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Zoe Williams' guest blog on smacking: "What a profoundly idiotic way to deal with someone you love"

(79 Posts)
KateMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 23-Apr-13 09:59:25

Research published last week seemed to suggest that children aren't adversely affected by smacking, as long as they felt loved by their parents. Here, Zoe Williams argues that this misses the point entirely.

'The journal Parenting: Science and Practice recently published some research whose conclusion was that 'the painful effects of harsh discipline - such as verbal threats or spanking - are offset by the child's feeling of being loved'. The author elaborated that children didn't seem adversely affected, so long as they believed that the punishment came from a 'good place'. This contradicts the established view that corporal punishment is actually bad for discipline, because it undermines the bonding between parent and child upon which any semblance of control is really based.

I think the two views could actually coexist; your respect and love for a parent would naturally be undermined if they started bashing you; and yet at the same time, children do forgive their parents an awful lot - first they worship you, then they see through you, then they forgive you, as the saying goes. So it's perfectly possible that, if they believe you love them deeply and just have a funny way of showing it, they'll continue to want to please you, whether you inflict pain upon them or not. It doesn't necessarily follow - by which, of course, I mean "it categorically does not follow" - that hitting children is a good idea.

Here's the thing - when I decided that I would never hit my children, it wasn't because I had a longitudinal cohort study on the effects of hitting children. Rather, it was based on a mixture of the moral and the practical. Pragmatically, I'm not religious; the moral universe in which my children will be raised is of my own devising. So I need to be pretty solid on it. I need to know what it is, I need to articulate it clearly, and I need to abide by it myself.

Which brings us to what the actual morals are, in this universe - there aren't a huge amount. You think of others, you do as you would be done by, you don't assert your will through force, you don't exploit weakness, you're polite. That's it. If I were to hit one of my children, I would be modelling the exact opposite of my belief structure. Hey, maybe that would work if they thought I was coming from a "good place". Maybe they would despise my hypocrisy but forgive me anyway, what with all the cupcakes and the hilarity. Or maybe they would simply read my values from my actions, rather than my words, and take my belief structure to be "I must be right because I'm older/ larger/ stronger/ angrier".

Hopefully they'd forgive me anyway; but for why? So I could indulge my beast within and give my rational mind a break. What a joke. What a profoundly idiotic way to deal with someone you love. I don't care what it does for discipline; still less do I care what kind of a "place" it comes from. Far more important is the question, what ethical framework are you conjuring, when you hit anybody at all? I don't think we need any fresh research for the answer to that.'

Zoe Williams writes for the Guardian and the Sunday Telegraph amongst others, and is the author of What Not To Expect When You're Expecting

k2togm1 Tue 23-Apr-13 10:30:03

Totally agree.

Gerrof Tue 23-Apr-13 11:24:21

I do like Zoe Williams. I totally agree. All of it can be summed up by "What a profoundly idiotic way to deal with someone you love"

SanityClause Tue 23-Apr-13 11:33:26

What Zoe said.

Lastofthepodpeople Tue 23-Apr-13 11:38:58

I agree 100%. I find it incredible that some people still think it is acceptable to hit a child who is smaller and more vulnerable, when the same person would never hit an adult.

TiredFeet Tue 23-Apr-13 11:52:47

Totally agree.

Before I had DS I sat on the fence on this topic, I thought maybe sometimes it was necessary in order to get a child to behave. Since having DS I just cannot imagine ever wanting to or, indeed, needing to smack him in order to discipline him. And how could I tell him not to hit if I was doing that myself?

BLOO3Z Tue 23-Apr-13 11:57:55

No its never accepatable to hit a child there is always other ways to show them that what they are doing is wrong.

OhGood Tue 23-Apr-13 12:02:40

We don't smack, totally agree, etc etc. And like with tiredfeet first time we had to properly discipline DD was to stop her hitting. Beyond ridiculous to hit her to get her to stop hitting.

But, after I had DD, I had a bit of a weird monkey-brain insight into how people might smack. It was the total physical closeness with her. When she was tiny I got quite strong urges to lick her clean (I know, and fyi I didn't.) But it is soooo mammalian, and I can imagine a monkey mother reaching out and cuffing a baby monkey. No idea if they do, going to google it now.

RubyrooUK Tue 23-Apr-13 12:15:23

Agree entirely with Zoe's points. I won't smack my boys because I tell them that hitting is wrong and the "bigger" person in any situation is the one who doesn't need to use force to make their point. I want them to grow up holding those values as men.

