How do I respect friends who openly spank but protect my kid from seeing it?

Updated Aug 22 2017
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In our family we are firmly anti-spanking, but we realize that many of our friends and family members are not. We respect that they're making decisions that work best for their families, but I don't want my son to see his friends or family members being spanked. I know at the very least it would confuse him, and at worst it would really scare him.

Whenever we're around spanking, part of me shrugs and thinks, "He'll see it eventually," but another part of me wants to FLOUNCE. I want to demonstrate a respectful response to my son, but I also want to balance my response with what I feel is best for my family.

Spanking parents: how would you like this situation handled? Non-spanking parents: how do you handle this if/when you encounter it? — Meg

Editor's note: we realize spanking is controversial and we leave it up to our readers to decide what works for their families. Any comments that condemn another family's choice and/or violate our comment policy will be removed.

  1. As a non spanking parent I talk to my friends and the parents of my sons friends. I explain to them how I feel on the matter and that I by no means think the spanking of their child makes them bad parents in fact I totally respect their decision to do so. I explain to them that while I respect it I would appreciate them to not spank around my child. A small warning so I can walk my child away or even taking their child in another room if they don't mind. Either way speaking with the parents usually helps a lot and most people understand and respect my wishes especially if I assure them I am not judging, I am just choosing to parent differently.

  2. We do not spank, but it seems impractical to shield children from spanking. Even if you can get your family and friends who spank to do it elsewhere or warn you, you will still have the encounters out at stores and restaurants where kids are getting a swat on behind. As you say, you really can't avoid it for long.

    Here's a parallel: we're vegetarians, and we think it's unethical to eat meat. We respect the right of others to do so, even though we think it's a bad choice. So my kids will have to learn the difference between judging the act of eating meat generally and not judging individuals who choose to eat meat. We have to communicate this compromise to our children in a way they understand. (Nobody wants a crying kid to tell grandma she's a cow killer at dinner!:) Maybe that's something similar to spanking.

    If the kids are prepared and they have a context for understanding what spanking is, even if they know it's not something their parents practice or believe in as a discipline method, they should be able to process it when they see it and not be scared. They would only be scared, I imagine, if they have no idea what's going on when they see it. But if you'd prefer that your child never be exposed to it, perhaps your objection to it is stronger than you think in general and in the particular.

  3. I have no good answers but will be following these comments closely. I was violently abused as a child, and I believe it lead to many of the psychological problems j have today. My 3year old twins and I were at a friends house a few weeks ago, and my friend's husband slapped their two year old, open hand across the face, for using inappropriate language. It was extremely triggering for me and confusing to my kids. Still not quite sure how to handle that one.

    • I don't want to detract from your experience, but I do want to be clear that we're not discussing severe abuse today. I'm fine with leaving this comment up as long as we're not equating all spanking with severe abuse.

      • No, of course not; I'm not equating a swat on the tush with the abuse that I went through. That being said, I do want to minimize the hitting that my kids see. So I'm curious to see how others handle this.

        • I think it is a hard thing to figure out in the actual situation, although easier in the abstract. What you wrote about your friend's husband put knots in my stomach (I have 2-year-old twins). What you describe sounds like something that just happened–not like an announced spanking that can be done in another room or that you could prepare for at the time. Often physical punishment happens in the moment as a quick reaction, and I don't see any way to avoid those scenarios whether you're with friends who practice it or out and about in the world. That's why I suggested preparing for it and then talking about it afterwards, outside of the situation.

      • The initial post's question is not about abusive treatment, I get that. But this follow-up uses an example that is the definition of abuse, in my opinion. Slapping a two-year-old across the face absolutely is abuse, no question.

        • I wouldn't say a slap is necessarily abuse. Obviously what really matters is the intensity/emotion behind it. A "hey, you know we don't say that, pay attention" slap is, in my opinion, certainly not abuse. It's maybe not what I would choose to do, but I certainly don't consider it abuse.

