Dear Supernanny Jo,
I saw your response to a viewer question that there is no justification for spanking (click on picture to go to video clip if above video does not load). We Americans do have many justifications for spanking. The most frequent justification I hear is:
"I was spanked and I turned out fine."
Supernanny Jo, the problem is lots of Americans have been spanked and lots of Americans turn out fine.
Now the research is definitive that spanking can cause behavior and emotional problems (and they may be ones we don't see immediately). For those people who were spanked and turned out fine, I am always happy and thankful that they turned out wonderful. Even though they turned out fine, not all children do. So while we may justify a little smack on the behind because it didn't affect them, the real question becomes:
Can you be 100% certain that your child is not going to be one of the ones who is damaged physically and emotionally by spanking?
The only answer to that is "No." We don't know the in's and out's of why every child develops emotional and behavioral issues, nor do we know why some genetically identical twins develop issues that the other does not. What we do know is that stress caused by things like spanking are strongly associated with children developing these issues.
Bottom line is: Are you really willing to chance that your child, the baby you love, have hopes and aspirations for, the child who you protect from all the evil in the world, the one who you hug when they are hurt by another child at school, the child who you must depend on to help you in your old age ... are you willing to take the chance that your child will be one of the ones who is damaged because you made the choice to spank them?
The other justification I hear, Supernanny Jo, is "I don't beat them, I barely hit them at all, it isn't even hard."
So if we don't hit our kids hard, then it makes it okay, right? Well, again, the research would say no, but let's just put that aside for a minute.
Before my husband and I were married, he firmly believed in spanking. I told him I would not raise a child in an atmosphere where they would be spanked. After a long talk about facts and studies, he acquiesced and we were eventually married. During my pregnancy, I brought up the conversation again. I wanted us to be on the same page when it comes to behavioral modification (Because we all know how it does not work to have on parent who says yes when the other said no.) He returned to the idea that spanking was somehow right. I looked at him and said, "I would prefer that if you get upset with me, you spank me. At least as a grown adult, I would understand that you have lost your temper or are too frustrated to deal with me in a respectful constructive manner." His face was aghast and he said, "I would never hit my wife, that is crazy."
We both paused a minute and I said, "The thing is, I agree. You shouldn't hit me. What I am saying is that at least I would understand the complexity of human emotion better than a child. I would understand better that you were so frustrated that you couldn't think of anything else to do. Do you think a young child is able to understand that?" Of course, his answer was no. This was a turning point in how he understood using physical punishment on a child.
That being said, not everyone will feel the same way. So I will put it another way: it is against the law in many states to hit your dog. The message of shame that you are communicating to your child and the embarrassment they feel when you hit them, when you punish them in a way that dogs aren't even allowed to be treated. That is damaging. Is that what you are trying to communicate to your child, or are you just wanting to change their behavior?
Another justification I hear is that other methods won't work on their child, every child is different and theirs only listens to spanking.
To this, well, if ADHD and Developmentally Disabled children can have their behavior modified without spanking, then it will work for your kid too.
The most emotional justification I hear is that it is God approved to hit your child. "Spare the rod, spoil the child."
We Americans get pretty riled if you dare to say anything that contradicts the Bible. Good thing "Spare the rod, spoil the child," actually comes from a 17th century Samuel Butler Poem and not the Bible.
Now what is in the bible is "He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes." Proverbs 13:24. This is how King Solomon tells us he raised his son. Well, if you are diligent in reading your bible, you will see the Bible shows us King Solomon raised a pretty awful child ... I don't think using his methods would be anything to be proud of or to want to emulate. For more info on this click here.
The problem, Supernanny Jo, is there are tons of justifications we Americans use in order to be able to hit our kids, despite all of the evidence showing other behavior modifications to be more effective. When someone is enlightened to the fact that there are other, more effective methods to raise children and they still choose to hit ...
That means that one of the biggest lessons we teach our children:
Do not hit others
it just proves that the parents who continue to spank never learned that lesson themselves, despite how many times they were spanked.
Supernanny Jo, I applaud you and your methods. Thank you for showing us a different way to help guide our children and I hope, despite everyone's attempt to justify spanking, that you do continue to reach parents everywhere.
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