Catholic Culture Dedication
Catholic Culture Dedication

Catholic Activity: To Spank or not to Spank?



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Newland advocates spanking here as an appropriate way of quelling opposition from unruly children.


In these days of debating over whether to spank or not to spank, it's an intrepid soul who comes right out and says "spank." That's me. I've heard all the arguments pro and contra and I still believe there are some misdemeanors that are never so well disposed of as with a good spank. No doubt the term "corporal punishment" was invented by people who disapprove of it, for it sounds worse than it usually is. It sounds like beating, which is far different from spanking, and it bullies people into thinking they ought not "believe in it" even when they do.

The most violent opposition I have ever encountered on the score of spanking has come from people who eventually admit that they have no children. I suppose there are some parents who have never spanked, but I've never met but one — and what her child needed most of all was a good spanking. A child in a temper tantrum will find that his pointless fury is shattered by a spank when nothing else will touch it, and a good cry about the spanking will gradually relax him and his anger will drain off. Spanking is dangerous when your own temper is so out of control that you don't trust yourself, and in that case I personally have to resort to the "sit on a chair" technique and go off to the other end of the house to groan and pray.

We have found that spankings are more quickly forgotten than any other kind of punishment. They suffice at the moment (assuming they are administered with some control) as a punishment for the crime of the moment, and a child forgets them. A child who does something he knows is extremely naughty, after having been taught, warned, reasoned with, actually expects to be punished for it or his parents lose stature in his eyes. It is not uncommon to discover that the insecurity of children whose parents' indifference was their only reaction to their bad behavior lies in their desire to have some limits set beyond which they are not permitted to go.

Continued coolness between me and a punished child has come more often after some calculated deprivation than after a spanking which, once over, is over. If we try hard not to spank unless it is really due, and never to spank in public (or chastise in any way, if possible, because humiliation leaves more scars on children than anything else), almost every time when the tears are dry and the sting gone from the blushing bottom, they will come and put their arms around you and say, "I'm sorry." Then it is easy to have a cozy chat and explain that mothers and fathers really don't like to spank, and only have to when boys insist on being naughty even though they know enough not to.

Maybe it doesn't prove anything, but I know I was spanked in my childhood, yet I cannot remember a single instance of it. I can remember other punishments, being sent to my room, not being allowed to go with the others, being kept in the yard, but never one spanking comes back to haunt me.

Activity Source: We and Our Children by Mary Reed Newland, Image Books, 1961