Nothing gets my post partum panties in a wad like the spanking issue, which was the case a couple of weeks ago when I was forced to set up my mobile office in a local McDonalds due to an extended Internet outage.
I was happily clicking away in my quiet booth by the bathroom and the exit when I watched a visibly pissed mother walk by with her sniffling daughter, probably around seven or eight years old, not so gently escorting her to the bathroom.
What followed was a series of audible whacks and yelps which had me nearly vomiting and white knuckling the table so that I wouldn't go into the bathroom and verbally whip that mother as hard as she was whipping her kid.
I've long wondered whether it was just the South that had such antiquated child discipline standards, with parents openly smacking their kids and some private schools still subjecting their students to corporal punishment.
But in a recent column in The Daily, the iPad newspaper to which I subscribe, it's more widespread than I thought. Apparently over 70% of college-educated parents reported spanking their kids in the 90s. And from what I've seen, my guess is that number hasn't changed that much.
Now I've heard all the arguments in support of spanking, from the whole "nothing else works" line to my all-time favorite "my parents did it and I turned out just fine" which is what our parents used as an excuse for stupid shit their parents did.
I've had people cite research that says spanking is actually good for your kids. Or that yelling is worse.
And to all of them I say, BULLSHIT.
I can actually comprehend the whole desperate or angry parenting moment when your kid completely drives you up a wall or does something so unbelievably egregious or unsafe that smacking them is almost a reflexive, involuntary movement, like in the case of Her Bad Mother.
And I have regrettably plopped my kids down in the corner in a not-so gentle manner. I've given them a piece of my mind in a way that would melt the Pope's ears off.
But I end up feeling awful.
To me, spanking as a calculated, planned punishment, especially with instruments like paddles, belts, and other objects, is deplorable, abusive, and completely unnecessary.
I don't care how fine you are now even though your parents did that to you. Since when did "just fine" become the standard to which we want to raise our kids?
Or how you've tried time outs and counting and sticker charts and reward systems and grounding and they just don't seem to work.
Who didn't they work for? You or your kids?
I can promise you this: It takes as much time and effort to walk your kid into a public bathroom, pull their pants down, and smack their ass as it does to find and use a positive method to provide discipline and instill respect.
One that doesn't encourage and promote hitting. One that doesn't instill fear. One that doesn't involve shame. One that doesn't change the dynamic in your relationship.
Here's a thought: Do better.
Maybe your kids will be just fine, growing up without the emotional and physical scars that many spanked kids report having.
Or maybe they won't.
Are you really willing to take that risk?