Spanking Does Not Lead To Mental Illness Later In Life

Spanking is in the news again. This is not surprising given a recent article published by Pediatrics. The headline for the results of the study everywhere read: Study shows that spanking causes mental illness in later life. And the Internet is ablaze with discussions on the merits of spanking.

However, it’s pretty clear from these discussions that most have not read the actual article or if they are they didn’t get any further than the abstract. If they had they would see that the headlines igniting this debate are pretty misleading.

First, this study looked at “harsh physical punishment.” It did not specifically address spanking in isolation. Harsh physical punishment was assessed by asking adults this question:

“As a child how often were you ever pushed, grabbed, shoved, slapped, or hit by your parents or any adult living in your house?”

Do you see the problem with this? It isn’t shocking that individuals with higher instances of reported harsh physical punishment also showed a higher prevalence of mental illnesses later in life. There is not a single question on the questionnaire that asks about spanking. It is assumed that spanking fits under the category of harsh physical punishment. The inference about spanking and mental illness has been drawn by others interpreting these results, but the researchers are clear that it is harsh physical discipline that is responsible for the negative effects.

In addition, there are a host of other issues with the study that the researchers are sure to point out. Namely, that it is based on adults recalling events from their childhood. Any type of retrospective data is always seen as a limitation in studies such as this. Also, these results are not causal. They are related, but without a controlled comparison, we can’t make cause and effect statements. However, this hasn’t stopped people from doing just that.

I want to be very clear here: I am not an advocate of harsh physical discipline. I do not think it is acceptable nor do I advocate parents “pushing, grabbing, shoving, slapping, or hitting” their children. I disagree with the researchers who defined harsh physical discipline as being separate from physical abuse. Harsh physical discipline as described by them in this study is in my mind: physical abuse. And yes, countless studies show that physical abuse as a child is associated with many types of adverse effects later in life.

This study does not actually provide evidence in either direction pro or con about spanking children.

There’s an interesting result that is missing from all of these discussions. One of the links showed this:

“Increases in education and income level were both associated with increased odds of harsh, physical discipline.”

Nobody is talking about this result. This one seems pretty important to me. But it’s been left out of the discussion and you can see why.

Here’s something that you might not know about me: There are instances when I spank Gus.  I realize I am taking a risk by admitting this. There are some of you that may never read this blog again now that you have read that I have spanked my child. I will miss you.

There is an entire repertoire of discipline strategies available and I have used nearly all of them at one point in time. Frankly, there have just been times when spanking was the only way to get a point across to Gus or the only form of effective discipline. My biggest thing with discipline is that it be effective. If it is not, I get rid of it, and move on to trying something else.

I thought about spanking a lot. Yancy and I had many conversations about it prior to arriving at a decision. I know all of the parameters that need to be established if a parent is going to spank their kids. I’ve gone through them numerous times with parents in session and in parent training classes. There are rules to follow. And if these rules are followed, studies actually show that spanking is not detrimental to a child’s wellbeing.

I’ll be back soon to talk more about these rules and what these studies show. If you have no interest in spanking or if you are angry at my spanking disclosure, you may want to wait to check back in for a few days because I’ll be talking more about it.

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129 Responses to Spanking Does Not Lead To Mental Illness Later In Life

  1. Julie says:

    I’m happy you are going to talk more about this because it’s something I’ve given a lot of thought. I don’t want to use spanking as a primary method of discipline. In fact, I don’t really want to use it at all. But in instances when nothing else works, I don’t want to completely rule it out, especially knowing I will NOT harshly hurt my child. I won’t hurt her at all- it hurts me more (cliche I know.) My main issue with spanking is that I’m trying to teach my kids NOT to hit, and me popping them on the butt with my hand still is hitting, no matter how light it is. So it is a conundrum, but one hard to talk about even with my closest friends because of how strongly some people feel about it. But sometimes you just can’t reason with a three year old. Their brains don’t usually work that way. So then what? Let it go and let them get away with it, leading to problems later in life with entitlement and socialization? No. I won’t do that. Can’t wait to see what else you have to say.

    • Meagan says:

      Janet Lansbury’s blog has a lot of tips on non-spanking discipline for toddlers:

      Some of her ideas can seem a little outlandish, and I have no idea whether they’ll work for an older child, or a less easygoing child than my 1 year old. I’ve found her strategies pretty effective, but my baby is super easy right now, so who knows.

      Teacher Tom ( ) also has some discipline suggestions (he works with 2-5 year olds) though it will take a little more digging to find them. A couple posts off the top of my head: and
      As a warning he is pretty adamantly anti-spanking to the point where he can sound a little hurtful to anyone who disagrees on that point, but I’ve found his suggestions on discipline to be very clear and seem like they would be effective (my son is too young to have tried most of them).

      Don’t know if that will be at all helpful, but they’re worth a read. Good luck!

      • Mommy Psychologist says:

        Thanks, Meagan. I’ll check out the links.

      • Gretchen says:

        Hi Meagan,

        Absolutely – love Teacher Tom and Janet Lansbury! My daughter is 2.5, and I started reading Janet Lansbury when she was about 4 months old. I thought her ideas were outlandish at first too, then they sunk in little by little, and now I swear by them. I would consider my daughter a “spirited” child and she definitely knows her own mind, but these principles work wonders with her, and the best part is that I feel confident and calm while I am doing this. So glad I am a parent in this age of information with all of these resources available for free!

        • Meagan says:

          I agree… Even though some of the stuff I read there just makes me go, “Come ON, you can’t be serious,” the more I apply it, the more it makes sense.

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      Thanks, Julie.

    • Violina23 says:

      Julie, I’m in the same boat as you. I have not spanked my 2.5 year old daughter, and I do not intend to, but I don’t feel comfortable issuing judgement or absolutes because I don’t know what the future will hold.

      • TealRose says:

        Of course you don’t know what the future will hold. But then you don’t know what it will hold with say your husband, parents, friends etc – and wouldn’t DREAM of spanking ie hitting them !!

        I can’t necessarily understand when the locals here are talking very fast [I now live in Portugal], rather like a toddler, but they don’t decide to hit me to help me understand!

        • Violina23 says:

          My point is just that there are a lot of things about being a parent where I said “I’ll never do X”. I don’t plan to spank, I share your opinion that I don’t want to teach my child that hitting is a proper response to their problems. However, not only do I have an emotionally sensitive toddler for whom I don’t see spanking as being effective anyways, but I have not yet encountered a situation where her behavior has been so outrageous and/or dangerous that I felt I had no other “tools” in my toolbox. So far, I’m just experiencing run-of-the-mill toddler tantrums. They are driving me crazy, but spanking has never seemed remotely advantageous.

          I think everyone is different. If we have another child, what works for my first might not work for him/her.

      • TealRose says:

        Of course you don’t know what the future will hold. But then you don’t know what it will hold with say your husband, parents, friends etc – and wouldn’t DREAM of spanking ie hitting them !!

  2. Karen says:

    Very well put. I am in complete agreement with you about what you have said so far. I read that same article and had the same thoughts! Thank you for addressing it, and for being brave enough to admit you spank sometimes. 😉

    My kids are almost seven now, and if it is encouraging at all, they have almost completely grown out of the spanking form of punishment. When they were smaller (two to three ish), there were situations where frankly, spanking them was the only way to make them understand what they did was absolutely not okay. For instance, if Jake were to let go of my hand in a busy parking lot and bolt off. That would merit an immediate spank on the butt. I will not risk him ever, ever doing that again and endangering his own life by simply sitting my young toddler down and trying to explain the dangers of large SUV’s backing over him. Sorry, he’s two. I will be darn sure he never, ever does that again, and spanking is the only thing that would accurately get his attention and help him understand the severity of his actions. And it worked. There are situations when it is the only thing that works, and situations where spanking is totally inappropriate. As a parent, it is our job to decide which is which.

    As they have grown and are now able to understand natural consequences, we can have meaningful discussions with them about our reasons for things, and they are mature enough to understand rules and punishments, I don’t remember the last time we had to spank either of them. Grounding my son from his DS is far more effective that a spanking nowadays.

    So be encouraged that at this age, you might have to play the spanking card now and again, but you won’t always have to! Gus will grow and become attached to things he would rather die than give up for a week (TV, movies, time with friends, video games, sports, dessert, the list goes on!) and the threat of taking it away becomes just as effective as a swat. 😉

    Thanks again for your thoughts! Can’t wait to read your next entry!

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      Thanks, Karen. I agree. I’m going to be addressing many of the things you discussed in my next post.

    • TealRose says:

      If your son, was running off so often in parking lots – why not just use reins until he outgrew it ?? No hitting required !

      When WILL adults get it that spanking .. ie hitting a child is ‘totally inappropriate’?? How the heck do all you parents think we manage in Europe where hitting children is banned and has been banned for years? Do our children all get run over ? No. Do they cause mayhem? Not in the main, no. Are we going to hell in a hand basket ? Again, no.

  3. Meagan says:

    Spanking IS a form of hitting, so it DOES fit under their definition of harsh punishment. Punching a kid in the face is also hitting, and that’s obviously abusive, but that doesn’t mean all kinds of hitting are the same. I don’t consider either spanking or some forms of slapping (I know plenty of parents who won’t spank but don’t hesitate to slap a hand that is grabbing for something it shouldn’t as an example) as abusive. For that matter, I wouldn’t necessarily consider either spanking or hand slapping harsh depending on how they’re done. Grabbing? Sometimes you have to grab, don’t you? Not as a punishment, just as a hasty stop measure.

    Anyway, it doesn’t lessen any of your points, but still an important distinction I think. Spanking IS hitting. That doesn’t make it evil parenting, but it is hitting. Or do they specifically define it as non-spanking hitting?

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      Thanks, Meagan. I posted the link for the full article. The researchers defined harsh punishment as going above and beyond forms of corporal punishment.

      • Meagan says:

        I don’t have the patience to read the whole thing, but I pulled this quote from the link: “The term harsh physical punishment was used for this study because the measure includes acts of physical force beyond slapping, which some may consider more severe than “customary” physical punishment (ie, spanking). ”

        Does this seem kinda vague to you? I’m not at all clear that the researchers are using the same definitions as the responders, or whether their definition is defined enough to show anything remotely useful.

