Tuesday, July 17, 2012

So you were spanked as a kid... you're not destined for a life of mental illness, despite what some recent study said!

No fun illustrations with this one.  I don't spend ALL my time on the internet reading spanking blogs, on fetlife, and watching spanking videos.  I spend the quiet time after the kids go to sleep or (now in the summer) before they wake up reading the news too.  I look at my local paper, the top stories on yahoo, espn.com, check out deadspin.com, and a couple of  college sports fans message boards.  (if anyone is interested in the most hilarious Aggie thread ever, let me know.)  I also check out several national media sites. The New York Times for the headlines (they have this annoying you can only read 10 articles a month for free thing, but their headlines usually are 1st with a story, followed by lots of stories elsewhere that pick up on it) the Washington Post, Fox News, the Atlantic, Slate, check stocks, and a couple of esoteric blogs.

As I've mentioned before, Slate seems to run far more than it's fair share of articles about spanking. No   seriously,    there    are    many    articles   on spanking   there. (and after a brief search, I couldn't even find the series of articles I read on there about Sweden and how that nation banned spanking of children.)

But this recent article caught my eye. It claims that a new study shows that spanking as a child is more prevalent in those experiencing mental illness as adults, based on a recent study.  That study was all over the news.   I've made no secret of the fact that I was spanked as a child.  I was even paddled as a late teen in a scene that is still haunting for me to think about despite the fact that the roles of authority are now completely reversed.  Nor have I denied the fact that I've spanked my boys on rare occasions (both of whom are less than 7 years old) and I think that based on my experience, it's an effective disciplinary method for boys that age.  (My sons have never gone out the front door again without asking permission, never again played with electrical sockets, and counting 1... 2... actually means something.)

But it troubles me.  I hate that maybe I've resorted to barbaric practices, and (just being honest here) given my sexual interests in adult spanking, I'm even more reluctant to employ that method of discipline.  I worry that I was scarred by being spanked, and that's what led to my adult interest in it, and I certainly don't wish that upon my little boys.  Which brings up the uncomfortable subject of... am I weird and flawed because I like spankings? That study everyone was talking about recently kind of points in that direction.

That's one reason why I absolutely loved the follow-up article in Slate this week.  The author of the follow up article found that there was no causal link provided in the study I mentioned before (that everyone's    talking    about).  First of all, the study wasn't directly related to spanking, but included shoving, slapping, and hitting of children by their parents.  Second, the author points out other studies showing a link between the far more accepted practices of grounding, time-out, and psychotherapy.  That study concluded the more one received any of those as a child, the more likely one is to have mental health issues as an adult, and not only that, but how those correlations are stronger than those between being spanked and mental issues later in life.  In essence, the more troubled a kid you are, the more likely your parents were to deploy a variety of disciplinary techniques in an attempt to control you.  That's the causal link missing between studies that conclude there's a correlation between being spanked as a kid and mental health issues later in life.  In that I can take comfort.

And by the way, the best example of a lack of a causal link that I've used in a professional setting: "Masturbation makes you go blind." is the old saying  After all, all blind people have masturbated, right?

By the way, as you might have noticed, the blog roll was getting long, so I now have a third column added on the left.  Hope y'all like the new layout.


  1. Slate, really? Hmm...I hadn't noticed that!

    I am a huge non-fan of time-outs for children. I think that they're over-used and don't teach the lessons that they are meant to teach. I also seriously doubt that we were all emotionally scarred by childhood spankings. It's not a popular opinion to hold, especially in our community that has to denounce spankings of children in order for adult spankings to be seen as less...well...wrong...but I agree with your idea that difficult children elicit more attempts (of any kind) at discipline.

    Not, of course, that all parents use types of discipline appropriately.

    Nice post with some good thoughts.

    1. Thank you Ana, and welcome to the blog. I'll have to check yours out.

      I'm not one to shy away from controversial topics, and
      I think you touched on a major point. I think condemnation of childhood spankings is especially strong in the spanking community because it makes us uncomfortable. I'm just glad I'm not more inclined to be crazy because I was spanked growing up.

    2. Well...I am a bit crazy and own my craziness. Mad Hatter Ana, that's me! :)

      Also (not to be judgmental) there is the ageplay-with-sex subgroup that sends a lot of spankos into extreme Squick Land because it brings up a lot of very bad connotations regarding children and spanking and so on.

      I was adamantly, almost militantly anti-child-spanking for most of my life. I'm not sure what happened. I think I saw a lot of very spoiled children (and young adults) and a lot of parents totally clueless how to discipline instead of befriending their children. And I think that the kind of yelling, constant criticism, etc. that we deplore as adults who practice ttwd (citing all the benefits of calm and rational ways to sort of differences through using ttwd) is even more deplorable when used by parents toward their children.