          It's like with dogs I've helped train. While ideally an interrupter noise would be used to distract a dog from something, sometimes a dog gets fixated and the best thing to do is give them a poke in the side as a "snap out of it" deal. It doesn't hurt – it's more of a surprise than anything.

      • It makes me really sad that that you think there are varying degrees of abuse. Hitting is okay as long as it's not too hard??

        • I don't think my personal views about spanking and abuse are necessary here, but the point I was trying to make is that parents who DO spank most likely don't consider spanking abusive, andthey wouldn't liken that form of discipline to abuse. I don't agree with everything people do, but I do respect that many parents who choose to spank aren't trying to harm their children. Hopefully that clarifies it a bit, as I don't want to endlessly debate this point — it's not what the question is about.

  4. As an occasionally spanking parent, part of our chosen method has been to act privately. The point in making that decision is that discipline is something personal, and no one else need be involved (except, perhaps, the other parent).

    That said, I don't think that it's possible to shield your children from every spank they could possibly see, and to shield them is effectively equating spanking with violence, a common misconception. Spanking, when done correctly, is emphatically NOT violent. Kids see much more violence on TV- even from cartoons.

    In addition, isn't being aware of other families' approaches, traditions, and decisions a positive thing? You may not personally agree with the approach, but I'd see it as a teachable moment.

    • As a child who grew up in a spanking household, I see its value, and I have to agree with you, that spanking should be private, and for lack of a better term, deliberate. I want it to be seen as a consequence, not a reaction.

      In answer to the question, I would encourage a non-spanking parent to just ask the spanking parents to do it in private. Most spanking parents I know feel sincerely judged by non-spankers, so an honest conversation, where someone told me, "I respect you as a parent, but I'm not ready to talk about that discplinary measure with my kid yet," would be HELLA refreshing.

      As I said, we're private spankers, so I sometimes have to sit through long rants about spankers. You'd be surprised how many of my friends have called me a monster behind my back to my face…

  5. I'm on the fence about spanking, it's certainly a last resort in our household and has been used very infrequently. My only concern with wanting to shield your child from seeing spanking occur is that if it's going to happen, it kind of has to happen in the particular moment when the bad behaviour is happening. Hypothetically speaking, if I was going to spank my child for something, if I had to stop and let a friend know they'd better remove their child from the room if they're not comfortable with the situation, I'm prolonging it, and I personally think that's wrong and confusing to the child about to be spanked. I think for it to be justified it has to happen 'in the moment'…If that makes sense?

    • "In the moment" does make sense – but it doesn't always happen that way. My mother grew up in a spanking family, but her stay-at-home mom never did the spanking. She would announce "You've been bad and when your father gets home, you're going to get a spanking." Then my grandfather would have to mete out the swats upon his arrival home. My mom said the waiting was always worse than the spanking (partly because my grandfather was a gentle man and was very half-assed about giving a spanking [sorry, I couldn't resist the pun]). My point is, perhaps that time to reflect on the misdeed and the punishment to come could be an opportunity for a child to learn to think about their actions/consequences.

      • I think with this it just depends on the kid's age. A very small child just won't be able to put 2 and 2 together while an older kid will be able to understand the delayed consequences.

  6. Sometimes I read things here that really remind me of the great Atlantic divide. I know nobody who spanks here in the UK. Is that the case for other UK readers?

    • 80% of American kids have been spanked by age 10. It might be a divide, or people might just talk about it less in the UK. I don't know any of the UK study numbers.

      • Well, it's illegal in Scotland, & google tells me that 71% of British parents would support a smacking ban. I don't know much more than that either!

      • That's a huge number that I really didn't think was that high. I'm American-born-and-raised and was definitely never spanked.

        • Same. My mother made it clear to every care giver I ever had that it was NOT okay to punish me physically, at all, period, ever.

          This rule about my discipline was violently enforced on several occasions, and I plan to handle it the same way with my kids. That's something we don't tolerate in my family.