The only time my mum smacked me in my whole childhood (and I was a total monster sometimes!) I glorified in how I made her lose control. And I spent my teenage years taunting her about how she had once smacked me. I knew it really upset her as she hated violence - it was really out of character - so it genuinely did affect her more than me. She still regrets it terribly now and I am in my thirties. blushblushblush

With that in mind too, I think I will definitely avoid smacking in case my sons have similar guilt-inducing skills to me......

ClearlyDad Tue 23-Apr-13 12:27:41

There is one TINY exception. When I was a kid, my dad taught me to abseil (I'm now really good at it). We were at the top of a REALLY high cliff (i.e. fall = death/paralysis). I'd been asked to come away from the edge, then told, then told in a loud voice using my full name with graphic explanation of what falling would do to me. Finally I was physically dragged away from the edge and sat down... went to move again and "smack", just enough to sting. Only time I was ever struck as a kid and dad seemed really sad about it... but at the time I knew that it was done because of the idea of me falling to my death.

Years later, on a live firing exercise, I saw a big instructor kick a soldier hard enough to shock when an automatic weapon was involved and it took my back to that day.

The only time smacking can be justified is when the alternative IS worse. Can only really think of "falling off a cliff" example.

Shagmundfreud Tue 23-Apr-13 12:35:57

Then I am an idiot, a hypocrite and an all round cunt, as I have hit my children at odd times when I've been pushed beyond my ability to cope as a parent.

<returns to bed, pulls duvet over head, cries>

ClearlyDad Tue 23-Apr-13 12:52:39

Shagmund, it all depends on "what the alternative is". If the consequences of not hitting are worse (one child running with scissors towards another? Or just running with scissors) then it's a no-foul situation.

Don't beat yourself up. Listen to Tim Mitchin singing Lullaby if you don't believe me!

dummad Tue 23-Apr-13 12:54:04

Would never hit my children. And Shag: pls clean up your lingo. There's no need!

RubyrooUK Tue 23-Apr-13 13:04:05

That seems like a tough review of yourself Shagmund. I agree with Zoe that smacking is not a good idea but am unscarred by being smacked myself.

Perhaps my two have not yet accelerated to truly hideous behaviour yet either and I will have to eat my own words at some point. I hope not, but you never know. smile

I always think you wouldn't hit an adult to deal with your problems (or would you, perhaps I'm making sweeping statements?!) so why hit a child?

BoysRule Tue 23-Apr-13 13:20:24

It is totally hypocritical to smack your children and then expect them not to hit anyone - it just teaches them that it is OK for the parent to hit because you are bigger and older. I also think it shows a profound lack of respect or compassion. There is no way I could look into my little boys eyes and hit them.

That doesn't mean that they sometimes wind me up to the point of losing control - in which case I walk away. If they are in danger I would grab them and hold them - I don't see how smacking a child helps them if they are about to hurt themselves.

Gerrof Tue 23-Apr-13 14:15:51

I have just realised that the quote I highlighted in my post is the one on the thread title <dumbass>

ZombiesAreClammyDodgers Tue 23-Apr-13 15:11:50

I disagree.
I think the threat of a light smacking can be a good thing in some circumstances.
It's not about the degree of pain inflicted (which obviously should be minimal). It's about the fact that some actions might have an immediate startling consequence.
So I agree with the study. A tap here and a tap there will not go amiss if one's children fundamentally know they are loved and that is manifest to them in dozens of ways day in and day out.

Hitting is abuse whether it's an adult or a child. The only difference is that a child cannot defend!

TheFallenNinja Tue 23-Apr-13 16:15:53

So to support the anti smacking we label the pro smacking. It's not a terribly constructive way to deal with it.

MrsBombastic Tue 23-Apr-13 16:59:47

I am not an advocate for smacking... however...

Look at all the street gangs and the violence that goes with it, for me the denegration of society began with the breakdown of marriage and our failure as a nation to discipline our children properly.

Oh yeah and bring back conscription!

Meringue33 Tue 23-Apr-13 17:11:01

There were gangs before smacking was banned. Brighton Rock? Mods v rockers? The Mafia!!