  4. helen says:

    “Spanking” is a euphemism for hitting. Are you ok with giving your readers permission to hit their kids. Most likely your readers look up to you… Because you are a psychologist, because you have a blog…please make sure to note that there is nothing in our training that indicates that hitting is helpful or ok. Also remember that some folks will be hitting in anger…and they will absolve themselves by remembering that the “mommy psychologist” said it was ok.
    I think you are making a huge error and not thinking about the power differential inherent in your position. Nice that you give your readers the respect to believe that they will make good decisions… But there are a lot of f’ed up mommys out there…

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      Thanks, Helen. However, I disagree that spanking is a euphemism for hitting. Also, if you read my post you will see that I say clearly: I do not advocate any of the harsh discipline methods as described in the article. I spell this out very directly as it was important for me to let my readers know that I do not tolerate or advocate physical abuse of any kind which is what I think this study measured. It did not specifically measure spanking. And spanking within certain contexts and within certain parameters (i.e., safety situations) is not what I would consider physical abuse. I will be addressing this in more depth soon so stay tuned.

      • Meagan says:

        It’s not a euphemism, it’s a synonym. I personally don’t believe in spanking but I also don’t think spanking = bad parenting. But don’t pretend it’s not hitting.

      • TealRose says:

        Spanking IS hitting IS wrong PERIOD. No ifs buts or whens. Just the same as it would be if I hit you – or your child hit his friend.

        Just LISTEN to yourself !!!

        “And spanking within certain contexts and within certain parameters (i.e., safety situations) is not what I would consider physical abuse.”

        REALLY ?? If I hit you in the same ‘careful’ way it would STILL be abuse.

        And most of Europe, not to mention many other countries too, have banned spanking totally in schools or at home – quite rightly.

        Do you know that the UN Secretary-General’s Study on Violence Against Children has recommended full prohibition of all corporal punishment of children, in all settings, in all nations? What a wonderful idea!

        • Mommy Psychologist says:

          Thanks, Teal Rose. Just to play the devil’s advocate in regard to the ban on corporal punishment: Sweden was one of the first countries to ban all forms of corporal punishment. Within the next few years, Sweden had the greatest increase in violent and illegal behavior in children. In addition, the amount of physical abuse reports actually experienced a dramatic increase. If you look into the research behind the initiative, the reason for it is because corporal punishment is so often used as an excuse to justify abuse and not because there is evidence that corporal punishment is detrimental in and of itself. Also, in countries where this legislation exists parents are not allowed to restrain their children in any manner even if it is to calm them down which means many of the positive discipline techniques are illegal as well. Nor are they allowed to take them by the hand and force them to go anywhere. How many times have you had to take your child’s hand and pull them away from a toy aisle or get them to leave the park? In these countries, this would be illegal. Just pointing out what the other side of the coin really looks like in practical living.

          • TealRose says:

            And if you CARE to look at the most recent figures the child abuse levels in Sweden have fallen to virtually zero, that most people now do not and will not tolerate anyone hitting a child whereas at first many people were worried about not spanking.

            Also in most countries that have banned spanking they have not banned parents taking a child’s hand gently to redirect it. You YANK on it and yes, you might get arrested.

            I live in Europe – I don’t see screaming children in supermarkets and malls, I don’t see parents yelling or lashing out at their children either. The children are treated with respect – hitting isn’t respectful.

            If you BAN spanking and hitting children totally – just like it is for adults – you don’t NEED reports etc to tell you whether spanking and hitting a child is ‘causing a problem’ or not, or whether it does at what level etc. You find someone is hitting a child – they are arrested and have to go for parenting classes – and if then they are found to still be hitting, then they are imprisoned.

            If everyone had sat in the back seat and kept quiet years ago, your husband would STILL be allowed to beat you ‘for your own good’ ….

            It just needs to stop.

    • Meagan says:

      You know I kinda doubt the f’ed up mommies are reading parenting blogs for discipline insights. Not to say that no otherwise *good* parents ever ever hit their kids in anger, but generally they regret it, or they do it because they don’t know an alternative… Not because a stranger on the Internet said it was ok. Psychologist or not.

  5. Ericha says:

    This subject enters very mirky territory. When I was a toddler my mother on select occasions ran out of results and would spank my bottom with a rolled-up newspaper. The sound and suddenness of it was more upsetting than the impact. Was that spanking? What is Spanking? Big can of worms.

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      Thanks, Ericha. This topic is indeed a HUGE can of worms and I knew was taking that risk when bringing it up.

    • TealRose says:

      The answer is easy. The moment a hand or implement impacts a child – THAT is hitting. No matter whether it’s called ‘spanking’ to make adults somehow feel better about hitting a child. It is hitting. And it is about time it was banned universally.

  6. Gretchen says:

    Hello – I saw your comment on HuffPost and came here to check out your blog. I’m just curious about the specific situations where you ended up spanking, and what was the difference that made you feel spanking was the only alternative in those cases vs. other cases where you did something different? For me personally, I’ve always kept spanking off the table with my daughter due to my remembrances of being spanked as a kid (it didn’t make me regret my actions or feel sorry, but it did turn my thoughts towards feeling like a victim and my mom was the bad guy), but I did think that I was going to time-out my daughter as I thought that was the more humane alternative and best thing out there – but then I read “Unconditional Parenting” by Alfie Kohn when she was still an infant which kind of blew my mind. Of course that book is great at making an argument of why time-out and spanking shouldn’t be used, but it wasn’t very helpful in what to do instead. I am the mother of a spirited 2 yr 8 month old and I have personally benefitted greatly from following these sources on Facebook and online: (Dr. Laura Markham / on FB) (Janet Lansbury – Elevating Childcare on FB)

    So I’ve followed their principles, and my daughter has never been punished in her life, but she is as well-behaved as all the kids her age that we know personally that have been time-outted or spanked and more well-behaved than most. But more important to me than whether she is well-behaved is that she admits when she’s done something and usually apologizes without me saying anything rather than denying to avoid punishment.

    Anyway, Happy Fourth of July!

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      Thanks, Gretchen. I’m going to be discussing the specific situations as well as some guidelines to follow if you decide to spank a child. So, stay tuned because I will be addressing your questions in greater length in my next post. Happy Fourth to you as well!

    • Mama Bear says:

      I looked up ‘unconditional parenting’ and I have largely raised my 4 kids-3 now teens-this way. I think of it as emotionally intelligent parenting or empathic parenting. I felt inspired by my own parents’ kindness, by Polly Berrein Berends, and by Andy Griffiths’ show. I find working this way with my own kids and even as a substitute teacher highly effective.
      That being said, I have 3 sons and honestly each has received a spanking at least once, which I do not regret. I find boys tend to test parents and are just calmer when they know that they have external boundaries. Sometimes it seems mentally and emotionally too exhausting for them to monitor their own behavior constantly. Boys don’t think like girls and it’s wrong to expect them to. Testosterone has real effects on the brain/emotions/energy levels/willingness to take risks, that talking doesn’t always help them manage.
      Anyway, I think unconditional love and understanding is especially needed by boys.

  7. Mama Bear says:

    I read the article but I’m not clear on who was studied? Was this one of the many psychological studies done on college students? Those are fascinating, but a little divorced from reality.
    I think ‘harsh’ parents are immature and therefore they overreact to the immaturity (which is normal!) of their kids rather than having the ability to guide and redirect their children. Also they seem to lack realistic foresight. They seem to expect their kids to read the parent’s mind and get irritated at their kids for being as egocentric as the parent is.
    I don’t have a problem with a quick spank as a method of last resort, though. We are social animals and a child that is allowed to alienate others through rudeness, etc. or is allowed to endanger themselves won’t feel happy or loved, will they?

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      It was a group of adults living in Canada. They were mailed surveys which they completed and then met with researchers to fill out questionnaires.

  8. JJ Keith says:

    I am growing to love this blog as a common sense, non-reactionary source for insight in parenting. Also, I am chronically annoyed with how scientific research is reported on and I’m so glad to find writers who actually know a damn thing about science! I can’t believe the ways bloggers botch reporting on research.

    I find this particular topic interesting. The conversations around spanking have become so polarized that they’re not even discussions anymore. I’m not a spanker, but there are occasions where discipline needs to be escalated, particularly when the child is doing something dangerous (someone above mentioned running out in the street). Personally, I’m a fan of the hand swat for those occasions when I really need to make an impression, but my children are still toddlers and I don’t know how we’ll deal down the line. I’m curious to see what else you have to say on the topic.

  9. Jennifer says:

    Thank you soooo much for posting a link to the actual article. When I read the news article about this my one thought at the end was, “well, maybe, but let me see the actual study.”

    I confess that I have not read the study yet (so I won’t comment further), but I will.

  10. Jennifer B says:

    If you wouldn’t hit an adult who “misbehaved” than there is no reason to hit (“spank”) a child. If you wouldn’t be ok with another adult doing it to your child then you shouldn’t do it to your own. If you wouldn’t be ok with another person who is much bigger and stronger than you doing it to YOU – you shouldn’t do it.
    Parenting is not about proving your power over a child.
    Research has proven over and over again that physical means of discipline is unproductive as a method of long-term learning.
    This entire debate is unconscionable.

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      Thanks, Jennifer. I completely agree that parenting is not about proving your power over your child. Also, I disagree with you in regard to your statements about physical discipline. There are studies that demonstrate it’s effectiveness in certain situations and when specific parameters are followed. I’ll be following up on this in a subsequent post.

      • Jennifer B says:

        Just curious – do you think physical discipline would be a justifiable and successful method for you to change your behavior? Would you trust the person who punished you after the fact? Would you feel safe with them?

        • Meagan says:

          @Jennifer I don’t believe in spanking- I was not spanked and I will not spank my child/children. But your argument doesn’t work.

          Parenting involves subjecting your child to countless things we would never force on an another adult. We would never forcibly cary an adult to the doctor or presume to make medical decisions for them that they might not agree with. We would never force them to go to school, (or work). We would never physically restrain them in a car seat as they screamed their objections. We would never physically remove them from an overwhelming situation. If anyone treated their spouse the way a good and reasonable parent MUST treat their child, it would be an abusive situation. I am the equal to my husband, but my child is not, nor should he be, an equal voice in our family’s choices. My job is to help him grow into an equal, not to allow him the power of an equal when he is incapable of wielding or understanding it.

          • Jennifer B says:

            My point is just that, Meagan. Though we must make decisions for our children that they may not like, we can choose to do so with an equal level of respect as we would for others in our lives. The examples you gave above can all be handled with a greater level of joining with your child instead of “making” them do things. There are ways to readjust this behavior.

          • Meagan says:

            Yes, you can and should afford your child the respect you would give an adult, but that STILL doesn’t mean you can treat them the way you would treat an adult.

            People keep bringing up Janet Lansbury here, RIE positive parenting spokeswoman extraordinare, well one of the stories she retells is about forcing an unwilling 3 year old into a car seat. Yes, it’s done respectfully and companionately but it’s still “making” her do something. And that’s just necessary sometimes. You can agknowledge, you can sympathize, you can listen and validate the child’s viewpoint, but ultimately YOU make the limits because you’re the adult. It is NOT comparable to a relationship between two adults.

