I love it when a new study on parenting comes out and proves that yet again, there are too many studies on parenting. Apparently a psychology professor sat down and thought, “Hmm, why don’t I conduct some research to show all those people that say we shouldn’t physically harm our children are just a bunch of know-it-all jerks.” Or something.
I actually have no idea why someone would set out to prove that hitting our kids may not be a bad idea after all. But Marjorie Gunnoe did and she found that if you spank children under the age of six they could have a better chance at school success. However, spanking kids over the age of six is actually harmful so let’s just stick to the little ones. Hunter prof, Tracy Dennis tries to decode Gunnoe’s logic –
Most parents spank young kids to keep them safe, Dennis explains. A parent may slap a toddler’s hand if they touch a hot stove, or spank a child who runs into the street. In that context, she says, a smack can be considered a way to keep a child out of danger or to assert parental authority, she says.
How can hitting a child when they’re already terrorized by you freaking out because they’re about to hurt themselves be a good thing? You think the stakes need to be upped in that situation? Again, we’re talking about children under the age of six. When my daughter was two she didn’t understand that running into the street could get her killed, but maybe if I gave her a beating she would have? Or most likely she would have been so frightened of me that our relationship as trusted caregiver/caregivee would have been ruined forever along with any sense of safety, self-esteem, security…but hey, those SATs – top notch! There are many, many ways to “assert parental authority” – saying no, for example.
The blowback from this study is significant so I’m not concerned that people everywhere will be changing their parenting tactics as a result of this article. But I am concerned if even one person reads this and uses it as justification for smacking their four-year-old. Jeez, can’t we all agree that hitting tiny people who depend on you for every damn thing – most importantly their personal safety – is never a good idea?