          • I'm in Canada and i don't know anyone who spanks either.
            I thought it was becoming a thing of the past but I guess not..

    • I'm Irish and live in Ireland; some of my family would have done it – I was spanked a few times as well as a small child – but only for small children as a warning for being physically dangerous in some way. But I've never seen it in public, never around non-family members: it simply wouldn't occur to me as something to protect a child from in public. Cultural differences, eh.

      • That's how I used it for my munchkin. Only a swat when repeated verbal attempts to get her to stop something dangerous had been ignored. Because I feel that is the only way I'm comfortable with spanking my kid(s), there is no way I would even pretend to agree to a friend telling me they want a warning. It's just not physically possible. I'm not going to warn someone that I'm going to spank my kid when she's running into traffic and ignoring me yelling at her to stop. Or when she's trying to pull over the camp stove onto herself because she's pulling the tablecloth and laughing at my attempts to get her to stop.

        So in my case I'd say, you need to learn how to communicate with your child that some families do tings differently. However, for older kids you can also use it as a teaching moment, that if they are concerned for a friend they have the right to say something to a DIFFERENT adult–a teacher or just bring it home to mom and dad. Because the kids who were taught that they shouldn't mention/question the differences in other people's families just took it in stride that I was abused and never helped me say something. So certainly, teach them that if they're scared by something, they can talk to you about it. You can then help to put it in context and help them understand the difference between "differences in discipline" and "abuse."

      • It really is an interesting cultural difference. I live in Canada, which isn't even across the Atlantic, and in my nearly 26 years on earth, I have never, ever seen a child spanked in public. Prior to reading this post, it would have never occurred to me that this was a thing that was done in the US. I'm sure there are many parents who spank in Canada (although there are strict laws in place – only parents/legal guardians can spank, not caregivers, teachers, etc, you can only spank with your hand, you must spank correctively, not reactively, and you can't spank a child under 2 years of age or over 12 years of age) but it is definitely always a private thing. It is falling even further out of favour here as a couple of fairly prominent groups, including the Canadian Paediatric Society and Public Health Canada have spoken out against spanking. Like I said, that doesn't mean it doesn't happen here, but it's definitely a private, almost secretive thing. It's so interesting to see the cultural difference there.

    • It is illegal in the UK but I know people who still do it. I think the law states there are only grounds for legal entities to get involved if the spanking leaves a mark or injury. My brother and I were definitely spanked, not just by our Mum but she also gave permission to do so to anyone who was taking care of us when she wasn't there (grandparents, family friends etc.) It definitely worked on me, but my brother was tough as old boots and wouldn't bat an eye. I used to get the slipper and he got the wooden spoon! I don't know about the upper age limit, I think the last time my Mum hit me I was about 23! But it definitely continued through high school, probably more than when we were little actually because we did 'worse' things as we got older. She freely admits now she did it reactively because she was angry at us. I don't think it's a bad thing to give a child a slap if they're really out of control or about to do something dangerous but there's absolutely a difference between a spanking and a beating.

  7. I think really it's a teachable moment. Your child sees all kinds of things out in the world that are confusing and possibly frightening. You can always bring up the spanking to your child later if you want to talk about it or they may ask. If you are emphatically against spanking I would make sure your child knows that you would never strike them. As a parent who is on the fence about spanking, what age it's even useful, and reasons why. I think every child deserves to know you love them no matter what. And if you're using spanking as a punishment then I think the child should have this explained. So I guess I would want to spank in private anyway.

  8. My child is still too young, so we haven't decided yet which type of discipline will work for her. But I always remembered my kind, gentle grandmother telling me her technique: "Never spank when you are angry." She sent the child to timeout if she needed a minute to calm down. Seems a wise approach, if you choose to spank.

