Also read: “It’s never OK to spank a child”
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If you have spent any time on parenting blogs, or watching the news in the last week, you’ve likely heard about the newest parenting study: Spanking may lead to mental illness. At least that is the newest claim of a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
The study looked to find a correlation between “harsh physical punishment (ie, pushing, grabbing, shoving, slapping, hitting)” and future mental illness. They concluded that “Harsh physical punishment was associated with increased odds of mood disorders, anxiety disorders, alcohol and drug abuse/dependence, and several personality disorders.
As a mother who has spanked on occasion, and one who was spanked herself as a child, I was interested to learn more. I wanted to see how big of a therapy (and apparently shock treatment) bill I would have to dole out.
Lisa Belkin, a columnist for the Huffington post recently wrote an article titled, “Why Does Everyone Pretend There’s A ‘Spanking Debate’?” She believes that based on studies it is simple truth that spanking is wrong. She points out that several countries have outlawed spanking and their children aren’t running amok.
Belkin goes on to support her claim by asking, “Is it okay to do something to your child that would land you in jail if you did it to a stranger on the street?” I would happen to guess that if I breastfed a stranger on the street I might be jailed. Should I not do that with my child? I’m sure that if I confined a stranger to their room against their will for a week that the FBI would be breaking down the door, yet, I’m sure as a parent that would be a fine solution to misbehavior.
Ms. Belkin’s logic is flawed. It isn’t off base because I happen to think spanking can be effective without long-lasting side effects when used properly. There is no manual for raising children. I don’t care what Dr. Spock or your third-year psychology professor told you. Every family has to do what works for them. Beyond that, parents have to do different things for each child. Children are not robots; they require unique parenting methods – even.
I find Ms. Belkin’s assertion to be one that thumbs her nose at parents who believe differently than she does. If she doesn’t spank, good for her. I am sure she is doing what works best for her children. I don’t look down my nose at her for choosing not to spank.
Bottom line for me is that some parents spank and some do not. This isn’t the same line that separates the bad parents from the good. I don’t expect the Mommy Wars to ever end – we will forever take sides. But for the love of our common stretch marks, can we at least pretend that the other side parents out of love just like we do?
Cat Koehler is married with two children. She works full time. Read her Mondays on momaha.com