Thursday, May 10, 2012

"Stop, Think Again"

One of my favorite bloggers is Jessie Leigh at Parenting Miracles ( )  She always impresses me with her rationality, sanity, and good sense.  Her post earlier this week is a great example of her simple yet so effective approach to parenting.  It was titled, "These 10 Things are NOT Child Abuse!"

She, like many others, is aware that some parents have very rigid standards about what is or is not permissible in raising a child.  And some of those standards have gone way beyond the reasonable or rational.  With her permission I re-post part of her post here.  (If you'd like to read her full post, cut and past the following link into your browser.  )
"....not a single one of these things qualifies as child abuse:
    • Having oodles and bunches of kids.
    • Expecting your child to eat the food that you serve.
    • Having an only child
    • Sending them to daycare.

 And her list goes on.

[DISCLAIMER:   The rest of this post is made up completely of my own thoughts (NOT Jessie Leigh's) and DO NOT represent anyone else's position.]

 As a person who was raised in the 1950s and 60s, it's hard for me to believe that so many of today's parents could possibly see anything wrong with any of these actions, much less consider them to be "CHILD ABUSE."    I'd even go so far as to say that most of my contemporaries would feel the same!  We were raised with these things and they were considered common place, normal, and unremarkable!!  How did things get so twisted around?  When and why did mothers agree to buy into such odd conclusions?  Those were essentially rhetorical questions.  I know that parents are trying to be the best parent they can be and they are trying desperately to protect their children from any and all conceivable harm.  Ok, I get that.  I do really.  It is just that it is an impossible task!  Other than putting kids in a cocoon of cotton wool and never allowing them to experience life, parents  just cannot protect their children from everything!   In fact, too much protection does at least as much harm as good.

One of the reasons that babies are born to mothers and dads who are responsible for them until they are grown, is so that the parents teach and prepare their children for life.  If they are so over-protected that life never touches them, how will children survive once their parents are no longer shielding them?  Children need to learn to deal with adversity.  They need to understand that their actions have consequences!  They need to know how to handle defeat.  They need to learn how to be responsible for themselves and their actions.  They need to know how to keep themselves safe.  They need to learn what is acceptable behavior and what is not.  How can they learn to do all that if they never experience any of them in childhood?? 
There is one more thing that I think could be added to Jessie Leigh's list: spanking.  I know that this is complete heresy according to today’s mores, but I am not at all convinced that a spanking under certain circumstances is horrible.    I was spanked a few times as a small child and I ALWAYS knew that Mom really meant business about whatever it was. I also ALWAYS knew that I was loved! My husband was spanked, my cousins were spanked, most of my friends had at one time or another been spanked. We survived and we learned!
Now of course, I am NOT talking about beatings, or whippings, or fists, or belts, straps, switches or the use of anything other than a couple of quick swats by a flat hand applied to the child’s clothed bottom after some truly unacceptable or dangerous behavior. With a young child, words and reason do not make much of an impression. Talking about making good decisions is meaningless to a 3 year old.  A spanking is more more effective. I spanked my daughter a few times up until she was old enough to listen and understand other sorts of discipline. It was not even close to child abuse. Sometimes you need to get their attention and create a link between bad behavior and immediate consequences. (By the way, my daughter is now a wonderful, successful 45 yr old wife, mother, and career woman who is completely well-adjusted and sane.  She chose not to spank her child.) 

Basically, I guess I believe that children need to understand actions and consequences and they need to understand them sooner rather than later.  By putting a young child in a time out and then talking about the event with them ten minutes later is completely pointless.  By the end of the time out, they have already forgotten what ever it was that they did!  

Please understand that I am just as horrified by child abuse as everyone else. But child abuse is a whole different thing than a spanking.   Truly there is a significant difference and distinction between them.  I think parents today have been so spooked by the thought of child abuse (see Jessie Leigh's list!) that they have over-reacted to the point of eliminating a very effective discipline measure for teaching their children about consequences.  

I know that some readers will react with horror at this, but I truly believe that more parents occasionally use spanking than will ever admit it.  I also believe that more parents should consider using it.  And to them and all others who have or have not spanked their child, I promise you that a child who is spanked by a loving rational parent is not scarred for life. Really!

All that I am doing here is proposing that parents realize that spanking can be a strong deterrent for bad or dangerous behaviors.  It makes more of an impression than all the time outs in the world.  


  1. I agree! We spanked! We did not beat! (The fact that both kids laughed at their last spanking was indication that it was time to stop.) And very few times at that.
    A hissy-fit by Prof was brought to an abrupt stop by pouring a pan of cold water on her while she laid on the floor kicking and screaming. It only took once!
    As far a abuse goes, I am appalled at the amount of students that I had in my classrooms that were actually abused both physically and emotionally by either parents, siblings or grandparents. What is happening to our society? I hate to go to WalMart anymore. It seems like every time I go, I see some adult smacking and jerking some little tyke around either in the aisles of the store or in the parking lot. I even threatened to call child protective services on a mom once in the parking lot. She shot me the "finger" and cussed me and told me to mind my own f*ing business! Wow!

  2. I agree...and yes there is a big difference between spanking and beating a child. Not only did my parents give me a swat on occasion so did the teachers.

  3. Hear, hear! ls

  4. I don't like spankings. I have never spanked my kids...but that's what worked in our family...each family has to figure out what works best for their own family...


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