Written in Ink
Written in Ink
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Spanking and cultural relativism

I'm not someone who necessarily endorses physical punishment— in my own life and family, I'm not a fan. I was physically punished a lot as a kid and I didn't think it was helpful. But I've also had to work with parents from diverse cultural backgrounds around parenting and sometimes what comes up around protective issues is having to talk to parents about changing their parenting style in order to avoid court involvement—ie. eliminate almost all spanking (though it is allowable under very specific circumstances—and usually if it is part of a predictable and easily avoidable consequence).

What's challenging is that we base our ideas about normative parenting and the function of physical discipline on family and cultural norms. When we ask parents to not spank, depending if they are from a culture where it is a more normal mode of discipline, sometimes I found that parents were lost, because the acceptable and accepted mode of discipline was no longer accessible to them (in part because of the demands of the dominant culture).


So I ask you and in consideration of the main page article, what do you think about spanking, especially among people where it is not culturally normative? Do you make allowances? Or should we have more hard and fast rules?

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