Ask A Mom: To spank or not to spank?
WBTV's Molly Grantham tackles your parenting questions in this ongoing series
Q: Hi, Molly. I am strongly against spanking and my husband is not. He says he got spanked growing up and he turned out fine (ha). I think violence begets violence, and even just a “swat on the tush” as he calls it shows kids that it’s OK to hit another person. Any advice? —Carrie
A: I remember a 5th grade teacher who had a wooden paddle in his public school classroom. Every student’s name was on a big white piece of poster board and if you ever got three bad behavior dots next to your name, you got spanked with that paddle. It even had holes in the wood to gain speed as it came toward your backside to inflict more pain. I’m not that old, yet, that’s a legit memory about the public acceptance of paddling from not-that-long-ago.
Times have certainly changed.
Family therapist Dr. Sheryl Ziegler—author of Mommy Burnout: How to Reclaim Your Life and Raise Healthier Children in the Process and host of a national podcast (follow her on Instagram at @drsherylziegler)—says there is a clear answer to this question.
“Research simply doesn’t support spanking, even occasionally,” she says. “Sure, you may scare a child into stopping an undesirable behavior in the moment. But it won’t necessarily prevent them from doing it again.”
She adds that research shows spanking says more about you than your kids.
“Parents who spank their children tend to have an ‘authoritarian’ style (meaning they have many rules), like to have a high degree of control, tend not to encourage autonomy, and tend to be lower in nurturance and affection,” Dr. Ziegler says. “The outcomes for kids who have this style of parenting is that the kids tend to be insecure, moody, dependent, irritable, have poor social skills, have lower academic performance, and are more likely to either be bullied or be the bully.”
She added that if you show your husband this information, also show him how studies have positive results if you don’t spank your child.
“It is more ideal to be ‘authoritative’ (meaning clear rules and expectations) and balance that with asking for your child’s input, and respecting their viewpoints,” she says. “Parents who are authoritative are warm, affectionate and encourage independence and individuality. Studies show they tend to have the best outcomes in life. Those kids are more likely to end up confident, independent, cooperative, and have high levels of academic achievement.”
Q: What are some 3- or 4-day overnight camps for two grandchildren ages 11 and 13? I’ll have them for three weeks this summer and think we’ll all need a break. —Not Leaving My Name
A: You’re a grandparent willing to help a parent get a break, but also asking for your own help, as you give help. Love everything about this. (Including that you didn’t sign your name.)
Truth is, camps filled up fast this summer. Parents sent in applications for pretty much anything coming down the pike. Anecdotes are everywhere: Facebook and IG are filled with comments about splurging on “summer experiences” for kids. Blame the pandemic. The last 15-months combined with a generally-hellacious school year, seems to be pushing parents to spend big bucks on multiple in-person camps. The world is anxious to create interaction, and sending kids out to do stuff—whatever that stuff might be—is a popular move right now.
With that said, you asked about overnight options for three to four days. I couldn’t find any for just a half-a-week, but the YMCA of Greater Charlotte does have two great co-ed overnight camps with availability. Camp Thunderbird is at Lake Wylie, and Camp Harrison is at Lake Broyhill. You can find days, cost, and descriptions here.
Also, I wouldn’t cross a day camp off the list. Not sure of your grandchildren’s interests, but the Whitewater Center has great options for outdoor-oriented, active kids between ages 8 and 18. All camps are geared towards an older child. You can find more here.
And if high-impact isn’t their thing, there are local camps for virtually anything—farming, cooking, art, drama, music, horseback riding, basketball, soccer, etc.—listed in the Charlotte Parent summer camp guide here.
Q: I have three boys, ages 10, 8, and 4. They CONSTANTLY have their hands down their pants when they walk around the house. A lot of times my youngest does it in public. My husband just laughs and says I need to get over it, but as the lone female in my house I find it disgusting. Help! —Hannah
A: I read this question and laughed because, candidly, I’ve wondered the same thing. I have two sons, one being only 11 months old. Even at that young baby age, every other time I change his diaper, he grabs below. I have said out loud to no one around it’s as if he wants to reassure himself it’s still attached.
Dr. Hassan, a local (female) pediatrician, had instant advice.
“For me, this comes down to manners and culture,” she says. “It’s not a medical question, in my view. You could argue that it’s a normal developmental phase to explore all parts of your body as a young child, but past early preschool I find this behavior socially unacceptable. It’s akin to a finger in the nose or burping/farting loudly in public. Those things may be okay in some families, but not most.”
She believes it’s a parenting decision on manners. “A united front from both parents usually works,” she says. “If the parents don’t agree with what’s socially acceptable, it’s probably not going to be reinforced to the kids. But constant redirection is what’s necessary and appropriate. ‘That’s not nice manners,’ or ‘Go to the bathroom if you need to touch your privates, please.’ So… keep up the good fight, momma! I hope you can win hubby over to your side. It is one of my pet peeves: Adult men rearranging their genitals in public. Please, just stop them when they’re younger.”
And with that, happy summer to all. We made it through the school year. Did your shoulders feel lighter once the calendar flipped to June? Hope so. Pat yourself on the back and look ahead. We did it.
Send your questions in on the home page of Charlotte Parent. I love reading what you’re wondering. Until next month…