Kelly Clarkson Spanks Her Child And It Brings Back Awful Memories For Me


I was outraged and then I was even more outraged, after learning last week that singer Kelly Clarkson ‘is not above spanking’ when it comes to disciplining her three year old daughter. Apparently, I’m very naive. Even though I work at a parenting website, am a parent, and have written four books on parenting, I haven’t thought about spanking, not once, over the years.

I was spanked as a child, which I’ll get into. But, first, maybe I didn’t think about the issue of spanking, not because I hadn’t really seen any stories about spanking, but also because I actually believed that 99 per cent of parents, these days, would never even think of spanking their children, let alone actually doing it.

I can tell you with one hundred per cent certainty – Are You Listening Kelly Clarkson? – that spanking doesn’t work in the long run and also has long-lasting effects. I don’t necessarily mean that spanking your child will lead to adult-therapy-for-life-worthy-long-lasting effects, but it does still effect you in adult years. Namely, I can remember what it felt like to this day – it’s not a nice memory – and I’m in my forties.

I still feel the humiliation and embarrassment when I think about being spanked as a child, because more than anything, it was humiliating and embarrassing, definitely two emotions that no parent wants their child to feel. Do I think that my mother was wrong to spank me? Absolutely. But that was a different generation, so I cut my mother some slack there. But now it’s 2018, not 1980.

Kelly Clarkson was also spanked as a child, but unlike me, doesn’t seem perturbed about it, even saying, ‘My parents spanked me and I did fine in life. I feel fine about it, and I do that as well,’ she says of her experience being spanked and now about spanking her own child.

And then I became even more outraged because, while it made the news, there didn’t seem to be the sort of backlash or outrage that I had expected, which means that there are a lot of people out there, like Kelly Clarkson, who still believe that spanking is an effective form of discipline or punishment. Even the thought of someone spanking their child makes me sick to my stomach. Like truly sick. And I think it’s because I both believe that any violence towards a kid is wrong and also because I remember being spanked. Trust me, Kelly Clarkson, it’s not something you forget.

I don’t really want to go down the scientific route on spanking, but just so we are all on the same page, even the American Academy of Paediatrics discourages spanking or ‘other physical punishments’ as disciplinary methods, suggesting going the ‘time out route.’ This article shows spanking and other forms of physical punishment can lead to increased behavior problems, aggression, physical injury and mental health issues. Still, according to some studies, 62 per cent of Americans still feel spanking is ok.

Kelly Clarkson is a bit of an idiot. Why? She says spanking her daughter has really ‘helped’ when it comes to her three year-old’s temper tantrums. “I warn her,” the American Idol star explained. “I’m like, ‘Hi, I’m going to spank you on your bottom if you don’t stop right now, this is ridiculous,’ and honestly it’s really helped. She doesn’t do that kind of stuff as often.” And this statement is why I think she’s an idiot.

Her child is three! At three, kids have tantrums and a lot of them even more than when they’re two. Does Kelly Clarkson really think that her three year-old is any different from any other three year-old? Yeah, I want to tell this American Idol Alum, that, sure, maybe spanking has helped with the tantrums because her daughter is starting to grow out of the tortuous threes, with its tantrums, and that it has nothing at all to do with her spanking as punishment.

I remember very clearly when my mother would sit on my bed, myself thrown over her lap, and spank my bottom with her hand. Since my mother is 5 feet tall and maybe weighs 90 pounds (soaking wet) her spankings never really hurt, physically. The clever child I was, I learned very quickly to start fake crying to just get the spanking over with. I think I turned out ‘fine’ too, but that doesn’t mean I don’t remember what it feels like to be spanked. It’s not only humiliating, it’s embarrassing. You don’t want to talk about it. And, usually, you don’t. I never told my friends. I never told anyone, until now. To this day, even though I know many of my generation who were spanked, I will never see how spanking benefits either the child or the parent.

I always go out of my way to make sure I’m not being judgemental of another person’s parenting styles, and it may sound like I’m being judgmental here. I’m trying not to be, but never in my life would I ever spank my children, especially because I was spanked. Clarkson is also not above spanking her child in public. I just shake my head. ‘That’s a tricky thing, when you’re out in public, because then people are like–they think that’s wrong or something, but I find nothing wrong with a spanking,” Clarkson said.

Truthfully, if I saw a mother spanking her child at the grocery store (and I’m talking ‘spanking,’ not, ‘beating’, to be clear,) I don’t know what I’d do. I think I’d run out of the store, so I wouldn’t have to witness it, then probably cry in my car. Then again, I may scream something down the grocery aisle like, ‘I would think twice before doing what you’re doing!” and run out of the store, because, again, spanking isn’t illegal in North America. And I’ve always said, ‘Worry about your own children. Not mine.’

Still I do have to ask Clarkson, even though she turned out ‘fine’: Don’t you remember how it feels to be spanked? Were you not mortified, humiliated, embarrassed?

That’s how your kid is feeling.

