Grayling defending smacking

(1000 Posts)
seventiesgirl Sun 03-Feb-13 11:38:45

Never did him any harm apparently. The tory party are such a bunch of tossers. Whatever next?

mathanxiety Sat 09-Feb-13 19:05:28

Thunks:
Use of the word 'heinous' and suggesting that all opponents of smacking think of in the same way that they would see flogging is overegging it.

And as you are advocating the (moral) value of extending empathy to smackers vs. condemning, where does that leave you in the 'I'm superior' stakes?

I think people who think they were abused or damaged by general smacking in response to clearly pushing the boundaries of behaviour (and by this, let me be clear, I am thinking of a smack on the hand in a controlled and disciplined fashion by someone who believed it was the right thing to do and really genuinely believed they were doing it and being a good parent in doing so, not hitting of an excessive or frequent nature or beyond what the average person on the street in 1960 would have deemed acceptable e.g. NOT a beating) have some sort of need to convince themselves of the premise that humans are perfectible and they would never have behaved in the same way as they are superior to the person who caused them pain.

I think the perfect smack scenario you envision is a great example of the 'humans are perfectible' theory. The sort of completely controlled adult completely on top of his or her emotions delivering the exactly perfect amount of force in the exactly perfect spot at the exactly perfect time not only suggests that an adult can do that but that this is the nature of smacking every time it is administered, which I must say has not been my impression of smacking.

In a perfect world there would be no 'need' for the perfect smack you think is a reasonable expectation of people you have previously described as mindless and fallible and deserving of empathy for their all too human frailty.

mathanxiety Sat 09-Feb-13 19:07:00

My analogy was very clear and you simply misread it Thunks.

Short enough for you?

thunksheadontable Sat 09-Feb-13 19:07:27

How can you extend the benefit of the doubt to an adult who smacks but obviously the child who gets smacked has not had the same benefit of the doubt extended to him or to her by that adult, when rationally an adult can be expected to accept that a child is a prime example of 'human mindlessness' and 'fallibility'?

It's not about the "benefit of the doubt" (while we are talking about misreading). It's about awareness of how human beings work. Human beings, by their nature, are nowhere near as rational as they like to believe, even on the best of days. There is actually a truth in LG's assertions that a child may find a thinking corner torturous and may well be posting in thirty years time about the emotional "abuse" they suffered (which I would also have little sympathy for in that sort of context).

Again, nowhere have I said that smacking is a good idea, that I advocate it or that I would use it myself. My issue is with adults who label something that was not intended as abusive as "abuse", as it seems to me that it is an excuse to maintain a child-like position in relation to their parents and afford them far more responsibility for their current thinking/feeling/behaviour than they really are responsible for. It casts the adult as a child victim which is essentially like a rumination on the past. To anyone who genuinely feels like this, I would say here, the past is gone, get over it and if you can't, get therapy to get over it. Just don't harp on about how awful it was and start making analogies to things like marital rape and other serious abuses in the name of stopping all abuse to all children everywhere <<waves giant banner>>.

If you were really serious about positive forms of discipline, you would surely be posting as merry was doing - posting the alternatives in a way that would stand as a counterpoint and which might spark an idea to do things differently in the mind of someone who previously found smacking to be the most effective way of disciplining, NOT arguing endlessly about how all smacking is now and ever was abusive regardless of situation or circumstance and anyone who thinks otherwise is clearly either an abuser or has been abused. I really can't see the point in it, though it is intriguing.

I think Solopoint made the most obvious point: kids sort of grow into their own people no matter what has happened to them, regardless of research and they are far more resilient than anyone seems to give them credit for. I think where possible we should do everything to be the best parents we can possibly be within our own context but knowing that no matter what we do, or how great or awful our efforts, our children will still think: "they fuck you up, your mum and dad" on some level.

BertieBotts Sat 09-Feb-13 19:07:58

"all punishments (even if you term them "consequences") are about big people using their power to cause either physical or emotional distress to smaller ones."

Well while I'll agree that a lot of people use "consequence" to mean "punishment", you've missed the point if you think they're interchangeable. "Punishment" is a negative word which means something unpleasant which is imposed, as a reaction to bad behaviour, by an authority figure.

"Consequence" is a more neutral term, it means "a result or effect", although some dictionaries including the OED state that it there is an implication that a consequence is unpleasant. I think this is probably true in general speech, but I would also say that most people would agree that all actions have consequences, whether these are good or bad. Most consequences that we experience in life are natural, but consequences can also be imposed by authority figures.

To me, a punishment is a kind of consequence, but not all consequences are punishments. Something like removing screen time for being rude is a punishment, because the only purpose of it is to punish. It doesn't teach them anything about why being rude is bad, it doesn't help them make things better, it doesn't physically prevent the situation from happening and it doesn't show them an alternative way of behaving, not directly, anyway. I am not suggesting that the parent would not achieve these things in other ways in addition to imposing the punishment of losing screen time.

