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spanking, child abuse, sad child

If You’re Spanking Your Kids, You’re Parenting All Wrong

by Deborah Cruz

Do you believe in spanking your child as a disciplining technique? Do you spank your kids? I’ve threatened it lots of times. I may have even tapped my daughter’s tush once or twice but it just never felt right. It felt wrong. I’ve written about whether or not you should spank your kids many different times on various different outlets and my opinion has always been that you probably shouldn’t spank your kid but it’s YOUR kid so it’s really up to you. Parenting is a touchy subject and I remember how pissed off people got when I said that cry it out was like abuse. I never truly wanted to offend anyone’s parenting technique; not on purpose. The other day a photo appeared in my FB tread and it’s been sitting with me and bothering me ever since.

spanking , child abuse, bad parenting

Deep down, I think that if you are spanking your child you are a jerk.

You either don’t know how or don’t want to use your words. You’d prefer to get angry, get frustrated and hit rather than dealing with bad behavior and sorting it out. Hey, I get it. I do. I have moments when I would love to spank my girls. Sometimes they behave really badly. They talk back and they don’t listen and sometimes I am just too damn tired to argue and grabbing a belt or a switch would make that all disappear. One good, swift smack would probably stop them out of pure shock and awe.

But as a child who used to get hit often, as in it was the primary source of discipline, I can tell you that your child will fear you. They will not respect you and they will avoid being caught doing bad behavior and lie if they are caught. It is not a deterrent to stop bad behavior. It is a deterrent to being honest with you. Your child will learn to fear you and hate the feeling of fear. Your child will be afraid of you. Your child will not trust you. And you can spin it anyway you like, spanking is not going to get the result you want. It will not teach discipline and promote good behavior, it will make your child afraid to get caught doing something wrong and there is a difference.

If you’re spanking your child for biting their sibling, what kind of sick and twisted, ass backwards message are you sending?

Don’t bite your brother but it’s okay for me to hit you. So, I am here to recant any wishy-washiness that I may have ever led you to believe that I have on the subject of spanking. It is never all right. It is always wrong and if you spank your child, you are most certainly not disciplining them in any meaningful way.

You are teaching them that physical attacks are okay to deal with your anger. You are teaching them that they can’t trust you. You are teaching them that you are mean and angry, that they should fear…not respect you. By spanking your children, you are undermining your own authority. So don’t spank your child. Love your child. Discipline your child when you are calm and thinking clearly because responding to bad behavior when you are angry only leads to bad choices that will inevitably damage your relationship with your child.

Think back to when you were a child, if you were spanked, was the feeling you felt when being spanked fear or respect? I know for me, when I was spanked, it was fear 100% of the time. Not once did I think to myself, wow, I respect my parents so much for sticking to their guns and punishing me with physical pain.

Do you think spanking is an effective form of discipline?

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leighann 2014/02/19 - 10:39 am

we don’t spank. I think that spanking is a form of agression and that parents who spank have lost control of their emotions. there are other ways to disipline a child. Thank you for writing this.

Tracy @ the UnCoordinated Mommy 2014/02/19 - 12:50 pm

I was spanked as a child and I have very mixed feelings about whether or not I should spank my children and how. I am doing lots of soul searching on this lately. But I can confirm as a child who was spanked and as a parent who has spanked that there are two very different kinds of spankings. There is the I am so angry that I am going to spank you to teach you a lesson. This is VERY wrong in my opinion. The second is the if you exhibit bad behavior a then you will get a spanking. This is authoritatively delivered. I am still undecided on this. The biggest problem is that if you spank for negative reinforcement it makes it harder to hold back in the first situation. It can be a slippery slope. Like I said I am still trying to figure this all out, but I am leaning more towards not spanking and have stopped in the meantime.

