I happened across a really troubling blog post on spanking and keeping kids in line and it made me wonder: with all the evidence that spanking makes kids violent, self-loathing, and diminished as human beings, why are so many people still advocating spanking as a discipline solution for their children?
One blogger talks about how children these days don’t know their place, and most of the appended comments recommend spanking. The blogger and commenters make the mistake of conflating spoiling with not spanking. There are plenty of parents who spank, yet spoil; and those who don’t spank, but don’t spoil. The two are not the same issue, despite the single line in the Bible (which can be interpreted to mean gently guide as a shepherd with her crook, rather than beat as an adult with a switch).
Another blogger writes about going against her culture’s insistence on spanking, with fabulously well-adjusted results. She argues that consistent, firm, well defined boundaries work much better than barbed wire for children.
It seems that spanking versus not is being touted as a disciplined versus undisciplined debate. But discipline means “to teach” and there are many ways to teach.
Hitting teaches people to hit. That being afraid of authority is the way to survive. That might makes right. A survey of spanking studies shows spanking hurts kids long term, but gets them to comply short-term.
Drawing clear boundaries and insisting on respect teaches boundaries and respect. Seems pretty clear what parents and children all need to grow the next generation of thoughtful and respectful citizens.
Maybe not spending enough time together is the issue. Maybe a violent culture is the problem. Maybe not understanding the future consequences of an easy choice is the heart of our problems. Maybe cultures, social, religious, and otherwise, that teach negative consequences for negative behavior instead of positive consequences for positive behavior is wherein our dilemmas lie.
I just think that needing children to do what you tell them, especially on safety issues, is vital. But spanking isn’t the only way to get there. And wailing about “kids these days” without looking at how adults these days behave is ridiculous. What does our culture value? Celebrity, scandal, reward with minimal work, money over happiness, good people gone bad (or wild)…if parents sing these tunes, especially while their kids are in the other room using technology in which social boundaries are exploded and consequences are few, no wonder children are out of control.