Many of us parent in the same way that our parents did – especially when disciplining our children. Most of us see no problem with this, but when we hit our children, it tends to escalate into a little more and a little more until that tiny smack has one day become a beating, and we have no idea how or why we got there.
Whether or not you support a parent’s right to spank his/her children, certainly there must be at least one instance or story of children being beaten that caused you to rethink the broad scope of the term “spanking.” We talk about a pop or a smack or a spanking as a harmless means of disciplining children, but part of the problem of that line of thinking is that we see nothing at all wrong or unacceptable about the means with which we discipline a child, until we are so far over the line, we can no longer even see the line.
Where do we draw the line? When is spanking acceptable and where does it cross over into abuse? If we were taught how to raise children by our parents, and presumably, our parents were taught in the same manner, then hitting children seems normal and acceptable. We even argue that we turned out “just fine” as a defense of spanking. For one thing – raise the bar, because “just fine” seems a pretty low standard for raising human beings and for another thing? If someone thinks it is okay, acceptable, and normal to hit a child, then they did not turn out “just fine.”
So where is that line? How far is too far to go when spanking a child? How many hits are okay? How much force is necessary? How many blows does it take before the line is crossed into abuse? How severe is the mark before it is quantified as abusive and not just discipline? The questions are complicated but the answer is simple – don’t hit, don’t spank, don’t pop, smack, or beat your child. That makes it simple. No line to cross. No bodily harm. No lasting scars. Get educated. Learn the facts. Raise your parenting skills, not your parental hands. Discipline, of course, but not with a switch or a belt or a cord or a hand. No confusion, no worry. Don’t hit your children at all and there is no question of “where is the line?”
Editor, Ask Lala
Laura Fogarty writes “Ask Lala” for the Stop Abuse Campaign. She is a mother, an advocate and the author of two children’s abuse prevention books: I’M THE BOSS OF ME! and WE ARE JUST ALIKE!