Spanking Gets Results: But All the Wrong Kinds

mrdad - spanking - wikicommons

mrdad - spanking - wikicommonsDear Mr. Dad: I was over at a friend’s house and was surprised to see her spanking her 4-year old. I’ve never hit any of my kids and don’t have any plans to do so. But after taking an informal poll of other parents I know, I was surprised to find that I’m actually in the minority. Should I rethink my no-spanking policy?

 A: Please don’t. There’s some debate about whether an actual majority of parents spank their children. For example, one study found that while 62 percent of parents in the South admit to having spanked their children, only 41 percent of parents in the rest of the country have. And according to a recent study done by researchers at Columbia University, 57 percent of moms and 40 percent of dads engaged in spanking when their children were three years old, and 52 percent of moms and 33 percent of dads were still spanking when their kids were five. But let’s not quibble over semantics. The point is that way, way too many parents are hitting their children—and it needs to stop.

I know I’m going to hear from a lot of readers who will swear up and down that spanking works. And they’re right. Spanking definitely gets the child’s attention and will usually get him or her to immediately do what you say. That’s great in the moment, but what about future moments?

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Debunking Wait-Til-Your-Father-Comes-Home Myth of Dad as Disciplinarian

I spend a huge amount of time reading studies and scientific articles about parenting and I’ve always been a bit suspicious of studies about the percentage of parents who spank their kids. The numbers always seemed too low. After all, who in their right mind would spank a child in front of a bunch of scientists who are going to write an article about you? And even in a survey without witnesses—how many people are honestly going to admit that they smack their kids?

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Just when you thought the spanking controversy was over…

A few years ago I read a study–in Parenting magazine, I think–that found that 25 percent of parents spanked their kids. Those were just the people who admitted it. My guess is that it’s closer to 50 percent. If you were to factor in the parents who think  about giving their kids a whack once in a while, you’d probably be up in the high 90s.

So when I read about a study in Germany (where corporal punishment was actually outlawed in 2000) that more than 50 percent of parents admitted that they hit their kids, I immediately jumped to the conclusion that the real numbers are insanely high. Here’s what the study found:
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Hey, Are You Spanking My Child?

Dear Mr. Dad: My mom watches my 3-year-old son while I work part-time. I appreciate her help but it bothers me that she spanks him when he misbehaves or disobeys. I’ve been meaning to speak with her about this, but have been holding off because I can’t afford to hire a babysitter and I don’t want to antagonize my mom. What do you suggest?

A: Boy, that’s a tough one. On one hand, it’s comforting—not to mention more convenient and less expensive—to have your son cared for by a loving relative while you’re at work. On the other, if you and your mom can’t reach an agreement on how to discipline your child, you’ve got a real problem—regardless of the financial savings or the convenience factor.
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