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October 23, 2009

Who's In Charge Here, Anyway?

I will never forget the day I changed my mind about the value of spanking.

As a young Marine wife and mother living in Navy housing in Meridian, Mississippi, my days were filled with baby showers, volunteer work, play groups, long walks and the seemingly never ending job of raising my two bairns: a 3 1/2 year old toddler and a 6 month old infant. It was a golden summer evening and the air was thick with the scent of honeysuckle. Our quiet street was lined with small children and parents.

This was a nightly ritual. Their work done for the day, mothers of young children, fathers just coming home from work and throngs of busy toddlers and small children would gather outside to enjoy the summer evening and each other's company. My oldest boy was contentedly riding his Big Wheel down the small hill just past our house. As I rocked the baby in my arms and chatted idly with other mothers, my small son repeatedly dragged the Big Wheel to the top of the tiny hill, climbed aboard, put his feet up in the air and launched himself down the hill. Only 3 years old and already the daredevil of the group, he delighted in seeing how fast he could go.

What happened next will always play back in my mind in slow motion.

A late model VW bug appeared at the bottom of our street. It was going the speed limit, which is remarkable since our neighborhood was a 15 mile an hour zone. As soon as I saw the car, my eyes swept the sidewalk in search of my oldest boy. He was barreling down the hill in the direction of the oncoming car. As he reached the bottom he ditched the Big Wheel, his attention obviously captured by some shiny object on the other side of the road.

My body began to move at glacial speed, bisecting the angle between the oncoming car and my small son. "STOP. STOP RIGHT NOOOOOOOOOOOW". The words tumbled from my lips, uttered in my best parade deck imperative voice.

I might as well have been talking to a speeding freight train with no brakes. My son began to run and I yelled again, nervously, alternating my gaze between my boy and the oncoming car. "STOP! There's a car coming!"

Nothing. Clearly he had heard me, because now he giggled as he ran. With a sick feeling, I realized that he thought this was a game: "Look! Mommy's chasing me!" I was running too now, my heart thumping in my chest like a jackhammer, the baby suddenly weighing me down like 20 pounds of lead. A dull roar filled my ears. My whole world collapsed to the rapidly diminishing arc between my son and the VW that, oblivious to the tiny boy in the street, proceeded on its merry way.

I realized there was no way I would reach him in time. The geometry was inexorable. And then a miracle happened. The car lurched to a stop less than 8 feet from my son. I'll spare you a recital of what happened next: the tears that swam behind my eyes, the cold sweat that suddenly chilled the balmy August air, my stammered thanks to the driver of that car.

As I scolded my small son for not listening to me, I did something I had never done before. I administered a sharp swat to his little bottom. His eyes widened in shock and his little mouth quivered a bit, but he didn't cry. I handed the baby to a neighbor and gathered him into my arms, whispering his name over and over again.

So close. Too close for comfort.

I realized two things that day. One of them I had already known. My oldest boy is very like his mother: strong willed, adventurous, afraid of nothing and no one. I called him my little monkey. From the time he was 6 months old he had climbed every vertical surface, pulled countless things over on himself, figured out how to open locked doors and clamber over any baby gate placed in his path to keep him safe.

And I realized something else: he didn't think he had to listen to me. And he had almost died as a result.

Sometimes it takes a good scare to bring reality into sharp focus.

I had never been a fan of spanking. My son was, despite his high spirits, extremely well behaved. I could take him to the Commissary, to a college graduation that was several hours long, to church all without tantrums, tears or disruptive behavior. But deep in his little heart, my son did not understand the importance of instant obedience to my commands.

And as the day's events showed beyond the shadow of a doubt, sometimes there is no time for lengthy explanations or a time out. Sometimes your child's life may literally depend on his willingness to submit to parental authority - immediately and without explanation.

There is something deeply, tragically wrong with a culture that can't understand this simple reality: children lack the experience or the maturity to be in charge of their own safety, let alone their own lives. And no matter how good a parent you are, there will be times when you become distracted for a split second and there will be no time to carefully employ gentle remonstrations or the latest psychobabble parenting trend. There is nothing wrong with teaching children their logical place in the pecking order: a toddler has no business believing he is - or should be - fully independent and in charge. We used to understand that, but sadly common sense has been replaced by guilt trips and juvenile hand wringing fit only for a world where nothing bad ever happens:

Conditional parenting isn’t limited to old-school authoritarians. Some people who wouldn’t dream of spanking choose instead to discipline their young children by forcibly isolating them, a tactic we prefer to call “time out.” Conversely, “positive reinforcement” teaches children that they are loved, and lovable, only when they do whatever we decide is a “good job.”

This raises the intriguing possibility that the problem with praise isn’t that it is done the wrong way — or handed out too easily, as social conservatives insist. Rather, it might be just another method of control, analogous to punishment. The primary message of all types of conditional parenting is that children must earn a parent’s love. A steady diet of that, Rogers warned, and children might eventually need a therapist to provide the unconditional acceptance they didn’t get when it counted.

But was Rogers right? Before we toss out mainstream discipline, it would be nice to have some evidence. And now we do.

In 2004, two Israeli researchers, Avi Assor and Guy Roth, joined Edward L. Deci, a leading American expert on the psychology of motivation, in asking more than 100 college students whether the love they had received from their parents had seemed to depend on whether they had succeeded in school, practiced hard for sports, been considerate toward others or suppressed emotions like anger and fear.

It turned out that children who received conditional approval were indeed somewhat more likely to act as the parent wanted. But compliance came at a steep price. First, these children tended to resent and dislike their parents. Second, they were apt to say that the way they acted was often due more to a “strong internal pressure” than to “a real sense of choice.” Moreover, their happiness after succeeding at something was usually short-lived, and they often felt guilty or ashamed.

This is, without doubt, the stupidest thing I have ever read.

Show me a teenager who doesn't resent and rebel against parental control and I'll show you a teen who isn't making the transition between a protected childhood and the responsibility and self-discipline needed to be a successful adult. The world isn't a kind place and complete strangers will neither love nor indulge your child the way you do at home. It is this world - a world organized around competition and "authoritarian" relationships between bosses and employees, teachers and students, law enforcement and citizens - that your child will live in. No employer is going to "reason" with your child or bribe him with rewards. If he refuses to perform the tasks for which he was hired, he will be out of a job.

