Monday, 4 November 2013


I am not a parent. I will never be a parent. I'm making no value judgements on parents or parenting at all with this post.

I was smacked as a kid. Probably most people my age were. A friend posted about it on Facebook, which got me thinking.

My mum would never smack me or my brothers. If it was a smackable offence, we had to wait until my dad got home, which in some cases meant literally hours of terror, sitting in my room waiting to be hit. To a wee kid that seems more like psychological warfare than punishment. Is that what smacking is supposed to be about? I don't know.

My most vivid memory is from when I was eight or nine. My brothers and I all shared a room. They were in bunkbeds, and had a football they were bouncing off the floor to each other so they could catch it. I knew my dad would be angry if he caught them, because he was angry pretty much all the time, so I jumped out of bed, grabbed the ball off them, and hit it under my covers. Of course, when my dad came to tuck us in, one of my brothers (I think the younger one) triumphantly crowed "Fran's got a football in her bed!" My dad tore the covers off, asked what the hell was wrong with me, and told me to get to the living room for my thrashing. Our flat at the time had a bit of a weird layout - you had to walk down the hall, turn right, then turn back on yourself and walk down another long hall to the living room. I remember running along, in floods of tears by now, shouting for my mum and beggng her not to let him hit me. My mum had no clue what was going on, just that her daughter was screaming her head off and scared out of her mind. I don't remember what happened at that point, but my dad didn't smack me. He just took me back to our room, sobbing and terrified and saying over and over again how sorry I was, and told both my brothers, who were crying too by this point, that he hoped they were happy now. He slammed the bedroom door shut and I cried myself to sleep. I never told him what my brothers had been doing.

Is that how you want your kids to feel about you? If so, fair play. As I said, no judgements. Some kids are more sensitive than others, and I'm pretty over-sensitive as a person. If terror is your version of discipline, have at it. Just bear in mind "They'll thank me for it one day!" isn't necessarily true. Do you think if you as an adult did something wrong, it would be fine for you to be put in a room and wait for someone bigger and stronger than you to come in and hit you? If not, why do you think it's acceptable to do that to a child?  If you hit your kids, can I slap you at the supermarket for being rude? If not, why not? Think about it.

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