Spanking is Stupid

39 Comments 20 October 2010

Spanking is Stupid

Yep that’s right. Spanking is stupid.

I just came across a mom offering advice on discipline. She said she always spanked her kids. Once for regualr offenses and twice for more life threatening offenses. And now that they are older has never once had to visit them in jail as teenagers. Not exactly the most glowing recommendation. But, got me to thinking on just how devoid of logic the practice of spanking is.

In fact I’m not even going to point to any studies. Just take the idea at it’s core. And you’ll see the stupidity.

A child does something wrong, and the parent hits him/her. What does that teach the child?

A) It is OK to hit. Especially if you are bigger than the person you are hitting.
B) When Mommy and Daddy say “We don’t hit,” they are lying.
C) Overpowering someone smaller than you is not only ok but educational.

The answer? D) All of the above.

And I don’t care if you call it a swat, pop, smack, spank. It is all hitting.

Schools are not allowed to do it (at least in my state), strangers are not allowed to do it. And if one adult so much as touches another adult in an unwanted fashion, it is considered assault. So how can anyone really argue that the logic behind spanking is not essentially stupid?

Especially since we seem to be facing a national epidemic of bullying. Which is essentially built on the same premise. The big kid picks on the little kid because he/she can. They are looking for power. And guess what, these kids were not born knowing how to bully. They were taught.

Additionally, when I think of what my kids could ideally turn out to be as adults the first thing that comes to mind is not an employee that fears authority and thinking outside of the box. I want my kids to be bold and brave. Ready to reinvent the wheel if they have to. And while I don’t have a study that says spanking is going to prevent them from doing that. Logic tells me it is definitely not teaching them the morals and ideals that are going to help get them there.

Now I’m not saying I have never spanked any of my children. Or claiming that I do not continue to struggle at moments with the temptation to end whatever issue I’m having with a quick smack on the bottom. I have spanked in the past on very rare occasions. And do continue to catch myself at particularly trying moments having to cling desperately to my patience. Or what is left of it.

Additionally, I’m not saying people who spank are stupid. It does end a behavior quickly and concisely.

And yes I am keenly aware of the argument,”I was raised that way and I survived well enough.” But people survive car crashes and major illnesses everyday too. It doesn’t mean we should start seeking out these experiences on purpose.

So, If someone has a better explanation I’d love to hear it. Maybe even try to understand it.

Because, from my perspective in logical terms it teaches nothing of value. But as a society, we still use it.

And therefore seems to me like a bit of a lazy man’s cop out. If all I ever did when my kids misbehaved was spank them I would never have to think about anything but ending their behavior. Quick and simple.

But still stupid.

photocredit: Grotuk

Your Comments

39 Comments so far

  1. alisha says:

    what i love most about this, aside from the fact that i find it very hard to argue against your point, is that you admit to having done this thing, you address that you are in no way calling a person or people stupid, just simply that the action is stupid. i LOVE that. this is dialogue.

  2. Gayle says:

    I agree!
    It is stupid and all it does is break the child’s spirit to fit into a mold. I hate that I succumb to it at times … sigh but it is a stupid practice.

  3. Katie D says:

    I was never, ever spanked, and somehow I’ve managed to stay out of jail.

  4. My parents spanked me and I DO NOT want to do that to my child(ren). As a teacher I learned much easier ways to reinforce positive behavior and how to go about fixing the negative behaviors. I don’t want The Boy to think hitting is o.k. when you get angry and I don’t want to take my anger out on him in that way when I become frustrated.

  5. Nikkolish says:

    I love this! Spanking IS stupid. I’ve definitely tried it, but it doesn’t work with my kid. I have one of those kids who typically isn’t phased by a spanking so it isn’t even worth it to do it. It certainly doesn’t stop the bad behavior and typically it makes it worse. On occasion she has crumbled into a crying mess after getting spanked so then I feel like a giant ass. Either way it doesn’t have the desired effect so I’d rather use other ways of handling bad behavior.

