So I was sitting on a plane next to a very chatty woman in her twenties. She asked me if I had kids, and then told me a story about looking after her sister’s two little “brats” the previous weekend. She’d taken them to the playground, but they ran off in opposite directions. When she caught them, she told them off and gave them both a smack on the bottom. Then she laughed.
I couldn’t help wondering what her sister would have thought.
I’ve always been anti-smacking. Maybe it’s harder to get your kids to instantly obey when they’re not afraid of you, but I’m convinced that in the long run, my kids will benefit from not having been smacked. Time after time, I’ve gritted my teeth and tried to explain things patiently and use other consequences for bad behaviour.
If, after all my years of restraint, someone else came along and gave my kids a quick smack for misbehaving, I’d be fuming. Even if it was my sister.
It’s a dilemma that pops up in parents’ groups online. On the UK site Babycentre, a woman calling herself mjade69 said her father-in-law had been looking after her two children and had smacked her three-and-a-half-year-old son.
“Apparently DS had hit his little sister on the head (as they do, completely wrong obviously) and FIL said, ‘If you hit her, I'll hit you,’ and smacked him around the head. I know it happened as there was a faint red mark on his head and DS is the most unknowingly honest child (not always good!) and described what had happened in detail. He's been upset several times today about it.”
General response: livid.
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Meanwhile, on the US site Netmums, a woman named Zoe said she was visiting her mother and her sister was there with her eight-month-old girl.
“My eldest, who is three, had just finished his juice in a Tommee Tippee cup thing and, without warning, or reason flung it away and it hit my sister’s daughter. She obviously cried and my sister sat up and hit my son and screamed at him. She then shouted at me for comforting him when he came to me crying and put his head in my lap.”
General response: furious.
Around the world, the tide is slowly turning against smacking. More than 50 countries have banned it. However, it’s still legal in Australia, and surveys suggest a majority of people believe it remains a parents’ right.
But surely, everyone agrees that smacking someone else’s kid – even a close relative’s kid – is wrong. Right?
I wish I’d said something to that woman on the plane.
Have you ever smacked someone else's kid? Or has a family member smacked your children? Let us know in the comments below.