          • Jennifer B says:

            I hear your point, Meagan. And agree to a certain extent. However, I draw the line at saying it is ever ok to physically assert dominance over a child unless their safety is at risk.

          • Meagan says:

            Hmm… I think I MOSTLY agree with that, especially if you’ll extend the definition to health. But I think maybe we’re thinking about “children”differently. I have a 1 year old, so I’m thinking toddlers here, and there are just times I’ll have to exert physical control over him.

            “You seem tired. You’re having a hard time playing gently right now, so we’ll need to leave the playground. Do you want me to carry you, or walk on your own?”

            This is a fairly common scenario I would think. It’s dealing with a child fairly and respectfully. But even though there’s no safety issue (since a toddler hitting is probably only a safety issue in the abstract), at least some of the time, it will end with carrying a screaming child to the car.

    • TealRose says:

      I agree totally Jennifer B. Hitting children is unconscionable. There is NO reason EVER to hit a child or another person – except in self defence, or defence of another!

      Years ago, ‘boys were boys’ was the comment when some of them pulled the wings off butterflies or hurt kittens and puppies. Today we know better and know that those children often go on to do far, far worse as adults. I think in the not too distant future – we will look on those who hit children with a similar suspicion. I just cannot understand anyone who hits children, it makes no sense to me.

      I am just glad it is totally illegal where I live !

      • WHR says:

        I appreciate this article and the rational discussion. I feel that most of the commenters are respectfully tip-toeing in the gray area of spanking and admitting that some children require or need it when other methods fail. But I’m struck by the black and white reasoning of TealRose. She persistently insists that spanking is “hitting” and abusive and should be done under no circumstances. Her opinion is hers and I am not inclined to change it. However, I find it ironic that her tone, insistence, and black and white thinking is EXACTLY the behavior I would expect of an adult who wasn’t spanked as a child. Children are very prone to demand their way. What they want, when they want it, and a permissive home environment never establishes a sense of respect for other people’s needs, beliefs, or feelings. “I want that toy and I want it now!!!”…so the permissive parent gives the child the toy, and the child learns to be narcissistic and full of themselves. Selfish, intolerant, impatient, absorbed and un-empathetic. Through the demand that spanking is never ever ever OK and unwillingness to accommodate the experiences and beliefs of others, I detect that this person probably got her way a lot as a child.

        • WHR says:

          I will amend my above comment by saying that the poster I replied to made some comments later in this thread that conflict with my assessment. She said she was spanked as a child. I do not know the severity of the spankings, if they were beatings, but I think she said she was whipped with a leather belt.

          Being abused as a child can be just as damaging as never being spanked. And even then, there are no guarantees. Some abused kids turn out great. Some kids who are spanked in a responsible manner turn out worthless. Some kids who are never spanked turn out to be model citizens. Spanking isn’t a requirement of child discipline. It’s simply one effective tool that some parents feel they must resort to. I stand by my belief that many kids who are never spanked grow to become narcissistic. But I think that more often than not also comes with permissive parenting. My ex wife was an only child and was raised to feel she was her parent’s peer. They even let her pick where she wanted to go on vacation every year. I think she may have been spanked a hand full of times, so it wasn’t a completely no spanking family, but she will tell you she doesn’t remember any spankings, so they must have been when she was very young and not very “memorable”. And she is a narcissist who can’t reasonably understand that she isn’t always right. Even at the age of 40. My ideas on spanking are anecdotal from the many people I have known and the personality traits I have observed and the relationship they describe with their parents. Science and statistics be damned, real life is real life.

          • TealRose says:

            WHR – You are wrong – I will be 59 next week and was spanked and ‘not abused’ by spankers standards. I explained how it completely destroyed the relationship between my parents and myself forever. I was NOT ‘allowed to get away with everything’ – and in fact was a very gentle, easy going child – but being a child of the 50’s spanking was THE thing to use on a child.

            All children ARE different as are all adults. NONE need to be hit. None deserve to be hit. Hitting does not teach empathy – it teaches the exact opposite. Hit if you can’t get your way. Hit if you don’t like something another is doing.

            You can be a friend AND a parent. It’s not impossible and it IS effective. Children do not understand the ways of the world and their brain takes decades to do so, they do not need hitting to be helped to grow up kind, gentle, caring. It’s disgusting that in this day and age anyone even THINKS about hitting a child let alone the fact that it’s actually legal to do so. Thank God I live in a country in Europe that banned it years back. But I doubt any arguments such as ‘One shouldn’t be hitting anyone’ will move you at all. You feel their is no other way, you feel that children are ‘owned’ you feel that all the scientific facts showing how spanking is wrong don’t apply to you or are wrong. In other words – you are full of fear – fear that if you learn a better, more gentle way of parenting you will have to admit you were wrong. Sad.

          • TealRose says:

            WHR – You are wrong – I will be 59 next week and was spanked and ‘not abused’ by spankers standards. I explained how it completely destroyed the relationship between my parents and myself forever. I was NOT ‘allowed to get away with everything’ – and in fact was a very gentle, easy going child – but being a child of the 50’s spanking was THE thing to use on a child.

            All children ARE different as are all adults. NONE need to be hit. None deserve to be hit. Hitting does not teach empathy – it teaches the exact opposite. Hit if you can’t get your way. Hit if you don’t like something another is doing.

            You can be a friend AND a parent. It’s not impossible and it IS effective. Children do not understand the ways of the world and their brain takes decades to do so, they do not need hitting to be helped to grow up kind, gentle, caring. It’s disgusting that in this day and age anyone even THINKS about hitting a child let alone the fact that it’s actually legal to do so. Thank God I live in a country in Europe that banned it years back. But I doubt any arguments such as ‘One shouldn’t be hitting anyone’ will move you at all. You feel their is no other way, you feel that children are ‘owned’ you feel that all the scientific facts showing how spanking is wrong don’t apply to you or are wrong. In other words – you are full of fear – fear that if you learn a better, more gentle way of parenting you will have to admit you were wrong. Sad …. and sickening ….

  11. Miranda says:

    As usual, I love this post. I hope you don’t get flamed/trolled/whatever other nasty things people do to other people in the online world.

    I have a very dear friend whom I’ve known for years. She is bilingual and speaks English and Tamil and has a toddler-aged daughter, Vee. Together they speak predominantly in English. One day I noticed she was speaking to Vee, who was behaving a little waywardly as only toddlers do, in Tamil. Out of curiosity, I asked her why she was using Tamil.

    “Because,” she replied, “when I speak to Vee in Tamil she knows the message is unquestiongly, unequivocally for her and her alone. She knows that no-one else around us can speak Tamil and if I am speaking to her in Tamil she must listen and listen well.”

    This intrigued me. Once I had my own (extremely) wayward and strongminded toddler I remembered this event and have frequently wished I had a language that was unquestioningly, unequivocally for him and him alone. My little boy is so bright, so intelligent, yet extraordinarily wrapped up in himself and his own vivid imagination. At times it’s almost impossible to break into his little world.

    I never planned to smack my child, but I do. I don’t want to, I don’t like it. But a smack is a short, sharp message that gets through to him when it is critial that he receive and understand the message. It is our Tamil. It doesn’t happen often, but it happens and is necessary – usually for his own safety! Occasionally for discipline.

    I think some of your readers may be a little tangled up with semantics. Here in Australia, the word ‘spank’ is kinda silly and a little kinky! We rarely use it. Instead we say ‘smack’ – as in, ‘I gave him a smack on the bum!’ My point is that no-one here is advocating beating the shit out of a kid, or perpetrating abuse or violence on a child. Whether you say spank or smack, we’re simply acknowledging that some kids don’t get talking. They don’t get time out. They don’t get rationalising. They don’t get rewards or sticker charts or positive reinforcement or any of those complicated systems that adults invent. Some kids just don’t get that stuff…. because they’re kids. They don’t, can’t, think strategically like adults can. There are times when a smack is the only language they understand.

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      Thanks, Miranda. I appreciate your cultural perspective on the issue.

    • Gretchen says:

      I just wanted to give you something to think about since you say you don’t like to smack but there are times you need him to get the message.

      If you are close enough to spank them for safety, aren’t you also close enough to firmly but gently restrain them from what they are doing instead until they have regained self control? One sends the message that if I get out of control, mommy loses control too and furthers the dysregulation, while the other sends the message when I am out of control mommy stays in control and protects me from myself. Whew! I can get back in control of myself.

      You aren’t trying to discuss or timeout or spank or anything when they are in the dysregulated “fight or flight” place that they probably are in – just staying with them and preventing them from repeating the action calmly but firmly. They will calm down and then you can focus on what happened while they are listening to you.

      Maybe just try it once in a situation where you would have spanked and see what the difference is?

      • Miranda says:

        Tee hee – if my little boy paid attention to ‘firm yet gentle restraint’ then why would I need to try anything else? Bless you for thinking I went straight for the smack solution…. I can assure you there isn’t a single non-smack technique out there we haven’t tried and retried. Anyway – its cool. I’m perfectly confident my little boy is completely unharmed by the occasional gentle smack.

        I love this discussion: the opinions out there are certainly intriguing!

        • Gretchen says:

          I never said I thought you went straight for the smack solution, but bless your heart for being perfectly confident that your little boy is never going to resent the smacks later! I feel bad for my mom sometimes that I grew up to be one of the kids that grew up to resent being smacked when the majority apparently doesn’t (although a sizeable minority does) – I guess I just never had such a low opinion of myself that that was the only way to get me to cooperate. So when he’s smacked he goes into conciliatory and calm mode? That’s what I assume you mean by “works”. I don’t know how restraining your child fails to get their attention – you simply sit with them calmly and hold them until they have settled themselves – if you have the strength to grab them and spank them, then you certainly can just hold them and stay calm until they calm.

          • Meagan says:

            Words like “just” and “simply” have no place in a parenting debate.

          • Gretchen says:

            Well then Meagan, neither do patronizing phrases like “Bless your heart” and frequent all caps words. Sorry that I find it illogical that you have the strength and ability to spank your kid but not to just restrain them calmly from hurting themselves or others – I’m done commenting here. Snip amongst yourselves.

          • Meagan says:

            I use all caps for emphasis since italics in comments sections are so inconsistent, and I agree that “bless your heart” is patronizing, which is why I’m not the one who used it. I’m being very careful here to keep my arguments civil and non-judgmental, and if you’d actually read my other comments you’d see that while I don’t consider spanking abusive, I’m with you in the “no spank” camp.

