Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Why Are We Still Talking About Spanking?

If you've opened a newspaper, watched the news, or even been on Facebook, you know about the issues facing the NFL right now.

Living in Minnesota, the Adrian Peterson story is everywhere. I'm utterly sickened by the people who are defending his actions. I mean, come on. This wasn't just a parent "disciplining" his child.

The facts in this case are brutal, and there is literally no defense for a grown man doing that to a little four year old boy.

But I'm also shocked by the people who are using this story to defend spanking.

Seriously? In 2014 people are still going to the mat over spanking?

I'm going to take a controversial stance here:  It's not okay to hit people. 

If you hit your wife, you could go to jail. If you hit a stranger on the street, you could go to jail. But if you hit your kid, well that's just your discretion as their parent.

That is unbelievably wrong.

And, please, don't bother talking to me about how hard (or softly) people may hit their kid. Don't tell me how it's just to "get their attention".

It's hitting. If it's not causing pain, then what's the point? And if it is causing pain, then what do you do if it doesn't work? How high do you up the ante? Where is the line? How do you know if you've crossed it?

There are a hundred other ways to accomplish the things parents are trying to accomplish with spanking. And guess what? They work. Guess what else? Spanking doesn't. Study after study has shown that it's bad for all kids, that it's ineffective, that the results don't last long, and that it slows cognitive development. It's not just my opinion, it's Science.

It absolutely freaking floors me that people will defend, so vociferously, their right to hit their sometimes even tiny children. That they will turn their nose up at any research or information to show that it's harmful, and reject any other options.

But I have a theory, and I'll tell you why I think they do it.

Spanking is So. Much. Easier. No thinking about what made your child do that thing they did. No sifting through all of the parenting tools to find the one that will best suit this child and this scenario. No trying different methods to figure out what works best for them or their children.

Nope. Just a swat on the butt and call it a day.  That'll learn 'em. Well, unless you follow the Pearl's and then it's a switching instead of a spanking. Just like Peterson did to his son. And we've seen how well that works. Ask Lydia Schatz.

Of course, spanking teaches kids that people who are bigger and in a position of authority have the right to touch their bodies in ways that hurt. They're taught to be afraid, instead of really learning about what they've done. And on top of all of that, the trust they have that their parents will never hurt them, is damaged.

People really want to defend that. And that's just insanity, to me.

Sure, a lot of our parents did it. They didn't know better. And a lot of us turned out just fine. But I would argue that's not because we were spanked, but because our parents had rules, boundaries, and consequences. Kids thrive on those things. But you don't need spanking to provide it. Nor does taking away spanking mean that you suddenly become permissive as a parent and will raise terrible kids.

We can parent our kids without physical punishment. Without shame. Without humiliation. Without name-calling. We can treat our children with the respect they deserve as human beings. And we can raise amazing kids, doing it. Shocking, isn't it? But imagine if we all tried it, and we never again heard about a child getting beaten with a tree branch, leaving bloody welts all over his body.

I can live with that.

Here are a couple of Gentle Parenting Resources if you'd like to learn more:
No-Spank Challenge
1-2-3 Magic


We all have to stand up against physical punishment, and certainly against abuse. If you think Adrian Peterson shouldn't be playing anymore, please click here and sign the petition.

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