October 22, 1999
The results of a survey about spanking children were released
a short while ago. The researchers came to the conclusion that
children who are physically disciplined are much more likely
to grow up with substance abuse or emotional problems
Right off the bat, there will be people who'll say I have
no right to comment because I have so far not experienced the
joys or anguish of raising a child.
I also fully expect to hear from parents who will say: "I'm
able to manage my golden-haired angel of a four-year-old by calmly
discussing why it is not a good moral choice to put kitty's nose
in the light socket."
I am reminded of the four-year-old daughter of a friend who
wandered through a cocktail party in her best party dress punching
all the men in the groin. I watched the little darling work her
way through the crowd of doubled-over men, who were forced to
pretend through watering eyes that she was cute and it didn't
hurt that much.
I saw her sizing me up for the next below the belt sucker
punch. As she approached, I leaned over and quietly explained
to her in vivid detail the swift consequences that would immediately
follow hitting me in the tender parts.
The result was she didn't hit me or anyone else. I don't know
if she has needed years of therapy to overcome the trauma of
a full and frank discussion of the issues with me, but I figure
she learned a valuable lesson that day. It's one I still live
by don't hit anyone bigger than you in the groin.
I've had it with parents who stand there and try to reason
with a toddler who's kicking and screaming in the butter section
of the dairy case. And I mean in the butter section. I'm not
saying spanking is the answer, but it sure gives the question
a lot of focus.
Then there is the charming bunch who play baseball across
the street, who use my front window to record inside the park
The worst are the children of the boomers - flower children
themselves with kids named Raven, or Scout, or Rumour. They've
never gotten over that "I'm OK, You're OK" baloney.
It should be: "I'm OK, You're An Over-Indulgent Parent,
and Your Kid Is A Hyperactive Hannibal Lecter".
So I may not have any children, but I find I have to restrain
myself from spanking the children of others.
Maybe I have it backwards. Maybe it's the parents who really
need the spanking for not setting any limits for their kids.
But this new study of 5000 people in Ontario said children
who were physically disciplined are 50% more likely to face major
depression and 150% more likely to abuse alcohol or drugs.
The problem is the study doesn't make any distinction between
a spanking and slapping your child. Anyone knows there's a world
of difference between a swat on the behind and a slap across
In my early years, my siblings and I received the occasional
well-deserved swat to the backside.
I remember the only thing worse than a smack to the backside
was "The Lecture". It was the "I'm So Disappointed
In You" speech. It was usually delivered by Dad, because
he was the writer in the family and could go on at great length
about the nature and depth of his disappointment without having
to resort to a prepared text.
Variations on The Lecture included: "I Thought We Raised
You Better Than That" and "What Did I Just Tell You?"
Pretty soon, we'd be begging for a spanking.
I'm not about to say that the Young Offender Act should be
amended to include spanking, but talk of making it illegal it
is just giving in to fashionable psychobabble.
To live in society, children have to learn early on about
rules, limits and authority. And it's not always possible to
reason with a five year old full of sugar.