There are fresh calls for parents to stop smacking their kids as a form of discipline and to start using a softer approach to parenting instead.
Most Baby Boomers will remember receiving a swift smack to the behind if they misbehaved as kids, but the physical form of punishment has fallen out of favour in recent years as a new generation of parents look for alternative ways to handle naughty kids.
Now, an article published anonymously to Nine Honey on Monday, implored mums and dads turn their backs on smacking and shouting, with the author saying they had “never recovered from being struck by the one person I loved the most in the whole wide world”.
While the writer admitted their mother only ever smacked them when they were being naughty, they said it caused lasting emotional damage.
“Once your strike your child for the first time, a sacred bond is broken,” they wrote. “While my mother and I have managed to repair our relationship now that I am grown with children of my own, the damage that was done can never be undone.
“When I had my first child I was petrified of repeating the same mistakes my parents had done because the accidental result of being hit and screamed at whenever I did something ‘wrong’ as a child meant my immediate anger response was an urge to do the same.”
The article stirred debate online with social media users putting in their two cents on the matter.
“I’m in my 50s. We were smacked as children and I can honestly say it did me no harm whatsoever,” one woman wrote. “We are respectful of our peers and knew what boundaries not to cross [sic].”
Another added: “I lost count the amount of hits I got as a kid, it taught me right from wrong and also taught me me respect, something kids are lacking these days.”
Some pointed out there was a fine line between discipline and abuse and argued that “what you say to your child matters” in the long run.
It comes after calls earlier this year for parents to not only stop smacking their children, but to stop yelling at them, too.
Parenting author and father of six, Dr Justin Coulson appeared on the Today show in June where he argued that yelling at children can have the same harmful effects as smacking.
While most parents will attest it’s often difficult in the moment to stop yourself shouting at a naughty child, Dr Coulson’s claims are backed up by a 2018 study from the University of Texas, which found that yelling makes children more aggressive both physically and verbally.
The findings are in line with modern parenting techniques that encourage mums and dads to constantly praise their children when they do something good. Other modern parenting books advise mums and dads to practice looking in the mirror and saying, “I am your father/mother, not your friend”.
In perhaps the most extreme example that parenting has changed drastically in the last 50 years, one technique, called ‘gentle parenting’, encourages parents to ask permission before picking up or hugging their child.