  9. Is spanking not simply another parenting choice that is (like many family/parent decisions) one of gazillions that might be different than how you or anyone else does it? Perhaps spanking could be handled in the same way that I handle most of things that my daughter points out as different than the way we do things: "That's how they do it in their family. Yes – we do it differently in our family. Every family is a little different." I believe that this approach implies what isn't said: "…and at some point you will get to choose how to do things for yourself." This is how we handle cussing, food choices, and the innumerable other variations of their own experiences that young people are so awesome at observing. I see my daughter observing punishments in the same way that she observes non-punishments; when she sees someone doing something that is not allowed for her, she has a visible question mark… "That's the way they do it in their family." Of course, the WAY in which this is said, should NOT be "judgy" (if you use it often, as I do). Lest the lesson be "We do it better." At any rate – I almost NEVER believe in overt censorship if the situation has already presented itself. (Whereas I DO censor TV shows, adult conversation, etc.) If your babe's about to see a spanking, it seems WAY more confusing for them to be shuffled away, or for other parents to feel like THEY need to act differently because your child is in the room. Both of those options inadvertently make your child PART of the drama, instead of an (informed) observer.

    • I completely agree. I think it's like many other parenting or lifestyle choices, and we need to be prepared to have conversations with out children about views that are different or conflict with our own. How we react when faced with a conflict sets a very powerful example to our children. There will always be people who think and act differently than we do, and kids need to be able to handle these differences. It may not be an easy conversation to have, but it's the beginnings of learning tolerance and acceptance, which I think most of us want for our kids.

      • 'Zaaaaaaactly. "Tolerance and acceptance" ARE what's at stake here. And not only for decisions of others, but confidence in our own decisions gels nicely with that. I wouldn't ask another parent not to spank their child in our presence any sooner than I would ask two people of the same sex not to show romantic affection for one another in
        front of my child.

  10. I am just writing to applaud the thread so far. This is a topic that is hard for me to discuss in a neutral way, and so I am very impressed by what I am reading so far and by how others are contributing to the discussion. Very educational for me.

      • Exactly this. As always on Offbeat Mama, if a comment doesn't fit with our policies, it's removed — even when Stephanie or I personally agree with it.

      • To clarify: comments that are condemning in nature are being deleted. Comments that are answering the question being asked are totally cool. I'm all for throwing your own opinion about discipline into the mix, but I reeeeally want to steer clear of outright "you're wrong/horrible/etc" comments. Everyone should feel safe to answer the question, especially since the poster asked for feedback from people who spank AND people who don't. Most of the comments have been totally awesome. 🙂

  11. I follow up on Anna's comment; is spanking a very normal and social acceptable way to dicipline a child in U.S?

    I am only curious; because in Norway, spanking a child is highly illegal and can result in jail and loosing your child. It is so illegal that if you observe or know someone who spank their kid, you can get in trouble with the police youself for witholding that information.

    • I think just by reading the post you have the answer to your question 🙂 Yes, it is very common, and corporal punishment in schools is still allowed in around 30 states.

      • If there was one thing that surprised me about the question it was the spanking in public bit – here in the Pacific Northwest if people do spank their kids they don't admit it openly or do it in front of other people. But I realize this is different in other parts of the country.

    • I was spanked as a child (and I don't blame my mom at all…I was a horror for a good long phase) as were most people that I know. But, I think when I have kids I'll try to avoid it, especially seeing how many other countries frown upon it or outright ban it.

  12. I am trying to think through this question and it's super tough. Here's what comes up for me:
    1. I have put a lot of time, energy, thought, and quite frankly prayer into the decisions I make around how to discipline my kids. It keeps me up at night. I have to presume that other parents go through similar processes when making their decisions around discipline.
    2. I absolutely feel judgmental about how other people discipline their kids, especially when their choices are different than mine. Like, I feel this way almost immediately and without fail. This feeling I have is almost entirely based in my own struggle to feel secure about my decisions. So – my internal judgmental response is about me not about the other parent. Which means the primary work I need to do on it isn't with them, but within myself.
    3. That being said I cannot imagine a way to ask someone to parent differently (which is how I would take it if someone asked me to change the discipline style I use so that their child wouldn't observe it) that doesn't let them know that I don't think they've made an awesome choice. I would feel intensely judged if someone made that request of me.