When child regularly makes you lose your temper, that's a pretty good sign that his or her behavior is out of control and unacceptable. Parents begin by loving their children. The rest of the world, however, does not love them and if their behavior is making you dislike them you might stop to consider how the rest of the world will regard it - and your child? How loving is it to send a child out into the world believing that there is no legitimate authority other than their own will, or that they will never have to control their words or deeds?

As parents understand that it’s not socially acceptable to spank children, they are at a loss for what they can do. They resort to reminding, nagging, timeout, counting 1-2-3 and quickly realize that those strategies don’t work to change behavior. In the absence of tools that really work, they feel frustrated and angry and raise their voice. They feel guilty afterward, and the whole cycle begins again.”

While I don't think constant yelling is terribly effective, there is absolutely nothing wrong with a short, well controlled demonstration of parental outrage. Your child should learn that certain behaviors make people angry; that negative behavior will provoke negative reactions from other people - anger, outrage, dislike, even punishment. Who better to ease their transition from a sheltered home environment to a world full of uncaring strangers than a loving parent who provides both discipline and affection?

Boys, especially, respond well to short, sharp commands from parents. They don't need to be drowned in an avalanche of age-inappropriate, tortured explanations. If they're doing something dangerous or rude, an emphatic, "NO!" (or even a quick swat on the behind) often brings them up short. It gets their attention in a way words and time outs never will. There is no need to berate a child. After gaining his or her attention and securing compliance, you can explain the whys and wherefores later; preferably during a quiet moment when he is receptive and unemotional; when you can punctuate a loving lesson with a reminder that while we all misbehave from time to time, he can always count on your love. This puts things in the proper focus: first, stop biting your little brother and then I will explain why we don't bite people.

If your child is too emotionally fragile to withstand a little disapproval when his actions merit it, how will he ever live in a world where other people expect him to behave properly and live up to his responsibilities. Previous generations set obstacles in their children's paths to teach them endurance, perseverence, and self-discipline. We try to remove every obstacle from our children's paths. The result is a generation of hothouse flowers who can bloom only if supplied with a constant diet of unconditional love and approval. This is not a recipe for self confidence and self-reliance but a prescription for narcissism and dysfunction.

When modern parenting theories lead to angry, out of control children taught by angry, out of control parents, perhaps it's time to go back to the basics we learned from our parents and grandparents? Generations of Americans have been spanked and yelled at when the situation merited - all without producing hordes of psychotic, maladjusted adults. Perhaps instead of trying to reinvent the wheel we could learn a thing or two from our parents, grandparents and great grandparents. After all, they produced the world you children will have to live in.

Update: Donna B weighs in:

My father was definitely the strong type, but not silent. He was eloquent in describing my failings. He could describe fluently how I’d disappointed him and made my mother sad. He could do this for hours without actually repeating himself. It was a talent. After 30 – 45 minutes of this, I was sobbing and begging for a beating because that would be so much less painful.

Heh :)

Posted by Cassandra at October 23, 2009 08:46 AM

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Comments

They feel guilty afterward, and the whole cycle begins again.

*Somebody* has to be in charge, and if you're the adult, it's *you*. If that makes you feel bad, you have no business even being *near* children, let alone being the parent of one.

Our cross-the-street neighbor had the exact same situation occur about twenty years ago, and admitted he'd felt terrible about swatting his child. I reminded him that he would have felt even worse if he'd had to bury him. I also reminded him that we probably would be having a different conversation in that event, because *I* was the driver of the car...

Posted by: BillT at October 23, 2009 10:39 AM

The scary thing is that I was actually watching him the whole time, Bill. But there are literally hundreds of thousands of moments like that in a child's life and you cannot be there every time.

Children need to learn to obey legitimate authority figures: teachers, coaches, parents. They are so much more secure in a world where adults are in charge. Adults have absorbed the social conditioning required to make the world function smoothly and protect the weak.

Small children, until they learn these lessons to, are amoral anarchists :p

Adorable anarchists, certainly. But anarchists just the same. Left to themselves they'd run around nekkid all day and eat nothing but Gummy Bears.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 23, 2009 10:44 AM

"Generations of Americans have been spanked and yelled at when the situation merited - all without producing hordes of psychotic, maladjusted adults."

Isn't it ironic that the removal of spanking as a social norm has produced a rather hard-to-ignore number of psychotic, maladjusted teens and adults?
Another "unintended consquence* rears it's ugly head.

Posted by: DL Sly at October 23, 2009 11:02 AM

Trying being the teacher - or more specifically, a substitute teacher - of a defiant, willful child. You can't touch a child in school these days for discipline; hell, you have to be careful how you touch them, period. There is one class at a school I've been subbing at this year I've been in four separate days. If asked to return to that class, I think I might say I'm unavailable - I've had enough of dealing with that class, and that child...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at October 23, 2009 11:04 AM

Heh. Bugger spanking. My Dad used the feather duster on me (back in the day when it was made from rattan), after I had kept my mouth shut about nicking his colleague's new piano (long story). And a few other times before that as well.

I got off light. My elder brother and sister got belted, literally. Dozens of times. Brother was a King Scout (what I think you'd call an Eagle Scout, the highest ranking available), too. He's now making scads of money, and my sister's a PhD in Molecular Biology.

Me, I'm just lower-middle-class. Maybe I should have asked my dad to belt me too. Probably would have improved my (self-)discipline.

Schools not a decade ago used to feature rattan canes, and in lieu you could use these metre-long (~3 1/3 feet, I think) rulers. It didn't really hurt that much, but it certainly got our attention.

I guess there's something to be said about living in a country that's blase about these things. Heck, we even feature it as a judicial punishment.

Posted by: Gregory at October 23, 2009 11:29 AM

Years ago, the VES had a boy in her Kindergarten class that got suspended from school before the end of the first trimester. A FIVE year old. He was verbally and physically abusive of anyone and everyone. Even kicked the VES in the head one day while at recess. (Yes, he lives still....for those who were wondering.) It wasn't two months after he returned from that suspension before he was suspended again. I can't help but wonder, if he was that defiant and uncontrolled at five, how much worse will he be when he's a teenager or young adult.

Posted by: DL Sly at October 23, 2009 11:36 AM

A good swat on the butt is good for the child on the right occasion. We are their guardian first and friend second. Handing them an animal cracker and asking them "How does that make you feel" is counterproductive.

