10 Points that the Pro-Spanking Crowd Totally Missed.





Last week I wrote an article outlining the fifty-year-long study on spanking conducted by the Universities of Texas and Michigan. This post got real popular, real fast. As in, it went viral in like three days. Apparently, spanking is a hot topic. I think that is because it attracts people from both sides. You are either for spanking or you are against it, and no one comes to the defense of their cause quite as fast as a pro-spanker. People put a lot of energy into defending their “right” to hit their kids. I can hear it now.

“It’s not hitting, it’s spanking! Huge difference.”

Yea, yea. I’ll get to that in a bit. As I opened my email, the comments were pouring in. At first, it was all praise and in agreement with the sentiment that hitting is abusive (shocker), but as the post spread like wildfire, it inevitably began to reach…everyone else. And everyone else had something to say. Which, I get. Who likes being told that what they do is harming and hurting people? I started sifting through the comments and there was just no way to get through all of them. There are about 1000+ of them and I don’t really have the time or energy to do it, so I came up with an idea. Instead of addressing everyone’s comment individually, I will just write a post responding to all the defenses of spanking children. Which is pretty easy because there are only a handful that I hear over and over again. My hope is that I can shed a little more light on this topic and help radically shift the mindset that these people seem to be deeply conditioned in.

Get a “Stay Wild Moon Child” Toddler T-shirt NOW!

If you want to read the article I am referring to first, [click here] to do that.

Here are 10 things that those who are defending non-consensual spanking of young children are not considering:

Argument #1: “I was spanked and I turned out fine.”

To be blunt, no you didn’t. Do you have social anxiety? Any relationship dysfunctions? Eating disorders (this includes overeating)? Learning disorders? Anxiety? Hard time expressing emotions? Serial dater? I mean, really, the list could go on and on. We all have something. In my experience, those who are quick to insist on how fine they turned out are actually the least fine of most people I know. Being unaware of your patterns that stem from trauma doesn’t make you fine. Someone once told me they turned out fine who was on anti-anxiety meds. The thing with being raised in a trauma-based culture is that the things that are a result of the trauma are normalized to those who have been traumatized. In many people’s reality, these things are normal and not even self-inquired about. But it is not normal that a large percentage of people have mental health problems, weight problems, and chronic disease. It is not normal that most marriages end in divorce (or the whole modern day relationship paradigm, but I digress). It is not normal that you think a child needs to be hit to learn. You did not turn out fine. I agree that maybe you can function really well in society, but that is no measure of your well-being. Humans raised in a culture rooted in trauma often have no idea how good it is all meant to be and feel.

society

Argument #2: “I’ve tried everything and spanking is the only thing that works.”

The problem with this argument is that it implies that the only goal here is to stop the current behavior. It implies an agenda of control. Actually, I heard this argument when referring to a tantrum. “Spanking is the only thing to make a tantrum stop.” Listen, the problem isn’t the tantrum. The problem is that you think there is something wrong with a child having a tantrum. You think there is something wrong because you were taught that the full expression of your emotions were not okay. Your discomfort of your child’s emotions are a reflection of your discomfort for your own. Tantrums are developmentally normal. Your job is not to stop a tantrum. Your job is to be a present and loving adult who can help guide a child through their emotions. Not go on their ride with them.

quote2

Secondly, when parents say they have tried everything else, they start to list off, “I’ve tried saying ‘no’ over and over, I have done time-outs, I have taken things away. Nothing works.”

What do these all have in common? Disconnection. What the parent hasn’t tried is, connection. Connecting to their child. Because here is another big thing everyone is missing:

It isn’t about the behavior. It never is. It is about the underlying emotion that is driving the behavior. 

If you can get more curious about the emotions driving the behavior rather than focusing on the behavior itself, this parenting thing will be a whole lot more enlightening.

One more thing: Lower your expectations and take action where you can. If you have told your two-year-old ten times to get out of the trash can and he still doesn’t, it is because the part of his brain that controls his impulses is not fully developed. Two-year-olds are hard wired to touch and explore and figure out everything for themselves. THEY CANNOT HELP THIS. I would be more worried if he never tried to dig in the trash can. This is where you, the adult comes in. Move the trash to a place they cannot reach it. Create “yes” spaces.

quote



Argument #3: “Kids need to learn respect. My parents spanked me and I respected them.”

