I was hands-off, I was hands-on, I spanked, I didn't, I was consistent, I couldn't control my kids in public, I got babysitters, I took my kids everywhere, I kept them sheltered, I put mine on a schedule, I pretty much let them stay up as long as they like, I public-schooled, I private-schooled, I home-schooled, I breastfed, I used soy milk, I relied on hand-me-downs, I think it hurts a child's self-esteem to get used things. Etc.
When you take your parenting out into the world, you always feel a little off balance. You get that comment that begins "You mean you don't.....? You hear the mother talking to her own child while she's really criticizing you: "We like to go to bed at the same time every night, don't we, Will? It helps us wake up in a good mood." You pick your child up from a grandparent who thinks that he has fixed everything wrong with your parenting in one structured afternoon, especially because he got the child to eat some healthy crap that that kid wouldn't touch at your house in a heartbeat.
The study, “Mothers’ Spanking of 3-Year-Old Children and Subsequent Risk of Children’s Aggressive Behavior,” will appear in the May issue of Pediatrics.
“Toddlers that are spanked more frequently at age 3 are at increased risk for being more aggressive at age 5,” said Taylor, assistant professor of Community Health Sciences at Tulane and lead author of the study. “We found this to be true even after taking into account other factors that might have explained this association such as the parents’ level of stress, depression, use of drugs or alcohol, and the presence of other aggression within the family.”
Mothers with more parenting risk factors were more likely to spank frequently. However, even accounting for these potential confounding factors, frequent spanking at age 3 increased the odds of higher levels of aggression at age 5. Signs of aggression included behaviors such as arguing or screaming; cruelty, bullying or meanness to others; destroys things; fighting and frequently threatening others.
Despite recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics against spanking, most parents in the United States approve of and have used corporal punishment as a form of child discipline. The study suggests that even minor forms of corporal punishment increase the risk for child aggressive behavior.There is little that is more barbaric than hitting a child. And spanking is hitting, make no mistake about that. If you've ever spanked or been spanked, you know the truth of that. And yet, we as a society, perhaps as all societies, have had it ingrained in us, as recently as our own upbringing, as far back as the Bible:
He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chastiseneth him betimes. (Proverbs 13:24)
For those of us who have taken the non-violent approach, who have worn the mantle of "permissive parents" or who have been seen as not strong enough to inflict tough love on our children or to unleash a punishment that does not fit the crime, finally there is a study that shows what anyone who has ever raised his or her hand against a child has to know in his heart: that it has negative consequences for the child.
The more we hit a child, the more likely that child is to hit someone else. C'mon, did we really need a study done to confirm that fact? Well, at this point, I don't even care. I'm just glad that there is such a study that does indeed always seem pretty obvious.