Is Spanking Child Abuse?

Recently, Charlie over at wrote a post that dealt with spanking children. He spoke up when he saw another dad who was too cavalier in hitting his own kid at the park. While Charlie didn’t specifically comment either way on corporal punishment as a whole, many of the commenters on that post had no problem letting their feelings on that issue be known. And to many of them, spanking in any form is on par with full-fledged child abuse.

I have some thoughts on that.

First off, let me just tackle the argument that corporal punishment in every form is tantamount to child abuse. Unfortunately, seeing people equate spanking (particularly when it is a controlled and predictable consequence for the child) with full-on physical abuse only serves to render the term “abuse” completely meaningless. That’s akin to saying that scolding a child = verbal abuse. Look up photos of abused kids and tell me that the results of those beatings are even on the same planet as a typical spanked child.

We can disagree on this issue without resorting to hyperbole. If parents who yell at their kids are not automatically verbally abusive, then parents who spank are not automatically physically abusive. This sort of thing is all a matter of degree. If we can’t agree on that basic premise, then the entire debate is utterly meaningless.

With that said, I will fully admit that this is not a cut-and-dry subject from either perspective. Both sides have good arguments, and every parent (and prospective parent) should take the time to think this issue through. In the interest of full disclosure, I will tell you that I am not against spanking, and I don’t believe that a loving family will damage a child by using it as a part of their disciplinary process.

The VAST majority of discipline that my son receives is completely non-physical. Unfortunately — try as we might — there are times when he will not respond to the usual methods, and we are forced to resort to spanking. People can tell me with all the hysterical fervor they can muster that I’m an abusive father and that I’m damaging my child (even my child’s future wife and kids *gasp*), but I know how my child responds, and sometimes a physical consequence is exactly what he needs.

It amazes me that we can sometimes fight with him for 45 minutes using timeouts and other reasoning techniques, but a couple of swats on the bum and an explanation of the reasoning behind the spanking will snap him out of misbehavior in 30 seconds. He’s not afraid of me afterward. I always take the time to explain how this was a consequence he chose because he refused to control his behavior when given the chances beforehand. It’s not some bad scene from a horror film, it’s a powerful teachable moment.

Discipline comes in many forms, and every one of those forms can become abusive if taken too far or used improperly. Singling out physical discipline for social damnation is not helpful. I think the best way to articulate my feelings on this issue is to quote one of the comments I most fervently agreed with on Charlie’s original post:

“Whichever form of discipline is used should not be satisfying to the parent’s upset emotions in any way and I think that is a better measuring stick for determining the health of a means of discipline.”

~ “Nia” on

She nailed it.

So what’s your take? Is spanking a nefarious form of abuse? Leave a comment below:

You will learn quickly that there are about as many opinions in this world as there are people. Some opinions will be just like yours, most probably will not. No matter what, there will always be some people who will respond to your opinions by passing judgment on you (whether they know you or not). Ignore the name-callers, but take the ones who respectfully differ with you seriously and allow their counter-arguments to either challenge or reinforce your thinking.

  • Newlyyoung

    If you consider the issues our society faces, I believe it would be very fair to say that the greatest problems result not from parents who employ measured, consistent, and appropriate discipline (including corporal punishment), but those parents who fail to discipline entirely. Show me a child who is undisciplined by his parents and I’ll show you that child is insecure, unfocused, defiant, impatient, unhappy, and lacking in self-control. I think the latter consequence is the most interesting, don’t you? A disciplined child learns SELF-control, appropriate SELF-government. Many would have you believe that a child is controlled and abused and denied their free will by [measured, appropriate, consistent] spanking. Nope. That child that child learns the relationship between actions and consequences and is able to translate it into appropriate behavior for themselves.

    My caveat would be this: it is essential to KNOW your child and to discipline her/him according to their needs. My family used spanking when necessary, but it was very rarely necessary for me. My dad had only to give me a cross look before I withered to a mess of tears, sorrow, and repentance. I was more sensitive than my brothers and did not warrant *as much* physical chastisement. But when I did get it, it was always appropriate and always effective. I appreciate that they imposed a swift hand on the backside, rather than allowing my behavior to continue, resulting in an unkind, damaging “backhand” from life later on. I also loved the healing moments after the discipline, where mom and dad set their expectations for me and reinforced their love with encouraging words and affection.

    • Michael Gray

      Excellent points. I find it interesting that the type of parents who are most militantly opposed to spanking tend to be on the far permissive end of the spectrum — and in my opinion those kids grow up to be narcissists who cannot handle adversity later in life.

      The idea that discipline leads to a responsible, capable adult seems axiomatic to so many people, but I think what you said is true.

  • Sarahp00

    I was going to type a response, but after reading the comment by newlyyoung I will just say, “Ditto!” I couldn’t agree more, especially with the statement that, “the greatest problems result not from parents who employ measured, consistent, and appropriate discipline, but those parents who fail to discipline entirely.”

    We don’t spank much in our house, usually there are other techniques that are more effective, but it has been used upon occasion. It is always controlled, appropriate, and does not serve in making us as parents feel better. In fact, I think a good “means test” for whether you should be spanking your children is that you don’t feel good about doing it. Parents who use it as their sole form of discipline are really not any better than those who don’t discipline their children at all.

    Nice post, Michael!

    • Michael Gray

      Thanks, Sarah. You are right about the “means test” you mentioned. I will admit that I have disciplined Harrison a time or two and felt the knot in my stomach convicting me that I did not carry out my discipline in a proper way *that time*. I think that same test can apply to ALL areas of discipline, but spanking gets much more play.

      Parents mess up. We lose patience too quickly, we yell, we speak too harshly out of frustration, and we spank inappropriately at times. When we do, it gives us the opportunity to model what asking for forgiveness should look like.

      I have to be honest, the only time I have cried over dealing with Harrison improperly was a time when I hurt him with my WORDS. Spanking was never involved, but I was still crushed by the way he responded to my harsh words.

  • Phil @dadvsspawn

    Very mindful post… no amount of children’s discipline should be taken lightly, that’s for sure. It helps a great deal, I believe, for those who do use spanking as a means of discipline, to have their plan set out and follow it to a T. The reason, well, Nia’s quote really does say it all. Sometimes, the way kids deal with things can be very emotion-inducing for any parent, and it’s the most important thing at the end of the day that they know the difference between respecting their parents and being afraid of them.

    • Michael Gray

      Excellent points, Phil. Hopefully you enjoyed the chance to see that I’m not a raging child abuser, and that I love my son as much as any other parent loves his/her children. :)

      Like any parent, I will mess up from time to time (with words, with impatience, and, yes, with spanking), but the totality of a parent’s legacy goes far beyond the times we fail. Fortunately, children are very resilient, understanding, and forgiving.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. I hope to see you again.