    However, I am always up to talking about how I have come to make the choices I do, and I have found that most parents like to rehash that stuff. A question like "I'd love to know more about how you decide when and how to discipline" or some other way of opening a discussion may begin to access a little more mutual understanding and empathy across that divide. When they understand you better they may choose to spank elsewhere. Or, if you had a better understanding of how they came to the decision to spank or what framework they're functioning within it might not bother you quite as much.

  13. I'm a non-spanking parent of a two year old and one of the lessons I teach my daughter is that it's never okay to hit anyone. If we ever witnessed anyone spanking their child I would absolutely use it as a teaching moment and reiterate everything we've taught her about hitting already.

    • Yes – I have used it as an opportunity to point out to my child how lucky he is to NOT be spanked, win!!! Also, I have a camera on my phone. And I live in the UK. And I feel very strongly about spanking. Luckily, I rarely see it and nobody I know uses it!

  14. The way my parents always handled it was "We don't hit in our family" followed by an explanation that they had been spanked as children and didn't think it was the right thing to do. That said, they didn't particularly shelter us from spanking. I grew up with the understanding that hitting was not okay, no matter who was hitting or why.

  15. Honestly, I wouldn't let my kid play at someone's house if the other kid was going to be spanked while my kids were there. They could still be friends, of course, but they'd have to play here. I don't think that's "unrealistic shielding" so much as making a conscious choice about the environments I hope my children feel comfortable in. I think that they would feel uncomfortable seeing a friend be spanked by a parent (I know I
    would) and I wouldn't feel the need to explain away the behavior to create a level of comfort.

    That said, I don't think that this is a huge deal – most of the time spanking seems to me to be a fairly private form of discipline.

  16. Like many previous posters, I think it's impractical to try to shield your child from seeing another child being spanked.

    As a spanking parent, I firmly stand behind my method of discipline and don't feel the need to hide it. If we are out in public I will take my child to the bathroom for privacy, but I never hesitated to pop a hand or swat a bottom around friends or family. I feel that especially with small children, a spanking needs to be administered right at that moment (like a child trying to stick things in an outlet). I discipline my child as I see fit, no matter who is around.

    That being said, if you feel strongly that you don't want your child exposed to spanking, I'm sure you could have a polite chat with friends and family, but you should be prepared that some may get offended.

    It's nearly impossible to totally shield your child from spanking, so if you disagree with it, I would say your best bet is to use it as a teachable moment.

  17. I think probably the best thing that you can do is, when your child sees this happening, explain it to them, and that you will not be doing the same thing to them. I'm not sure how old your child is, though, so I'm not sure how practical this advice is, unfortunately.

    When I was very small—three or four–I saw my nephew get spanked by his mother. I had never ever seen someone strike someone else, and it REALLY frightened me. After that, I kind of always lived with this fear of physical punishment–I thought maybe if I did something bad enough, that would happen to me too…but I wasn't sure exactly what was bad enough, because from my viewpoint what my nephew had done had been relatively minor. She was babysitting me at the time, by herself, and I was frightened enough by it that I didn't talk about it with anyone else until I was much older.

    Anyway, my point in telling this story is that I think if someone else had been there to explain what had happened, it wouldn't have freaked me out on such an epic level.

  18. I think if you make a point of not letting your son see spankings happen, he'll pick up on the fact that something is being hidden from him and he'll develop a fascination for it. Plus, he'll probably hear other kids talk about being spanked, anyway. It'd probably be best to just talk to your son about spanking the first time he sees one and explain why you believe it's wrong.

