Well, well. The nation is finally having a conversation about spanking and it’s about time. I’ve had this debate before, but not on this level where it is the top story of every news and sports cable station in the country. Unfortunately, it’s come to the forefront at the expense of children who have clearly been physically abused, which is exactly why this topic needs to be explored openly and not kept behind closed doors.
As a parent mentor, I’ve been teaching about this for years because it’s one of those subjects that’s been swept up by the politically correct crowd doing more to undermine the authority of parents in my opinion. And, for years, the act of spanking has been equated with “hitting”, “abuse”, and “acts of violence.” In the case of NFL star, Adrian Peterson, it seems he is certainly guilty of crossing the line into these very categories that no one defends as “proper spanking” because there is a correct way to spank children if a parent chooses that form of discipline that is absolutely their right to choose.
However, teaching parents the proper use of this type of discipline is usually not the crux of the argument. What the “spanking is abuse” crowd wants to argue is that parents “must be” taught that spanking is not an acceptable form of discipline and they therefore should not use it to discipline their children. Furthermore, they like to throw in the guilt trip that spanking teaches children that violence is the way to handle wrong behavior issues and therefore it will transfer over into making their children bullies at school and possibly into something even more dangerous later on in life, a la, Ray Rice who brutally knocked out his finance recently in an elevator. Finally, they will point to some kind of biased research, statistics and studies to “prove” their point, much like the “evidenced-based” crowd that continue to fund the so called “evidenced-based” programs to address youth violence. Yet, the issues continue to grow, get worse and there is little evidence to support or prove that the evidenced-based programs are as effective in transforming violent youth as they are purported to be.
Parents, more than ever, need to stand their ground and not abdicate their authority to the “village.” The fact is, when it comes to raising strong, vibrant, healthy citizens in the community it DOES NOT TAKE A VILLAGE, it just takes good, responsible parenting. Given all the scandals, corruption, and mainstream culture of the current media, magazines, movies and music – which of you parents truly want this “Village” to raise your children?
But this begs the questions: what is good parenting and proper discipline in the form of spanking? In my leadership curriculum, “Parents on a Mission”, these are the issues and topics (along with some others) we address because I do not believe more pools, parks, playgrounds and programs can replace parents, more police on the streets can create safe communities, or that more laws that tell parents what they can and can’t do will build healthy family relationships.
Parents must be coached/mentored into understanding their proper role of authority, held accountable for their responsibilities as a role model, and given the motivation to practice the principles of personal growth in their maturity level, because unlike growing old, growing-up is not automatic.
Parents on a Mission is a six-week course. For our purpose here, I’ll take an excerpt from the portion we teach about spanking and add it to the discussion we are having today in hopes of offering some clear guidance for parents who are open to receive it.
But first I want to be very clear on the first bullet point below. What I’m concerned about is dealing with the fact – the reality – that many, many (if not most) parents do in fact employ corporal punishment with their children. And on behalf of all the abused children out there behind closed doors, I want to give them a voice that holds parents accountable by saying: If you’re going to spank – make sure it’s a spanking and not a beating under the guise of spanking.
- POM does not make an argument for right or wrong on the practice of spanking.
- If parents exercise their right to spank, they should do it properly and we should not assume that they are doing it properly.
- We can’t expect parents who choose to spank, to stop, just because others are against it.
- Many parents do not agree with spanking children for any reason. Many other parents do in fact spank their children.
- Whether we are for it, or against it, both views must be respected.
- Many parents are under the false assumption that it is illegal to spank children. But it is not illegal in all States. However, there are certain limitations and these need to be clarified.
- What is illegal is physically abusing children.
- Guidance is needed for those parents who do spank to ensure they understand what abuse is and practice discipline through spanking properly.
Suggestion: If you choose to spank – be wise and moderate.
Guidelines for parents in the proper “spirit” of spanking:
1. POM suggests spanking be used as a last resort.
2. Parents should not wait until they are angry before spanking.
3. Parents should explain what behavior the child is being spanked for.
4. Using the hand for one or two swats on the posterior only is sufficient (In California it is illegal to use an instrument/paddle to spank children).
5. Parents should talk about the behavior later to bring understanding, reconciliation and closure.
6. Slapping, punching, kicking, beating and any other form of physical force that is physically harmful to the child is abuse and never acceptable.
7. What is proper spanking? A spank on the posterior – nothing more, nothing less.
8. When should the use of spanking stop? – In general, once a child reaches the age of 12, or, “age of accountability” (this is only a suggested guideline), other forms of discipline are better suited that recognize the growth and maturity of the child who is beyond the spanking stage.