Michelle Smiles

Teaching my children to question authority, except mine.



Most of us have heard the California recently proposed a bill to make spanking a child under 4 illegal.

If you want to get a group of parents engaged in a hot and heavy debate, you need only bring up the spanking issue.  Everyone has an opinion and many are quite passionate about those opinions. I’m incredibly opinionated about a great many things and I generally share those opinions freely when asked – and sometimes without being asked.  But the spanking issue is one that I’m less clear on.

First let me say that when I say spanking I’m thinking of the occasional swat to the butt for misbehavior.  I’m not talking about it being used as a regular form of discipline.  I don’t think there are a large number of people parenting that way these days.  Yes they do exist but those aren’t the folks I am thinking of when I talk about this.  People who spank their children out of anger or in a violent manner are in another category completely and on that I am very clear how I feel.  Let’s just assume we are talking about people who spank occasionally and/or as a last resort.

Personally?  I was spanked a handful of times as a child and turned out okay.  It wasn’t something my parents used often – it was a last resort kind of thing.  We don’t plan on spanking Sabrina.  But I’ve learned over the years to never say never.  I don’t judge parents who choose to use spanking occasionally.

There was an incident I’ll never forget.  I commented on someone else’s post on spanking with it – although I fudged and said it was my nephew to simplify the story.  The real story is this:  I was working in a domestic violence shelter.  The shelter sat on the corner of a busy intersection.  We had 2 young (ages 3 & 4) siblings in the shelter one weekend.  I heard horns and yells coming from the intersection.  None of the moms paid any attention but I had a bad feeling.  I went to the door and saw the little boys playing in the intersection.  Mom wasn’t paying attention and they had wandered out.  My heart stopped as I ran for the boys.  I grabbed them both out of the road and carried them into the yard.  I almost spanked the older one as I was telling them they couldn’t go outside without a grown up.  I almost spanked him out of fear.  I had all of these images of what could have happened and I knew he didn’t grasp the gravity of the situation as he laughed up at me.  I wanted him to understand.  I wanted him to be scared.  The only thing that stopped me was the he wasn’t my child and I was there in a professional capacity.  At that moment, I knew that I could never judge a parent for spanking a child in some situations.

Honestly, that one incident was enough to put me on the fence about spanking.  I don’t think it is the best way to parent but I totally get how it can happen.  So back to the proposed bill in California.  I am against it.  It actually makes me a little angry.  I am tired of the government legislating private issues.  I am tired of people handing away their freedoms and rights.  I’m all for stopping abusive parents but I don’t want to see a mom who swats her child mid-tantrum arrested at Target.  Yes, I would like to see her find a different way to deal with it but to make it illegal?  That baffles me.  And what about finger slapping?  Does that fall under this proposed law?  The parent who lightly slaps the child’s fingers for grabbing for something hot or something sharp – are they going to be arrested too?  Where do you draw the line?  And what comes next?

Okay, I’ve had my say – now you have yours.  Comment away!  Talk about the law or your views on spanking or whatever else is on your mind.  Debate is always welcome as long as it is respectful.

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