  19. I dunno if there's a way to warn you. My parents spanked very infrequently, and it was always ALWAYS getting my attention when I was doing something destructive or dangerous and I Was Not Listening. I dunno if it's something I'd do when I have kids, but sometimes words only do so much and you have to get bub's attention before something really bad happens.

  20. If you are worried about the effects of seeing violence rather thscaringn spanking specifically, make sure to cover this with friends and family. When visiting home once, my husband and I mock hit each other (we've been in martial arts so it's just something we do) we didn't even make contact, but my two year old niece saw and went into hysterics. We hadn't thought about the possibility of scaring her. Cutting this short b/c of phone issues, but just wanted to suggest covering other forms of violence/mock violence if keeping that from your child is your .

  21. I don't spank and have close friends who do spank. I respect their choice: being around their house so much with both our kids has allowed me to understand their reasoning and methods. Usually, spanking is a private deal for them, even so, my daughter heard the word and wanted to know what it meant and why it seemed to scare her friend. Me and my friends explained it to her together: this way she heard why I DON'T spank, and why my friends DO spank. My friends also had the opportunity to assure my daughter that they never spank other people's kids. She and I talked about it more later, but I felt that was a really good introduction not just to spanking but to being friends with and loving people when you don't agree with all their decisions.
    You can't completely protect your kids from seeing or hearing things that may upset them, that can be a frightening and/or heart-breaking thing to make your peace with, but those moments can often be the catalyst for very important discussions. In retrospect, it might have been a good idea to warn her that my friends' disciplinary methods differed from our own in advance and talk ahead of time about what she might see or hear, but I kind of dig how it worked out on it's own.

    • I kind of love this as an idea. The OP and a lot of the commenters seem to assume (and not without reason, I'm sure) that bringing up the spanking issue with someone you disagree with is a risky move that might have social repercussions or appear judgey. It's awesome that these parents were able to sit down with their kids and explain the differences between how they do things and the reasoning behind those choices. I think it's a great way for kids begin to understand punishment as a strategy (one of several possible strategies) for achieving an important end, instead of The Way Things Always Are. Depending on how old the kids are, I think that can be a great lesson. If spanking is a manifestation of the Absolute Power of parents, it's terrifying, even if it's a light swat – and the secrecy around the spanking and the choice to do it can reinforce that feeling for kids.

  22. Maybe you should talk this out with your friends? They may have some good suggestions on what to say that explains spanking in a non-judgmental way. This is also a two way street. Your friends may be wondering how to explain your methods to their kids as well. You could use this as an opportunity to sit your friends down and hash out the boundaries of discussing each others parenting.

  23. I think shielding a child is a noble goal, but it's largely an impractical one. If your child sees a TV at all during the day, there's a high likelihood he's seen a person getting hit. If he's seen movies, he's probably seen hitting.

    Now, this is different because its his friends. I'm also assuming that you're not addressing hitting you would see as abusive.

    Part of the problem is that you can only address this with friends and family. You probably don't want to approach strangers on the street who spank or otherwise hit their kids (for practical reasons). So, your son is going to see spanking and hitting. Not much you can do about it. In those cases, you probably would be better off talking to him. You can do this before he sees spanking (letting him know that some parents spank their kids – you won't do it to him, but that it does happen). You can also address it after it happens.

    Personally, I will need to have this conversation with my child. I'm a karate practitioner and compete in some tournaments. My child will come to them, and they will probably see Mommy getting hit and hitting people. Is it the same as spanking? No – but it is hitting and it is force. (I've done a lot of thinking on how to introduce my child to the whole "Mommy fights for enjoyment" thing). I think trying to shield kids is noble, but maybe not the best strategy here. Hitting is a controversial subject, but one that still has a lot of nuance. It's not too early to start teaching kids about this stuff.

