Summer Frustration: To Spank or Not to Spank.
by Leslie Morgan Steiner
One month into summer (aka, kids tearing through the house seven day a week, enjoying unstructured time, driving us caregivers crazy) seems a natural moment to tackle one of the modern dilemmas of parenthood no one likes to discuss honestly: to spank or not to spank.
Now of course most parents – especially mature, well-educated adults like us -- KNOW spanking is barbaric, ineffective, old-fashioned or at least unnecessary. But you can stop holding your breath: I have met few parents who have never spanked a child. And 100% of those have only one child.
First, let’s define terms: spanking means a light swat on a child’s clothed bottom, an area of the body without much feeling that is in fact designed to cushion blows. The goal of a spank is twofold: to get a young child’s attention, and to communicate that they have done something dangerous, destructive or disrespectful that should never be repeated. As a victim of family violence myself, I need to underscore the dramatic difference between a spank and physical abuse. There is no comparison between the two.
In principle, spanking sounds logical and reasonable. After all, part of our responsibility as parents is to teach children not to act destructively or recklessly. Not to run into the street. Not to put the new kitten headfirst in the toilet. Not to use Mommy’s fuschia toenail polish to color the living room walls. If a light swat on the tush works, it works.