Why Black People Don't Mind Spanking Their Kids

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A recent survey taken on YourBlackWorld found that more than 80 percent of black respondents have no problem with the idea of giving spankings to their children.  Additionally, the same 78 percent of the respondents feel that the anti-spanking wave has gone too far.

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As I reminisce on the spankings my mother gave me as a child, I wonder if there could have been a better way.   I remember the terror in my skull that emerged upon hearing the belt jingling as she walked down the steps, and I remember feeling that there was no purpose to the pain I felt whenever I did something wrong.

But then I think about my life.

I consider the fact that the sons of most of my mother’s friends didn’t do very much with their lives.  Many of them are in prison, unemployed, or even dead.   Starting as a 17-year-old single Mother in a housing project, my mother has raised a doctor, an Ivy league graduate and a university professor — not bad for a woman who allegedly “abused” her kids by spanking them.

I also think about the little kid that we all know in the supermarket.  The boy who tells his mother what to do, throws boxes of cereal across the aisle when he doesn’t get what he wants, calls his mother names in public because she pissed him off.  I think about his mother, feeling as helpless as a prison inmate, forced to live under the ruthless dictatorship of an angry 3 year old.  I think about how this child wouldn’t have lived past the age of four if he were born and raised in my mother’s house.

Unfortunately, we’ve becoming a country that has forgotten that sometimes learning to respect authority is not a comfortable process. Parents need a credible threat to support their ability to effectively run their households.  Spanking should not be the only way to maintain control, but it should certainly be a part of a good parental arsenal.

As it stands, our nation has an obesity problem, we are falling behind in education, and we are financially gluttonous.  We’ve raised our kids to enjoy the spoils of excess and instant gratification.  It only makes sense that in this kind of world, any kind of serious discipline is frowned upon, and parents feel the need to become best friends with their kids.

I’m not here to pretend to be an expert on parenting, but an examination of our parental outcomes might lead us to naturally conclude that strong, disciplined parenting is clearly a necessity.  Whether spanking is a part of the plan or not is up to the individual.  If your teenager is telling you what they will and won’t do or your 3-year-old is pulling rank on a regular basis, though, you might want to reconsider your options.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Professor at Syracuse University.  To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.

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