  24. I live in southern Kentucky and, here, it is a very common thing for a parent to spank their child. I wasn't spanked much as a child (whole other story), however, but I have a 16-month old daughter who is very VERY curious. I don't believe in the whole 'baby proof, baby proof, and more baby proofing' concept because there are going to be many places that we go that are not baby proofed. With that being said, my daughter gets into trouble alot. I spank her at least once a day and it works for us. Her grandparents, close family, and a close friend also have permission to spank her if she is doing somehting she shouldn't.

    I do hide spanking if we are in public. I will let her get away with things that normally would be stopped immediately. It's not because I feel that it should be private but because I am scared of someone saying something or calling CPS on me. I have never left a mark on my child. Her spankings are more like taps unless it is dangerous and then they are a little bit harder but I am terrified of having to explain to someone why I spanked her.

    If someone were to ask me to not spank in front of them, I wouldn't. I respect other peoples parenting skills. I feel however that it's shielding the child from real life. Spanking around here is so normal that when my daughter gets into school the majority of the kids will have been spanked as much as she has.

  25. Interesting, I've never thought about this issue in this way. I don't spank, but I was spanked as a kid. I really would hope that parents would keep spankings private and not do it front of other people, because it seems to me that adds an element of humiliation that really isn't fair to the child. I'm not bitter about having been spanked, I just choose not to do it. However, my parents never spanked me out in public or around my friends! I guess they would either let things slide or find another way to handle it in the moment.

    • THIS!! I can see how sometimes, with very young children, an immediate swat is necessary for safety reasons. I think this is unavoidable and relatively easily explicable. With older kids, though….

      My parents only spanked me once in front of someone. I was an older kid – maybe 12 – at the time, and a friend and her mom were at my house. They did it explicitly for the humiliation component. It was for a minor and not safety-related thing, and it was a very light swat, but it is one of the moments of childhood that I remember the most clearly because of the amount of injustice and embarrassment and helplessness I felt. As I get older, I can look back at almost all the choices my parents made when they raised me and even if I don't agree with them, I can see the reasoning. This one I will never understand, and it has never ceased to hurt when I think about it.

      The upshot is that if someone else's older kid is getting spanked, I'd remove myself and my child from the situation pronto – not to shield my kid from the spanking, but to try to spare the other child's feelings.

    • I'm personally all for spanking. I was swatted as a kid, and I think it was a good thing. If I was absolutely awful in public, I would get a swat specifically for humiliation purposes. It taught a lot better than anything else. I don't have kids yet, but I've already discussed with my husband, and we've agreed that We will spank our children if necessary.

      My parents also used the delay ("when you dad gets home") after my siblings and I were old enough to understand the time delay. It worked because I would dwell on the issue, and really consider what I did wrong.

      Like nearly everyone, I get offended when someone spanks to actually hurt a kid, even just to make it sting. In my opinion, spanking should be a psychological wake up call to the seriousness of the situation, and as such should be a worst case scenario punishment.

      If I was asked not to spank by someone, I would respect that request to a certain degree. However, if my kid is too young to understand the delay in punishment, I will spank my kid wherever, whenever it's needed. When they get older I would happily hold off in respect to others' viewpoints, but let the kid know that they earned themselves the punishment.

  26. I have to say that I agree with spanking as a corrective measure. For me, it was the social environment growing up. I was raised in a southern Baptist home in south Georgia where every family grew a "switching tree", and in my family if you were in a big set of trouble, you would get an "Irish wedding" (like 3 sticks you had to pick together). I rarely was ever spanked, I never had seen it done it public, but I've always heard if you didn't fly right you'd get your "tail tore up". This was pure southern culture and what I was used to. In my family, it was just how you were raised. Actually, as far as I know, the local high school, middle school, and elementary send a waiver home every year asking parents if they would prefer their child to be paddled along with detention, essay on the situation and lesson learned, as well as volunteer service with the janitors. Parents can opt for that, choose what type of punishment they deem alright for their child, or opt to be called and have your child dismissed for a certain amount of time.
    I'm really all for spanking, because I've seen examples of it, it has worked for me as a child, I've seen it work for my family for years.. no one has had therapy because of it, and have developed a respectable character and always act polite and considerate. We never consider it "beating" children, and we never slap on the face. Its either sticks or the hand. Please remember, this is something I am completely used to in the southern society I was raised in. I'm more than aware that there are some people that take it too far, or deem it abusive in any manner. All I know is that if it doesn't work for its intended purpose, then a new form of discipline will be used. In any case, if a child acts out, I do not believe in being passive and ignoring it. Children do need boundaries, not to restrict them, but to keep them safe and to teach them what is and isn't acceptable behavior. Some kids do great in free spirited environments, and more power to you if you like doing that. I just like to do things differently. Thats just what makes parenting so fantastic.. every style is different but the results are still the same.. you've raised a human being to be independent in society.