  • Tara Stewart

    Hi Michael! Great blog you have here. I am thoroughly enjoying it. You have a talent for writing… do not let that go to waste. Continue on with this… write a book per say!?

    In regards to spanking I feel you try to make very valid points. However, I just spent the last 3 years of my life obtaining my master’s in family and child development and feel a little differently towards the subject. I too had the exact same stance on spanking you did before embarking on my final year of graduate school. In fact… our little Mason (not so little anymore, sniff) had a tap on the bum a time or two himself.

    But… guess what I learned from all my studies, and furthermore from reflecting on myself as parent, and most importantly loving mother. I learned that I was teaching my child that no matter how upset or angry he made ME, that it was ok for me to hit him. Breaking it down… that it was ok to hit people we love. Justin and I have never ever raised a hand to one another in anger ever before in our 10 years of marriage… and yet we raised our hands to our children on occasion. Did we ever feel good afterwards? Vindicated? No… we hurt and never really understood why. Did our taps on the bums ever physically hurt our littles… no… not physically, but emotionally most definitely. They learned early on that the two people they were supposed to rely on for quite some time for food, shelter, love, compassion and support, also were the same people that could strike them and try to inflict some kind of physical punishment onto them. They learned that it was ok for mommy and daddy to “hit” them when they were “in trouble” and had angered mommy and daddy.

    The most important lesson I learned in regards to spanking was when the spankings actually occurred and what was happening with “my cool” at the time. I realized that when I chose to physically punish my children it was when I had reached MY limit, the end of MY rope, when I HAD GOTTEN ANGRY. That was not ok to me… that was a harsh pill to swallow. I am by no means a perfect parent, nor choose to act like one, but I was brought to tears by the fact that I had reacted out of anger, frustration and stress and taken it all out on my children.

    Are we perfect with this anti-spanking campaign we are on as a parental unit? NOPE… since we made a joint decision to stop raising our hand and instead try other alternatives we have each slipped up a time or two. We work as a team, ask the other parent to leave the room in our “code language” that we have created and bring the child up to his/her room and allow them to cool off as well. We talk about what has happened, and most importantly, apologize for the spanking. I don’t ever want my kids to think this is ok… and that nobody is perfect, and we are always trying to work on ourselves. It is important for my children to understand that their parents also make mistakes… and sadly this was one of a few.

    Every day is a struggle to positively discipline, positively reinforce and set boundaries. But every day I tuck my littles in at night without having raised my voice or my hand to them is a day that they have not witnessed physical harm out of anger. Our children are more calm and happy with our new set of “discipline standards” over the past few years. Sure they still act up… but as a parent I can honestly say I feel a happier, more positive vibe in our home. I try to keep in perspective that children are little people… with little minds of their own, little stressors and little ailments. When my children act up and display unwanted behavior, rather than reacting to their behavior… I try to respond by helping them feel emotionally validated and aiding them in figuring out what is causing them to feel so frustrated. Oh yes… it is extremely trying at times… “bang my head against the wall trying”… but in the end so much more worth it rather than feeling sad and upset to having raised my hand to my children and showing them it is ok to hit people we love.

    Our society is huge on MIXED messages… I just figure this is one area wherein we can stop sending mixed messages… it is not ok to physically harm anyone… especially the people we love.

    Ok I said my peace. I wasn’t doing this to start a debate or “fight”. I just wanted to give you another side, another look per say. And no, I am not a parent that is extremely lenient lacking discipline… many people think my children are too disciplined… I just think it is our duty, in which God has bestowed upon us… to guide and shepherd the children He has entrusted us with… and aid them into becoming productive, positive members of society.

    If you are curious about anything I have mentioned there are massive amounts of research backing up the negative effects and consequences of spanking on any level.

    Tara Stewart

    • Michael Gray

      Hey Tara! Thanks for taking the time to respond to my post. Spanking is certainly a topic that people feel very strongly about, and I’m glad you shared your perspective.

      After reading your response, I am still interested in how you would answer the question that is also the title of this post: Is spanking — specifically how I expressed it above — child abuse? I’m guessing that your graduate school professors would say that it is, and there are MANY other people in society today who would agree.

      The reason the answer to this question is so important to me is because it’s vital that we as a society be clear on the answer. You see, by my definition, this is what the physical abuse of a child looks like:

      If the same term for what was viscously done to that poor kid is applied to every run-of-the-mill spanking, then Heidi and I (along with many of our kindest, most loving friends and neighbors) are in for a world of hurt.

      I wholeheartedly advocate that abused children be removed from abusive parents. If I am now potentially categorized as an abusive parent because I am willing to spank if needed, then I could reasonably face similar action, right? The state could claim a legal basis (abuse) for removing my son from my home — and they would do so, ironically, under the threat of physical force.

      I think the macro issue in the spanking vs. anti-spanking debate is the fact that one side is making very big strides in criminalizing the discipline choices of the other side — as in take you to jail and put your kids in foster care. I think this is flat-out wrong.

      I have known countless kind, generous, well-adjusted teens and adults who were spanked (some of them a lot) as a kid. To say that spanking has emotionally damaged them (as some of the research in the field does) seems a bit extreme to me. Personally, I agree with Erin’s comment above that permissive parenting is more likely to damage a child than controlled spanking.


    • lori

      a book per say!?
      That would be “per se”…..

  • Nina

    I think spanking is one of the appropriate ways of correcting children’s bad behaviour. I think that many of the arguments against spanking come from people who cannot (and sometimes on purpose) distinguish between spanking and actual physical abuse. Or, people who compare the incomparable – relationship btw a parent and a child with relationship between two adults. It’s a completely different type of relationship which thus naturally produces a different behaviour. You’d hardly put your husband or wife on a naughty step when they do something wrong…

    In my view spanking is as good as any other method of disciplining children and I see no wrong in using it. If a parent spanks their child, they are angry, but that is natural. A parent who is using spanking properly never spanks the child if they feel they’re too angry to control the power.

    I think that to raise children it is sometimes necessary to use both positive and negative reinforcement of good behaviour.

    • Michael Gray

      Thanks with your comment, Nina. The ability to distinguish between a spanking and actual child abuse was something I really wanted to stress in this post. I agree with you that spanking can be an effective disciplinary tool when used properly. I also think you are right about the plus-side of some occasional negative reinforcement.

      Thanks for reading!

      • Terry Elaine

        I’m a parent of six wonderful children. And I am the daughter of loving parents who laid hands on me for discipline’s sake.

        Spanking IS NOT synonymous with child abuse, nor with assault! No circular reasoning in that statement.

        Michael, Our Creator and God of the oldest religion in the world, Judaism, and the One and the same all merciful God of our salvation through the cross of Jesus Christ, “condones” physical discipline.

        • Elizabeth Grattan

          Michael… you do know that Terry’s statement is false regarding the theism – and still bad logic… right?