            The reason I zeroed in on your word choice is because this, in most threads, is coming down to an argument between a punishment/rewards form of discipline, vs. positive discipline. I think positive discipline can be very effective, but the LAST (see? emphasis) thing you want to do is pretend it’s simple. One of the difficulties in communicating positive discipline is that it is absolutely not simple. Punishments/rewards may not always be easy to apply, but they’re very easy to explain and understand. If child does “x,” respond with “y.”

            Positive discipline on the other hand has no clear path to follow, it’s a philosophy and a strategy and it requires consideration of each child and situation separately.

            “Bless your heart” is condescending, but “just do x,” just sounds clueless. Whenever I hear, “just” in a parenting argument, I wonder if the commenter even has children, and if they do, whether they’re able to realistically evaluate their own relationship with their children. No I’m not trying to ask “do you even have kids?”, I realize thats not really what’s going on here.

            Yes, restraining a child rather than spanking him is easy, but implying “all you have to do” really weakens your argument when you’re talking about a large complex issue like discipline.

          • Gretchen says:

            You might want to try a littler harder to be civil and non-judgemental actually. I DID read all of your posts, and I realize you are anti-spanking but you also came across as so abrasive that I wanted to almost wanted to agree with the spankers. And I realize you aren’t asking, but yes I do have a actual living, breathing child. And thank you for anointing yourself the word police.

          • Meagan says:

            Would you mind giving me an example of something I’ve said that’s abrasive or judgmental? Ok, maybe the “it’s not a euphanism, it’s a synonym” comment, but sometimes you just gotta give yourself an “oh snap!” moment, and then I went an ruined it by failing to link to

            This is a sincere question… I’m not trying to be offensive, so where am I?

          • Gretchen says:

            I took no issue at all with the euphemism/synonym thing – I’m referring to the exchange you had with Jennifer. If you are going to go after me for using the words simply and just, then I think the capitalized use of the word STILL, “if you’ll extend the definition” as if she owes you something, and “Your argument doesn’t work” – to me that one sounds very close to “You are wrong”, which is different from “I disagree”. I statements are less abrasive than you statements b/c you are the only person you can speak for really (and yes I realize now that I did this myself). It was just an overall tone of condescension I noticed in your overall conversation while she was being very respectful and doing a much better job than me of not getting antagonized by it. So that coupled with your response telling me there was “no place” for my words when they were in response to someone responding to something I earnestly posted in good faith with “Tee hee” and bless your heart, and you calling me out but not her. Anyway, I originally posted her hoping to change some people’s minds but instead I’ve just got stressed out and feel bullied so nevermind. Namaste

          • Meagan says:

            I’m sorry I got to you. I can get ultra focused on language in online debates because on a blog, words are all we have, so it’s important we say exactly what we mean. I didn’t take issue with “bless you” or “tee hee” because they aren’t a part of an argument, they’re just personality words. I wasn’t trying to tell Jennifer she was wrong, in fact I think her point that we should children deserve as much respect as adults is exactly right. My intent was to point out a logical falicy in the argument that you shouldn’t spank children because you wouldn’t spank an adult. I think Jennifer got that, though we never came to an agreement on whether force is ever warented, and I hope my tone didn’t bother her. I can see how “your argument doesn’t work” is unnecessarily antagonistic.

            I can also see how “no place” is needlessly harsh, but that was not my intent. What I was TRYING (sorry) to say is that it’s usually unhelpful to imply that any part of parenting is easy, and especially in the case of something as nuanced as positive discipline. The specific case you sited (gently restraining a child) really is easy and simple, but I was taking it as a stand-in for spanking alternatives in general, which is not a straightforward issue. Again, I’m sorry I’ve stressed you out. I really enjoy lively debates, and I can get pretty into them. The last thing I want to do is discourage a well intentioned sparring partner.

          • Gretchen says:

            To Meagan (since I’m not sure where exactly this comment is going to land on the page) – first of all since you were concerned about it it’s warranted – but I’m totally n. I’m sorry I got so upset – I really don’t like arguing at all. I only post on issues like these b/c I feel so strongly about them – then when it seems like someone is dismissive I get upset. I honestly don’t think anyone that does spank on here (or anywhere for that matter) is going to stop – and in my experience the people that say they don’t like to spank and don’t want to keep doing it are the ones that are the most resistant when people try to offer alternatives and insist that they HAVE to spank (on this site and every other one I’ve been on) so I’m just beating my head against a wall posting here – probably not the best decision for my mental health! So bless my hear, I’m sorry, I disagree – spanking may not cause longterm damage or mental illness (although I think it is playing Russian Roulette with your later relationship – you will probably have the kid that doesn’t resent you for it, but I’d say odds are 1 in 3 or 4 that you’ll have a kid that does from unscientific observation of responses from kids who were spanked), but you never HAVE to spank – just like you never have to eat blueberries or say orange. Have a nice day everyone

          • Meagan says:

            To clarify… The “warranted” comment was attempting to correct a spelling error in my previous comment.

            Another clarification: “Whenever I hear, “just” in a parenting argument, I wonder if the commenter even has children, and if they do, whether they’re able to realistically evaluate their own relationship with their children.”

            This was poorly stated. What I was trying to say is that these words are often signal words that the person arguing doesn’t have a clue about whatever they’re arguing, and that was part of the reason I react so abruptly when I see them. I absolutely did NOT mean to imply that you seem clueless, you don’t at all, and I wasn’t trying to slyly imply that you don’t actually have children at home.

            Sorry I came off as hostile! I wasn’t trying to target you, and I was really enjoying reading your other comments. Unfortunately I rarely bother to comment if all I have to say is “I agree.”

          • Meagan says:


  12. Rach says:

    Ah, the media at it again being sensationalist. Go figure. Thank you for the true story of the study.

  13. Christina says:

    “My biggest thing with discipline is that it be effective. If it is not, I get rid of it, and move on to trying something else.”
    -consistency- some things do not work every time, you diet, you gain and you lose , does not mean you quit dieting cause it does not work once. To me this is parents being to rushed for time, to tired, and to lazy to be consistent enough.

    This is so simple and I do not get the argument. The actions you do…your child learns. Period. (Yes as the age they then get to make decision to follow you or break the cycle.)Your child does not understand you are spanking for frustration and not anger. This is the worst excuse I have ever hear. Its ok because its from frustration not anger or because I was calm when I spanked. Your 3 year old can not understand that. What they do understand is people get frustrated and they hit, that is how we deal with frustration.

    Please present to me a child who can unequivocally explain to me why they got spanked, when a spanking is appropriate and not, when it is ok to slap/hit/spank and when it is not, and what they have learned for the situation. You cant. Adults cant even grasp this.

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      Thanks, Christina. Just to be clear the statement does not mean that I try something once and find that it doesn’t work I toss it. I try things consistently and if they repeatedly don’t work in a given situation, I switch to another strategy. I will be addressing your other concerns in another post as lots of people have similar concerns.

    • Gretchen says:

      Where’s the like button when I need it? Agree 1000% percent Christina!

  14. Nicholas says:

    I agree that the article linked is pure bunkum. This is too bad, as it seems like spanking itself would be a great focus for more valid research.

    I’m surprised to hear you do spank your child. I have my own strong feelings about this, including a childhood in which I was spanked only once (which I think had some negative consequences due to my personality). I’m curious though (really, because I haven’t seen the research), does any of the research that shows “spanking is not detrimental to a child’s wellbeing” address the subject of adult perceptions on authoritarian command structures or feelings on corporal punishment, or the prevalence of bullying or physical interactions (even if not rising to the level of abuse) with other children? Those would be, by far, my primary concern, especially considering the issues we have in our current culture.

    Children are very impressionable, as we all know. The most difficult part of the parenting job I’ve seen so far is continually modelling ‘correct’ behavior in ways they can best see and emulate it. Punishment is so difficult in this regard as I know they will internalize it in how they interact with friends, with other members of society of differing ages, and eventually with their own kids. Do we want to show them any sort of punishment causing physical pain as an appropriate response to a wrong, especially considering we have laws built into our very constitution (American poster) preventing us from punishing convicted prisoners or enemies of state with physical harm? How will that not leave some cognitive dissonance?

    I’ll need to research this further and will try to return with another comment.

    • Meagan says:

      One of the problems I see with studying spanking is that it’s so broad and poorly defined… There are way too many variables. Aside from the “spanking vs. harsh discipline” conversation we’re having here, there’s such a wide range of how when and why people spank their kids. Some people only spank when they’re frightened or at their wit’s end (emotional stress) while others spank as a routine part of discipline but would never consider it acceptable to spank unless they were entirely calm. Some people only spank children until they’re old enough to reason with, some people only spank older children because they consider it cruel to spank a child too young to fully understand the “why.” Some people spank 2-3 times over the entire course of a childhood, some people spank 2-3 times a week. Some people “spank” with a hairbrush, spoon or belt, some people would never use anything but their hand. Some people spank just because they were spanked and that’s “what you do” some people agonized over the decision for years before they even had kids. Some people spank because they feel it’s a necessary part of good parenting, some people spank because it’s the only tool they can find that seems to work.

      How do you quantify all that for research, to study the effects of “spanking?” It seems impossible to me.

      • Mommy Psychologist says:

        Great points, Meagan. I will be addressing these in another post because these issues are some of the core factors central to the debate on spanking.

  15. Mama Bear says:

    Yeah, I don’t think there’s a universal right way to handle people. It always seems to boil down to personalities. I notice that people have differing levels of aggressiveness/passivity that seems somewhat innate. It’s related to differing energy levels and degree of fearlessness/timidity with people and physical bravery. A more timid child might comply with just an angry look from someone and could be traumatized by a spanking, a child on the higher end of energy and fearlessness who roughhouses constantly might take a spanking in stride.

    • Miranda says:

      Oh! You’ve made an excellent point here, Mama Bear – sensitive kids may be traumatised by spanking while a fearless kid may take it in their stride.

      I’ve seen sensitive children respond to a stern look or ‘firm yet gentle restraint’ and it has always shocked me. A stern look or a firm ‘no’ never ever once ever had any effect on my boy. It has always stunned me that other kids can be disciplined by such simple and passive means!

      It comes down to the fact that, simply put, everyone is different. Parents owe it to their kids to get to know them well enough to develop strategies that work for their child’s unique personality. And since there are as many personalities as there are people, well – no wonder the debate is complex.

    • Violina23 says:

      I COMPLETELY agree with this. I think discipline is an extension of learning — namely learning appropriate behavior, respect, and empathy for other people. We don’t always expect two different kids to learn fractions the same way, so why do we expect children to respond to various discipline strategies the same way? My daughter (2.5) is definitely on the more emotional/sensitive side, and I do not believe she would respond well to physical discipline, but as much as I am not personally in favor of spanking, I know better than to judge another parent, assuming we are in the category of occasional and lightly.

