I have a lot of kids. Because of this, naturally, people tend to ask me for parenting advice. This is a riot, because I’ll be the first to admit that I have no clue what I’m doing and never have. Any success I’ve had in parenting is by the grace of God, and any failures…well, they make thankful for God’s grace.
One of the topics that seems to come up fairly often lately is that of “spanking”. Now, I actually don’t have a strong opinion either way about spanking. I know, weird. I tend to be pretty opinionated about almost everything. But not on this. And the small opinion that I do have on it, I’m going to keep to myself. But I wanted to share an article that I read yesterday about the topic that I found simply absurd.
This article, “5 Reasons You Aren’t Fine if You Were Spanked As a Child” might be one of the most ludicrous pieces of parenting “wisdom” that I’ve ever come across.
I would definitely fall into the camp of parents who would make the claim that “Yes, I was spanked as a kid and I’ve turned out just fine.” Did I enjoy being spanked? No, of course not. But come on. These claims? Am I the only one that thinks they’re ridiculous?
“1. Spanking makes kids more aggressive. Like I said, this is what the latest findings on spanking conclude. According to Elizabeth Gershoff, who studies parental discipline and its effects at the University of Texas at Austin: “Kids who were spanked as 5-year-olds were slightly more likely to be aggressive and break rules later in elementary school. Spanking models aggression as a way of solving problems, that you can hit people and get what you want.””
Ok. In all fairness, I guess this one makes sense. Kind of. I can see how kids that are spanked would possibly mimic that behavior towards other children. But to use this as an argument that I’m not fine as an adult? I personally don’t recall ever hitting other kids. And I certainly don’t walk around hitting people now because I was spanked as a kid. As a matter of fact, I would venture to say that I am one of the least aggressive people that I know.
“2. Spanking leads to language problems. The same study that found that children who were spanked at least twice a week by their fathers at the age of 5 were more likely to score lower on vocabulary and language-comprehension tests.”
You see, this is where it just gets silly. Hmm. My father was the sole spanker in my house. And most weeks, I probably got spanked at least twice a week. I’ll count it then as a miracle that I repeatedly won spelling bees, have always enjoyed vocabulary and have excelled at language and reading comprehension. I bet those kids that scored lower had way bigger issues than being spanked a couple times a week by daddy.
“3. Spanking leads to cognitive impairment and long-term developmental difficulties.According to a 2012 study conducted at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa,spanking “may reduce the brain’s grey matter, the connective tissue between brain cells. Grey matter is an integral part of the central nervous system and influences intelligence testing and learning abilities. It includes areas of the brain involved in sensory perception, speech, muscular control, emotions, and memory.”
Wait. What? Cognitive impairment? From spanking? Clearly, we have different understandings of what a spanking is. I can assure you that the spankings that I’m thinking of don’t “reduce the brain’s grey matter”. I think that the author is mistaking “spanking” with “child abuse”.
“4. Spanking may lead to depression, anxiety, and alcoholism. Another 2012 study concluded that “being slapped, pushed, or hit as a child leads to an increased risk of mental illness.” The study, which was published in Pediatrics, claims that “adults who reported such treatment as children were reported as 6 percent of respondents who had higher risk of mood disorders, anxiety, and alcohol or drug abuse.”
Again. Come on. I feel so bad for new parents who read this kind of thing. Now, I have no research to back this up, but in my (not so) professional but very much experienced opinion, I’d say that the increase in depression, anxiety and alcoholism in our nation has little to do with getting your butt swatted as a toddler. (It’s much more likely that people are anxious and depressed because they stumble across articles online that tell them how badly they’ve screwed up and ruined their kids lives by spanking them) And again, I have clearly defied the odds and survived spankings without any permanent psychological disorders and have never used or abused alcohol or drugs. On the other hand, my younger sisters (who were NOT spanked), regularly use drugs and alcohol, and without an official diagnosis, I would place money on the fact that they suffer from any number of mood disorders. I’ll bet you my parents just wish they’d have spanked those two girls way more often!
And my favorite…
“5. Spanking children may lead to adult obesity and a host of other diseases. If mental effects aren’t enough to sway parents away from spanking their children, perhaps physical ones will. According to a Canadian study done earlier this year, childhood spanking “can put children at higher risk of suffering cardiovascular disease, arthritis, and adult obesity.”
What a relief to know that I can now blame my weight issues on my parents and not on my love for Reese’s peanut butter cups. And it’s good to know that I don’t need to bother changing my diet and exercise habits because I will inevitably end up with a myriad of diseases due to those spankings that I endured 30 years ago.
I don’t want to debate the rights or wrongs of spanking. Like I said, I don’t actually have a strong opinion either way. But am I the only one that feels like I was spanked as a kid and I turned out just fine. No, really. I am just fine.