      But...you know, these are the opinions of a girl who owns her craziness. :)

    3. maybe if you own your own craziness you're a step ahead of me! Like your blog by the way. will add it.

  2. Haha. I wasn't spanked as a child, don't have children, and find most studies stunningly inconclusive, but I love your best example of lack of a causal link and the new layout looks great.


    1. Glad you liked that! Thought I should add a little levity to an otherwise uncomfortable topic.

  3. I'm not a parent, so I'm in no way any sort of voice of experience on the topic. I resort to my instincts in this controversy, because it's one that most likely will never be resolved.

    I can see where a few light smacks on the bottom to a small child, done in a non-angry fashion, might get through to them when they're at an age where reasoning doesn't work. SS, that sounds like what you do with your boys and I don't have a problem with it when I read about it. But overall, the idea of spanking children makes me feel icky. Especially the whole protracted, ritualistic, pants-down, over-the-knee sort of thing.

    Eve Howard of Shadow Lane once said, "Children deserve their dignity, too." Being spanked (talking about the longer spankings now, not the one or two-smackers) is not only painful for a child, it's humiliating. And I can see how, after years of this sort of helplessness and humiliation, a child would have anger issues.

    I have only one memory of a spanking, and it was by my father when I was five. The clearest part of the memory is how utterly betrayed I felt afterward. I remember wishing I could just disappear and never face anyone in my family again. Perhaps I was a hypersensitive child, but I wouldn't wish that feeling on anyone.

    Perhaps spanked children are more well behaved, but I hate to think their good manners are born of fear of a big person hitting/hurting them.

    Motivation and attitude is key, I guess. With warnings, a calm and deliberate demeanor and not an abundance of force, spanking probably isn't the demon that the Pediatrics study portrays it to be. I'm glad, however, that I never have to make this choice! I'd much rather enjoy the adult version.

    1. I wasn't really writing this as a justification of childhood spankings, and hope it didn't come across that way, more trying to make the point that "whew!" maybe I'm not crazy because I was spanked. Maybe because I was, I AM fascinated, academically, in childhood spankings because I wonder what it is about me that makes me different and makes me into spanking as an adult.

      That having been said, the topic makes me feel "icky" too. I'm sorry you have such a horrible memory.

      I noticed though that you didn't mention the reason for the one spanking. I guess, in my mind, concepts like electrocution from playing with an electrical socket or getting run over or kidnapped going out the front door without us knowing it are too hard for a three year old to comprehend. I'd rather risk a bad memory of a spanking as an inoculation against the very slight but very real chance that one of those things I was spanking them for led to a far worse memory. The reason is important, and hopefully memorable. I'd never spank for one of them hitting the other, for example. Just doesn't make sense.

      And to reassure you, these were no pants down ritualistic affairs- hard to really hurt them when wearing a diaper. A swat or too and a firm "NO! NO! We Don't Ever Do That!!"

  4. Sometimes I think the researchers take the worst case scenarios and come up with their conclusions. A study was done years ago on the inmates at San Quintin and it was found that every single one of them had been abused as children. Abuse that was real abuse, not a two or three swats on the bum to get their attention. I do know people who were abused as kids and they have turned out ok, basically, though they do realize that it affected them for the rest of their lives.

    I got one spanking at school and it was for shock value more than anything else. It did not hurt and it was just to tell me not to do what I had done again. I was being a bit ornery once and I flipped my sweater at the door monitor of a different classroom. His teacher came up behind me and swatted me. It was kind of funny, but I never did do that again.

    I do have a memory of my mother spanking me once when I was about three and I don't know what I did, either, but it was otk and on the bare. What I remember about it was that she used the heel of her hand and she was very angry. That sticks in my mind as one that was likely unfair. I still, to this day, have the idea that my mom thought I did things just to aggravate her, and that wasn't so.

    I am not against spanking kids, but it should not be on the bare and just enough to get the point across. Sometimes all it takes is one swat. There are some kids that are sensitive and should not be spanked. It sometimes, I think, depends on the kid.

    As for the argument that spanking leads to the spanking fetish, I ask the question about those who have this fetish and were never spanked as children. It sort of blows the theory out the window. It is just that: a theory. Unproven.

  5. Thanks for the well-thought-out comment, Bobbie Jo. The flip side of theory that those that were spanked and are now into it because they were spanked is those that weren't spanked, but exposed to the concept somehow and are now into it seeking what they saw as a loving but firm relationship that they somehow missed out on. I don't think either theory fully explains the interest in spanking, but I find the question of why we are into it absolutely fascinating.