        • Terry Elaine

          Note: I would like to change the word “condones” to supports. I have inaccurately used the word condones to express what I meant by supports.

  • Mairin

    When you hit a child it is teaching them to hit people! Nobody deserves to be spanked even if the parent thinks the child brought the spanking on his or herself! Children look up to their parents! And it is abuse when a parent hits a child even if it’s just a one time spanking! Put yourself in your child’s shoes before you go spanking them!

    • Michael Gray

      Thanks for you comment Mairin. As I said in my post, the equating of spanking with child abuse is a very dangerous step to take because we will no longer have a word to describe real abuse. I think that child abusers belong in prison. What do you think should be done with parents who spank?

      • Mairin

        If there are marks left on a kid the parent should be charged with child abuse and go to prison, if there are no marks or no more marks, the child should get to choose or the kid should go live with a relative or with a adoption parent.

        • Travis

          That’s right, my children make great decisions. Let’s let them decide where they want to live. I hope Disneyworld has bunkbeds.

      • Elizabeth Grattan

        See, here it is again – you refuse to acknowledge it as abuse. Your reasoning is circular: It’s not child abuse because child abuse is different than spanking. Then you say “real abuse” is something different. The only reasoning you have is “because I don’t call it abuse”. Illogical and dangerous – and your own selfish rationalization to continue to assault your child with your own hand. :(

      • mel

        spanking is abusive behavior. using corporal punishment for corporal punishment kind of nullifies the argument against corporate punishment. nothing is learned. teach the parents. teach the family. teach healing, growing, apologizing and closure. therapy. and if a parent is a threat to society, jail or hospital.

        • Michael Gray

          If spanking is an abusive behavior, then I am, by default, a child abuser in your eyes, right? I have such a hard time with this. Read some of the other posts on this blog and tell me that I’m abusive. I just don’t get it.

          I love my son more than I ever thought I could love another person, and everything I do is in attempt to give him the best guidance in life. I mess up all the time in being the best role model (don’t we all?), but I can’t understand how people feel free to lump me in with people who abuse kids.

          I can totally understand someone who would say that they choose not to spank their kids, or that they use other forms of discipline. Totally fine with me. But if I employ this *one* strategy (and on a rare, and increasingly less frequent basis), then I am a parent who abuses his son.

          That makes me sad.

  • Elizabeth Grattan

    All you have done is rationalized your behavior. It’s a failure of critical thinking skills – the fallacy in your reasoning is called circular. You claim spanking it isn’t child abuse because there is a difference between spanking and child abuse. That is again, called CIRCULAR REASONING.

    I get it, you don’t want to deal with the cognitive dissonance going on if you actually had to come to terms with the fact that YOU, as a grown man have to hit your CHILD to get something done your way. Because that’s the bottom line.

    Human beings learn and grow and explore and risk and all sorts of development goes on in the brain and body – it’s par for the course of being a species. When you want to train another human to fit into cultural norms, molds, laws… etc… it makes sense you will try to find the most effective/efficient way to accomplish this. But what you have done is justify using physical force to get it accomplished when physical force is not necessary to accomplish it.

    Rationalizing it as necessary or discipline or in love etc. It’s actually pretty scary how many parents feel that striking a child is acceptable. If their sibling hit them in order to accomplish a goal is that acceptable? If adults hit each other to get our way is that acceptable? Does your employer train you by launching a physical assault on you if you didn’t get the task right?

    And yet, somehow, there is this world of disconnect where men (and women) like you believe it makes logical sense for a grown adult to assault their own child.

    For shame.

    • Michael Gray

      I find it amusing that you can slam me for having a complete lack of critical thinking skills and then turn around and say that a spanking (particularly as I have described it in my post) is assault. You use the terms synonymously and I get accused of having no critical reasoning skills because I can differ between the two? Not sure I get that.

      Look, I’m not arguing that spanking is God’s gift to raising good kids. In fact, I described it in my post as a last resort. My son is very sweet, confident, and obedient, and rarely ever earns a spanking from me or his mother. But there are times when everything else just doesn’t cut it with him, and a spanking is what snaps him out of his bad behavior. Is it possible that we, his parents, know what’s best for our child?

      I don’t understand the freedom you feel in making harsh accusations of people you have never met. If you ever met me or my wife and saw us with our son, I think you would feel embarrassed by your response here. If you were with us in his bedroom each night as we read to him, and prayed with him, and thanked God for blessing us with such an amazing gift, I think you might rethink your efforts to shame us.

      Please, read some other posts. For crying out loud, this blog was created so that I could try to leave a positive legacy for my son, and these posts are a way for me to work out what it takes to be a better father. Do I do everything right? No. But I try every day to grow as a father, and despite my best efforts you still feel free to bottom-line my role as Harrison’s dad as “a grown man [who has to] to hit your CHILD to get something done your way.”

      I hope that people in your life afford you more grace and understanding than you have for me here.

      • Elizabeth Grattan

        My reasoning isn’t circular – that is the difference. Saying as you did that spanking isn’t assault because spanking isn’t assault and thus they aren’t the same is circular reasoning.

        Suggesting that parents are just left to know what is best for their child would be great – if you want to open it up to mean that anything goes because you are the parent. That isn’t how society works. Parents are not given free range to do whatever they want to children just because the dna is a match.

        I don’t need to meet you or spend time with you to see that you have chosen to hit your child. You boast about it. You condone it. You justify it. But the truth is: You, as a grown man need to hit your son. That’s your argument. That you feel no shame in the reality that you strike him is your own character, not mine. I’ve no doubt you love him. No doubt you play with him. No doubt you have told yourself it is necessary as last resort and that you want the best for him. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that you hit your child.

        You say in this blog that you want your son to see different views and hope he knows to toss aside the trolls but take from good discussion – and yet, someone comes along and challenges this horrid behavior and you are not pleased.

        That is the bottom line. I understand you don’t want that to be the bottom line. But step back and think. It is truth: When all else fails to control your son you – a grown adult man – hit him. Assault him. Lay physical force upon him in order to teach him his lesson.

        Grown adults are not to use this method as a last resort – what gives you the right and the belief to find it okay to do to a child? Even authorities in our government are not to use physical force to hit a suspect unless that person is resisting arrest – and then we are still talking about adults. In your situation, it’s an adult and child and all you can come up with to handle the behavior is hitting him. Sure, last resort – last resort means what? Is he hitting you? Is he hitting siblings? Is he being physically violent when you use this as a lesson?

        I won’t give grace or understanding beyond knowing you grew up with spanking as a cultural norm so you have included it in your toolbox in raising kids. I get that. Half of families do. In 1940 close to 100% did. But that’s no reason to continue the practice.

        You don’t need to hit your child. Find a better way. Don’t even let it be an option you’d consider. The ONLY reason you think of it as one is because you look to traditions of men and got all set in your head growing up that it is one of the ways to get it done. It is barbaric. Be beyond it.

