I just read an article on the first real-time study to be done on spanking. Researcher George Holden originally set out to study how often parents shout at their children. He asked the parents to tape their interactions with their children and was surprised to hear how often they spanked or slapped their children and even more surprised at the reasons.
One parent slapped her child for turning the pages of the story book she was reading him. Another mother spanked her child for approaching the stove (which was not on). And yet, another one slapped her child 11 times in a row because the child was fighting with his sister. (You’d think she would realize it’s not really working!)
The study spanned people from different backgrounds and races, so as not to be bias in one way or another. The parents were told that it was about their interactions with the children, and they were asked to roll the tape from when the children came home from day care or school until bed time.
I have slapped the back of my daughter’s hand once, last week, when she intentionally kicked my son in his privates so hard that he was doubled over on the floor crying.
Do I think it was something that has scarred my daughter? No. Do I think it was at all in ANYWAY effective? No. Am I proud of it? No. I think it was an emotional response that was an immature reaction to what happened. I do not think it makes me a bad parent, but it certainly didn’t give me any points on the whole “carer, protector, teacher” side of parenting. (Maybe gave me a few on the bully side of it).
I remember a teacher I had once, whom I was very close to, telling me about a time her daughter bit her son so hard it made him cry, so in return she bit her daughter. I can hear her saying “She never bit anyone ever again.” Is she a horrible mother? No. In fact, she probably has the healthiest relationship with her grown up daughter now than anyone else around me. She obviously didn’t make it a habit of biting her children when they misbehaved, but for her daughter she thought it was an effective way of getting the point to her that biting others hurts them.
I do believe there is a distinction between spanking and child abuse in that I do not think that every parent who has spanked their child should be labeled an abuser. Logically though, if you hit your child hard enough to really hurt him or make him fear you then it can’t be ok. Also, the image of such a huge grown up parent heading for a small child, hand raised, must be a terrifying thing for the child.
I was never spanked by my parents although my mother slapped me on the back of my hand for slapping my sister across her face when I was at least 12, and she was 8. And, I totally deserved it. No one I know spanks their children either, and none of my friends were spanked when they were children.
The few people I know who were slapped got slapped at an older age (10, 11 or teens) And, they were boys. It only happened once (It only had to happen once) when they did something really out of line or something dangerous, or so disrespectful that their fathers gave them a slap. They all agree that they deserved it, and that it did not scar them or ruin their relationship with their fathers. But, their parents would not have “spanking” in the bag of tricks they used for discipline. In fact, they probably never did it before or since.
Have you ever spanked your children? Would you ever? Do you think spanking is an effective form of punishment?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Mama B from Saudi Arabia. She can be found writing at her blog, Ya Maamaa.
Photo credit to Ben Hussman. This photo has a creative commons attribution license.