Lisa 2014/02/19 - 4:14 pm

If I was growing up in today’s world, versus the 70’s when I did grow up, I would have been removed from my home for abuse. I was definitely afraid and lied a lot to my step-mom to avoid getting beat. You are dead on there. I don’t spank my son, not because I think its wrong, it’s because I’ve only ever seen it done in anger and I’m afraid I’d lose control. That being said, my dad spanked me only once and he did it because I behaved in a manner that he did not approve of (justifiable, looking back with adult eyes), and I can tell you that I never ever repeated that behavior again. Who knows? LOL

Brittany 2014/02/21 - 8:01 am

I used to be wishy washy on this for others but I have never believed in spanking. Like you, the more I read and the more time I spend with my kids, I realize that there are much better ways to discipline that help build the relationship between a child and a parent rather than break it down.

Carla 2014/04/30 - 10:56 pm

So your kids talk back and pretty much run over you, definitely sounds like the peaceful parenting thing is working out for you! I was soaked and I don’t fear my mother I respect her, I didn’t have a father growing up, my mom was both parents and I love her even more for it, I respect the fact that she worked her butt off and raised for girls without help! I spank my children when necessary and I also show them more love than discipline! I believe that is the deal breaker, if your discipline but don’t love then your kids only know fear from you because all they receive is negativity, but if your you love and discipline then they know sometimes I get in trouble, but mommy always loves me! It’s called tough love! Sounds like some of you may have been victims of physical abuse and I feel for you, there it’s a line between discipline and abuse, so think about which one is worth the battle! From the end I’m looking at we need concerns ourselves more with physical abuse cause Lord knows there are many cases of it that go unnoticed!

Brian 2021/06/20 - 9:53 pm

Agreed. I’ve seen so many parents of little demons that choose the “kinder, gentler” route, then wonder why their kids are like animals. I was spanked as a child, and didn’t and still don’t hate my mother for it. In fact, when she passed away, I was devastated and not ashamed to admit I cried for months, and still miss her every single day. Too many people can’t seem to tell the difference between a spanking because the kid set the dog on fire, and beating the kid because you had a bad day at work. To them, they’re the exact same thing. To me, that’s indicative of a disconnect from reality and a need for some serious therapy.

google.com 2014/05/23 - 7:40 am

Very good blog post. I absolutely love this site. Keep writing!

Kris 2014/06/18 - 5:15 am

Hitting someone does not make them respect you, period. And you can say you hit with love, you hit when you’re calm, etc etc etc, but you’re still hitting. And I think in a way, its even worse. You love your child so much, and then when they’re out of line you hit them. So that child grows up, and they do something their partner doesn’t like, and that partner raises a hand to them. You taught them, well you can love someone and hit them when they do something bad.
Why is it okay when they’re kids, but wrong when they’re adults?

Kris 2014/06/18 - 5:20 am

You send a dangerous precedence when you spank your kids. That people that love you hit you when you’re bad. So that’s okay when they’re 3 or 5 or 10. And you do it out of love and so they’ll respect you and others. Because your words aren’t enough.

What happens when they’re 20 and in a relationship, and they do something their partner doesn’t like, however small, and that partner raises a hand to them? What message did you teach them?

You never, ever improve a relationship by laying a hand on a person, ever.

Seeker 2016/12/24 - 5:28 am

The absolute truth is that spanking and love is meant to and must go together, it is a world of false teachings false pride and false shames that has mislead us into accepting otherwise, but the Lord God wants us to come out from this world and to be not a part of it. (Of its ways) Little kids like two to six year old’s absolutely need spankings, it is perfectly natural at that age, far from it being an disaster it absolutely doesn’t have to become one, please allow the following example, five year old has trouble sleeping at night, refuses to go to and/or stay in bed, infantile or childhood hyperness or hyperactivity A bare hand lovingly and patiently applied to a little bare bottom until eventually there are some few little sniffles or tears but nothing terrible really, nothing rushed or done out of anger or with yelling, a child CAN and MUST feel safe even when receiving a loving true age appropriate loving spanking, the parent should allow the child some few little minutes of privacy to word it out of her system but soon follow it up with only tender understanding words, deep hugs and even kisses for the child as any drying tears are sponged away. The truth is that by this time a great peace and calm is overcoming the normal younger child, it is just as if all of the hyperactivity was relived and released when she got lovingly properly spanked without anger, shame or terror. The child found no difficulty in settling down to sleep after that. She will grow up to lovingly spank her own younger child when she grows up because she knows it’s natural does work when done out of love, even if or when the child finds it challenging in the peak of the moment but that shall very quickly pass and become resolved, It really is the kindest way in this imperfect world of inherited sin. It’s only those people who are dead set against spanking who never had a good one done when they were little and needed it.

