPERIENCED spanking as something different than what you’re describing.

    All spanking is not the same, some spankings hurt some don’t. Many people who are spanked are being hit with the intention to inflict pain upon them but it does not mean that ALL spanking is that way. There are parents who spank, slap, beat/hit out of frustration and anger parents who abuse their children. I am not trying to tell any survivor of child abuse that their experience isn’t abuse I am saying that what happens to MY children is not the same as what happened to you all. Not only are the intentions different ( as well as the frequency) but they aren’t painful to my children and aren’t meant to cause pain. Yet they are spankings. I am a spanker and I do not inflict pain when I spank. The spankings I administer are not painfuland therefore are wholly different than the spankings so many have expressed as their experience.

  324. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. July 4, 2011 at 11:36 pm |

    And you are the ultimate arbiter of what is and is not harmful. Good to know. I’ll be sure to tell people who experienced that (including people on this thread) that they didn’t really experience child abuse because Azalea knows!

  325. Lasciel
    Lasciel July 5, 2011 at 2:41 am |

    LeftSidePositive: I’m getting really sick of this conflation. It is still fair game to criticize someone’s parenting when they are inflicting “minor” pain (or painful actions that they somehow insist could not possibly be painful but are still simultaneously absolutely necessary for discipline?!) on their child, because physical control is not okay

    I don’t see you attacking time-outs, the silent treatment, restraints/restraining, or verbal lashings. Why is spanking the acceptable target of punishments when all those things can cause as much damage and pain? Physical control? What are you on about? A parent has physical control whether they spank or not. They decide what a child does with it’s body, what is done to it (legally), where it can go, etc. Children are powerless. I guess spanking is bad because it takes away the illusion that it’s otherwise. Minor pain? Minor, fleeting pain from a light smack? Is somehow worse than hours of loneliness and isolation, being screamed at for hours on end, or ignored for days? What makes you and everyone else here the judge of that?

    As for teaching your children that they can never be touched without their consent, what do you do if they decide they want to leave and not live with you anymore? That they’d rather go live at the comic book store? I guess you’re not allowed to physically stop them. What if they’re beating another child? Can’t pull them off, can you? I’m not even in the pro-spanking camp and yet I still tire of the idealistic anti-spanking drivel.

  326. Yonmei
    Yonmei July 5, 2011 at 3:36 am |

    Kristen, my mum’s hit me, and I think that was abusive even if (as far as I remember) she only did it once. My mum’s yelled at me non-stop for about five minutes in the middle of a car park because once again I had taken off my shoes in the car and they’d got lost under the seats, and I think that was abusive: my mum’s made me feel that I am fat and unattractive half my life, and I’m damn sure that was and is abuse.

    I can understand why my mum did all of these things (and maybe with understanding will come forgiveness, eventually). If my mum were talking about these things in an online forum (and for all I know, she is) I wouldn’t want anyone to validate her behaviour by telling her that was OK, your daughter deserved it: but neither would I want a multi-comment pile-on of abuse, because no, I can’t see that would be helpful.

  327. vanessa
    vanessa July 5, 2011 at 3:57 am |

    Good Christ. Yes, you are being judged because you hit your kids and you keep trying to justify it. It is not justifiable. Period, full stop. As many others have said, there is of course a difference between very occasionally “lightly” swatting a child in anger and regularly hitting them in a premeditated way. That does not mean that the former is acceptable…
    and I need to walk away, too. I hope that those of you that just keep trying to convince yourselves that hitting your kid is okay can at least stand back and take a good long hard look at themselves.

  328. chava
    chava July 5, 2011 at 10:03 am |

    Seconded. Spanking has become the whipping boy (sorry for the pun) of a certain kind of parenting. The excessive focus on spanking as The Horrible Parenting technique distracts from OTHER abuses which never get discussed.

    Yes, it’s more difficult to address a complex set of abusive parental behaviors than to simply demonize all aspects, no matter how mild, of ONE behavior. That doesn’t mean its right.

    The study in TIME was originally meant to study yelling. I wish they had studied the interaction of yelling and spanking, reactions or causes of yelling in addition to spanking, etc. But this focus on spanking over all else….not good.

    Lasciel: I don’t see you attacking time-outs, the silent treatment, restraints/restraining, or verbal lashings. Why is spanking the acceptable target of punishments when all those things can cause as much damage and pain? Physical control? What are you on about? A parent has physical control whether they spank or not. They decide what a child does with it’s body, what is done to it (legally), where it can go, etc. Children are powerless. I guess spanking is bad because it takes away the illusion that it’s otherwise. Minor pain? Minor, fleeting pain from a light smack? Is somehow worse than hours of loneliness and isolation, being screamed at for hours on end, or ignored for days? What makes you and everyone else here the judge of that?

    As for teaching your children that they can never be touched without their consent, what do you do if they decide they want to leave and not live with you anymore? That they’d rather go live at the comic book store? I guess you’re not allowed to physically stop them. What if they’re beating another child? Can’t pull them off, can you? I’m not even in the pro-spanking camp and yet I still tire of the idealistic anti-spanking drivel.

  329. Azalea
    Azalea July 5, 2011 at 10:24 am |

    Kristen J.:
    And you are the ultimate arbiter of what is and is not harmful.Good to know.I’ll be sure to tell people who experienced that (including people on this thread) that they didn’t really experience child abuse because Azalea knows!

    Kristen are you intentionally doing this or are you reading me say WHAT I DO TO MY CHILDREN DO NOT CAUSE THEM PAIN and still somehow see YOURSELF being spanked and wailing in agony and making it my children’s experience to fit your argument? I have been spanked before as a child and it did not hurt me, not one iota. The “force of the strike” I administer would be less than that when you play tag as a child. But no, some stranger on a message board telling me that my child is in pain when I can clearly see that my child isn’t yeah I’m going to disagree. I CLEARLY stated that YOUR parents may have been abusive monsters who beat you mercilessly and called it spanking but that isn’t what I do to my children. I don’t “hit them in anger” as someone else kept suggesting.

  330. Azalea
    Azalea July 5, 2011 at 10:31 am |

    vanessa:
    Good Christ. Yes, you are being judged because you hit your kids and you keep trying to justify it. It is not justifiable. Period, full stop. As many others have said, there is of course a difference between very occasionally “lightly” swatting a child in anger and regularly hitting them in a premeditated way. That does not mean that the former is acceptable…
    and I need to walk away, too. I hope that those of you that just keep trying to convince yourselves that hitting your kid is okay can at least stand back and take a good long hard look at themselves.

    I don’t need to justify spanking my children to you, I have told you “fuck your opinion” on whether or not it is ok my stance is the whole “abusive monster” allegation. Point blank, many here are taking their own experience and projecting it to make it everyone else’s experience, including my children’s because I admit without an ounce of shame that I spank my children. It is OK to say the way YOU were spanked hurt YOU it is ok to say the people who hurt and abused you, your parents, were abusive monsters who were not loving parents it is NOT ok to take THAT experience and try to apply it to everyone else when the shoe doesn’t fit. My children are not hit in anger, they are not hit to cause pain they are not hit to humiliate them and they are not spanked relentlessly for every little transgression like so many of you admit has happened to you. The experience is completely and totally different for them than it was for you because what happened how it happens why and how often are all different, not to mention who it happens to and who does it are different as well. The one lone similarity here is physical contact.

  331. Q Grrl
    Q Grrl July 5, 2011 at 12:37 pm |

    I’m quite aware that I can’t always get immediate changes with small children. in fact, I’d venture to say that one can’t EVER get immediate changes with small children. He’s three, there’s a limit. and I know what he’s capable of and what eludes him. It’s not about him and his behavior, which is fairly age- and situation-appropriate. it’s about me and being unable to cope at that moment. but thanks for the reminder.

    And yet? You come on a thread on spanking to supposedly espouse the utility of spanking — even after you admit that 1) it is problematic 2) that your child is three years old and 3) that it’s not about him, it’s about you.

    What you are doing? It isn’t spanking. It isn’t even punishment. What you are doing is letting your need for instant gratification (which you yourself so explicitly spelled out) rule how you will physically treat your son. The difference between punishment and abuse in this situation? You’ve already FUCKING crossed it.

    Don’t believe me? Then why is your bottom line how “easy” it is for you when you do spank him?

    And don’t kid yourself anymore; your relationship with him is not going to improve, because for all the future growth he will go through, all his attempts at reasoning and thinking things through won’t make a goddamned difference because, again, the bottom line is not his actions, but your FUCKING choice to make things easier for yourself. That’s not going to change due to anything he does or does not do.

    I don’t know what else to say other than: you suck.

  332. Olive Fringe
    Olive Fringe July 5, 2011 at 12:57 pm |

    Q Grrl: And don’t kid yourself anymore; your relationship with him is not going to improve, because for all the future growth he will go through, all his attempts at reasoning and thinking things through won’t make a goddamned difference because, again, the bottom line is not his actions, but your FUCKING choice to make things easier for yourself.

    Is anon’s son going to be dumber, too? Are his reasoning skills already irreparably damaged? Is he going to abuse is future partner? Why don’t you regale us with how his life’s going to turn out?

  333. chava
    chava July 5, 2011 at 1:06 pm |

    Wasn’t the point of the study in the OP to demonstrate that most of those parents DO spank in private? That it isn’t always just about who has the most principled opinions or the best intentions of self control?

    Yonmei’s advice to Anon upthread was spot-on IMO. We need more options for parents who do not want to punish in anger but are at their breaking point. State sponsored emergency childcare, hotlines to get some perspective or talk to an adult, etc. That would be a start.

    vanessa:
    big fat word to that. I know a TON of parents who do not spank, ever. They just do not. It is of the table, not the nuclear option.

  334. Q Grrl
    Q Grrl July 5, 2011 at 1:39 pm |

    Hey Olive, I might be wrong. I would love to be wrong.

    But, you know, when a mother writes that she struggles **weekly** with her issues with hitting her three year old, and then wants internet cookies for it, it makes my skin crawl.

  335. alessa
    alessa July 5, 2011 at 1:55 pm |

    I think the mental abuse that some of the over-zealous spankers cause is the real issue. Meaning, making your kid too nervous to touch the page of a book because they are afraid of getting slapped will inevitably result in a self-questioning, over-analytical adult (in addition to a whole host of other qualities).

    I don’t think the spanking itself is the issue IF it’s done LIGHTLY and infrequently; rather the issue seems to be the reasons these kids get punished in the first place.

    I can remember being spanked twice when I was young. It never hurt too much though, I just remember hating the indignity of it. But those 2 times worked; most of the time a simple time out was used in our house, but if my brother or I was being a true horror the mere mention of a spanking would work fine.

    Also, in a weird way I remember knowing that my parents deliberately didn’t hurt me, and in some strange way it made me trust them more. Because they were so light about it, I didn’t fear it as much as hate it because of the indignity part.

    Anyway. Just suggesting that there is a lot of gray to everything, and that being black and white about spanking could be being too neurotic. Tweaks in simple details (infrequency, lightly) still work with kids but don’t damage them.

  336. alessa
    alessa July 5, 2011 at 2:06 pm |

    On that note, after rudely commenting without reading the rest of the thread, I think I should underline the fact that I was spanked TWICE. Not weekly. TWICE.

    I vividly remember that feeling of having no control over my body, and the fear and indignity of it. Two times in my life was okay, and my parents ultimately did it out of love and I am a person with an intact self-image and self-esteem.

    That being said, a weekly spanking, no matter how light, makes your child feel as though they have no control over their body, and that nothing is sacred and theirs. It is abuse.

  337. igglanova
    igglanova July 5, 2011 at 2:08 pm |

    Oh my god. We’re not attacking time-outs or the silent treatment because this was a thread about spanking. Did people even read the OP? Fine, then, the silent treatment is not harmless and, depending on what we mean by ‘time-out’, it can cause harm as well. Notice that none of this changes a damn thing about spanking.

    I never expected so many feminists to be easily hoodwinked by a ‘look, over there!’ diversionary tactic. And if anyone is genuinely at a loss as to how to raise children, you are not going to get a comprehensive strategy from a Feministe flame war. Pick up a goddamn book if you really want to know; if you’re just making a snippy statement in bad faith, then I guess we don’t need to bother dignifying these inquiries with a response.

  338. anon
    anon July 5, 2011 at 2:29 pm |

    Q Grrl: And yet? You come on a thread on spanking to supposedly espouse the utility of spanking — even after you admit that 1) it is problematic 2) that your child is three years old and 3) that it’s not about him, it’s about you.

    What you are doing? It isn’t spanking. It isn’t even punishment. What you are doing is letting your need for instant gratification (which you yourself so explicitly spelled out) rule how you will physically treat your son. The difference between punishment and abuse in this situation? You’ve already FUCKING crossed it.

    Don’t believe me? Then why is your bottom line how “easy” it is for you when you do spank him?

    And don’t kid yourself anymore; your relationship with him is not going to improve, because for all the future growth he will go through, all his attempts at reasoning and thinking things through won’t make a goddamned difference because, again, the bottom line is not his actions, but your FUCKING choice to make things easier for yourself. That’s not going to change due to anything he does or does not do.

    I don’t know what else to say other than: you suck.

    duly noted.
    it’s a struggle.

  339. Esti
    Esti July 5, 2011 at 2:36 pm |

    Kristen J.: Right…people who are survivors of child abuse are expressing an “element of superiority.” WTF, people. Seriously. When did we get to the point where survivors of abuse aren’t permitted to speak out against it if it oftends the “feelings” of people who want justification for smacking their kids.

    I understand that this is a very personal topic for everyone involved, and a very painful one for people who experienced spankings as abuse. I don’t think a single person on this thread, even the most pro-spanking, has failed to acknowledge that spanking can (and is more often than not) be abuse and that the people commenting here who had terrible experiences with being hit as children did in fact suffer abuse. Most people have also acknowledged that because the line can be hard to draw, it’s probably a good idea to not spank at all.

    But Kristen, part of the problem some of us are having with the discussion is that people who are opposed to spanking have taken the view that all spanking, of any kind, is absolutely 100% abusive and sickening. Which means that those of us who experienced spanking as non-abusive are being told that our experience didn’t exist and our parents were in fact abusive. That is just not the case for me. It sounds like it wasn’t the case for a number of other commenters as well.

    I am totally behind a discussion of whether spanking should be criminalized. I am totally behind a discussion of whether we should (instead or additionally) teach parents that spanking is a bad idea and often abusive and not to do it. I am completely in favor of people being able to discuss and receive support for their views on spanking as shaped by their experiences of abuse as a child. And I am 100% not okay with being told that my parents were disgusting abusive monsters.

    That doesn’t mean you have to think spanking is ever okay. I understand and respect people taking the opposing view, particularly those whose opinion is being shaped by traumatic experiences. I would just appreciate it if people could separate “spanking is often very, very harmful, and I don’t think it is ever necessary, so I think it is never okay” from “any spanking is abuse, even if you, the person who was spanked in this situation, don’t think so.”

  340. vanessa
    vanessa July 5, 2011 at 3:04 pm |

    But people are then deciding that they can justify spanking in any way they can think of. To say that you struggle weekly with whether or not to hit your kid means that something much, much worse is going on.

  341. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. July 5, 2011 at 3:07 pm |

    Okay, I’m going to give this one last shot.

    Just because you did not find it abusive or because you do not think your actions are abusive, does not mean that your child, a separate human being, will experience those actions the same way. You cannot be sure. Again we come back to justifying the ethics of a behavior on the level of perceived harm caused rather than the rightness or wrongness of the action.

    Some people are not “traumatized” by nonconsenual touching (i.e., groping). I’ve been groped by people without my consent LOTS of times. It never really bothered me. My lack of trauma is not a reason to determine that the behavior is perfectly acceptable.

    People on this thread have reported that even non-painful “spankings” were abusive. That’s their experience. Its not an uncommon one. Their experience, may very well be the experience of your child.

    Moreover its not uncommon for parents to be completely convinced that they aren’t causing pain even when they are. I’ve run into clients were the parent LAUGHS at the idea that their child is being “hurt” by whippings that leave marks.

    This shit shouldn’t be about protecting the feelings of parents when you see the consequences day in and day out. When you see kids who cringe when a parent reaches for their hand. When you have to stop a parent from removing their belt IN A COURTROOM. I’m tired of this bullshit where we are so concerned about parents “rights” to do what ever they want with the bodies of their children that we embrace “spanking” broadly defined as okay for any reason.

