I spend a huge amount of time reading studies and scientific articles about parenting and I’ve always been a bit suspicious of studies about the percentage of parents who spank their kids. The numbers always seemed too low. After all, who in their right mind would spank a child in front of a bunch of scientists who are going to write an article about you? And even in a survey without witnesses—how many people are honestly going to admit that they smack their kids?
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:
Dear Mr. Dad: My mom watches my 3-year-old son while I work part-time. I appreciate her help but it bothers me that she spanks him when he misbehaves or disobeys. I’ve been meaning to speak with her about this, but have been holding off because I can’t afford to hire a babysitter and I don’t want to antagonize my mom. What do you suggest?
A: Boy, that’s a tough one. On one hand, it’s comforting—not to mention more convenient and less expensive—to have your son cared for by a loving relative while you’re at work. On the other, if you and your mom can’t reach an agreement on how to discipline your child, you’ve got a real problem—regardless of the financial savings or the convenience factor.