A neighbor of ours caved to the phony philosophy that kids were going to drink illegally so they might as well do it at home under parental superivison. It wasn't too long thereafter that the son conducted a drunken nightime raid on a beach in the dark at a local lake with a couple of his idiot friends. Dressed for the "assault" in cold weather gear the canoe tipped over in the lake. Down makes a poor flotation device and too much beer makes you do stupid things. To save himself from drowning one of his friends had to let him go as the scene in Titanic showed the beautiful face disappear into the depths away from the desperate hands of a loved one or friend.

The funeral was predictable in it's futile weeping and wailing after the fact. "WHY HIM, HE WAS SO YOUNG?" Progressives have a problem with discipline, accountability, and responsibility as adults in charge of youngsters.

Parent; I said NO!

Child : But I want to and all my friends are doing it!

Parent; The answer is still NO because I know better than you!

Note to parents and would be parents: Have children and their safety is your responsibility and in your paygrade.

Posted by: vet66 at October 23, 2009 11:45 AM

I'd like to add that most of the time, guilt (though it's not a pleasant feeling) is a good thing in adults.

It is guilt that makes an adult take responsibilty for their actions, their words, their work ethic. Looked at that way, I see a large number of congressmen who might have benefitted from spanking as children.

Posted by: Jewels at October 23, 2009 11:47 AM

My mom's favorite was a razor strap, which was wide enough not to hurt to badly, until she broke it on my brother. (I was first in line that day) My dad enjoyed the mental pain of making us go pick a belt out of the 20 or so that he owned. I hated trying to chose the least painful one I thought he would except.

Posted by: Russ at October 23, 2009 11:48 AM

Small children, until they learn these lessons to, are amoral anarchists :p

Adorable anarchists, certainly. But anarchists just the same. Left to themselves they'd run around nekkid all day and eat nothing but Gummy Bears.

Exactly. And I don't get that people don't see this. I think a lot of people only see what they want to see, and in their case it is the child as the ultimate innocent and good until corrupted by the world.

And probably in a world where youth is worshipped, there are an awful lot of adults who would love to return to the days of baseball cards and Barbies and not have to worry about mortgages, credit card debt, and how long to steam the broccoli for dinner. They project onto their children, and they try to relive those lost years with them. Or rather, those lost glory years minus the disapproval and punishment of those mean parents who never let them have any fun and kept them from being one of the cool kids by withholding the Atari!

It's ridiculous. Being a child was great in retrospect. But when I was a child? Um, no. I have no need to relive that episode, thank-you-very-much. I like making my own decisions.

The thing about immediate consequences like spanking is that they are only a groundwork. My children *know* that possibility is there should they push it. Far more often than an actual spanking, they get "the stink eye." I'm a master of giving The Stink Eye. The Stink Eye is notice that the edge has been reached and Mom has reached her limit.

Posted by: airforcewife at October 23, 2009 11:49 AM

Dad had a belt -- mom had a wooden spoon.

Mom could have batted cleanup for any team in the National League...

Posted by: BillT at October 23, 2009 12:29 PM

Perhaps instead of trying to reinvent the wheel we could learn a thing or two from our parents, grandparents and great grandparents. After all, they produced the world you children will have to live in.

This right here. Thank you for saying it. It reminds me of the "new math" and "whole language" crazes. Um, I thought we got to the moon and had the highest literacy rate in the history of the world in this country by using the old math and correct spelling. Why are we changing it?

My mother was a firm believer in sending us to go get the wooden ruler (a trick she learned from her mom). My dad, in recollection, never once spanked us. He threatened to, he snapped the belt a few times, but mostly, he had... The Look. The Look made him seem to physically grow in size and terror. You would beg forgiveness immediately upon receiving The Look. And I remember the day his tactics with me changed. "Son, I am so disappointed in you." Ouch.

But the key element of that was, I was a teenager, and his respect was important to me. Had I been raised on this new age crap, what chances do you give me for really caring what he (or anyone else) thought?

Posted by: MikeD at October 23, 2009 12:51 PM

Perhaps instead of trying to reinvent the wheel we could learn a thing or two from our parents, grandparents and great grandparents.

I believe we were talking about this very thing a couple weeks ago. About how so many people today simply believe that all our ancestors were evil, idiots, or both. But *we* are enlightened beings for whom our own decendents will never look back and think the exact same thing about us.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at October 23, 2009 12:58 PM

My dad had the lecture. I described it this way:

"My father was definitely the strong type, but not silent. He was eloquent in describing my failings. He could describe fluently how I’d disappointed him and made my mother sad. He could do this for hours without actually repeating himself. It was a talent. After 30 – 45 minutes of this, I was sobbing and begging for a beating because that would be so much less painful.

The “beating” was usually sort of half-hearted and never managed to assuage my guilt."

That's from a blog post about this same silly article.

http://opiningonline.com/2009/09/26/punishment-or-training/

Posted by: Donna B. at October 23, 2009 02:23 PM

Although my children are older now (28-43) I can honestly say I never felt guilty when I spanked them.
I can remember in 1992 when we PSC'd (moved) to New Mexico. At that time, the state had a massive anti child abuse statute. My kids came home from school after the first week and proudly told me that if I spanked them the cops would come and carry me away. In a calm manner I simply told them that before the Police arrived to cart me off, they would, in fact, see real child abuse. When the realization of my words hit home, they truly understood that I was in charge and I was never challenged again.

In people, as in nations, the threat of honest violence (with the will to back it up) has the tendancy to sort out the harder matters.

Posted by: Pescador at October 23, 2009 02:27 PM

Y'all would not like what all this inspires me to say ... so I won't say it.

Posted by: I Call BS at October 23, 2009 08:52 PM

Cass, if you were here right now, I'd kiss ya. I can't agree with your post any more than I already do.

I have never felt guilty for spanking my children. The key there is that I do not spank in anger. I have a wooden spoon and, while I don't think I could bat clean up for a MLB team, I wield it nicely. But it is located in a place that takes a moment or two to get to. In that time, whatever anger I might have been feeling toward my child and his/her behavior usually disapates and I am able to administer the discipline in a calm manner.

We have an "if/then" chart which lists the 10 most common misbehaviors (and the Biblical reference). There are blank spaces so that the consequence(s) can be written in. I had my kids help me come up with the consequences when we first made the chart.

They were harsher than I would have been! They wanted spankings for everything!

But in our house, there are only 2 things that will get you a swat - lying and defiance. And rarely do my kids get spanked. Part of it is that we are blessed with well-behaved children. But another part of it is that we EXPECT them to be well-behaved. We have from the beginning. And we always will. We are (for the most part) consistent. We don't have many rules but the rules we have don't change and neither do the consequences of breaking said rules.