  27. I know I am late to the game, but I just found this thread. I wanted to add that Stephanie's (and maybe Ariel's?) line about what constitutes abuse is rather disconcerting. It seemed to imply that anything other than a "normal" swat on the behind with a hand is spanking, but other types of hitting are obviously abuse. I have a feeling that some of the commenters come from a community like mine where "spanking" or "whooping" is anything from a swat to a slap to being belted or knocked upside the head. Kansas law says that as long as you don't leave a lasting bruise, it is legal. I find this abhorrent, and I am not sorry about that. However, I have found out nearly all my parent friends employ this type of discipline. I don't condemn them out loud because they have a legal right to these actions. That said, I feel there is an important distinction between respecting that a person has the right to make a choice and respecting their choice. I will teach my kids that while so-and-so has the right to spank their child, that it is wrong. I suppose this is comparable to the love the sinner, hate the sin atttitude (though I am an atheist). I know this type of attitude is typically under fire for not being as open to acceptance, but I wouldn't feel my convictions were worth anything if I didn't stick to them.

    • Hey Stacy,

      I tried (and apparently failed) to clarify this later by saying: "but the point I was trying to make is that parents who DO spank most likely don't consider spanking abusive, and they wouldn't liken that form of discipline to abuse. I don't agree with everything people do, but I do respect that many parents who choose to spank aren't trying to harm their children."

      I grew up in an emotionally and physically abusive home in which belts were prominently featured as "appropriate" discipline for any kind of transgression. So what I was TRYING to say is that I am sure there are parents who give their children a light swat and think that this isn't abuse — and basically, it's not my place to decide for them. I never lay a hand on my son — and won't. I don't respect spanking, but I don't make decisions for other people. I have had conversations with family and friends about spanking and have gone to tremendous lengths to try to sway them away from it, but ultimately from what I could tell, they were on the light end of the scale (simple swats) and were making their decisions about what was working for their family.

      Hopefully that helps! My son knows it's wrong to hit anyone, point blank, ever, because that's also what we believe. I was attempting to refrain from making a judgement call one way or another since I'm the editor of the site, but I'm not interested in having to dredge this up every few months to discuss how I can be against both spanking and against telling other people what to do. I don't like spanking, I don't spank, but if someone does… I can't control it. I agree that you can have your convictions and it's tremendously important to stick to them, but it's also impossible to insert your convictions into the lives of others.

  28. My oldest daughter is 12, and we have four children ranging all the way down to three. We've never spanked, and, like you, still respect other parents right to do so. We honestly never encountered a situation where our children were faced with witnessing a spanking! (Luck, probably) As our children grow older we have a lot of conversations around why we don't hit. We don't hit our siblings, or friends, because it's not kind, and we should use our words. Just like your moms don't hit you when we're upset with something you've done, you shouldn't hit others when you're upset with them. With our twelve year old and ten year old, this has evolved into broader discussions on violence and how it's not usually the way to solve problems, except for under certain extreme circumstances. I don't necessarily think that it'll be reasonable to expect your friends and family to change their discipline style for you, but instead you can use it as a way to open discussion with your own child.

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