Smack In The Middle:
Spanking Is Lazy Parenting

About 15 years ago, I was talking to my students—a group of 8th graders—and the conversation turned to spanking. They regaled me with stories about some extreme “whoopin’” a parent had given them. One girl said that she had never been spanked. Everybody was incredulous, including me. Her classmates couldn’t believe it and concluded that she must get away with murder.

I watched this girl for weeks, convinced that she would be a problem child because her parents weren’t spanking her. Turns out, she was one of the gentlest and kindest kids I’ve ever met. She was whip-smart and later graduated at the top of her high school class. I met her parents several times and they were equally charming.

On the other hand, another student, who had the wildest spanking stories, was hands-down one of the worst behaved students I’ve ever had in 10 years of teaching. Once, the dean paddled this student (corporal punishment in schools is legal in Indiana) and then his mother arrived 30 minutes later with her belt and whipped her son again in the bathroom. He was contrite and compliant for a few days, but within a week, he was back at the same antics that got him in trouble in the first place.

I was intrigued. Every school year thereafter, I had two or three kids out of 120 or so who said they rarely or never received spankings. Without fail, those two or three kids were always pleasant, well-behaved, and diligent students who made As and Bs. I didn’t have children at that time, but I started thinking, maybe it is possible to raise kids without hitting them.

In no particular order, these are my opinions on spanking and the major reasons my husband and I have chosen not to do it.

1. Spanking is lazy parenting.

Creative Commons/familymwr

Creative Commons/familymwr

Let’s face it: spanking temporarily gets the job done. It’s quick and easy. When I tell people that I don’t spank my children, they immediately think I don’t discipline them. I’ve found that it’s much more difficult not to spank and enact principles of discipline that take a lot of time and effort and require follow-up such as redirection, taking away privileges, setting wise limits, rewarding good behavior, natural and logical consequences, and yes, even time outs. Those things require a lot of parental self-discipline and, oftentimes, the lesson is extended much further than a spanking allows.

Read more: Raisin’ In Minnesota: The Color Of Discipline

2. Parents have an unfair advantage.

Creative Commons/Maja_Larsson

Creative Commons/Maja_Larsson

At 5’5” and one hundred-and-too-many pounds, I’m fully confident that I can spank my children into submission.

Read more: Ask Rene: My Daughter Is Lying About Being Abused!

3. Spanking doesn’t teach morals.

Creative Commons/pfala

Creative Commons/pfala

Whenever I got spanked, I didn’t sit in my room and reflect on what I did wrong. I sat in my room, angry with the offending parent, and plotted better ways to get away with my bad behavior because I was going to do it again. I never thought about why what I did was wrong, the consequences of my actions, or who was hurt because of what I did. It never extended beyond me.

Read more: The Big Issue: To Spank Or Not To Spank

4. Spanking is inhumane.

Creative Commons/Creative Donkey

Creative Commons/Creative Donkey

It’s demeaning to have a person hit you. I don’t think it’s less demeaning when a parent does it. It would never occur to me to hit anybody else to get what I want. If I wouldn’t hit a stranger, then I think my children deserve even more  consideration. Also, there is no way that spanking can make room for parents to increase their own humanity and compassion.

Read more: Guest Posting: Why NO Has To Mean NO!

5. Spankings usually happen when parents are angry.

Creative Commons/Floyd Brown

Creative Commons/Floyd Brown

Or tired. Or frustrated. There might be parents who—when they see their kids misbehave—have the ability to take a deep breath, have a cup of coffee, gab with a friend, then spank their children with nothing but feelings of love and compassion. But I’ve never met them and you probably haven’t either. Almost by definition, it takes a certain level of anger to hit someone. Have you ever physically lashed out when you were happy and smiling?


Parenting is a process for me, just as it is for every parent. Despite not wanting to, I have spanked my daughters. I felt worse about it than they did and resolved never to do it again. That was more than two years ago. I yell at my children more than I would like to, but much less than a year ago. There are days when I just don’t want to be bothered with discipline at all. I’ve been at the end of my rope, but this is what I know to be true above all:

The battle is with myself, not my children.

The battle is to be the best example of how I want my kids to behave. They are watching me, particularly when I don’t think they are, and I know that “do as I say, not as I do” won’t wash.

We all live what we learn. If my kids see me lying, they will do it. If I teach them through my behavior that it’s okay to hit to get what you want, they won’t hesitate to hit each other or another child, or worse. That’s not okay with me, so I have to do the daily hard work of consistent, respectful, and positive discipline.

That’s my take on spanking. I’m very interested in hearing yours.

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picmonkey alexis

Alexis Trass Walker lives in Gary, Indiana, with her husband and four children. She is a writer, a work at home mother, and a new business owner. Read more about Alexis on her blog, email her at, or follow her on Twitter @LillieBelle5.