AFW mentions the "stink eye"...funny story here. A few years ago (after my daughter was born) we had gone to visit my parents. Lucy was asleep and I went downstairs to hang out for a bit before bed. As I came down the stairs, my mom shot me "the look". I stopped in my tracks and panicked. What had I DONE??? What was I in trouble for? I asked her, "What did I do?". She laughed and said that she was just concentrating on something and hadn't expected anyone to come downstairs. "The look" was for nothing. But it stopped me - at the age of thirtysomething - IN.MY.TRACKS.

And, like Pescador's children, I once threatened to call the cops on my mother as she prepared to spank me for something I had done. She picked up the phone and started dialing (this was before the advent of 911). That ended THAT idea quickly.

Posted by: HomefrontSix at October 24, 2009 04:17 AM

Reading this - at least the comments - made me snicker. With a Dad whose mentor was Curt LeMay, discipline was strongly reinforced in his house - at least with the boys.

It is a sad commentary that the decline of corporal punishment/discipline has contributed to our arrival at the point we are at. Maybe a few more swats on the backside and a little less postive reinforcement of merely expected behavior would have kept us on track.

Now you have mediocre leaders setting feel-good policies and attempting to dumb down standards and normalize deviancy. Its why I sub taught for less than a month. One kid in the hall up against the wall was all it took to see I was not a teacher of the young skull full of mush!

Posted by: Kbob in Katy at October 24, 2009 10:28 AM

That's one reason I stick to elementary school only, kbob... while that stuff isn't non-existent, there tends to be less of it, at least at certain schools...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at October 24, 2009 11:50 AM

"Mr. Tuttle -- this young gentleman says you assaulted him in the hall. Before the police arrive, what do you have to say for yourself?"

"Taking away the switchblade he tried to stick me with is *assault*?"

"Uhhhhhhhhh..."

Posted by: BillT at October 24, 2009 01:45 PM

And that, in a nutshell, is what's wrong with our schools and our society.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 24, 2009 01:49 PM

The *zero tolerance* policies, IMHO, are a major problem -- don't even have to say "in a nutshell" cause it's obvious the people implementing them are just plain N-V-T-S. When the *adults* in schools refuse to (or simply cannot) use common sense, it becomes a difficult subject for them to teach.

Posted by: DL Sly at October 24, 2009 03:06 PM

Well, I can't complain too loudly about our local school. The boy is hell on wheels. I don't understand it, myself; when he's around me he says "Yes sir!" to everything, and jumps to orders.

Somehow, other people don't have the same effect on him. And if another child on the playground should decide he looks like someone it'd be fun to push around, ah, well, there's another call from the principal...

Posted by: Grim at October 24, 2009 08:16 PM

Grim, you have my heartfelt empathy. Your boy sounds just like my nephews -- all of them, at *that* age.
Gotta love 'em!
0>;~}

Posted by: DL Sly at October 25, 2009 11:53 AM

"Sister Mary Bag O'Metaphors Explains it All for You, or 'How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Corporal Punishment': a Paean to Expiation of Grown-Up Anger and Guilt with the Use of Physical Violence by Adults on Children".

What else could it be, when the parent pays so little attention to the 3-1/2 year old child that the child runs into the street into the path of an on-coming car? Three-1/2 year old children are not old, or experienced, or thinking enough to be left unattended in proximity to the street, and the parent who does not notice that the curious, energetic child is edging toward the street SHOULD feel guilty for the neglect, AND angry at himself for it. Hitting the child burns off parental steam, and may be interpreted by the child to have something to do with the street, but what's really going on is the parent lashing out at the child whom the parent has, however briefly and for whatever "good" reason, failed to monitor.

Posted by: I Call BS at October 25, 2009 04:44 PM

Try not to be an ass, ICBS. The parent who has never inadvertently let their active child stray a bit too far or taken their eye off him or her for one second doesn't exist.

I wasn't angry at him, so your case kind of falls apart, doesn't it?

Posted by: Cassandra at October 25, 2009 04:55 PM

Nope, IMHO. I totally recognize that we parents (especially the moms, to whom we dads leave a lot of the child-care responsibilities) get busy, distracted, have too much on our plates, become exhausted, etc., and that kids are errant angels from the nano-second that they can self-propel. We're justifiably relieved when we save our kid from death-by-speeding-car, from first degree burns, and worse, and we justifiably, WISELY, lovingly, undertake to teach them of the countless dangers surrounding us all the time. Sure, we can hit the kid when he defies us or disobeys us, but most of the time in the "real world" the punishment we receive for disobedience, law-breaking, failing to do our homework, not planning ahead, etc., is about loss of opportunity or freedom and not about physical punishment (unless we're so stupid as to end up incarcerated at government expense and have the misfortune to become somebody's "b!t©h". IMHO, parental corporal punishment is about "showing 'em who's boss" which is an authority thing and not a protection thing. And it sure feels good to take a whack at their ungrateful, unappreciative little behinds, or hands, or heads, or whatever.

Another problem in corporal punishment is that we adults sometimes have self-control issues [not ME and certainly not YOU] and once we take a swing at someone, our adrenaline gets going and [especially if the target of our physicality tries to react in self-defense] we keep on swingin'.

What part of learning to obey or minding our parents or avoiding danger needs to be taught by means of a leather belt or a switch or a hair-brush?

Posted by: I Call BS at October 25, 2009 07:28 PM

... and maybe it's not so much anger at the kid as anger at oneself.

Posted by: I Call BS at October 25, 2009 07:33 PM

You really are ridiculous. My mother spanked me - rarely, and only when I very much deserved it. It did me no harm and much good. I've been close to my parents all my life and if I have any criticism whatsoever of the way I was raised, it would be that if anything, my parents were too indulgent.

It is obvious from reading your comment that you have very little idea what it's like to actually raise a child.

I'm not going to rise to the bait because attempting to explain someone's actions when you don't know them and don't know anything about their actions is so stupid that it doesn't even deserve a rebuttal. A person who makes up his mind without knowledge is not worth discussing anything with. It's obvious your opinions are based on nothing more than you feelings and I'm not interesting in discussing your feelings about spanking :p

Posted by: Cassandra at October 25, 2009 07:50 PM

"Y'all would not like what all this inspires me to say ... so I won't say it."

Posted by: I Call BS at October 23, 2009 08:52 PM

Abe Lincoln had saying:
"It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt."

Posted by: DL Sly at October 25, 2009 08:10 PM

Hey - I thought the part about it feeling so good to smack your child was actually quite amusing.