    Yeah, parents need help. They need support. They need less stress in their lives. They need better child care options. I’m all for those things, I’ve advocated for those things in trying to keep families together, but I’m sick and fucking tired of these arguments that parent’s can hit kids and its okay. Not it happens. Not, I’ll try to do better. But its okay.

    Go spend a week in family court. Look at those kids. Look at the marks on their bodies and their spirits. Listen to their stories and the justifications of their parents. Then report back about how important it is to uphold the right of parents to hit their children so that you can “pat” your kid on the butt.

  342. Olive Fringe
    Olive Fringe July 5, 2011 at 3:15 pm |

    Q Grrl I didn’t really read it as “wanting internet cookies,” mostly just as someone who wants to do things the right way and slips up. For that, she gets told that she should use birth control until she can parent the “right” way.

    It sounds like anon is getting help. It sounds like she came here to offer her perspective. For that, she got called a child abuser. This is supposed to be a community. A non-trivial part of this community (and the larger society it belongs to) says “spanking in some form” is OK. That part of the community isn’t saying “you weren’t abused.” It’s not saying “everyone should spank.” They’re saying “I was spanked, my experience was different” or “I spank, and it works on my kids.” For that, they’re told they’re not welcome here.

  343. Esti
    Esti July 5, 2011 at 3:18 pm |

    Kristen, I’ve spent a fair amount of time in family court (and in criminal courts). I’m really not naive about the amount of child abuse in the world. I’m in no way denying that spanking can be really, really harmful — or that people label some really abusive behaviors as spanking, either to justify their actions or because they honestly can’t tell the difference. I’m not even saying that we need to uphold the rights of parents to spank in what I consider to be non-abusive ways. I’m just saying that not all spanking is abuse. I know that because it wasn’t for me.

    Maybe it’s a small number of people who experience spanking as non-abusive (though I’m genuinely not sure whether that is true — we know the majority of parents spank, but I haven’t seen any research on what proportion of children who were spanked experienced it as abuse. I’d be interested in reading on that, if anyone knows of any). It may be way too small a number to justify spanking as a practice. It may be a fairly large number, but still not enough to justify spanking in light of the severe harm it does to at least some of the children who are spanked. But this thread has been about 90% ALL SPANKING IS ALWAYS ABUSE and I think some people have been frustrated by that because, as people who were spanked (not as parents doing the spanking), we can say that some of the time, it’s not.

  344. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. July 5, 2011 at 3:26 pm |

    @Esti

    Alright, so what you experienced wasn’t abuse. That is germane to the question of permissibility how?

  345. Esti
    Esti July 5, 2011 at 3:36 pm |

    Surely whether spanking is always abusive vs. whether it is sometimes/often/nearly always abusive is relevant to its permissibility.

    That aside, I’m not sure that this discussion is solely about the permissibility of spanking (and I haven’t been advocating for either side, because I’m torn on this topic due, in large part, to my own experiences). People are expressing their views on spanking as a practice, and because it’s a deeply personal topic, a lot of those views will be things like “this is how I experienced it” and not “here’s what I think everyone else should do”. I think that a reminder that some of the statements being made here are overbroad and potentially hurtful (though obviously not as hurtful as abuse itself, I’m not conflating the two) is probably relevant to the conversation.

  346. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. July 5, 2011 at 3:50 pm |

    @Esti,

    Is it relevant to the question of permissibility of nonconsensual groping whether I experienced those actions as “abuse”?

  347. DammitJanet
    DammitJanet July 5, 2011 at 3:55 pm |

    anon-

    I know this struggle. If you haven’t already, talk to your therapist *specifically* about how many times you spank your child, what triggers it, how you feel when you’re doing it, and how you feel afterward. S/he can help you work through what’s causing you to feel the need to spank your kid and how to work around it.

    From my own experience, I can tell you that once I stopped allowing spanking to be an option, my relationship with my daughters improved. And their behavior was better because I learned strategies to *teach* better behavior. I became more confident in my parenting because I learned how to deescalate a situation before it reached the point where I would have formerly spanked.

    It’s a lot of work. A LOT. It really is worth it, though, and I think you’ll be pleased at how much better a safer home feels, and how much more your kids let you know them when they aren’t scared of you and you aren’t scared of hurting them.

  348. Esti
    Esti July 5, 2011 at 4:13 pm |

    (Trigger warning on descriptions of potentially non-consensual sexual touching, just in case.)

    Well, let’s take a recent example of an actual issue of potentially non-consensual touching: Canada’s recent court ruling which has the effect of making it illegal to wake your sleeping partner with oral sex. Is the fact that you (a hypothetical you) asked your partner to do that to you, were happy that they did, and did not experience the act as sexual assault relevant to the question of whether it should be legal to do so? I think it’s relevant, but certainly not dispositive (and in that example, I think that the non-assaultive experiences are not enough to overcome the arguments on the other side).

    But if people arguing in favor of criminalizing those acts say that performing oral sex on a sleeping partner is *always* sexual assault, is that hypothetical person’s experience relevant to the conversation? I think it’s pretty clear that it is. And if the conversation was not framed as “should this be legal?” but rather “someone did a study on this issue; I have experienced it and in my case it wasn’t a problem but obviously sometimes it’s very bad and wrong” then I don’t see how “I was really harmed by this” is relevant but “I was not harmed by this” is not.

    I’m really not trying to pick a fight. I really enjoy your posts on this site, and I understand that you have experiences that make this a really painful subject. Reading this thread has moved me closer to the “this can often be really harmful so let’s just not do it at all” camp than I was before. I just don’t like the parts of this discussion where people say “any spanking is abuse, it is disgusting and sickening and un-feminist always”. Because in addition to completely erasing my experiences, which I’ve tried to present as respectfully as I can to those who had different experiences, I think that a richer conversation results when we hear both sets of experiences.

  349. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. July 5, 2011 at 5:40 pm |

    @Esti,

    That’s a discussion about consent, not about abuse. I don’t think its applicable.

  350. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan July 5, 2011 at 7:33 pm |

    That’s a discussion about consent, not about abuse. I don’t think its applicable.

    How can you possibly have a discussion about abuse without including a mention of consent? Isn’t that the main reasons people are objecting to non-painful spanking, because the kid doesn’t consent to it?

    Esti’s comments have been spot on that saying “ALL SPANKING IS ALWAYS ABUSE ALWAYS!!!” is both useless in an actual discussion, and erases an entire point of view (including her’s and mine.) If you’re trying to prove that non-abusive spanking is impossible, our personal accounts of non-abusive spanking are entirely relevant to your argument. In fact, they disprove it.

  351. antiprincess
    antiprincess July 5, 2011 at 7:38 pm |

    vanessa: But people are then deciding that they can justify spanking in any way they can think of. To say that you struggle weekly with whether or not to hit your kid means that something much, much worse is going on.

    sure. but that’s not what this thread is about.

  352. antiprincess
    antiprincess July 5, 2011 at 7:40 pm |

    the thread’s about spanking, not what’s going on in anon’s life.

  353. Esti
    Esti July 5, 2011 at 11:46 pm |

    Kristen J.: @Esti,That’s a discussion about consent, not about abuse. I don’t think its applicable.

    You asked me to respond to an example about discussions of non-consensual sexual touching. I agree that it’s not a perfect (or even particularly good) analogy for spanking as an *act*, but I think it’s possible to draw helpful comparisons about *discussions* of those subjects.

    That being said, I don’t really think we’re going to get anywhere productive in this back and forth and I don’t want to force a discussion of something painful for you. I’m not trying to invalidate your experiences and I don’t want to pull too much of this thread away from spanking and into a meta-discussion of how to talk about spanking. I just wanted to ask people to please recognize that non-abusive spanking exists and that those of us who experienced it don’t want to be told that we were necessarily abused by monstrous parents.

  354. Of Spanking and State Violence | Racialicious - the intersection of race and pop culture

    [...] WARNING. This is a very frank post on violence.]So, last week Jill at Feministe has a post up on the first real-time spanking study.Time Magazine reports:[I]n the course of analyzing the data collected from 37 families — 36 [...]

  355. Tomek Kulesza
    Tomek Kulesza July 6, 2011 at 9:36 am |

    The comments in this thread are infuriating. Substitute “parents” with “men” and children with “women” and realize how long should a lot of commenters last here.

    Fucking disgusting.

  356. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. July 6, 2011 at 11:29 am |

    Bagelsan:
    That’s a discussion about consent, not about abuse. I don’t think its applicable.

    How can you possibly have a discussion about abuse without including a mention of consent? Isn’t that the main reasons people are objecting to non-painful spanking, because the kid doesn’t consent to it?

    Esti’s comments have been spot on that saying “ALL SPANKING IS ALWAYS ABUSE ALWAYS!!!” is both useless in an actual discussion, and erases an entire point of view (including her’s and mine.) If you’re trying to prove that non-abusive spanking is impossible, our personal accounts of non-abusive spanking are entirely relevant to your argument. In fact, they disprove it.

    Oh, for the love of pancakes what bullshit is this. I haven’t said anything of the sort. I said it was WRONG. It wrong to hit people (or sexually touch them without consent) REGARDLESS of whether its “abusive” to the person who experiences it. None of these “but I wasn’t harmed” have fuck all to do with whether or not an action is UNETHICAL particularly when stacked against other voices saying it was harmful and a mountain of scientific evidencce that agrees.

  357. Medea
    Medea July 6, 2011 at 11:37 am |

    Tomek Kulesza: The comments in this thread are infuriating. Substitute “parents” with “men” and children with “women” and realize how long should a lot of commenters last here.

    I hate that comparison. Women are not children. You can’t make easy substitutions like that.

  358. chava
    chava July 6, 2011 at 11:53 am |

    OK, but practical experience has a role there, unless you want to assert that certain actions are a priori unethical. Personal experience and empirical data have a role; if the majority of children did not experience spanking as harmful, I don’t know that I would say it was unethical.

    This study seems to show that any physical discipline is harmful on the whole. However, I don’t think their instrument is fine enough–it doesn’t account for the home environment with parents who spank, the interaction of spanking and other factors/parental behaviors, etc. It doesn’t even define “spanking” properly. So there may be a lot more going on here than just “spanking causes x.”

    That said, there is enough evidence showing a strong correlation between spanking and various negative outcomes that I think it’s a dangerous technique for any parent to use.

    Kristen J.: Oh, for the love of pancakes what bullshit is this.I haven’t said anything of the sort.I said it was WRONG.It wrong to hit people (or sexually touch them without consent) REGARDLESS of whether its “abusive” to the person who experiences it.None of these “but I wasn’t harmed” have fuck all to do with whether or not an action is UNETHICAL particularly when stacked against other voices saying it was harmful and a mountain of scientific evidencce that agrees.

  359. Azalea
    Azalea July 6, 2011 at 11:56 am |

    Kristen J.:
    Okay, I’m going to give this one last shot.

    Just because you did not find it abusive or because you do not think your actions are abusive, does not mean that your child, a separate human being, will experience those actions the same way.You cannot be sure.Again we come back to justifying the ethics of a behavior on the level of perceived harm caused rather than the rightness or wrongness of the action.

    Some people are not “traumatized” by nonconsenual touching (i.e., groping).I’ve been groped by people without my consent LOTS of times.It never really bothered me.My lack of trauma is not a reason to determine that the behavior is perfectly acceptable.

    People on this thread have reported that even non-painful “spankings” were abusive.That’s their experience.Its not an uncommon one.Their experience, may very well be the experience of your child.

    Moreover its not uncommon for parents to be completely convinced that they aren’t causing pain even when they are.I’ve run into clients were the parent LAUGHS at the idea that their child is being “hurt” by whippings that leave marks.

    This shit shouldn’t be about protecting the feelings of parents when you see the consequences day in and day out.When you see kids who cringe when a parent reaches for their hand.When you have to stop a parent from removing their belt IN A COURTROOM.I’m tired of this bullshit where we are so concerned about parents “rights” to do what ever they want with the bodies of their children that we embrace “spanking” broadly defined as okay for any reason.

    Yeah, parents need help.They need support.They need less stress in their lives.They need better child care options.I’m all for those things, I’ve advocated for those things in trying to keep families together, but I’m sick and fucking tired of these arguments that parent’s can hit kids and its okay.Not it happens.Not, I’ll try to do better.But its okay.

    Go spend a week in family court.Look at those kids.Look at the marks on their bodies and their spirits.Listen to their stories and the justifications of their parents.Then report back about how important it is to uphold the right of parents to hit their children so that you can “pat” your kid on the butt.

    I have seen abused children, I have done non profit work that benefits children who come from abusive homes. I have seen how afraid they are of physical contact, that fear doesn’t exist with my children. I think what was lost in this conversation was that I admitted to being spanked as a small child as well and do not share the sentiment of others here that spanking is painful and abusive because it wasn’t for me and I am a pansy when it comes to pain. I am not the only person who has been spanked who doesn’t share the sentiment that all spanking is abusive and painful. But even with MY experience being painless and non abusive to ME I understand, recognize and respect the fact that my experience is the polar opposite than the experience of others who were abused by their parents, who did experience lots of pain, humiliation and fear.

    On the same token, you have to realized that your experience is not universal, common (because painless spankings are apparently not the norm) but not universal.

  360. debbie
    debbie July 6, 2011 at 11:57 am |

    I hate that comparison. Women are not children. You can’t make easy substitutions like that.

    No, women aren’t children. But there have been times and places where women and children had similar status, and a similar lack of legal rights (and, there still are places where this is the case). Talking about physically disciplining your wife the way some commenters are talking about physically discipling their children wouldn’t have seemed unusual.

  361. Miriam
    Miriam July 6, 2011 at 1:21 pm |

    I was spanked once, as a child, when my dad completely lost his cool and spanked all 3 of us, with a belt, because I was crying because my two brothers were teasing and hitting me…the way they did most days of my childhood.

    When I had kids, I was determined to never spank and to really try never to blow off their concerns or ignore pleas for help. I did swat my daughter once, as a toddler, when she shook off my hand and ran into the street, with a car coming down the road (an open hand over her clothes). And then I apologized, and told her that I was scared and didn’t think. I never used physical punishment on either child after that, distraction and time out worked pretty well until they were old enough to sit down to listen to me tell them why something was wrong (they would roll their eyes, which made me laugh, but they’d listen).

    I guess the real trick is to not let your kids pull you into power games, because then you’re going to have to use some kind of discipline and it’s usually maddening to the parent which means sometimes hitting gets involved. Like the eyeroll thing; it made me laugh, but I’ve heard parents yell at their kids or smack them for that…and, really, it’s *just* a facial expression. Is it really worth getting mad over? I’ve seen parents spank a kid over spilling a glass of milk (an accident), or not eating all of something on their plate. I didn’t discipline for those things. Both of my kids threw a tantrum exactly once…only to have me walk away until they were done. I didn’t even have to talk about it afterwards, other than to say “Do you feel better now?”

    My daughter was pretty headstrong and prone to trouble, but I never used domination tactics on her; my expectation was that she would sit and listen, and I’d wait until she could, and then we’d talk about it. My son was stubborn, but a born play-by-the-rules person, so he was really easy…but sometimes required long explanations of why, and lots (and lots) of questions. “But why?” “But why?” If you genuinely answer all their “But whys”, after a few weeks or months, they actually tend to ask fewer (or harder, so you have to go look up explanations together).

    Kids take patience, and lots of it. If you can be patient, you can avoid hitting or dominating your kids. Sometimes, to find the patience, you might have to lock yourself in the bathroom and take some deep breaths and center yourself, but it can be done.

    Both my kids are grown now, and are responsible, happy adults. So either I got lucky or I did something right.

  362. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. July 6, 2011 at 1:38 pm |

    chava: OK, but practical experience has a role there, unless you want to assert that certain actions are a priori unethical.

    Okay…so what percentage of people have to be harmed before we stop sanctioning something as perfectly ethical behavior?

  363. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. July 6, 2011 at 1:51 pm |

    Azalea: On the same token, you have to realized that your experience is not universal, common (because painless spankings are apparently not the norm) but not universal.

    No one said my experience is universal. My argument is that your experience of harm is not relevant to determining the ethical nature of spanking. Other people do find it harmful. There is substantial empircal evidence that its harmful.

