Why Do People Spank?

short answer: not having better tools, pressure from family or church... read on:

**I think that sometimes perhaps a swat might be necessary to get someone's attention.**

Joyce Fetteroll replies:

And I think if we don't have swatting in our parental toolbox then we'll come up with *better* ways to handle a situation.

If for some reason I couldn't think of a better way to save my daughter's life other than hitting her to stop her from running in front of a car or something, yes, I'd hit her. But I *wouldn't* consider hitting as a best solution to getting attention. I'd see it as a choice of desperation.

I don't want to parent with "choices of desperation". I want to parent mindfully. So I discuss and think about how to be with kids a lot. I won't hesitate to use an extreme method in a crisis if that's all I can think of, but 99.9% of parenting isn't life and death. We do have time to think about our responses and rethink disrespectful responses so that we can treat our kids as doing the best they can with the understanding they have. It's the way I'd want to be treated by others.

A comment on Temper

The comments below were in a discussion on alcoholism on UnschoolingDiscussion, which might possibly be read here, but Schuyler Waynforth made a good point about temper:

Someone had written, of alcoholism:

But if it's genetic, how do we explain someone like me, and many others who recover, who then go on to plenty of feeling good, and coping well with stress? Obviously our genetic structure doesn't change. I guess there are other factors that can override the genetic factor.
Schuyler responded:
The real issue, I suppose, is that we aren't all just our genes. We are gene by environment interactions. What you see is a combination of our environment and our genes. So, if you have a genetic predisposition to something it doesn't make it inevitable. You won't necessarily get breast cancer even if you have the gene that increases your probability of getting it. And even if you have expressed your predisposition, so even if you are an alcoholic, your environment can change. And you can change the way you perceive your environment.

I don't know if that is at all clear. I used to smoke. Hell, more applicably, I used to spank. I actively decided that hitting Simon and Linnaea was not a tool in my toolbox. Even though I was spanked. So, even though everything in my environment made me feel that spanking was a normal parenting tool, I changed my environment and my perception of my environment. And while I don't think there is a genetic predisposition to spanking, there is one for temper. It isn't inevitable. It doesn't have to be.

On a public list, some objected to the idea that people spank because of church or religion. First someone just said "grow a spine and say no," but others commented further:

These are choices that a parent makes. A book itself cannot force an unwilling parent to spank their child; nor can any speaker force an unwilling parent to spank. Parents who are feeling coerced and are opposed to spanking can walk away from a book, a speaker, a church. They do not HAVE to spank; they are making a choice, a decision, to spank; and if they claim coercion, it is because they allowed themselves to be coerced. They oughta grow a spine and say, "No."

Not if they believe it would be going against God if they didn't.

It's unlikely that a person who strongly believes in attachment parenting and no spanking and so on would be drawn to a fundamentalist Church.

But a certain personality -- a need to have all the answers laid out nicely and neatly for them? -- that makes fundamentalist seem attractive, is what would persuaded them that they need to let go of their humanist thinking and spanking is what they must do.

I'm not saying all fundamentalists are like that. Only that those with that type of personality will be drawn to fundamentalism. And those who are drawn because they need to feel a part of a community that holds the "right" answers will easily be persuaded to spank their children.


Kelly Lovejoy wrote:
But they DON'T. Often THEY were spanked, and although they didn't like it, they turned out just fine, right? Everybody else is doing it---especially in their church/community. Preacher's saying it's the RIGHT thing to do. God commands them to "spare the rod and spoil the child". They don't know how to keep little Bobby from talking back to his mama---and the book touted in the last adult Sunday school class says to use a paddle or a switch. If he does it again, use it harder. Don't spank in anger–do it in cold blood, when you're calm and calculating.

They're being TOLD this. A LOT. Sure, they are spineless and coerced and allowing someone else to make decisions for them. But they're also, every Sunday and Wednesday, being told that they are SHEEP. That God is their shepherd and that the preacher is God's representative on earth and will LEAD them the RIGHT way. They've also all spent YEARS in school being told to listen to and DO what others tell them to do. They are taught NOT to question. What do you REALLY expect? What do THEY really expect?

There are a few who will break away and make their own decisions and choices. Most won't. They are Christians. And they will spank. God "told" them to.

Joyce wrote something recently about being able to swim. let me look... This was originally written about H$LDA, but it applies here as well:

"For someone who can swim a piece of wood with rusty nails wouldn't look appealing as a floating aid. If they wanted to float, they'd float on their backs and grab a raft if it happened along. For someone who can't swim, the piece of wood with rusty nails would look like a lifesaver."

Someone wrote:

I'm not saying all fundamentalists are like that. Only that those with that type of personality will be drawn to fundamentalism. And those who are drawn because they need to feel a part of a community that holds the "right" answers will easily be persuaded to spank their children.
Ren Allen responded:
Ah, but don't forget those whose personalities would NOT be drawn to it, but were raised in it and heavily brainwashed.

I don't believe my personality is one that would naturally be drawn to fundamentalism.

Yet it took me until just the last couple of years to disentangle myself from the church I grew up in. Mind control is powerful stuff.

And when you're raised in a church that your ENTIRE family believes is THE way, it is more than church you're walking away from. Many people don't have the strength it takes to walk away from family, extended family and friends they've had their entire lives.

Not all churches are just another church. Some are very much like your family and entire network of support. It's like being Amish, you don't just walk away without huge repercussions.

I am on a support group for former members and I hear daily of the anguish it has caused in many lives.

Some of these folks have no contact with their families over it, how many are still in because they're too scared to walk away from their families? Sad stuff.


"The world's much smaller than you think. Made up of two kinds of people—simple and complicated.
The simple ones are contented. The complicated ones aren't."

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