The consequence of being rude is that the other person's feelings are hurt. Being punished as a result of being rude is an extra consequence that the parent or other authority figure has imposed. But for me I tend to use the word "consequence" in the context of discipline to mean something which I change as a result of behaviour - but which has an intent other than "to punish the behaviour". So, I mentioned upthread that I noticed that my son was difficult to put to bed when he played computer games too closely to bedtime. The consequence of this is that computer games are no longer allowed after 6pm, because I understand that he is not mature enough to be able to calm down after playing them sufficiently to go to bed nicely. A consequence of siblings fighting might be that the siblings are separated - which might come as a relief for one or both of them!

thunksheadontable Sat 09-Feb-13 19:12:13

"I think the perfect smack scenario you envision is a great example of the 'humans are perfectible' theory. The sort of completely controlled adult completely on top of his or her emotions delivering the exactly perfect amount of force in the exactly perfect spot at the exactly perfect time not only suggests that an adult can do that but that this is the nature of smacking every time it is administered, which I must say has not been my impression of smacking.

In a perfect world there would be no 'need' for the perfect smack you think is a reasonable expectation of people you have previously described as mindless and fallible and deserving of empathy for their all too human frailty. "

Sorry, what? You clearly haven't read a word I've written. What perfect smack? Where is the "perfect smack" in all of this?! Are you kidding me here?

There have been pages of posts where I have said really mostly smacking is about loss of self-control and that is what is most damaging to kids vs the physical nature of the smack itself. I'm making a simple case for just being human about it when people admit to losing control and saying that the best way of "spreading the message" is to share examples of different ways people might cope in that situation vs condemning them outright (which in general I think isn't a great idea in most situations).

As for you thinking I think I am superior for suggesting that there is a lack of empathy on this thread? Is that the best you can do, really? I am just conscious I have shared a lot of myself here while you can freely come back and just treat everything I have said as though it is just another point to refute. However, you go on telling yourself that is a reasonable and kind response given your caring, crusading nature against emotional pain. Ffs.

mathanxiety Sat 09-Feb-13 19:14:51

You have also misread posts where I have spoken in general terms as if they were directed solely at you. If some button of yours has been inadvertently pushed by a post of mine - your button, your business.

The question of what 'smacking' is called is important.
**Analogy warning:
The question of what sexual relations involving husbands and wives is called is important.

mathanxiety Sat 09-Feb-13 19:16:50

(and by this, let me be clear, I am thinking of a smack on the hand in a controlled and disciplined fashion by someone who believed it was the right thing to do and really genuinely believed they were doing it and being a good parent in doing so, not hitting of an excessive or frequent nature or beyond what the average person on the street in 1960 would have deemed acceptable e.g. NOT a beating)

Perfect smack.
Perfect adult capable of delivering same.

thunksheadontable Sat 09-Feb-13 19:20:25

Nope.

Imperfect smack, borne of being misguided, human and fallible and believing a certain way of doing things is right at a certain point in time.
Imperfect parent, acting as they "see through a glass darkly" because they are borne of a place and time and, like all humans, imperfectible and fallible.

thunksheadontable Sat 09-Feb-13 19:22:16

"If some button of yours has been inadvertently pushed by a post of mine - your button, your business."

hmm

YellowAndGreenAndRedAndBlue Sat 09-Feb-13 19:27:57

I don't agree it is mostly about loss of control, because imo you would find, as soon as it became illegal, that the vast majority of people who used to 'lose control' suddenly stop doing it and find a way to keep on the right side of the law.

thunksheadontable Sat 09-Feb-13 19:29:51

Do you think it is always about wanting to abuse a child though Yellow? My memory of the fear of it was the loss of control more than the physical pain but I accept it may not be like that for everyone. What do you think the function of smacking is? (Not a rhetorical question).

Solopower1 Sat 09-Feb-13 19:31:47

Nah, let's not make this too personal.

I've really enjoyed the discussion, and although I understand what Larry said about research, I think that anything that makes us think about how we deal with our kids is probably a good thing.

Nothing trumps wisdom and compassion, imo. If you are short of either, or simply tired or at the end of your tether, don't lash out at someone just because they are there and can't hit back. Save the anger for whoever/whatever is really responsible.

And forgive yourself the occasional lapse. Children are arrows from your bow and all that. They come through you, but aren't yours, basically. And you can learn far more from them than the other way round.

(Never too far from a Khalil Gibran moment. Forgive the misquoting.)

thunksheadontable Sat 09-Feb-13 19:31:48

(and I suppose Yellow, in terms of my own experience, my father found a way to "keep control" without smacking but actually became a pretty horrific abuser without using his hands, so I suppose this is what I feel would happen. I feel people who would use disciplinary methods in an abusive way would find another way to do that regardless).

exoticfruits Sat 09-Feb-13 19:32:22

I can only assume that people are happy with smacking in general by those in charge of the child, or they can't give a convincing reason for it being the prerogative of the parent.
Since I think there would be hell to pay if a teacher smacked a child I can only assume it is the second.

mathanxiety Sat 09-Feb-13 19:33:27

You have shared a lot of yourself and treated your own personal history of accepting abuse as another category of behaviour as if it should apply to everyone else.

