It's Okay to Slap Your Child - The Pope Says So ......
Saturday, February 7, 2015
Yes, it's true. The Chief Commander, the CEO of the Catholic church has spoken. He who is in charge of our spiritual well-being, of instilling our Christian beliefs with strains of 'treat others as you would have them treat you' has had his say.
You would think they might want to pull away from statements like that, given the recent history of the Catholic church.
But maybe it's okay to reprimand your child with a gentle tap on the hand, or a little smack on the bottom, for bad behaviour? Admittedly I felt similarly, before I had my child and when he was a tiny baby, way before any reprimanding was necessary. And a lot of reprimanding was necessary, as things turned out. It does send a definite message and let's be honest most of us, particularly those of you from my generation, grew up with this parenting tenet being completely acceptable. I mean, we all turned out okay, right? Most of us are well-balanced .... and most definitely polite and well behaved.
Yet such reprimanding has since been banned from our schools. Schools (in Ireland) that have been until very recently, sharing control with the Catholic church.
And exactly what message does a tap on the hand and a smack on the bottom send to a child anyway? It may stop them from repeating the considered unacceptable behaviour, simply because they don't want to be slapped, but it doesn't necessarily teach them why they shouldn't do it, does it?
Which is something I've been very strong on with my child. A slap solves nothing and as things evolved I became more interested in exploring other means of attaining the preferred behaviours. It's a never-ending and ongoing study it must be said, and one's patience is very much tested in these teenage years, believe me! Oh, how you feel at times that a good slap would sort them out, put manners on them....
It may have put manners on me in my time, but it also instilled the feelings of fear, distrust and long-term dislike. Not the basis for a good child-parent relationship, and not a road I want to travel with my child.
There's a very fine line between a gentle tap or little smack becoming abuse.
I continue to find other ways to instill good behaviour and respect, and always with an explanation as to why the behaviour is unacceptable, accompanied with a suggestion of a more appropriate way for him to deal with his feelings. Besides, he's bigger than me now!
This statement from our Pope may give parents, who believe that slapping their children is okay, a reason to 'slap' them a little more - 'it's okay, the Pope says so, besides I didn't slap him/her on the face'.
Slapping a child on the face would 'humiliate' them, says the Pope.
I would consider that slapping a child regularly, anywhere, would be humiliating. One of the reasons it's banned from our schools.
In conclusion I really feel that this papal statement is ill-judged, particularly in these difficult economic times. When families are still suffering from lack of job security and financial difficulties, and are under extreme pressure. Some parents in these circumstances are driven to drinking.... and this can lead to a gentle tap and a little smack becoming way more than that.
And what about parents dealing with Special Needs children, who have extreme behavioural difficulties due to underlying diagnoses, and are at breaking point? What message does it send to them?
So, is this 'Papal Parental Advice' helpful? From a man of such high stature - a man who has no experience of parenting, it must be said. Is it not setting the clock back..... decades?
Or perhaps it's in vogue with biblical teachings, to quote the well known proverb: 'spare the rod and spoil the child'. Explained as: 'If one does not discipline a child, he or she will never learn obedience and good manners' .
If disciplining means slapping - and there are other ways to discipline - then I don't agree and in fact, would prefer to say ....
But that's just me.
I'm sure there are those of you who think differently?