It was that, more than anything else, that told me ICBS was blowing smoke out his a**. Anyone who finds spanking pleasant is doing it wrong. Or for the wrong reasons.

But hey, in the land of broad brushes the one eyed man with only one paint color is king :)

Posted by: Cassandra at October 25, 2009 08:16 PM

Hmm. I think IBCS needs an ICBM up his S.

Posted by: Gregory at October 25, 2009 10:10 PM

Though it may be of no interest to anyone here, I have (with their mother) raised two sons, one in college at a top-tier university and the second college-bound, both of whom are Eagle Scouts and good citizens. I think that permits me to say that I have (more than merely) some idea what I'm talking about. I do not embrace the love of corporal punishment that some here apparently do, and apparently that makes me an @$$ around here.

Posted by: I Call BS at October 25, 2009 10:51 PM

No, where you got into trouble was when you took it beyond mere disagreement and started psychoanalyzing people.

You have no idea why people who don't have a problem with spanking think what they do. I know for a fact that my Mom hated having to spank me the few times she did. And I know that I didn't like spanking my kids and didn't spank in anger.

If you want to debate the merits of something try sticking to the merits of your position rather than running down the other guy's position. You know nothing about the motivation of other people, and pretending you do will get you into trouble every time.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 25, 2009 11:14 PM

I know some things about why people who don't have a problem with spanking think what they do, and I know some things about the motivation of other people. Your piece told me something about your thoughts on the subject.

Even though our own parents used corporal punishment, that's not the way we did it around here, and our kids are (quite a bit more than) just fine - they are making good, thoughtful choices on their own; they are using their talents and accomplishments with care and with a sense of their place in the community; they are respectful of their parents, their grandparents, aunts and uncles, and other people.

I'm not running down the other guy's position; I'm stating my own, based on my family's experience. Corporal punishment is not necessary, and I see it as the lazy way out that can do more harm than it does good.

Obviously, we disagree on this.

Posted by: I Call BS at October 25, 2009 11:39 PM

Yep :)

I don't think it's "necessary", or at least not for all kids. One of my sons didn't require it. His personality was such that other methods worked. But having raised two boys and watched countless others full time, I think you do what works for your child.

However, we are not going to agree on this and there's no real reason you have to agree with me.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 25, 2009 11:44 PM

Somehow, other people don't have the same effect on him.

My brother had a similar effect upon his daughter. Once the girl was out of line on something, and he yelled an instruction to stop it, and she did. Her mother, being in the room asked the girl, "Why is it that when I yell, you don't obey me like you do your father?" (or words to that effect). Her response? "When dad yells, he MEANS it."

Posted by: MikeD at October 26, 2009 10:49 AM

"I do not embrace the love of corporal punishment that some here apparently do, and apparently that makes me an @$$ around here."

No, statements like this: "I know some things about why people who don't have a problem with spanking think what they do,..." are what you an a$$ around here. You have no fucking clue what I think, why or the experiences that led to my beliefs. Your belief that you are omniscient on this subject, however, is definately telling on your part. But then, I already believed you were a troll, anyway.

Posted by: DL Sly at October 26, 2009 11:36 AM

I know some things about why people who don't have a problem with spanking think what they do, and I know some things about the motivation of other people. Your piece told me something about your thoughts on the subject.

Yes, and I know some things about why people who do have a problem with spanking think what they do, and I know some things about the motivation of other people. Your comment tells me something about your thoughts on the subject and you would not like what they reveal.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at October 26, 2009 12:16 PM

" ... and you would not like what they reveal."

Do tell ...

Posted by: I Call BS at October 26, 2009 01:28 PM

Narcisism: That the sheer weight of your awsome personality is enough to gain compliance.

Omnipotence: That you believe you can be everywhere, forsee every eventuality and contrive to prevent any negative situation because nothing is outside of your control.

Which combined is rather ironic given...

Fear of authority: To the point, even, fearing to *be* that authority. Authority and protection are not mutually exclusive concepts. Sometimes protection demands that one (especially for those, like children, who lack the capacity for reason) is obedient to an authority, often immediately and without question because #1 & #2 simply aren't true.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at October 26, 2009 02:22 PM

"I'm so vain; I prob'ly think this blog is about me; I'm so vain ..."

http://www.phoenixchildrens.com/PDFs/principles_and_practices-of_effective_discipline.pdf

Posted by: I Call BS at October 26, 2009 02:44 PM

"Although parents clearly hope to promote children’s future compliance with
whichever discipline technique they choose, exactly how corporal punishment
should foster children’s long-term compliance or moral internalization is unclear
from psychological theory and research. At its most basic, the association of a
negative stimulus with a behavior should make the behavior less likely in the
future. Yet this type of obedience is not thought of as internalized because it likely
only occurs if the child perceives the threat of punishment to be high (e.g., the
parent is nearby and likely to administer punishment). The primary goal of any
socialization should be to promote children’s internalization of the reasons for
behaving appropriately rather than to behave solely to avoid punishment (Hoffman,
1983; Lepper, 1983). The research to date indicates that physical punishment
does not promote long-term, internalized compliance. In contrast to the findings
on immediate compliance, the findings regarding corporal punishment as a predictor
of moral internalization are more consistent, with 85% of the studies
included in the Gershoff (2002) meta-analysis reporting corporal punishment to
be associated with less moral internalization and long-term compliance. Similarly,
the more children receive physical punishment, the less likely they are to express
empathy for others (Lopez, Bonenberger, & Schneider, 2001)."

http://www.nospank.net/Gershoff%20%20Bitensky%20on%20Corporal%20Punishment%20%282007%29.pdf

Posted by: I Call BS at October 26, 2009 02:51 PM

"Spanking Kids Increases Risk of Sexual Problems as Adults, New Research Shows"

[...]

"DURHAM, N.H. -– Children who are spanked or victims of other corporal punishment are more likely to have sexual problems as a teen or adult, according to new research presented today by Murray Straus, co-director of the Family Research Laboratory at the University of New Hampshire."

[...]

"Straus analyzed the results of four studies and found that spanking and other corporal punishment by parents is associated with an increased probability of three sexual problems as a teen or adult:

* Verbally and physically coercing a dating partner to have sex.
* Risky sex such as premarital sex without a condom.
* Masochistic sex such as being aroused by being spanked when having sex. "

[...]