  364. Tomek Kulesza
    Tomek Kulesza July 6, 2011 at 3:08 pm |

    Medea: I hate that comparison.Women are not children.You can’t make easy substitutions like that.

    I don’t see much of difference. Both are people. But apparently for someone children are still property, or pets.

    My comparison is spot on. Exactly the same arguments – that the object needs to be taken care of, guided, because it’s too weak itself, and it’s the “caretaker” has right to decide were used against women when there was still a time to write a book such as Subjection of Women.

    XIX century much?

  365. igglanova
    igglanova July 6, 2011 at 6:20 pm |

    WTF, Tomek. A child DOES need guidance because, due to its stage in development, it isn’t smart or capable enough to take care of itself. Grown-ass women never need to be disciplined by their spouses because their spouses are their developmental equals. (That is, unless you’re in some clusterfuck of a marriage between a 50-year-old lecher and a 9-yer-old girl.) A power differential between parents and kids is absolutely necessary unless you want the kid to grow up without knowing how to wipe its ass or do math.

    Given that analogies are usually a crap form of argumentation anyway, this changes nothing about the ethics of spanking. Can you seriously not see what you’re implying when you compare adult women to children?

  366. Safiya Outlines
    Safiya Outlines July 6, 2011 at 7:11 pm |

    I find the woman/child analogy far less offensive then people saying spanking is a ok and anyone saying otherwise is erasing their experience. *eyeroll*

    Whatever it takes to make people see the light I’m ok with.

  367. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan July 6, 2011 at 10:06 pm |

    Okay…so what percentage of people have to be harmed before we stop sanctioning something as perfectly ethical behavior?

    Um, is that a genuine question? Because FSM knows I can’t think of many (any?) behaviors that can be applied universally without harming anyone. And yet somehow we have deemed some things “ethical” nonetheless. Including things that do far more harm to children than spanking. *coughreligiousindoctrinationcough*

  368. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. July 6, 2011 at 10:15 pm |

    Bagelsan:

    Um, is that a genuine question? Because FSM knows I can’t think of many (any?) behaviors that can be applied universally without harming anyone. And yet somehow we have deemed some things “ethical” nonetheless. Including things that do far more harm to children than spanking. *coughreligiousindoctrinationcough*

    Huh? Have you read the studies on spanking? The harm is pretty common and substantial…but sure compare it to the things people decide to do voluntarily.

  369. Yonmei
    Yonmei July 7, 2011 at 3:19 am |

    but sure compare it to the things people decide to do voluntarily.

    Most religious indoctrination of children by parents isn’t done to the children with their consent – their consent is never asked for. Religious indoctrination can range from physical mutilation of the penis to teaching a little kid that she or he deserves to die because God hates them for their sexual orientation or gender identity.

    Some people experience spanking as non-abusive. Some people experience religious indoctrination as non-abusive. Their experience is valid and shouldn’t be erased, even as we discuss the abusive experience.

  370. chava
    chava July 7, 2011 at 4:33 am |

    Yes. Because that’s TOTALLY a fair reading of what I said.

    If I’m being serious–it’s a tough question. For the sake of argument, assume that the average form of “spanking” (whatever that means) helps more children than it harms. OK–but the small percent it harms are traumatized. Given as we value not harming children particularly highly, and spanking is not an essential parenting technique, then spanking should STILL be discouraged/seen as unethical.

    Kristen J.: Okay…so what percentage of people have to be harmed before we stop sanctioning something as perfectly ethical behavior?

  371. Tomek Kulesza
    Tomek Kulesza July 7, 2011 at 5:39 am |

    igglanova:
    WTF, Tomek.A child DOES need guidance because, due to its stage in development, it isn’t smart or capable enough to take care of itself.Grown-ass women never need to be disciplined by their spouses because their spouses are their developmental equals. (That is, unless you’re in some clusterfuck of a marriage between a 50-year-old lecher and a 9-yer-old girl.) A power differential between parents and kids is absolutely necessary unless you want the kid to grow up without knowing how to wipe its ass or do math.

    Given that analogies are usually a crap form of argumentation anyway, this changes nothing about the ethics of spanking.Can you seriously not see what you’re implying when you compare adult women to children?

    Yeah, kids need a lot of things. Including people listening to them, talking to them and making sure they feel safe, which includes safe expression of their emotions. If you call that guidance, sure, although IMO adults need it the same. But when the “guidance” is used as an excuse for shitheads for opressing the children with the use of violence – both physical and psychological, it sounds exactly as similar excuses that were made for women, blacks, or slaves, “uncivilized natives”, heathens, or children, or even all fucking subjects in old monarchies sounds for us now.

    Except a lot people here, on feminist blog don’t see how fucked up it is to advocate use of violence against other people so they follow their orders.

    The irony is delicious. I need some troll saying that beating women of your family is needed guidance when they act inapropriately. Like, talk to stranger men. But i guess it wouldn’t help. William already say that we don’t think violence against mentally disabled people is ok as a teaching method, but for some reason for some – many – people, it is ok when it’s used on your pets, uh, i mean children.

    I know what i’m implying when comparing adult women to children. That both are people and both are – or were – in the same situation. What do you think i am implying? That adult women are superior to children when it comes to rights?

  372. Spot
    Spot July 7, 2011 at 5:55 am |

    Yeah? Well substitute “fucking” with “speeding” and then replace “disgusting” with “cheese sandwich,” then replace every third mention of “spanked” with “groomed” and then tell me that the entire commentariat shouldn’t be banned!

    Fucking disgusting, er, I mean, speeding cheese sandwich.

    I rest my case.

  373. Azalea
    Azalea July 7, 2011 at 6:41 am |

    Kristen J.: No one said my experience is universal.My argument is that your experience of harm is not relevant to determining the ethical nature of spanking.Other people do find it harmful.There is substantial empircal evidence that its harmful.

    Why isn’t it? My experience is not unique to me and my children we are not the only ones who experience it this way. It isn’t the method it is how it is administered. Someone made the compairson upthread about laws against waking your partner up with oral sex, obviously your partner IS NOT CONSENTING TO THIS IN THEIR SLEEP but does it make you are boundaryless douchebag because you did it or your partner enjoyed it and who the hell is someone to tell your partner tha because most people who are touched without consent feel victimized that they should too and that what you did is unethical and should be illegal? Context matters. Saying any discipline that includes physical contact is physical abuse creates a very broad brush of assumptions (as has been seen here that it “may” be harmful and I just dont know my small children well enough to know that they are experiencing pain) one of which is that it hurts and what the intent , reason and frequency of that contact is. I could say that any parent who shames their child is being verbally abusive and that not yelling is so rare that even those who say “Stop that right now!” are being bullies who are asserting control over their children and trying to humiliate them etc etc etc because I have wtinessed children being yelled at relentlessly that means ALL verbal discipline is verbal abuse.

  374. Azalea
    Azalea July 7, 2011 at 6:50 am |

    Tomek Kulesza: Yeah, kids need a lot of things. Including people listening to them, talking to them and making sure they feel safe, which includes safe expression of their emotions. If you call that guidance, sure, although IMO adults need it the same. But when the “guidance” is used as an excuse for shitheads for opressing the children with the use of violence – both physical and psychological, it sounds exactly as similar excuses that were made for women, blacks, or slaves, “uncivilized natives”, heathens, or children, or even all fucking subjects in old monarchies sounds for us now.

    Except a lot people here, on feminist blog don’t see how fucked up it is to advocate use of violence against other people so they follow their orders.

    The irony is delicious. I need some troll saying that beating women of your family is needed guidance when they act inapropriately. Like, talk to stranger men. But i guess it wouldn’t help. William already say that we don’t think violence against mentally disabled people is ok as a teaching method, but for some reason for some – many – people, it is ok when it’s used on your pets, uh, i mean children.

    I know what i’m implying when comparing adult women to children. That both are people and both are – or were – in the same situation. What do you think i am implying? That adult women are superior to children when it comes to rights?

    The comparison between slave owners who whipped and beat slaves to parents who spank children just made me vomit.

  375. Tomek Kulesza
    Tomek Kulesza July 7, 2011 at 8:12 am |

    I hope you mean literally, because reading what you wrote before in this thread pretty clearly shows how twisted the results of such upbringing can be on a person, who (meaning: you) then tries to act out their childhood on their own children, finally having power over someone in your life and be the judge not the judged. But you can always go and find a therapist, process your own issues, and sincerely apologize to your children. You know, life doesn’t have to look like a constant power struggle.

    Anyway, i usually compare it (the typical upbringing) to death/concentration camp, if you prefer that. It was really cool to read the same comparison in one of Alice Miller books, given she lived as a child in Warsaw Ghetto.

  376. chava
    chava July 7, 2011 at 9:57 am |

    Annnnnnd the thread is now over. All hail Godwin, maker of the Law.
    Analogies: rarely an excellent form of argumentation.

    Tomek Kulesza:
    I hope you mean literally, because reading what you wrote before in this thread pretty clearly shows how twisted the results of such upbringing can be on a person, who (meaning: you) then tries to act out their childhood on their own children, finally having power over someone in your life and be the judge not the judged. But you can always go and find a therapist, process your own issues, and sincerely apologize to your children. You know, life doesn’t have to look like a constant power struggle.

    Anyway, i usually compare it (the typical upbringing) to death/concentration camp, if you prefer that. It was really cool to read the same comparison in one of Alice Miller books, given she lived as a child in Warsaw Ghetto.

  377. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. July 7, 2011 at 12:39 pm |

    Oy, now I know you guys haven’t read the studies. It isn’t a small problem that impacts a small portion of children who are spanked. There are systematic consequences for spanking that include a much greater risk of aggressive behavior, loss of certain types of brain matter (weird but true), alcohol and drug abuse, unprotected sex (weird but true), among others. These effects even hold where spanking is only occassional. Only a few studies have been able to control for all risk variables, but those studies have found that the harm persists. So no, not just a few kids traumatized.

  378. Meg
    Meg July 7, 2011 at 12:46 pm |

    Jill: Is it really “isolation” to sit on the stairs in the middle of your living room for two minutes? The punishment was that I missed out on two minutes of playing with my sister and our My Little Ponies, which were 6 feet away.

    Right, my “time outs” were being isolated alone in a room for somewhere between 10 minutes and two hours, depending on how long it was before my mom remembered putting me there. She only forgot me for most of the day twice.

    There’s a difference between “turn around and put your hands on the wall for 60 seconds” and “I’m going to isolate you in punishment.” Then again, my mom had clearly read parenting book and missed the point: when she took away toys they never came back, and my sticker chart got stickers randomly, whenever she liked something I did.

    Unsurprisingly, the domination of children by their parents is an issue near and dear to my heart. You can do things to children that would be illegal to do to a dog, and I don’t have to deal with the dog when it grows up.

  379. igglanova
    igglanova July 7, 2011 at 2:36 pm |

    ‘Yeah? Well substitute “fucking” with “speeding” and then replace “disgusting” with “cheese sandwich,” then replace every third mention of “spanked” with “groomed” and then tell me that the entire commentariat shouldn’t be banned!’

    Spot wins the thread.

  380. igglanova
    igglanova July 7, 2011 at 2:53 pm |

    Tomek, read the thread. I’m an opponent of spanking. And adults do deserve different rights from children, because they have different needs. Adults have the right to not be restrained, confined, or ‘disciplined’ by other adults who are not given legal authority over them (i.e. not cops or what have you). If you applied identical rights to children, you would instantly criminalize groundings, confiscation of toys, curfews, carrying children away when they don’t feel like it, etc. There is a reason paternalism is appropriate for children but wholly inappropriate for grown women.

    But hey, if you’re prepared to go full Godwin on us, I might as well be pissing in the wind.

  381. chava
    chava July 7, 2011 at 3:45 pm |

    …um, yeah?
    Hence the “assume for the sake of argument” in my comment. Point being that EVEN IF it only affected a small number of children, which it doesn’t, it should still be considered wrong.

    Kristen J.:
    Oy, now I know you guys haven’t read the studies.It isn’t a small problem that impacts a small portion of children who are spanked.There are systematic consequences for spanking that include a much greater risk of aggressive behavior, loss of certain types of brain matter (weird but true), alcohol and drug abuse, unprotected sex (weird but true), among others.These effects even hold where spanking is only occassional.Only a few studies have been able to control for all risk variables, but those studies have found that the harm persists.So no, not just a few kids traumatized.

  382. Tomek Kulesza
    Tomek Kulesza July 7, 2011 at 4:17 pm |

    igglanova:
    Tomek, read the thread.I’m an opponent of spanking.And adults do deserve different rights from children, because they have different needs.Adults have the right to not be restrained, confined, or ‘disciplined’ by other adults who are not given legal authority over them (i.e. not cops or what have you).If you applied identical rights to children, you would instantly criminalize groundings, confiscation of toys, curfews, carrying children away when they don’t feel like it, etc.There is a reason paternalism is appropriate for children but wholly inappropriate for grown women.

    But hey, if you’re prepared to go full Godwin on us, I might as well be pissing in the wind.

    I actually read the thread. Not whole, because i read it in parts, so i omitted some, but most of it. Also, reading your posts, i’m puzzled why there is an argument between us since you seem to have similar position to me. You certainly wasn’t advocating physical violence here, on the contrary. When writing reply to you i thought otherwise (even reading the thread i tend not to remember nicks of commenters), so i was much more aggressive and snarky than i would be otherwise.

    That said, it might be interesting. I was serious when i questioned the “guidance” issue, because i do think that’s vastly overplayed – both in the fact that adults sometimes – and quite often at that – need information too, and in that it is used as excuse for domination serving needs of parents and not childre, so guidance is a lie.

    Yes, i’m a fan of Alice Miller. “For your own good” is such a great book title.

    So, in fact i don’t think a child needs to be disciplined in the sense people use it – do you need to intervene if it’s bullying hir sibling? Sure, but that’s because the sibling needs protection. And so on. Teaching is not done by discipline, so i don’t think there is danger of society without spanking/discipline full of people unable to do things.

    Similarily, i don’t see difference in rights and needs at all. If you do, specify them. Child should have right not to be restrained unless they are dangerous to others, and in some cases to themselves, but we do that to adults too, no difference here. Confinement as a time-out can be, and i think usually is, a power show of parent who do it because zie can do it without (legal and mostly social) consequences.

    Yeah, i thing confiscation of toys and curfews should be criminalized. Seriously. If a toy is property of the child, why on earth should anyone have right to confiscate it arbitraily? Serioiusly, give me example.

    And curfews? What’s the point? Carrying over children? Give me examples, because perhaps i’m too blind to see the obvious need for that discipline.

    Also, i technically didn’t go Godwin ;) (not to mention that it’d be silly to use Godwin in this case), i said i tended to compare one thing to another, and actually did that to mention Alice Miller.

  383. Tomek Kulesza
    Tomek Kulesza July 7, 2011 at 4:21 pm |

    To elaborate, children and adults don’t have different needs. All need shelter, food, safety, affiliation with other humans, and so on. The difference is in physical – and to an extent, mental (but that often doesn’t apply to children older than say, 7, who are often basically adult intelectually) capabilities. But we don’t think disable people should have different rights, right?

  384. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. July 7, 2011 at 4:58 pm |

    Sorry Chava, that was more aimed at Azalea. I can’t do blockquoting on my phone.

  385. igglanova
    igglanova July 7, 2011 at 5:20 pm |

    Tomek, adults’ and children’s needs are only the same if you refuse to look at them in detail. Food, shelter, affiliation, duh. But the affiliation necessary for healthy child development is way different than the affiliation needed for adult happiness / sanity, for fuck’s sake. For one thing, a kid needs extensive socialization, which includes explicit instruction from a parent figure. Don’t believe me? See how a kid turns out if you never bother to teach them it’s bad to hit, whine, and steal. If you tried to take this didactic tone with an adult you would probably get kicked in the nuts. Adults do not have this need. Therefore, it would be stupid to allow other people to impose the authority necessary to teach this to them.

    If you think a 7-year-old is ‘basically adult mentally,’ I don’t know what to say to you, other than brush up on your goddamn Piaget. Children are also not analogous to mentally disabled adults. Their brains are different, even though ignorant people often speak of mentally disabled adults as being ‘3 years old mentally’ or whatever.

