I have written this blog post a million times over for months on end. It has been sitting in my drafts being reworked and reworded over and over again. I do not want to sound condescending or righteous but I do want to open a discussion about this. It is an important conversation to have. I’m not sure I’ve even got it right in this post. I WANT it to be better. But it seems that, when it comes to this topic, this is really the best I can do.
Now before you think I’m going to get all judgemental on your arse let me own up to something here: I have smacked my child. In fact, there was a period there that I did it with quite some frequency. Most usually it would be a smack on the hand but I’ve done it more than once at a time and also in other locations.
I don’t do it often at all now. As a rule I try to avoid it but I’m human and sometimes I don’t succeed. My change in habit was mostly because of a blog I read one day about whether or not smacking should be banned as it is child abuse (I’d link to it if I could even find it but not having much luck).
I have to admit, when I first started reading the post I was scoffing. The phrase Oh for god’s sake probably crossed my mind. And I definitely didn’t think it should be banned. I’m still not sure about this (and I think that’s a whole other blog post – I mean, how do you police this?).
By the end of the post though I was intrigued about the abuse side of things and it has left me thinking about the issue with some frequency.
None of us like to think we “abuse” our children so this term in relation to smacking our kids is going to make us pretty uncomfortable. Let me just work this idea through with you. Humour me if you will.
Let’s just say you had an agreement with your husband that you would move heaven and earth to have no dirty dishes in the sink when he got home at night. It is his little bug bear. He isn’t fussed about the messy toys or the dirty bathroom but for some reason dishes in the sink really give him the shits. You like to keep your marriage rosy where possible and you feel it is just a small thing so you agree that wherever possible you will make it happen. He understands that sometimes it isn’t going to work out but he can handle that on the odd occasion. He is nothing if not flexible.
So one week you are having a shocker of the week. And every single night when hubby gets home from work there is a pile of dirty dishes in the sink. Hubby gets more and more annoyed about it until eventually, on Friday night, he gets home and goes a bit crazy. In the midst of it all her reaches forward and gives you a little whack. Not a beating and and only enough to smart a little but it is a whack nonetheless and it is done with anger. It’ s just to teach you a lesson.
Is this OK?
Of course not. We would consider that to be domestic abuse.
So why is it OK when someone does that to a child? Someone smaller and weaker than them. Someone who can’t fight back.
Because we birthed them? Or are raising them?
Nowhere in society is it condoned to inflict pain on a person to get our own way except when it is our children.
Don’t you think that is a bit weird? I think it is a bit weird.
Aside from that how do we teach our kids that it is not OK to be violent when we want our own way if we are violent with them when we aren’t getting our own way? It reeks of hypocrisy.
So this is where I was sitting with it all until the other day. I was pretty much a non smacker but still losing it from time to time. The social smoking version of smacking if you will.
Then this article came out with research on smacking and what it actually does to the brains of our kids. It reduces gray matter.
Did you know this? Do you even know what this means?
Essentially they are saying there is a link between gray matter and IQ. And there is a link between smacking and the amount of gray matter. So if you smack, the gray matter reduces and the potential IQ is less. The other interesting fact from this study is that the area of gray matter we are smashing out of our kidlets relates to self control. So we are smacking them because they are disobedient and not controlling themselves to our liking…and yet by smacking them we are actually reducing their ability to be obedient. The study also states that while parents insist that smacking is the most effective form of discipline, research says that is not so.
So what are we doing it for?
Reading all this my logical mind tells me that it is not our right as parents to physically hurt our children because they don’t do what we want them to do. This is coming from a person who used to say “I was smacked as a child and it never hurt me. What’s the big deal?”. But this is what the facts tell us. Facts are facts.
What do you think? Is it abuse? Is it your right as a parent to smack your child?
I’m very interested to hear your thoughts on this one. Please chime in.