  6. Dan says:

    Wow! Are all of you really that ignorant as to think that spanking is the same thing as hitting? It comes down to using it at the right time and in the right place, and especially with the right attitude. Spanking should be done out of love for you child, and anything else should NOT be tolerated. Spanking by anyone other than a parent could easily be done in anger or frustration, not love. But spanking done correctly is worlds different than bullying, assault or any other ridiculous comparison you want to make. If used correctly, it will not teach our kids to hit and bully. Besides, I think all the cartoons and other media have that one covered.

    Spanking can be extremely effective as well. It is very simple for children to understand and sticks with them so the next time they thing about disobeying, they have a specific event to remember back to. What else would you do with a young child? Put them in their room, where their toys are? Where the discipline drags out and you lose the benefit of a decisive event? Would you take away their toy or a privilege? That they might just forget about in a week?

    Spanking (which is worlds different than hitting) is a decisive learning tool ONLY when done in love. And the child has to know that by the way you handle yourself. Hitting, well, hitting is an act of aggression intended to cause pain or injury, usually to someone you dislike. Spanking is a learning tool used to correct behavior in someone that you love. Can you see the difference? I sure hope so, because your comparison is ludicrous and based on, well, absolutely nothing!

    Every parent has a right to discipline their children (in love, and always with consideration for what is best for the child) the way they find most beneficial. And truth be told, when used correctly, spanking can be that method. It just makes me sad to see people talk about how bad spanking is, then let their child watch cartoons that show smashing, hitting, etc. albeit in a comical fashion. What does THAT teach your kids. I won’t even list the ridiculous “answers” I could come up with.

    Do yourselves a favor and realize that intent is just as important as the act.

  7. andrea says:

    Sorry but you’ve lost me here. You want me to believe that spanking equals love? So when they grow up using force and or violence to get their way it is not only ok but an act of love? Sorry but no. Children can be very frustrating and any parent that is not frustrated by discipline is lying. Or on the other hand if you are spanking before you are frustrated than you are using it WAY too much. Not that it is really acceptable at all.

    And no my children do not watch violent cartoons or television. But if I were to spank them they wouldn’t need to watch television to get the idea that violence may be acceptable because they would have already learned it in the home. Mistakes and misbehavior equal pain. Please don’t kid yourself on that one. Spanking is a punishment intended to inflict pain. Not a, “learning tool of love.”

    Yes spanking is SIMPLE. Like you said. But if you have studied any kind of human development you would understand that it is complicated. And there are millions of other ways to help your child learn how to behave. Far more effective ways in fact. And if you invested a little time in how to be a more positive parent you would know that.

    And as for your intent is just as important as the act? Well, the next time my kid wants to take a toy home from the store without paying for it because he or she just wants to love it, I’ll try that one on the cashier and see what she says. I’m pretty darn sure she is still going to make me pay for it after she calls security.

    And finally, sir do yourself a favor. The next time you find yourself on my blog disagreeing with my content DO NOT call me or any of my readers ignorant.

  8. Anne Nony Mous says:

    Any discipline technique can be done in an abusive way. Does that make all of them wrong? Should we not discipline at all because someone might take it to far? Of course not!

    Your bullies argument is patently ridiculous. Spanking has been the most common discipline for generations, and is now going out of style. We see a surge in bully behavior, and it’s the fault of spanking? If your argument was true, we’d be seeing LESS bullying as spanking fell out of style, not more. Ours is a society of children not being disciplined at all. Their parents want to be their friends, want to give, give, give, don’t want their poor babies to suffer the consequences of their behavior. THAT is a new style of parenting, and it coincidentally coincides with this rise of bullying.

    Every child is different, and needs a technique that works for them and their parents. If that is the one that works, do it, just do it correctly. When you advocate a black and white solution to a gray issue, you are doing everyone a disservice.

  9. andrea says:

    There is a HUGE difference between punishment and discipline.
    To me spanking is punishment. (vengeful and painful)
    And discipline teaches as God would teach his disciples (just as an example not a sermon).

  10. Scottie says:

    I totally agree. Spanking is the easiest and least effective discipline technique you can use. Children absolutely do not get the difference between hitting and spanking. You want to know why? Because there is no difference. Let’s tell the truth. When you hit your child, you do it because you are mad and it makes you feel better. As a parent, how can you intentionally inflict physical pain upon your child? I don’t even hit my dog!

