Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Dear Mrs. Bluth,

I can’t tell you how disgusted I am with today’s parenting techniques. I would argue that most of the blame for the level of disrespect and feelings of entitlement found in our children can be laid on the shoulders of the psychologists and teachers who believe in replacing old fashioned discipline with negotiation.  In the process, we, the parents, teachers and elders responsible for shaping and guiding our young into becoming intelligent, respectful and productive adults, instead relinquished our authority – at home and in the classroom. And what have we gained? Chaos in the classrooms, teachers fearing for their safety and dangerous students who know there are no punishments for their behavior or penalties for their actions.

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I was a teacher for many years and have witnessed the changes.  Somehow, we all fell for the idea that spanking a child for repeated transgressions was a crime punishable by law, that the system that produced generations of good and noble people is tantamount to child abuse and worse!  I am a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother and can tell you that my children and their children have been brought up the good, old-fashioned way and no one has ever suffered injury or death by a hand to the backside when called for.  In fact, they all became wonderful, caring and intelligent people.

Mrs. Bluth, I am writing not just to simply vent, but to warn parents not to listen to this foolish and dangerous psycho-babble advice.  You cannot negotiate with a two-year-old, period!  You cannot expect some strong willed children, no matter what their age, to submit to logic and debate.  If a young child tests or defies a loving and caring parent after a stern warning has been issued, my advice is one or two swift swats to the hind quarters so that by the time the child reaches the age of ten, he or she will already understand that there are consequences for transgressions.

I want to make clear that I definitely don’t advocate a strong beating, or the application of spanking any part of the anatomy other than the behind. I am also against spanking in anger or applying more than a swift swat or two; it should be just to make sure the message that bad behavior will not be tolerated is made clear.

I have seen what really abusive slapping and beating looks like and that’s not what I’m talking about.  My philosophy is that the Almighty placed extra padding on the hindquarters with the express notion that it be used for tutorial and correctional purposes, not to mention hygienic reasons.

Thank you for listening.

 

Dear Friend,

Thank you for writing a letter that is one-of-its-kind amongst those I usually receive.  I must say that I caught myself nodding my head and even smiling as I read it. And, at the risk of alienating some of my “psycho-babbling” buddies, I will go so far as to say that I agree with most of your observations.

For a long time now, the balance of power has shifted from adults to children, while we, the adults, sort of turned a blind eye to what was happening. How and when it started? Probably around the time it became necessary for both parents to work and kids were left to their own devices. Parents came home tired and were not willing or able to address disrespectful behavior. They replaced discipline with reward – “If you’re good and don’t do that again I’ll buy you that thing you wanted.”

After a while, it became easier to deal with the kids by just giving in to them instead of standing ground and being consistent.  And now, the cancer has taken root. Unless we implement immediate and radical treatment, I agree with you that there is little hope the patient will survive.  If we don’t, as you propose, go back to hands-on parenting (no pun intended), reclaim our responsibilities as parents, and reverse the illicit role reversal we have encouraged, humanity as we know it should be will die a slow and painful death.

Growing up I experienced a swat on the backside when it was warranted, I knew I deserved it and never held any grudges.  It taught me that you reap what you sow and I made sure never to sow again.  Well, almost never.  But I do remember my beloved father a”h (the benevolent disciplinarian) telling me to come back in five minutes for my punishment so as not to administer it in anger. He had his cool-down time and then we would negotiate the number of “petch” to the backside.  It is a practice I used raising my own children and it served us all well, so I have to say that your points are well taken – but are not for everyone.

There are always exceptions to the rule.  Some people don’t know their limitations and once they raise a hand they can’t stop.  Those parents with stress, anger and anxiety or mental health issues should never raise a hand to a child and are better off negotiating and seeking help. Then, of course, you have the rambunctious child who cannot express himself verbally or is suffering from a multitude of conditions – physical, mental or emotional – that account for his behavior.  For that child, physical discipline would be more harmful than productive and could lead to a worsening of his condition.

Whenever there is a question of approach, I, for one, would rather seek professional guidance before taking matters into my own hands, so to speak.

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