Revisiting The Colored Lines of Spanking

Some say spanking is practice born out of culture; others argue that it’s inter-generational – a time old tradition. On the other side of the fence the experts claim that spanking teaches aggression. Some studies have even linked spanking to mental illness.

Parental discipline is a divisive topic. Interestingly this division becomes even more evident when we observe the color lines. Statistics show that children of color are more likely to be spanked than their non-black peers. The reasons are varied and it would be hasty and may be wrong to link any reason to the race of the parent. Let’s take for example the fact that corporal punishment is deeply embedded in Christianity (spare the rod, spoil the child). We all know very well that Christianity is not an exclusively “black religion”. The second example is slavery.  Some say spanking might be a legacy of slavery. Why then didn’t the legacy of inflicting physical punishment (by slave masters) pass on to generations? Or is it only the victim that is likely to be an offender? Other publications have revealed a more plausible reason. One parent eloquently summed it up  I think all parents worry about the costs of their kids’ bad behavior. But I think black parents carry an extra layer of worry, a sense that mistakes that other kids–especially boys–can write off as the “folly of youth” actually carry dire consequences for our kids“. 

This is logical given the wave of injustices that have been meted out to boys of color in USA. Logical, but is it (spanking) therefore acceptable? Somewhere in between our hectic daily schedules let’s pause and take stock. Are our individual methods of discipline working? Or are we just doing what we think we should be doing? Are we grounding and giving time outs because that’s common practice for “modern day kids”? Is occasional spanking better than habitual spanking or is a spank a spank? Are rewarding toys and withdrawing toys a mere psychological game? Who is really winning and who is losing? Withdrawals are often temporary and the secret to getting a reward soon becomes a no brainer for kids.

Parenting is as complex as it gets when it comes to adulthood. There is no expert that can dictate to a parent the best method of disciplining a child but a general rule of thumb worth bearing in mind each time you think you are about to lose it is (1) will my actions be proportionate to the lesson I am trying to teach and (2) how will my actions help in the long term to create this awesomeness, this amazing, balanced, confident, self-assured being which i dreamt about during those 9 months of ‘great expectations’?

No one ever said it would be easy; but why didn’t any one say it would be this complex?
Photo Credit Pinterest (Jill Greenberg)