"Straus found that students who had experienced corporal punishment had engaged in more risky sexual behavior than students who had not been spanked. From this study, Straus concludes that corporal punishment weakens the bond between the child and the parents. He believes that this alienation from parents may make teenagers less likely to avoid sex and less likely to follow safe sex practices."

"The core idea of this study is that being spanked by loving parents confuses love with violence, which increases the probability that violence will be part of making love,” Straus says.

"What is new about this study is a scientific test of the idea that being spanked as a child inclines people to want to be spanked when having sex, and that this is especially likely to be true when there is a combination of lots of spanking and lots of love," Straus says.

http://www.nospank.net/straus14.htm

But let's not let facts get in the way of doing what we've learned and what we want to do.

"I'm so vain; I prob'ly think this blog is about me; I'm so vain ..."

Posted by: I Call BS at October 26, 2009 03:02 PM

Oh for Pete's sake.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 26, 2009 03:07 PM

Chalk it up to my narcissistic omnipotent fear of authority.

Posted by: I Call BS at October 26, 2009 03:42 PM

"Straus found that students who had experienced corporal punishment had engaged in more risky sexual behavior than students who had not been spanked. From this study, Straus concludes that corporal punishment weakens the bond between the child and the parents. He believes that this alienation from parents may make teenagers less likely to avoid sex and less likely to follow safe sex practices."

And Alfred Kinsey's research revealed that 47% of American males were homosexual.

Of course, Kinsey didn't air the fact that his subjects were almost exclusively prisoners and prostitutes, of both sexes. I've seen too many examples of "researchers" who form hypotheses and then recruit "subjects" who are almost guaranteed to confirm those hypotheses.

Strauss, meanwhile, determined that "IQs of children aged 2 to 4 who were not spanked were 5 points higher 4 years later than the IQs of those who were spanked."

http://www.timeswellness.com/index.aspx?page=article§id=11&contentid=2009100320091001151350484a088ff4e

You show me someone who claims he can accurately measure the IQ of a two-year-old and I'll show you someone with an agenda.

Posted by: BillT at October 26, 2009 04:02 PM

"Straus analyzed the results of four studies and found that spanking and other corporal punishment by parents is associated with an increased probability of three sexual problems as a teen or adult:"

Sounds to me that Dr. Straus was engaging in wishful thinking.

Posted by: MikeD at October 26, 2009 04:15 PM

//And Alfred Kinsey's research revealed that 47% of American males were homosexual.//

//Of course, Kinsey didn't air the fact that his subjects were almost exclusively prisoners and prostitutes, of both sexes. I've seen too many examples of "researchers" who form hypotheses and then recruit "subjects" who are almost guaranteed to confirm those hypotheses.//

A straw man is a fallacy in which an irrelevant topic is presented in order to divert attention from the original issue. The basic idea is to "win" an argument by leading attention away from the argument and to another topic.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Straw_man

Posted by: I Call BS at October 26, 2009 04:39 PM

//"Straus analyzed the results of four studies and found that spanking and other corporal punishment by parents is associated with an increased probability of three sexual problems as a teen or adult:"//

//Sounds to me that Dr. Straus was engaging in wishful thinking.//

An ad hominem argument, also known as argumentum ad hominem (Latin: "argument to the person" or "argument against the person") is an argument which links the validity of a premise to a characteristic or belief of a person advocating the premise. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_hominem

"Ad hominem abusive" (also called argumentum ad personam [by whom?]) usually involves insulting or belittling one's opponent, but can also involve pointing out factual but ostensible character flaws or actions which are irrelevant to the opponent's argument. This tactic is logically fallacious because insults and even true negative facts about the opponent's personal character have nothing to do with the logical merits of the opponent's arguments or assertions.

This tactic is frequently employed as a propaganda tool among politicians who are attempting to influence the voter base in their favor through an appeal to emotion rather than by logical means, especially when their own position is logically weaker than their opponent's.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_hominem

Posted by: I Call BS at October 26, 2009 04:43 PM

Wow, finally we get facts instead of psychobabble! I guess you didn't like it much when you were being psychoanalyzed either.

Which was pretty much the point.


exactly how corporal punishment
should foster children’s long-term compliance

See, there's your problem. This isn't about forming long-term compliance so your study is looking for the incorrect effects.

The primary goal of any
socialization should be to promote children’s internalization of the reasons for
behaving appropriately

And yet another problem: The entire premise is off. You can not reason with a 3 year old. They lack the requisite abstract conceptualization ability. They can barely grasp "If A then B", "If A then B, if B then C, therefore if A then C" is a bridge way too far. That is something that comes later (like an internal locus of control). So while you are teaching reasoning, substituting "If A then D" in an external locus of control will have to do in the short term. If you are still spanking your 16 year old, you are doing it wrong.

So you have studies which are looking for the wrong effects at the wrong time because it's working from the wrong premise.

I won't go as far as Bill to say that these errors are from agenda bias, but it will mean that the conclusions are incorrect.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at October 26, 2009 04:46 PM

And I find it rather ironic for you to be now complaining about ad hominem arguments since that's exactly what you yourself opened up with by your psychoanalyzation bit.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at October 26, 2009 04:49 PM

Oh, I see... you thought I was constructing an argument. Heh, I can see your confusion there. Personally, your opinion to me is actually worthless, so I wasn't attempting to engage you in conversation. I was merely amusing myself with one of those things most of us with a sense of humor call "jokes". Look it up some time, you might enjoy the concept. Either way, I really don't care.

Posted by: MikeD at October 26, 2009 04:49 PM

"http://www.nospank.net/"

Hmmm. A website devoted solely to not spanking....
yyyyeeeeaaahh, we're gonna get unbiased, *objective* research and opinions there. That's like going to the whitehouse.gov website expecting to find a full, accurate and exact description of the health care enema bill -- complete with full disclosure about exactly how much it will cost.
Puhleeze.

Posted by: DL Sly at October 26, 2009 04:50 PM

There are more reasonable arguments for not spanking than the frankly silly notion that spanking turns kids into perverts.

In our and our parents' generations, nearly everyone was spanked. So... were the vast majority of folks in society perverts, there?

Survey says... "XXXXX" Arguably if you apply the common definition of "pervert", it's today's generation who are perverse.

Kids are engaging in oral and anal sex at very young ages. I didn't even know what either of those things WERE in grade school.

They're mailing nude photos of themselves to other kids they hardly know.

