Rethinking Healthcare

Firm parenting yes, violent parenting no

Posting in Technology

Andrew does not recommend you beat the little dears no matter how you may think they deserve it. Two studies today confirm that those who are spanked may actually wind up stupider than their unbeaten peers.

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Andrew's piece today recommending a "firm" parenting style can easily be misunderstood.

He's talking here of setting rules, sticking by them, and explaining them. Nowhere does Andrew recommend you beat the little dears -- no matter how you may think they deserve it.

Two literature studies -- one conducted in the U.S. and one using global data -- confirm that those who are spanked may actually wind up stupider than their unbeaten peers.

Critics may argue that those who come up with numbers like this have an agenda, which is to avoid spanking. Murray Strauss, who did one of today's studies, told Time it's possible stupid kids just get spanked more. (While an effort was made to adjust for income, it may also be that stupid parents spank more, too.)

Spanking is not just an American thing, and this story has gone around the world faster than a switch laid across a bare behind:

  • MedIndia suggests in its headline on the new studies that spanking may make kids more aggressive.
  • VisitBulgaria notes 2 dozen countries have banned spanking, adding "the old Victorian adage 'Spare the rod and ruin the child!' does not hold true, after all!
  • Metro.co.uk writes that "avoiding spanking and correcting misbehaviour in other ways can help" maximize IQ in later life.
  • News.Com in Australia interviewed local experts who suggested "time out" is best, adding a little pat on the bum to get their attention can't hurt, can it?

My own view, with 21 years' parenting experience to back it up, is that parenting is very hard. It's very, very hard when you have a kid who routinely engages in oppositional behavior, whether due to ADHD or just plain cussedness.

I feel terrible guilt over every little smack I ever gave one of my kids, and wish I could take them all back. But they're not stupid, either one.

Dana Blankenhorn

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Dana Blankenhorn has written for the Chicago Tribune, Advertising Age's "NetMarketing" supplement and founded the Interactive Age Daily for CMP Media. He holds degrees from Rice and Northwestern universities. He is based in Atlanta. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure