Child Spankings: You see abuse, I see discipline! It’s all about perspective

Child discipline is a big topic in the Blended and Black facebook group. Last week, the following video was shared in the group and an intense discussion ensued. While some are adamantly against spankings, some parents do acknowledge the positive effects corporal punishment can have on a child. While we often debate, it’s rare that a group member so eloquently explains their point of view in such a way that it can be transformed into a long-form think piece. The following is a submission from group member who did just that, Samuel O. Alarape. Watch the video and then check out Samuel’s opinion.
*The views are expressly his own and as eloquent as they are, they do not reflect Blended and Black’s views.

By Samuel O. Alarape

To spank or not to spank

I thoroughly enjoy the B&B facebook forum, but I usually eye-hustle. Today, however, I have to address what I will call pseudo-scientific rubbish based on faulty assumptions, questionable premises and incorrect conclusions.

You can’t universalize – something as complex and idiosyncratic as child rearing – as definitively axiomatic.

Some people in their narcissism – feel other people should behave based on their unique perspective and conceptualization on how they think the world should be. In other words, I believe this so others should conform to it.

There may be guidelines and principles but there are virtually no scientific studies on human social behavior and psychology that can accurately and definitively cover the full-spectrum of human behavior.

One can effectively argue that not physically disciplining your child for bad or reprehensible behavior can have a traumatizing effect later on in life – especially if they encounter experiences and other people where they won’t be sheltered as they were with their parents – and where they experience a physical response to wrong-doing to others.

The young black boy who killed his mother with a hammer when she told him that he could not play his video game is an example of what can happen when a child is spoiled rotten to the core. Trying to impose an iota of discipline later, becomes too painful for the person who is too used to not being held accountable for their actions.
Let’s address some of the stated and/or hidden assumptions in what the woman in this video is saying.

1. FIRST ASSUMPTION – SCIENTISM IS INFALLIBLE

She mentioned ( did not cite ) longitudinal scientific studies that supposedly shows the long-term damaging psychological impact of physically disciplining your child – to suggest the infallibility and impartiality of science. In other words, the assumption is if a “Scientific” study was conducted, the finding must be true – because what we can establish scientifically can be universalized among all people – irrespective of the different cultural and environmental contexts and regardless of the unlimited unique situations that children and parents encounter.

A scientific study should tell us how we must approach discipline for every child in every situation because we must ASSUME that the person conducting the study did not design the study with the influences of their own personal biases and subjective conceptualizations on how they think the world should be OR how they think people should behave NOT based on how the world ACTUALLY IS; but, on how they think the world should be.

2. SECOND ASSUMPTION – WE DISCIPLINE FOR OBEDIENCE

In the European epistemological conception where people should be “Rational,” “Logical,” and “Orderly” OBEDIENCE to an implicit social contract are the hallmarks of a progressive society.

The woman in this video asserted that the purpose of physical discipline was to create obedience and then she posited a theory on better ways to ensure obedience. That assumption is another false universalization.

The Western European may discipline for the purposes of “Compliance” and “Obedience” but the African or African-American may discipline a child to teach them CONSEQUENCES for actions and behaviors. Some parents may discipline a child to deliberately connect pain to an extremely undesirable behavior that can become problematic for that child and the larger society if that behavior persists in adult-hood.

Some people – especially from the Caucasian Persuasion – take hold of an idea and then try to intellectualize and universalize how everyone – in every instance – should follow this enlightened path.

The opinion is not based on a care for people as it is based on arrogance and the desire for social control ( spank your child and we call it child abuse. Don’t properly discipline your child, and we can label you an unfit parent and bring in social services. This way we legislate child-rearing based on our desired outcomes to de-stabilize certain communities.

The world can be a beautiful place for some but it is never ORDERLY and it is often nasty, cruel and brutal for many people. Some adults are civilized. Some adults must be physically forced to be civilized. The same applies to some children.

3. THIRD ASSUMPTION – EVERYONE IS A CHRISTIAN

Her use of the biblical text presupposes ALL discipline emanates from religiosity. With this assumption, it is convenient to attempt to debunk the biblical phrase – spare the rod and spoil the child – as an outdated biblical principle incompatible with the new Modern, Orderly, Rational and Logical Society we created as man and which super-cedes God’s wisdom.

Never mind as a human principle, there is more observable and verifiable consistency in the human experience that what you allow people to get away with, grows and metastasizes into greater problems; AND, that punishments must be proportional to offenses and strong enough to deter certain reprehensible behaviors. If someone slaps, hits or physically assaults you, just talking it out with a moral appeal IS NOT LIKELY going to stop the violence. If a man has a pattern of abusing women, he may need to get his ass beat – as an intervention -to make him reconsider continuing that reprehensible behavior in the current or future relationships.

I know for a fact, not everyone physically disciplines their child because they use the bible or religion as a reference point. Some do it because of utilitarian reasons.

If the assumption of “Spare the Rod and Spoil the Child” is the only reference point or guiding principle, you can then debunk this principle by citing modernity, insisting it is outdated and then universalize the invalidity of that maxim because it does not fit into the criteria of a Newer and More Orderly society.

This is another arrogant and inaccurate disposition based on delusion.

FINAL AND OVERALL THOUGHTS ON DISCIPLINE

There is no ONLY ONE effective way of raising children that can be universalized.

A scientific study or series of psychological observations can be designed and structured in such a way to validate hypothesis. Some of the observations may be true but it may only be one of many different truths reflected in the cliché – there is more than one way to skin a cat.

One can just as easily and convincingly conduct a study that correlates increasing societal violence with the lack of physical discipline.

Making the argument that “Under No Circumstances should you ever Physically Discipline Your Child” is just as bad as saying ” You MUST always find a reason to hit your child – at some point – no matter how good they are.” There are people who are at both ends of this spectrum and both are equally stupid.

If we lived in a completely just, moral and non-violent society, then maybe these theories would hold more weight and maybe in the ancient past they did.

Some children will never EVER have to be physically disciplined and where it is not required it should NEVER happen.

Some children, depending on who they are and what they do, need to get their ass beat – to deter behavior that can become extremely problematic in the future and lead to sociopathic behavior.

I would argue that the ONLY time you should ALWAYS refrain from physical discipline is when there is no way for the child to understand why they are being disciplined. You don’t physically discipline a 2 year old to 5 year old on something they did, if there is NO WAY they can understand why you are disciplining them.

I personally believe that physical discipline can be psychologically damaging – if the child DOES NOT know why he or she is being disciplined.

I think child rearing and disciplining philosophy is so important that couples who have differing perspectives on this issue – should not procreate with one another.

In conclusion, disciplinary approaches will always be nuanced and based on context.

There is no one-size fits all formula.

Learn MORE about Samuel and his endeavors! Visit http://www.blackwealthexclusive.com

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Naja Hall
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Naja Hall

I really wish I had superpowers. If I had to chose one super-power, I would love to be able to teleport. That way, I could have cheese eggs, bacon and grits with my Grandma in Memphis every morning, go for a mid- day swim in Antigua while listening to God, have lunch in Rome with perfect strangers and be home in time for dinner with my Husband in Harlem, NYC. I also run MissNaja.com- a blog dedicated to Redefining The Domestic Woman.
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