The great smacking debate: Grandparents weigh in on discipline vs doting

Smacking has fallen out of favour with many parents in recent years. Source: Getty

When it comes to parenting, there’s no denying that things have changed since we were younger.

In many cases, this means that the kids and teenagers of today are getting away with a lot more than they probably should. It feels like we can’t go a day without seeing teenagers wreaking havoc at local shopping centres or young children throwing tantrums because they’re not getting their own way.

Of course, for every naughty child or disrespectful teenager, there are many more well-mannered and thoughtful ones – it’s just the eye-catching misbehaviour that we all tend to notice.

Some people attribute it to the different ideas parents now have of how their offspring should be punished. Some don’t enforce rules at all, while others need a serious reality check when it comes to their ideas of discipline.

If you’ve noticed that some parents these days are being too soft on their kids, you’re not alone.

A 2017 study found that three in five grandparents believe that today’s parenting styles are worse than when they were raising their own children.

In fact, The Australian Seniors Series: Raising Modern Australia survey details some very interesting results.

More than half of the 1,000 grandparents surveyed believe that their grandkids are going to be less capable, self-sufficient, and resilient adults than their parents.

Furthermore, they don’t think today’s kids are going to be as moral as the ones they raised.

Many say that today’s parents focus too much on rewarding their children, rather than punishing them when they do wrong.

It found that an incredible 86 per cent of grandparents think parents spoil their kids too much, 79 per cent believe they are too protective, and 76 per cent don’t believe that today’s parents are as strict as they should be.

So what’s the answer?

Many believe that parents should go back to smacking their children when they’ve done something wrong.

In 2017, Channel 7’s Sunrise asked viewers if it was time to bring back the smack, given that physical punishment was usually a part of how we were disciplined or how we kept our own children in line.

Viewers seemed to agree, with one person saying: “I never went to hospital from a hard smacked bottom, but I learnt not to be naughty”.

Another viewer wrote on social media: “My kids got smacked on the bum when they were a lot smaller and now all I have to do is look, say no or change the tone in my voice”.

A third added: “Mine were taught young with a smack if required. They now respect adults, have manners and are very well-behaved.”

That’s not to mention how often the previous generations received corporal punishment at school!

But people who don’t believe that sparing the rod spoils the child argue that smacking teaches children to be violent to others in turn, while failing to help them learn how to control their impulses.

As a mother called Jo Abi wrote on Nine Honey recently, after Scotland introduced legislation to ban smacking, says, too many parents smack their children because they’re frustrated and angry and it makes them feel better, not because it’s an effective deterrent. (She says smacking is banned already in 50 other countries, although not in the US or Australia)

Abi says of the hitting she received at the hands of her otherwise loving parent, “their physical punishments wounded my soul”.

She argues that the old ‘no one can tell me what to do with my kids’ comeback doesn’t wash because the government already tells parents what they can do with their kids.

“We are required to immunise our kids. They are legally required to attend school from the age of six. We can’t leave them home alone under the age of 12. They aren’t allowed to drive a car until 16. We are legally obliged to clean them, clothe them, feed them and keep them safe,” she writes.

“And in keeping with that, parents should do all that they can to avoid doing something that has been shown to be harmful to children, that has been shown to be a potentially dangerous situation, but most importantly … that can negatively impact how your fragile child feels about you.”

Should more parents smack their kids when they’re misbehaving? How did you discipline your children?

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