We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
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Monday, December 28. 2009
With half the world either on vacation, spaced out, "enjoying" family, skiing, lounging in the Caribbean over Mohitos and Rum Punches, or too busy digesting cookies to spare time for the intertubes, it seems like a good time to mix in some daily Dr. B. re-runs from our archives.
This one, "A Good Spanking," is from 2007.
The proposed anti-spanking law in California has been much discussed, as here at Education Wonks. Also, Raven.The story has also been much mocked: Blame Bush notes that spanking can lead to things which are considered "disorders" in California, such as respect for authority, consideration of rules, self-discipline, and awareness of consequences.
There may be some shrinks who are opposed to corporal punishment, but I do not think that I know any. There are many situations for which I would recommend corporal punishment (eg ignoring a rule about playing in the street, or accidentally pointing a BB gun at somebody, or being sadistic with a sibling or a pet - for a few examples) and, in general, I think it is preferable to withdrawal of love or attention (ie, "time-outs," which I think are usually applied when the adult needs the break from the kid. That is, a "time-out" is a cop-out.).
In fact, I think schools ought to be able to administer corporal punishment too. I received my share, and not only did it not harm me - I think it helped me (in retrospect!). It "concentrates the mind," assists the memory, sets a firm limit, and demonstrates "tough love." A reasonable degree of anger is an essential accompaniment.
What I observe more than anything else is that defiant, obnoxious, or even "conduct disordered" kids - and sometimes just naughty kids, get sent to psychiatrists and social workers before anyone tries forceful discipline - as if growing up respectful and obedient were automatic. For many it is, but for many it is not.
Never forget that when a young adult messes with a drill sargent, watch out. When an adult messes with a cop, that adult will be taught a very firm physical lesson. When an adult breaks a serious rule, men without smiles with loaded guns will come and point them at your chest, throw you to the floor, cuff you, and lock you away in a small room with Bubba-With-No-Teeth who is big and strong and feeling lonely.
So a good whuppin', when needed, isn't really so bad. It beats humiliation by a long shot. When the rules of life are not internalized, they need to be enforced externally until they are - which for some people means never. Some fear is very useful in life to keep us out of trouble. We can be their friends later, after they grow up a bit.
Spare the rod and spoil the child. Do not listen to those who deliberately and sneakily try to conflate punishment with child abuse, and never let the government tell you how to raise your kids. In case you haven't noticed yet, the government is an idiot.
Related: Dr. Helen on kids who kill
Image: Boy being birched by teacher, no doubt deservedly, while other students observe. 1375.
A propos of Dr. Bliss' recent approval of spanking and corporal punishment (A Good Spanking), a friend offers the following alternative to the humiliation of spanking:When my kids act up, act disrespectfully, or disobey orders repeatedly, we never do p
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From our Archives
Worm of the Week: Our Friend, Mr. EarthwormMr. Cool: Willis Haviland CarrierDane Geld, Appeasement, and the Danger of Being Innocent in a Dangerous WorldWheelbarrows and Wagons: The LeverGood Spanking
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I never understood why grown people don't understand that little pain is better than massive trauma or death. Reason and logic can only be used to persuade reasonable people. Young children lack reason which is why parents are required (Duh!). A hundred years ago, when my daughter was 3 and less and we lived in NYC (Before moving to Alaska) I wanted her to respond to one very important word: "STOP!" She needed to, not understand, but to at least respond to "stop" by stopping, -not running out into traffic, not sticking her finger in the electric socket, not testing the kitchen knife on her arm while giggling -but to STOP what she's doing right then. So yes, I'd give her a swat on the bottom when she didn't 'stop' when told. Yes she soon responded to the word. No she never ever ran out into NYC traffic, she'd, even at 3, stop when I said stop.
Same with dogs, in my opinion. The little zap from the collar is worth a mountain of dog yummies.
While in theory I agree with you, and certainly I use your philosophy when training dogs, it doesn't work with all kids, in all families. WHen my wimpy husband read the monks of New Skete he refused to let me discipline my now 75 pound monster as a puppy, and I was stupidly convinced to try it. The dog is loving, gentle, and completely disobedient, jumps up, would be a menace if I did not yank him around now. Obviously, the way I grew up training dogs, with a swat on the nose with newspaper, etc. worked better than nonviolence on the current beloved dog-brat.
But with kids? I am biased, because I was the victim of various forms of child abuse myself, including drunken beatings by my father, pinches, punches, kicks and ferocious spankings by my bipolar mother, and being starved, deprived of heat and blankets in my bedroom, etc etc. Not to mention other worse forms of abuse by a grandparent. The one constant refrain was spare the rod, spoil the child. I heard a lot of "this hurts me more than it hurts you" and it was bullshit. A few episodes of salutary violence had a good effect in our family. Like the time our grandmother washed my brother's mouth out with laundrysoap for swearing. He never did it in again in her presence. Or my father beating my brother for punching me. I don't think he ever hit another woman, ever again. But he received so many beatings from my father that they only made their peace when the latter was in the grave.