  11. Marla says:

    I hugely disagree with your post and find it quite judgemental. I would never sit in front of my computer and write such a judgemental post. And spanking is HUGELY Biblical. God clearly tells us: ” Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish him with the rod, he will not die. Punish him with the rod and save his soul from death.” Proverbs 23:13-14
    A rod was a walking stick, staff, or tree branch.
    Now I do agree that some parents take spanking way too far and spank out of frustration, anger, and impatience. But this is not how God intented spanking to be. I go back to God’s word, which should be are reference guide for every part of our lives….it says “….if you punish him with the rod, he WILL NOT die. Anyways, I am not trying to pick a fight, but I would advise that in the future you try not to come across so judgementally. :-)

  12. andrea says:

    My opinions are mine. And as for “dying” doesn’t God and the bible refer to us as mortals? So how could we not die? Even Jesus died on the cross. How does that logic work?

  13. Marla says:

    Of course we are all mortals and at some point we will all die. You took this verse out of context and tried to use it your way. What God says is that the child will not die from spanking. And yes your opinions are yours, mine are mine, but we can still discuss this without being judgemental about each other.

  14. andrea says:

    You are right. I misunderstood your intention. Which is the problem and the beauty of scripture. It has been translated, is always out of context, and is open to interpretation. Good bad or otherwise.
    So I looked up your proverbs, and have found them to very metaphorical at best. So the idea that spanking is biblical is one of our creation not Gods. And in the words of someone that studied this at length (not me) “There is no example in Scripture of a child being chastised with a rod. Surely if it was a command or even a very strong commendation for it as THE way to remove foolishness, there would be some examples for us. Consider all the direct commands of God that DO have examples (examples of families/parents who taught their children the Scriptures, what happened when someone violated a command). While it is true that an example must not be given for a command to be valid, it is curious to me that there is no example of this practice being carried out. That fact decreases the ability to really understand the context of the proverbs in question and how they were to be applied–especially with regard to the age of the child.”

  15. L. Eleana says:

    I was spanked, my mom was spanked, my grandmother was spanked… and you know where I’m going. I don’t equate spanking with abuse, nor being vengeful. My mom and grandmother loved me to pieces. I can honestly say that most of my friends that weren’t spanked were doing things that I was scared to do at the very thought of having to be spanked. I’ve also never felt abused in my life. However, I am a modern day parent trying new things and I can honestly say that nothing works at times, including counting, spanking, or timeouts. You’ve definitely sparked a conversation here, but I hope everyone understands that no one child is the same, so punishment shouldn’t be the same for every child nor every incident.

  16. andrea says:

    Very well said. Great perspective!

  17. Maura says:

    I was not spanked, nor was my husband. We, being first-time parents, discuss every single day the disciplining of our two-year-old daughter. We have decided to never spank our child/ren. The way we were raised does mold our opinion, as, it seems, it has everyone’s here. Much like the bible comments above, we all interpret things and then apply them in daily life slightly different.

    My personal opinion, honestly, is if you feel the need to spank or slap your child then maybe you haven’t explored all of your discipling options. Or maybe you have and you’re still set in your ways. Your choice. Just don’t bring the bible or God into it, please. He would probably be disappointed.

  18. I admit I have spanked both my kids a time or two, but it did NOT work. The behavior continued and I ended up feeling like a jerk. My husband and I chose to raise our children differently then a lot of other parents I know, and not spanking or slapping our children is one of those rules. I’m human and I do get frustrated with my children, but I’ve realized that spanking is not the answer.

    I’ve never thought about how spanking could lead to bullying, but you make a good point. As does Anne Nony Mous; a lot of parents are too concerned with being friends with their child(ren). A middle ground needs to be found.

    Great post, love it!

  19. Rachel says:

    “And discipline teaches as God would teach his disciples.”

    I totally agree with this. The problem I see is the sometimes what God does can hurt us, a lot. Mentally and physically. But in the end it is always what is best for us.

    The same goes for us as earthly parents. We must find the discipline that works and use it to mold and shape our kids to be Christ-like. Spanking can be a very useful tool when disciplining. Yes, it may inflict physical pain, but that also may be exactly what they need to remember not to do it again.

