Just when you thought the spanking controversy was over…

A few years ago I read a study–in Parenting magazine, I think–that found that 25 percent of parents spanked their kids. Those were just the people who admitted it. My guess is that it’s closer to 50 percent. If you were to factor in the parents who think  about giving their kids a whack once in a while, you’d probably be up in the high 90s.

So when I read about a study in Germany (where corporal punishment was actually outlawed in 2000) that more than 50 percent of parents admitted that they hit their kids, I immediately jumped to the conclusion that the real numbers are insanely high. Here’s what the study found:
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Helping a boyfriend deal with a vicious ex

Dear Mr. Dad: My boyfriend’s former wife does not co-parent with him at all. I have seen vulgar emails, heard her use foul language in front of the kids and tell them “your father is kicking us out of our home.” She signs them up for things without confirming it with him but expects for him to pay, without question of course. I could go on and on but you get the point. I know he’s getting pushed to his limit and something needs to be done. He says he feels like he’s drowning but no one will throw him a life raft. How can I help him?

A: Thank you so much for your email. Your boyfriend has no idea how lucky he is to have you in his corner. Your support and encouragement will make a huge difference in his life and will make it easier for him to maintain good relationships with his kids. At the same time, though, you’re in an incredibly delicate and difficult situation. More on that in a minute.

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Suspicions of Abuse

Dear Mr. Dad: A young family recently moved in next door. There’s always a lot of yelling and door slamming and I’ve noticed that the boy who lives there, who looks about 10, often has bruises on his face, arms, and legs. Whenever I see him, he seems afraid to make eye contact. I don’t want to rush to judgment and accuse the parents of abuse, but I also don’t want to turn a blind eye in case I’m right. What should I do?

A: Thank you for speaking up and for your concern—you’ve just identified several classic warning signs of abuse. You’ve also stumbled into a very tough, very complex situation (one that I’m sure will generate angry emails from readers no matter how I answer the question).
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