My daughter-in-law smacks my grandchild and I’m not okay with it…

Smacking has always been a big debate in our society, but in recent years it’s become even a legal issue.

Smacking has always been a big debate in our society, but in recent years it’s become even a legal issue. Some say smacking children is fine and a good form of discipline while others think it is cruel and a form of child abuse.

When we’ve spoken about smacking on Starts at 60, there’s been a mixed reaction.

One commenter on this story, Janet, said “I can’t understand why it is not illegal here, most violence starts with a slap and then slap escalates to something far worse, there are other ways to discipline your children, such as time out, or saying no to an outing”. While another, Judith, said, “What rubbish! A slap never left emotional scars on a lot of us oldies. I reckon some of these kids today need more than – a good talking to. Nothing too harsh, a little eye contact with a little slap and an explanation of what they did”

We’ve had a message come in this week from a concerned grandmother about this issue.

Doreen wrote:

“Hi Starts at 60 readers, my daughter-in-law has taken to smacking my granddaughter…. in public. I saw it happen for the first time a few weeks ago and had another family member comment on it last week. It’s not just a tap on the bum. It’s getting a bit too much. I’m not sure if I should say something! What do you think?”

Tell us, what would you do in this situation?

  1. Say something it is called child abuse or assault and if you stand by you condone the behaviour. But tackle the issue out of hearing of the child

  2. Claire Hancock  

    It’s certainly a concern and warrants intervention if you say “It’s getting a bit too much.” But there could be a secondary issue there as well: if it’s a recent development, or getting worse lately, then why is that? Is your daughter-in-law under a lot of stress at the moment and perhaps not coping well?

    I’m not suggesting that being stressed would make it OK, but there may be two issues going on here and both need to be addressed.

    • Francine  

      The mom is the person needing help to deal with her anger, see if she needs a listening ear, a break you could gently offer, time with her friends. I find often the mom has to deal with more than her kids behavior but also her partner behavior and the kid gets the accumulated frustration slap

  3. carol  

    There is a big difference between a smack on the bottom to bring about instant reprimand and beating as abuse. Be very careful about what you are accusing this woman of and that you actually have witnessed it happening repeatedly. Once the accusation has been made it cannot be fully retracted and will affect your relationship with your daughter-in-law. Have a quiet chat perhaps with your son present, without accusations and find out what has changed in her/ the child’s behavior that would warrant the discipline and possibly offer help if it has become too stressful for her or if there is something worrying the child. There is no mention of the child’s age so it is hard to suggest what may be the cause. Also be careful that you are not seen as the type-cast jealous Mother-in-law
    Having been on the receiving end of such accusations myself, which were untrue and never witnessed first-hand because they didn’t happen, I can tell you that relationship was never the same and could have had serious consequences with my work if any was proven to be true. The person concerned was just trying to cause problems in my relationship which was sad as I would have enjoyed a closer relationship with her.

  4. Nothing, it’s none of your damn business unless it is actually violent..
    ‘Over 60’s’ received the strap, the cane, and a good hiding from dad when needed.
    We didn’t turn out too bad did we, this political correct, no smack, no effect is slowly
    turning our kids into people we won’t even want to know in a few years.
    Take note that even Dr.Spock has admitted he was wrong but obviously you didn’t know that…

    • Jenny  

      If an adult “slaps” another adult it is an offence If we saw adults doing this in public and in the workplace how would it look what would we do and think Why do we not consider it so when its an adult “slapping” a child for no other reason than enforcing control by physical power?

    • Barbara Kinzett  

      I dont believe in slapping my Mother slapped me hard, yes it left scars. I have 5 children and never slapped any, time out, if it’s bad try tough love, I would say some thing if it was my grand child. I am well over 60 — you teach violence if you hit a child not love .

    • Marion davis  

      Of course it’s everyone’s business -the child comes first -no more hiding abuse of all types like in the old days. Yes talk to your son and see if he condones it.then take it from there .Report it if there is an escalation of the hitting. Don’t ignore it even though it will affect your future relationships . I can imagine how hard that woukd be though.

    • Robert Green  

      Mild physical punishment never hurt anyone. It deals with the crime and if used only when behaviour escalates past all the other solutions can bring a behavioural change. The constant nagging (called counselling) can cause untold lasting psychological damage and build a mountain of resentment that can never be climbed over.

      The others are right, before you open your mouth, get the facts yourself, gossip is never reliable. Talk to your son to see what’s happening in their lives and work with them.

      Avoid at all costs getting welfare involved. Once those misguided meddlers get involved you can kiss your family goodbye. I have rarely seen good and successful outcomes from that lot.

  5. Faye  

    Violence is violence! It is not acceptable.

  6. Celia Cliff  

    Be very careful, if you speak to her, she will get mad and say you are interfering. If you speak to your son, he will be torn in two with his loyalties and will probably also say you are interfering …..

    • Barbara Kinzett  

      Oh so you like to see your gran child hurt do you

  7. pamela dewar  

    Mind your own business .its none of uour business. Rather than say something do something nice and offer to have the the child for an afternoon

    • C. Blofield  

      None of her Business?????? To many People say, oh I didn’t think I should say anything, I didn’t know whether to report it or not, I didn’t want to get involved, I didn’t think I had the right to say anything, then dress in Black to go to the Funeral of another abused Child!!! Speak out NOW!! Save another Child from continued abuse!!! violence is not the answer, and should not be condoned, under any circumstance.

  8. Sheila mitchell  

    Smacking doesn’t do harm as long as no marks are left I don’t believe anyone has a right to interfere as long as it isn’t abuse and some kids today might be less hostile if they were disciplined

  9. Cecilia  


    It’s got nothing to do with you. If roles were reversed, how would you like to be told how to raise your child by YOUR m-i-l???

    If you actually witness the child being ‘beaten’ as opposed to a smack on the behind, maybe say something, but otherwise, shush.

    My mother used to belt me with my riding crop, which was a piece of thin steel covered in plaited leather. This she used to do at the back of my knees, & on my legs. The number of welts & bruises I got over the years was numerous. One time, Dad came home from work early, as she was hitting me, & he called the local Police Sergeant, who came to our house, & told Mum, he’d arrest her. This was in the ’50’s & ’60’s.
    But she kept this up until I was 20, at which time, being taller, & stronger, I punched her on the jaw. She never whacked me again.

    • Marion davis  

      Omg-shocking and you still don’t think it is anyone’s business -it’s against the law -today your mum would be in jail hopefully -albeit with counsellors etc. sorting out her problems. One generation stopping the abuse will perhaps stop the next generation continuing it.

    • Lois  

      Every child has a right to a safe childhood. Way back in the 50s 60s Cecilia your father and the police knew that.

  10. Ann  

    You seem concerned it was in public? My experiences many years ago was that the public smacking was the most effective. Just the one smacking and walking away from the two year olds and I didn’t have any repeat episodes of tantrums in public…. maybe it was the embarrassment that assisted with getting the message through…. but it certainly worked.

  11. Harry  

    I grew up with the jug cord as a disciplinary tool and I survived with respect for the discipline giver and others. Discipline doesn’t harm forever but abuse is lifelong scarring. Choose carefully which one you give your children.

  12. Gerry  

    I would be concerned if she does that in the public what does she do in private?

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