    I’m not saying that spanking always works, which is the same for any type of discipline. But I do think that you are writing it off because you feel that it is wrong. I completely disagree.

  20. andrea says:

    Didn’t Mary once lose Christ as a teenager when in fact he had been in the temple teaching/learning with the disciples. And if I remember he was not spanked for it. I’ll have to go find this story. Because then maybe running away from home can be considered Christ-like, and not necessitate punishment.

  21. Gayle says:

    Boy oh boy what a heated topic this was!
    hugs to you
    I understood what you were saying.
    it is a pity some people had to be so aggressive about their opinions.
    Hope your weekend is going great.

  22. Emily says:

    I agree with your post and I want to thank you for standing up against something that really sickens me! If only more people would come to believe what you and I believe!

  23. Erin says:

    I’m going to throw this out there.

    My parents spanked me, but it’s not the spankings I remember. I remember the hugs afterward. I remember them explaining to me why I got spanked. My parents used a wooden spoon — which they made us get — and I learned later that it gave them time to cool down so that they did not spank us out of anger. We only got spanked for the most serious offenses or in an escalation (other discipline didn’t work). The only thing I hated hearing as a child, because it didn’t resonate, was “This hurt me more than it hurt you.” I understand that now…but not then! Silly parents. However, I never thought of it has my parents beating on me because I was smaller, or hitting me because they were mad at me. I knew that I got spanked because I disobeyed my parents and that was the consequence.

    I will also back that with the fact that my parents were very loving and only on a rare occasion swatted in anger. There was a difference. Swatting, slap on the rear while standing and didn’t hurt. Spanking — over the knee. Hurt the hiney but hurt my feelings more.

    In my case, sending me to my room didn’t work, b/c I read books or played. Putting me in a “time out” situation didn’t work, because I daydreamed. I never “thought” about anything except for what I was going to do when I was “released.” Spanking? I got the picture, and I got it quick.

    Just my two cents. I find in some instances a time-out is good for my daughter and in other cases a spanking works. It depends on the offense and whether or not the previous time-out worked.

    I hope this made sense!

  24. I’m sad that some of the readers seemed to have lashed out against you and chastised you for having your own opinion, especially on your own blog, where you should feel freest to express yourself.
    I don’t necessarily agree that spanking is wrong in all contexts. I was spanked growing up, and it did not teach me that it was okay to hit, or that it’s okay to bully, or take advantage or hurt someone smaller than myself. When I was spanked (which was rare) it was usually because I engaged in life-threatening behavior. I do not feel abused by the fact that my parents did spank me. But that’s my experience. Everyone has a different experience. And I think the attitude and intent behind spanking makes a huge difference.
    That all being said, it’s every parent’s decision. I’m not a parent, and I can’t unequivocably say that I’ll never spank my child, but I’m not going to say I will either. My discipline will be dependent on the child and the circumstances, and I will attempt to discipline in the most loving and effective way possible.
    To you, that means not spanking your child, and I respect that 100%. You sound like a great mom.. Your children are very lucky.
    I enjoyed your post.

  25. Vero says:

    Ok… I am going to have to go back & read all the comments in regards to this…cause Im at work & it looks like some interesting conversations. BUt…here is my view. Yes we are seeing alot more bullying, wanna know why? Cause no one has given those kids an ASS Whoopin & that is what they need!! You and I both know working in the Education field that kids arent being disciplined and that is the problem with youth today! Yes disciplined…in any way. There is a diff between abuse & discipline & I will admit to spankin my kids, I was spanked to when I was a kid & I KNEW as my kids KNOW what they got spanked! & as for me I deserved it! Oh & I tell my big girl that only mommies and daddies spank…oh & granny & grama lol :)

  26. Vero says:

    my kids & I KNOW *WHY* not what

  27. Lila says:

    Kind of a firestorm, yes? I’m glad you took this stand. I don’t believe in spanking either and am confident that the alternative discipline methods I use are effective in the long run.

    I started parenting better than 32 years ago, a teen mom. The guidance I received as an inexperienced mom was that spanking was appropriate and necessary. So, I used a wooden spoon, and felt horrible every single time I spanked my child. It finally registered that if I felt that bad after giving a spanking, it couldn’t be the right thing to do.