        The AAP never condones it. Research shows it as ineffective. You hit your child. That is the bottom line.

        • Michael Gray

          While I still don’t agree with you that this rarely-used component of my discipline method is assault, physical abuse, or some deep fulfillment of a barbaric male-centered upbringing, I’m glad that you have laid your case out so articulately on my forum.

          • Elizabeth Grattan

            Michael… please make a logical reasoned argument as to why you must hit your child. Justify it with logic and reason. Would you hit an employee as a last resort? Would you hit your spouse? Why then, what is the logic behind hitting the child?

          • Michael Gray

            I would be surprised if anything I had to say would convince you that I have even a sliver of logic or critical thinking skills, but for the sake of my other readers, I will respond.

            You continue to equate parent/child relationships with adult/adult relationships, but I don’t think that is reasonable (dare I say “logical”?) comparison. No, I don’t spank my wife — but I also don’t make her eat her vegetables, help her brush her teeth, tell her when to go to bed, wash her hair when she’s in the tub, or monitor what sorts of movies she’s allowed to watch (just to name a few things).

            The reason I *occasionally* spank my son is because there are times when his behavior requires a more severe consequence than a time out. It doesn’t make sense to give a kid a time out for pulling on the dog’s ear again, and give him the same consequence for telling his mother, “I hate you!” I don’t spank my son for mistakes like spilled milk, but I might for more serious character issues — because the consequence needs to rise to meet the severity of the infraction.

            Since you seem to think that an enlightened parent would treat a child like they would an adult, let’s take the next logical (dang, I said it again) step:

            When an adult breaks driving laws, our justice system writes tickets. These tickets are a method for deterring future speeding, and they do that by imposing big fines. The monetary penalty is meant to hurt — that’s why the tickets are $200 each, not $1.50. Since adults write tickets to other adults who break the rules, should I start writing tickets to my son and taking his money when he disobeys?

            You also mentioned employees, so let’s talk about an adult/adult work relationship. If I have an employee that is not doing his job, of course I’m not going to spank him, but I am going to put him on a work improvement plan. And if he still doesn’t turn his productivity around, I’m going to fire him and find someone else to do his job. Do you really want parents to write up a child improvement plan for unruly kids and then fire them and get a new kid when they don’t improve?

            The point is that a parent/child relationship is NOTHING like an adult/adult relationship. Kids do not reason like adults. Kids do not respond to the same penalties that adults respond to, and a controlled physical punishment can be a very immediate and effective deterrent and training tool for some kids. As kids grow and mature, parents are able to use a wider variety of consequences (even monetary penalties in some cases), and spanking will increasingly become unnecessary.

            With that said, some kids are not even deterred by spankings. Those kids should not be spanked more or hit harder, it’s up to the parent to find an effective punishment for their child. Different kids respond differently to different consequences.

            You are free to continue to disagree, but if you still think that I am not being logical about my stance on spanking, then it’s clear to me that you are only interested in winning an argument, and no level of logic is going to allow you to see me as anything other than a sadistic, barbaric child-beater.

          • Newlyyoung

            Oh, wait! Don’t use this type of logic! Elizabeth NEEDS hyperbole. Give it a minute… she may want to call you a racist! Or a homophobe! Or a Nazi! I don’t want to give ideas here. She’ll come up with something for her rap sheet against all humanity that is not her.

          • Elizabeth Grattan

            I have no doubt that Michael loves his son. I have no doubt at all that Michael wants the best for his son. That he cherishes their relationship, that he wants his son to thrive, that he loves and is in love with this child. I don’t doubt for one second that Michael strives to be a great father in all areas.

            I just don’t believe Michael has really thought long and hard enough about this and I believe he is so indoctrinated into this being acceptable in the tool box that he can’t step outside it and realize it isn’t necessary at all.

            It’s been put in the parenting tool box. So it’s there. That’s why it “works” in his mind. He never needed it to be there. It was only put in that tool box because the social norm allowed it and tradition accepted it. If it hadn’t been a social norm and popular thing to do, it there were outrage and shame at the thought of it from society and not permissible – the idea would be alien. And therefore, it wouldn’t even be an option. And his son would thrive. And Michael would thrive. And there would be a greater consequence system in discipline. The only difference would be it wouldn’t ever be hitting.

            That’s the rub. Not enough people consider the reality that it is totally completely unnecessary and horrid that a grown adult mind and frame would find it okay to strike a growing weaker human – a child in order to control their behavior.

            Just because my hope is to really challenge this barbaric practice, and cast strong judgment on it – does not mean that I think Michael is a bad parent. I feel for Michael. I know he can come up with something better. I know it. I don’t understand why he won’t.

            But perhaps, the next time he goes to lay a hand on that boy, he will stop and really think about what he is actually doing to this smaller, weaker, fragile human being.

          • Elizabeth Grattan

            Wait.. your logical argument is basically “I spank because I need to show a consequence that is effective and that one seems to work”. That isn’t a logical argument for spanking. That’s just more justification.

            Why wouldn’t I compare humans to humans? The fact that you say hitting a child is acceptable but hitting an adult isn’t because the child is a child is just stunning. Exactly: YOU are the grown adult Michael. And spanking is all you can come up with to teach your child a penalty? Seriously? That’s the best you’ve got? Hitting him?

            You aren’t being logical in your reasoning. Your reasoning still comes down to circular: I spank to give a consequence because the consequence is spanking. THAT is your argument. It is different from abuse because abuse is something different. – that is your argument.

            You want to take the adult out of it – fine. Is it okay for siblings to hit each other to get their way? That’s a peer relationship. Is it okay for the child to hit the adult? Why is it okay for you to hit a child but that child can’t hit his younger sibling? I mean, older siblings teach their family all the time.

            God it’s disgusting being on this page. I hope – I seriously hope your son does read this. I hope he reads how his father calculated with forethought that hitting him was justified. That his own father decided to hit him with his hands – counter to all evidence and recommendation from the scientific community, counter to every other available option for training and discipline – I hope your son reads someday that you , as a grown man, couldn’t come up with any other way to control your child than to strike him with your hand.

            And then you justify your weight and stature and maturity over his smaller weaker frame as a boast almost because he’s just a child and the adult/child relationship is “different” than others. And when your son knows all this – I hope he is smarter, wiser, gentler, stronger and when he has a family he can raise his offspring without ever having to resort to assault to get it done.

            He is a CHILD Michael. His brain is not as developed. His rebellion is for a reason. His growth is at a rate where your isn’t. he is a CHILD. To hit him because he doesn’t fall in line is gross, by any measure.

            Be better than that Michael. Be better.

          • Michael Gray

            I also hope my son is a smarter, wiser, gentler, and stronger father than I am, and I’m doing all I know how to make it easier for him to become just that.

