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‘Of course I smack my kids!’

 
Mom says smacking her 14-year-old daughter is fine, mocks ‘liberal’ parents.
angry mom
Scott Dunlop

Pic: Shutterstock

Article originally in Parent24
A British mom has written a detailed column about being a ‘smacker’, and why she believes she’s right in using her hands to direct the behaviour of her children, according to the Daily Mail. In her column, she lists the various instances she has smacked her children of different ages- and the reasons, ranging from their minor offences to her own loss of control. Is her column an indication that the smack really is back?

"Sometimes fear is the only tool you have left"

Here are some of the highlights:
  • ‘I have smacked my four children — Flo, the eldest, Annie, 12, Monty, ten, and little Dolly — on more occasions than I care to remember. Sometimes it’s been a last resort when all other modes of discipline have failed; on others, simply a way of reminding them who, in our relationship, is really boss’.
  • 'There have also, I’ll admit, been a few times when I have smacked simply because I’ve lost control’.
  • ‘Before I even had time to think what I was doing, I had wrenched the door open again and slapped her — hard — on the bottom.’
  • ‘Modern parents say ridiculous things like: ‘‘I don’t want my children to be afraid of me.”’
  • ‘I am sure I will also be accused of using my size and strength to gain an advantage over my vulnerable offspring. But that’s precisely the point, isn’t it? Sometimes children need to understand — quickly and emphatically — that there is someone more powerful in the world than them’.
  • ‘Sometimes fear is the only tool you have left. And it works far more effectively than a naughty step, bribery, time out and all those other soft-parenting tricks put together. A good, old-fashioned smack does the trick in an instant and lets them know — in no uncertain terms — who is in charge.’
Shona Sibary’s article was written in response to a UK Cabinet minister's candid admittance that he smacks his children, and the resultant uproar from what she calls liberal parents who ‘wrap their children in cotton wool’.

Her column is in direct contrast to popular opinion, which suggests that reasoning with children is better, or that non-violent methods of discipline be adopted. She’s insistent that smacking is the only effective form of discipline, saying that countries where smacking isn’t banned or discouraged are producing better-behaved children.

Daughter "Rubbish! She hits me because she loses control!"

Her daughter has written an angry response to her mother's claims. 14-year-old Flo says:

"She'll argue that it's an age-old form of discipline that does us good, but I know that's rubbish. She smacks me when she has lost control and there's nowhere else to go in the argument. I can see it on her face. It's never a  considered, pre-meditated approach. It's a swipe out of anger and frustration."

"OK, maybe I've pushed her to that point, but she turns and becomes this crazy psycho person chasing me around our house in Hampshire with a wooden spoon," she adds.

Parenting vs. abuse

In SA, there is still a wide gulf between those in favour of smacking and those against it. The law says that domestic corporal punishment (smacking) is acceptable, provided that it doesn’t leave marks- this could lead to charges of child abuse.

According to articles we’ve covered on the topic and the resultant discussions in the comments sections, local parents (or at least those reading Parent24) are still polarised in opinion- but do columns in favour of smacking indicate that society is returning to accepting the smack as the best possible method of creating balanced adults out of children? Is it possible that many parents have been smacking all along, but too scared to admit it?

Check out some of our previous debates:
There are those who insist that in a society where violence is a constant backdrop, non-violent methods of discipline should be used, and still others who say that this is the root of the problem- kids who have not been physically disciplined grow up to become sociopaths.

Another set of parents say they are of the ‘spare the rod, spoil the child’ school of thought- which says that not only is spanking permissible, but that if not done, the parent is at fault for any behavioural issues which the child may display later on.

The issue can be incredibly confusing for parents trying to decide whether or not to smack- do they stick rigidly to non-physical methods of discipline, or give the occasional smack and feel guilty or use regular smacking as a consistent method for modifying negative behaviour? Are parents too judgemental of others' discipline-style choices? Will their partner even agree with them on the topic?

You can read the rest of Shona’s article and see if you agree.

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Disclaimer: The views of columnists published on Parent24 are their own and therefore do not necessarily represent the views of Parent24.

What do you think? Is smacking is the best method of raising well-behaved kids? Are there 'closet smackers' out there?

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