Advanced search

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

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


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.

Corygal Thu 18-Apr-13 22:24:53

I'm 45. If my mother gets within 2 foot of me, I flinch.

She would say I have always been very loved.

piprabbit Thu 18-Apr-13 22:29:13

Either you hit your child first and explain the 'right reasons' later - by which time they have already been scared, hurt and humiliated, or you explain to them before you hit them 'I'm hitting you because you did X and I love you very much' which seems frankly creepy to me and allows plenty of time for the fear to build before the punishment happens.

Doesn't really work for me either way. Hitting a child implies a parent has lost control of themselves, if you hit a child while fully in control of yourself then it makes me wonder why you didn't take the time to think of an alternative.

Meglet Thu 18-Apr-13 22:30:20

Yes, I pretty much agree with the article. Mine get smacked sometimes, usually when all hell has broken loose and I'm being constantly ignored. If there's a choice between a smack or everyone being late for school / work then a smack is the least worst option.

I tell my children I love them every day and they talk to me if they are worried about something, so (so far) smacking hasn't destroyed our relationship.

Now the children are school age I know many parents who smack. It's far from perfect parenting but real life isn't perfect and children push your buttons to the very limit.

Snog Thu 18-Apr-13 22:34:55

My parents both loved me and smacked me as was fairly common at that time. They would say it did me no harm.
I would say it was abhorrent and was emotionally damaging to me.
Over my dead body would m own child experience this. In my eyes it is physical abuse. End of.

AmberLeaf Thu 18-Apr-13 22:35:15

smacking is fine, as long as it's tempered with a backdrop of love and affection?

That sounds so messed up!

Its like you are setting your child up to think that being hit within a loving relationship is good and long as it is 'deserved' hmm

SirBoobAlot Thu 18-Apr-13 22:35:44

You think hurting your children is better than being a bit late, Meglet?


timidviper Thu 18-Apr-13 22:39:12

I'm surprised that there is nobody expressing a different point of view and do wonder if smacking has become one of those issues where no-one dares put their head above the parapet. Are there smackers out there but they just keep quiet for fear of being savaged?

My DCs are all grown up now but, when they were small, smacking was much more acceptable and I think most parents used a slap on the hand or the leg as the last resort of punishments. I'm not aware of any damage it has done to them, they seem well-balanced and are pleasant, successful young adults.

I agree it is a complex issue and also that there are far worse things, like emotional abuse, verbal cruelty, etc

Snog Thu 18-Apr-13 22:39:13

I feel physically sick just thinking about children being smacked
I would welcome further legislation to protect children
Abuse from your own parents in the name of love is pretty damn sick

Meglet Thu 18-Apr-13 22:40:31

sirboob I'm a single mum with a mortgage and a roof to keep over our heads. In this climate the very last thing I can risk is being anything less than perfect at work. The children know how they should behave, if they don't then I don't really have a choice but to be really strict. It's far from nice but screwing up at work would be far far worse.

CognitiveOverload Thu 18-Apr-13 22:42:45

Smacking is not fine. It's not acceptable amongst adults why would it be acceptable to physically abuse a child?

Snog Thu 18-Apr-13 22:43:56

Nobody is defending emotional abuse or verbal cruelty! The fact that these exist doesn't make smacking ok! What twisted logic is that? Smacking is physically and emotionally abusive - I recognise this as a victim of it. My parents are unable to acknowledge this as perpetrators.

Canihavesomemore Thu 18-Apr-13 22:45:32

My dad used to smack me and that developed into hitting me when he lost his temper. I smacked my son twice... 3rd time I did it was because I lost my temper, I then realized I had hit him sad (an irrational lash out is how I define it) and never laid a hand on him again. Nobody should ever think they have control on that outdated disciplinary method, there are other proven methods out there now accessible to us all

Snog Thu 18-Apr-13 22:46:07

Meglet are you saying you will lose your job if you don't smack your kids?

BOF Thu 18-Apr-13 22:47:36

I think the point about the cultural backdrop is very important. In this country we have been moving away from viewing physical chastisement as acceptable for quite a while now. I can't really see that a teenager here and now who was smacked when younger would interpret their experience as part of loving discipline, when so many of their peers will have grown up believing it to part of a spectrum of abuse. I'd imagine it would cause them to view their parents as uncaring and incompetent, or worse, think of themselves as less loveable than the rest of their friends who were brought up without violent punishments.