            Since being on this page is so disgusting to you, then I invite you to stay away from this point on. I have tried hard to be a respectful host, but when a guest comes in and repeatedly takes the stance that I am nothing more than a hateful barbarian who enjoys assaulting his child and has no ability to make a logical argument, then I think it’s a reasonable request that I ask you to leave.

            There’s the door. You are no longer welcome here.

          • Geoff

            Elizabeth does not follow a line of logic in her arguments. She follows a certain philosophy, which uses biased logic to defend. It is no different than a Muslim saying Christianity is wrong or vice versa. They are all philosophical judgements that people hold near and dear. She is a book-e and a misguided one at that. As you stated, this topic is very grey with no easy answer. That is because it is very opinionated and full of emotional response. The fact is, there are physical laws that govern r existence on earth. Whether we agree with those laws or not we are judged by them and held acceptable to them while in this state of physical existence. If there is no law stating that spanking is abuse and you have the opinion that spanking has positive value than go for it. I believe karma exists and payback is a blotch so your spanking better be of pure correctional intent and backed by 100% unconditional love. I will say that I have had to use it in extreme cases and limit it to only those. It is defined and explained in utmost detail to my daughter before and afterwards so she knows it has no ill affect on my love and appreciation for her in my life. That is my two sense. Elizabeth, take a chill pill! If you don’t believe in spanking that Is your philosophy. It is not ultimate logic. I believe in the flying spaghetti monster and I have plenty of facts and data to back it up! Am I being illogical or just drinking a different cool aid than you?

          • Newlyyoung
          • Newlyyoung

            By the way, this article is from one of the most liberal publications out there. Surprising, no?

          • DadOfThree

            Michael, thank you for being a patient, gracious, polite host. I have enjoyed reading this thread and feel that you have consistently attempted to remain positive and non-judgemental. Your statement that Elizabeth is no longer welcome is justifiable and, in my opinion, overdue.

          • Michael

            Thanks, DadOfThree. It’s pleasing to know that not EVERYONE thinks I have no ability to make a logical argument. :)

          • Michael Gray

            Thanks, DadOfThree. It’s pleasing to know that not EVERYONE thinks I have no ability to make a logical argument. :)

          • jake

            I spank a kid for hitting. Simply because I AM the adult. If you want your children to run you, go ahead. You cant always reason with a five year old. Who is the adult in the relationship? Ok… Now why are your children making all of your choices? When was the last time you went to the store and didnt feel the need to raise your voice? Why hasnt EVERYONE ever born before 1985 become horrible violent criminals or mentaly ill? This is the hard facts of our culture; parents are getting softer and school violence is INCREASING. You want a sholder to cry on? You wont find one in Texas.

          • Michael Gray

            Thanks for commenting, Jake. Unfortunately, Elizabeth has long been banned from the site, so she won’t be able to see your comments. Just the same, she probably would have said you were a horrible human being, too.

            Your comment reminds me of a Facebook update a friend of mine posted recently. It said: “My parents spanked me as a kid. Because of that, I suffer from a psychological condition know as ‘respect for others'”. Hahaha…

        • Newlyyoung

          Get a grip, Elizabeth. You keep decrying the use of “circular reasoning”
          while adding your own excessive, hysterical and ridiculous hyperbole to
          the argument. We get it: You’re rabidly opposed to spanking and you
          have chosen the most extremist position that it is abuse and assault,
          and that everyone who uses this form of discipline is a criminal. End of
          argument. There is no room for discussion with someone like you. But
          tell you what: hit some of us “abusers” up in 10 years and see where our
          kids are, as opposed to yours. Unlike you, I’m not implying that your
          chosen methods of discipline are detrimental to your children because I
          don’t know you or your kids (though, you never stopped to reflect on or
          share your own methods, only to spew vitriol about others’ methods that
          Queen Elizabeth deemed unworthy). But what I can tell is by your use of
          vicious, hysterical, condescending, and accusatory language and your
          apparent need to police (and receive explanation! As if anyone owes YOU
          this!) the intensely personal, familial decisions of others, I am led to
          believe that you may see some unbecoming behaviors reflected in your
          children that might be traceable to you, my friend. Remove the plank
          from your eye before looking for the speck in someone else’s.

      • Glorianna Felix Rhodes

        Michael, it may be time to stop trying to use reason and logic with those who simply want to be right. Those types of individuals are exhausting and often stop contributing insights of value early in debates, if at all. I agree with everything you have said but if I didn’t, I would still value the effort of thought, and reasoning and deductions you have presented.

        Studies are a dime a dozen and have to be critically ripped to shreds to see if anything useful remains.

        • Elizabeth Grattan

          Michael hasn’t used reason or logic in his posts. He has yet to present a valid, sound logical argument for hitting a child. Go ahead, give one.

          • Nina

            He did indeed use logic and reasonable arguments in his posts. As you could not present any realistic counter-arguments you simply attacked him and used several negative labels in relation to his posts.

            You constantly ignore the context of his opinions and try to imply different meaning to what he was actually talking about. He talks about disciplining a child by physical force, you twist it into ‘assaulting a child’. Assault is done in order to hurt, not to discipline. Spanking is done in order to discipline. Oh, I’m sorry to be too reasonable here,hope you don’t mind.

            And reason to hit a child? Teaching them morals and showing them boundaries. No, the consequence is not that child will hit others, they will learn respectful behaviour.

          • jake

            It works. People like you are on the rise… so are school shootings.

  • Melinda

    It is ironic you write about this today. There was a pretty big study released just today that indicates a link between mental illness in adulthood and even occasional spanking in childhood (they excluded people who were abused from the study and only looked at spanking/ hitting as punishment). People will retort and say “I was spanked and I am fine” which may be true- not everyone who was spanked is mentally ill, it jus increases the likelihood according to the study ( I’m on my phone so I can paste the link but I bet you can search and find it). Any way, I’m not saying I’d never spank, just commenting about that possibility and if people are not willing to risk it, maybe not spanking is the way to go.

    • Michael Gray

      Thanks, Melinda. I read that article today (USA Today, right?). I wasn’t sure how the study came up with the bottom line that they did. Maybe I didn’t read it correctly (though I read through it twice), or maybe the article was poorly written, but here’s what I thought:

      Out of 35,000 study subjects, 1,300 (3.7%) were spanked as
      kids. The article said nothing about the spanking *causing* the mental illness,
      they just said there was a correlational relationship, and that the
      relationship was significant. The director of the study even said that this
      research added evidence to the argument that “physical punishment should
      not be used on any child, at any age.”

      If the data is as significant as the researchers say, I’m interested in their reactions to the fact that the remaining 33,700 study subjects (96.3%)
      were NOT spanked as kids.

      I don’t know about you, but this research seems to indicate
      a much more significant correlation between mental illness and NOT being

      Am I missing something?

      • Elizabeth Grattan

        Yes. Read it again.

        • Newlyyoung

          Yes, Elizabeth. Read it again.

