The content on this blog is my personal opinion and does not reflect the views of the Department of Defense or the US Navy in any way.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Parenting and Punishment

... because one of the random details that came up in the gun control debate I mentioned yesterday was the (frankly unsurprising) belief that spanking kids was necessary in order to instill respect for authority and the proper fear of disobeying authorities.

Now I'm probably not the right person to talk about parenting advice. I don't have kids, and don't expect to have kids at any point in the near future. But that doesn't stop me from having an opinion on corporal punishment, and that opinion is quite firmly negative.

Here's the problem: Teaching children that actions have consequences, that those consequences can include displeasure or worse coming from other people, and that some of those people will have the authority to impose severe consequences does not in any way require those consequences to be physical. At least as far as I know.

In fact, I'd argue that the sort of rote obedience for fear of punishment that spanking is best for actually teaches kids things they'll have to unlearn as they go from being children to being independent adults. The consequences that mature adults impose on each other do not generally include physical violence, for one. Rote obedience is good in some situations, but can result in adults that don't know how to handle things themselves. And these aren't just hypothetical consequences - studies and testimonials all show people that have been raised this way that have problems as adults.

And finally? One thing I do know is that parenting with less of a focus on obedience and consequences actually works, because I read about people that have successfully used it. I have a lot of their blog posts saved against the potential day in the future where I do have kids.

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