  16. Ali says:

    I never spanked my children because I could never justify the “don’t hit your brother” and giving a swat/smack/spank, whatever on the bottom resulting in “it’s OK for mommy to hit you, you’re not allowed to hit your brother.” After all, a child assimilates and understands their world by imitative play. So now, I’ve just shown them swatting/hitting/spanking is perfectly OK as long as it’s done with “love” or whatever else people use to explain it. How do you explain that to a child? And how is it assault when the magic age of 18 is reached, but not prior to? I can’t justify it, therefor I find different methods of discipline that work for us: more chores, natural consequences, time-outs, etc.

    As far as harsh discipline, my DH had monstrously abusive parents, to the point of hospitalization. He “escaped” relatively unscathed in that he’s a productive person…his siblings, not so much and could easily justify the findings in the study.

    No, we don’t hit or combat hug in this house. It’s never OK.

    • Allison says:

      Can you explain “combat hug”? I’ve never heard that term. Do you mean one kid tackling another, or is that something that an adult might do in the name of discipline?

      FWIW, since I’m adding to this thread, I believe that it’s never okay to hit people. Even if it’s effective, even if other people think it’s okay, spanking is one tool that I refuse to put in my toolbox.

      • Ali says:

        Combat hug is what, in our house, we call the hug that a sibling gives that turns out to be more of an I-will-crush-you-and-mom-won’t-know-because-it-looks-like-a-real-hug kind of hug. :)

        • Mommy Psychologist says:

          Thanks, Ali. I missed this comment somehow. It made me laugh. Just this last week, my son and nephew were wrestling. They started to get really rough. I said, Gus- stop it. His response, “Mom, we’re just cuddling.”

  17. Mama Bear says:

    I don’t ‘believe in’ spanking but I find it hard to believe spanking could cause mental illness.
    I have known a few preteen boys over the years whose mothers talk of as if they were perfect, responsible, loving angels, who based on their bratty rudeness outside their homes, you wish somebody would spank them. I don’t let my kids play with boys like that-there’s normal high energy mischief and then there’s kids who you just don’t trust. Those kids wind up pretty isolated and I think it would be a kindness to them if their parents taught them respect for others even if it meant a spanking. My kids have not been routinely spanked, but I’d rather be a ‘bad guy’ with them once(and they were only spanked once or twice as preschoolers) than foist happy holy terrors on the world.
    You can see in teen boys who respects authority and who thinks they’re ‘above the law’ and you can guess which group is more popular and better functioning in school and in the transition to adulthood-it ain’t the obnoxious kids.

    • Allison says:

      I agree with you that enduring few spankings is better than turning into the young adult that nobody can stand, but I think that’s a false dichotomy.

      • Gretchen says:

        Thank you Allison! False dichotomy was exactly what I was going to say before I got distracted from commenting by my work. The kids I’ve seen that are the most likely to be terrors when parents aren’t watching and they are out in the real world are the ones that have been spanked or otherwise very strictly parented (I’m thinking about the teenagers at the playground with no respect for the little kids – grrr. They act one way when they are there alone but when mom and dad show up flip a switch and are suddenly respectful angels -pretty useless). They don’t internalize how what they do affects other people, but how it will effect them only – so if they do something without an authority figure there to stop them, it’s free reign for them. I don’t spank or timeout – in the heat of the moment with my daughter I just focus on restraining her if necessary (i.e. she hit someone or threw something and looks like she’s going to do it again) and tell her I know she’s mad / sad/ frustrated whatever but I won’t let her hit. When she’s calm enough to process it, we then talk about what the effects of what she did. There’s no punishment or manipulation, and I’ve only had to do this a very few times – she just doesn’t do these things anymore as she seems to have resolved that mommy won’t let her. They are out of her system – she knows mom won’t let her do them so she gets used to controlling herself when the urge comes over her (I see her sometimes when she is mad or frustrated and almost see the wheels turning in her head) – she is allowed to be mad, voice frustration, throw something that won’t break as long as it’s not at another person. She gets it out of her system in a minute or two max without hitting. Then since her focus isn’t on avoiding punishment, we can talk about how that made the other person feel – i.e. You threw bark at her and now Allison is crying. Look at her face – Allison looks sad. What can you do to make her feel better? Then she has to problem solve how she can fix what she did which preps her for grownup life (I almost wrote real world but she is already in the real world!) far better than a spanking or time-out would. Barbara Coloroso and Nancy Carlsson-Paige articulate these ideas far better than I ever could. I see my daughter’s executive function growing day by day, as well as her alertness to other people’s emotions. She has a sense of other people around her and negotiating other people and her surroundings that I don’t see in most kids her age – like getting in lines, she happily merges in not pushing ahead of other kids but also not letting herself get pushed out of the way herself and standing her place. I’m so grateful I happened to learn more about this stuff – before she was born I watched Supernanny and just thought timeout was the thing to do if you don’t spank, but this works so much better because it’s just as effective at curbing the immediate behavior AND growing her ability to control herself. I love the concise and thoughtful way Suchada explains “I won’t let you” :

      • Mama Bear says:

        Hi Allison, I’m not thinking ‘either spank or you will definitely produce jerks.’ I am saying some kids may well need a spanking. Not all or most, just some once in a while, not even once a year. The brattiest kids’ parents are often overprotective and seem in denial about their kids, just seeing spiritedness rather than meanness and explaining meanness away.
        While people tell me my kids are kind and helpful when I am not around, I do want them to respect authority as well. Not fear authority, respect it. Since teachers also comment on their senses of humor, I’m pretty sure they act like themselves in class. I agree that over authoritarian parenting seems to produce hypocritical behavior.
        I think daughters behave quite differently than sons and while boys also need respect and kindness, they can find too much talky parenting unpleasant and it isn’t always appropriate for them.

        • Mama Bear says:

          Not to be too defensive-I don’t mean boys are like grunting cavemen, but my own nice guy, well-spoken husband has told me he would’ve much preferred a punishment over a lecture and he certainly doesn’t want to analyze his feelings or examine his motives, etc. I find my sons listen best when I keep explanations short and sweet.

          • Nicholas says:

            I would like to take this opportunity to point out that the research I’ve seen indicates that the avoidance of emotional analysis your husband is relating is a learned response. It stems from the gender roles we (parents, neighbors, society, etc) unconsciously teach our children, not a result of genes or gender.

            Of course, even if we make every effort to avoid gender stereotyping our children’s interactions with other members of society may negate our efforts. But I don’t want someone reading this to feel that they shouldn’t bother trying with their boys. In fact, I would say it would be an invaluable experience for them; ignorance of our own, internal, psychological workings is not good for anyone.

        • Mama Bear says:

          Nicholas, that’s not a new concept:) actually, the research says that boys brains are washed with testosterone in the womb destroying a number of emotional connections that girls retain and again in adolescence. I think it’s more compassionate to accept that boys are different than women than to pressure them to act like me. It’s not “nature vs nurture”, that’s an old way of thinking.
          I do converse with my sons about feelings, I’m not a complete dunderhead.
          My husband is emotional and kind, he just finds conversations about emotions boring.

          • Nicholas says:

            Would you be willing to share a link to this research that you’re referring to if you have it handy?

            It’s silly to ignore actual differences between genders, races, etc, if they really do exist, but I think this is ground that needs tread very carefully. Every study I’ve seen indicating there is a difference based on ethnicity or sex has been later discredited. That doesn’t mean there isn’t any difference, just that history has cautioned me to error on the side of treating all people as individuals completely regardless of their birthrights. As someone who group up watching it happen to a parent, I can tell you it’s very easy to become prejudiced or patronizing, without realizing it.

            This is a sensitive topic for me as I’ve had to do a lot of work to undo the demonstrably wrong idea that girls are less capable at science and math; subjects my daughters have an interest and aptitude in. We’ve fought too many centuries not to remain vigilant against gender bias in our world, in either direction.

          • Mama Bear says:

            Hi Nicholas, if you search on pubmed or the NIH websites, there are interesting articles on prenatal testosterone exposure on the brain.
            I think if you read my comments, you’ll note that I, too, strongly argue for regarding each person as an individual, but I think a good portion of our uniqueness comes from biological differences that arise from each person’s unique genetic makeup and it’s interaction WITH their environment-not only in space, but in history as well.
            My daughter and I are good at math, too. I didn’t like being ‘lumped with boys’ as a girl in the 70’s, I would have liked to maintain my personal identity as both feminine AND able in math, science, and good at spatial skills. I think women trying to ‘liberate’ me from my girlness were as domineering as any man.
            As far as boys’ emotions, I am quite sure they feel them, but I feel angry at what I consider emotional abuse by mothers and female teachers against boys who often find it difficult or distasteful to express their feelings in a feminine manner. The education system is largely dominated by women and they are turning off boys with their impatience and often poorly hidden hostility towards masculine traits that are largely innate. Not all teachers do this, but plenty do. Irealize testosterone varies with individuals, yes I’m speaking in generalities.

    • Gretchen says:

      Hey mama bear,

      I think this is a big issue in the way kids are parented – your concern is respecting authority, but I want my kid to act correctly when there is no authority there and respect other people whether they have the power to cause them any discomfort or not- i.e. at our playground there are teenagers that act like little thugs until their parents show up. This is different than a teenager that has empathy and respects that little kids have the right of way at the playground and doesn’t need to be told to get up off the swing and stop screaming obscenities when a little kid is present.

      • Nicholas says:

        I fully agree.

        And would present a third situation: what happens when the authority figure present is in the wrong? This has happened countless times in recorded human history; even in the past few hundred years (ie: The Witchhunts, The American Revolution, World War II, etc). Every time it was stopped by citizens risking themselves to stand up against authority. On a smaller scale I can’t begin to count the number of times teachers, principles, police officers, and other officials have enforced something demonstrably wrong, and while you don’t want your children being obnoxious in these situations, it’s also valuable that they’re conscious of the subtleties and can voice their concerns appropriately.

        We are not just raising children, we are raising functioning adults that will need to properly direct the world when we are gone.

        • Mama Bear says:

          No kidding! But you can’t complain about ‘schools today, blah blah blah,’ like people do and not raise your kids to respect (as opposed to the blind obedience you seem to think I mean when I say respect) the authority of their teachers. Teachers can’t teach if they are treated with disrespect. I am floored that anyone would equate respect with naziism, etc.

          • Nicholas says:

            I was not implying what you seem to think I was, as evidenced by your comment “I am floored that anyone would equate respect with naziism, etc.”. At worst I equated overzealous ‘respect’ of authority with those who stood by when wrongs were perpetrated. I don’t equate respect with the instigators of McCarthyism; but I do equate authoritarianism with the millions who stood by while those few evil individuals harmed innocent after innocent.

