Dear Grandparenting: My daughter was furious after I finished straightening out my grandson, Albert. He is a sweet but headstrong young boy who needs to be disciplined. I have warned Albert many times about the lakes on the golf course. He ran off once before with some older kids to feed alligators there. Albert, like most six-year-olds, thinks he is invincible. He also thinks he can outrun an alligator, which he probably can’t because they are deceptively quick even on land. But that’s beside the point. “Don’t let me catch you there,” I said. “Ever.”
I thought knowing about what just happened to that poor child at Disney would scare Albert to death. Can’t you see where this story is headed? I found him up near the lake and brought him home. Then I spanked my grandson’s little bottom. I know that spanking made a strong impression. Albert was in tears but it was all for his own good. My daughter said I “brutalized” Albert. I do think it will take her a while to get over this. In the meantime, where do you come down on whether it’s best to spank or not to spank? Sunny, Orlando, Florida
Dear Sunny: We agree that your grandson’s dalliance with those fearsome predators is precisely the sort of situation that cries out for a good spanking, which most grandparents have both given and received. But spanking seems on its way to becoming one of those generational divides, pitting old school grandparents against more modern generations.
Unlike some European countries, America is a nation that still believes in spanking. About nine in every 10 grandchildren will be spanked at some point, but studies indicate these drubbings are losing favor as an acceptable form of discipline, especially among women. For many modern mothers, “a good spanking” is on its way to becoming an oxymoron.
Perhaps they’ve all read the growing body of research. Exact findings differ, but there’s little question that corporal punishment like spankings has a positive correlation to negative outcomes for grandchildren, including antisocial behavior, delinquency, psychological problems and drug and alcohol abuse. Children who are spanked will spank their own children more often. Children not spanked and firmly reasoned with instead often show higher levels of self-esteem, school achievement and cooperative behaviors.
And if that’s not enough to stop a spanker in their tracks, keep this in mind: In some places — jurisdictions in America where one can in fact be prosecuted for an old-fashioned good spanking — you may subsequently need to hire a good criminal defense lawyer.
GRAND REMARK OF THE WEEK
Baba from Reading, Pennsylvanis, has “T.G.I.F” inscribed on her bracelet. “It’s not about that Thank God It’s Friday stuff,” said Baba. “TGIF stands for This Grandma is Fantastic!”
Dee and Tom, married more than 50 years, have eight grandchildren. Together with Key, they welcome questions, suggestions and Grand Remarks of the Week. Send to P.O. Box 27454, Towson, MD, 21285. Call 410-963-4426.