      • Newlyyoung

        No, you’re not missing anything. In fact, it has recently come to light that the parameters of this study being cited are grossly misstated: “the study, published in Pediatrics in early July, does not
        actually link spanking to mental illness. In fact, the study has nothing
        to do with spanking at all. Canadian researchers asked 34,000 adults
        how often they had been pushed, grabbed, shoved, slapped, or hit by
        their parents or other adults when they were children. The authors
        explain that they were trying to assess the long-term effects of regular
        harsh physical punishment, which, they write, “some may
        consider more severe than ‘customary’ physical punishment (i.e.,
        spanking).” Ultimately, the researchers reported that adults who have
        mental problems are more likely to say they were pushed, grabbed,
        shoved, slapped, or hit by their parents than healthy adults are.”

        In addition to a litany of misstatements of the data and invalid association of results, the article also highlights the difficulty in performing true randomized controlled clinical trials on this subject (the scientific standard)— as Michael points out, they are very often predicated on bias (like equating spanking to pinching, shoving, or other disciplines identified as HARSH). Now, the article does point out some problematic factors that may be associated with spanking (like parental substance abuse), but, again, correlation is not causation.

        “To prove this point, in 2010, researchers at Oklahoma State University
        investigated whether nonphysical punishments are also associated with
        delinquent behavior later in life. They found that psychotherapy, grounding, and sending children to their rooms all make kids more antisocial. The researchers don’t actually believe
        that psychotherapy causes behavioral problems—they just wanted to show
        that these kinds of studies identify associations that aren’t
        necessarily causally linked the way you would expect. Discipline is
        associated with behavioral problems in part because discipline is caused by behavioral problems.”


        • elizabethgrattan

          “hit” –

          would you rather we use the term strike? the definition of spanking includes this verb.

          ugh. It’s so discouraging to be reviewing comments from past blogs and come across this again.

          The justification of adults hitting children is horrifying. Horrifying.

  • Julie Kreiman

    Wow…do your words to Harrison at the end of your blog entry ever apply. It’s a shame that some people can’t agree to disagree tastefully. I found your post and description of sometimes Harrison only responding to a physical consequence right on target with our experience as parents too.

    • Michael Gray

      Thanks, Julie. Parents know their kids, and honorable parents who are intentional in how they discipline should be given a lot of latitude. It’s funny how, growing up in church, I always heard people say that churches are filled with judgmental people. I’m learning every day that society in general is just as (if not, then even more) judgmental than anything I’ve ever seen in church.

      • Elizabeth Grattan

        Judgment saves lives. What’s the problem with judgment? If you decided to punch your wife in front of the neighbors to keep her in line, I’d hope your neighbors would judge you.

        • jake

          I’d much rather punch you in front of my neighbors.

  • Newlyyoung

    Get a grip, Elizabeth. You keep decrying the use of “circular reasoning” while adding your own excessive, hysterical and ridiculous hyperbole to the argument. We get it: You’re rabidly opposed to spanking and you have chosen the most extremist position that it is abuse and assault, and that everyone who uses this form of discipline is a criminal. End of argument. There is no room for discussion with someone like you. But tell you what: hit some of us “abusers” up in 10 years and see where our kids are, as opposed to yours. Unlike you, I’m not implying that your chosen methods of discipline are detrimental to your children because I don’t know you or your kids (though, you never stopped to reflect on or share your own methods, only to spew vitriol about others’ methods that Queen Elizabeth deemed unworthy). But what I can tell is by your use of vicious, hysterical, condescending, and accusatory language and your apparent need to police (and receive explanation! As if anyone owes YOU this!) the intensely personal, familial decisions of others, I am led to believe that you may see some unbecoming behaviors reflected in your children that might be traceable to you, my friend. Remove the plank from your eye before looking for the speck in someone else’s.

    • Elizabeth Grattan

      Again : Circular reasoning. It is assault. Based on the definition of assault. To claim it is acceptable assault is your position. I didn’t call it abuse. That you say “it isn’t assault because assault is different so it isn’t assault” is circular reasoning.

      It’s not an extremist position. It’s a rational, logical position I have taken. The evidence (and there are mountains of it) show no benefit from this practice – in fact, just the opposite. The AAP discourages it. There is no rational, logical argument thus presented on why this practice continues other than it is something parents have just done. That is appeal to tradition and a fallacy in reasoning.

      There is no room for illogical justification, right. That someone wants wiggle room and a pass for hitting a child is something I can’t really stomach. Listen to yourself. You want to discuss whether or not it is acceptable for a grown adult to hit a child. Think about it. Really think about your position.

      As to removing a plank/spec – that’s a biblical axiom I have no need to follow – however, again – my position is logical and backed by evidence – yours is just fallacious reasoning. And yes, I give a great damn when it comes to grown adults thinking it’s acceptable to hit a child. It’s barbaric.

    • Nina

      I totally agree.How can someone who openly condemns reasoning and providing logical arguments for a viewpoint, how can you call themselves rational?

      ‘Circular reasoning’ label basically means ‘I do not care what you have to say, what I say is the way it is and if you dare to provide any counter-argument which would burst my bubble you are a XYZ.’

      We need more of that circular reasoning, in my humble opinion.


  • Nina

    quote: ”
    All you have done is rationalized your behavior. It’s a failure of critical thinking
    – the fallacy in your reasoning is called circular. You claim spanking it isn’t child abuse because there is a difference between spanking and child abuse. That is again, called CIRCULAR REASONING.

    I would say that this is the most original defense of being unreasonable and unwilling to recognise between spanking and abuse I’ve ever heard. Looking for logical ways of distinguishing between harmful and harmless way of using physical punishment is by no means logical fallacy. It’s common sense, something which has been beaten down and suppressed by people who like to use overcomplicated psychological terms and theories instead of looking at the reality around them.

  • Scottie K

    I must say I completely agree with your post. As a child I was spanked and it did not make me believe that my parents did not love me or that they enjoyed spanking me. I knew that I was being punished for my own wrong doing. Did this form of punishment work? Absolutely! I knew not to do it again and it made me think twice when I acted. As a resault, I continue to think before I act and/or speak. I was spanked with hands, belts, twigs, and pattles. Did it hurt, for a second or two. Did it hurt emotionally? No, not really. Did it “damage me”? Absolutely not, it built me. It made me stronger, it made me the person that I am today. The problem with resarch and studies on spanking is that they are for the most part, biased. You can not always trust what researchers tell you because they generally tend to try to vear you off to there point of view and to agree with there stand points.

    • Michael Gray

      Thanks, Scottie. One of the things that really bothers me is when people say you can’t say “Well, spanking didn’t damage me, so it must not automatically be abuse” because it’s just anecdotal. But if you were to survey some of the kindest, most well-adjusted adults in your life, I’d be willing to bet that the majority of them were spanked as kids.

