Increases Past 100%?

Extensive research shows that using harsh verbal discipline and physical hostility is counterproductive to good parenting. It increases the risk of delinquency, fighting, misbehavior and belligerence in teens.
First of all, fighting and belligerence aren't always bad things. Sometimes they are exactly the proper and just response, in which case the son you have raised with a capacity for them will be the person with the capacity to act virtuously in those circumstances. The one you've raised to shrink from conflict and physicality will be unable to defend the right when push comes to shove.

But, second, this particular teen was already physically present for the purpose of joining a riot. I don't think you need to worry about 'increasing the risk' of misbehavior on this occasion. Mom was just trying to keep her son from getting himself killed, as was not improbable under the circumstances. Not only is the author a pansy who should mind his own business, then, he's also got his head entirely in the wrong game.


Eric Blair said...

I think you're missing the point that the all pervasive violence in poor minority communities is causing all sorts of problems.

Yes, momma smacked him upside the head a good one, but where is dad? Oh, that's right, there isn't one.

Grim said...

Well, it's a problem that dad wasn't there. However, had dad been there, he likewise should have smacked the kid upside his head and chased him home.

Anonymous said...

The author is arguing for the fun of arguing. Notice how he begins by admitting that her behavior was reasonable under the circumstances.

In real life, as opposed to in the synagogue, you have to make real moral choices that have real, important outcomes. Only in a safe place can you admit a real choice was reasonable, and then pivot to show it was actually wrong.


jaed said...

Losing your temper with a kid is never a good idea, but complaining about the mother's behavior in this instance because it's "physically hostile" strikes me as similar to complaining about yanking a toddler away from a hot stove because doing so "fails to respect the child's autonomy". Uh, yeah. Priorities. Sense of perspective!

Cass said...

I have always thought that losing your temper with a child is warranted in certain circumstances. That's not the same as losing control of yourself.

If a child behaves in a way that would cause strangers to become extremely angry (and most children do, at least once while growing up), it's no favor to lead the child to believe that no matter what he or she does, people don't have the right to react with anger.

They do, and they will. Better to learn real world limits from your parents (who love you far more than any stranger). And far better to get smacked a few times by your Momma than wind up in jail, with a criminal record.

Or dead.

Some of the most violent, brattiest, and most unlikeable kids I've seen were ones whose parents never showed visible anger.

Texan99 said...

True, though showing anger, even towering anger, is not quite the same as losing one's temper.

I'm sure happier about seeing this mom smack her kid than if she were being interviewed offsite making excuses for the poor darling's behavior, which is what we see more often on camera. Best, though, would be if she had the moral authority to confront him and bring him home with words. He's not a toddler, after all.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Bad research, because it leaves out genetics. Violent, out-of-control parents tend to have violent, out-of-control children, not because of their parenting practices, but because of their nature. Whether that is an either/or or a continuum of violent behavior, they are going to skew the results to make it look like physical punishment creates more violent children. It ain't so.

Until that is factored in (or rather, factored out), such studies tell us absolutely nothing about parental discipline.

Cass said...

I think there's also quite possibly a relationship between being smacked as a kid and the child's behavior.

I got smacked more than my brother because he generally didn't push the envelope. My oldest boy got smacked more than his younger brother for the same reason.

It always amuses me to see people state that being smacked *causes* behavior problems rather than considering the possibility that causation may run in the opposite direction :p

Being smacked never scared me. But it really did reinforce that my parents were dead serious about whatever it was I had done to deserve it. And *that* mattered to me. If it came to that, I knew I had really crossed the line, big time.

Cass said...

One more thing on words: I'm not convinced they're always better. That's the way I tended to parent, but teens (and especially teen boys) tune out words.

I have come to believe that they really are listening, but that it takes several years (and some living) for them to truly sink in.

I don't regret the few times I smacked one of my boys for some misdeed. I totally regret some of the harsher words I spoke. I think it would have been better to just smack them and have it over with.

Words can cause damage too, and they're personal in a way that being spanked or smacked rarely is.

Texan99 said...

By the time they were 16 or so, though, did you still need to hit them to get their attention? Or by that time, had you established a kind of authority that could be expressed verbally (or with withdrawn privileges or the like) even if they were very, very far out of line? I'm really curious, not having had any brothers and never having raised any kids myself. I do know I reached an age sometime around puberty when my parents understood spanking was no longer an option, even if I had screwed up quite severely--but for all I know, it's completely different with a daughter. What might they have done if they'd caught me in a looting riot?

In any case, even when you're using words, there's being terribly angry, and there's having lost your temper, two different things. If afterwards you regret how far you went in the heat of the moment, I suppose you've lost your temper. Up to that point, surely it's a good thing for the child to see that his parents are unambiguously angry. It taught me well, anyway, always assuming they were angry about the right things.

Cass said...

No, but then I never caught them throwing rocks at the police :p

Had I done so... well, I'm not really sure what I would have done but I'm guessing having a heartfelt mother-son talk would probably not be terribly effective.

I'm with you - I naturally stopped any kind of physical punishment once my kids got to be 10-12ish, but I was building on a very solid foundation and I tightly controlled my childrens' environment (who they associated with, how they spent their time, etc.). I can't overemphasize how important that is, because peer pressure/influence becomes a very big deal during the teen years, and surrounding your children with adults who will hold them to the same standards you do is enormously important. That's why I paid through the nose for private schools.

We had a couple of black friends in the Marines whose children were polite, responsible, and kept their noses clean and the one thing they all had in common was that they were complete Nazis about keeping their children out of trouble and usefully occupied (much more than I did, even). They took a very dim view of other peoples' kids, regardless of skin color :p

Some of the things I said to my oldest son that I would now take back weren't the result of anger so much as fear that he wasn't paying attention or was dismissing me. So it really wasn't so much a loss of control as it was a contemporaneous assessment of what was needed to get through to him at the time. Teens can really throw up a wall, and sometimes I think there's something to be said for shocking them out of it (but obviously, if you do this frequently then it isn't much of a shock!).

One of the things my oldest used to do was test me. He would run into other kids or parents who didn't have the same rules, and I came to believe there were times when he actually wanted to hear our standards reinforced, even if he didn't enjoy the process.

Gringo said...

I came to believe there were times when he actually wanted to hear our standards reinforced, even if he didn't enjoy the process,

Which reminds me of the oft-told tale of the teenager on the phone with a friend, asking a parent "May I go?" and seconds later whispering to the parent, "Say no."