My point is not simply to vent but to explain that when I finally got up the courage to have kids anyway, after years of fearing history repeating itself, I girded myself with many things I vowed to do better. I didn't want my children terrified of me, hiding in fear, hiding bruises, burns deliberately administered, etc. I knew that I had inherited a terrible temper as well as heavyduty instability from my family. I sought professional help for the emotional shit, and struggled to develop self control. But I never trusted myself to allow even the possibility of hitting a child.
The kids we love more than anything else in the world, can also make us furious at times. You know that professionally, and as a mother. If I ruled out spanking, I could at least be sure that I would not lose control and really hurt a kid physically as our parents did.
I yell a lot. I am small and fierce, and have very high standards. My kids know that if they do anything wrong, I will not hide or make excuses for them. I have a kid who verges on conduct disorder, in addition to a million other diagnoses. I cannot see how even a rationally administered spanking could have ever helped him. When you have a kid who goes in and out of psychosis, who can be violent, it is doubly important that the parents control themselves, and do absolutely nothing that they could use to justify violence.
I should add that I am not a pacifist, am very pro-military,and your points about the police and soldiers, etc. are well taken. But I merely wanted to stress that some of us who choose not to spank our kids are doing it to break a cycle of family violence, and to model a better way to kids who are already so messed up. Many people would say that I should have just not had kids, given my family's and my own obviousl genetic deficiencies. I had them away, believing that God would help us love them and raise them to be GOd=fearing good citizens regardless.
I have never yet found a disciplinary system that works for kids like my troubled one. My normal kids are great kids, disciplined, hardworking, compassionate, etc. so I have obviously not screwed them up by not spanking them. But my messed up darling? Some elements of the cognitive behavioral stuff work when he is not psychotic or homicidal. But mostly just repetition, and the slow process of helping him internalize his Christian faith , etc.
Enough. Guess you struck a nerve. Since his violence is always directed against us parents, guess we will pay the price if we have made the wrong decision...
Have you ever read Starship Troopers? It has some great quotes about the need for corporal punishment as a way to prevent the youth from being victimized by adult consequences later on, when the system has denied them the opportunities needed to be able to handle them. (I call it victimization because Heinlein argued that if you don't prepare the person, you're mostly to blame for their actions).
I have one of those passages here: http://www.codemonkeyramblings.com/2007/02/random_thoughts_and_then_some.php
The thing to remember in disciplining a kid is the painfully obvious fact that every kid is different and will respond to different punishments in different ways. This is diametrically opposed to the idea of this anti-spanking law. Time-out can be good; spanking can be bad; it all depends on the kid and the parent, and it ought to be left up to the kid and the parent. (Well, just the parent actually.)
With our 3-year old, we started with corporal punishment for the bad stuff, but it just didn't work -- after a while she became so desensitized to spanking that it had no effect. But time-out -- that's a different story. When we put her in time-out, it has a HUGE effect and she generally at least pretends to have learned her lesson. So spanking didn't work for us and time-out does. (And it's not a cop-out by the way.) But the thing is, it could have been totally the other way around. And if it were, I don't know how I could allow the government to come in and tell me that it knows how to parent my kid better than I do.
My husband and I are both firm believers in spanking children.
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Robert, agree with you and most others here that government should keep their nose out of our parenting, and that every kid is different.
Interesting that time outs worked for your kid. We found that they had no effect on any of our brood. Not wanting to spank them, left us with little. The most dreadful punishment I came up with (that they seemed to hate) was the BORING MOMMY LECTURE OF DIRE CONSEQUENCES IN FUTURE LIFE. I would say "People who hit other people get put in jail, and then they have worse things done to them by the other people in jail, so it is in your interest to SHAPE UP." While hubby disapproves of this, it seems to put a crimp in the Cain and Abel style.
But honestly, the one thing that stops aggression dead in tracks is me yelling "Say whatever you like to her, scream and yell, but don't hit. I don't hit anyone , and I won't let you do so either." They know I mean it. It's the same as when I tell them that I will kill them if they drink as teenagers. " As long as you're underage and living here, you don't drink. I don't, and you can't. End of discussion." They pretty much do as I do, not as I say.
In quieter moments, we've had the frustrated discussions about schools' prohibition on defending oneself from bullies. The kids know that when I was bullied I eventually punched and kicked and made myself so obnoxious to the bullies that they left me alone, and I have commiserated with them that they can no longer do this in school. One has to coach them to be stool pigeons, or to run away, or to avoid conflict.
One of the complicating factors in current public debate about the discipline of children, at home and in public, is that not only are all kids different, but all parents interpret discipline differently. Certain cultural groups still believe that it's okay to beat the shit out of their kids, in ways that make strict WASPs look like pussycats.
