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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.

blue22 Fri 19-Apr-13 10:28:16

I don't smack - I'd feel hypocritical telling my DDs that hitting is wrong if I did it myself.

anorexiamum Fri 19-Apr-13 10:30:21

mintyaeroegg and swallowedafly those are very personal and hurtful comments. Why do you say that? And irrelevant to this thread. Resorting to ad hominem insults is the last resort of those with no substantive arguments.

LittleAbruzzenBear Fri 19-Apr-13 10:34:08

This thread upsets me just reading it because I remember being smacked (bottom, hands and legs) up to the age of thirteen. I also identify with Shakey, when DS1 was two, I slapped him on the leg and I was so upset I couldn't sleep that night so I woke him and I cuddled him and let him know I love him. I lost control in that moment. I am not and will not be like my parents. If anything that frustrating has happened since then, I walk away, let DS1 calm down and have a chat with him. At most I let him know the consequence of bad behaviour is missing out on a treat/outing unless he calms down/apologises. The sad thing is DH had the same for a lot longer in his childhood. He left home at 17. I think it was the norm in the 70's and 80's. I didn't get on with my father until I was in my mid-20's, it took a long time to forgive.

MrsBungle Fri 19-Apr-13 10:35:01

I just have no desire whatsoever to hit my children or cause them physical pain for any reason. It's just not there in me. I don't understand it.

I was hit as a child. I had a great relationship with my mum and I felt loved and I loved her. I was scared of her at times, though. I remember the panicked feeling that I was about to get whacked! My mum has admitted since that she really regrets hitting us (she never left a mark or anything) and freely admits she did it because she lost control. I remember after being hit she would always come and say sorry within half an hour!

Smacking and hitting and physical violence (because that is what it is no matter how you dress it up) is not part of my 'parenting tool box' (wtf is that?!).

anorexiamum Fri 19-Apr-13 10:35:06

I have reported those most recent comments. This is a forum for reasoned debate, not for personal abuse that does nothing to contribute to the arguments (however keenly felt).

DamselWithADulcimer Fri 19-Apr-13 10:35:11

Agree with Huw.

TolliverGroat Fri 19-Apr-13 10:35:51

anorexiamum is the mother of someone with anorexia. Why is it "vile" of her to acknowledge that fact?

BOF Fri 19-Apr-13 10:36:09

I understand your username, anorexiamum, only from looking up your posts (which I apologise for, but I was worried we might have a pro-Ana activist on MN who might trigger ED sufferers). I absolutely applaud you wanting to raise this important issue and safeguard our children. Is there a way you might consider rewording how to give it prominence in your name without it appearing at first glance to be something you are and are proud of? Do you see what I mean?

I hope I haven't offended you by bringing this up.

TeddyBare Fri 19-Apr-13 10:45:24

I grew up in Sweden which is a generation or two ahead of the UK on this issue. People of my generation were not really smacked. It wasn't illegal then but it just didn't happen. I would never hit my dc and I cannot understand any justification for it. There are times when they have annoyed me a lot but I'd never hit them for that. There are better ways to deal with issues.

anorexiamum Fri 19-Apr-13 10:48:01

BOF thank you. No, of course you have not offended me through your sensitively worded post. I am going to namechange smile

I have to say that swallowedafly has had me in tears sad Anorexia is not something you would wish on any family, for any reason and using it as a stick to beat someone with seems very below the belt and unnecessary. I hope she didn't do it intentionally.

I will pm you with a fuller explanation (if I can figure out how to pm).

WowOoo Fri 19-Apr-13 10:48:07

I don't think smacking is the answer. I don't want my children to learn that lashing out is the right thing. I want to teach them that we need a bit of self control in order to get along.

ppeatfruit Fri 19-Apr-13 10:51:52

IMO and E there is a strong relationship between being smacked or hit regularly as a L.O. and domestic violence.

If you grew up with violence as a norm why wouldn't you (especially if you don't think about it) bring it to your closest relationship as an adult?

swallowedAfly Fri 19-Apr-13 10:53:42

i took it as a proana thing too sorry.

i had you in tears??? from saying vile? blimey. i'm sorry i misunderstood your name.

'she' is still here btw.

Forgetfulmog Fri 19-Apr-13 10:58:32

Can we all get back to the thread in question please without getting all personal.

Sorry MNHQ - not trying to step on anyone's toes grin

rowtunda Fri 19-Apr-13 11:00:48

I was smacked as a child by my mum who was a great mum. At the time I knew I was being smacked because I was being naughty, looking back it was probably the times when mum was at the end of her tether.

I don't know - my mum was a single mum and bloody good. She brought us up very well, knowing right or right. We were very well behaved children but I don't think that was because I got the occasion smack I think it was because she was a very firm mum who would not take any shit. It really didn't effect me as a child and I imagine there are literally millions of people like me who were smacked and still felt loved and had respect for their parents.

I'm 32 and what is more shocking to me was the memory of being in reception class at primary school and a boy being bent over the teachers knee and being smacked,that was so upsetting at the time to see at such as young age. It must have been just before physical punishment was banned in schools - in reception class, it was awful.

My mum was a teacher when you could still smack children in school (not that she ever did) but when I used to go to parents evening she would say in front of me to teachers, that she liked and trusted, that if I ever came home saying I had been hit by a teacher she would give me a smack as well because I shouldn't have been misbehaving.

I'm sure some people up thread would think that is awful and a terrible threat of violence but to me it wasn't and even now it isn't - it was mums way of telling me there was a right and wrong way of behaving. I suppose it was a different time then - but it really didn't do me any harm, and I was very well behaved!