Whatalotofpiffle Tue 23-Apr-13 17:47:19

I was smacked when mum lost the plot and we really pushed her too far, and I wouldn't say I am scarred but how do I know? I have never felt like it was the best way to deal with it and it glossed over the real problems.

purpleroses Tue 23-Apr-13 19:07:26

I agree with Zombies. I'd never advocate smacking as a punishment, and when I only had my easy-going DC1 I also thought it was entirely unnecessary.

But when my thrill-seeking 2 year old DC2 went through a phase of running out into roads and laughing at my reaction, I couldn't find any way of stopping her. Then tried a sharp smack to her ankles which finally stopped her laughing and made her cry. Did it on two occasions and she never ran out in the road again.

You do it to someone you love who is too young to understand the words you need to keep them safe.

BoysRule Tue 23-Apr-13 19:27:48

I just can't see that it is ever necessary or justified. If it's not about the need for pain being inflicted there are many other ways to show that some actions might have an immediate startling consequence. I am a teacher and on a daily basis had to deal with 30 very difficult 5 year old children. I couldn't smack them - but they did know that some behaviours were 100% not acceptable. If teachers can deal with terrible behaviour on a daily basis and not smack then I think parents can find other ways of managing behaviour. It only teaches them that violence is acceptable in certain circumstances - which it isn't.

timidviper Tue 23-Apr-13 19:30:45

I also agree with Zombie. My children have had the odd smack and are now well-rounded normal adults who bear me no resentment.

There is a huge groundswell of the no smacking opinion at the moment. The proof of the pudding will be when those children are grown-up. We will have to see in 15 years if the trend is towards even more wonderfully respectful adults or spoilt brats with no respect for authority.

Pamperazzi Tue 23-Apr-13 20:37:09

Couldn't agree more, though I do say so from the lofty perspective of the parent of a 6 month old, who, despite being rather trying (quite often) has yet to reach the dizzy heights of toddlerdom, which I understand can be a tad trickier....

ForkInTheForeheid Tue 23-Apr-13 21:52:36

The poster who said she had to smack her two year old because of running into a road. No, you didn't. She is a small person, you are a big person, there are other solutions. Buggies, reins, lifting her (if physically able).

As for the line of argument which says, my children/me/my granny are fine and we were smacked, it is totally meaningless! People are resilient and can be well-rounded human beings despite a lot of adversity, that doesn't mean that what they went through is OK.

EleanorFarjeon Tue 23-Apr-13 22:05:14

I agree with Zoe Williams.

It is idiotic to hit children, but idiots aren't the best listeners.

KarlosKKrinkelbeim Tue 23-Apr-13 22:10:20

I don't agree with smacking at all, but for some reason I don;t feel the need to sneer smugly at those parents who don't always conform to my principles. we are all idiotic about some things. Except Zoe Williams of course. She's perfect, as are all Guardian journalists.

katykuns Tue 23-Apr-13 22:52:51

I don't agree with smacking and when I had DD1 I was adamant I wouldn't. I did however end up smacking her on a few occasions. Once because she pushed me so much that I lost it and felt terrible. Then, like another poster experienced, running into the road as a car was coming. That was not me saying 'I will punish you', it was me reacting in such a state of shock and anger, that I lashed out. She was prone to meltdowns due to her autistic traits.

I think that what I did was wrong, but not as wrong as doing it consistently with calculated violence. Thankfully I learnt ways to keep myself calm when incidents happened, but most importantly began to not give a shit about what other people thought when she had her meltdowns after that.

katykuns Tue 23-Apr-13 22:55:50

Should have said that the meltdowns meant that she would be oblivious to dangers around her so would put herself in harms way. Not just any old toddler tantrum.

I don't agree with smacking at all.

But I think that very rarely smacking is fine. If you smack once or twice overall then it doesn't make a difference. Even more than that even. Having been smacked and smacked often (and belted too and the like) I say the real danger if smacking is when it's used as a consistent discipline tool. Instead of as a last resort, used maybe five times in a childhood for instance, it's when it's used regularly that it becomes dangerous.

I can understand a parent smacking a child for running across the road. When it happened to me, I shouted and shouted. Neither are good options to be honest, but they leave no long term damage, not a good parenting decision? Yes. But not idiotic as described, desperate measures. Now, if you smack for a child not putting toys away, having a tantrum, not going to bed etc; so regularly, then yes, it is damaging and I do agree and not loving. But slapping a child once isn't idiotic, usually a sign of a parent at the end of their tether. At the worst, the child cries, the parent calms down and life continues. Not so with smacking used as discipline regularly though. I have never smacked ever, but my friend once did smack her child as she ran right across the road to chat with my DD. She ran over as soon as was safe and smacked her. Because she was terrified and desperate. Bad judgement- certainly. But once does no harml best to be avoided, obviously, but not damaging or evil or bad. Not that anyone here has said that!

