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The Interests Meme - Mo's Journal — LiveJournal
October 12th, 2007
06:58 pm

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The Interests Meme

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From:mofic
Date:October 14th, 2007 11:58 am (UTC)
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The idea of hitting a child with premeditation (not to mention a cane or some other weapon) is really frightening to me.

I'm back and forth on whether it's worse to spank calmly and premeditatedly or in anger of the moment. FWIW I was raised with being spanked and don't feel at all scarred by it. It was pretty much a universal practice in that place and time. It hurt, but not that much; it was frightening, but not that bad - it was just part of what happened to kids. But some kids really do feel profound and lasting hurt and you can't know whether you've got one who will. And there's plenty of evidence that it doesn't work as a discipline tool, so with no upside and lots of risk I think it's a very bad idea.

I do find it frightening that people who believe it's a bad thing to do still do it. I've heard a number of parents who say they can't stop. G-d knows kids can be annoying, even exasperating. But the way I look at it, so can neighbors, colleagues, random people on the subway. Yet most of us go through our lives without ever striking any of them, without ever striking anyone, really, by the time we reach adulthood. (Obviously there are people who go through their lives getting into physical fights with all and sundry, but that's both rare and considered to be a real personality problem). It's part of the control we grow into. So we really ought to be able to have that restraint with our children, too, even when they're obnoxious.

Murray Straus, who is one of the lead researchers on this topic, points out that USAmericans think of ourselves as a non-spanking or anti-spanking society but we're not. In polls, the majority will say that spanking should only be used sparingly, in situations where nothing else works. On the surface that sounds like an anti-spanking sentiment, but if you look at it more closely it's not. It suggests that spanking does work, even that it's more effective than other forms of discipline (because you use it when others don't work). I think for parents to stop spanking, they have to totally take it out of their toolbox.
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From:kattahj
Date:October 14th, 2007 12:10 pm (UTC)
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Yeah, I'm definitely not advocating it as an outlet either, but seeing how it was permitted when my siblings were little and then forbidden when I was little, I can understand how in the heat of the moment you could forget that. In a way, I pity her a lot more than myself, because the knowledge that "mommy is being mean to me" is much easier to take than "I am being mean to my kids."

I've got the same kind of temper my mom does, and there was an instance when I grabbed one of the kids at school by her wrist and squeezed harder than was strictly necessary, and it flew through my head, "My God! I really want to hurt her! What the hell is wrong with me?" It was a profoundly scary moment, this knowledge that a part of me not only could hurt a child but wanted to hurt a child. I was very grateful then to have laws and rules in no uncertain words telling me how wrong it would be to give into that wish even a little. I think if I'd been permitted to spank the girl, that would have been incredibly damaging, not because I would have hit her hard, but because it would mean encouraging something in me that should never ever be encouraged.
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From:mofic
Date:October 14th, 2007 12:17 pm (UTC)
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I think making it illegal is a good first step, but it takes time to get it out of the culture. I do think that in this culture people hit their kids largely because it is allowed.
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