Smacking 'does no harm if a child feels loved': do you agree?

(524 Posts)
HelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 18-Apr-13 21:30:49

Hello.

We're wondering how you feel about new research that suggests smacking does children no harm as long as they know it is for the right reasons and feel loved.

The publication of this study - which focused on teenagers, it must be said - is causing quite a stir, with, according to the Telegraph, 'parenting groups and charities [reacting] angrily to the findings, [and] maintaining that a child can suffer long term damage from physical discipline'.

In Britain, parents are not banned from smacking their children but it is illegal to inflict injuries causing more than a temporary reddening of the skin.

So, do you agree that smacking is fine, as long as it's tempered with a backdrop of love and affection? Or do you think that smacking is never the answer? Please do tell.

FarelyKnuts Thu 18-Apr-13 21:33:36

I think I would not smack an adult who was doing something I did not like/agree with so why on earth would it be ok to do it to someone smaller and totally defenceless against me?
There are other ways to discipline that do work.

YoniOno Thu 18-Apr-13 21:33:51

If you resort to violence, you've lost and the child knows it. Have never and will never hit my children. It's abuse of power, pure and simple. It's scary how desperate people are to justify what is basically an animal instinct to lash out when things don't go your way sad

EleanorFarjeon Thu 18-Apr-13 21:34:18

I don't think there's ever a right reason to hit a child.

It's grossly hypocritical and poor, lazy and often, abusive parenting.

SirBoobAlot Thu 18-Apr-13 21:34:57

There is no right reason to hurt a child.

If the only way you can deal with your child is to injure them, then you need help.

claraschu Thu 18-Apr-13 21:35:40

Being hit is humiliating. Being humiliated is never good.

Parents hit children because they are incompetent or angry.

ImTooHecsyForYourParty Thu 18-Apr-13 21:37:17

Well, I don't think I'd feel very loved by my husband if he gave me the odd backhander, so I would have to say that I disagree that hitting someone has any place in a loving family relationship.

I was hit as a child and I can tell you that it did NOT make me feel loved. It made me afraid. Angry. Helpless. And I am 39 years old and I still flinch if someone makes a sudden movement.

My dad once said it made him feel sad that I flinched from him.

hmm well you and mum shouldn't raise your hand to me then, should you?

I do not think that hitting is ever the right thing to do. I don't think your child should fear you and I don't think that causing physical pain to someone is ever a loving thing to do.

claraschu Thu 18-Apr-13 21:39:52

I hate the work "smack". It trivializes violence and is very insulting.

SirBoobAlot Thu 18-Apr-13 21:40:08

And as for the fact it was aimed at teenagers... I'm 21. It's only in the last two years that I've recognised the damage some of the decisions my parents made, including smacking, have caused me.

If you'd have asked me a few years ago, I'd have told you I deserved it.

I didn't. No child deserves to be hit. No child deserves to run off and hide in a corner when they drop something because they don't want to be smacked. And my parents 'only' smacked for 'serious' things.

Because I was taught that I had deserved to be hurt by being smacked, when my first boyfriend hit me when I disagreed with him, I didn't tell anyone. And that is about the summary of the majority of my relationships, until I started to see the reasons for it.

No. It is never okay to hurt a child. Ever.

MisForMumNotMaid Thu 18-Apr-13 21:42:30

I will start by saying i've never smacked my three.

My dad did however smack me. He's a very calm and kind person. I'm very strong willed and as a child sometimes a fog would come down that would stop all rational thought. A controlled smack without anger could shock me back to a rational way of being where we could reason through my behaviour.

The smacks I received from my dad weren't the sort that left a mark. I did feel very loved. I've not become a smacker as a result but if I'd been my own challenging child maybe I'd have tried it as a tactic.

My bigest problem with physical punishments is I think very few people are able to stay truely calm on the inside when possibly tired and faced with a challenging child. Therefore moderation of force, for most, is not easily achieved. Its easier, on balance, for all not to smack than for some to not understand the difference between a quick shock and abuse.

YoniOno Thu 18-Apr-13 21:45:38

I remember one specific occasion - I was to be picked up by my dad instead of my mum after dancing lesson, so was about 7 I think. He parked round the corner and waited in the car instead of coming in to get me like mum usually did. I was probably told to expect this, but being a child I forgot. Anyway I played outside for maybe 20 mins with friends then saw his car and went running towards him, having had a ball and full of fun. He opened his car door, hit me across the hand without saying a word and told me to get in.

The shock, the shock of it, even though both he and mum had hit me before. I had no idea what I had done wrong, there was no warning and it was so unjust. I cried all the way home and ran to mum to tell her and she wasn't sympathetic.

My parents weren't abusive in general, but this still stings and damaged my relationship with my dad.

If you hit your children, you don't know if there is one hit that will break their trust, that will really hurt them emotionally and shock them. Dad certainly didn't know and never did.

So I'll never be hitting my children.

Floweryhat Thu 18-Apr-13 21:46:14

Violence = bad. Full stop.

I wouldn't hit an adult, why would I hit a child?

AnAirOfHope Thu 18-Apr-13 21:46:36

It is never ok to hit a child. Fear teaches nothing good. Its not what i want my children to see or go thru or live with.

