May 30, 2014 in Features

Carolyn Hax: If neighbors spank, it’s not your business

Washington Post
 

Hello, Carolyn: My question is, when is spanking a child OK? I live on a rural dirt road off a busy road. We have about seven neighbors and all know each other and help out when needed.

We have a young couple with two young boys, 4 and 3, and she’s pregnant with her third. The other day the 4-year-old showed up at our house. I immediately called the mother, who answered in a groggy voice as though she’s been sleeping. I told her I had her son.

When she and her husband came, the boy just kept running down another dirt path. I turned to the mother and said, “I hope you give him a good spanking for this.” All she and her husband did is look goofy and brush it off. I don’t believe you can raise a child without sometimes giving them a real shock when they do something very serious. –  Furious Neighbor?

Spanking is OK when you live on a rural dirt road and your 4-year-old wanders to the neighbors’ while you’re pregnant and taking a nap.

That’s the answer you want, right?

Your question is not about when spanking is OK, because you state openly when you believe it is – to the degree that you’re “furious” these neighbors didn’t beat their child as you would have.

So let’s be honest about your real question, which is: Am I going to use my platform to back you up, and help you set straight these and other know-nothing parents who are driving their kids/your neighborhood/this country straight into the toilet?

And my answer: no.

Part of the reason is conceptual, in that I can’t imagine siding with someone incensed at not striking a child.

Part of the reason is practical. Hitting the people you are presumably trying to teach not to hit is an effective way for parents to undermine their own message and expose themselves as hypocrites.

Plus, plenty of 4-year-olds aren’t spanked and do heed their parents. Plenty are spanked and don’t heed. It’s not the black-and-white, cause-and-effect business you make it out to be.

Nor is it your business whether these parents spank, and that’s part of my “no,” too.


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