Why do parents beat their children?

Kelly Jennings asked parents why they beat their children, and tries to understand why.

This is not to say you are never tempted to smack your child (just once! Just one time! What could it hurt!) when she is screeching and wailing about something truly ridiculous that you can do nothing about (“Why did you pour the milk into the cereal? Why, why, why? I wanted to put the milk in the cereal! MEEEEE! MEEEE! MEEEE!”).

But you take a deep breath, you ask yourself, “Will hitting her make her cry more or less? Will hitting make this child better or worse?” And you find a different way.

Whereas, once parents take the path of raising a child with violence – once parents decide, in other words, that violence is an answer, well, you know the joke about hammers and nails.

And talking to parents who hit their kids, this is what I have found. Once you decide that hitting your kids is an acceptable disciplinary tactic, pretty soon you’re like that woman in my class a few years ago. You don’t just use it as a last resort, or when the child’s behavior is especially egregious.

4 thoughts on “Why do parents beat their children?

  1. Heretic March 14, 2015 at 16:27 Reply

    I’ve heard arguments from both sides – the “if you don’t spank your kids” side says they will be all over the place, but I think they just haven’t given much thought to how to TALK to their children. Sweden is a good example of a country where spanking is actively discouraged.

  2. comprimarius March 15, 2015 at 05:12 Reply

    Perhaps because;
    a, They’ve been beaten as a child? Certainly in my experience, those that were abused when young are more likely to abuse when older.
    b, They’re stressed, poorly educated and unaware of the repercussions?
    c. They’re projecting feelings of guilt and self-loathing?
    d. We live in a violent culture where media and state condone aggression as right?

    BTW, satirist and antinatalist author Jonathan Swift took a rather dim view of parents in Gulliver’s Travels…

    “… as the Lilliputians will needs have it, men and women are joined together, like other animals, by the motives of concupiscence; and that their tenderness towards their young proceeds from the like natural principle: for which reason they will never allow that a child is under any obligation to his father for begetting him, or to his mother for bringing him into the world; which, considering the miseries of human life, was neither a benefit in itself, nor intended so by his parents, whose thoughts, in their love encounters, were otherwise employed. Upon these, and the like reasonings, their opinion is, that parents are the last of all others to be trusted with the education of their own children…”
    Jonathan Swift “Gulliver’s Travels” Chapter 6 http://www.online-literature.com/swift/gulliver/6/

    • Francois Tremblay March 15, 2015 at 13:41 Reply

      Yes, I think all of those answers have something to do with it.

  3. myrthryn March 17, 2015 at 09:05 Reply

    Completely agree, once one had made the decision to physically harm their own child, it is difficult to restrain from doing so, and even more difficult to make amends. Wisdom and understanding are always the more difficult paths than that of aggression.

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