HuwEdwards Thu 18-Apr-13 21:47:03

I don't smack my children, it wouldn't feel right and I feel I'm a competent enough mum to know how to discipline differently. And if my competence starts to wane, they are now to big to smack anyway - and that's just one point against smacking, that it's not a longterm solution

I was however, smacked as a child - not beaten, but a slap was doled out quite liberally, mainly by my dad, don't remember my mum smacking me. I adored my dad. He was my hero, I was confident he could fix anything for me, that he would stand up for me and protect me. But the thought of incurring his wrath was always a deterrent for me.

He's dead some years now, and I remember him with absolute love, not fear. So, whilst I don't condone smacking, I think it is possible to be smacked and loved.

Odd that this focused on teens, I don't remember being smacked beyond the age of about 11.

sleepythegiraffe Thu 18-Apr-13 21:53:44

No, hitting anyone is inexcusable. I do not expect to be hit, why should my children? Lazy parenting.

Shallishanti Thu 18-Apr-13 21:54:56

would help if the telegrapn had given a link- haven't the energy to track down the original research....but, I'd say
1. this was done with mexican american teenagers and they admit that violence against children (as I would term it) is more tolerated in that culture
2. a strong attachment gives some protection against the damage violence causes, which is not surprising, and more likely to be the case if the child looks around and sees that such violence is 'the norm'- if you get hit AND you know that your friends don't, feeling loved is less likely to help you not feel worthless, humiliated, angry.
3. That might explain all the people who claim 'never did me any harm'- they are from earlier generations or different cultures

HelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 18-Apr-13 22:02:35

Shallishanti

would help if the telegrapn had given a link- haven't the energy to track down the original research....but, I'd say
1. this was done with mexican american teenagers and they admit that violence against children (as I would term it) is more tolerated in that culture
2. a strong attachment gives some protection against the damage violence causes, which is not surprising, and more likely to be the case if the child looks around and sees that such violence is 'the norm'- if you get hit AND you know that your friends don't, feeling loved is less likely to help you not feel worthless, humiliated, angry.
3. That might explain all the people who claim 'never did me any harm'- they are from earlier generations or different cultures

Hi Shallishanti. Think the orig research is here but I can't get the link to work right now.

Full citation: Miguelina Germán, Nancy A. Gonzales, Darya Bonds McClain, Larry Dumka, and Roger Millsap Maternal Warmth Moderates the Link between (2013) Harsh Discipline and Later Externalizing Behaviors for Mexican American Adolescents, Parenting: Science and Practice, DOI: 10.1080/15295192.2013.756353

Tee2072 Thu 18-Apr-13 22:04:06

I will never smack my son. I don't want him to smack me, so why would I be allowed to smack him?

It's bullying, pure and simple.

ReallyTired Thu 18-Apr-13 22:06:09

I think the negative affects of smacking get exaggerated. There are other forms of abuse which are far worse than smacking like verbal bullying, saracim, favourism, or complete lack of discipline to name a few.

However smacking is not OK. Children who are smacked tend to be more aggressive and they don't learn socially acceptable ways of resolving conflict from their parents.

Very few adults who were smacked are violent. I don't think that the affects of less than optimal parents are as bad as we think.

NinthWave Thu 18-Apr-13 22:08:09

My parents smacked me and each time it felt like a betrayal. How can someone who loves me be voilent towards me?

I will not and never have smacked my children.

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Thu 18-Apr-13 22:12:27

Smacking = hitting

If we smacked someone in the street (using flat of hand,leaving no mark ) we'd be done for assault.

Why it not OK to smack adults, but it is ok to Hit children.

Shakey1500 Thu 18-Apr-13 22:14:22

I was beaten black and blue as a child on a regular basis.

I tapped my DS on the hand when he was about two and felt physically sick. I was mortified at my behaviour, was instantly catapulted back to my childhood and vowed never to raise a hand to him ever again.

There simply is not one valid reason/excuse/justification or explanation that will ever make it acceptable.

I just can't get my head round it. Either the smack comes from a position of anger, which is clearly a bad idea, or it comes from a position of total calm and reason, which makes me feel slightly sick.

To my mind, a child is either too young or too old to be smacked. "It didn't do me any harm" isn't a good enough reason for any other area of parenting so I don't understand why smacking has this special status.

Nerfmother Thu 18-Apr-13 22:20:13

I don't do smacking, I think its a bit grim. I don't understand smacking for something like running into a road or touching the fire - surely that's a lesson that your child can't yet comprehend safety and risk, and that you need to be close by?
Otoh, I can't get excited about it: I think banning it would lead to awful anxieties for parents who are essentially doing a good job, and less time for professionals to focus on actual physical abuse of children. I don't think smacking leads to beating, I think some people use it like the naughty step etc.
Lots of things are probably worse - I remember a horrible comment from my aunt much more than the smack I know I received from my dad.

HuwEdwards Thu 18-Apr-13 22:21:24

You can't draw parallels with 'smacking people in the street'. Neither would you tell someone in the street to do their coat up or that they were eating too many sweets.

I don't think a smack comes from just anger or calm - it's rarely that black and white. It can also be from fear, frustration, and probably many other emotions.

I still don't think smacking is right, but I don't think it's helpful to reduce a sometime complex emotional situation to that level of simplicity.

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