Reaching down to pick up her dance bag off the ground, I began to close the van door, knowing the child safety feature would not allow complete closure. This really got her attention. She grabbed the bag, used her body to block the door, and hopped back into the van. “Wait! I want you as my mother.” She even wanted to go home with me. Skeptical, I clarified, “Are you sure? It means you must commit to being my daughter from now on?” She nodded.
Reviewing the anti-spanking literature revealed no randomized clinical trials exist proving spanking is ineffective or harmful. Many challenges were identified when drawing conclusions from Dr. Gershoff’s review study. Spanking is defined loosely, making the definition subjective. The research tends to be correlational; therefore, cannot support causation for spanking being beneficial or detrimental.
Ultimately, the developmental outcome of child-rearing is primarily determined by the overall quality of a parent-child relationship. Non abusive spanking by loving parents who use correct methods were able to achieve effective behavioral management and a rapid re-establishment of affection between parent and child following interventions.
The bottom-line is this: The question as to whether or not spanking is beneficial or detrimental has not definitively been answered by science. The one thing expert psychologists on both sides of the debate agree upon is the data is not conclusive.
As for my journey, my best advice is to draw your own ‘lines in the sand’ as a parent. No one single discipline method is perfect for every child. Reasons for misbehavior vary. Do not judge other mothers; it is harder than it looks. We are all “doing the best we can.”