Monday, 12 November 2012

Where do you stand on smacking?

My last post got me thinking about the whole punishment thing, especially now I see my own children trying to bring up theirs.

First, I'll come clean. I did smack mine, when I felt they deserved it. I don't necessarily think this is ideal, but it worked. When mother and child have reached a certain stage, sometimes a smack breaks the tension, tells the child exactly where they stand, and the whole thing is over. I'm not talking beating about the head, or adminstering the belt. Just a smack on the bottom. I would never, ever smack anyone else'se child, because I think that a smack is the other side of the warm, affectionate physical relationship a parent has with his/her children. After all, some animals (the cat family, for example) smack their offsping!

Those who are  anti-smacking say that violence breeds violence, but I simply don't agree. My children are four of the nicest, kindest, least violent people I know. They are my best friends, and I hope I am theirs. But they were smacked. Not often, but occasionally. I did try the "no sweets" thing (sweets day was Friday), but by the time Friday came, everyone had forgotten what the punishment was for. As for the naughty step, that hadn't been invented, and my youngest would never have stayed there. I didn't have the time that Supernanny (well-rested after a good night's sleep) has for putting a child in his "time out" place 22 times until he stays there, or  making colourful graphs and charts. I had a job, and besides the children,  a busy husband and an elderly father to look after.

I admire people who manage to discpline thier kids without smacking. That's great. But I think smacking, carried out in extremis, is OK, and I don't regret doing it. What do you think?

30 comments:

  1. Carried out in extremis is OK? I am quite sure there is a typo in there somewhere, Frances ;-)
    As for smacking - well, my sister and I were little terrors at times, and my Mum often said she didn't know what was worse, when we did get along or when we didn't. So, every now and then, a bit of smacking resulted - and was fully deserved, very well known by the recipient of said smacking. It has not turned either of us into violent women, and we still love our parents to bits.

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    1. Ah! I think I know now how you meant the "in extremis" - not as in "smacking to the extreme", but as in "in an extreme situation that can not be solved otherwise". Right?

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    2. No typo, Meike. In extremis doesn't mean " to the extreme" but more " in extreme circumstances". So you were right second time!

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  2. We didn't smack.....it just always seemed wrong and unneccessary (sp?)although truth be told I smacked my daughter once and my son once.....I still hate that I did it and it didn't actually achieve anything at all....just made me cry!
    I still flinch now if I see parents slap children around the head or yank them along by the arms like unwanted parcels. I do wonder if our reticence re slapping was anything to do with us struggling to have children and waiting for them for so long....such longed for blessings that we cherished and tried to do our best for. Last night, both my daughter and her partner and my son and his partner, all now adults and as far as we know, well balanced and happy, joined my husband and I here at home for a long lively laughter filled dinner and my heart was so full.........not smacking worked for us but I do not want to sound smug...maybe we were just very very lucky.

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  3. Distinct preference for the "cattle-prod method"

    Seriously, I can still conjure up my feeling of awe resulting from finding out how fast my sweet Mummy could run to catch up with me. I had been warned not to continue whatever sister-baiting I was engaged in, but I continued, in the mistaken belief that I was untouchable. OMG! Who knew Mummies could run that fast, whilst carrying a hairbrush, no less?

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  4. My parents never hit us (never me and I assume never CJ). If our Mother made a suggestion then it was taken as an instruction. As a result we had liberty on the understanding we never turned it into licence and overstepped the mark. Did that happen with our (my wife and my) children? No. Did I smack them? Yes though not anywhere other than on the legs and not as a matter of course. Do I regret it? Yes. Would I do it again? That all depends. In extremis probably yes. My son who has turned into a super person is one of my best friends and, I think judging by our relationship, I am one of his.

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    1. In extremis is really my whole point, GB!

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  5. I am in total agreement with you on this Frances. I am similar age to you, and my 3 boys ( now in their early 30s and mid 20s) got a smack on the leg or bottom when they had driven me to distraction. They are also delightful young men who have never been violent! However, I could never see myself smacking my grandchildren ( aged 2 and 6 weeks)

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  6. My son is now 24 and sometimes I wished my rasied voice still had the same effect on him as it did when he was a child :-)(He still at home and now his girlfriend has almost moved in too, Bless them) Anywhere, when he was a wee one, I would slightly raise my voice and speak in a strong tone, 'No, don't... etc. If that didn't work then I would slap my hands together loudly,which mean next if I had to say it again he would get a slap on the back of his legs.
    In total I think I only had to slap him twice when he was grown up. Interesting enough his school teacher at infant school said to me that Stewart would sit very quietly if she raised her voice to the class.... Hmmm, I wonder why? :-)

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    1. Your raised voice must have been more effective than mine, Paula!

