We're happy to present this article by Kim Hays from one of our favorite sites, YourTango.
So, the video out of Baltimore of the mama smacking her son around when she found him rabble-rousing with violent protesters reminded me of just how sick I am of parents condoning violence.
What? Condoning violence? This "awesome" #momoftheyear was out there to STOP her kid from being part of the violence, right? Yes. I do sincerely believe that was her intention and I can't even imagine the fear and anger she felt in that moment. But the way she went about it — pushing, shoving, hitting, and slapping her son in the face — left me with a sick feeling in my stomach. (And even she admitted afterward that her actions wouldn't sit well with her own pastor.)
That feeling only intensified when my Facebook feed was filled with post after post of my friends applauding her actions. (And it wasn't just my Southern Republican friends, either. It was — shockingly — people whose personal morals and political beliefs align more closely with my own.)
And so begins my rant.
People who wouldn't kick a dog are OK with adults hitting children.
People who wouldn't (gasp!) feed their kid a nonorganic apple are OK with adults hitting children.
People who spend a fortune to put their kids in the best schools around are OK with adults hitting children.
People who would file charges against ANYONE who hit their child are OK with it as long as those adults are the kid's parents.
And let's not mince words here. Spanking = hitting = beating. I think people are just more comfortable with the idea of "spanking." It's not as ugly a word as "hitting" or "beating."
Are We Just Going to Continue to Ignore All the Research?
Study after study have proven that when parents hit their children, even under the guise of discipline, it hurts them long after the physical sting subsides. In fact, it actually does more harm than good in the long run. Just read this article from Psychology Today that states that spanking can 1) make children more aggressive, 2) make your kids trust you less, 3) destroy mental health, and 4) increase delinquency and criminal behavior. As a parent, the mere thought of causing any of those things breaks my heart.
That's what the experts say. Experts who've studied the effects of violence on children ad nauseam. So why are so many parents (half of all American parents have spanked their kids, and 65 percent of American think it's OK) turning a deaf ear to an entire body of research that screams: "HEY, THIS IS REALLY BAD FOR YOUR KIDS!" Or if you don't buy into ALL the theories: "HEY, THIS MIGHT BE BAD FOR YOUR KIDS." At least as bad as eating nonorganic.
Let's Debunk a Couple of Things Here
"But I was spanked and I turned out fine." That's what most people say to justify their actions and beliefs. But the fact you think there's nothing wrong with hitting a child means that you, in fact, did NOT turn out OK.
"But the Bible tells me so! 'Spare the rod and spoil the child.'" Yeah, yeah, yeah. We've all heard pro-child-hitters quote this. (FYI: Proverbs 13:24 never actually uses the word "spoil" in any version.) Bible scholars, you know, people who've actually studied various versions and translations of the text as well as the cultural and societal mores of Biblical times, flat out say this does not mean God says you should hit your kid when he/she disobeys. A "rod" was used by shepherds to guide their flock, to corral the sheep when they were headed toward danger. They never HIT their sheep with a rod. In fact, in Psalms 23, "the rod and the staff" are said to bring comfort.
"But it works!" Actually it doesn't. It may make your kid behave in the short-term, but research shows that spanking does little to nothing to prevent future bad behavior.
There IS a Better Way That Works!
"Spanking does not convey positive guidance on how to behave in a particular situation, only how not to behave if a threat of punishment is at hand. Children learn positive behaviors from practicing actions that work, ones that lead to a sense of belonging and competence. They internalize what they practice and what their family practices. They learn reasons for their actions from what they hear and are told, but active practice has the deepest impact," the Psychology Today article states.
Let's face it. Developing a nonviolent discipline strategy that your family practices consistently and is customized for each individual child's emotional needs is a lot harder than doling out a quick smack on the butt. An old-fashioned ass-whopping doesn't require much forethought. It also takes more work for you to model good behavior in front of your children. Newsflash: parenting is HARD work.
There are so many things parents must do to raise good kids. The most important is to NOT hit them. Ever. For any reason.
I know I'm not going to change many minds here, but I needed to speak my piece. But If anything I've said resonates, I urge you to learn more about positive discipline techniques from these resources:
More juicy reads from YourTango:
Save It! Black Moms Don't Need Your CRAZY Spanking Shaming
10 Tips For Raising Perfect, Unspoiled Angel Kids
My Father Never Beat Me — But I'm Still One of His Victims
I'm a Mother of 2 Boys and I Can't (and Won't) Support Feminism
20 of the Most Inappropriate Children's Books EVER