‘Sometimes You Gotta Smack your Kids…’

“Sometimes You Gotta Smack your Kids…. Keeps them in line.”

Today, the above statement was lobbed like a hand grenade into a conversation among several of my colleagues.  I cringed when it was so carelessly tossed out, and haven’t been able to shake the pit that has been living in my stomach ever since.   To think that there are normal, everyday people who believe this, causes my heart to break a little.

As parents, neither my wife or I have ever hit our children, nor will we ever.   Despite our different parenting styles, we firmly agree that there is never an appropriate time for a parent to hit or threaten to hit their kid.    It is our conviction that nothing a child can do could warrant this response, and no situation can be resolved smoothly through taking this course of conflict resolution.

Although some would argue that this was a legitimate practice in generations prior needing to come back in vogue, countless behavioral and child developments studies have presented findings that argue that not only is hitting your child an ineffective behavior modification, but doing so can lead to serious issues as your child grows.    It’s just a bad idea.  It has gone out of style because it causes more problems than it resolves.   If you are interested in a bibliography of those resources, please message me, and I will happily forward.

Now, in those rare occasions, when they were little, when some random doll, toy, or book led to one hitting the other, we were clear with them of the zero tolerance policy in our home.   As soon as you hit another; you lose any case, argument, or ground you may have was our instant advice.    We taught them that hitting will never have a place in our home.   In the end, despite all of our many other failures as parents, both of my girls will grow into women with the conviction that no man – or no person for that matter – has the right to strike them, FOR ANY REASON.

As I put this all out on paper, I do realize that there are a great many of my neighbors who believe otherwise.  This was certainly the case with the lobber of the aforementioned hand grenade. Those like him might say a spank is appropriate from time to time.   In the end, I am not sure I will ever be able to rationalize or understand that decision, nor do I have a desire to.    I simply cannot believe that a fearful child is a healthy child.

As he continued with his sermon on the proper role of a belt in parenting, I found myself scanning my desk.   I was reminded of a well worn, little post card about capital punishment that sits somewhere there.   It reads “we kill people, who kill people, to tell people that killing people is wrong.”  I heard his argument, but kept thinking of that card.   The same applies to hitting your kids.   Why do we “hit our kids, who hit others, to tell them that hitting is wrong?”   Eventually the conversation ended, and was replaced with the nagging need in my gut for this post.

Why was any of this brought up?   Because of the following picture, that has gone viral over Facebook of late….There was discussion that argued that this is an appropriate punishment…  But others dislike it because we are soft parents…  We are afraid to seriously discipline our children.   ‘Sometimes we gotta hit, sometimes we gotta be tough’ was the argument that was tossed front and center.    ‘When did we become afraid to parent? When did we become afraid to discipline?’ were both questions raised.  ‘Sometimes you Gotta smack your kids…  sometimes with a hand,…sometimes with a pic.” was almost his catch phrase.
cyber bullying


Cyber bullying is ugly, hurtful, and kills.   As parents we need to be vigilant and raise our children better.  We need to understand our role in framing the people our children chose to be.  We need swift and immediate responses when we catch a glimpse of our children acting without compassion.    All that said, in response to this picture some have labeled this parent as ‘mother of the year’ because of the actions described in the placard.   Although I would love to hop on that wagon, I cannot.

Instead I see a parent that raised a child who cyber bullies.  A child who does these things does so because of holes and gaps in their own characters.   This photograph may move this unnamed mother to legendary status, but I cannot help but pause.   I find myself asking where were you when those holes formed?   What else in the way of swift and immediate responses have been made in your home?    Where did you child’s compassion go, and what are you doing to find it again?

At the same time, one thought continues to come back to my mind.   I keep thinking of the post card in my office.     Do we really see what message this photograph sends?

Are we choosing to be people that say it is okay to ‘cyber bully people who cyber bully people, to teach them that cyber bullying is wrong.”   Shouldnt we be as averse to hurting our children with a belt, as in the manner displayed by this ‘mother of the year’?

I look in this little girls eyes, and just can’t shake the feeling this is a huge mistake.

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