Sparklyboots Thu 18-Apr-13 22:51:11

I'm not sure I'm qualified to answer about 'long term damage'. I just think it's wrong in principle; I think the idea that I should be able to use my physical power to enforce my ideas is wrong; the idea that I'm allowed to model a behaviour that would be totally unacceptable in the child is confusing; and that teaching my children that hurting someone 'for their own good' has any place in a loving relationship is wrong.

I was smacked; and I was loved, but I didn't think I was loved while I was being smacked. Also the threat of this kind of punishment meant that I spent little time reflecting on the value of a particular standard or requirement and a lot of time worrying about how I could be seen to be meeting it. I'm not sure that this is the effect I want my parenting to have on my own children.

Sparklyboots Thu 18-Apr-13 23:00:41

Also, would be interested how you evidence the relationship between smacking in isolation and 'long term damage'. How is 'long term damage measured'? My own parents are from the 'never-did-me-any-harm' brigade, and are productive and largely well adjusted members of their communities. But they have some very strange ideas about what a loving relationship looks like and tolerating hurtful behaviour is part of them. Can't help relating that to their experience of 'love' as including deliberately hurtful behaviour by the person who 'loves' them. Also think it would be unlikely they'd qualify as 'long-term damaged' in any measurable sense.

SirBoobAlot Thu 18-Apr-13 23:05:07

I hate the ''it never did me any harm'' argument. It obviously did harm you if you now think it is acceptable to hurt a child.

And certainly then tolerating hurtful behaviour because you are tuned to believe it is acceptable classifies as long term emotional damage IMO.

Anything that diminishes self respect is a bad thing.

DialMforMummy Thu 18-Apr-13 23:16:44

I am against violence. How can you tell an impulsive child not to hit if you hit him/her yourself? Not a great model, is it?
The only times I ever was tempted to hit my DC is when I was very stressed and lost my rag. What would he have learnt from me hitting him? Nothing that could not have been learnt with other ways of managing his behaviour.

coppertop Thu 18-Apr-13 23:17:15

"I hit you but it's okay because I love you."

I can't think of any other situation in life where this sentiment would be okay.

If an adult can't solve a problem without resorting to hitting, what hope is there for a growing child? confused

Madratlady Thu 18-Apr-13 23:25:45

Whilst I wouldn't smack my children, because I think it sets a bad example and is nearly always completely unnecessary, I was occasionally smacked as a child - not hard and usually when doing something dangerous or very naughty. It hasn't done any damage, I don't feel betrayed or abused and I do feel loved and have a close relationship with my parents.

There is a difference between using a smack as routine punishment and in exceptional circumstances. I disagree with claiming that all parents who smack are abusive as well; beating a child is abuse, a sharp tap isn't right but probably doesn't come under the heading of abuse.

My parents generation (I'm in my early 20s now) were more accepting of smacking and my grandparents generation even more so. If everyone who was occasionally smacked was 'damaged' then the majority of people of some ages would be 'damaged'.

AmberLeaf Thu 18-Apr-13 23:44:20

Lots of people are damaged though!

As far as being capable of recognising what makes a healthy adult relationship anyway, your parents and how they are with you is your first model of a relationship. I think that this sort of attitude must have an effect on the self worth of a person, even right into adulthood.

SwedishEdith Thu 18-Apr-13 23:53:15

I think it's irrelevant whether or not it does harm - define "harm"? It's an act of violence = wrong.

siiiiiiiiigh Fri 19-Apr-13 00:02:36

Be careful of demonising sleep deprived, harassed, frustrated parents as monsters.

I've smacked all 3 of my kids - of course it's not right, of course there were better options available, but, with three small kids being defiant and darting into a was the least worst sceanrio.

Yep, if I'd been more rational I'd not have rapped their chubby wee knuckles. But, I was knackered, frightened, and at the end of my tether.

Not proud of it. But, they didn't get knocked down, and needed to learn not to run into a road.

I truly think that's different from abusing your kids, and, whilst I'm sorry that so many of you have had awful experiences, I'm not apologetic for what I did. At that moment, it was all I could muster up.

EmpressMaud Fri 19-Apr-13 00:07:37

No, I don't believe it is ever right to hit a child.

conorsrockers Fri 19-Apr-13 00:25:52


Interesting article, but unlikely to be intelligently debated/discussed here.

Respect to Meglet for bothering to be honest.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now