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.
Tagged under: debate,punishment,spanking,disciplining children,disciplining your child,how to discipline you kids,following through on punishment,emotional well-being kids,discipline,kelly clarkson,social and emotional development,emotional development