            Perhaps we can avoid what seems to be an impending argument by defining terms. I would describe maturity as an understanding of other parties positions, feelings, and options, the ability to compare that with one’s own, the desire to reconcile all of that within an objective ethical framework without regard for self, and the strength to make the decision that is ‘right’ (ie: indicated by said ethical framework) instead of the one that is personally beneficial.

            I would describe respect as a cautious trust built through positive past experiences with an individual, beginning at a baseline of neutrality (ie: the same as oneself). Respect can never be forced or demanded, nor should it be given for anything that is not a conscious choice in the receiver. In other words, one gains respect because their actions and choices are consistent with the respect-giver’s ethical framework, or show a strength of character or intelligence that the respect-giver admires and thus trusts; It cannot be given simply for reaching a certain age, being a certain gender, being born a certain race, etc. Respect informs decisions, but does not eliminate skepticism nor overrule ethics.

            I would define authoritarianism as acceptance of that which an authority figure presents or demands without a need for rationale or supporting evidence. It is primarily different from respect in my view due to the lack of skepticism, the prioritization over one’s own determination of ‘right’, and maybe most importantly due to the fact that it is usually given to someone based on personal feelings, group dynamics, inherent birthright (gender, age, etc), or other reasons inconsistent with definable positive choices or sacrifices.

            In my comment I meant to convey that I consider respect a good thing, but that I feared what may be taught is instead authoritarianism, which I consider a very bad thing. The line between the two is very thin. We must be careful how we balance upon it. I want my child to respect the teacher, and understand personal concerns cannot always be answered immediately when part of a large group, but I also want my child and teacher to understand that the trust is broken if the teacher does not personify positive attributes, provide rationale for demands (especially since they’re the best learning opportunities in a child’s life), or makes decisions on bad risk analysis or personal gain; one cannot complain about a lack of respect unless one deserves said respect.

            Sorry for the length.

  18. Sarah says:

    Thank you for pointing out the flaws in the media-centered interpretation of this study. Often, the research we hear on the news has been interpreted for us by the news media or sometimes by the researchers themselves using flawed methodology and reaching flawed conclusions. I always question the conclusions of any study I hear on the news. News media, and unfortunately sometimes researchers, often have an agenda. I am so glad that somebody with the credentials to back up their conclusions is willing to speak up in the face of adversity and point out the flaws in this study and the fallacy in using it in any argument about spanking.

  19. Mama Bear says:

    I read some of Janet Lansbury’s articles and a bit on “Unconditional Parenting” and it just seems like common sense. Why do you guys find these ideas so revolutionary? I think most sensitive parents pay attention to their kids’ needs and responses and educate themselves on child development so they don’t have inappropriate expectations about their kids’ behavior and abilities. Most of the parents I know are gentle and thoughtful with their kids. New information and ideas come from many sources and should be taken with a grain of salt.
    The holding idea does not work for everyone, some children who are otherwise cuddly and gentle become highly agitated at being restrained.

    • Gretchen says:

      First of all, I am not interested in arguing, at all. I am only trying to provide clarification since you asked directly. I’m not sure exactly what you are referring to – Unconditional Parenting as I think of it is the book by and philosophy espoused by Alfie Kohn. I would think most people would consider it revolutionary b/c he is equally against timeout as spanking. Janet Lansbury I guess people would consider revolutionary for the same reasons as Alfie Kohn, but mostly more for the way infants are treated in RIE I find to be very different from any other parenting philosophy. The main thing that I had trouble coming to terms with in reading Janet Lansbury was how I had been treating my infant much like most of the world does vs. how it could be. I don’t know what articles you read specifically so I can’t comment as to why you were both skeptical and disappointed at the same time that you had already heard it all.

      Finally, to clarify on the holding issue – I meant that if your kid is throwing things / hitting / doing something else dangerous (I assume these are the main spanking issues but maybe not-I don’t spank, I do this) you are just as easily able to restrain them and tell them you won’t let them do xyz and keep them from acting on it until you can tell that the aggression has passed. I only have a daughter, but I have also watched my cousin’s son who is 10 days older than my daughter and I use the same methods with him. Yeah, they may very well be agitated – that’s why you restrained them in the first place – aren’t they just as agitated when you grab them to spank them? I (I was going to write the word “just” but I stopped myself b/c I’m not allowed to use that word here) think calmly being with them while they are out of control and not letting them hurt themselves or others is more humane and just as effective at stopping the behavior right then and there. Once they calm down (amount of time varies – my daughter reregulates much more quickly the more we have done this) you can address what happened and their brains are out of fight or flight and able to learn again.

      Take it or leave it.

    • Meagan says:

      Some of it is common sense, some of it is pretty out there. The first wtf moment I had on Janet’s blog was when I read her suggestion that we ask permission of a newborn before picking him/her up. She’s also adamantly against sitting a baby up before they learn to get into a sitting position themselves, or holding their hands to “walk” them before they learn to walk, urging a baby to take his first steps, urging a baby to wave/kiss/hug anyone (including yourself) putting a baby in a baby swing, or on a slide, she’s anti baby-gym and even against crib mobiles.

      Some of her more global ideas that are different than the norm are the belief that you should avoid entertaining a baby, or even playing with them except where they lead. Her ideal way of caring for a child/baby is sitting and watching silently as they play, or commenting if they look to you for a response. She suggests not intervining when two babies or toddlers are struggling with a toy, and not enforcing or encouraging sharing. The one that was my biggest “aha” moment was her idea that babies and toddlers should have a gated area that’s entirely safe so you can avoid constant “no’s.” So when someone writes in asking for advice on how to teach a child not to touch the stove, or deal with misbehavior in the bathroom, she invariably responds that kids that age should be kept out of those rooms entirely. This was huge for us since our stairs aren’t really gate-able, but now when the doc asks me if we have all our toxic fluids out of reach etc… I blink, because, no, they aren’t, and until my son learns to operate a baby gate, they probably won’t be.

      • Mama Bear says:

        Oh, wow, I just skimmed a few articles that were pretty sensible. Janet sounds a little aloof.

        • Meagan says:

          I love her, but a lot of her theories (or Magda Gerber’s theories I suppose) do kinda make you go “huh?” I’m far from convinced about all of them, but when she explains them they sound quite reasonable, and I find myself at least willing to try out more and more of her suggestions. I tried “involving” my son in a diaper change as she urges rather than distracting him. It was a glorious and total fail; I’ll be sticking with toys and silly voices for future diaper changes, but I’m still willing to give credence to her insistence that distracting babies in general isn’t the best tactic.

          • Mama Bear says:

            :)that’s cute! I was the youngest in my own family, so diapering and whatever I just thought I was being fun. It didn’t occur to me I was distracting my kids from paying attention to the diapering process.

    • Miranda says:

      Great point, Mama Bear. I know that any level of restraint scares my boy. Being restrained absolutely freaks him out. He’s a loving cuddly boy, but to restrain him is to scare him. So it’s off the cards in our family.

      • Mama Bear says:

        One of my sons was like that, too, Miranda. It turns out he has ADHD, but I didn’t know what that was at the time. He and my youngest were both afraid of the dark, older bro overwhelmed by people, younger not, and both are physically fearless and constantly leaping about and climbing, etc., which is exhausting-sports are a great outlet for them. Fortunately they have had a lot of physical freedom and stimulation, which makes things so much easier:) They bumped into me so much, I don’t think they were too phased by the spankings they did get.

        • Mama Bear says:

          Ok, as a sophomore, he doesn’t leap anymore, but he practices basketball instead! Computers fascinate them too and reading, so that helps.

  20. Mama Bear says:

    Umm, I told my sons “we don’t hit”. No, my kids weren’t generally agitated, so I wouldn’t create agitation deliberately. I never grabbed my kids to spank them or for any other reason-I raised them in national parks where they could climb trees and throw things to their heart’s content. If you live in a park, you stay away from the crowded areas and highly dangerous parts. Other than the parking lot that one of my sons tore off in-actually, he was not used to traffic-that he received his one and only spanking in, he didn’t need restraint, etc. He doesn’t seem damaged by the experience. Each of my other kids has been spanked, too, once or twice by my husband, not me. I know my parenting environment may be outside the norm and I feel for people who have to restrict their kids’ behavior more.
    Perhaps thats why I don’t know where you’re coming from. I’m sorry if I sounded dismissive, I agreed very much with what I read, especially Alfe whoever.
    (my 8 year old son and his friend let our dog in the house to protect her from a bison, I’m letting them play inside for the moment until the bison goes away)
    I’m just not willing to condemn people who feel like they need to spank a bit.

  21. Pingback: What About The Research That Shows Spanking Decreases Mental Illness? | The Mommy Psychologist

  22. TealRose says:

    And do I NEED studies to tell me whether spanking aka hitting a child [or anyone else] is wrong? No. Do I need to know whether spanking once in a lifetime or every day is wrong? No. Do I need to know whether a child might become less intelligent or emotionally damaged, feel sexually abused, or might become more prone to being violent? NO. Because I was taught that hitting is wrong. Period. No ifs, buts, or whens.

    I fail to understand where adults that seem to be quite intelligent can justify hitting a child with words like ‘It’s not hitting’ er .. yes … it is. Try it on yourself and see. Or better still, go up to an adult who is ‘misbehaving’ and spank them. A letter from your cell will be interesting!

    This isn’t ’emotional’ as has been said before by spankers, it’s common sense. You don’t hit humans or animals PERIOD, end of subject.

    As a grandmother of 57 I never hit my children, and they now have children of their own whom are not hit either. Everyone of them is happy, polite, kind, caring, loving and … gentle.

  23. Mama Bear says:

    Nicholas-here are some studies that are interesting. We women have varying amounts of hormones that affect us, too, including testosterone, so it’s not just about boys.
    Fetal testosterone and empathy: evidence from the empathy quotient (EQ) and the “reading the mind in the eyes” test.Authors
    Chapman E, Baron-Cohen S, Auyeung B, Knickmeyer R, Taylor K, Hackett G.
    Soc Neurosci. 2006;1(2):135-48.
    University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK.

    Sex-related variation in human behavior and the brain.Authors
    Hines M.
    Trends Cogn Sci. 2010 Oct;14(10):448-56. Epub 2010 Aug 18.
    Department of Social and Developmental Psychology, University of Cambridge, Free School Lane, Cambridge CB23RQ, UK.

  24. Mama Bear says:

    I agree with you about authoritarianism, but I just start off giving everyone the benefit of the doubt as far as treating them with respect, people don’t have to earn my respect.
    I think how you define maturity is how I define respect.