    Child development studies back up your assertion, there are healthier ways to teach our children right from wrong.

  28. andrea says:

    “Firestorm” to say the least. The biblical thing really took me by surprise. As did the name calling. I really was not pointing the finger at anyone. But simply making a deduction about the logic. Thanks for the input. Glad to hear you came to such a logical conclusion as well.

  29. Ashley says:

    Well I am a mother of two children under the age of six. I was not spanked that often a child, however, I do spank my own children. I feel that spanking is necessary at times, accompanied with re-direction, and other forms of discipline. Someone made the comment that when a parent spanks a child they do so because they are frustrated and it makes them feel better. I beg to differ. I try hard not to discipline my children, but when talking, redirecting, or giving them a consequence (threatening) does not work, then I result to a pop on the hand or on the bottom, which get instant results. I do not think that parents who spank their children use it as their only form of discipline. I show a lot of love to my children, I always talk to them about what is right and wrong, and I use time-out or deprivation as tools as well. Spanking is not the only tool. Let’s not turn spanking into some detrimental and mean act, because it is not.
    I do not in any way feel that spanking will create a bully. If that were the case bullying should have decreased, because there has been a constant decline in corporal punishment over the years. However, instead of a decrease in bullying there has been an increase. I also think there is a direct line between the lack of discipline, and the increase of misbehaved children in the home and in school. Children no longer have the fear and respect for authority anymore. Children do and say exactly what they want because there are no serious consequences. The blatant disrespect was uncommon in our history because it would not have been tolerated.
    I also want to comment on a person’s blog about what Jesus would have done with his disciples. How do you bring the Bible into an argument against spanking when Proverbs 13 speaks of chastening children out of love, in order to lead them in the right direction. Proverbs is a book of wisdom and understanding; therefore, this must be intended to give us wisdom on how to discipline our children.
    I always say, “To each his own”. In others words, everyone has the right to do as they please, and I could care less how someone else raises their children. My issue is, don’t try to make it illegal for me to discipline my child the way I see fit. As long as I am not physically and/or emotionally damaging my child, then why does it concern you. If you don’t want to spank your child then that’s fine, but let me do what I want.

  30. Lynda says:

    I agree with you and honestly, I couldn’t stomach my way through a lot of the comments. People who claim that God is all for spanking and quote “spare the rod, spoil the child” over and over again are missing the context of DISCIPLINE.

    Let me punch you in the face I love you so much. THAT is how people in abusive relationships rationalize what they’re doing and what is being done to them.

    I was never spanked. My single mom found other ways to discipline me that didn’t involve corporal punishment. I was extremely well behaved. Spanking “out of love” is non-existent. Parents spank to instill fear and control over their children. It does nothing good whatsoever.

  31. Heidi D. says:

    Love this post. I was a dog trainer for several years and, I’ll say it again… dog training (positively) and raising children, isn’t all that different.


  32. Ashley says:

    “Love this post. I was a dog trainer for several years and, I’ll say it again… dog training (positively) and raising children, isn’t all that different.”

    YES! 100% agreed.

  33. Ryan says:

    Often spankers claim that if they don’t spank, their kids will turn out rotten or criminal. But there are countries in the world where spanking is totally illegal, and by objective measures those kids (let’s say in Sweden) are better off than kids in places where spanking still prevalent. Blank stares from abusive parents every time I bring that up.

  34. Tiffany says:

    This was really interesting. I read some of the comments, but truly couldn’t make myself read most.

    We don’t spank. At all. And won’t. I was spanked as a child. I turned out just fine and have a great relationship with my parents. But, I agree with what you say about people surviving bad things but not seeking them out. My parents also didn’t bring me home from the hospital in a car seat. It doesn’t mean I did the same with my children simply because “I turned out fine.”

    Spanking IS hitting. Dancing around this or calling it discipline or saying hitting is different doesn’t change the facts. As you point out, we would never, ever condone an adult spanking another adult as punishment for an error. If my husband spanked me when I messed up, it would be called abuse.

