We’ve all Bared Witness to what transpired between two of the most legendary actors of our time
Let’s face it if you’re like me you didn’t know the Oscars were even still a thing.
But all jokes aside I wanted to share my perspective. Not on how it relates to this specific incident in particular (I’m sure you guys are over that by now) but on how this topic relates to the very exhausting conversation of the negative effects of hitting your children as a form of discipline.
I don’t want this to be seen as a reach to be relevant, but more as a way to use what’s trending to bring light to a commonly discussed topic. As someone in academia, I will first present the research. In today’s society, it helps to ground the conversation when people can “Fact Check” the validity of your arguments.
Negative Long-Term Effects of Spanking
Let’s start with clearly defined terms. As mentioned in a peer-reviewed article written by Christopher J. Ferguson “corporal punishment and spankings are NOT the same. By definition, spankings are usually open hands to the butt, versus corporal punishment can be described as generally hitting with an object such as a switch, shaking, pushing, slapping the face, etc.” I want to establish clear definitions because no matter how we describe the physical encounter (spanking, hitting, popping) neither end in the extreme of broken bones or serious lacerations to the child. This is important to make clear so it’s understood that the child although physically hurt is never in a situation where they are in need of immediate medical attention. (I will link the article below for those that want to dive deeper.) The article also suggests that even the smallest amount of spanking or corporal punishment may have negative long-term outcomes in childhood and early adulthood. So my question to you is “Is it worth running the risk as a parent?”
Again no judgment, but if presented with information that shows hitting can potentially be harmful to your child, would it be worth pivoting the way you see physical discipline? For example, the recent recall of some of the formulas caused many mothers to be more aware of the brands and products they chose. Some even reconsidered breastfeeding. Or the use of baby powder in its relation to cervical cancer. The point is when we know better we do better. So what’s the real reason we hit, spank, or beat our children?
Why Hit, Spank, Or Beat?
From my personal experience as a mother who did use to hit my children, I know first hand this was something that was cultural to me. It wasn’t taboo to get smacked, or even cursed at for doing the wrong thing. It was even praised as “don’t spear the rod and spoil the child.”
I remember one morning I was getting ready for work. In the usual morning chaos which I guess by now was routine, I yelled “What the F… is taking you guys so long.”
My children were ages 5, 3 at the time (yeah I know, I’m embarrassed). As I stormed up the stairs belt in hand because this was going to be my third time late that week, I swung open their bedroom door. But what I saw literally stopped me in my tracks.
“Mommy why do you alwasys have to yell”
My son and daughter were sitting on their bed holding each other sobbing. Instantly I felt lower than the scum of the earth. Still standing in the door frame with belt in hand I heard him whisper in tears “Mommy, why do you always have to yell.” Talk about a wave of emotion. At that moment I remembered myself as a child feeling the same way. Never knowing what was going to piss my mother off to warrant her yelling at me or smacking me.
Without trying to project my own feelings and experiences funny enough I do remember those encounters VERY WELL.
There is a 16-year gap between my older brother and me, so the stories of his spankings are definitely more cringe-worthy than mine, however, both experiences did cause trauma. My mother was older when she had me (37- to be exact)so by the time she had me it did bring more patience and experience. So luckily for me although I didn’t always get hit when I did it did stand out for me.
I also realized now as an adult how overwhelmed and stressed my mother was. She worked 12-hour days almost 5-6 days a week to make ends meet for me and my sibling. She also had to do it alone as an immigrant in a foreign country away from family support. Her job as a caretaker for the elderly also was a high-stress, underpaid environment and I could empathize with how draining that could be. Again not making excuses but imagine how that may look and how impatient one could become.
Another observation besides stress, and cultural norms… think about how effective it is in the moment. You want to stop a child from doing something BAM you wack them, they cry and then they stop. (Most children). So, yes at the moment it’s effective but long term, you do find them doing it again and you hitting again causing the cycle of hit, cry, stop, do it again repeat. Spanking becomes a quick and easy discipline method to use.
So what now?
My objective is not to victimize children and demonize parents who choose spankings as a form of punishment. But more to help educate how harmful it can be to choose that route as the main and only source of discipline. Children and adults, the same do better when they feel better and are loved and supported. Blame, shame and physical disciple do not add to or support that. We as parents love our children and want the best for them. Filling our parenting toolbox with strategies that help support us in our most fragile moments are the steps that will help us minimize the flight/fight response when we feel challenged by our children. Positive discipline is one of the only parenting methods on the market that deals with the belief behind the behavior of children. It’s not based on an external locus of control of punishment and rewards which has been proven to also be short-lived. Many trending programs only focus on the behavior itself and never get to the root cause. I would love to help bring back the joy of parenting and raising children for our generation.
Leave a comment to tell me what you think about spankings and corporal punishment. Also, if you are interested in learning more about positive discipline join me in my monthly workshops. You can use this link: Positive Discipline Workshop
Christopher J. Ferguson,
Spanking, corporal punishment, and negative long-term outcomes: A meta-analytic review of longitudinal studies,
Clinical Psychology Review,
Volume 33, Issue 1,
-Written by S. Arellano