I would be very upset if I smacked my children though - which I can't really explain. I think to me it would mean that I have 'lost it' and I am a different parent to my mother (I sometime wonder if I'm too soft and I'm going to end up with a monster because of it though!)

swallowedAfly Fri 19-Apr-13 11:01:35

i stand by not liking it - in the same i wouldn't like 'downsmum' or 'aspergersmum' - it turns the child into a condition first rather than a person in my mind.

anyway enough on that and hope i haven't caused anymore tears.

anorexiamum Fri 19-Apr-13 11:03:57

Apology accepted, swallowedafly. Yes, tears - having had a child who is so ill that at times it seemed she might well die is not something it is unaffecting to be abused for. I can see perhaps it's not a good name though and will change it - I would HATE anyone to think me pro-ana when it is so disgusting and destructive. I am off to namechange!

PS I still disagree about the smacking! Please think through why you find it acceptable - and then apply those arguments to adults.

anorexiamum Fri 19-Apr-13 11:04:17

sorry, I meant "affecting" not "unaffecting"

Somersetlady Fri 19-Apr-13 11:12:02

i've read the whole post and cant for the life of me see how some people manage to balance their arguments.

life is complicated, children are a blessing but like all animals need to be shown the way in life and thats essentially all we are. do you see a grown lioness carry her peers by the neck or nip them? no?

as for the you can only do it to a child if its ok for an adult argument i regularly enjoy sleeping with my husband but it would be abhorrent to do that to a child.

and theres the screw. just because something is acceptable to do to or with an adult the same doesn't follow with a child. i would be equally repulsed if my DH wanted to wear nappies be placed on the naughty step, take his feed from a bottle and get me to push him around in a buggy......

I'm not for one minute suggesting that we all beat our children black and blue but that sometimes life is more complicated than forcing your own ideals on other animals.

oh and by the way i've been in public places many a time and seen other peoples little darlings and thought in my head for goodness sake just give them a slap.

growing up not able to have social skills, know your boundaries or follow the 'rules' be it of society or family, leads to a whole set of problems in later life of its own..............

ppeatfruit Fri 19-Apr-13 11:20:44

Somerset My arguments didn't make you think then? I come from a line of non smackers and you'd think we'd all be uncontrolled and unsocialised but we are the opposite so there.

Lions are not a good comparison we don't have to go out and HUNT to eat do we? Of course a lion cub would be treated differently to a human baby.

Sparklyboots Fri 19-Apr-13 11:23:39

I think it's hard to have a clear debate here, because there is a tendency on both sides to make extreme examples of the other side and minimise their own practice.

For the record as a non-smacker, I do not use long lectures, emotional manipulation, or long drawn out punitive consequences, naughty whatevers etc. I say no, give a minimal functional explanation, and then repeat no, while physically preventing the child from continuing. Because my child is 2, and therefore has limited cognition skills, it takes repetition and my own intervention to prevent some things, like climbing up on the table next to an open window etc. If I am tired and harrassed it can wind me up to have to do so. But that's my tough shit, really, he's 2 and expecting him to fully understand and have impulse control is actually deeply unreasonable. At the same time failing to fully understand HIM and failing to exercise my OWN impulse control wouldn't strike me as the most rational basis for expecting better behaviour in the future.

I think harm discussions in case are a red herring; for me it's a question of principle. I am teaching the principle that hitting is wrong, that it's an unethical way to assert my boundaries. The fact that all the children you know who aren't smacked are basically feral, or all the adults who won't smack replace it with emotional abuse or extraordinarily punitive and abstract strategies just doesn't wash - I doubt it's true and you don't know everyone anyway. I'm sorry people are struggling in their parenting but don't think that means their children learn anything useful by smacking. I'm not perfect and I don't expect perfection from others. I just think you teach through your actions as much as what you tell your children, and if you don't want them to smack people you shouldn't smack them.

So you can get yourself wound up and outraged that I would dare suggest that you have to think about the principles at stake, but until the 'defence' of smacking has a rational way to answer concerns about that principle -we don't hit each other - there's not much to discuss.

Snorbs Fri 19-Apr-13 11:25:14

growing up not able to have social skills, know your boundaries or follow the 'rules' be it of society or family, leads to a whole set of problems in later life of its own..............

Yes it does. But growing up not being taught social skills, boundaries or rules is nothing to do with smacking. It's to do with good parenting.

extremepie Fri 19-Apr-13 11:28:48

I don't know, I think it is very difficult to determine.

I was smacked as a child - often, with force, sometimes with 'objects' (wooden spoons etc) and sometimes when my parents had gotten to the end of their tethers and lost their tempers. I sometimes went to school with bruises on my legs from being smacked.

I have been 'told' by several people on MN that this means I was physically abused as a child but somehow I just don't feel that I was.

I knew my parents loved me very much and they were doing what they thought was right at the time, following the example of their own parents. They weren't and aren't bad people or bad parents, they just didn't know any other way and were doing the best they coulc at the time.

They would always apologise afterwards and explain why they had done it and I always knew that it was, in a way, 'for my own good'.

When I got a boyfriend who hit me (at 15), I knew it was wrong and totally different.

I don't think being smacked as a child has affected me at all really - I can see how it might for some but I still have a good relationship with my parents as can't say it has had any real long term negative effects.

BTW, I am only 27 so grew up in a time when smacking was starting to get 'frowned on' and was not necessarily the norm!

LRDtheFeministDragon Fri 19-Apr-13 11:35:51

'Smacking does no harm if a child feels loved'


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

are totally different things.

If you have a magic way to ensure that a child you smack will feel loved despite that, no doubt it will feel loved. However, no-one has as yet come up with that. Smacking a child who does not feel loved and then getting loving and affectionate is more likely to mess with that child's head and make them feel shit.

Just my opinion, obviously.

ppeatfruit Fri 19-Apr-13 11:36:29

extremepie How would you treat your own DCs?

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