Brian 2021/06/20 - 10:06 pm

Just wanna point out that there absolutely is a difference between spanking (correction), and beating (abuse). A few open palmed slaps across a bare bottom for setting the dog on fire or doing something that you’ve already told them to not do six times, is acceptable. A smack across the face for calling you a dumba$$, is acceptable. Hitting them, anywhere, with a closed fist, for any reason, is not acceptable. Slapping them in the face as hard as you can for drinking the last soda, is not acceptable. It amazes me that so many people have such a hard time discerning the difference between one and the other.

As far as feeling fear… yep. That’s part of it. I didn’t like being spanked. I was afraid of being spanked. I was afraid of doing stupid sh!t, because I knew I’d get spanked so… and stick with me here… I didn’t do stupid sh!t. I know, what a concept! The fear of the repercussions kept me from doing the wrong thing! What a novel idea! You folks that take this hippy, kinder, gentler approach to parenting… I hope it works for you. I really do. Because if your kids are walking all over you, they’re likely going to try that with everyone, and they won’t be kids forever; when they turn 18 and act stupid, cops get called. And cops don’t do kinder and gentler. Or they’re gonna try their luck on private property one night, and there’s always a real chance that the owner of said property will be armed. It’s unlikely he/she is gonna do kinder and gentler, either.

So, they’re your kids. Raise them how you will. But as someone who’s been around the block a few times, I’m telling you that NOT teaching them that there are very real, sometimes painful, sometimes lethal, consequences for their actions, is doing them a massive disservice. Nobody is suggesting you beat them until they’re bloody for eating a cookie before supper, but turning a blind eye or taking their phone away for 2 hours because they started sneaking out in the middle of the night, is unlikely to put any real fear of consequences in them.

Deborah Cruz 2021/06/20 - 11:08 pm

There is certainly a difference between spanking a child occasionally as a discipline tool and beating a child. Unfortunately, I was beaten and often and it wasn’t for bad behavior but more often because of an alcoholic parent who had a short fuse and very little tolerance or temperament for parenting when he was in need of a drink.

THe fear I felt went way beyond not liking being spanked. I was terrified of my parent and the unpredictability of the abuse and the extent of it. It could be an open slap to the face for nothing at all or a beating with a belt( or whatever was near) for squabbling with one of my 6 siblings. For this reason, I do not trust myself to spank my children. I’m not sure that I know how to do it without beating them and believe me, sometimes it feels like they could use a beating so I chose another route. Not a hippie route but a different route.

My girls are now teenagers and though I never spanked them, I did discipline them with things like time-outs when they were toddlers to groundings as they got older. My main point was to talk it through to make sure they understood what they did wrong, why it was wrong and that there are consequences to bad behavior. They are good kids who respect me and, for the most part, have never been any real trouble. Of course, we have our moments and I get frustrated but they get their consequences and we talk about it after everyone has cooled down.

My way of parenting may not work for everyone and that’s ok. It works for us. Maybe I was lucky. But I also know me, I can’t hit my kids and I don’t want to, it’s just not who I am and it’s not something I can do and feel okay about. I also know from experience that being beaten leaves trauma that stays with you beyond a sore ass and hurt feelings. It colors how you see the world and move through it. So, if you can discipline your kids with spankings and that is something that you feel comfortable doing and can do in moderation that is something for you and your partner to decide but some of us just don’t want to or feel the need to.

I can honestly say that putting in the work and talking it through with them has built up trust and respect. We have a very open line of communication ( something we’ve done intentionally from the start) to hopefully avoid things like sneaking out because they know they can just talk to us and ask instead of sneaking. I don’t want lies between us. Even without spanking, if you ask my girls they think I am a very strict parent because we have very clearly defined rules and expectations in our house.


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