Coffeeformeplease Tue 23-Apr-13 23:11:36

How can violence ever come from a "good place"?

jessjessjess Wed 24-Apr-13 06:31:52

Hitting children potentially creates an insecure attachment, where parents become a source of fear AND comfort. It actually affects your child's brain.

ZombiesAreClammyDodgers Wed 24-Apr-13 06:59:16

But children should be a tiny little bit afraid of their parents as a deterrent to doing something patently wrong. Yes, a smidgen of fear is a good thing.
Like it or not, much though we may all pretend otherwise, Homo sapiens is an animal and in the animal /primate world, extreme situations may call for a small physical response.
Otherwise you may have a situation like Outnumbered where the dad pleads with his son to put the drill bit down.
Children are not adults. Their brain is not fully grown. They are not always fully logical. Sometimes a more drastic reaction is called for for their own good.
I'm sure I won't win any popularity contests on MN for this. But that's just how I feel.
Certainly not advocating smacking as a regular disciplinary tool.

BumbleBee2011 Wed 24-Apr-13 08:58:02

We were smacked as children, especially by my mother, and definitely feared her - she never learned to deal with her frustration in a healthy way (and children can be frustrating) and it just degenerated over the years, once we were too big to smack it became verbal abuse.

Luckily I had some good role models later on and now I refuse to use smacking as a discipline tool - there are always other ways. Kids need to know their parents are in control, regular smacking sends the message parents are no longer in control - and that's a slippery slope.

HugoBear Wed 24-Apr-13 09:51:20

I never wanted to smack DD when she was too little to understand life, and luckily for me i never had to. even though once or twice it crossed my mind blush

My heart goes out to those who had to even when they didnt want to. But when I grew up my mum would shout at us constantly even though she didnt smack us and Ive not liked shouting and fighting ever since. So saying that no smacking = good parenting isnt always true - if youre not going to smack you need a good plan!

WilsonFrickett Wed 24-Apr-13 10:38:10

I was smacked regularly and often as a child. Actually I was hit. A lot. On occasion I have smacked my DS. Usually when I have completely lost control of the situation. Am I proud of this? No, of course not. Am I striving with every fibre of my being to not ever smack him again? Of course I am.

But that doesn't mean I am an idiot. Or a bad parent. I am simply someone who wasn't parented particularly well, who doesn't have a lot of tools in her parenting tool box and who is trying her best to parent well.

Demonising (or indeed insulting) the parent who has lashed out in fear or frustration will not help them do better next time.

My dad regularly hit me as a child to discipline me. Of course smacking/tapping is the euphemism but it's still physical violence however however you dress it up.

I HATED him for it, and made a vow never to hit my children. I've come very close sometimes though. Children can be exasperating and when you're exhausted and anxious it's hard to make the right decisions.
But regular physical punishment has to be wrong.

ItsYonliMe Wed 24-Apr-13 11:44:45

Using terms "bashing" and "hitting" are completely incorrect. A smack is a smack. A short, sharp, shock. Small children don't understand what's right or wrong and often a little smack is the only thing they will understand.

ItsYonliMe Wed 24-Apr-13 11:46:32

and I would say that Zoe Williams' title "What a profoundly idiotic way to deal with someone you love" is an idiotic way to speak about smacking.

TiredFeet Wed 24-Apr-13 11:57:08

but I just can't see when you would need to smack. when they are non-verbal they are too young to understand it as a punishment, and if they are about to doing something dangerous you can pick them up. Now DS (2.5) is older all I have to do is tell him I will be very cross in a slightly raised voice and he normally stops. In fact he gets so upset at the idea of me being cross that he normally needs a reassuring cuddle. and again, anything dangerous I would just remove him or the object from the situation. maybe I am lucky though and child number two will not respond so well! just at the minute I can't imagine needing to ever smack in order to discipline.

small children running into the road don't need a smack, they should have been kept under control in the first place. DS knows he has to hold my hand otherwise he will be carried like a baby. older children need to be taught road safety and, again, kept under control.