    As for child discipline. It is necessary to pick up a kid and transport hir against hir will if you want to take hir to daycare, the hospital, to the grandparents’ house, you get the idea. None of this is a defense against danger to the kid or others; some shit just needs to get done. Wtf would you do if you wanted to take the kid to daycare and he said ‘NO!’? Just stay home from work? Jesus. It is also sometimes necessary for parents to take toys away if the kid is misbehaving. Do you think it should be illegal for parents to confiscate the kid’s copy of WoW because she’s totally blowing off her homework? Would that be in *anyone’s* best interests, or would you just say ‘yes’ because some vain notion of ideological purity is the most important thing to you?

  386. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan July 7, 2011 at 6:07 pm |

    To elaborate, children and adults don’t have different needs. All need shelter, food, safety, affiliation with other humans, and so on. … But we don’t think disable people should have different rights, right?

    I think you’re switching from discussing “needs” to discussing “rights” here, in a way that detrimental to the argument. Sure all humans (young, old, with or without disabilities) have basic rights. And I’d frankly like many of them to have more rights than they currently have. But even when people have the same rights they can have very different needs. Children and adults have different needs, people with disabilities often have different needs from people without, etc.

    Hell, I have different needs day to day (and in fact have different rights day to day sometimes too, depending on circumstance. I have the “right” to free speech, but not when I’m holding a stack of patient information. I have a “right” to free movement, but not when I’m in a BSL 3 room working with tuberculosis.)

    So I’m not satisfied with sweeping arguments that default to pure thoughtless no-exceptions “equality” under all circumstances, because I don’t think that actually realistic or genuinely fair and safe.

  387. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan July 7, 2011 at 6:10 pm |

    Do you think it should be illegal for parents to confiscate the kid’s copy of WoW because she’s totally blowing off her homework?

    Hell no! It should be legal to confiscate anyone’s copy of WoW if they’re blowing off work or school, like a citizen’s arrest or an intervention! That’s kind of like the implied consent of an unconscious person to lifesaving measures, right? ;p

  388. Just saying this
    Just saying this July 7, 2011 at 11:44 pm |

    One reason I am a opponent of spanking is because of the level of abuse I experienced as a child. I was beat like a slow mule, just beat, certainly every week maybe every day. Who remembers?

    And of course it was ok because it was basically “spanking”. Advocating spanking means telling parents it is ok to beat their kids. Well maybe you went too far one day. Maybe that was a bit much.

    Don’t hit your kids. I don’t hit my kids. I know how to read. I know how to learn basic skills: change tire, don’t hit kid, change lightbulb, don’t hit kid, read book, don’t hit kid, plant bush, don’t hit the human being who made you a mother. These are lifeskills. They are worth learning.

    Don’t hit your kids. It hurts.

  389. Tomek Kulesza
    Tomek Kulesza July 8, 2011 at 6:13 am |

    igglanova:
    Tomek, adults’ and children’s needs are only the same if you refuse to look at them in detail.Food, shelter, affiliation, duh.But the affiliation necessary for healthy child development is way different than the affiliation needed for adult happiness / sanity, for fuck’s sake.For one thing, a kid needs extensive socialization, which includes explicit instruction from a parent figure.Don’t believe me?See how a kid turns out if you never bother to teach them it’s bad to hit, whine, and steal.If you tried to take this didactic tone with an adult you would probably get kicked in the nuts.Adults do not have this need.Therefore, it would be stupid to allow other people to impose the authority necessary to teach this to them.

    If you think a 7-year-old is ‘basically adult mentally,’ I don’t know what to say to you, other than brush up on your goddamn Piaget.Children are also not analogous to mentally disabled adults.Their brains are different, even though ignorant people often speak of mentally disabled adults as being ’3 years old mentally’ or whatever.

    As for child discipline.It is necessary to pick up a kid and transport hir against hir will if you want to take hir to daycare, the hospital, to the grandparents’ house, you get the idea.None of this is a defense against danger to the kid or others; some shit just needs to get done.Wtf would you do if you wanted to take the kid to daycare and he said ‘NO!’? Just stay home from work?Jesus.It is also sometimes necessary for parents to take toys away if the kid is misbehaving.Do you think it should be illegal for parents to confiscate the kid’s copy of WoW because she’s totally blowing off her homework?Would that be in *anyone’s* best interests, or would you just say ‘yes’ because some vain notion of ideological purity is the most important thing to you?

    Hm. It’s true that adults and children have different needs and it is also true that they have the same needs.

    Let me elaborate – it’s the same with gender. Yes, there are statistical differences between children and adults in needs, but when i said that they have the same needs, i was trying to say that these differences are dwarfed by the differences between individual. My dietary needs are most likely more different from yours that from either average adult or average child. Both in quantity and kind.

    Same with other needs – and that includes learning, even though of course usually age – especially at such young stage – means less past experience. Which doesn’t necessarily means less knowledge, or wits, especially if we speak of older children.

    So, i disagree. The healthy child development means socialization, but healthy well-being of adult also requires socialization. And the differences are bigger between individuals not groups, again.

    And i completely disagree about explicit instructions. Explicit instructions not to hit? No, if you don’t use violence at home (so called “spanking” or worse), but resolve conflict – that always comes – in other ways, respecting the child autonomy and opinion, you don’t need ever to explictly say anything about not hitting people for the kid in question for kid to develop healthy attitude towards it.

    Which is not “never hit anyone”, by the way. Hitting someone in self-defence or defence of others is not only ok, but often desired.

    Also, i don’t know why you think whining is bad. Expressing emotions is bad?

    Also, i would say that a lot of adults – from the look of this research, vast majority of them – need a lot of guidance about resolving conflict without resorting to violence when it doesn’t have immediate adverse consequences to them. More than majority of children, actually.

    But you’re right that it’d be silly to use didactic tone (although i would say that getting kicked in the nuts is way over the top reaction). But why do you think kid wouldn’t kick stranger adult for such didactit tone? Because, obviously, it’s smaller (surprisingly, your average woman also would react with kick to someone’s bigger), so it would suck it up and think you’re dumb and boring. So, didactic from the point of authority – unearned one, that is – is pointless in both cases.

    And to think that someone has authority when telling not to hit people but sometimes hit the very person zie’s saying it to is pure hilarity.

    I said something else. I said ‘often’ kids, over 7 years old, are basically ‘intelectually’ and adult. Meaning, they are capable of reasoning at adult level. It basically means some kids are smart. And i know Piaget, my education is mainly sociology and psychology :)

    Btw, There is a huge world of difference between 3 years old and seven years old (even average, and not more than average developed). Bigger than between 7 years old and 27 years old, intelectually. But i digress.

    And of course their brains are different. Hell, my brain is different from yours, after all we’re our brains mostly. Doesn’t mean they are ‘that’ different.

    No, i don’t get the idea that it is ‘necessary’ to pick up a kid against hir will for a visit grandparent house or to hospital. I don’t know what sort of kid do you mean, so:

    3 yo – grandparents – you sense non-verbal communication of your kid whether zie likes visiting your grandparents, and if not, you’re not forcing hir to that.
    – hospital – you tell it in simple terms about the need to do some procedure, that it might be unpleasant, but it is needed so it won’t be ill (assuming your kid was ill already, so it was understandable)
    7yo – just communicate verbally as you would with an adult.

    Your kid ‘throwing a tantrum’? Something is wrong, and it’s more important that goddamn visit, most likely, and needs to be resolved first. Like, talked about. Perhaps your grandparent is molesting your child? Or the doctor at other hospital made nast jokes before? Or an aunt said something fightening about hospitals, like hospitals are places people go to die in?

    So, if your kid says “no” when you want it to go to daycare, then just pay attention to it, FFS! It’s human, there is a reason zie’s doing it.

    Ok, i hope it’s clear. I could tackle WoW case too, but it’s long already, so i will – tongue-in-cheek – say, that perhaps WoW copy belongs to the kid, but what about cutting internet access? ;)

  390. Tomek Kulesza
    Tomek Kulesza July 8, 2011 at 6:17 am |

    Bagelsan:
    To elaborate, children and adults don’t have different needs. All need shelter, food, safety, affiliation with other humans, and so on. … But we don’t think disable people should have different rights, right?

    I think you’re switching from discussing “needs” to discussing “rights” here, in a way that detrimental to the argument. Sure all humans (young, old, with or without disabilities) have basic rights. And I’d frankly like many of them to have more rights than they currently have. But even when people have the same rights they can have very different needs. Children and adults have different needs, people with disabilities often have different needs from people without, etc.

    Hell, I have different needs day to day (and in fact have different rights day to day sometimes too, depending on circumstance. I have the “right” to free speech, but not when I’m holding a stack of patient information. I have a “right” to free movement, but not when I’m in a BSL 3 room working with tuberculosis.)

    So I’m not satisfied with sweeping arguments that default to pure thoughtless no-exceptions “equality” under all circumstances, because I don’t think that actually realistic or genuinely fair and safe.

    Bagelsan, IIRC i did it because there was argument that because of different needs they should have different rights. Of course, it doesn’t follow – but nevertheless i dispute both, so i engaged also the needs. With the caveat that the needs are obviously different, but i am not essentialist. As you said, you have different needs from day to day – and i think individual diversity is bigger than intergroup one.

    No, i don’t think that. I know it.

    My argument my sound like some ideological unrealistic thing but it isn’t – as can be seen in the way i wanted to engage specific examples. I just dispute the need of force and the idea that children are not able to communicate.

  391. igglanova
    igglanova July 8, 2011 at 3:58 pm |

    ‘So, if your kid says “no” when you want it to go to daycare, then just pay attention to it, FFS! It’s human, there is a reason zie’s doing it.’

    You vastly overestimate how rational children are. Part of normal child development, in fact, includes going through a phase where kids say ‘NO’ to everything just for shits and giggles. I’d pay attention to that kid, and then still take it to daycare, because I wouldn’t be under the thumb of a whiny child and I’d need to go to work if that kid wants to be fed. If I obeyed that kid, I’d be fired and the kid would feel even worse than it does now. WOOPS!

    There’s a reason people do everything. Sometimes the reasons are moronic or selfish. That’s no reason to be a doormat and capitulate, capitulate, capitulate to everyone’s demands.

    The rest of your comment was basically nonsensical, so whatevs. (Can this thread reach 400 comments?? *holds breath*)

  392. chava
    chava July 8, 2011 at 4:55 pm |

    Yes, yes it can.
    With this:
    see more Lolcats and funny pictures, and check out our Socially Awkward Penguin lolz!

    igglanova:

    The rest of your comment was basically nonsensical, so whatevs.(Can this thread reach 400 comments?? *holds breath*)

  393. chava
    chava July 8, 2011 at 4:58 pm |
  394. Azalea
    Azalea July 8, 2011 at 10:31 pm |

    Meg: Right, my “time outs” were being isolated alone in a room for somewhere between 10 minutes and two hours, depending on how long it was before my mom remembered putting me there.She only forgot me for most of the day twice.

    There’s a difference between “turn around and put your hands on the wall for 60 seconds” and “I’m going to isolate you in punishment.”Then again, my mom had clearly read parenting book and missed the point: when she took away toys they never came back, and my sticker chart got stickers randomly, whenever she liked something I did.

    Unsurprisingly, the domination of children by their parents is an issue near and dear to my heart.You can do things to children that would be illegal to do to a dog, and I don’t have to deal with the dog when it grows up.

    It is still isolation just as a light tap on the hand is still a beating.

  395. Azalea
    Azalea July 8, 2011 at 10:38 pm |

    Tomek Kulesza:
    I hope you mean literally, because reading what you wrote before in this thread pretty clearly shows how twisted the results of such upbringing can be on a person, who (meaning: you) then tries to act out their childhood on their own children, finally having power over someone in your life and be the judge not the judged. But you can always go and find a therapist, process your own issues, and sincerely apologize to your children. You know, life doesn’t have to look like a constant power struggle.

    Anyway, i usually compare it (the typical upbringing) to death/concentration camp, if you prefer that. It was really cool to read the same comparison in one of Alice Miller books, given she lived as a child in Warsaw Ghetto.

    WTF?

    You mean the fact that my parents are not abusive monsters and that I am not an abusive monster? Yeah thats twisted. The horros of being lightly tapped on the hand are JUST like the horrors of being BEATEN WITH A WHIP ON YOUR BARE FUCKING FLESH.

    You know, how being made to sit on the stairs for 10 mintues is totally like being locked in a room with no sunlight all of your childhood. Totally the same fucking thing and anyone who thinks differently is twisted.

    If you werent belittling the horrors of slavery and the holocaust you would be funny. However you’re just extremely offensive.

  396. Azalea
    Azalea July 8, 2011 at 10:43 pm |

    igglanova:
    ‘So, if your kid says “no” when you want it to go to daycare, then just pay attention to it, FFS! It’s human, there is a reason zie’s doing it.’

    You vastly overestimate how rational children are.Part of normal child development, in fact, includes going through a phase where kids say ‘NO’ to everything just for shits and giggles.I’d pay attention to that kid, and then still take it to daycare, because I wouldn’t be under the thumb of a whiny child and I’d need to go to work if that kid wants to be fed.If I obeyed that kid, I’d be fired and the kid would feel even worse than it does now.WOOPS!

    There’s a reason people do everything.Sometimes the reasons are moronic or selfish.That’s no reason to be a doormat and capitulate, capitulate, capitulate to everyone’s demands.

    The rest of your comment was basically nonsensical, so whatevs.(Can this thread reach 400 comments?? *holds breath*)

    But you’d be forcing that child to go to daycare, do you not understand the trauma that people experience when they are forced to go somewhere they don’t want to go?! You’d be a kidnapping monster!

  397. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan July 9, 2011 at 12:11 am |

    If I had called all the shots as a kid I’d be a feral unvaccinated toothless diabetic raised entirely by Calvin & Hobbes comics.

    …so actually, yeah, that sounds like a good plan to me! :D

  398. LeftSidePositive
    LeftSidePositive July 9, 2011 at 5:06 pm |

    Azalea: It is still isolation just as a light tap on the hand is still a beating.

    No, actually. Not at all. The difference is that a small time-out can in fact be the most minimally-invasive way to deal with a situation. Hitting, no matter how “painless” a power-tripping self-centered parent may try to convince the internet it is, is never necessary and never acceptable.

    A time out may diffuse a situation, may encourage reflection, and also teaches valuable life-lessons (i.e. “if you do not behave nicely, people will not want to include you in things.”). It is therefore necessary because some guidance and enforcement of a moral foundation has to happen for a child to learn pro-social behaviors, and a time-out or a stern talking-to may be the most respectful, constructive way to do that. These things therefore exist on a continuum. Yes, any parenting measure–even talking or giving someone candy–can be abusive if done in the wrong way. That doesn’t make hitting children acceptable. Just like talking to a stranger to ask the time of day is acceptable (and sometimes necessary), so it would be absurd to conclude that since saying “Hey baby nice tits!” is unacceptable that all talking to strangers is unacceptable.

    Hitting, on the other hand, is never acceptable, because it is never the least-invasive way to deal with a situation (by definition, because you’re physically approaching your children in a hostile and/or symbolically-hostile way). Plus, many, many parents get the same or better results without ever hitting their kids (even if it is subjective, self-exonerating, willfully ignorant nonsense “painless”). So, hitting fails on both the “necessary” and “minimally invasive” counts, and therefore doesn’t exist on a continuum wherein only the most extreme is abusive. It also teaches kids really messed-up life lessons: “people who are bigger than you are right simply because they’re bigger” or “your personal boundaries don’t matter if people with power over you think you did something wrong” or “be good because I could hurt you more if I wanted to.”

  399. LeftSidePositive
    LeftSidePositive July 9, 2011 at 5:18 pm |

    Azalea: You mean the fact that my parents are not abusive monsters and that I am not an abusive monster? Yeah thats twisted. The horros of being lightly tapped on the hand are JUST like the horrors of being BEATEN WITH A WHIP ON YOUR BARE FUCKING FLESH.

    Azalea, drop the strawman. Has anyone EVER said on this thread that a “tap” on the hand is “JUST” like being whipped or beaten? No. We have simply said that as a parenting technique, it is unnecessary and unacceptable. It might not be *as bad* as other parenting techniques that are more violent, but it is still unnecessary and unacceptable. You may even, on the balance of things, still be an overall good parent even if you routinely make a show of violating your child’s physical boundaries, but that doesn’t mean that the parenting technique itself is okay.

