Care and Feeding

I Just Walked In on My Husband Spanking Our 2-Year-Old

We’d never discussed this as an option, and I definitely don’t approve.

A mother holds her crying toddler.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by chinaview/iStock/Getty Images Plus. 

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Dear Care and Feeding,

Two years ago, my husband and I welcomed our first and only child into the world. She’s a bright and very funny 2-year-old that we love with all of our heart. Predictably, she deals with the “Terrible Twos” and can be quite awful at times. I was shocked one day when I noticed my husband spanking our daughter pretty hard. Granted, we never had a discussion about spanking previously, but he just shook it off by saying the only kids who don’t get spanked are the “spoiled and soft ones,” and this is for her own good. I’m vehemently against this, but in his defense, I’ve noticed that her outbursts have lessened around him at least. Should I say something or let it go?

—Not a Spanker

Dear Not a Spanker,

I believe spanking is a cowardly way to raise a child. Hitting a defenseless kid accomplishes what, exactly? We tell our kids that they can’t hit other children because it’s “wrong,” but in the next breath we’re spanking them for doing something that upsets us? That’s insanity. What kind of bizarro world do we live in where smacking another adult would get us arrested, but smacking a kid is viewed as “great parenting”? Give me a break.

You know why your daughter’s outbursts around your husband are less frequent? Because she’s scared to death of him, that’s why. I know parenting can be infuriating and exhausting, but there are myriad ways to raise children without spanking, and all your husband has to do is have the patience and desire to look for them.

For example, my parents never laid a hand on me, but they knew what buttons to push to ensure I complied with their wishes. That ranged from being grounded to simply receiving the LOD (aka the “Look of Disappointment”), and that was extremely effective. To be clear, there’s nothing spoiled or soft about me.

Violence is not the answer when it comes to parenting. Firmly tell your husband that the spanking stops now. Hopefully that will be the end of it, but if it continues, you may need to suggest an anger management professional to intervene.


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