I don't think parents are terrible if they smack. mine did, and I think with 4 children maybe they just were at the end of their tether sometimes. I'm still close to them. But I think often it isn't necessary

ItsYonliMe Call it whatever helps you sleep at night.

edwinamerckx Wed 24-Apr-13 12:05:00

I was regularly smacked as a child and as a result would never smack DS.

I have however hit other adults on several occasions. Mainly because they've been bloody asking for it smile

ItsYonliMe Wed 24-Apr-13 13:01:11

Edwina, smacking and hitting are two different things.

ItsYonliMe Wed 24-Apr-13 13:01:38

Gruffalo - no problems with sleeping at all, thank you.

Smacking and hitting are not two different things. Calling it a smack makes it seem less serious that's all. Like prefacing violence with domestic.

It's still violence.

ArtemisatBrauron Wed 24-Apr-13 13:50:15

I was smacked fairly often as a child, sometimes with a wooden spoon not just with parents' hands.
It didn't deter me from behaving badly, since I kept getting smacked! However, I don't resent my parents for it and have a great relationship with them both.
I would never smack my own children though.

EleanorFarjeon Wed 24-Apr-13 13:55:34

Smacking is just a euphemism, it's still hitting.

Bit like when people say 'a tap on the back of the hand..' yeah, right.

chocoholic05 Wed 24-Apr-13 14:11:53

I don't agree with smacking at all. However I also don't agree with the argument that you wouldn't hit an adult. Whilst that's true neither would I send an adult to their room or any other room or take their favourite toy off them or say no they can't have any sweets etc etc!

Bonsoir Wed 24-Apr-13 14:16:56

Smacking isn't "bashing" and some children don't feel boundaries in some circumstances without a small physical shock.

I am much more worried about narcissistic teenagers who were never reined in than about the odd smack. Sadly, I know of whole families where the teenagers are in psychiatric treatment for NPD and they will probably be scarred for life.

Pan Wed 24-Apr-13 14:25:02

I'd posted on the other thread that this issue is being illustrated by a child being pointed at. This issue isn't about that at all. IF hitting children was socially accpetable and not at all shocking or damaging, can we please have a picture, or preferably a short video, of a child being hit by an adult?
It'll give 'hitters' a chance to see what hey are actually doing, and what they look like whilst they are doing it.

Pan Wed 24-Apr-13 14:26:16

Bonsoir - is there a clear link between 'narcissistic teenagers' and those teenagers who weren't hit? Can you point to it?

Bonsoir Wed 24-Apr-13 14:34:58

The issue with narcissistic teenagers is that they weren't given firm enough boundaries. They think they can get away with anything and that normal rules don't apply to them. Some DC need a physical sensation in some circumstances to understand they have gone beyond the limits of acceptable behavior.

ZombiesAreClammyDodgers Wed 24-Apr-13 14:34:59

pan I don't think bonsoir was necessarily linking the two. Though it has been pointed out on the thread that not smacking does not equal good parenting, especially when the parent has no other effective strategy they can use.

ZombiesAreClammyDodgers Wed 24-Apr-13 14:36:08

bonsoir I have to agree.

SconeRhymesWithGone Wed 24-Apr-13 14:45:02

I think that the analogy to not hitting adults is valid. There are situations in which adults discipline other adults. If you are a manager in the workplace and one of your staff breaks a rule, you respond with a reprimand or a more serious sanction. But you do not smack.

Exactly. And punishment in our UK justice system is removal of freedom or monetary sanctions, not physical pain. How does hitting/smacking/a gentle tap convey the right message?

Bonsoir Wed 24-Apr-13 14:59:48

Children are at a different stage of emotional and intellectual development to adults and we therefore need to adapt our treatment of them in order to access their understanding. Analogies between treatment of adults and treatment of children are often inappropriate.

WilsonFrickett Wed 24-Apr-13 16:45:15

Again, demonising parents who have chosen to smack, or who have smacked and regretted it, will not help them choose not to smack in the future.

But this is the one issue where MN makes me grit my teeth. Comments like 'if it helps you sleep at night' are completely unnecessary. And not smacking does not equal good parenting, as Zombies so rightly pointed out.

TooExtraImmatureCheddar Wed 24-Apr-13 17:08:27

Well, I was smacked as a child, by both parents, sometimes with a wooden spoon. My parents thought that smacking was just what you did when children had been particularly bad. Both sometimes smacked when they had completely lost control, which was terrifying. I love them both and we have great relationships now.

