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What is the line between abuse and normal spanking?

User
April 14, 2015

I am pregnant with our first child. My husband grew up in a home where he was beaten with a belt pretty frequently. In a recent conversation, he said that he believes that spanking is necessary and that he's glad he was raised to know right from wrong. I was spanked occasionally as a kid, but to me, his parents sound abusive! What is the line between abuse and normal spanking?

Answers
User in Soquel, CA
Nov. 29, 2017

Spanking is abuse. How would you respond if someone "hit" you because you were wrong, as an adult... wouldn't go over well for the hit-er now would it? How would you feel if someone at a park "spanked/hit" your child because they felt something was wrong.... again wouldn't go over well. Use better discipline. Hitting, spanking, slapping, punching, kicking, ect is ALL abuse, battery, assault, ect. Ain't no one should be hit to "correct" them.

Jacky in Honolulu, HI
Oct. 12, 2018

Abuse is when the child is hit out of anger or some reason besides what they did being wrong. When the parent's emotional state solely decides whether the child will be hit or not, it is abuse. When the parent's emotion does not factor into the decision and the goal is to teach the child, rather than just harm them to relieve anger, then it is considered discipline.

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Abusive is when your child is constantly being beaten for no reason at all and going to far with it. Usually with an object other than your hand and/or held against there will. Normal spanking is with your hand and is usually done by hitting a child's bottom or tapping there hand saying no. Not hard enough that you see a hand print for days though.

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Sam in Ann Arbor, MI
Nov. 29, 2017

Studies have also shown that children who are spanked are more likely to become aggressive individuals that wind up in jail when they grow up to be adults. I recommend additional research on the topic for further insight and then after gathering all the facts, weighing pros and cons, reach a mutual decision through discussion and cross your fingers. I also have my own two cents to voice on the matter coming from personal experience when I grew up. I was spanked by my dad for every kind of misbehavior while my mom used a more tactful approach like loss of certain privileges for certain duration. In the end, I grew to fear/resent my dad but I didn't have to live with it for too long because when I was 9, my parents divorced and he moved to the other side of the world; Japan. As I grew up and looked back on the times I did spend with him, the resentment I had for him turned into hatred and I ended up cutting all ties with him; I flat out told him over the phone that I never wanted to see or speak to him ever again and that he was a complete failure. 20 years later, I haven't seen him since and don't even know what he looks like anymore nor do I care; I wouldn't feel any sorrow if I received news of his passing because he wasn't an important person in my life. The good news in spite of all that is I still turned out okay. I don't have a criminal record, I am completely against physical forms of punishment as there are much more effective disciplining strategies developed by psychologists and experience has taught me to value human life. I love working with children as I have made a lot of great friends and seeing how they grow up is like a never-ending adventure.

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User in Dallas, GA
June 22, 2015

To me, abuse is leaving marks on a child that do not need to be there. You need to talk to your husband about this topic. You both have semi-opposing views which need to be addressed with a clear agreement on how you want your children punished. Remind him that these are both of your children, not his parents. What punishments he went through as a child do not have to be the same for his own children. Personally, I don't agree with spanking. Light slaps to the butt to get a child to listen are fine. Looking back as an adult who understands discipline, I believe children can grow up perfectly without physical punishment. The spankings I remember don't leave me thankful for a parent to correct my behavior, they only leave me with embarrassment and hatred. Almost a feeling of being degraded. I was a VERY sensitive child. I learned completely different from others. My father never truly realized that compared to my mother who was always with us. Not even my sister who was a wild child responded well to spankings. It wasn't until my father lost his temper and gave my sister a random spanking that my mother told my father there would no longer be spanking. My dad was so surprised at both of our upset reactions that it didn't take twice to say "no more" to spanking. If you want something from a child, talk to them like a human being. You don't hit your puppy when they pee on the rug, so why would you hit your child for talking back?

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User in Charlotte, NC
April 15, 2015

According to the Department of Social Services - A child should never be hit with anything other than an open hand. A child should never be hit hard enough to leave any mark that lasts longer than 24 hours. That being said, I never left ANY mark on my child when I discipline him, and I can think of only a few instances I felt like it was necessary. I don't believe in spanking them for something that isn't a direct threat to them. If you ran out into the road I'm going to pop your butt, if you touched the fireplace screen we just talked about I'm going to pop your butt, if you're playing near that stream that I told you, you couldn't play near I'm going to pop your butt. If you skip school or miss curfew, lie about going to a friend's house, break my favorite lamp - you're not getting a spanking. I use spanking to reinforce the concept that what I am disciplining you for is a serious PHYSICAL danger that could result in a pain much worse than I just gave your bottom. I feel like consequences should correspond to the misbehavior - Otherwise I feel it just teaches them to hit people that don't do what they tell them...

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User in Tampa, FL
June 11, 2015

The line is that you leave a slight red mark. One that doesn't leave a mark for days though. That would be abusive if there were bruises or you beat your child constantly.

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User in Centreville, MD
April 14, 2015

I don't believe in hitting a child. But if that's what you're going to do you just need to tap their fingers or spank them lightly with ONLY your hand. No belts switches or none of that! Abuse is when they get hit for no reason it when you leave bruises or hand marks on your child. You wouldn't want someone to hit you hard enough to get bruises so do not do that to a child. Good luck w your pregnancy!

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