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Is There A Generational Divide Over Spanking?

Is spanking harmful to kids? How you answer that question may depend upon when you were born.

ABC News’ “Good Morning America” aired a segment yesterday about the generational divide over spanking.

Though the segment provided no statistics on the topic, they did give anecdotal evidence. Laura and Todd Mansfield, who host Parenting Unplugged Radio, are opposed to spanking and do not use it to discipline their two sons, 6-year-old Connor and 3-year-old Drew.

“I’m like, ‘How can I do that to my child?'” Todd Mansfield told “Good Morning America.” “It does hurt me more than maybe it hurts them, but beyond that, I just didn’t want to do it. I knew there other ways.”

“I do think that spanking can be used as a form of abuse,” Laura Mansfield said.

But Laura Mansfield’s parents take a different position on the subject. On two occasions, they spanked Connor and Drew. The Mansfields were understandably furious that her parents spanked the kids without permission.

Laura Mansfield’s father, Macy Wall, spanked her and her siblings when they were kids. He doesn’t see what the big deal is about.

“We all got our fair share of spankings growing up. So what’s the big deal? We don’t feel traumatized. Our friends don’t feel traumatized,” said Wall.

Spanking may be just another example of generational differences in parenting. My parents, for instance, rolled their eyes when I breastfed in public, c0-slept and wore my baby in a sling. They think parents today fret too much about doing the right thing rather than following their gut. Lucky for me, my parents didn’t believe in “Spare the rod and spoil the child.” I was never spanked and my husband and I don’t spank our girls.

But the Mansfields feel that spanking was damaging to them and they don’t want the same for their kids.

“It’s bad to do,” Connor said. “And you’re just hurting people instead of, like, talking to them about it.”

“Good Morning America” parenting expert Ann Pleshette Murphy sides with the parents. She says that not only is spanking not okay, but research has shown that spanking increases aggression, bullying and lying in kids and instills fear rather than respect.

Rather than spanking, Murphy suggests that parents cut privileges as a punishment. She also said it’s crucial that parents discuss disciple rules with caretakers — even grandparents. And if the grandparents don’t like the way your kids are behaving and don’t agree with your method for disciplining them, then don’t expect them to babysit.

Do you and your parents have different attitudes about spanking? Do you consider spanking harmful?

Photo: flickr/crimfants

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