However, I used to hit my sister and vice versa; I used to get into the occasional fight at school; and I once bit a guy in a club who spilt his drink over me. Is this related to smacking? I don't know. I think there's a part of me that accepted casual violence - my parents told me off for fighting with my sister, but Dad in particular accepted it as the way things are.

I also cringe when DH and I fight, if he gets really angry. Part of me is waiting for him to raise his hand to me, because both my parents taught me that if you get really upset, you lose control and lash out. (For the record, DH has never hit me!)

DD is 1. I don't intend to smack her. I hope I never get so angry that the behaviour I learned at my mother's knee resurfaces.

OK then. So previously it was thought that smacking children was wrong because it was harmful.

Now there is evidence that it isn't, it's wrong because of beliefs.

I doubt that taking a 180 degree turn and taking up a position on more or less the same basis as religious zealots is really a great advertisement for anti-smacking. Nor are the echoes resonating down this thread of the true believers clamouring "Two legs good, four legs bad".

SingleMama Wed 24-Apr-13 18:24:05

I would never smack my children as I consider it on a par to hitting/ a physically violent act/ very bad example. However I have certainly mildly hurt my son grabbing his arm and putting him on naughty step when angry about his behaviour. And I've threatened a smack. And I've done some terrible shouting! I'm not proud of any of these things. Like one poster said- some of us had terrible parenting as children. (In my case smacking, sometimes with wooden spoons, bullying.) I'm generally a very good parent and always looking for improvement! ;-)

Any suggestions for alternative discipline techniques? I find it hard to be consistent! And it's so easy to lose your cool!

Anybody got some good tips? (Children 6&3)

Kiriwawa Wed 24-Apr-13 18:39:13

Wilson - I agree. But I think you and Shagmund are the only self-confessed smackers who wish they weren't. As far as I can tell, other people think it's a pretty effective part of their parenting arsenal.

I can't ever see a good reason for smacking. It's something to be ashamed of, not something to be proud of

minipie Wed 24-Apr-13 20:38:36

I don't think smacking is great, and intend to try to avoid it whenever I can.

BUT I don't much like a lot of other discipline techniques either. for example the naughty step, time out etc all involve being excluded, which I know would have upset me greatly as a child (much more than being smacked). removal of privileges only works once a child is old enough to understand the connection, otherwise it will just seem bewildering and unfair. and so on.

so, those who are totally anti smacking, do you accept that other discipline techniques could be (for some children) more upsetting?

edwinamerckx Wed 24-Apr-13 21:01:27

ItsYonliMe - they are not two different things - as evidenced by the fact that in most languages they are the same word.

I've belted a few drunk, aggressive blokes (and one who thought it ok to try to hump me on a crowded tube) in my time, but hitting little children is frankly pathetic.

SconeRhymesWithGone Wed 24-Apr-13 22:34:06

Has anyone on this thread read this study? It is very limited. I think it is a big leap from its methodology and concusions to some sort of global notion that smacking is not harmful.

ItsYonliMe Thu 25-Apr-13 01:01:22

Edwinamerckz - your post shows that you and I are poles apart (thank goodness)

In your own words, you've belted a few drunk, aggressive blokes. That says an awful lot about you.

K8Middleton Thu 25-Apr-13 01:42:21

I love Zoe Williams. I love her for being so endlessly reasonable and for having principles and trying to stick to them. I love her for trying to explain them to others for the greater good. But most of all I love her because no matter how reasoned her argument, how well thought out her points there are still those who repeat the same old belief they had before without taking on board anything she's actually said and making a counter argument... and yet she still keeps on doing it even in the face of what must be almost intolerable frustration. Amazing.

SingleMama Thu 25-Apr-13 08:44:32

*It's Yonlime

If someone sexually assaults you in a tube (or in a club, or anywhere for that matter), what would YOU do?

When men have sexually assaulted me in clubs (touching me inappropriately etc) I have given them a smack in face too. (I was in my teens at the time. Now I would handle it perhaps differently.)

The sexism women have to put up with on a daily basis is disgusting. Just sayin'.

ryanboy Thu 25-Apr-13 10:13:59

I don't smack my children but I have no problem with those that do.
There are lots of things a parent can do which hurt the child much more than a transient stinging on the backside.
cutting words, not listening, unfair criticism,Arguing with a partner in front of the kids, introducing new partners and step children to the household.
If all these thing were made illegal then I would look at a ban on spanking.

jjmacka Thu 25-Apr-13 12:54:44

I view the conclusions drawn by that journal with distain. My own experience of growing up with parents who smacked with a slipper, belt, or cane at the drop of a hat left me with a crippled parent / child relationship. Each punishment was always backed with a 'loving' hug and "it's for your own good", or "this hurts us more than it hurts you", etc. The words were completely at odds with their actions, and meaningless. I don't remember at what age I stopped believing my parents loved me, but by my early teens I avoided intimate encounters with them as much as possible.