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  7. I think the world has moved on too much in some cases, Frances! I only resorted to a light smack when absolutely necessary and it only happened very occasionally.

    But my husband used to think the children might prefer a short smack to get it over with instead of my very severe look and angry words!

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    1. I think that's it, Rosemary. A smack is short and sharp and immediately over. Whereas other punishments drag on...

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  8. Yes, I spanked my daughters. They're wonderful women now and do tell me they didn't appreciate a whop on their bottom. But ya know what? They were always well behaved unlike my grandkids (their kids) who are lippy and sassy. I used spanking ONLY when necessary.

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    1. I'm glad your spanked daughters have survived, Em- musing!

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  9. I'm with you on this one Frances. I remember smacking mine on rare occasions. I certainly wouldn't dream of smacking my grand children, but we forget how tiring and stressful bringing up children can be. I hate to hear parents raising their voices now, let alone smacking their offsprings. I remember my mother laying into my older sister, while I cried looking on. I don't remember her ever hitting me though.

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  10. We seem to be more or less on the same side, Maggie!

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  11. I think there is nothing as effective as a well-timed smack on the behind, especially when it's a two-year old throwing a fit, feet in the air, screaming. (See, I remember it well.) If you do it once then, your life will be forever after a wee bit easier.

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  12. i did smack my eldest when I thought he deserved it but gave up when he was about 2 because I realised that I was having to hit him harder to get him to take any notice and I didn't like the thought of where that might lead. Number 2 son was about 6 months old by then so has never felt my flesh on his in anger. That said, if it works for you then I am in favour of it (as long as it is a quick slap and not a beating) but it just didn't work for me. I am happy to say that Number 1 son is no worse for the slaps he received and has turned out into a very nice well adjusted young man - as has his brother BTW but I am biased. You are right about the animal world though. There a parent will sanction a youngster with a nip or a cuff around the ear and their societies seem to manage quite nicely.

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  13. I think Big Brother is preventing civilised, caring parents from smacking, while those who regularly give their kids a belting will continue to do so!

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  14. I wish my mum would stop smacking me. At 60 I think I'm too old. At 91 I think she is too.

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  15. I often felt/feel like smacking them... But (and here I risk sounding sanctimonious...sorry) after that first smack (administered to my second child when he was tantruming) I just didn't/don't.
    I recall that the smack didn't achieve anything - aside from escalating his tantrum. It was counter-productive. It was emblematic of my loss of control - not his. And also signalled to me that my parenting style had to change to meet his needs - which were very different from his placid older sister's and which involved high degrees of parental 'control' (ie me being a parent, not a buddy!), order and routine and very regular (2 hourly) snacks.
    My Mother employed a vast array of implements to whack my brother and I when we were children. We were well-loved - she was just replicating what she'd learnt. I recall that it was her voice that was the scariest instrument of all...
    Good post.

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    1. I think your voice must be a lot more authoritative than mine!

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  16. On rare occasions – until they were old enough to understand reason – I smacked my sons on their hands. When older (4-10(ish)?) if reason didn’t work they stood in the naughty corner for 5mins. Both have grown up into well-adjusted adults.

    A gentle smack works - and you are right in that animals chastise their young with a nip and a paw – words said in anger have the potential to cause long term harm…

    I still remember my dad once telling me he would fall out with me if I didn’t behave. Innocent words to an adult and I am certain he meant no harm – but I was distraught and cried for hours…and still remember his words...

    Anna :o]

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    1. Yes. Those who quote the old adage 'sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me' are very much mistaken. I can recall an incident from Sunday School when I was 4 that altered my attitude to life in such a way that I can recall the incident 64 years later as if it were yesterday. And I am not usually a person to dwell on things.

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    2. I remember the ONLY time my mother smacked me in cold blood, although I know she did smack me in the heat of the moment, and that didn't matter nearly so much. I remember hiding under the table
      afterwards.These days I don't fit under the table any more...

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  17. I agree with all you say, Frances. I might sometimes look back and regret my lack of patience in those days, but my girls knew where they stood, knew when they'd pushed me too far, and more to the point, behaved so well when we took them out anywhere, that we were frequently complimented. At home, of course, it was a different story - that's as it should be! And like your own kids, mine have all grown up to be lovely, kind, intelligent people with beautiful kids of their own. Fashions change, and if they decide not to smack their own children I will respect their decisions - but when I look after them (the grandkids), a firm voice seems to do the trick so far!

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