I recently received a press release asking for my comment on some of the latest research dealing with how parents are disciplining their children. The study contained information on spanking as a discipline method. Initially, a voice in my head shouted:
“ARE YOU KIDDING ME? ARE WE SERIOUSLY STILL THROWING RESEARCH MONEY AT THIS TOPIC? SURELY EVERYONE HAS FIGURED OUT THAT BASHING YOUR KID AROUND IN THE NAME OF ‘DISCIPLINE’ DOESN’T WORK?!!”
Then I told my little voice to try to hush for a moment while I had a peek at the information.
The press release headline stated: C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health finds nearly 9 in 10 parents choose to discuss and reason with their misbehaving children, while 1 in 5 use spanking and 1 in 10 use paddling for discipline.
Paddling? I didn’t even know what that was. This whole spanking thing just got a little bit weirder.
The study notes that spanking and paddling are not the national “norm”, but it does show that “22 percent of parents report that they are very likely to spank their children, while 10 percent paddle their children.”
When it comes to parenting, I am not Mrs. Judgy McJudgerson. I have six kids—I know better than to judge other parents. But spanking? Paddling? Really? Did someone teleport me to the 1950s?
I’ve done most of my parenting based on mama guts and instincts. Without actually having researched the topic, this is what spanking represents to me:
The ultimate power imbalance: I’m bigger than you so I’m going to hit you. So there. Well, I wasn’t a bully when I was a kid, and I don’t plan on becoming one to my own kiddos.
The ultimate contradiction: screaming “DON’T HIT YOUR BROTHER” while smacking your kid’s bottom somehow doesn’t work for me. Who missed the memo about the importance of role-modeling good behaviour for your children?
The ultimate loss of control. Kids don’t get spanked because they are out of control—they get spanked because their parents are out of control.
I understand frustration. I am not always blessed with the patience most people would assume a Mama of Many has. Recently Daddy-o was out of town. In his absence, my kiddos must have gotten their little hands on some speed. At bedtime they were loud, obnoxious, bickering, hyper balls of ridiculousness. Then the unforgivable happened—they woke up the baby.
If in that moment I can take a deep breath and reach into my tool box of strategies instead of hitting small children, anyone can.