      You are right about the biased nature of much of the research out there. In this fear-based society, people are always on the lookout for the next boogeyman — in this case, me (and all other loving parents who are willing to use spanking as a part of their discipline).

  • Erica M

    The main goal of a swat on the butt through 17 layers of cotton padding that allow three pounds of poop to go undetected for hours is this: to hurt the child’s feelings, not hurt the child. And, sometimes, when the kid is going all Hulk Smash on the entire household, he needs a quick reminder who’s boss.

    I am not a spanker or a swatter and it takes many many days for me to lose my patience. I am one of those parents who, if you saw my public reaction to being open-palm slapped by my toddler (“hey, sweetie, hitting Mommy is a big no-no” all warm and fuzzy-like), you’d shake your head and wonder when my kid was gonna do his first break-and-enter.

    However, sometimes I do remember that I have an attention-getter and it’s called a quick pop on the butt through the diaper. (Or, if the kid is older and not yet in juvie, through the pants). All I’m doing is getting his attention. It doesn’t physically hurt him, but it does hurt his feelings enough to bring him down from Hulk Smash to Hulk Take-a-Nap. Or Hulk Eat-a-Popsicle on Mommy’s lap. Definitely Hulk Kisses.

    I think we can all agree that it’s the overall tone of parenting that puts the bite in our punishments. When the kid feels loved, he’ll take the swat in love. That’s the cheesiest sentence I’ve written in years, but it’s true. When the kid feels oppressed and unloved, any no-spank alternative of a time-out or a talking-to will feel like a beating.

    I will take my answer off the air, Michael. Long time reader, first time caller, that kinda thing.

    • Michael Gray

      You’re right, it’s not the physical pain that we’re inflicting as much as the shame of having to be spanked (I guess we’re technically emotionally abusive too). And what you said about receiving a swat in love is spot-on.

      I’m curious: since you are raising both boys and a girl, do you see a difference in their responsiveness to spanking? I think since boys tend to be more physical, a physical response is sometimes a more effective way of communicating with them.

      But that’s probably just my circular reasoning talking again.

      • Erica M

        I swatted my girl once. One time. When she was four and being outrageously defiant. No tantrum. Just doing the opposite of what I told her to do. Thirteen years later, she is still telling that story. Cracking herself up with the memory.

        The boys are impossible. So I let them get away with things a normal parent wouldn’t because I don’t have the mental energy to say the same things over and over. Definitely don’t have the energy to beat anybody to death. But, they are both good boys. Must be the lovin’.

  • kdwald

    Just yesterday I read this post: In it, a mother describes smacking her daughter across the face. I don’t think that’s abuse. I don’t know if I could or would have done the same, but it’s not abuse. Abuse is on-going, threatening over time, verbal or physical assault. And I don’t agree with the definition of assault as described earlier.

    I suggest reading the post I linked to and thinking about whether or not you would have done the same. No matter the answer, it’s a good exercise in perspective.

    • Michael Gray

      I love how she describes that event as a boundary-setting moment, and I’m very intrigued about the fact that her daughter never acted that way again. Some people might say that she stopped because she now feared her mean, old, abusive mother. I say she stopped because she knew that she had clearly crossed the line with someone she loved and respected.

      I also loved your comment saying, “I am not advocating for slapping, but sometimes physical intervention can help someone who is out of control focus on something different.” My thoughts exactly.

      Thanks Kristin!

  • mrss

    i don’t like spanking my daughter but nothing else seems to work taking things from her and sending her to her room alone doesn’t seem to bother her, the only time we have spanked her is when we calm down first and talk to her about why we gave the spanking. if it is that she doen’t listen i will not spank but an example is she is hitting the puppy when he doesn’t do what she wants him to do, and it is with a toy club or stick, or after she has her anger rages herself hitting and biting me. it hurts me to spank her. today she got to spanking because she hit the puppy twice and then we explain to her that she could make the puppy mean if she hits him all the time and that it hurts me to have to spank her, we tried everything else and we just want to see how the puppy feels when he keeps getting hit. i just have mixed emotions on the spanking part.

    • Michael Gray

      Thanks, Mrs. S. No one likes to discipline their kids (with any form of punishment), but its one of those things that we parents simply MUST do if we are going to nurture them into healthy adults. Consequences are no fun, but a healthy understanding and acceptance of consequences will make for happier kids and adults.

      As long as you are controlled, consistent, and your consequences are predictable, you shouldn’t feel guilty in discipline. And if you do mess up and over-discipline out of anger (we all do at times), apologizing and asking for forgiveness is a great way to model accepting responsibility.

      You do what works for each kid. Sometimes a spanking is necessary. Don’t feel guilty because some people fly off the deep end and call you a child abuser for it. These are your kids, you are their loving parent. I trust your judgment, and you should too.

  • Heather Kelly

    I agree with you on spanking. I just left a group of breastfeeding, gentle parenting, they call themselves, because they feel that spanking a child is abuse, period. It’s not to me. We do what you do, it’s a last resort if we can’t get them to listen.

    • Michael Gray

      Thanks, Heather. Isn’t it sad that parents can look you in the eye and call you a child abuser simply because you are willing to spank if need be? To them, it doesn’t matter how hard you work to be loving, encouraging, providing, etc., you are no different than some drunk lady who beats the crap out of her kids. Sad.

      I find that breast feeding and spanking are the two hottest topics in parenting today, so you may have just gotten yourself out of two tubs of hot water. :)

      With an adopted son, breast feeding was really not an option for us, so I guess I’m on the *wrong* side of two big issues. Hahaha.

  • Jeremy Estep

    It really is this simple, if I get into an argument with a man at a bar, but do not put my hands on him, if he calls the police and says “the man at this bar is arguing with me”, they will laugh and say “well when he puts his hands on you let us know.” Comparing physical abuse to raising your voice to a chile isnt vald and by the way, comparing yelling and mental abuse is a slap in the face to children who have been mentally abused.
    I do not believe in spanking. No where is in society is the act of putting your hands on another human being acceptable outside of self defense which is clearly not being discussed here. Which brings me to another point that hitting someone who is defensless, and probably loves you too much to defend themselves even if they knew how,is deplorable.
    The whole idea of “cotrolled part of disciplany action” is a joke. A spanking is not a controlled acton, its an in the moment reaction designed to gain a desired outcome, which in the short term benefits the parent and POTENTIALY damages a child in the long term. To turn a blind eye to that is naive at best.
    Spanking takes away the accoutablity of the parent and places blame on, in general, a small child. Saying “he does not respond to USUAL methods.” and “FORCED to resort to spanking” proves the point here. Women who are beng raped are being forced, children who are being mentally abused are forced, for that matter, children who are being spanked are being forced. The idea that someone was “forcing” you, somehow, against your will to spank your child and that was your last resort takes away all the accoutability and makes it ok. That is complete and utter garbage

    • Michael Gray

      Thanks for taking the time to comment, Jeremy.