Personally, I find the thought control and PC rubbish rammed down my kids' throats to be more obnoxious than the occasional sadism of frustrated old teachers of the type I studied with as a kid. They whacked bad kids, and praqctyic ed psychological torture on the uppitty smart ones like me, but there was not the same kind of thought control as now. Every day I remind one or the other kid not to share parental opinions, not to express themselves on certain issues, lest the thought police get them or us. I am beginning to get a feeling for what parents must have felt like in Nazi Germany, not wanting kids to rat them out for having expressed doubt about the latest party lines...And I hate having to teach my kids to avoid discussing important subjects, to dissemble, to avoid conflict.
Rhetorical of course, but what in hell have we come to that the last half of your last graf should ever be spoken in this country. You have my thanks, as a citizen, for trying your best to do a good job.
Probably as many opinions on this issue as there are parents. I won't add mine, except for "keep the government out of it."
Homeschooling is the answer for those who can afford it. Education is becoming a have and have-not tiered system, less between the private and public educated kids, and more between the institution-schooled (whether experiencing the bullying and snobbery at prep schools or the bullying and PC at urban and suburban schools) and the educated at home or with a small elective group.
Mine didn't suffer from lack of socialization. She was intensely good at being alone during her adolescent middle school years, but when having to deal with others through friends who were in school and later with her work, she did incredibly well and was hugely popular (and caring nothing about it). I think it helped her not to be cowed into peer submission and assigned an identity and worth from other insecure, often truly mean and jealous teenagers. She retained her confidence on her own terms, without having to be cliquish and shun others as her earlier school friends told her she must, and it showed.
Um, she was a tiny bit spanked on the derriere as a toddler, simply because she was born the most stubborn and "Why?"-questioning of souls, and we had real worries over her getting hit by a car first and not getting the chance to ask us to explain why she shouldn't dart into the street. Time-out never worked with her because she made a point of acting like she enjoyed it. Couldn't deprive her of toys because she could live in her head. And no TV was the standard, anyway.
Depriving a child of food or ambient thermal comfort seems pretty sadistic. Sorry for your early experiences, r/hm, which make your breaking the cycle of abuse all the more brilliant and braver. Your children are very blessed, indeed.
lhm, if I had to do it again, I would have homeschooled. But at the time, we thought that our quirky, brilliant, but socially unskilled kids would pick up better social skills from other kids and more gracious teachers than spending 24/7 with us. We wanted them to be more likeable and pleasant company than we were.
In fact, they have had wonderful relationships with their teachers, which have helped compensate for nearly zero extended family ties. We were blessed that despite sending them to public schools, all their teachers (at least in the elementary years) have been devoutly religious, old fashioned, and had rigorous academic and moral standards for their pupils. The high school teachers are a more mixed lot, with a lot of amoral bimbos who know less about the subjects they teach than some of their pupils...All the same, living in the same place their whole life, they will often bump into a kindergarten teacher in the supermarket who embraces them fondly, the tartar of fourth grade who tells them in 10th that she always believed in them, and a general sense that there are grownups besides their parents who care about them. Of course, the people at church are more present, and they trust them more, but the teachers have been a real blessing in their lives. The other kids, for the most part, have not. Curiously, the kid with problems has found a few really good friends at school, but the more typical kids have found school socially excruciating. Snobbery, consumerism, the drug and alcohol abuse of their peers, girls dressing like sluts and acting out a script from "Mean Girls" etc. Mine have friends from their advanced classes, but they could have made friends at church and avoided the daily gauntlet of school and the hos and the homeboys and the future golddiggers...
So I encourage parents of young children to have the courage of their convictions and home school. It's the freedom to protect your kids from the negative peer group for a little longer that is the chief benefit.
Our kids are all oriented towards adult values, tastes, and standards of behavior and some people have castigated us for not allowing them to be wholly part of teen "culture". To which I just say "Tough." My daughters know that they are worth more than a Wonderbra and giving head to a teenaged boy to be popular. Sorry to be so crude, but that is what I hear kids talking about shamelessly as I wait to pick mine up...
There is a huge difference between child abuse and spanking.
I experienced both and will say, without ANY doubt, the differences are far and wide. Abuse is sadistic in nature, tends to go on for years and the victim does not need to do anything "wrong" to get "it"... while a spank is a quick reminder that you're doing something, or have done something, VERY wrong or dangerous or life threatening, even. I don't buy the bulloney about spanks causing problems for kids as they grow up...not at all. Abuse? True abuse ALWAYS causes life long side effects. But not childhood spanks.