So not so empathetic therefore, and not necessarily right either. Right for you is not automatically right for everyone else.

You missed my post earlier about alternatives to smacking I see. No big surprise.

It's not about the "benefit of the doubt" (while we are talking about misreading). It's about awareness of how human beings work. Human beings, by their nature, are nowhere near as rational as they like to believe, even on the best of days.
Awareness...
Awareness of how small human beings work?
(This would go a long way towards preventing smacking)
Or just the larger ones?
(Self awareness and the development of a rational and consistent value system would go a long way towards preventing smacking)
If none of them is rational even on the best of days how does smacking help either of them?
(Counting backwards from 110 to 83, punching a pillow, giving yourself a timeout on your own thinking chair, modelling acceptable behaviour and tone of voice, apologising when you are wrong, supervising closely at all times and anticipating dangers and temptations..)

thunksheadontable Sat 09-Feb-13 19:33:32

"Nothing trumps wisdom and compassion, imo. If you are short of either, or simply tired or at the end of your tether, don't lash out at someone just because they are there and can't hit back. Save the anger for whoever/whatever is really responsible.

And forgive yourself the occasional lapse. Children are arrows from your bow and all that. They come through you, but aren't yours, basically. And you can learn far more from them than the other way round. "

See, this is what I am trying to say but not very well perhaps smile.

Solopower1 Sat 09-Feb-13 19:36:16

Yes, I can give advice (take it - I'm not using it). In spite of as well as because of my mistakes.

thunksheadontable Sat 09-Feb-13 19:39:32

"You have shared a lot of yourself and treated your own personal history of accepting abuse as another category of behaviour as if it should apply to everyone else.

So not so empathetic therefore, and not necessarily right either. Right for you is not automatically right for everyone else"

I don't understand your point here, especially the first one. My own personal history of accepting abuse as another category of behaviour as if it should apply to everyone else? I have an opinion that looking at all human in a compassionate, empathetic way is the ideal. Can I always do that? No. I too see through a glass darkly and am human, fallible and imperfectible. I am no Buddha, or even good old Kihlal Gibran himself.

I can't help but thinking though that in the way that you talk about others personal experiences (while sharing none of your own) there is a little bit of meanness, though. Forgive me if I am yet again "misreading" you.... hmm.

YellowAndGreenAndRedAndBlue Sat 09-Feb-13 19:41:01

I do not know why each person does it. But I believe it is wrong to hit a person, including children.

You would have to ask each individual who hits what they think the function is. I believe there is no positive function for the person on the receiving end.

thunksheadontable Sat 09-Feb-13 19:44:12

^Awareness...
Awareness of how small human beings work?
(This would go a long way towards preventing smacking)
Or just the larger ones?
(Self awareness and the development of a rational and consistent value system would go a long way towards preventing smacking)^

Erm, yeah. That is sort of the point! We should all strive towards being compassionate, kind and aware and we should aim to model this at all times to our kids.. but we won't always get it right and condemnation of people who got it wrong is basically a bit mean-spirited and doesn't really help reduce negative behaviours.

There is a great book called "Everyday Blessings" which is about mindful parenting which is pretty much about developing awareness of yourself and what pushes your own buttons and what your ideals are etc with the aim being that if you are to have peace in the world you need to start within yourself.

Solopower1 Sat 09-Feb-13 19:56:48

Sounds like my sort of book, Thunks. smile

mathanxiety Sat 09-Feb-13 20:16:01

The function of smacking is to deal with feelings of fear of all sorts on the part of the parent.

mathanxiety Sat 09-Feb-13 20:16:37

.. to deal with it without examining it or getting to the root of it.

thunksheadontable Sat 09-Feb-13 20:53:34

Solo when I first read it I thought it was far too woo altogether and was even a bit irritated by some of e.g. they talk about why they coslept and I thought that wasn't very nonjudgey but when I have reread it I have found it very useful. I think you really have to start with yourself and managing your own emotions in most of these difficult discipline situations.. and sometimes you get it wrong. I have been doing mindfulness in conjunction with CBT for a year now and I feel I have only scratched the surface... there is a lot of unlearning to do. Bizarrely I discovered my fear was also causing issues.. but not by me being aggressive as I feared but by overthinking and overstrategising about every last aspect of his development... I had my head constantly stuck in a parenting book and everything had to be done 'by the letter', except of course it doesn't quite work out like that, does it. You can't just be a brilliant parent by using the 'right' techniques and yet at the same time you can be a bloody good mum while making atrocious mistakes. Understanding that balance is probably the work of a lifetime for me smile

thunksheadontable Sat 09-Feb-13 20:56:31

(And ultimately I suppose, accepting that a) I can't control who my children become by my action or inaction as they are their own people and b) my parents haven't controlled who I have become through their action or inaction as I am my own person too...)

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