Now that my daughter is entering the infamous ‘terrible twos’ I’ve been thinking a lot about physical punishment and all that we know today about what kind of impact it has on children to various extents. I am reflecting on this because I grew up in an environment where corporal punishment was (and still is) the norm, even though I personally experienced it a lot less than my older sister and my neighbors.
As a mother of these times —and avid reader— I have read several books and resources about modern ways of parenting, new trends, etc. And also about attachment parenting and how it contradicts a lot of the advice you can get from the books and resources mentioned before. Needless to say, neither of the two condones physical punishment.
For many of you this is probably a no-brainer and the mere fact that I am thinking of this may portrait me in a very negative light. However, in this search for what kind of parent I want to be there are different factors involved: I was raised in another culture, have acquired many aspects of the American culture and in trying to make the most of the two, I find myself split agreeing with diverse aspects of parenting that are found in both of the before mentioned lines of parenting.
Furthermore, as a person who experienced corporal punishment in a culture where that’s the norm, I know it didn’t have the impact in me that it may have on a child growing up within a different cultural background. Consequently, to this day, I am ambivalent about the use of physical punishment. That is to say, I don’t hit my daughter, but I’m still not sure if that will remain the case once she is older and on a case-by-case scenario.
One of the things I dislike about the modern style of parenting is that small children have too much power; I will not be the mother arguing and negotiating with a two-year old just to get her on the car. I see a lot of disrespect from children at a very early age, and a lot of parents begging the kids to behave or giving-in just to avoid public embarrassment. That is just one example.
Here in the US, there are some groups in which physical discipline is viewed as a part of the parenting of a child; and while I don’t think you have to resort to corporal punishment for every little thing your child does —as with any other type of discipline misuse will undermined your authority— but when lines are crossed and a “timeout” or the taking of a privilege just won’t do it, the need for this kind of discipline may become apparent.
Like I mentioned in the beginning, this is a subject where I am not yet convinced one way or the other, so I would love for all of you to weight-in. Here are my questions:
- Do you think the environment where the corporal punishment takes place is relevant?
- Would a child in the United States be more negatively affected than a child in another part of the world by this kind of discipline?
- Did you experience physical discipline growing up? If so, did you at home, school or both?
- Do you believe/practice corporal punishment with your children?
- What do you think is the level of acceptance of physical punishment in the United States?