And yet this generation has been spanked LESS, not more, than the ones before. ICBS is attempting to push off the "correlation = causation" logical fallacy. But correlation doesn't prove causation. There are many famous examples where there was a much stronger correlation and yet it is ridiculous to infer a causal relationship. From wikipedia:

Young children who sleep with the light on are much more likely to develop myopia in later life.

The former is a recent scientific example that resulted from a study at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center. Published in the May 13, 1999 issue of Nature[4], the study received much coverage at the time in the popular press.[5] However, a later study at The Ohio State University did not find a link between infants sleeping with the light on and development of myopia. It did find a strong link between parental myopia and the development of child myopia, also noting that myopic parents were more likely to leave a light on in their children's bedroom.[6][7][8][9] In this case, the cause of both conditions is parental myopia.

Example 3
As ice cream sales increase, the rate of drowning deaths increases sharply.
Therefore, ice cream causes drowning.

The aforementioned example fails to recognize the importance of time in relationship to ice cream sales. Ice cream is sold during the summer months at a much greater rate, and it is during the summer months that people are more likely to engage in activities involving water, such as swimming. The increased drowning deaths are simply caused by more exposure to water based activities, not ice cream.


With a decrease in the number of pirates, there has been an increase in global warming over the same period.
Therefore, global warming is caused by a lack of pirates.

The example above is used satirically by the parody religion Pastafarianism to illustrate the logical fallacy of assuming that correlation equals causation.

Since the 1950s, both the atmospheric CO2 level and crime levels have increased sharply.
Hence, atmospheric CO2 causes crime.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 26, 2009 05:03 PM

Come on Cass, we all know Puritan societies make Las Vegas look like a bunch of pikers.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at October 26, 2009 05:16 PM

"There are more reasonable arguments for not spanking than the frankly silly notion that spanking turns kids into perverts."

I think I've addressed that. And as you already said: "... we are not going to agree on this and there's no real reason you have to agree with me." I was trying to respond to some of your readers.

Posted by: I Call BS at October 26, 2009 06:09 PM

I looked over the study you reference. My sense of it is that the doctors are probably very good people, but that they've missed the point of the thing they were studying.

Spanking and other forms of physical punishment, they say, do little to teach lessons, but seem to be chiefly about reinforcing authority. Authority, though, is the context in which lessons are learned. We are social animals, like horses or wolves; we establish chains of command naturally, and our place in those chains has a tremendous effect on how we learn and from whom. Authority is about credibility, and credibility deeply informs our willingness to learn from a source.

If spanking is not sufficient to teach a moral lesson, nevertheless authority is necessary to teach one. If spanking creates a sense of authority, then, it offers the opportunity to follow up with instruction that might be absent if the parent is otherwise uncomfortable demonstrating clear authority; or if the child is strong-willed.

All this discussion started with the New York Times article on parents who scream at their children, because they don't spank them and aren't sure what else to do. Screaming is much worse than spanking, because it undermines the authority that allows parents to be respected teachers. By losing one's self-control, one calls into question in the child's own mind whether or not one should be considered a legitimate authority.

Why should they obey someone who blows his top and screams? A dispassionate spanking establishes a clear and obvious chain of authority; screaming makes you look like a fool.

Spanking, then, can be a tool that is useful in reinforcing the social order, and offering an enhanced opportunity to train; though obviously it is not sufficient by itself.

The "negative" effects they cite strike me as only negative if you see them that way. For example, if you tell me that a child is more likely to be "aggressive" if he is spanked, it occurs to me that corporate executives and brigade commanders are both likely to be highly aggressive. In a world in which the child has to compete for his bread and the support of his family, aggression can be a great gift if it is properly controlled and channeled. If spanking helps confer the aggression, and the opportunity to train it in salutory directions, it may be a good thing for that reason alone.

Separately, if you have raised two Eagle Scouts, allow me to congratulate you. That is a fine accomplishment, for you and for them alike.

Posted by: Grim at October 26, 2009 10:30 PM

A straw man is a fallacy in which an irrelevant topic is presented in order to divert attention from the original issue.

Thing is, I didn't introduce a straw man.

I introduced an example of why "researchers" -- particularly in areas that aren't hard science -- should not necessarily be taken at their word.

And *that* is a valid argument, because sociology is *not* a science.

Posted by: BillT at October 27, 2009 01:53 AM

With a decrease in the number of pirates, there has been an increase in global warming over the same period.
Therefore, global warming is caused by a lack of pirates.

1998 saw both a leveloff in global temperatures and a slight increase in pirate activity in the Malacca Straits. Since 2001, we've seen both a decrease in temperatures worldwide and an increase in pirate activity in both the Straits and further west, around the Red Sea.

Therefore, either increased pirate activity results in global cooling or the cooler weather causes pirates to become more active in order to stay warm.

Posted by: BillT at October 27, 2009 08:50 AM

//By losing one's self-control, one calls into question in the child's own mind whether or not one should be considered a legitimate authority.//

I agree. Do not forget, however that one can lose control of self while spanking, and there is danger of great harm (far in excess of the import of the lesson meant to be taught) when the recipient of the spanking is small, inarticulate, immature, physically weak.

Little kids are really defenseless, and they look to us to protect them. If we are hurting them physically (as some spankings do and some are meant to do), we are showing them that their protectors aren’t always “protecting” them. Remember, we’re talking about little kids with undeveloped yet incipient understanding and thinking abilities: – they see things very simply, they can’t “see around corners” (as one expression puts it), they can’t see the bigger picture. What they experience is pain inflicted by the person they depend on for everything. The interaction is perceived by them not so much as a demonstration or clarification of “authority” as the aeration of dominance and power. Exertion of authority without justification, reason, motive, is just dominance: unless there is a good reason for it, it is just exertion of power for its own sake.

//A dispassionate spanking establishes a clear and obvious chain of authority; screaming makes you look like a fool.//

Spanking is “passionate”: it is not at all about “reason or logic”.

Someone (sarcastic and disdainful) yesterday suggested that you can’t reason with a 3 ½ year old. That is true, and I’m not suggesting that you can. I’m suggesting that as an alternative to the physical violence of spanking you restrain the 3 ½ year old and simultaneously explain what and why you’re doing it. The kid most likely won’t understand WHAT you are saying (though there is always the possibility you’re dealing with the exceptional kid who is advanced for her/his age), but the kid will see HOW you are saying it and THAT you are saying it. By doing so, you give a good example for how to behave in moments of disagreement – “use your words” is a common instruction we give our kids, right? Hitting doesn’t solve anything unless you are fighting off someone who is hitting you and won’t stop, and then it is THE way to respond.