No, you didn’t. You feared them. You do not respect someone who hurts you. Do you respect anyone who would hit you now? I hope not. I surely don’t. Kids do not respect people who hit them. They fear those people and then comply out of fear, but please, let’s not conflate that with respect. Do you know who I respect? I respect someone who is rational and emotionally mature enough to connect with me when I am having a hard time and who can communicate to me when they are having a hard time. I REALLY respect someone who can stay calm and present when my emotions are going crazy.

Not to mention, the fact that you think respect is earned by physical force and pain is very disturbing. I don’t even know where to begin with that notion. Therapy, maybe? I don’t say that in a condescending way. I think therapy is good. I have been myself. If you believe that the only way children can learn the concept of respect is by being spanked then I would say you need to really look at your ideas of self-love and worth. It’s a very low-lying world view.

Argument #4: “Kids need discipline. That’s the problem these days. No one is spanking their kids anymore and the youth are little assholes with no discipline.”

First of all, most people admit that they spank their kids. It’s not like gentle parenting is taking the world by storm (yet). There is only a very small percentage of us who do not use hitting, punishing or shaming as a way to teach people things. Secondly, no one said ANYTHING about not disciplining children. Why is spanking and discipline synonymous to you? Is spanking the only form of discipline you know of? Discipline comes from the word, “disciple” which means, “to teach.” Children learn what they live. If you spank them when you don’t like what they are doing then they learn that hitting and being aggressive is how you handle situations in which you are having trouble getting your point across. Think of your child in a situation with someone who was giving them a really hard time. How would you want them to handle it? Would you want them to hit the person? Or remain calm with an advanced ability to communicate? However you would want your child to handle stress, then do that, because how you are is how they learn. It is really not rocket science.

punishment-versus-discipline-chart

Argument #5: “They are too young to understand when I tell them to stop and hitting is the only way to get my point across.”

If your child is too young to understand something, then they are too young to understand why someone they love and trust is inflicting pain upon them. All the more reason to lower your adult expectations of a toddler and use gentle techniques. We want our children to learn through experience, not to simply comply out of fear. My goal is not to raise an obedient human. My goal is to raise an independent, driven, outspoken, child who isn’t afraid to speak and question people, including myself.



Argument #6: “Children need to learn real world consequences. If you touch a hot stove it is going to burn you.”

Well, you are not an inanimate object so give yourself a little more credit. You are a feeling, thinking, free human who has a choice. Yes, there are what I like to call, “natural consequences,” in life. Hitting a child is not one of them. It is a choice that you are choosing to make. Touching a hot stove and then getting burned would be a natural consequence. Another one would be that if my child doesn’t want to put a jacket on, then he will discover what it’s like to get cold and then learn on his own the benefits of wearing a warm coat. Hitting him to get him to put a jacket on does not teach him this valuable lesson. Now, if what you mean by using the hot stove analogy is that you are like the hot stove waiting to burn someone, then as a human as opposed to an object, it is your job to cool yourself off to ensure you don’t take it out on and burn those around you. It is not your child’s job to make sure she doesn’t come near the stove.

Argument #7: “Spanking and hitting are not the same thing. I do it on the fat of the butt where they can’t even feel it.”

callit

In this culture it is not uncommon to use certain words to make the reality of something seem less severe. For example, the reason we call hitting a child,’ spanking’ is the same reason we call eating a pig, eating ‘pork’. It is the same reason we call genital mutilation, ‘circumcision.’ These terms lessen the impact of reality. It has it be that we are less likely to question our conditioning. But the truth is that if you treated ANYONE else in your life the way you treat your child, it would be looked down upon. That is the difference. Spanking children is socially acceptable by most people in this culture, therefore there is no one to hold you accountable for your actions like there would be if you hit your wife or your husband. In 52 counties spanking has been banned because they understand that spanking is, in fact, hitting.

Also, if the point isn’t to hurt them then why are you doing it? Why do people defend spanking by saying it doesn’t hurt their child? If the point is not to get them to submit by way of pain or force, then what is it? Why else would you spank? In my opinion, to defend spanking by insisting it doesn’t hurt implies a level of guilt about your actions. You know it is wrong so you insist it doesn’t hurt, but of course it hurts. They don’t listen to you because it feels good. And even if it isn’t physically hurting, it hurts emotionally, which is probably worse.