So, while I’m trying not to judge, I will also say this to Kelly Clarkson…

We remember being spanked. We remember.



  1. cara on January 15, 2018 at 6:38 pm

    You can tell she loves her kids. Telling people that you aren’t judging but you are judging. It’s between her and her husband how they decide to discipline their children. Parents these days are so afraid to discipline (sometimes a spanking works) their kids, because people like you, judging them when they are trying to discipline their kids. High horse moms thinks spanking is wrong, but their kids are the ones who cries when they don’t get their way and annoying everyone around them. when you remember why you got spanked is the reson why you would never do those actions again. Discipline isn’t supposed to feel good. It’s supposed to make them regret acting up. Mother knows when to cuddle and kiss them, but a mother also knows how to disciplines her kids no matter what the world thinks of them. Not only is she clothing them, housing them, caring for them; but she is also loving them, disciplining them, and giving all her energy and focus on them(River and Remy), not some one else’s kids

  2. Valena on January 16, 2018 at 3:41 pm

    I feel like you lose all credibility as soon as you called Kelly ‘a bit of an idiot’. People, like you, judging, like you are, and trying to publicly shame a person for their parenting choice are part of the reason that moms nowadays are more stressed, anxious and unhappy. We are all doing the best we can and making, what we deem are, the best choices for our children. And as a personal opinion, just because you were embarrassed or ashamed doesn’t mean that your parents made a bad choice. Sometimes it does, some times it doesn’t. My dad dressed pretty terribly and didn’t cut his hair often and I was quite embarrassed and ashamed when I was preteen. My sister was horribly embarrassed when my parents made her walk the four blocks to a big school dance rather then drive in her date’s sports car, because they felt she was too young to be driving in cars with boys. Does your criteria mean that since we were ashamed or embarrassed and we too did not forget that my parents made bad parenting choices and should be publicly shamed by name? I for one, hope that no one ever tries to make a name for themselves or make a pay check by writing an essay calling you out by name, criticizing and shaming you for your chosen parenting choices.

  3. Katie Baker on January 23, 2018 at 10:39 am

    I am a mother of six adult children. We spanked the first two because, well, we were young and that’s what you did at the time when your kid acted up. By the time they were about 6 and 4 though we had figured out that spanking didn’t really work, it didn’t match our disciplinary goals. So we stopped and went for discipline instead of punishment.
    We did find that there were times when all other disciplinary (teaching) methods either hadn’t worked, or were not appropriate in the moment. We had to get the child’s attention RIGHT THEN and impress upon them that we were SERIOUS, then follow up with a disciplinary timeout or withdrawal of privileges or whatever. Times like, the child would NOT hold your hand, was repeatedly pulling out of your hand and had just dashed out onto the road. Or some other dangerous action for which – being young – they did not grasp the permanent and serious consequences. Crouching down and saying “Mommy will be sad if you get hit by a car” is not effective, it does not teach them anything, your feelings are not relevant to a small child, not in the moment.
    Every kid – in my experience – needs that “wake up call” at least once. Most kids only once. But we’re here to raise them, not be their friend. Until they are old enough to judge consequences (different things at different ages obviously) you ARE the boss of them. You don’t have the right, you have the responsibility and obligation to do what is necessary to keep them safe, both in the moment and going forward. That is usually discipline (teaching) but occasionally requires punishment as well.
    My two cents from a different perspective than most of you, in that I see the outcome of my parenting decisions in how my grandkids are being raised.

  4. Susan Robbins on December 6, 2020 at 7:40 am

    My memories of being disciplined by spanking (bare butt with a belt, no less) are positive. I love the fact that my Mom and Dad determined to teach me right from wrong….even if it had to hurt a bit.

  5. Mike Henry on April 17, 2021 at 4:05 pm

    Why is it that we continue to belive that what works for one situation or group of individules is right (or wrong) for another.  In my view Spanking is neither right or wrong.  It depends on the individules, personalities, and situtations.  The key as with any discipline or behavior guidance is simply does it work.  When you declscipline a child does it correct the undesired behavior?  If it does then great, if not you should consider using something different.  Now any one time-out, grounding, toy restriction, or spanking will not avoud all future bad behaviour.  Most parents after a few times know if it’s working, or not.  In the end, each child, situation, and parent are unique and should not be controlled by the norms of society or opinions of others but by what is best for the the child.

    I also don’t beleive parents should not use only one form of descipline like always spanking, taking away tv or a phone.  A wise parent will use a varity of items and severity as appropriate.  I have often advised new parents that the choice to spank or not spank is not for make, but their child.  By this I mean that if the child corrects their behavior with non spanking descipline there is no need to spank.  However, if they don’t work, and spankings does, then most parents will spank when needed.  In my experiance descipline works best when there is a wide varity of tools in the tool box, each used when appropriate.  

  6. Danny on April 19, 2022 at 7:54 am

    Being disciplined is not fun! Yes, it’s embarrassing! But it’s still necessary!

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