//The "negative" effects they cite strike me as only negative if you see them that way. For example, if you tell me that a child is more likely to be "aggressive" if he is spanked, it occurs to me that corporate executives and brigade commanders are both likely to be highly aggressive. In a world in which the child has to compete for his bread and the support of his family, aggression can be a great gift if it is properly controlled and channeled. If spanking helps confer the aggression, and the opportunity to train it in SALUTARY directions, it may be a good thing for that reason alone.//

I suggest that there is a difference between “aggression” and “assertiveness”, and that there is a place in life for each. I think what the study means when it says that “a child is more likely to be ‘aggressive’ if he is spanked” is that “a child is more likely to be *physically* ‘aggressive’ if he is spanked”. “Assertiveness” is useful in a world in which the child [and man] has to compete for his bread and the support of his family.

There is a place in life for physical aggression, but it is not on the school playground, or in the corporate setting, or anywhere really, for that matter, other than in self-defense or in defense of others when the one being defended is the subject of another’s physical aggression. I am not familiar with the military setting, but I sincerely doubt that physical violence by brigade commanders is acceptable in the military, other than in the analogous defense context I mention; physical aggression against the enemy is a different story altogether, of course.

//Separately, if you have raised two Eagle Scouts, allow me to congratulate you. That is a fine accomplishment, for you and for them alike.//

Thanks. I am very pleased that they have taken on the challenge and fought with the set-backs they encountered and overcome them to achieve their goals - it is an experience that will serve them well in life, and is already doing so. It has been our great privilege to have the opportunity to support them in this, and (without meaning to become maudlin or sappy) we thank God for giving it to us.

Posted by: I Call BS at October 27, 2009 11:54 AM

//Thing is, I didn't introduce a straw man.//

Kinsey [*], prisoners and prostitutes are straw men. I'm not going to bother with the comments on Kinsey. Sure, studies can be manipulated by unscrupulous researchers and demagogues. I sincerely doubt that the researchers and studies to which I referred have a hidden agenda to turn everybody into pansies - I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt that they are trying to find out how best to raise and treat kids for the benefit of society. Whatever Kinsey did or didn't do is irrelevant to the discussion of spanking.

[* For a diverting entertainment, read T.C. Boyle's book "The Inner Circle": "At heart a moving and compassionate look at sex, marriage,and infidelity, 'The Inner Circle' makes use of Alfred Kinsey's controversial studies on human sexuality - and the fascinating details of Kinsey's life and those of the men who worked for him - to create an irresistible tale about the interaction between our human and animal natures".]

Posted by: I Call BS at October 27, 2009 12:02 PM

ERRATA:

"... not so much as a demonstration or clarification of “authority” as the ASSERTION of dominance and power."

Posted by: I Call BS at October 27, 2009 12:06 PM

Kinsey [*], prisoners and prostitutes are straw men. I'm not going to bother with the comments on Kinsey.

No, it's exactly what I said it was -- a very good example of why you should not take researchers' statements as fact unless they can back them up empirically.

Sure, studies can be manipulated by unscrupulous researchers and demagogues.

Which is exactly what I was referring to. First, you accuse me of raising a straw man, and in your next sentence, you agree with my point. Let's have a little intellectual honesty, okay?

I sincerely doubt that the researchers and studies to which I referred have a hidden agenda to turn everybody into pansies - I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt that they are trying to find out how best to raise and treat kids for the benefit of society.

I didn't claim they were -- you're putting words in my mouth. But you're giving them -- him, actually, since it was Strass' work -- the benefit of the doubt when a simple review of his works reveal his bias. This isn't his first report, and *everything* he's written so far was done to advance his claim that we as a society need to be "kinder and gentler."

Strauss is the Doctor Spock of the New Millennium -- and we've only recognized how much he fouled things up in the past few years.

Someone...that you can’t reason with a 3 ½ year old. That is true, and I’m not suggesting that you can. I’m suggesting that as an alternative to the physical violence of spanking you restrain the 3 ½ year old and simultaneously explain what and why you’re doing it.

So, you're saying that you can't reason with a toddler, but you should explain why you're restraining him. Do you realize how ridiculous that sounds?

The kid most likely won’t understand WHAT you are saying (though there is always the possibility you’re dealing with the exceptional kid who is advanced for her/his age), but the kid will see HOW you are saying it and THAT you are saying it.

So, how does someone who has only experienced life for 3 ½ years *intuit* that what you are saying is a correction unless you have previously demonstrated by your voice tone that it *is* a correction? At that age, a stern talking-to is just another interesting noise.

Posted by: BillT at October 27, 2009 01:52 PM

...not so much as a demonstration or clarification of “authority” as the ASSERTION of dominance and power...

Authority and dominance appear to me to be largely the same thing in the context of the family. "Authority" becomes theoretical in the state; why should I submit to the government? But in the context of blood relations, we're really in our natural context, and we do things in the organic way. The dominance of a pack leader, or an alpha, is the locus of the authority of the family.

But this is... semantics, surely. "Dominance" versus "authority," a capacity for "aggression" versus a capacity for "assertiveness," I suspect we've reached the end of what may be said usefully.

Nevertheless, I would like to close by repeating my compliments to you and your sons on their achievement. I assure you that you may invoke gratitude to God with no fear that I will mock it.

Posted by: Grim at October 27, 2009 11:30 PM

I like to distinguish between "authoritarian" (which is about power and which may be a "neutral" term only to the extent it is not malignant) and "authoritative" (which is about reason - there are rules and there are articulable reasons for them which are more than just "because I said so" and which can withstand examination and challenge).

My concept of family calls for an authoritative leader. IMHO authoritarians are useful in the military and in despotic systems; otherwise I have no use for them.

Authoritarians are usually assertive (too much so); authoritative leaders are assertive as well.

Thanks again for the "props" (as the kids would say) re the Eagles. We're very proud - as some of us like to say in Yiddish: "I'm kvelling" [http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/kvell].

Posted by: I Call BS at October 28, 2009 12:13 AM

IMHO authoritarians are useful in the military...

We call those "martinets" and despise them because they're usually -- useless.

Posted by: BillT at October 28, 2009 12:46 AM

///IMHO authoritarians are useful in the military...///

//We call those "martinets" and despise them because they're usually -- useless.//

I should have said:

/I PRESUME THAT authoritarians are useful in the military.../

Apparently they are not. So much the better.

Posted by: I Call BS at October 28, 2009 02:55 AM

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