Argument #8: “Not all kids are the same. Don’t act like you know my kid. Some kids need a spanking.”

Saying “not all kids are the same,” is for things like which shows they like and what their favorite color is. It isn’t for physical pain. No human, of any kind, deserves to be or thrive from being hit. Just insert the word, “wife” into this argument. “Not all wives are the same. Some just need to be hit.” How humans respond to stress and pain is actually very similar. We are hard-wired for connection and have limbic systems that has us be able to feel each other like all other mammals. We are more alike than you might want to admit. What makes children so much different is their environments and how they are raised. So if your child is continuously “acting out”, look at yourself and how you played a part in that.

 

 

This same logic can be applied to spanking.
This same logic can be applied to spanking.

 

Argument #9: “Don’t judge me! Let people parent how they want to parent and mind your own business.”

I won’t go too deep here because I wrote a whole article on the “don’t judge me,” fallacy. Basically, when people inside a group of a larger whole see that other people who are a part of that group are doing things that inadvertently affect the rest of the group, then those people are going to have something to say. My son will grow up to be an adult in a world of adults who were hit as kids. I don’t want that for him. I want better. Do you judge people who hit their spouses? Or people who commit rape crimes? I hope so.

“Did you just compare spanking to raping someone?!”

No, I didn’t. I used it as an example for why it is totally necessary to make judgments on people’s actions sometimes. BUT since we are on the subject, let’s compare the two:

Both are:

-Requiring of a victim and a perpetrator.

-Inflicting pain, harm, unwanted actions onto another person’s body.

-Doing so without consent.

-Using dominance, strength, and force to do so.

-Leave the victim feeling hurt, shame, isolated, fearful, etc…

Argument #10: “I agree you should never spank as a reactionary response out of anger, but rather I think you should do it calmly and rationally.”

Ok, this just creeps me out. No one who is calm, collected and thinking maturely and rationally wants to hit their child. To use aggression towards someone (and hitting is aggressive) you have to be feeling some level of tension, anger, frustration, etc.

If you insist that you hit your kid when you are calm, you are either not actually calm and not aware of it, or you are a psychopath of sorts. If you are calm and collected, then you know there are a number of ways to handle tough situations with your children that do not require striking them. Not to mention how confusing it must be for a child to see a calm adult using a hurtful act against them. The tone doesn’t match the response and I imagine that can be pretty disorienting for a child.

 

Listen, I don’t think there are bad parents. As one blogger just recently wrote, “there’s no cool mom or mean mom…there’s just parents who understand how the brain works, and those that don’t, yet.”

What is required here is a better of understanding of children and their development, which is to say a better understanding of ourselves as humans. I am not perfect. I have never hit my son, but I have definitely wanted to. Well, I don’t actually ever want to hit my child, but there have been moments where it felt like it would feel so good to do so. The difference is awareness. I am aware that the feeling and thought has nothing to do with what my son is doing. It is a result of the way I was conditioned and raised. It is how I was taught to handle anger, frustration, etc.  Parents, let this be your new mantra:

My child is not giving me a hard time. My child is having a hard time.

If you were not raised in a peaceful environment then it is going to be hard to rewire your system for parenting your own children (I speak from experience).  Again, it is not about perfection, it is about awareness. Just keep redirecting it towards you. How can you adjust, shift, change, act? Don’t make it about your child. That is where the healing is. If you are lost as to what to do in certain situations or you are overall having a hard time not using corporal punishment, I offer coaching for parents just like you. [Click here to learn more]

tsabary



You may also like

22 Comments

  1. I’ve seen many of these types of posts, but yours actually includes pro-spanking comments I’ve SEEN or HEARD for real! Most other posts seem to include random justifications that I’m not sure people use regularly. I appreciate the thoroughness. Great post!

  2. This was so refreshing to read. I really liked all the evidence based study you used.
    I was a child that was raised in a “spanking” and controling household. I have just recently come to light on all of my own personal burdens that have come from growing up like this.
    I have 3 children myself, and I always told myself growing up I would never spank my children. Now I must admit that I am not perfect and there have been times where I have slipped and reverted back to what I know from growing up, and I have spanked my children. I must add thought, that I have felt absolutely horrible after and usually go and cry because I know it was my fault for letting my emotions control my actions.
    I have never dug into research on spanking myself but I really enjoyed this blog about it. It definitely got me thinking, and I must say my children are a lot more co-operative with the type of parenting I am using compared to my upbringing.
    Thanks for making me aware of these things and keeping me positive and thinking about why I chose not to spank my children.

