Spanking Debate: A Generational Divide

From David in New Mexico: I am a teacher at an alternative school. We try to teach the students tolerance, self discipline, and respect. How do you deal with the parents or what advise could you give me about parents behaving badly? Some parents are contributing to the entire cycle of bad behavior. Could you please focus on parenting skills rather than blame grandparents? I did not spank my own children very often, but when I did, they knew they had crossed boundaries that had already been explained. It was needed and they were not hurt. I was raised by responsible, respecting, loving parents who explained everything no matter how small, but if I crossed those boundaries a spanking was a quick deterrent. I learned not to do it again based on respect as my children are now teaching their children. It is not OK for children to behave badly and for parents to blame everyone else for bad parenting skills?

Annie Pleshette Murphy:

I couldn't agree more that grandparents often get unfairly blamed. In fact, I think everyone loses when we play the blame game rather than focus on working as a team -- whether it's teacher-parent-child or grandparent-parent-child -- to help set clear limits, communicate effectively and follow through.

It sounds as though your parents were clear about boundaries and although I do not support the idea that spanking is the only deterrent that works, I do believe that nothing works if you make empty threats and don't follow through.

It's not really possible to know if you grew up to be respectful and loving because you were spanked or despite it! But you certainly could do the kids (and the parents) at your school a big favor by suggesting some discipline seminars or perhaps circulating information on how to discipline effectively.

Most parents welcome help if it's offered in a compassionate way; i.e., "Johnny is a good kid, but he can really be a handful. Here's what we do at school that I think might work at home. In fact, it would help us to help him if you tried this at home."

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