Pope Weighs In on Parents Who 'Smack' Their Kids

pope francis

Pope Francis has weighed in on a controversial subject: hitting your kids. The Pope says the occasional smack is okay, as long as parents do it in a way that maintains a child's "sense of dignity." Er, and how exactly do you do that?

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Well, according to the Pope, a "dignified" smack is not aimed at the face. In his weekly remarks to the public on the role of fathers in a family, he had the following to say:

One time, I heard a father in a meeting with married couples say, 'I sometimes have to smack my children a bit, but never in the face so as to not humiliate them.' How beautiful ... he knows the sense of dignity! He has to punish them but does it justly and moves on.

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Granted, the Bible is where the whole "spare the rod, spoil the child" phrase comes from. So, I guess technically the Bible does say thou shalt smack your kids.

But is there a "dignified" way to be hit or spanked? In my mind, it's an inherently humiliating act -- however and wherever it's done. Because whether it's a light tap on the butt or a ruler on the palm of a hand, it's not about the physical sensation of pain, but the emotional pain that accompanies this physical act (that said, if it does actually sting, that just makes it worse). 

Plus, just think about what this does to the parent/child dynamic: it instills fear -- a feeling that will backfire if your goal is to discipline your kids. In fact, one study in the journal Pediatrics has shown that kids who are spanked are more aggressive than those who aren't. Other studies have found that kids who are spanked are less disciplined and lie more. In other words, corporal punishment eats away at respect all round.

I'm not saying kids should get to do whatever they want or that their actions shouldn't have consequences. I'm just saying that physical violence, no matter how slight, is no way to treat anyone, much less a child. I just pray the Pope sees the light and amends his views before more kids get hurt -- with the Pope's blessing no less.

What do you think of the Pope's comments?

 

Image via giulio napolitano/shutterstock

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