  3. I facilitated parenting classes for 15 years and agree 100 % with you. I wish you the best in reaching parents that they learn better easier ways to discipline.

  4. So very well said. Thank you for writing this. I am often left completely baffled when people come up with arguments as to why it’s ok to hit their kids. You have perfectly ‘hit’ the nail on the head as to why it is not. You’ve gained a follower.

  5. Superb article!! Best I have read on the subject.
    I am certain I’ve made all these points before over a long time, but have never seen them put down so succinctly before.
    Sourcing your page and name obviously, ill print a whole load of these out if I may and hand them out.
    ‘Sponsored’ (paid for) by one of our two businesses, Self Esteem 4 Kids.

    That you for a brilliant article and follow up. 😊

    Nb the only addition I would make to the ‘never did me any harm’ argument is an extra point to your ‘yes it did’ rebuttal.

    ‘You grew up believing hitting children is normal.’ This perpetuates harm at every level.

  6. So you think we should connect and just let the kids do whatever they want? The tantrum is fine? Wow. No wonder the teens I teach have no respect for adults anymore.

    1. I guess I have concern about allowing a tantrum to go out full force especially when in public places and where it is not convenient for others to tolerate. Limits have to be learned. I think I have always associated allowing the tantrum to continue is almost the same as giving in to the child.

      1. If the noise is not convenient (say, in a library ) then remove your child and go elsewhere. Don’t make them wrong for it. And quite frankly, I’m not in the business of hushing my child’s expression (or anyone’s) to appease people.

    2. Bob. The teenagers you teach were overwhelmingly likely to have been spanked in their youth. Did you not read the article or any of those also linked? That behavior is a direct result of being spanked and harshly disciplined in childhood.

      And yes, tantrums are fine. They’re little people dealing with big emotions, they shouldn’t be expected to act like fully formed adults! In fact, the adults should be expected to behave like adults, and retain their composite and logic instead of lashing out at the kid for having emotions (and setting a terrible example for the kid to follow as well).

      I hope you, as an educator, do more research on this subject and use your logic and gentleness (all qualities which a decent educator would have) to gain a bit of perspective and empathy for the teens you influence.

    3. Except the stats say those teens were all spanked so you really can’t blame lack of respect on lack of spanking. Perhaps too many adults have disrespected those teens so the teens never learned what respect looks like.

    4. I read this somewhere and it really resonated: ” when you see that mom in the mall standing and watching her child throw a tantrum, instead of judging her as a bad parent for her evidently badly-raised kid, rather acknowledge her steadfastness and resolve: that child is having a tantrum because she stood her ground and didn’t let the child get its own way.” Since then (and since becoming a parent twice over, I’ve realized that tantrums -whilst embarrassing for the parent – are a normal and age appropriate part of a child’s development. Letting them have a trantrum is not spoiling them or letting them get their own way… quite the opposite: letting them have a tantrum is allowing them to learn the life skills of self-regulation (I.e. They will calm themselves down eventually).

  7. I do not disagree with anything you say here, but I also appreciate that I enjoy a lot of privileges that come with skin color, socioeconomic and educational background, marital status, etc. that give me the mental energy to use the knowledge I (have had the time and inclination to) acquire. I don’t think it is giving people a pass or condoning their choices to say we are all probably doing the best we can and all basically want to be good parents and have different knowledge bases on which to draw. More, we don’t really know how we did as parents (and for a huge number of reasons, even “good” parents can end up with adult children with a lot of real problems) until it is much too late to make any changes, and there are large swaths of society that, because of societal disadvantage, don’t have the luxury of letting their kid be seen as a discipline problem until love and connection can do its slow work. On the whole, children of “good” parents can have plenty of trouble despite all the advantages, and children of “the other kind” can turn out to be exceptional human beings. With nothing to guide me but my gut on this, I think more love, more help, less judgment–even of behaviors we find abhorrent–will go far. Thank you for such a thoughtful and well-reasoned post, though!