I tend to agree that the so-called experts are dead wrong on spanking. Given at the proper juncture, spanking is immensely beneficial to the unruly boy or girl and to his peers. It should be given when caught on some dangerous activity, like the 14-year boy who was caught in my post-War European school breaking the director's office window with his fist. The director saw the hand, but not the boy. Yet he reacted swiftly lining us all up outside, and inspecting our hands. The culprit who was badly cut on his wrist with the glass was made to drop his pants as we all stood in attention. Then, bent over, he was given some thirty strokes with a strap so soundly, that some boys were crying. I can still hear his cries and see his crimson bare butt glowing. It was a hands-on lesson in consequences for all the school, a lesson we have never forgotten. had this school director followed the advice of Dr. Spock, many of us would today have been in prisons.
Funny, now that you all mention it. I still spank myself, in a way. I smack myself in the forehead when I screw something up. I find it quite beneficial!
Why wouldn't it be just grand if that incorrigible yank named after an airplane couldn't be tied up in townsquare and roundly pilloried by the lot of teachers and public servants. It would be a great show, inexpensive and maybe teach him a thing or two about boundaries, decency and dignity.
I wonder how blustery and bumptious he'd be if with some unflinching Englishness stinging his backside! I say!
He'd need a miracle to carry on with his vulgarity on Scotsman or anywhere else for that matter!
I'm surprised that (unless I missed it) no one has mentioned the theraputic effects of a nice adult tush glowing. Often times it facilitates, uh,well it helps, I mean that, when the candles are low, some people really are moved by it
I think I read an article one time about it.
Should this offering started out Dear Penthouse?
No one's gonna touch that one with a ten-foot pole, paddle, hand or hairbrush, Habu.
Tonight I was naughty. The bad Habu liked it. The good Habu is watching a John Wayne movie and the bad Habu got to the keyboard.
I will not nurture the ....
"Hey 'bad 'bu, you're missing the part where the Duke shoots the bad guy"
Diary, I guess I'd better go watch the Duke and forget about discipline....but...naw later.
I do homeschool, and I find it tremendously helpful. My children have constancy of discipline and routine, and I know for a fact what they're being taught and what they're not having to face.
As far as spanking goes, I agree with the commenters who have said that it's different for every child. I tried it out of frustration and decided that for my kids, it just doesn't get the message through. I could spank one of my kids until my arm fell off, and it wouldn't get through to him, but taking away a privelege, would. My daughter responds to a verbal reprimand. My other son responds to counting, knowing at that on 3, he'll get a spank, but I only have to say 1, and he's moving. We haven't used spanking for years, now that we've figured out their hot buttons.
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my husband and i are both school teachers.
we spank the naughty girls on their bare bottoms.
we were both spanked growing up.
i am 22 weeks preg. with our first baby.
both 30 years old.
we will spank when needed.
I just read "Nurtureshock" (which I think someone mentioned on this blog...which I appreciate). According to the studies they site, spanking (actual discipline spanking, not abuse and not beating the crap out of them) is harmful if it is done by parents who don't want to spank. While the psychologists were denouncing it years ago, the studies showed that black families that spanked were not turning out kids with issues like some of the white families. They looked into it and surmised that if you use and are comfortable with spanking as a discipline tool, it is not harmful. If it causes you anguish to use, that is transferred to the child because you are being forced to use a punishment that is "so Bad".
I did spank my kids, less often with the younger ones than the older ones. They laugh at the memories of it now, but it was effective. If the effectiveness wore off occasionally, like it did for my second child, I quit using it for a time. Usually the threat was enough to keep them in line. The last time I spanked my youngest, she was shocked, but then started laughing. Of course, when I sent her to her room for a time out, she called me on the phone to ask me what she was supposed to be doing during a time out. I think she just learned all her lessons from the older ones. It was not anxiety or grief inducing for me or them, just a tool to get their attention, like all discipline measures we try to come up with (that seem to be so much harder to find as they become teens). They are growing up to be delightful, though, and very enjoyable to spend time with. (When they are not being know-it-all teens. ) :)
I was spanked occasionally, certainly not beaten, but it was humiliating and got my attention. My father was the one to administer spankings. He never lost his temper about it.
In contrast, in some situations that didn't call for discipline, he sometimes had obvious trouble controlling his temper, and that was scary. I wouldn't have wanted the situations to be linked up. If parents drink or have very tenuous emotional control, anything they do in the way of discipline is likely to get all screwed up.
We don't beat our dogs -- at most a swat to get their attention at times. I notice that the alpha bitch of our pack has no trouble enforcing her points without repeated thrashings. I try to imitate her; it means making very serious threatening noises and menacing behavior, very quickly while the bad behavior is still happening, then returning to normal instantly. It also means being 100% consistent. I'm not as good at it as she is. Again, as with kids, it's no use losing your temper, though a brief display of temper as you growl and snap does help. Kids and dogs need to know you're in control of yourself and of the situation, and (most important, I think) that you really mean what you say. Kids and dogs can smell a fake a mile away.