Monday, September 15, 2014

To Spank or Not to Spank, That is the Question

As the NFL pivots from one controversy (Ray Rice's domestic abuse of his wife) to another (Minnesota Viking Adrian Peterson's abuse of his son), it has brought yet another important issue to the fore: child rearing.  In particular, is it right to physically discipline your child?

I grew up in the age of "whoopins", not spankings.  A spanking would have been scoffed at by my siblings and I, but a whoopin' was an entirely different matter altogether.  My dad had "the belt", and when you were in trouble you had to go get "the belt."  Going to get the belt was probably worse from a psychological standpoint then actually getting the whoopin' itself because it was analogous to a convict walking down death row on his or her way to the execution.  Time seemed to slow during those moments which caused my siblings and I to wonder whether whatever act of misbehavior we had just recently committed was worth the price we were now paying.  And, for us, after we received that whoopin' we did not do it again.  All of my siblings have grown up to be successful people, college and law school graduates, and responsible parents of their own children.  Would we have turned out the same had we not been disciplined?

With some kids, however, a stern talking to will do the job.  With other kids, a mere look from mom or dad is enough to get them in line.  Other kids, not so much.  Each child is unique so there is no universal guide to effective discipline that will get all kids to behave and, unfortunately, children are not born with an inherent sense of self-discipline.  That has to be instilled by the parent.  So the question remains - is it ok to physically punish your child for bad behavior?  Or are those days behind us?

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