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Peaceful Parenting VS Violent Parenting

The following was my comment on the YouTube video below which presented a case that any form of corporal punishment is violence.

It seems to me though you have a blindspot on this topic.

I understand that you don’t, in principle, have difficulty with inflicting pain on your daughter as long as it is for the child’s good. You gave the illustration of giving her a painful immunization. So there is nothing in principle wrong with inflicting pain through hitting a child if that is done for the child’s good. Say your child’s clothes are on fire – you will not hesitate to ‘beat’ that fire out as fast as you can. But you seem to think that it must always be seen as an act of aggression. That does not seem logical to me.

Perhaps the reason you think hitting a child is an act of aggression is because you have neither been the recipient nor the giver of corporal punishment. To be fair, an awful lot of corporal punishment is aggressive. I condemn that as you do. But I believe it is a mistake to think corporal punishment is necessarily aggressive. Here is an example.

My friend’s child had been particularly disobedient. His wife was too angry to act reasonably. So she waited for her husband to return. Her husband, a big, strong man, gave his son two choices – he could take 5 hits from the poly pipe he keeps for the purpose or he was grounded for the weekend. The son chose the latter. But as Saturday rolled on and he saw his friends playing outside, he came to his father and told him he had changed his mind – he asked for the flogging. Which he got. And then went out happily and played the rest of the day.

You may disagree with the choices offered. That’s fine. But i think we must agree that there is no aggression or hatred or even anger in that. My friend hates delivering that sort of punishment. The child knows he deserved it and that the giver of the punishment means no ill towards him. To describe that as an ‘act of aggression’ seems naive at best and malicious at worst. Even a child would not confuse this sort of calm, loving discipline with the angry violence he might wish to perpetrate on others. 

Ironically, the “peaceful” option may produce more animosity towards the parent then the “violent” option. The peaceful option still inflicts pain – just of the social or emotional kind. The parent may feel better for it, but the child may not. For some children, the non-physical punishment which last for days feels worse than the physical pain that last for a few minutes. In fact, this is the best aspect of physical punishment – it is over in seconds. The child is spanked, the tears come, that parent takes the child in her arms, tells her she loves her and everything continues as it is before. When other forms of punishment are used, the relationship is almost always in tension for longer, sometimes days, as the punishment drags on.

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