    And another thing–if you’re so convinced that this hitting is painless and doesn’t traumatize your kids at all and isn’t perceived as violence, etc., etc.–why are you doing it? Several people have asked you, and you’ve never answered.

    If the hitting is so totally painless as to be a practically non-noxious stimulus, and your only motivation is to surprise your kids, get their attention, and distract them from the negative behavior, why are you choosing to use hitting as your vehicle for doing that? Why aren’t you doing an Irish jig every time they do something of which you disapprove? Or sing Ta-ra-ra-Boomdeeay?

    The reason is because hitting matters. Hitting clearly matters to you, and you’re very, very invested in it. Hitting is also perceived as threatening by the child. It demonstrates a willingness to use the child’s body for harm rather than nurture (even if the “harm” is only symbolic, the threat is still there), it establishes dominance rather than fostering respect, and it carries the implicit threat of further violence if that warning is not heeded (even if you or your parents would never carry through on that threat, humans are very social beings and we perceive forced encroachments on our physical space as threatening). Plus, the tap on the hand is incredibly patronizing and is essentially an insult even if it actually is “painless.”

  400. LeftSidePositive
    LeftSidePositive July 9, 2011 at 5:26 pm |

    Azalea:I think what was lost in this conversation was that I admitted to being spanked as a small child as well and do not share the sentiment of others here that spanking is painful and abusive because it wasn’t for me and I am a pansy when it comes to pain.

    But you’re pathologically attached to asserting your “right” to hit your children. You’re monomaniacally convinced it’s necessary, probably because if you were to admit that it’s not necessary or appropriate or acceptable, you’d have to realize that you are doing something wrong as a parent, that your parents did something wrong, and that as a child you were treated badly (however slightly it may have been) without any purpose or positive good, and you’re clearly not ready to come to terms with that.

    Yeah, I’m all for letting people label their own experiences, etc., etc., but denial exists too, and it’s necessary to have a serious discussion about the practical effects of the things left un/incorrectly labelled, especially when one of those effects is the continued defense of an ideology that rationalizes any degree of physical violence to children.

  401. Natalia
    Natalia July 9, 2011 at 5:35 pm |

    Everyone’s an expert when it comes to other people’s families.

    Also,

    There is a perfect parenting method. The question is whether parents are emotionally, socially, economically, or physically capable of executing the method as written.

    Bahaha.

  402. LeftSidePositive
    LeftSidePositive July 9, 2011 at 5:40 pm |

    Esti: I just wanted to ask people to please recognize that non-abusive spanking exists and that those of us who experienced it don’t want to be told that we were necessarily abused by monstrous parents.

    Um, exaggeration police! I don’t think anyone has said that. Also, a parenting technique may be wrong, and harmful, etc., but especially if it is as culturally dominant as spanking is it may be perceived as non-abusive or normal (especially as the kids are steeped in the same pro-spanking culture as the parents), and otherwise good people may do it (just like how, circa 1850, plenty of good, polite, well-meaning people kept slaves; and how, circa 1950, plenty of good, polite, well-meaning people approved of segregation; and how, circa 2000, plenty of good, polite, well-meaning people disapproved of marriage equality). You can be a “good person” and still be totally blind to/complicit in the prejudices and injustices that are prevalent in your society, but that doesn’t make the prejudices and injustices okay.

    Here is an interesting primer in the difference between what you do and who you are–Jay Smooth is talking about race here, but I think it applies equally well to spanking:

  403. LeftSidePositive
    LeftSidePositive July 9, 2011 at 5:53 pm |

    Olive Fringe:
    Q GrrlFor that, she gets told that she should use birth control until she can parent the “right” way.

    I just want to say that I absolutely stand by that statement. There is a great deal of responsibility in bringing up a child, and if you are losing control and hitting your child in anger and frustration over admittedly age-appropriate behavior, it is not okay to bring another person into the world to be treated like that. Yes, I support her legal right to manage her reproductive choices, but on a moral/philosophical level, I’m a firm believer in “You can do whatever you want until it harms somebody else.” It’s that “until it harms somebody else” clause–the fact that any future child is at risk of significant harm–that more than justifies a direct critique of this person’s life choices.

    I wouldn’t even pull that line on Azalea, as much as I disagree with her parenting strategies and values, but when a person admittedly CANNOT HELP THEMSELVES from hitting their children, they should not have more of them.

    It sounds like anon is getting help. It sounds like she came here to offer her perspective. For that, she got called a child abuser. This is supposed to be a community.

    For one thing, she only played the therapy card AFTER we said that her behavior was totally unacceptable. What she is doing to her child is abuse, and that is why she is being called a child abuser. Uncontrollably hitting a child is abuse. Making children cry as a means of handling them is abuse. (For the record, I’d call Azalea’s parenting misguided, unnecessary, self-entitled, and prone to instilling poor values, but not by any means abuse.). The fact that we’re supposed to be a community does not mean we have to stand by or consider someone empowered when they’re hitting their kids. If she wants to wear silly hats, believe in the flying spaghetti monster literally, and eat green eggs and ham every Tuesday at 3:18pm, yeah, I’ll be all community-minded about it and support her, but hitting children is not something I’ll tolerate for the sake of “perspective.”

    A non-trivial part of this community (and the larger society it belongs to) says “spanking in some form” is OK. That part of the community isn’t saying “you weren’t abused.” It’s not saying “everyone should spank.” They’re saying “I was spanked, my experience was different” or “I spank, and it works on my kids.” For that, they’re told they’re not welcome here.

    You know, just saying that a non-trivial number of people advocate something does absolutely nothing to establish its merits or legitimacy. It’s amazing what non-trivial numbers of people have been on-board with, past and present.

  404. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan July 9, 2011 at 6:15 pm |

    Making children cry as a means of handling them is abuse.

    Huh, I cried way more over timeouts and privilege loss than the occasional swat. I mean full-on screaming hysterical red-in-the-face my life is over good-lord-honey-is-the-kid-still-breathing-okay crying, from the hallway corner where my parents would gently place me. Guess that was abuse!

    Hitting is also perceived as threatening by the child. It demonstrates a willingness to use the child’s body for harm rather than nurture (even if the “harm” is only symbolic, the threat is still there), it establishes dominance rather than fostering respect, and it carries the implicit threat of further violence if that warning is not heeded (even if you or your parents would never carry through on that threat, humans are very social beings and we perceive forced encroachments on our physical space as threatening). Plus, the tap on the hand is incredibly patronizing and is essentially an insult even if it actually is “painless.”

    1) Kids know that adults are bigger and stronger than them already, okay? If they didn’t then the little buggers wouldn’t gleefully climb up me like monkeys on a tree would they? Nor would they ask to be launched shrieking across a swimming pool by me. :p And the fact that most adults are naturally taller and stronger than children, and can be intimidating (even with no hitting at all) is the reason you crouch down to talk to little kids right? To “symbolically” reduce the harm they perceive is possible from your towering figure? It’s not like it would never occur to a 6-year-old that she couldn’t take me in a fight unless I swatted her once.

    And physically removing a screaming child from a restaurant, picking up a child who won’t budge from the middle of the road, placing a child in a timeout… those already fully demonstrate that the parent/caretaker has physical control over their kid. Simply refraining from spanking isn’t going to fool your child into thinking you have no physical control over them; hell, you can withhold food or clothes from them, too, and that’s a whole ‘nother level of potentially-harmful physical control over a child’s body.

    2) Really? “Patronizing”? Unlike carrying their crying ass out from a theater, wiping up their boogers, warning them not to bite the dog, putting the remote out of their reach, scolding them for not sharing, or putting them in a timeout? How do you parent without, well, being at all “patronizing”? Do you start giving their artwork an honest critique or something, ’cause that sounds pretty cruel. :p

  405. Florence
    Florence July 9, 2011 at 6:34 pm |

    I just want to say that I absolutely stand by that statement.

    That’s royally fucked up to say something so insensitive and personal on a thread about NOT BEING ABUSIVE. Period. This parenting essentialism is the mark of an extraordinarily rigid worldview or a mark that you are not a parent. Go away, seriously. When you resort to abusive language in defense of non-abuse, you’ve jumped the fucking shark.

  406. Florence
    Florence July 9, 2011 at 6:35 pm |

    Natalia: Everyone’s an expert when it comes to other people’s families.

    Jesus Christ. No kidding.

    I remember there used to be a no Drive-By Parenting policy on feminist blogs at large. Maybe that needs to be reinstated.

  407. LeftSidePositive
    LeftSidePositive July 9, 2011 at 7:03 pm |

    Bagelsan: Huh, I cried way more over timeouts and privilege loss than the occasional swat. I mean full-on screaming hysterical red-in-the-face my life is over good-lord-honey-is-the-kid-still-breathing-okay crying, from the hallway corner where my parents would gently place me. Guess that was abuse!

    Thank you for so willfully and ridiculously taking what I wrote out of context. As I’m sure you know, I was referring to anon who wrote that she “whomped” her child hard enough to make him cry, and defended it with “look, I can handle a crying child.” She INTENTIONALLY CAUSED PAIN in order to make her child more manageable through her child’s fear and sadness. That is totally unacceptable. That is not to say that anything that may result in a child crying is abuse, but intentionally making a child cry–especially with violence–as a means to an end is in fact abusive. Kind of like how all squares are rectangles but not all rectangles are squares–get it?

    1) Kids know that adults are bigger and stronger than them already, okay? If they didn’t then the little buggers wouldn’t gleefully climb up me like monkeys on a tree would they? Nor would they ask to be launched shrieking across a swimming pool by me. :p And the fact that most adults are naturally taller and stronger than children, and can be intimidating (even with no hitting at all) is the reason you crouch down to talk to little kids right? To “symbolically” reduce the harm they perceive is possible from your towering figure? It’s not like it would never occur to a 6-year-old that she couldn’t take me in a fight unless I swatted her once.

    Where exactly in any of this is there any rational argument that it is okay to hit one’s children? I’m pretty sure I never advocated or suggested that kids remain blissfully ignorant of adults’ greater power and size, but it is TOTALLY DIFFERENT when you are using that as a demonstration of actual or potential violence (and when you use that knowledge of your inherent power differential as a means of control, rather than relying on sensitivity, empathy-building, and teaching ethical behavior).

    And physically removing a screaming child from a restaurant, picking up a child who won’t budge from the middle of the road, placing a child in a timeout… those already fully demonstrate that the parent/caretaker has physical control over their kid. Simply refraining from spanking isn’t going to fool your child into thinking you have no physical control over them;

    Again, you are willfully misrepresenting my argument to suggest that kids would somehow never know they are kids. That is not what I said. Asserting dominance to COMPEL compliance is wrong, and it’s not because kids wouldn’t otherwise know you are a powerful grownup–it’s showing a clear disregard for boundaries and a willingness to use that power in a way that is actually or potentially detrimental to a child. Physical control for necessary actions (removing a child from danger–and NOT with any more force than is necessary: it is certainly possible to drag a child away from danger punitively/abusively) is in no way comparable to asserting your ability to cause pain/establish dominance simply for its own sake. That is both lazy and does nothing to teach values instead of just “might makes right.”

    hell, you can withhold food or clothes from them, too, and that’s a whole ‘nother level of potentially-harmful physical control over a child’s body.

    Uh, yeah…that’s pretty damn abusive. Again, stop with the distracting tactics. The fact that you can think of a million things worse than spanking does not make spanking disappear, and it does not make spanking okay.

    2) Really? “Patronizing”? Unlike carrying their crying ass out from a theater, wiping up their boogers, warning them not to bite the dog, putting the remote out of their reach, scolding them for not sharing, or putting them in a timeout? How do you parent without, well, being at all “patronizing”? Do you start giving their artwork an honest critique or something, ’cause that sounds pretty cruel. :p

    I strongly suggest you actually look up what the word “patronizing” means. Here are a few to start:

    (Mac Dictionary) “treat with an apparent kindness that betrays a feeling of superiority.” Note the use of the word “apparent.” Wiping up a child’s boogers or complimenting their artwork is not apparent kindness, it is actual kindness. On the other hand, a “tap” on the hand that says “I could hit you harder if I wanted to but look how nice I am that I’m only tapping you so be better behaved and by the way you are an unruly little urchin that couldn’t possibly understand a reasonable discussion of why whatever that thing you did was wrong” is patronizing.

    (OED online) “That patronizes a person or thing, esp. with an air or assumption of superiority; ostentatiously condescending.” Again, actually nurturing a child is not being “ostentatiously condescending,” which is belittling and harmful.

    (Merriam-Webster online) “to adopt an air of condescension toward : treat haughtily or coolly.” See above. Also, haughtiness and coolness =/= good parenting.

  408. LeftSidePositive
    LeftSidePositive July 9, 2011 at 7:13 pm |

    Florence: That’s royally fucked up to say something so insensitive and personal on a thread about NOT BEING ABUSIVE. Period. This parenting essentialism is the mark of an extraordinarily rigid worldview or a mark that you are not a parent. Go away, seriously. When you resort to abusive language in defense of non-abuse, you’ve jumped the fucking shark.

    I love how you can claim that a statement that boils down to, ‘don’t create new people to abuse if there’s a significant risk you’ll abuse them’ is apparently in itself considered “insensitive” and “abusive.” Please, enlighten me as to how I should be more sensitive to someone who is at least monthly losing control and hitting her child. Please tell me what in that merits sensitivity. Also, it would be great if you could show some sensitivity for those who are currently and those who would potentially be victims of that situation. I’d rather be honest and direct about harmful behavior than beating about the bush in some misguided endeavor to be “sensitive.”

    Yeah, and “don’t hit your children” is something I think we should be pretty rigid about. Along with “don’t rape people,” “don’t steal people’s credit cards,” “don’t shoot unarmed civilians,” “don’t poison people’s food,” “don’t harass people,” “don’t burn down houses,” etc., etc. Some things are just plain wrong. Hitting children is one of them.

  409. Florence
    Florence July 9, 2011 at 8:13 pm |

    Your smug beliefs on parenting will keep you warm at night, I hope.

    What’s so gross to me is the inability to create a space where parents — WOMEN — are able to be truthful about the extreme guilt and conflict in being a parent, without being labeled monsters for their failures. The rigidity, and the problem with it, especially when some asshole rolls by and says things like, “you should be on birth control because you occasionally fail in your role as a mother” — and tell us, please, what a good mother is and how you reconcile your judgement of that with your feminism — is that parents become unable to seek help, guidance, or support without having to publicly FALL ON A SWORD and accept the label of ABUSER.

    Someone came along and relayed her conflict, her weakness, and the therapy she’s going through to resolve this, and we spend the next 100 comments piling the fuck on. So what then? What are parents supposed to say? Sure, parenting is a fucking Hallmark card. It’s all Montessori method and co-sleeping and nursing and positive feedback. It’s great 100% of the time, and all the methods that I’ve read for disciplining my child (which of course can’t include anything that may patronize a child, ffs) on BLOGS work 100% of the time, and my kids never frustrate me, I never lose my temper, I’m totes perfect, and everything is going exactly the way I always imagined it would before I had kids. Yep. Yes, that’s exactly how it works all the time. And it’s totally easy. Yes, this is totally about “spanking” (however you’re defining it at the moment) and has nothing whatsoever to do with parenting at large, women’s roles, and the ease with which the world decides what a woman’s proper role looks like and how she ought to feel about it.

  410. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. July 9, 2011 at 8:26 pm |

    Florence,

    I’m not saying we should berate anyone for failing. But if we can’t speak out about something that sounds a lot like what many of us experienced as child abuse on a thread *about* that type of child abuse where *is* an appropriate place to speak out. I would see your point if this thread was about getting parents support, but this thread is about kids being harmed. Can we focus on kids being harmed?

  411. Florence
    Florence July 9, 2011 at 8:34 pm |

    I don’t think it’s possible to divorce “kids being harmed” and “choices parents make” from the topic of “spanking”. Kids should always be a concern in a feminist space, but this thread has been an exercise in erasing the millions and millions of women raising them and their needs and concern as caregivers.

    The study says most people spank their kids. Contrast that with the horror, essentialism, projection, and outrage that comes with the admission that you have spanked or do spank your kids and it’s no wonder that it’s under-reported and behind closed doors. If one’s goal is to end spanking, it’s probably a good thing to remember what audience is meant to receive that message. Any cursory glance at a discussion like this will tell a woman on the fence that an honest recollection of an imperfect parenting record is totally unwelcome in a feminist space.