The damage took decades to heal. Both parents and I had a lot of growing and learning to do before we could achieve that. What I'm left with now is a fond friendship with mum and dad, and I'm content with that. But it could have been so much more.

My 2 year old son is going to have a very different experience. My wife and I are determined to raise a happy and confident child with no smacking at all if we can possibly avoid it. So far love, distraction and a stern voice seem to be doing the trick. And I'm sure I'll be stalking mumsnet for lots of tips and tricks in the coming years :-)

ryanboy Thu 25-Apr-13 14:33:15

jjmacka- I am very sorry to hear about your childhood.It must have been horrific.But I would consider your treatment to be a abusive beatings , which is a far far cry from smacking which most people envisage as a couple of swats on the bum with an open hand as a last resort when repeated warnings have been given.

iismum Thu 25-Apr-13 16:47:21

I hate the straw-man argument that pro-smackers always fall back on that children need discipline and will grow up worse without it. Someone earlier said that children need to be a little bit afraid of their children or you will end up with a situation [from some tv show] of patiently reasoning with your child in a potentially dangerous situation as you have no authority over them.

This is total nonsense! The extreme position of not disciplining children is not advocated by the vast majority of anti-smackers. Of course you can have discipline and authority without resorting to violence. My children are responsive to me because they know there are consequences - e.g., sitting on my lap on the bus, holding my hand on the road, sitting quietly in the car. These sanctions are logical - the removal of privileges because they have shown themselves not responsible enough, and they are effective. Smacking is not logical and I'm not convinced it is effective.

Not smacking certainly doesn't make you a good parent, but then smacking doesn't make a great disciplinarian either.

reallyyummymummy Thu 25-Apr-13 18:50:33

The general view of all anti-smacking hypotheses is that if I am smacking my child I am "bashing" them.

If we then use this hypothesis logically, when I give my child a time out am I imprisoning them? Or any other form of discipline I can think of can be taken to an extreme to mean abuse. Just because I take one toy off my child does not mean I am depriving him of all toys or abusing him emotionally.

We talk about "modelling" behaviour. When I give my child a time-out he knows the deal. He is in time-out because he has done something socially unacceptable. He knows that he can't give time-outs to other children because it is not in his job description. Is smacking actually any different from this? My children know it is unacceptable to smack other children because they know it is something that happens when they are naughty and for a good reason, the same way as a time out is used.

I have smacked in the past. It is not done with loaded aggression as most people assume it is done, nor is it done with calculated cold blooded malice. It is done with the same amount of thought that I use when I give him a time-out. To me there is no difference between time-out and a smack.

I am not going to claim I am a perfect parent - I look at myself sometimes and think I don't always handle myself well but I have never regretted the way I discipline them because they are both really happy, vivacious, interesting and respectful children. But then I challenge anyone to actually look into themselves and say "I am perfect and I never make a mistake".

I am not asking anti-smackers to change their view (the way anyone chooses to discipline their child is their affair), I am just asking them to try not to see anything from such a one-dimensional view point.

K8Middleton Thu 25-Apr-13 18:57:21

Do you know I am still chuckling at the idea that if you don't smack your child they'll end up in a gang. Where do you idiots people live?! Are your gangs populated by the children of parents who got down to their level and explained things and used non-violent punishments? Because where I live the people imprisoned for gang related offences come from the sort of home where slaps and clips were common place.

bialystockandbloom Thu 25-Apr-13 19:12:02

Agree with karlos upthread who said I don;t feel the need to sneer smugly at those parents who don't always conform to my principles

Me neither. Hate the self-satisfied "well I don't need to smack my dc.. " attitudes too. I haven't smacked either of my dc and hope I never would, but they have seriously wound me up and I have had to leave the room to calm myself down several times. Some people just do have dc who are harder work, and some have easier dc, and often it's nothing to do with bad or fantastic parenting.

ZombiesAreClammyDodgers Fri 26-Apr-13 09:06:44

reallyyummymummy talks a lot of sense!

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