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

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Got Spanked card by LastCentury
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.

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

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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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