  25. Mama Bear says:

    Here’s a wild generalization: I think a lot of us women are less obedient than men, yet more respectful. So I don’t even relate the two.

  26. claudia mcdermott says:

    As I’ve said before..spanking..lets be honest with our words here..hitting..a child sends a mixed message…if ur teaching ur child not to hit others..than do u urself hit the child when ur angry??? when a child is hit they feel rejection and fear..and fear causes anger..ofcoarse its easier to just hit ur child and call that a lesson..and convince urself it works and its a loving way to teach a child respect and disapline..ask urself honestly…do I like to be hit and humiliated by my loveone????

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      Thanks, Claudia. I appreciate your perspective. One of the guidelines to follow if you choose to spank is never to do so angry.

      • TealRose says:

        So .. you think that hitting a child ‘cold’ is better ?? Really ?? When hitting is wrong – and banned in over 32 countries – you in your infinite wisdom are telling us that we are wrong ?? That hitting a child as long as you aren’t angry is ok ?? I can tell you that when adults hit children ‘cold’ as it were it is actually even more damaging and more fear inducing than when they are angry. While I don’t agree with hitting a child period, anger can be understood by children – being hit by someone who is calm, cool and ‘sober’ is fearsome and is not understood.

        BTW What DO you think we do in Europe where hitting children has been banned – in some countries for centuries? Do you really feel that we are ‘going to hell in a hand basket’ ?? Perhaps you don’t realise that nothing further could be from the truth!

        I find it appalling that someone who ostensibly a ‘psychologist’ can tell parents that spanking aka hitting a child is fine – when even the AAP disagrees with it!!

  27. John T says:

    I will be honest, this is weird for me to talk about but I think that I have some anger issues that I’d like to resolve, so I was looking some some kind of blog or on-line forum to vent a little bit. I wouldn’t be ready to discuss this in person quite. But I’m young man in my 20’s , no children yet. I grew up in a pretty loving 2 parent home. I was one of 4 kids. The issue of spanking is something that I feel strongly about. I think that outside of using it as tool to teach really small kids not to put their hand on the stove or dart out in the street, it should never be used. My parents are Christians, they believed the whole “spare the rod” thing. Past the age of maybe 5 years old, I think it’s bad parenting to spank your kids. First, it teaches kids that hitting has a place when someone does something that they feel is wrong. It becomes an option. Second, it can be so effective in short term behavior control that it becomes something that fall back on. You start using it more and more, but it teaches the kid more to “do what I say”, rather than stressing right and wrong. As the kid get older, the spankings have get harder, it’s not a much about the “shock” of being stung on the legs. It needs to be painful to serve as real tool. Say kid is 10 or 12 year old and you’re still spanking them, you’re going to have to start spanking bare skin or closer to it. So, then it becomes an issue of pulling their pants down. Some parents even go as to spank their kid bare butt. I had my share of both growing up. To make the spanking more effective you’re going to strike really hard with you hand, or use an implement. My mom and used a leather belt. I think that when a kid turns 13 there is huge moment of truth for a parent. I was never a “bad” kid. Never got in trouble in school, decent grade, never in any serious trouble of any kind. But parents who spank up until even 11 or 12, tend to have a more strict outlook on how children are to behave. My mother especially had a real sensitivity to perceived attitudes. Borderline things, that rely a lot on perception – such as the way I did what I was told to do. Could be perceived as disrespect, and disrespect was something you could get spanked for in my house. So, I never talked back. Not cursing, not yelling at my parents. Nothing like that. You perceive an attitude incorrectly. When a kid becomes a teenager, a parent has to understand that there are a lot changes. There have to be allowances. Spanking needs to be thrown especially at that age. My parents continued using it as a tool into my teen years. It damaged my relationship with both of them beyond repair. I can’t stress enough, I was not a bad kid. Not breaking any curfew, not skipping school, not shoplifting, drinking, smoking, doing drugs. From age 13-15 still spanked me, for such small infractions that it was apparent that it was about control. I was their first kid, and I think that they were thinking I would rebel or something and maybe thought that fear was the only way to control me? I still don’t really. But lets be honest here, while I was a small kid, you’re not going to take a 15 year old kid’s pants down and spank him over your knee. You’re not really “spanking” a teenager…the pain threshold is higher so you’re gonna need to actually really beat them, or whip them with a strap. Its gotta be more severe, a punishment fit for an adult really. Think about that for a moment. In the United States, your can shoot someone, rob a bank, hell you even rape someone and our justice system does not allow for you to stripped down and whipped with a strap or a whip or anything. You drive a car drunk and and not get your butt caned. But you are allowed to do it to your child? I think it’s wrong. So you either beat your severely that they fear you, or you spank them in a manner that doesn’t emphasize the physical pain, but act itself which is humiliating. That’s probably worse because your are inflicting psychological damage. At some point spanking your WILL turn into an ego trip. I hear parents say what my parents used to say, “My kids won’t run ME”. To me that’s a waaaay different reason to hit a child, then to save it’s life. My parents never punched me, never failed to provide for me. I wouldn’t lump what they did in with people who burn their kids with cigarettes or starve them, or abuse like that. But they made a really big mistake by using it when they did not need to. They used well past the time when it should have stopped. I got my last spanking when I 15 years, for an “attitude”. It wasn’t severe, but it was aimed to humiliate me in front of my younger brothers, pants and underwear pulled down. My father carried it out, my mother was happy to see it happen. My relationship with both of them died at that moment. About a year went to spank me again when I was 16 and the proudest moment in my life (and I’ve graduated college with honors, won awards, ect.) the proudest moment of my life to date is when I looked him in his eye told him that he was not going to spank me. He was gonna hit me like a man with a closed fist. He raised his fist to hit me but I didn’t flinch, I stared him in his eye and to his credit he didn’t punch me. That was the last time he tried to spank me. We’re civil, we don’t fight anymore. But I don’t have a warm relationship with my father and probably never will. It’s because I don’t trust him. When I see him, I see a guy who brings up feelings of humiliation inside. I don’t like the way I feel when I’m around him. As much as I would like for that not to be the case, I don’t know how to change that. As for my mother, I only wish health and happiness to her, but she’s even more to blame in the situation. My father would never do anything if mother didn’t give him her blessing on it. She was often the talking him into spanking me. I love her because she brought me into the world…I don’t like her. I can’t physically be around her for more than relatively small amounts of time. I hope a lot of people read this. Spanking your can be a slippery slope, it’s so effective as a shot term tool but it’s easy to take it too far, and you can never be sure what long term damage you are causing. Is it worth it? Is it worth not having a relationship with your kids later in life?

    • Allison says:

      Hi John,

      (I’m an earlier commenter whose position is that it’s never okay to hit.)

      That sounds like a lot of conflicting feelings you’re dealing with! I can imagine it’s tough, especially at Christmas when you’re probably expected to spend lots of time with your family. I hope you can find peace in your heart about this. You seem like an intelligent, thoughtful guy, so I bet you can find a way.

      I’d like to offer a bit of practical advice. I don’t know if this is coming up for you now because you’re thinking of having kids, but if you want to be a very different kind of parent than yours were, you’ll need to learn skills that they didn’t teach you through their example. You’ll need a strategy to replace spanking. Some of my favorite books on this topic are: “The Happiest Toddler on the Block,” “How to talk so kids will listen and listen so kids will talk,” and “Positive Discipline.”

  28. Mama Bear says:

    John, your anger is understandable and unfortunately, probably can’t be resolved by talking with your parents, as they sound completely unreasonable. I wish the many men in your shoes with anger at parental humiliation could find the strength to seek counseling of some sort. Because those feelings will either cause you to suffer or will leak out against your loved ones, especially your future children, even if you never lay a hand on them. Think about where your parents’ hostile sense of entitlement comes from? How were they raised or influenced? The buck’s gotta stop with somebody with enough self-awareness and willingness to do the hard work necessary to heal and change old ways of relating to others.
    Those who lack self-awareness and/or courage and strength just helplessly repeat these things.

  29. TealRose says:

    John, I am now 58 yrs old, and understand exactly where you are coming from. From the first time my parents spanked ie hit me, they lost me. They lost my love, respect and trust. I don’t respect love or trust people that hit me. They, and I, lost our relationship too – because something inside me died.

    I knew that it was wrong to hit anyone and yet THEY hit me. Made no sense to me then or now. All I learned was fear, pain, anger, hatred and resentment. Like you I was a well behaved child, I never ONCE was made to stay after school or write a punishement essay because I never DID anything that warranted it.

    I very early on decided I would never hit my children – and I never did, although at times it was very difficult, and am ashamed to say that there were times when I thought of it … found myself raising my hand and had to stop myself. I never raise my hand when my husband, friend, or colleague does something I don’t like or agree with – so the only reason I can see for me even thinking of this, is that I was ‘ingrained/trained’ into this way of thinking by my own parents.

    I never especially hit toddlers – they don’t understand – and hitting them would mean nothing to them except that mummy, the one person who is supposed to love them, suddenly hurt them. And yes, it might stop them say touching the stove. But then so would grabbing the child’s hand, or using a guard. I used child guards on our fireplace and on our stove/hob, I used a playpen and sometimes a high chair so they could be with me in the kitchen yet safe. Children who run in roads shouldn’t be able to do that … and yes, we all make mistakes and have to do other things and be distracted, but hitting the little one really will NOT teach it not to run into the road. I used reins when mine were tiny, and then a lot of talking and watching the traffic with them as they got older. There is NEVER a reason or a justification for hitting anyone period and that means a child, except for self defence or defence of another.

    It has to stop … and I stopped it in my family. Soon this odious behaviour will be stamped out everywhere and I believe that we will live in a much more gentle, kind and empathic world.

  30. Bryson'sMommy says:

    I am a 22 year old mother in school and I am doing a report on the subject of spanking children. Weather it is right or wrong. In my personal opinion I thought that spanking was to strike fear children’s eyes to behave better. Do you think that if parents of thugs and drug dealers spanked them weather it be a switch like my grandparents used to do to my parents or a hand like my parents did me that they would be thugs or drug dealers. If more states had the electric chair criminals would be afraid to get electrified and wouldn’t commit a crime. It is that simple! My child is young he is only 20 months old right now so I expect him to misbehave. If he does something he is not suppose to I yell at him. But I also know when he gets older he will defy me and I will spank his little butt. When I was a child my parents spanked me and I never bullied anybody I was always the one bullied. As for the the emotional confusion stuff that is a load of bull i’m sorry but I respected my parents more when they spanked me yea I miss behaved ALOT but what child doesn’t. Even after I was spanked I might have said I HATE YOU or something mean and hurtful when they did it but like I said i’m 22 years old and I still love them in fact my faience, son and me all live with them. I don’t want to have to worry about punishing my child in public and having my child taken away from me by DCS. I just don’t see why spanking your child is so bad. I turned out fine!

