Happy Fatherhood

On smacking

The law is that it is illegal to smack your kids except by 'reasonable punishment - whatever that means. reasonable is a word that lawyers like because they can argue over it for years, at great expense. THe engineer in me would prefer an acceptable smack to be measured clearly in Newton seconds.

It's generally considered unreasonable if you use an implement (i.e. a slipper or a belt), or if you leave a mark. I suspect if the judge is an old school father, the blurry line of reasonable would be drawn in a different place than if the judge is a childless idealist.

My personal view is that you've got to draw a clear line, over which the child shall not step. If you have threatened a smack, you're obliged to follow it through.

I'm inclined to take my clues from the animal kingdom - mammals often express what our inherent natures would be like without social pressures. Tigers clout their cubs if they're too boistorous; I've seen a gibbon giving an unruly adolescent a clip round the ear for smacking a baby gibbon.

I have smacked my children. I have smacked them harder when play fighting, but the emotional pain of dad deliberately hurting them stings much more.

I don't do it any more because it hasn't worked, and a smack that hasn't been effective is often followed by a harder smack, and that's on a hiding to nothing. The other problem is what happens when they fight back?

Posted on 2015-01-15 12:57:41

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On smacking
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