    Additionally, spanking actually has sexual roots. It was a pagan sex ritual. The buttocks are an erogenous zone. Many children can grow up feeling very confused about the connection between arousal and punishment.

    I also think that while some parents (mine, for instance) were not abusive in their spanking, many parents can be. If we simply outlaw it all together, I feel we will be better able to protect vulnerable children.

    Lastly, for those who believe it’s commanded by God, that’s actually a misinterpretation of those verses- the rod was used by shepherds to guide their sheep, not hit them. Discipline is meant to be teaching, not punishment.

    Thanks for sharing this!

  35. Vanessa says:

    What I’m hearing from a lot of posters is that they’ve noticed a decline in discipline among parents these days, and I TOTALLY agree.

    However, I have also read a comment here where the poster used discipline and spanking as the same thing. They are not interchangeable terms.

    My husband and I were both spanked, my husband with a belt. It didn’t work on me at all. I become worse (more aggressive and naughty- if you will) and grew to simultaneously fear and loathe my spanking parent. My husband and his spanker had a life-long poor relationship as well.

    My husband and I agreed to never hit (and I just want to repeat what Andrea says – IT IS HITTING)our kids. However we discipline them as often as needed. There is a difference.

    Our kids are very aware of our ground rules. Because we explain them clearly and often. When rules are broken (hitting your brother, for example) they’re given a warning which includes a punishment that will be used if need be. Figuring out your child’s appropriate punishment is KEY! For one son, it was no TV & no favorite toy. My other one couldn’t have cared less about TV or toys, so he got the time out chair. And yes, they both worked.

    If the behavior continues the punishment is given, along with a lecture on how they could’ve prevented this themselves and they agree not to do it again.

    All kids have “currency” and if you know what they’ll miss out on most if you take it away you use that. As they get older, instead of taking things away, we add chores (picking up pine needles in the garden is a favorite).

    What I see far too often, is parents who don’t follow through, after the warning phase. Consistency is KEY! this is where discipline has fallen away in my opinion.

    Parents are stressed out and over worked (esp. single parents) these days and don’t have the patience or energy it takes to follow through with real discipline and kids get confused. Children need boundaries, they do not need to be smacked.

    Our kids are happy and well behaved and not bullies or bullied and they certainly don’t fear us and they’ve never been hit.

    Just sayin’

  36. Brandon says:

    I was spanked very routinely by my father. He would always do it in a dark room with a large cutting board, and then make me give him a hug afterwards. I’m sure he thought it was his godly duty, and that he was bringing both of us closer to god. In reality though, he just a mean spirited, authoritative, evangelical nut-job. I doubt he considered at the time what this would do to our relationship when i became an adult, but i absolutely loathe my father in part because of this.

    A lot of parents, in my experience, are unable to differentiate between spanking out of frustration, and spanking for a child’s own good. I wouldn’t condone spanking for any reason, but would at least understand it in a situation like: a very young child running out into traffic, or playing with an electrical outlet, or something like that. But to cause physical harm to another person because they don’t act the way you want them to is so pathetic – whether that person is 3 years old, or 90 years old.

    And let’s leave “god” out the equation, shall we? Any god that commands/condones genocide, slavery, ritual genital mutilation etc. can keep his opinions on hitting children to himself.

  37. Bre says:

    There is nothing “godly” about hitting kids. For all those people that say hitting is godly, it’s not. “spanking” is a euphemism word for hitting and beating. “spanking” (hitting) is actually of Pagan origin so there’s nothing Christian about it. It was used on women first by men and what’s with the hitting kids on their butt? That’s their private area and it’s not for hitting. Why would god or Jesus or whoever want u to hit ur kids on their butt? O yeah, those “rod” verses r talking about a baseball bat type of rod and not a belt or ur hand. People r so programmed and BRAINWASHED that they don’t c the difference between “spanking” and hitting. . . It’s the SAME EXACT THING!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And why do people punish toddlers? They don’t even kno any better. If they run out n the street then why can’t u just grab them instead of hitting them? Why is the hitting part even necessary? I just think its a weakness. Sorta like when u “lose it” and hit another adult n a fight. The only difference is that hitting an adults is bad and wrong and hitting a kid isn’t .


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