I wrote a post on this site about parenting controversies that exhaust me and I meant it. Because I seriously can’t stand to have one more conversation about whether breastfeeding is better than bottle feeding, if co-sleeping is a good or bad, whether it makes a difference if moms work outside the home or not.
Different things work for different families, and I trust that we each want what’s best for our families.
But it doesn’t mean that I look the other way on all parenting issues, letting to each her own prevail. Because I think that spanking a child is an awful “parenting choice,” and if you spank your kids, we can’t be friends.
I remember years ago when I was picking up my then-six-year-old son from his friend’s house.
“I’ll be with you in a minute,” the boy’s mom said to me, as she peeked out of the bedroom.”I have to finish the spanking.”
I assumed she was kidding. She wasn’t. Until that family moved away, I made sure to host every playdate the kids had together at our house. And it was difficult for me to maintain eye contact with the parents who hit their child, let alone be friends with them.
My disdain for spanking is multifold:
It teaches a child that the parent is more physically powerful and is able to inflict pain. Why this is a message that any parent would want to send their child, I have no idea.
There is no educational value in spanking. When a child is having a tantrum, hitting them (and let’s disabuse ourselves of the belief that spanking is not hitting right now) does not help them calm down. It does not help them practice any self-soothing techniques that we’d want our children to have and it does not move them out of a tantrum crisis towards resolution.
It teaches that it’s ok to hit. Most parents spend an inordinate amount teaching their kids to “use your words, not your hands”. We explain that hitting is wrong, that hitting creates problems, not solves them. So why do we hit the people that we love?
I know that there are a lot of people who swear by spanking and I’ve heard a lot of their arguments. The only one that I find mildly persuasive is spanking to get a kid’s attention, when he or she dashes into oncoming traffic, for example. A parent wants to make an Emergency! point at that moment and I can see how spanking would seem like a palatable solution.
But I still think it’s a cop-out. As someone who had a child dash into traffic, my immediate reaction – screaming, crying, being every so slightly, but adorably insane – made as much of an impact as a spanking. I believe that in every situation, in every situation, there are better discipline tools and spanking is unnecessary.
So no, to the extent that friendship requires a certain meeting of the minds, a feeling of simpatico , I cannot be friends with people who spank their children. I’m sorry that they have to spend their lives deprived of my friendship. I hope the spankings are worth it.
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