  412. igglanova
    igglanova July 9, 2011 at 8:48 pm |

    Women’s choices are not above criticism just because a woman made them. Further adding to the pile-on is useless at this point, but it’s patronizing to women as a class to act as though they should never be criticized even as they are describing themselves losing control and hitting children out of frustration. That shit is whack and it is not contrary to feminist aims to state the truth. A Feministe comment thread is a place for argument and discussion, not a support group.

    That said, I’m not going to condone everything the anti-spanking side has said here, because personal attacks are a blow below the belt.

  413. LeftSidePositive
    LeftSidePositive July 9, 2011 at 8:50 pm |

    Florence:
    What’s so gross to me is the inability to create a space where parents — WOMEN — are able to be truthful about the extreme guilt and conflict in being a parent, without being labeled monsters for their failures.

    One: I am under no obligation to support someone’s abuse simply because that person is female. I guess by that card I should support everything Sarah Palin has said or done (especially if you put WOMEN in capital letters…wow, that really appeals to my sense of sisterhood!). Not gonna happen.

    Two: She was not just “being truthful” about her guilt and struggle, etc. She was at first using immediate compliance as a positive good to come from spanking, and acted defensive, self-justifying, and cookie-grubbing about her spanking habits. Not okay.

    Three: these aren’t just “failures.” A “failure” at parenting is when your kid touches a hot stove when you aren’t looking. Or when you give in to a temper tantrum. Or when your kid steals zir sister’s Barbie dolls. Or when you can’t get your kid to stop crying in a restaurant. Notice that all these things are when external things that you can kinda/shoulda influence don’t go quite right but you did your best, etc. That’s a “failure.” You can’t take a situation where you intentionally inflict pain or intimidation onto your child and then try to sweep it into the benign-sounding category of “parenting failures.”

    The rigidity, and the problem with it, especially when some asshole rolls by and says things like, “you should be on birth control because you occasionally fail in your role as a mother” —

    Again, not “occasionally fail in your role as a mother.” REGULARLY–MONTHLY+!–LOSE CONTROL AND HIT YOUR CHILD. This isn’t letting someone stay up too late watching movies and eating popcorn. This is a person who cannot stop abusing her child.

    and tell us, please, what a good mother is

    Well, an absolutely necessary qualification is that a good PARENT never, ever, hits a child. Period.

    Going in to some more detail, my parents are excellent parents. They were and are patient, reasonable, encouraging of critical thinking, eager and interested in my well-being, fun to be around, optimistic, supportive, etc. They NEVER hit or threatened me or my little sister, and any discipline was a “go stand in the corner” at age <3ish, a sensitive and intelligent talking-to at older ages, and in general consensus-building and empathy-fostering.

    and how you reconcile your judgement of that with your feminism

    A very essential part of my feminism and of my liberalism in general is that human beings should not intentionally hurt each other, nor should powerful people exploit their power over the vulnerable. Moreover, my concept of feminism is intimately linked with my belief in human rights, chief of which is the right to control one’s own body and to be safe from physical harm.

    — is that parents become unable to seek help, guidance, or support without having to publicly FALL ON A SWORD and accept the label of ABUSER.

    But she wasn’t seeking help or guidance or support. She was seeking cookies/acceptance/indulgence for her abuse. And, the first step to solving a problem is admitting you have a problem.

    Someone came along and relayed her conflict, her weakness, and the therapy she’s going through to resolve this, and we spend the next 100 comments piling the fuck on.

    You forgot to mention the part where she was acting all self-exonerating and whining that we were criticizing her. THAT’S what we were piling on about.

    So what then? What are parents supposed to say? Sure, parenting is a fucking Hallmark card. It’s all Montessori method and co-sleeping and nursing and positive feedback. It’s great 100% of the time,

    “Parenting is hard” is in no way a justification to inflict physical violence on your child. Not at all. Parenting doesn’t have to be a great, carefree, pastel-colored paradise for it still to be wrong to hit children.

    (which of course can’t include anything that may patronize a child, ffs)

    Um, read above for the actual definition of patronize, for a start, and understand that *what the word actually means* is pretty emotionally coercive. Furthermore, I was describing the ethical implications of “painlessly” HITTING A CHILD, not generally treating them like a child.

    and my kids never frustrate me, I never lose my temper, I’m totes perfect, and everything is going exactly the way I always imagined it would before I had kids.Yep. Yes, that’s exactly how it works all the time. And it’s totally easy.

    Please stop making excuses for hitting children. That’s really sick. And, for the bijillionth time “Parenting is hard” is in no way a justification for hitting children. Competent parents are perfectly capable of managing their frustration without resorting to violence, just like we expect civilized human beings to resolve their frustrations without assault in EVERY OTHER ASPECT OF SOCIETY.

    Yes, this is totally about “spanking” (however you’re defining it at the moment)

    Yeah, it is, numbskull, because hitting children is wrong.

    and has nothing whatsoever to do with parenting at large, women’s roles, and the ease with which the world decides what a woman’s proper role looks like and how she ought to feel about it.

    There are lots of fascinating debates to have on these subjects. None of them excuse hitting children. No PERSON should ever be entitled to assault or batter another. Yeah, women face lots and lots of oppression, but that doesn’t mean I have to excuse those that turn around and oppress someone else. That act of violence is still reprehensible, no matter how much other Mommy Wars bullshit or lack of subsidized childcare we have to deal with.

  414. Florence
    Florence July 9, 2011 at 8:54 pm |

    A “failure” at parenting is when your kid touches a hot stove when you aren’t looking. Or when you give in to a temper tantrum. Or when your kid steals zir sister’s Barbie dolls. Or when you can’t get your kid to stop crying in a restaurant.

    This tells me I can’t take you seriously. You have all your convictions, and know little of what you’re talking about.

  415. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. July 9, 2011 at 8:55 pm |

    Florence,

    So essentially its never okay to criticize mom’s because they have it tough enough. How far does that carry? Is there no point where we stand up for a child. I’m sorry that doesn’t make sense to me. Maybe I’ve spent to many years doing child advocacy, but as a society we spend a lot of time protecting parents and not so much protecting abused children.

    The vast majority of parents admit to spanking and endorse spanking. People saying that children shouldn’t be spanked are a minority position. Its somewhat strange to say parents need a safe space to talk about spanking when the rest of the world is already that safe space.

  416. anon
    anon July 9, 2011 at 8:56 pm |

    hey, LSP – you win, I lose. I surrender. not that I was fighting you anyway. but you made your point. I’m not going to come back at you and try to convince you that I’m a good person. because I’m really not. I’m a regular person, with good points and bad points. one of my bad points is pertinent to this discussion, which is why I’m here.

    yeah, I played the “therapy card” when it became an issue that folks seemed to think I was spanking my kid without KNOWING IT WAS FUCKED UP.

    I’m not a total stranger to this community. why do you think I’m posting “anon”? because I need to brag about my awesome parenting skilz?

    I’m also sure you’ll be pleased to know that child #2 was conceived while my family was on food stamps and my job (where I was told I was gonna be promoted) was mere weeks from evaporating, causing my family to swirl slowly down the Big Economic Toilet, causing my husband to have a full-on no-joke psychotic episode, causing us to get evicted, causing no end of stress and chaos from which we have still not recovered. because that was a GREAT idea, to have another kid. now shove it, please, about my reproductive choices.

    here is an excellent website for those of us who are not perfect parents, who have broken our vows and broken our children’s trust:

    http://www.bonnieharris.com/

    I have found it helpful.

    I do think, though, that if more parents spoke up in public about feeling overwhelmed, feeling like failures, feeling angry enough to hit – then some progress could be made.

    but that place of speaking up is not here. I should have known that and respected that.

    aside from my anger problem, I’m a freakin’ poster child for so-called “attachment parenting”. HA! I marched lock-step in the Dr. Sears army from wearing the babies in a sling or carrier at least 75% of the time (even at work!) to nursing on cue (even at work! and past the age of two) and gentle parenting, and all that happy crap. I really believed everything that attachment parenting/gentle parenting had to offer. which is why I was so shocked when I discovered yeah, I have this in me, this dangerous rage.

    fuck yeah I got therapy. it didn’t work overnight. it didn’t work retroactively. it’s a weekly, sometimes daily struggle to stay centered and grounded and in touch. I admire mothers who stay perfectly calm, gliding through the chaos with neverending patience and wisdom and humor and clearheaded judgment. or, I would if I knew any.

    I’m saying – shit happens when you’re a parent. shit you’re not proud of. shit you hate yourself for. shit that is damaging and hurtful to your children. and sunlight, as they say, is the best disinfectant. more people need to speak their truth – as dismal and depressing as it is – or nothing will EVER change.

    I was not looking for sympathy or cookies or anything remotely soothing to my own tortured conscience. you think internet sympathy would fix things anyway?

    I put myself out there. I expected to get hated on. but maybe someone else out there reading this got something out of my posts, and went to seek therapy herself, and maybe stopped wanting to jump off a bridge because she felt like she was all alone in her experience and the Worst Mom Ever. there’s value in that.

    a mom with PPD who talks about struggling with an anger problem (and making progress) or a mom with PPD who got worse out of an overwhelming sense of guilt and shame because she couldn’t get her act together fast enough to suit the internet – which one would be better?

    LSP – I don’t know you. probably in real life we’d be pals, to the extent that we could discuss our real lives with each other. and I don’t disagree with your opinion that hitting children is wrong. and I don’t think that by saying “I did this wrong thing, did it a bunch of times, because I felt completely overwhelmed and used poor judgment” that I am also saying “hitting children is excusable.”

    but you have your opinion, that I doubt I can change.

  417. LeftSidePositive
    LeftSidePositive July 9, 2011 at 9:02 pm |

    Florence:
    The study says most people spank their kids. Contrast that with the horror, essentialism, projection, and outrage that comes with the admission that you have spanked or do spank your kids and it’s no wonder that it’s under-reported and behind closed doors. If one’s goal is to end spanking, it’s probably a good thing to remember what audience is meant to receive that message. Any cursory glance at a discussion like this will tell a woman on the fence that an honest recollection of an imperfect parenting record is totally unwelcome in a feminist space.

    So, what’s your point? That tolerating or indulging their behavior will somehow make them see the light? Hey, I’ve got a great idea! Let’s compromise with anti-choice activists, too! Let’s be really mindful of “The Tone” since that ALWAYS wins converts and never, ever muddies essential issues or sweeps ongoing injustice and exploitation under the rug or allows people continuing to do harmful things to hide with a “let’s agree to disagree” and then continue harming people!

    Furthermore, you forgot to note that there are still people (like you!) who condone spanking or who will look the other way or don’t really care that much, which is why we DO need to be REALLY FUCKING CLEAR that this shit is wrong.

    For the record, I haven’t noticed any piling-on of those with “imperfect parenting records”–those who have said, “I spanked but I changed my ways” haven’t gotten any trouble from the commentariat. It’s those who CONTINUE TO MAINTAIN that their spanking is 1) necessary, 2) appropriate, 3) deserved, 4) justified, and/or 5) inevitable who are getting the pile-on. That is, those who are ACTIVELY PERPETUATING AN IDEOLOGY OF VIOLENCE are being criticized, as well they should be.

  418. Florence
    Florence July 9, 2011 at 9:06 pm |

    Kristen J.: So essentially its never okay to criticize mom’s because they have it tough enough. How far does that carry?

    Um, no? Jesus. But the pile on here is out of control.

    Maybe I’ve spent to many years doing child advocacy, but as a society we spend a lot of time protecting parents and not so much protecting abused children.

    I’ve also spent a lot of years doing child advocacy and think that for all the lack of support that children get (which is a very real, pervasive issue), it is also a real, pervasive issue that parents get very little support ESPECIALLY if they don’t adhere to social norms of “good parents”, i.e. white, middle-class, married, educated, etc., the parents least likely to spank (although they certainly do). So when we’re all getting up on our high horses about the monster abusers who spank their kids, we are talking about the sectors of the population who have the LEAST support in society, not just in parenting, but overall. These parents and their kids, also, generally do not live in an environment where peace is presumed, either in the home, in relationships, or by the state (Did anyone read Latoya Peterson’s response to this post on Racialicious? Do.). Calling them abusers and telling them to stop breeding already is walking a nasty, nasty line of intersectional politics no matter how you feel about spanking.

    I made my opinions clear on spanking some time in the first 150 comments (was spanked, not traumatized, don’t spank my kids because I don’t like it), but I’m not going to be Pollyanna about the choices parents make and why, or call all spanked kids victims when it’s clear that it doesn’t work that way. This isn’t an issue of people just ignoring Piaget’s methods in college, and resolving it is much larger and more complicated than repeating “don’t hit your kids” at people over and over and over again.

  419. Florence
    Florence July 9, 2011 at 9:08 pm |

    Damn it, html fail. Anyway, I’m done.

  420. anon
    anon July 9, 2011 at 9:18 pm |

    Two: She was not just “being truthful” about her guilt and struggle, etc. She was at first using immediate compliance as a positive good to come from spanking, and acted defensive, self-justifying, and cookie-grubbing about her spanking habits. Not okay.

    dude, I’m right here. I can HEAR you.

  421. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. July 9, 2011 at 9:33 pm |

    Florence,

    I hear you. I said above that parents need help. But for parents to get help we have to agree that spanking is a problem.

    Yeah, I read the racialicous article and I get that its complicated. I just don’t think complicated means we don’t try. *sigh*

    Since you’ve done the work, you know what its like. Children get sent back into homes where they are beaten, starved, raped, shot up with drugs – hell, my last case a young woman was not able to get emancipation where her mom tried to pass her around to her “crew” and broke her arm when she tried to run away. Because parents have rights and children don’t.

    No, most parents don’t do those things, but many do. And saying its too difficult, we need the right to hit our kids is supporting a culture that already devalues and dehumanizes children.

    Yes, society has shitty norms of good parenting that are tied to the kyriarchy. But society also has clear norms for children, that they take whatever their parents dish out. To me thats a great deal worse.

  422. LeftSidePositive
    LeftSidePositive July 9, 2011 at 9:45 pm |

    anon
    :

    dude, I’m right here. I can HEAR you.

    Good. So now I hope you understand precisely what I find so upsetting about your posts.

    Did you want chapter and verse? Because I’m more than happy to oblige.

    “She was at first using immediate compliance as a positive good to come from spanking”


    : what I personally really want is an immediate end to the behavior. for whatever reason, I don’t have time for negotiations, times-out, quiet and reasonable conversations. whatever it is that’s going on, it needs to stop right that minute.

    anon: The first time I did it, I was quite surprised. I’d made the usual vows of non-violence, and thought I could stick to them. but there it was. I was faced with blatant defiance of a (gently, patiently, consistently) repeated request. I whomped him one on the butt – and it changed the game. suddenly whatever it was he was doing stopped. and I had a crying child on my hands. listen – I can handle a crying child. I know what to do. there are times when I can’t handle what he’s doing, and I don’t know what to do. so I spank.

    “defensive”

    anon: because you are clearly speaking with the voice of experience, you’ve been in the parenting trenches and survived, hey, maybe even tiptoed through the parenting tulips whistling “you are my sunshine.” in which case, you have my admiration and respect. good for you for being able to keep your temper 100% of the time.

    I don’t think spanking is a particularly good outcome. however, I think certain types of affection-withholding (i.e. some types of “time-out”) and other sorts of psy-ops can be even more damaging than spanking. and I’m not that kind of parent.

    “self-justifying”

    anon:
    the problem with discussing things like this online, is that you only know what’s in the post. you don’t know the backstory, front story, what happened last week, what happened ten minutes ago, etc. you only know what I tell you. which, admittedly, isn’t much.

    It’s scary, in the middle of the night, with no support from the partner who promised to support you, with a child you love more than your very life, with whom you have tried EVERY THING YOU KNOW, every gentle childrearing, attachment-parenting, earthy-crunchy non-confrontational nonviolent strategy you can possibly think of – and nothing has worked for the past three hours and you’re all alone with your precious jewel of an offspring whom you suddenly feel quite okay about smacking into next sunday.

