The Bliss Blog

The Bliss Blog

What’s The Matter Here?


I was following a thread on Facebook that began with this question from radio host DeBora M. Ricks:

“Should we spank our children? Is spanking ever the best discipline option? If you care about children, about how we’re treating them, then check this show out tomorrow, Wed., June 26!
Tomorrow  Anthony McCarthy talks to Marilyn Mosby, a former assistant prosecutor and wife of 7th District City Council Nick Mosby, who announced on June 21 that she will run for State’s Attorney of Baltimore City. In the 2nd hour he talks to journalist Eisa Ulen Richardson and Sherman Minor of The Family Tree about child discipline/whether there are any benefits to beating our babies. We wrap the evening up with co-authors of Doing the Best I Can: Fatherhood in the Inner City, Kathryn Edin & Timothy Nelson, with an exploration of the assumptions we tend to make about inner city dads. WEAA 88.9 FM, Wed. 5-7pm.
My immediate, from the gut response was this:
“Nope, nope, nope. Spanking teaches children that a bigger and stronger person can control a smaller and more vulnerable person by striking them. It is confusing to a child to get any sense that hitting is acceptable for adults to do, and not for them to do. If an adult hit another adult out of anger, they could be justifiably charged with assault. Do parents really want compliance based on fear, intimidation or threat, or out of love and respect? It is also way too easy for it to get out of control. My two or three cents.”
She continues to say: “And there’s more. The author of the article “Knocking Some Sense” will be on the show tomorrow and per her research spanking trains a male child for institutional life/prison.”
I am a therapist who has worked for many years with abuse survivors, so this is a hot button issue for me. I tell them that the cycle stops with them. I have rolled my eyes when I have heard people say that they were hit (and sometimes more than just a little bit) and “I turned out ok.”  Hitting isn’t a reflection of love and concern, but rather a way to control the other person. I was never hit and I turned out ok too. I respected my parents out of love and not fear of being assaulted. I have also found that people who bully are often bullied at home and may feel they have no healthy outlet for their own sense of disempowerment. Anger management needs to be modeled, and sadly and sometimes devastatingly for many, it simply isn’t. And this goes beyond the act of spanking, to verbal aggression, name calling, and demeaning. Some damage takes a long while to heal.

Children Learn What They Live


If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.

If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.

If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive.

If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves.

If children live with ridicule, they learn to feel shy.

If children live with jealousy, they learn to feel envy.


If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.

If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence.

If children live with tolerance, they learn patience.

If children live with praise, they learn appreciation.

If children live with acceptance, they learn to love.

If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.


If children live with recognition, they learn it is good to have a goal.

If children live with sharing, they learn generosity.

If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness.

If children live with fairness, they learn justice.

If children live with kindness and consideration, they learn respect.


If children live with security, they learn to have faith in themselves and in those about them.

If children live with friendliness, they learn the world is a nice place in which to live.

Copyright © 1972 by Dorothy Law Nolte

I was at a store a few years ago and witnessed an interaction between a mother and her young daughter. The little girl was having difficulty tying her shoes and might have been whining and the mother threatened to smack her. I had three choices at that point. I could have walked away and ignored it. I could have gone all social worker on her and told her that she had better watch her step which only would likely have angered her further and who knows what would have happened when she got the little girl home? Instead, I said to her, mom to mom, that I imagined she was having a really rough day and that I’m sure she didn’t want to hurt her child. Her face softened a bit and she shared that she was an overwhelmed, over-worked, financially strapped single mom.  I then bent over and tied her daughter’s shoes and wished them both well and went on my way. The mother said nothing else beyond that. A year later, no kidding, I’m back at the same store and I spot them again. This time, the child has her face painted with a pretty design. I approach them and ask if they remembered me. The mother said nothing again and the little one smiled shyly as I told her how beautiful she looked.
There may be folks who disagree with me on this subject, but it is one that I feel passionately about.
One of my favorite Natalie Merchant songs speaks to this subject poignantly.–  What’s The Matter Here?
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