  31. TealRose says:

    Bryson’sMommy – but you can’t see that you didn’t ‘turn out fine’ if you really still think that hitting a being several times smaller and more vulnerable than you, with a brain that really does NOT understand how the world works or why it’s parent is hitting it, is not bad and the way to go !

    Re the prisoners/criminals – in the States where there is the death penalty – there are MORE murders and violence than most of the other States. Virtually ALL prisoners were spanked aka hit as children.

    You don’t have to punish your child in public or anywhere else – you use discipline – which by the way means to teach. Do you really want your child to be ‘terrified’ by you, and learn just to ‘do the right thing’ because of fear of retribution OR do you want to be the kind of parent that teaches that child right from wrong so that it understands WHY and HOW and can then grow up with that knowledge with them when you the adult isn’t around? Fear teaches nothing useful at all, it teaches children to just ‘not get caught’, to not come to you for help because they don’t trust you. From the first time I was hit by my parents, they lost my love, respect and trust. I don’t love, respect or trust ANYONE who hits me. And I never wanted to teach my children that my love was ‘conditional’ on them behaving, as it isn’t, nor did I want to teach them that pain is normal part of love …. girls often growing up to be the beaten up housewife blaming themselves and saying that ‘he loves me’ and boys … just learning to hit those smaller than them or start thinking it is ok to hit their wives. It’s a very common reaction. I am 58, I didn’t hit my children and now they are great, gentle adults with children of their own – also not hit and also whom know that hitting ANY one, any being is wrong period.

    I now also live in a country in Europe that banned hitting children a number of years ago – and the children here are calm, happy and well behaved.

    Just because hitting children has been done since time began, doesn’t make it right and it obviously hasn’t worked when you look at the places where it is still practised and allowed.

    • Bryson'sMommy says:

      Well when you talked about women being beat up house wives to men who get spanked as children. I have a response to that. When I was 18 years old right after graduation I ran off and got married. 3 weeks after marriage my “husband” started beating me. Now my “husband” was never beat as a child and spends most of his life in and out of prison. He has 3 children by 3 different women who he has cheated on me with and he has actully beat a women while she was pregnant and caused her to miscarry. He does not pay any child support to those women. I know this because warned all those women about him and they didn’t believe me and then when he started beating them they realized I was right so they became my friend. So your telling me that if he was spanked as a child he could be worse than that? I think your theory about every criminal in jail/Prison was spanked as a child is flawed. Also as for my love for my child being conditional based on behavior is bull. Any mother will tell you that just because you spank your child because of bad behavior doesn’t mean you stop loving them. That is ridiculous that you would even say that. Fear is a powerful motivator by the way. So if it causes fear when you spank a child it means that your child is going to behave due to fear of getting a spanking if they don’t. You most likely didn’t loose respect for your parents just because they spanked you. You were just pist off because you got caught. If you were indeed spanked as a child what criminal activity were you involved in? I for one have never been arrested or done anything illegal for that matter. My son is my whole world and I will never stop loving him no matter what he does even if it is illegal. That’s not saying that it is ok for him to partake in illegal activity that is just saying my love is unconditional. I am a tough but fair mom so I am stern when it comes to listening and staying safe. If he doesn’t need to do something I tell him not to do that 3 times after the third time in a row he will get a spanking (when he is older). He will be old enough to know why I am spanking him and know my rules.

      • Meagan says:

        @Bryson’s Mommy

        Re: Spanking and criminals. This isn’t a theory of TealRose… It’s simple data. Most criminals were spanked or hit or abused as children. Her point wasn’t that spanking automatically turns every child into a criminal, nor that every criminal was spanked, just that you can’t claim that there would be fewer criminals if more parents spanked their children, because this is demonstratably untrue.

      • TealRose says:

        @ Bryson’sMommy – “What criminal activity” have I been involved in? None. Just like you. But not because I ‘fear the spanking or fear the police’ – but because I learned that there are things in life that you just do NOT do. Eg, lie, steal, murder, or hit people. Children ARE people. And if you are already thinking about actually hitting your child ‘when he is older’ that to most anti spankers is pretty sick. Why hit when you can teach a child to grow up without ever laying a hand on them – just as your employer can teach you without ever hitting you. There is NO love in fear. You are right – fear IS a great motivator. To do the right thing while you are being watched – but not to learn the lesson eg not to steal because it is wrong and hurts other people. It can also ‘motivate’ a child to shut down, and not learn much and to become withdrawn and lonely, not able to speak out if they are being hurt/bullied in the playground or at home. My own daughter is seeing this at the moment at her new placement in a new school of 4/5/6 yr olds – a mixed class – where the teacher is a tyrant and shouts and tears up their work when it ‘isn’t good enough’. Both my daughter and I shudder to think where these little ones will be in years to come as she can see where they already have ‘shut down’ and never have a smile on their faces. Fortunately, teachers aren’t allowed to hit children in her country.

        YOU can love your child as much as you like but if you hit them, the child will most likely NOT find that loving – no more than you would if your husband slapped you for spending 2 cents extra than you had agreed on something. How many murderers ‘love’ their wives and girlfriends etc yet still kill them ?

        Please, do NOT presume to tell me how I felt, and why I lost my respect, love and trust for my parents – I in fact DID lose it totally because they hit me. I didn’t lose my love for my grandmother when she ‘caught’ me doing something wrong because she taught me and showed me what I did was wrong and how. End of subject. I didn’t need hitting – I needed help. From the first time they hit me – love went out the door. I never felt loved and never trusted them. My mother thought I was ‘ok’ with her spanking me as I grew up – we discussed it shortly before she died a few years ago – and she always thought I was ‘happy’. Sure I was …. I smiled because I never felt safe around her….. I smiled at school because my teachers didn’t hit me or threaten to do so.

        There is NEVER a reason to hit anyone – except self defence and defence of another.

        @ Meagan – thanks for clarifying my earlier post for me !

  32. Bryson'sMommy says:

    im sorry the DOC document its the last one on the page

    • Meagan says:

      I’m not sure why you pointed me to that since it doesn’t have anything to do with crime?

      You claimed: “Do you think that if parents of thugs and drug dealers spanked them weather it be a switch like my grandparents used to do to my parents or a hand like my parents did me that they would be thugs or drug dealers. ”

      The point isn’t that spanking creates criminals, the point is that if most criminals were spanked (or punished beyond spanking) you can’t claim that spanking would have stopped them from becoming thugs or drug dealers. Statistically, the thugs and drug dealers WERE spanked. Is that why they became thugs and drug dealers? Unlikely. But it didn’t keep them out of trouble in the long run.

  33. oldstyle says:

    I cant believe that last comment. I live where there are no spankings and the little darlings are thugs and thieves and muderous. (shaking head) could it be too many of you new age moms dont know about or experience or remember the old days when children were spanked real spankings. Over a knee and yes bare butt, and yes many many smacks with a hand etc.. we are not and never will be drugs dealers and thugs. Where in these studies does it explain that many very good people were spanked? And how many in prisons were never spanked? Too many of you demonize all hitting with spanking and old style spankings as abuse. A tanned bottom in the day was acceptable and healthy. Im not talking about beatings. Spankings.

    • TealRose says:

      Whether YOU ‘Can’t believe that’ oldstyle doesn’t make it truth. Do some research and you will see that most in jail WERE spanked/hit. And … if ‘the good old days’ were so good and a good tanned bottom was so effective – how com the prisons have ANYONE in say my age group in there ? I am almost 59. Well the truth is there are thousands in there of my age. There is NOTHING healthy about hitting a small child, especially bare bottomed. It’s sick and leads to various pyscho / sexual problems – and yes, you can read up if you want. SO, I am NOT a ‘new age mum’ I am a grandmother – and I never hit my children I taught them right from wrong and learned about age related behaviour. Oh … and I used empathy .. remember ‘Do unto others as you would like done to yourself’ ??? Well .. empathy and commons sense told me that hitting anyone is wrong. Period

  34. WHR says:

    After reading many comments here, I’m left with this one main observation.

    Often, when a non-spanker rationalizes their reason for not spanking, they say something along the lines of “How can I teach my child not to hit his brother or sister by using spanking (or hitting) as a means of instruction”.

    And then I shake my head.

    On the surface it sounds perfectly reasonable. But it isn’t. I’m going to list several other forms of bad behavior where non-corporal punishment couldn’t even be justified if tit for tat was applied:

    Young Bobby is bossing his baby brother around all day long. He doesn’t like that his baby brother is being annoying so he says “go to your room”! Mommy decides enough is enough and tells Bobby that HE must go to his room.

    Young Bobby is frustrated because his baby brother is playing with one of his toys. He yanks it out of his hands leaving his baby brother sobbing and crying. Mommy grounds Bobby from his video games for a week for not sharing. (See how that works: he took something from baby brother so mommy takes something from him)

    Similarly, one evening mommy finds Bobby playing with a carving knife he pulled out of the kitchen drawer. Mommy takes it away from him. Mommy obviously doesn’t know how to share.

    All of these circumstances of punishment, parental authority or control, could be confusing to a child if he doesn’t have respect for his parents and thinks of them as his equal.

    How can mommy take something away from me just because I took something from my baby brother? She has no right. How can mommy spank me just because I hit my baby brother. She has no right.

    If you are raising your child to be your best buddy and BFF, please don’t spank them. You do not have the moral authority to guide your child any more than my BFF has authority to guide me. If you are actually establishing a parent-child relationship with your kid, short of physically or emotionally harming them, and there is a line to be drawn, then spanking is a valid form of discipline. And you can’t rationalize it away without coming down to the core truth that you don’t do it simply because you don’t want to or don’t feel comfortable doing it, which is an emotional reason and not a logical one. If you can point to how any of the above scenarios aren’t wrought with the same conflicts as spanking, then you really don’t have the nerve to effectively parent. You can’t second guess your authority over your child. They aren’t an “experiment”. They aren’t an adventure into personal Philosophies. They are little humans who will eventually be adults who require the self control and undestanding of consequences that life requires. They shouldn’t be your “friend”. (That doesn’t mean you can’t have a loving relationship)…but they can never see themselves as your peer, because that is the only way that they will question your authority to administer discipline in ANY form.

    Having said that, all children are different as all parents are different. Raise them the best you know how. They are usually resilient as long as you love them and don’t abuse them. If you choose not to spank, more power to you. Just don’t ever doubt your authority or be uncomfortable with your position. That is the recipe for that child to have issues later in life.

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