      Let me start by saying that my wife and I bear 100% accountability in our parenting practices. I never excuse my actions by somehow blaming my son for “making” me do what I do.

      If you read my post again, I think you will see that I was not comparing physical abuse with raising your voice at all. I was comparing the idea that spanking=child abuse to the idea that yelling=verbal abuse.

      I agree with you that comparing yelling with mental abuse is a slap in the face of the mentally abused. By that same logic, then, isn’t it also true that comparing spanking to child abuse is a slap in the face of those who were physically abused?

      That was my whole point.

      Your bar fight analogy is confusing to me because my view of a parent-child disciplinary encounter is nothing like a drunken bar fight. I simply cannot relate to that illustration.

      Also, to blanketly say that a spanking is not a controlled action is very presumptuous on your part. As I explained in my post, I sit with my son and communicate before and after a spanking helping him to understand how his actions are connected to the discipline he receives. If that’s not controlled, then I don’t know what is.

      Finally, the fact that you directly tied spanking a child to rape is very alarming. You see, the point of my entire post is to highlight the fact that people are trying to explain their argument against spanking by patently demonizing parents who spank. When you compare a parent who spanks to a rapist, then you leave no room for debate on the issue, and you essentially criminalize honorable people.

      If spanking is on a moral level with rape, then we’ve lost all ability to distinguish between evil acts and things we simply disagree with.

      Hopefully these discussions help others see more clearly.

      • ELY

        Let’s use the drunken bar scene analogy when we consider the above grammar usage, however.

  • careforyourchild

    Ok yes i spank my child but it’s for a percific reason my child could do something their not supposed to or they did something on accident that still got them in trouble but instead these parents wants to do bad stuff to their child like for example: rape,beat,abuse,treat them like animals and that is NO way to treat your child even if they did something bad you should still love them and NOT in a weird way ether and i say STOP THE ABUSING!!!

    • Michael Gray

      And another vote for spanking=abuse.

      I’m beginning to think that people don’t bother to read my points because in no way did I advocate spanking for accidents. In fact, I specifically said that I *didn’t* spank for things like that.

      While I can completely respect people who choose not to spank, I have a hard time with someone who can read what I wrote above, and then write me off as someone who “wants to do bad stuff to their child”. And then to categorize my discipline method with rape, beating, and treating them like animals?


      • ELY

        I’m thinking that the person above is trying to agree with you… it is hard to tell, but I don’t believe they are pointing a finger at you as much as saying that there are people who do awful things to children but discipline (including spanking) is appropriate in some situations… ? Maybe? Never abuse, of course, but measured discipline directed at stopping dangerous behavior. I think that is what they were getting at above. But perhaps not.

  • mel

    I was spanked. what did I learn? if I was going to do something because I was a curious kid but it was wrong by my mom’s standards and I was subsequently hit by a wooden spoon or a bamboo back scratcher or a leather belt, I learned not to explore. I learned to feel unsafe. spanking was easier than parenting because all she had to do was pull her wooden spoon out of her purse so I would run away so that she could continue talking. I learned nothing but avoidance. essentially, I was taught nothing. I still cope with the results of being spanked (although you won’t find my pic on any spanking websites. have you googled spanking?) Punishing and teaching (discipline) are not the same. parents are our children’s first teachers. and our kids, if we parents are humble enough, can be our greatest teachers.

    • Michael Gray

      Thanks for commenting, Mel. I like your point about how punishing and discipline are not the same thing. That’s right on.

      I think if spanking is something that is done on a regular basis, or is threatened as a “consequence” for everyday kid things like exploring, spilling milk, or interrupting adult conversations, then it’s certainly not being used correctly, and can lead to negative effects for the child (like fear and avoidance, as you pointed out).

      I think it’s important for all parents to remember what you said: “parents are our children’s first teachers, and our kids, if we parents are humble enough, can be our greatest teachers.” I am learning that a little more each day.

  • ShannonRN

    I LOVE this article! Especially the paragraph where you point out the fact that calling spanking “abuse” renders the term meaningless! YES! I am an ER Nurse and sadly I have seen horrific cases of child abuse and when I see/hear people talk about “calling the cops” because a parent slapped or spanked their child I am LIVID. How dare they! As strongly as they don’t agree with spanking is as strongly as I don’t agree with their Laissez-Faire style of parenting, however I RESPECT their right to raise their child as they see fit. Maybe I should start calling the cops and report future school shooters and YouTube suicides when I see these parents in public catering to their children!

    • Michael Gray

      Thank you! I’ve been getting so many negative comments about me being an abusive, child-hating sadist that it’s nice to finally hear from someone who actually took what I wrote to heart.

      This is not a pro-spanking post. It’s a post that is *attempting* to get people to stop using words like “abuse” to define non-abusive behavior. Like you said, you’ve seen what real abuse is (thankfully, I have not) and the average spanked kid is not a victim of abuse. Great insight.

      I appreciate you taking the time to comment, Nurse Shannon!

  • Heartwood

    I’m not raising America’s children, I am raising my child. I know that permissive parents are a problem and I see them in my own family, as well as in the mall and grocery. What I resent is people who never get any outside advice, through research or education, in the task of discipline; those folks that think that they know how to parent because they are brilliant at anything else, or worst case those folks that are sure they are brilliant at everything else. Spanking can easily damage internal organs, for life. If you don’t know anything about child rearing past having once been a child then you are still a child.

    • Michael Gray

      Thanks for taking the time to comment, Heartwood.

      Are you saying that you resent me for never getting “any outside advice, through research or education, in the task of discipline”? If so, I’m not sure why you feel comfortable making that assessment of me and/or my wife. We have been to many parenting conferences, listen regularly to parenting podcasts, and have both been public school teachers (where we received a great deal of official training on managing children with non-physical interventions). Spanking is only one tool in our child-rearing toolbox — again, one that we very rarely use.

      I don’t claim to be a parenting guru. My post wasn’t an advice column on parenting. I don’t even directly advocate spanking for all kids. My entire point is that I think it is wrong, immoral, and incredibly damaging to families to automatically equate spanking with child abuse. Based on your views, and based on the practice of spanking kids in the specific way I outlined above, do you think that I should have my kids taken from me by the government? If so, please explain why.

      Finally, I have to take issue with your assertion that spanking (as I explained it above) can easily cause lifelong damage to internal organs because that statement has absolutely no grounding in reality. For one thing, there are no internal organs in a human’s rear end — and that part of the body plays no significant role in protecting any internal organs. A swat on the butt has about as much chance of damaging organs as a sneeze. In fact, I would go so far as to say that a sneeze has a much higher probability of causing damage to internal organs.

      I find it amusing that someone who (possibly) chastised me for not using research and education in approaching life’s issues can make such a statement.

      Would love to hear back from you on my question above.