    “cookie-grubbing”


    : I’ll let you know how it works. Every week I vow to stop. and I go a month or so with no incident. but there are days. days when my commitment to gentle parenting goes right out the window. days when my vows of non-violence are but a distant memory. days when I’ve asked nicely, asked patiently, asked repeatedly, counted to something, timed-out, redirected, distracted, non-violent-parented my ASS off, and gotten nowhere. and it’s time for an immediate end.

    anon:
    and that feeling shocks you. you’re not that person. you’re not your mother. you’re not your dad. you had a baby to love it, not to harm it, not to repeat patterns of abuse. here’s your wonderful little person to watch grow and evolve into a healthy beautiful human being with bodily integrity and good boundaries and all that stuff. and that little person is driving you right around the bend. when the rubber meets the road, stuff happens you’re not proud of.

    my three year old (currently running around in circles and singing “Bob the Builder” – not cowering in a corner fearing Mommie Dearest’s terrifying wrath) certainly appreciates your sympathy, given as it is from a safe distance. let me ask you, when are you free to babysit?

    don’t talk to me like I haven’t done the reading, like I haven’t explored resources, like I haven’t sought help. I HAVE help. and help has been helpful. medication is helpful. therapy is helpful.

    Hi, I’m anon, and it’s been three weeks since my last spanking. but I still know I’m capable of it. I’m saying – nobody knows what we’re capable of until we’re In It.

  423. anon
    anon July 9, 2011 at 10:08 pm |

    @ Florence – behold the myth of sisterhood, also the fact that obvious commenters are obvious. duh – I shouldn’t hit my kid.

    my original point was to answer the question – what do spankers want to accomplish. I couldn’t speak for all spankers, but I could speak for myself. so I did.

    I wanted to express also the idea that not all spankers are motivated by the same things. some folks are deliberately applying corporal punishment to varying degrees according to religious tradition, cultural values or some other excuse they like. still sucks, but it’s on a different track than I’m on.

    also – my kid now has a team of experts looking after him (including, not incidentally, my fine self). it’s not the Internet’s turn to watch him. Though I do appreciate the concern. I’m sure he would too, if he knew what the Internet was.

    god bless you all for your concern for The Children. now go forth and babysit for someone who needs it. on behalf of Shitty Moms everywhere, we thank you.

    the other day, Child #1 had done something infuriatingly age-appropriate. I held it together. and he saw me taking steps to control my temper – counting to ten, taking a step back, going “HALT!”, all that stuff – and he looks at me and smiles real big and says “don’t give up, mom! don’t give up!”

    now that we’re more safe as a family (have a roof over our heads, notably), it’s getting better. It will never be perfect (even if I manage to keep my temper from now until he graduates college – I mean, I’ve already done the irrevocable damage, he’ll always have the emotional scars, there’s no givesies-baxies, that’s no little thing – I get it), but it’s getting better.

  424. Florence
    Florence July 9, 2011 at 10:15 pm |

    Ha. Okay, not done (But after this I swear I’m done. 500 comment threads are black holes.). And hopefully I don’t kill the html this time.

    Kristen J.: Since you’ve done the work, you know what its like. Children get sent back into homes where they are beaten, starved, raped, shot up with drugs – hell, my last case a young woman was not able to get emancipation where her mom tried to pass her around to her “crew” and broke her arm when she tried to run away. Because parents have rights and children don’t.

    My worst was a family of eight girls, two of whom were molested by their father under the nose of their stepmother. All eight stayed in the home, in part thanks to a social worker that cast doubt on the abused girls’ stories. It was a clusterfuck failure by the state and I’ve always had serious regret about my inability to do those girls right.

    No, most parents don’t do those things, but many do. And saying its too difficult, we need the right to hit our kids is supporting a culture that already devalues and dehumanizes children.

    Yes, society has shitty norms of good parenting that are tied to the kyriarchy. But society also has clear norms for children, that they take whatever their parents dish out. To me thats a great deal worse.

    Yes, totally. But it’s more complicated than “we need the right to hit our kids” or “spanking is always abusive always.” I’m assuming that most people don’t want to abuse their kids or would choose other methods if they had them. The people that do want to abuse their kids, or that don’t care that their kids needs are in the way of their own immediate dramas, need to be addressed in another way, definitely. My experience is that removing kids from these environments is as traumatic as leaving them there — and the agencies I’ve worked for train on evidence that reuniting families is almost always leads to a better outcome for the kids even if their living situations aren’t ideal. To the state, “abuse” has certain criteria. My personal standards don’t always match up with that criteria, and THANK GOD some of my peers’ standards aren’t held up by the state, or the Midwest would be flooded with children whose “abuse” was being born out of wedlock.

    Anyway, after Laurie cast some doubt on my recollections upthread I did a little research and realized my numbers and understanding of the Time reports were wrong. The acceptance rate of spanking as discipline is reported at about 50/50 but that this acceptance rate rises in minority communities across the board. So when I read that, like, 90% of people are estimated to be spanking their kids despite a pretty large rate of reported non-acceptance, I wonder what it is that’s keeping parents from observing their reported ideals. I’m going to assume that lack of support overall (childcare, financial, partnership, etc) is the reason that parents are unable to live up to their ideal best practices.

    As a political movement, it’s weird to stop at “kids are abused! it is wrong!” and I’ve been frustrated at the attempts to center the conversation around people who were spanked as children who need validation for their trauma. It’s not that that space shouldn’t be provided, or that people don’t need outlets for their trauma, but as an activist movement, discussing a crisis that involves women and children should have some activist output or orientation. Kids are abused. Women (and men, but women are the typical caretakers) are abusing the kids. We know that. What the fuck do we do about it? I say build up the support structure of the people responsible for raising the kids. If you want to stop abuse of children, who are in the precarious state of being cared for for two decades by other people, you have to provide tangible support to the people doing the caretaking.

  425. Natalia
    Natalia July 10, 2011 at 7:57 am |

    I’ve got no love for spanking (as a kid, I got worse than that – and no, I don’t even believe it makes me uniquely qualified to speak on the subject), but I’d just like to point out that I am equal parts amused and disgusted by LeftSidePositive’s self-righteousness and general cluelessness. Dear LeftSidePositive, stop beating your chest and go babysit for someone already.

  426. Kathleen
    Kathleen July 10, 2011 at 10:01 am |

    LSP — that frisson of genuine pleasure you got from hurling the insult “numbskull”, above? Is not a character trait that going to help you parent well, if you ever do, no matter how perfect your stance on spanking.

    Florence — I’ve stayed out of this, but I wanted you to know how, how much I’ve appreciated your thoughtfulness, humor, and wisdom throughout.

  427. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. July 10, 2011 at 10:39 am |

    I think as a political movement we get stuck at “hitting kids is wrong,” because most people don’t agree that hitting kids is wrong. Principles are important to both the operational and rhetorical functions of a movement. I mean…look at other movements “women have a right to bodily autonomy.”. That’s a principle. There are numerous exceptions. Ex. Women shouldn’t intentionally sneeze on people with compromised immune systems. I could spend all day coming up with times when it IS okay to restrict someone else’s bodily autonomy. But they are *exceptions* to a principle. If you want to deviate from the generally accepted principle you have to have a pretty compelling reason. But the CRM is stuck at go because we can’t even get people to agree in principle that its not okay to hit kids.

  428. Tomek Kulesza
    Tomek Kulesza July 10, 2011 at 12:59 pm |

    igglanova:
    ‘So, if your kid says “no” when you want it to go to daycare, then just pay attention to it, FFS! It’s human, there is a reason zie’s doing it.’

    You vastly overestimate how rational children are.Part of normal child development, in fact, includes going through a phase where kids say ‘NO’ to everything just for shits and giggles.I’d pay attention to that kid, and then still take it to daycare, because I wouldn’t be under the thumb of a whiny child and I’d need to go to work if that kid wants to be fed.If I obeyed that kid, I’d be fired and the kid would feel even worse than it does now.WOOPS!

    There’s a reason people do everything.Sometimes the reasons are moronic or selfish.That’s no reason to be a doormat and capitulate, capitulate, capitulate to everyone’s demands.

    The rest of your comment was basically nonsensical, so whatevs.(Can this thread reach 400 comments?? *holds breath*)

    It’s probably not worthy to bother, but no, you’re wrong about ‘rationality’ (understood as having a cause). I’m quite amused by you being unde kid thumb because you’re not having total control over it behavior. Hilarious.

    I guess it serves you so you convince yourself you’re doing it for the kid “own’s good”, whereas it’s obviously your preference.

    And is talking to children about what they feel and want “capitulation to everyone’s demands”? Do you have/had a problem with your own autonomy and wishes, or something, because that’s twisting the situation where you have power – but also responsibility – quite impressively.

  429. Tomek Kulesza
    Tomek Kulesza July 10, 2011 at 1:06 pm |

    Azalea: WTF?

    You mean the fact that my parents are not abusive monsters and that I am not an abusive monster? Yeah thats twisted. The horros of being lightly tapped on the hand are JUST like the horrors of being BEATEN WITH A WHIP ON YOUR BARE FUCKING FLESH.

    You know, how being made to sit on the stairs for 10 mintues is totally like being locked in a room with no sunlight all of your childhood. Totally the same fucking thing and anyone who thinks differently is twisted.

    If you werent belittling the horrors of slavery and the holocaust you would be funny. However you’re just extremely offensive.

    Uh? I’m not sure why do you mention whips and stairs. Flashbacks or something?

    As for the only sane sentence, i.e., the last, if you think it’s me who’s offensive here, you’re totally divorced from reality. Also, i am not belittling slavery and the holocaust, on the contrary.

  430. Tomek Kulesza
    Tomek Kulesza July 10, 2011 at 1:28 pm |

    Florence:
    Someone came along and relayed her conflict, her weakness, and the therapy she’s going through to resolve this, and we spend the next 100 comments piling the fuck on.

    Oh FFS, i hope someone impersonates a man and in the next post about sexual violence will come to relay his conflict, weakness and therapy, and repeated failure to stop raping women. I look forward for you showing compassion in that situation.

  431. shfree
    shfree July 10, 2011 at 2:12 pm |

    Look, I don’t think people’s parents who spanked were abusive monsters, they were just using the tools that were common to parenting at the time. When I was a kid, all of the vacations we went on my parents drove us, and they had a station wagon. It was a privilege to be able to lie down in the back instead of having to sit on the bench seat. Would we be able to do that now? Hell no, because we know that isn’t safe. But my parents weren’t neglectful, because if they had the tools and the knowledge, they wouldn’t have let us ride in the car that way.

    The same way with babies. When I was a kid, all babies slept on their stomachs, and I was taught that we did that so they wouldn’t choke to death in case they spit up in their sleep. Now, we know to put them on their backs.

    I see it as all the same thing with spanking. We work with the tools we have available, and I absolutely believe that the vast majority of spanking parents love their children. But, spanking is an abusive action, it just doesn’t always mean or will cause emotional scarring, or create an environment based around fear of a caregiver. So to at least clarify my position, while I maintain that all spanking is abusive, I know that people who were spanked grow up to be fine. I just don’t understand why, in this day and age, people still do it. It makes me feel sad, and in the cases of people who have spent time considering parenting options, who have freely and confidently embraced spanking as part of their parenting toolkit, flat out angered me. And Anon, I’m not talking about you, or even Azalea, but full on, calmly pull the pants down and spank spankers.

  432. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan July 10, 2011 at 2:14 pm |

    Uh? I’m not sure why do you mention whips and stairs. Flashbacks or something?

    Tomek, you’re being offensive and disgusting (not to mention doing a huge disservice to whatever rambling argument you’re trying to express.) Cut it out.

  433. LeftSidePositive
    LeftSidePositive July 10, 2011 at 2:27 pm |

    anon: I’m also sure you’ll be pleased to know that child #2 was conceived while my family was on food stamps and my job (where I was told I was gonna be promoted) was mere weeks from evaporating, causing my family to swirl slowly down the Big Economic Toilet, causing my husband to have a full-on no-joke psychotic episode, causing us to get evicted, causing no end of stress and chaos from which we have still not recovered. because that was a GREAT idea, to have another kid. now shove it, please, about my reproductive choices.

    Actually, I don’t care about this one bit. I feel that our society does not do enough to support families, and I am sensitive to the fact that many people who would make great parents pretty much never have enough money to do so during their reproductive years, with the current economy and systemic social injustice being what they are. However, you are conflating *external* factors that make child rearing difficult–for which I earnestly support individuals making the choices that best suit themselves and their circumstances–with actions that you yourself are actually taking to harm your child. This is yet another facet of the You Don’t Get It that I find so damn frustrating about your posts. When the universe at large is stacked against you, do your best as you interpret it to be, even if I’d do something different. However, when it’s not the universe, when it’s YOU engaging in harmful behavior that you admittedly cannot stop yourself from, and YOU are the direct cause of pain and fear for your child, all the “I’ll respect whatever choice you think is best” goes right out the fucking window.

  434. Tomek Kulesza
    Tomek Kulesza July 10, 2011 at 2:45 pm |

    anon:
    the other day, Child #1 had done something infuriatingly age-appropriate. I held it together. and he saw me taking steps to control my temper – counting to ten, taking a step back, going “HALT!”, all that stuff – and he looks at me and smiles real big and says “don’t give up, mom! don’t give up!”

    Ohjesus, of course he’s going to be happy and glad you’re apparently trying to stop hitting him. You sound like that is something to be surprised about. He’s much too young to be not emotionally attached to you yet, and he’s completely (actually, that’s what he thinks) dependent on you, so that’s great for him. Damn, that’s so sad.

    So, here’s your cookie for being decent human being.

    But I’m sort of surprised by your posts. On one hand, you’re aware that your behavior is not ok and even working on it which is something that is even rare, and thus admirable, but at the same time you get terribly defensive when it gets criticized. And despite its the behavior that gets criticized not you (the only people who shout MONSTERABUSERS here is the pro-violence crowd). It seems like you think that if you’re not good enough you it will have terrible consequences for you.

    Oh wait. Like, a child that gets punished for not being good enough with anger and withdrawal of support by caretaker, right? I guess that’s how the violence gets perpetuated.

    Bagelsan:
    Tomek, you’re being offensive and disgusting (not to mention doing a huge disservice to whatever rambling argument you’re trying to express.) Cut it out.

    No, sorry, but no. I don’t care if i’m being offensive or hurting feelings of people who are walking here all proud trying to justify oppression and violence. Not here.

    What i care is that no one ends reading the comments and seeing such shit gets even ounce of acceptance, not what Azalea or Anon feelings are or what bystanders think, whether i’m too angry – i care that no “spanked” child gets to read this shit unquestioned, since half of the commentariat apparently isn’t going to be banned.

  435. Florence
    Florence July 10, 2011 at 3:38 pm |

    Bagelsan: Tomek, you’re being offensive and disgusting (not to mention doing a huge disservice to whatever rambling argument you’re trying to express.) Cut it out.

    Cosigned. Being able to ramble at length and have the last word is a silly victory if you clearly express little understanding of the subject you’re trying to argue. Same with Left Side Positive, who should shut up and calm down to recognize that anon did exactly what she should have done — and what any expert would advise her to do — in her situation. That’s not seeking cookies, that’s being a good mom.

  436. Natalia
    Natalia July 10, 2011 at 3:47 pm |

    I’m voting LSP and Tomek off the goddamn island.

  437. Florence
    Florence July 10, 2011 at 3:57 pm |

    Kristen J.: I think as a political movement we get stuck at “hitting kids is wrong,” because most people don’t agree that hitting kids is wrong.

    I think two things are happening here. First, the acceptance vs. non-acceptance rate of spanking is about 50/50 in the U.S. from what I was able to find online. Second, it’s clear just from this thread that many people define “spanking” and “hitting” differently, as in “not the same thing”. I presume if you asked people if they support hitting kids, the answer would roundly be an emphatic no. If you asked if people support spanking kids, I suspect the answer would be much more varied depending on a variety of socio-economic factors of the folks being asked.

    And again, I think that no matter what people say to friends, family, and scientists, that the number of people who do spank is much higher than the numbers of people who admit to spanking. And to keep beating that drum, it’s imperative to understand why parents are resorting to spanking to discipline their kids if you have any interest in stopping it. Which, LSP and Tomek, probably involves engaging with parents who offer you answers instead of shouting them down and calling them names.

  438. igglanova
    igglanova July 10, 2011 at 5:10 pm |

    Tomek, you’re just embarrassing yourself at this point.

