I Smack My Kids, But I Don’t Believe in Bare Bottom Smacking

I grew up in a culture where most people consider smacking an acceptable form of punishment. I was smacked as a child and even paddled a few times in primary school. I seem to have turned out okay, and I don’t feel scarred from it, so naturally when I started having children of my own I assumed that smacking was the most effective way to discipline.

Forms of punishment are often generational. My parents smacked me, and their parents smacked them; how a person is raised shapes his or her parenting style. I think my dad probably still thinks my boys need a “whoopin” from time to time (he’s from Alabama), but I know smacking doesn’t always prove to be effective in my house. Sometimes my kids need a snack or some sleep or a long time-out instead.

Smacking is one of the most polarising parenting issues under the sun, and once I became a mum I quickly found out that I was going to be judged regardless of which side of the issue I’m on. As is the case with every other facet of parenthood, I choose to go with my gut. We smack, not often, but as a last resort when all else has failed. My oldest child, who is 8, is very challenging and was smacked often when he was younger. It sucked.

His little brother, age 5, doesn’t require smacking as often as my oldest did at his age. He’s more sensitive, and less hard-headed than his brother. Our youngest is a girl, age 3, and we have never smacked her. We haven’t had to; she’s very calm … so far.

Even though I do smack our kids occasionally, I always feel terrible. Is it guilt that makes me feel upset? Did I make the wrong choice by smacking? Am I a terrible mother? These are all questions that race through my mind every time I find myself in a situation where I feel like I have no other choice but to smack. Sometimes, that really is the only thing left to do, and it sucks. I HATE it. But you know what I would hate even more? For my kids to grow up to be a*sholes because their mother was too afraid to discipline them.

I know a lot of mums, and not all of them are smackers — which makes sense, since all children are different in actions and responses to punishment. Some mums slap on the hand, some mums yank their kid’s pants down and smack their bare behinds, and some park their kids in a corner for a designated number of minutes. A select few don’t discipline at all, and their kids are rude and probably have a rough road ahead.

Although we smack, I’m not a fan of bare bottom smacking, even though it has happened here before. For example, I have smacked my son on his butt when he happened to be naked and throwing a tantrum in the bathtub and I thought he might split his head open, but that is more of a knee jerk reaction than a premeditated plan to smack my child’s bare bottom. I think the theory behind bare-bottom smacking is that it will hurt more if it’s on bare skin, but that kind of freaks me out. I don’t smack to hurt. I smack to get their attention.

It’s a pretty tough job to raise another human being. I like to think that most parents are doing the best they can with what they have, and guiding their children with love. It is possible to be a good parent and also smack your child. It is also possible to be a good parent and never smack your child. At the end of the day, we all want the same thing: to produce decent, functional, members of society.

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