The Spanking Spectrum


“I did it.”
“What?” I asked my husband who called me while I was out.
“I spanked him.”
“Oh.” I wasn’t sure how to respond.
See, I’m not morally opposed to spanking and Boog has certainly almost pushed me to the spanking point more than once so I understood how DH could go there. My issue with spanking (assuming it’s a once-in-awhile, not-too-hard spanking that’s more of a single “spank” vs. the stereotypical “bend over the knee while I give you a good spanking” spank) is more of a philosophical one. . . if we tell Boog he shouldn’t hit, how can we rationalize spanking him?

“Did it work?” I finally asked.
“It did.”
Hmmm. Maybe spanking wasn’t such a bad option after all. I decided to ask around about this and get some more opinions and real life experiences.

After talking (and debating) a bit, I definitely heard some strong opinions on the subject. But I can’t say the responses were consistent. Some were vehemently opposed to the idea and equated it to abuse. “There are other ways to get kids to do what you want” was something I heard (though I’d like to have them come over when Boog decides to not listen. Fun times.)
Others favored it. “My parents did it. It worked and I turned out fine.” “People are too soft on kids today. They need to understand and respect discipline.” “I’ll spank, but only for something serious – like when he doesn’t listen to me and runs out into the street.”

The net of it for me is that there’s no concrete answer. I don’t personally equate a single spank to abuse (heck. I’ve heard some parents deliver more abuse verbally than what a spank would deliver in my opinion), but yet I don’t want to send the wrong message to Boog. I would prefer to “talk it out” but if talking doesn’t work and if it’s serious enough, I’m not going to rule out the spanking arrow in my quiver of parenting options. It’s just one that I truly hope I never have to use.

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10 Responses to “The Spanking Spectrum”

  1. Mike Driehorst June 8, 2009 at 11:31 am #

    A spanking is nothing more than attention-getting tactic. Yes, it can also be a punishment, but you don’t want to make it too hard nor too often. There are other ways to punish (taking things and perks away, for example).

    Besides, most of the spanking I’ve done is on babies and toddlers who are wearing diapers — talking about protection for one’s rear. If a child won’t listen or a toddler is uncontrollably crying and not listening, a little spank on the bottom gets his or her attention. And, then you talk or take other action to handle the situation.
    That’s my parenting $0.02.

  2. Jennifer Y. June 8, 2009 at 12:53 pm #

    We’re ok with spanking, although we haven’t had to do it much. I’m kind of with the person who said this: “People are too soft on kids today. They need to understand and respect discipline.” I’ve found more than anything that the key is for both parents to be consistant and follow through even if the other isn’t around. Easier said than done since I am the softie in our family!

  3. non spanker June 8, 2009 at 12:56 pm #

    I think it’s just awful and sad that parents resort to HITTING their own children in order to control them.

    Read this post from Motherhood in New York and the comments. Hopefully it will convince you to NEVER hit your children again.

  4. Marinka June 8, 2009 at 7:51 pm #

    I saw several visitors to my blog from the link that Non-spanker provided and I wanted to comment.

    I’ve never spanked my children and I do not believe in it as a form of discipline. That is not to say that I would presume to tell anyone else how to parent.

    While I stand firmly behind (haha) my no-spanking beliefs, I want to be clear that I do not equate a swat on the bottom with abuse, and I also acknowledge that the language that parents use with their children can, at times, be harsher than a spanking.

  5. Emily June 9, 2009 at 11:26 am #

    Ok, I just took an entire graduate class that focused heavily on the issue of spanking, it basically comes down to this:
    What is your ultimate goal as a parent? The general consensus is to raise, happy, healthy, autonomous individuals hopefully in a loving environment. So after nuuuuumerous, extensive studies have shown that spanking, other than momentary compliance, has no benefits, and the studies consistently show that children who were not spanked ‘turn out better’ (this is in terms of gender identity and relations, respect for authority, relationship with the parents, interpersonal skills, professional success, the kids are happier, the list goes on)
    So if you can achieve the same results without using violence, better results on average actually, why would you feel the need to use force and hit your child?
    At the end of the day, the basic assertion about interpersonal attraction is this: We are attracted to those whose presence is rewarding to us.Rewards meaning things that make us happy, like kindness, touch, hugs, smiles, laughter. So if you want your kid to end up happy and healthy and to love you, and we are attracted to those whose presence is rewarding, how can you justify hitting them?

  6. Casual Friday Every Day June 9, 2009 at 9:26 pm #

    I’ve done it. So has my husband. But I don’t anymore. It just doesn’t work for my kids. Time out and talking about what happened seems to work best with my oldest son, at least. I think every child is different and requires a different type of reaction.


  7. Amy June 10, 2009 at 11:07 am #

    Thanks for all your comments. I appreciate the thoughts since there are so many things I’m still trying to figure out myself. Although I should state that I’m NOT a propenent for hitting children!

  8. Mike Driehorst June 10, 2009 at 10:18 pm #

    Spanking a child and hitting a child are too different things. Maybe technically the same, but pretty much, no.

  9. Mike Driehorst June 10, 2009 at 10:19 pm #

    Ugh, hate when I misspell. Of course, the “too” I typed above should be two.
    I’m sorry.

  10. PDeverit September 11, 2009 at 8:40 pm #

    Child buttock-battering vs. DISCIPLINE:

    Child buttock-battering for the purpose of gaining compliance is nothing more than an inherited bad habit.

    Its a good idea for people to take a look at what they are doing, and learn how to DISCIPLINE instead of hit.

    I think the reason why television shows like “Supernanny” and “Dr. Phil” are so popular is because that is precisely what many (not all) people are trying to do.

    There are several reasons why child buttock-battering isn’t a good idea. Here are some good, quick reads recommended by professionals:

    Plain Talk About Spanking
    by Jordan Riak,

    The Sexual Dangers of Spanking Children
    by Tom Johnson,

    by Lesli Taylor M.D. and Adah Maurer Ph.D.

    Most compelling of all reasons to abandon this worst of all bad habits is the fact that buttock-battering can be unintentional sexual abuse for some children. There is an abundance of educational resources, testimony, documentation etc available on the subject that can easily be found by doing a little research on “spanking”.

    Just a handful of those helping to raise awareness of why child buttock-battering isn’t a good idea:

    American Academy of Pediatrics,

    American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry,

    Center For Effective Discipline,

    PsycHealth Ltd Behavioral Health Professionals,

    Churches’ Network For Non-Violence,

    Nobel Peace Prize recipient Archbishop Desmond Tutu,

    Parenting In Jesus’ Footsteps,

    Global Initiative To End All Corporal Punishment of Children,

    United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

    In 26 countries, child buttock-battering is prohibited by law (with more in process). In fact, the US was the only UN member that did not ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child.