  439. LeftSidePositive
    LeftSidePositive July 10, 2011 at 5:25 pm |

    Florence–spanking kids is a form of hitting. And it’s wrong. Completely indefensible, in fact. And you don’t seem to think that’s a problem. YOU are still somehow blocked from accepting the fact that spanking kids is wrong. And I don’t care how many other people believe in a wrong, backwards, violent ideology, it is wrong to intimidate your children, it is wrong to teach them to believe that someone who should love them is permitted to intentionally hurt them, and it is wrong to foster a sense of order based on physical violence, even if that violence is so ritualized as to be culturally acceptable.

    Also, “engaging with” people in no way means we have to accept or validate actions and ideologies that are harmful. As long as we can set clear lines that controlling children with actual or symbolic violence is wrong, then yes, we can move on to discuss strategies to stop it and to encourage parents to cope. But a huge cultural attitude that’s preventing us from moving on is the illogical self-justifying distinction we place between “spanking” and “hitting,” and even though spanking is occasionally frowned upon, many many people DO openly assert their right to keep doing it–even on a feminist blog, which just blows my mind. When posters come from a point of “Fuck your opinion, I still get to spank my kids” (Azalea) or “My life is so hard, my kids are so hard, that I just have to spank and I still spank and I get upset every time I don’t get enough sympathy even though I say I don’t need it” (Anon), we need to be clear with the posters and our community that these are not “reasonable people can disagree” types of things, any more than “well if she didn’t want to get raped she shouldn’t have gotten drunk” or “but the father of the baby should have a say in whether or not she gets to abort” are reasonable positions that should be tolerated here.

  440. Azalea
    Azalea July 10, 2011 at 6:18 pm |

    Isolation, no matter how “brief” a power-tripping self-centered parent may try to convince the internet it is, is never necessary and never acceptable.

    A time out isolates a child, causes shame and embarrassment, and also teaches the child that youcan send them away if they do something you do not like.

  441. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. July 10, 2011 at 6:22 pm |

    Florence: I think two things are happening here. First, the acceptance vs. non-acceptance rate of spanking is about 50/50 in the U.S. from what I was able to find online. Second, it’s clear just from this thread that many people define “spanking” and “hitting” differently, as in “not the same thing”. I presume if you asked people if they support hitting kids, the answer would roundly be an emphatic no. If you asked if people support spanking kids, I suspect the answer would be much more varied depending on a variety of socio-economic factors of the folks being asked.

    And yet 50% percent of people do think that spanking your kids is perfectly acceptable. People on this thread have argued that spanking your kids is *necessary*. Do you think any of these people will even seek help to stop hitting their kids.

  442. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. July 10, 2011 at 6:27 pm |

    Kristen J.: Do you think any of these people will even seek help to stop hitting their kids.

    Or rather to stop “spanking” their kids?

  443. Azalea
    Azalea July 10, 2011 at 6:33 pm |

    LeftSidePositive: But you’re pathologically attached to asserting your “right” to hit your children.You’re monomaniacally convinced it’s necessary, probably because if you were to admit that it’s not necessary or appropriate or acceptable, you’d have to realize that you are doing something wrong as a parent, that your parents did something wrong, and that as a child you were treated badly (however slightly it may have been) without any purpose or positive good, and you’re clearly not ready to come to terms with that.

    Yeah, I’m all for letting people label their own experiences, etc., etc., but denial exists too, and it’s necessary to have a serious discussion about the practical effects of the things left un/incorrectly labelled, especially when one of those effects is the continued defense of an ideology that rationalizes any degree of physical violence to children.

    LMFAO at your assertion that I need to admit I was treated wrong. I wasn’t. I’m not sorry that I didn’t suffer painful abusive beatings with marks and shame and fear that my parents are the real monsters in the big bad world. That wasn’t my life. If it were yours and that is how you feel about spanking fullstop I will not attempt to redefine your abuse for you but you can’t and never will convince me that I was abused, because I wasn’t. You cant convince me that my children are being abused, because they aren’t. You’re having this hayday of fingerpointing and accusations projecting a lot of anger and hostility at people who have never spanked you because we admit to spanking our children in a wholly different manner than what you experienced and you’re taking it all to mean the same thing.

    I have said, repeatedly, on this thread that there is a spectrum on spanking where physical discipline verges into physical violence. You realize that parents often will pick a child up against their will and take them someplace they do not want to go, that act of physically touching them and carrying them could be physical violence according to your overly broad definition of what physical violence is. That could be the same as kidnapping if we follwoed your logic and anyone who has ever been kidnapped and hurt could say that what you do to your children is JUST LIKE WHAT HAPPENED TO THEM and they tell you how you are on some power trip just taking your children wherever YOU want them to go FORCING them to do things they do not want to do, hell they may even go further and make analogies between you and people who mutilated other human beings if you circumcised or pierced your child’s ears without their permission.

    There is nothing cordial about your assertion that I am abusing my children or that I was abused myself but am just too stupid to realize it. Absolutely nothing respectful about it.

  444. Azalea
    Azalea July 10, 2011 at 6:40 pm |

    Tomek Kulesza: Uh? I’m not sure why do you mention whips and stairs. Flashbacks or something?

    As for the only sane sentence, i.e., the last, if you think it’s me who’s offensive here, you’re totally divorced from reality. Also, i am not belittling slavery and the holocaust, on the contrary.

    Bullshit. You are either the biggest raging racist on this thread or you’re being a complete and total asshole or both. BUt you cn’t possibly compare SLAVERY to SPANKING and then act innocently? FLashbacks? I was never a slave I have ancestors who were though and I can tell you right now the bullshit you posted here was offensive. I am not surprise it made it through moderation since you weren’t being offensive to white middle class women.

  445. Florence
    Florence July 10, 2011 at 7:03 pm |

    Whatever. Hitting kids is bad. Spanking is bad. Parents are untrustworthy. Mothers aren’t germane to conversations about their kids. All that’s necessary to stop child abuse is strong personal convictions on the internet.

  446. LeftSidePositive
    LeftSidePositive July 10, 2011 at 9:17 pm |

    Azalea: LMFAO at your assertion that I need to admit I was treated wrong. I wasn’t. I’m not sorry that I didn’t suffer painful abusive beatings with marks and shame and fear that my parents are the real monsters in the big bad world. That wasn’t my life. If it were yours and that is how you feel about spanking fullstop I will not attempt to redefine your abuse for you but you can’t and never will convince me that I was abused, because I wasn’t. You cant convince me that my children are being abused, because they aren’t.

    Azalea, I never said you were abused or that you do abuse. I actually went through and read through every fucking word I’ve written to you, so fucking drop your disingenuous bullshit–it isn’t fooling anyone. In fact I have ALREADY TOLD YOU multiple times that just because you’re not “abusive” does not mean that your parenting techniques are above reproach. So just fucking drop the “but you’re calling me an abusive monster–waaaaaaah!!!” strawman, because it’s bullshit and you know it. Here, case in point:

    LeftSidePositive
    : I’m getting really sick of this conflation. It is still fair game to criticize someone’s parenting when they are inflicting “minor” pain (or painful actions that they somehow insist could not possibly be painful but are still simultaneously absolutely necessary for discipline?!) on their child, because physical control is not okay. You can still fall well short of of “abusive monster” even while some of your parenting techniques are harmful or at least counterproductive, and be in need of introspection and development. Just consoling yourself that, well, you’re not the worst parent ever, so clearly there’s nothing you’d possibly need to change, is a pretty low bar to set.

    LeftSidePositive: (For the record, I’d call Azalea’s parenting misguided, unnecessary, self-entitled, and prone to instilling poor values, but not by any means abuse.)

    Read that maybe thirty times over and THEN perhaps you will learn that we are not fucking impressed every time you pull the “but you’re so unreasonable for calling me an abusive monster” (no, we didn’t. If memory serves me I called you self-entitled and power-tripping) and the “these unreasonable people are saying a hand tap is the same as beating with a belt!” (no, we didn’t. Either learn to read or to argue honestly, whichever your deficit is) cards.

    I said you were “treated badly (HOWEVER SLIGHTLY IT MAY HAVE BEEN)” (re-emphasis mine). And I still maintain that this is in fact affecting your need to assert your right to “painlessly” swat your kids, as it is well-documented that people who were spanked find it necessary to spank their kids, and you’re being really defensive. And I never said you were too “stupid” to know the spanking practices that were used on you and that you use are not okay–I said you were in denial. Denial is a very powerful psychological mechanism that is present in all humans to some degree, and it doesn’t entail a lack of ability to understand a situation, it entails a strong desire not to. And, to repeat a question for the umpteenth time because you have hitherto failed so miserably to answer it: IF THIS SPANKING IS SO PAINLESS WHAT IS THE FUCKING POINT???

    You’re having this hayday of fingerpointing and accusations projecting a lot of anger and hostility at people who have never spanked you because we admit to spanking our children in a wholly different manner than what you experienced and you’re taking it all to mean the same thing.

    You must be getting me confused with other people. I have already told you that I have never been spanked in my life (not counting wholly consensual and enjoyable sex play, of course!), and I turned out just as well as you claim to, so your anecdotal insistence that spanking is necessary has been counter-anecdoted.

    Also, again and again and again, no one is saying your parenting is “the same” as abusive actions, we’re just saying it is also inappropriate and part of a fucked-up values system that disrespects the bodily autonomy of children.

    I have said, repeatedly, on this thread that there is a spectrum on spanking where physical discipline verges into physical violence.

    And we have said, repeatedly, THAT YOU’RE FUCKING WRONG. Any level of physical violence shows disrespect for a child’s body and boundaries and is inappropriate. In post #404 I discussed in further detail the ethical implications of spanking/swatting even if it is “painless” and why it’s still wrong. You have failed to address those points. We have said this to you over and over again, and you have failed to address our critiques and instead rely on your ridiculous “why are you calling me an abusive monster?!?!?!” strawman.

    You realize that parents often will pick a child up against their will and take them someplace they do not want to go, that act of physically touching them and carrying them could be physical violence according to your overly broad definition of what physical violence is.

    Nope. Not true. Re-read post #403, and think about the “necessary” and “minimally-invasive” standards. If the child needs to go somewhere (e.g., the parent has to leave the building and naturally the child must remain in their supervision), picking them up is often the most gentle and reasonable way to do this (now, some parents do needlessly manhandle and throw around kids when they carry them out of restaurants, etc., and use their size & strength punitively, and that’s not okay, but obviously that doesn’t justify spanking). Hitting/spanking/swatting/tapping don’t accomplish ANYTHING except using physical force–they do not remove a person from danger, they do not impart any lessons, they do not set a good example. They are ONLY there to show power and control (and possibly cause pain), and therefore are unnecessary and unacceptable.

    Also consider the standard “danger to self and others” that is used to evaluate intervening on an adult. When an adult is a danger to zirself and others, it does not entitle any degree of physical violence, only the minimum possible restraint and/or confinement to protect them from harm.

  447. igglanova
    igglanova July 10, 2011 at 9:28 pm |

    This becomes one of those depressing issues when you realize how little is within your power to change. Some spankers are not suffering undue hardship and parenting support is already readily available, if they should give a damn; some are living in stressful, dangerous situations where spanking is really the least of those families’ problems. Just…damn.

    How do we advocate for meaningful change, other than dismantling the huge systems that keep people powerless? Is slow, creeping social change really the best we can do?

  448. delagar
    delagar July 10, 2011 at 9:51 pm |

    Getting a little defensive here. I’ve read the entire thread, and I didn’t see anyone compare spanking to “slavery and the holocaust” except spankers themselves — nice attempt at red herring, IMHO. Go read Alice Miller, if you want to see what’s actually under discussion.

    As for whether “painless” spanking, whatever that might be, is abuse or not, what difference does it make? Hitting is hitting, and hitting is wrong.

    As for whether women and children are the “same” thing, no, they aren’t; but they are both human beings. Don’t hit a human being you’re supposed to love. Shit, I’d even go so far as to say don’t hit another human being at all (on my good days). (I can’t always hang with Ghandi and MLK Jr, but I try.)

    As for whether it is necessary to punish a human child in order to teach it, I’d say, actually, no. It’s never necessary to punish any living creature in order to teach it. Anyone who knows anything about education — or training — knows this already. Punishing children, or anything else, has a negative effect. Children, or any other creatures, will not learn as well when they are punished. Why do we think they will, as a society? Well, because they fucked us up, our mums and dads. But we’re smart enough (we ought to be anyway) that we should be able to learn better by NOW. Anyway, I would hope so. If we can liberate women, and free slaves (no, I am not saying spanking is like slavery, just let me make that clear) we can figure out how to get this right, surely?

    Does this mean you never have to physically restrain a child? Who is making that claim? When my kid was a toddler, she would crawl straight into the Atlantic Ocean if I let her. Certainly I picked her up and stopped her. Did I smack her little butt? No I did not. I laughed and said, Oh, baby, now that’s a bad idea. And she laughed too. And we walked into the waves together.

    You can raise your children without hurting them. Seriously. Do it.

  449. AnonFormerKid
    AnonFormerKid July 11, 2011 at 2:26 pm |

    Regular reader here, not a regular poster.

    What Anon wrote drew a strong reaction from me, but not in the same way as some other people’s. I appreciate that we can all read things differently; my response comes from how I read it.

    Trigger warning, this coming paragraph only, for a short description of not-extreme physical violence.

    My mother lashed out at me when I was a child, and a teenager, when she was angry, frustrated, overwhelmed, and not coping. I describe it as hitting, and by that I mean a single blow with a flat hand, but strong enough to knock me into a wall, leave a hand print, and make my head ring.

    End trigger warning.

    I was afraid of her, and distraught and confused that it wasn’t possible to avoid this treatment, because there didn’t appear to be sense or consistency behind her behaviour. People now tell me that I seemed to be one of the best behaved children ever, and I know I tried to be.

    I wish that my mother could ever have admitted that she was in the wrong, that it wasn’t ok, and got help, as Anon appears to have done. I didn’t read Anon as trying to justify her behaviour, but rather as trying to understand why on earth she does this thing she says she dislikes so much so that she can stop it. That kind of approach is common to a lot of therapy. I wish my mother could have done the same. Of course Anon’s action now doesn’t change what has already happened; but what we can all do is change what we do in the future, and it sounds like she is trying.

    My mother played the “poor me” self-guilt card when I tried to talk to her about things, and suggested that as she was such a terrible mother she should leave. That, for this child, was not a good response. It would do me not the tiniest jot of good to have my mother castigating herself for the way she had previously treated me: people who do that tend to be too stuck in the past to be able to make positive changes to their present. Hating oneself for having done something terrible doesn’t help one to sort out the junk we’re carrying that caused us to do it in the first place, it just puts barriers up to doing that. Mostly, one needs to Not hate oneself in order to fully accept and take responsibility for what one has done so that one can work on oneself and not do it any more.

    I didn’t want or need my mother to think that she was terrible for doing what she did. I just needed her to stop. She wasn’t an awful monster and she did truly love me; she had severe problems from her own childhood that made her act the way she did and incapable of doing better. I wish there had been any way of making her capable.

    I have a great deal of compassion and understanding for my mother, although I hate what she did. Therefore, I have compassion for Anon, who I read as recognising that she’s in the wrong and taking steps to fix her shit. The fact that she recognises that the problem is her, and not her child, I see as a good thing. The people, especially GW (?) way up-thread, who claimed that children need/deserve physical punishment were the ones who chilled me.

    Anon, kudos to you for trying to own your shit and change it. Don’t give up, however tough, because your kids deserve it. I didn’t read any asking for cookies, but an honest report. I think that we need more of those when trying to work out parenting strategies and support for parents.

  450. vanessa
    vanessa July 11, 2011 at 6:24 pm |

    This thread is just…I can’t even. The idea that people are justifying hitting kids? Yeah, it’s complicated. I get that it’s complicated. All kinds of race and class issues come into play. And yes, parenting is really.fucking.hard. So what? Just because it’s hard and complicated doesn’t mean you get to hit your kids. And yea, most parents will fuck up occasionally. Realistically, most parents will get so fed up with the absurdity that is a toddler refusing to do ANYTHING that they’ll swat at him/her. Does that maket them terrible parents? Of course not. Is constantly justifying hitting your children okay? Of course not.

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