Are you an Ostrich Parent?

Just two weeks ago a new study came out of the University of Manitoba showing the effects of spanking and corporal punishment including slapping, shoving, grabbing, and hitting. Researchers examined data from more than 34,000 adults and found that being spanked significantly increased the risk of developing mental health issues and mood disorders in adults, which includes depression and anxiety, as well as personality disorders and alcohol and drug abuse and that spanking ups the risk of major depression by 41 percent, alcohol and drug abuse by 59 percent, and mania by 93 percent. This study only looked at regular discipline involving physical punishment and excluded more severe physical, sexual, and emotional abuse.

The study was no surprise. The comments from readers were. Almost all were like these:

• My Mom was a serial spanker when I was a kid. I am 63 and have managed a pretty normal life and I am no murderer or haven’t attempted suicide. I don’t remember ever getting spanked when I didn’t deserve it.

• This article is ridiculous. That is all.

• In my 65 years I’ve seen the results of people who were spanked on the behind and people who weren’t. I’ll hang out with the spanked ones, the others are usually horribly self-centered.

• I was spanked as were my siblings, as were my children.

• I got spanked quite a few times as a kid, and I deserved every one I ever got.

• Me too! And heaven help us if we picked a bad switch!!!!

• I disagree with the experts, that is what is wrong with this society there is no consequence for their actions, so they don’t have a valid reason to not just do whatever they want from disrupting in public to murdering someone.

• I got spankings and I turned out fine. Lets not try to turn the tables to keep from spanking these bad a– kids.

• No study is going to tell me how to raise my kids. My mom did it old school and the four of us turned out just fine.

These are the ostrich parents who can’t or won’t look beyond their own experiences to see there are better ways; the parents who have their heads in the sand and see the only option to the traditional reward and punishment method as the complete opposite—pushovers who let their kids run wild with no limits. They are the black and white thinkers who miss the balance of connected, nurturing, yet structured parenting.

Are we really fine? Can we say what was good enough for me is good enough for my kid and keep on with the same old, same old? We are the society of the walking wounded. Do we really think our emotional state as a result of physical and emotional punishment is not going to affect our kids?

The biggest problem I see is parents who do reach out, who don’t want their heads in the sand but who want desperately to find a better way than how they were raised. Yet once they learn the skills they want to use, they often feel worse than ever because now they know what they want to do but they still can’t do it—because their buttons get pushed—because their past is haunting them. There’s a lot of work to do. Many would rather just continue blaming their kids.


4 thoughts on “Are you an Ostrich Parent?

  1. Well said, as usual, Bonnie! “I turned out okay” and “It was good enough for me” really push my buttons! “Okay” and “good enough” are pathetic. Our children — and we parents — deserve more. We owe it to them and to ourselves to let go of our pride and our black-and-white thinking. I am humbled every day by the responsibilities of mothering, but I believe we CAN move human consciousness forward by parenting “connectively.” Thank you, Bonnie, for guiding and encouraging thoughtful, conscious parents!

  2. Some of the greatest EVIL the world has ever seen has been produced by abusive corporal punishment: Hitler, Stalin, Mao,
    Ceausescu…..surely that evidences the dangers of such approaches? Like Allison I feel it is our privilege, honour and duty to lovingly, sensitively and tenderly nurture the next stage of human evolution into being!

  3. Thanks, Bonnie! Your last paragraph absolutely resonated with me. I feel so alien among parents who constantly use “consequences” and expect all parents to. Sometimes I end up feeling guilty and give in and find myself struggling to keep my composure with my little ones. Yet when I follow the principles of connective parenting, we bond so much better and they seem to thrive. I just wish I wouldn’t keep going two steps forward and one step backwards because the pressure does push my buttons.

    1. Lily – Remember that your guilt may signal your belief that it is your job to make your children happy. It is not. That is the biggest trap for parents to fall into. It is perfectly okay for your children to feel angry, disappointed, upset with your decisions, and bored. What always helps is your validation of their feelings but not trying to fix it for them. Good for you for sticking with connective parenting. It is so hard to end old habits but you are stopping the age old cycle – congratulations!

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