  8. My youngest was 5 or 6. We were speeding down the highway in a pre child lock doors vehicle. She was mad at me and decided to open the door. I pulled over, yanked her out and paddled her little bottom. I needed the lesson to be immediate and effective. I was not going to take the chance that a conversation was going to be enough for her to remember. So I did what I had to do to make sure it was drilled in, that she was never to do that again. She learned that lesson and I don’t feel bad about it.

    1. I can assure you that if you re-phrased this situation like this: “I pulled over, got out of the car, got into the backseat beside her, looked at her directly in the eyes, and told her how worried and scared you were when she was trying to open the door and explain how dangerous this is, and horrific it would have been because she could have been hurt and you love her too much not to stop driving and immediately discuss her feelings and find out the underlying issue she was struggling with- and listened to her intently- with compassion and respect, putting your adult frustrations and perspective aside and validated her emotions, mentioned how it can be resolved- or why it can’t, like she’s a real person. 🤔 Then Hugs, I love you’s, and “it’s ok and just fine to feel that way,” but you’ll have to ride in a car seat again if you attempt to open the door again while the car is moving, because you’re too important to me, and I must protect you because I’m your mother. Then get a booster seat and use it if you have to… and continue to discuss and help her work through the negative emotions or adjustment she’s going through…that’s discipline, and respectful parenting. I know you’ll try to convince yourself that hitting her was legitimate because you can’t go back and change your reaction now, “but that is life,” and confident, strong adults learn from those hard lessons- accept it, and change their actions next time. Parents who were spanked as children never learned to express and work through their own emotions, because they got their “little behinds paddled” instead of learning how to “use their words” to talk and work through their (normal) struggles and emotions, with their trusted parent. Child tantrums or emotional struggles that get a spanking from the adult who can’t express or work through their own emotions either bc they were spanked too. Tantrums or acts of emotions from little children are normal, adults spanking and hitting like a small child who’s dependent on their parent (because they are supposed to be,) to help them work through feelings and handle them in a safe and positive way , is not a normal, confident adult. You can give yourself the grace you may have not received, forgive yourself, and acknowledge it with your child (because confident, strong, wonderful parents make bad choices, but can work through changing the pattern. You got this mama, give her grace every time you can. So what, she grows up to be entitled to respect and expecting loved ones to listen to her feelings, even if they don’t agree… self-value is everything for all of us. Much love and best to you.

  9. Love this. I have went back and forth with these same counter-arguments so many times. The most annoying one for me is the, “it’s not hitting.” From people who get so self-righteous and say “don’t you dare say I hit my kid.” Yes, it’s hitting!

    I go to a conservative church that I love doctrinally and theologically except for this. They believe the only way to be a good parent is to spank, like that’s the missing piece from years back, but it’s not. I’ve always said the same thing you did here about connection. That’s the missing piece. Families today have broken down and fallen apart worse than any other, and we have so many things to distract ourselves from each other. Like you say, most people still spank to some degree. I know children who are spanked who are terribly behaved, and vice versa. The missing link is truly engaged parents. I think that makes a bigger difference in child behavior than anything else. Unfortunately it’s much easier to hit or slap a child than it is to actually addresses things.

  10. Spanking leads to emotionally damaged parents believing that simply beating a child down from a vertical to a horizontal position with a belt will work better. Hey, any means possible to get them to obey and for the parent to regain “control”, right? Here’s the thing about this: the consequences of your “discipline” can and will come back to you. So when you feel the need to inflict pain, fear and terror on your children for the sake of obedience, be prepared for the high chance of living a lonely life in your twilight years. Be prepared for only having a wallet pic, if you’re lucky, for a reminder that you have grandchildren. So many baby boomers now genuinely inquire as to why their kids and grandkids never call or stop by to see them, or why they were simply stuck in a nursing home and forgotten about; it’s because they truly believe they did nothing wrong, and what they did was NOT abuse. But at least they’ll have their pride to keep them company.

  11. You deserve so much praise for this article! Sometimes I find it hard to explain to pro spankers why it’s wrong and that causes long term harm. I will use this article on the next discussion I come across. 👏👐👐

    1. Ok! Or you can just talk to all my non hitting friends with teenagers 🙂

  12. Thank you for this article! It puts words to so many of the things I have thought about spanking.

    I would add a third category of parent to those in point 10, though: parents who have been brainwashed by their religion to believe that if they TRULY love their children, they will spank them. This was the case with my own parents.