The topic of smacking children caused a “visceral response” from some of the participants on Channel Nine’s new reality TV show Parental Guidance last night.
The show, which is hosted by Allison Langdon and parenting expert Justin Coulson, looks at different parenting styles adopted by 10 sets of parents and by the end will decide which style works the best.
Last night’s premiere episode got off to an awkward start amongst the group after ‘strict’ parents Miriam and Andrew admitting they smack their children as a form of discipline.
“We see a smack as one tool in a parenting toolbox and it’s by no means the first tool that comes out of that toolbox,” Miriam said, as many of the other parents shook their heads in the background.
The debate immediately turned, with Donna, who uses the ‘French’ style of parenting saying: “You’re violating someone else’s body”, with her husband Yann agreeing, saying: “It doesn’t sit well with me.”
Donna went on saying: “It is a form of abuse. I’m getting a visceral response to this.”
The spotlight stayed firmly on Miriam and Andrew, who tried to explain their reasoning behind their parenting choice.
“We make sure that we have gone through the other different tools and tried different ways and if there is a situation that has that purpose or defiance and we feel that in that particular situation that that’s the most effective tool, we ask the child to come to us, we don’t chase them around the house, and the smack is delivered on the bottom,” Miriam said.
‘Attachment’ parents Lara and Andrew were also against the smacking, with Lara saying her initial reaction was that she was “mortified”. “Smacking for us is a no,” Andrew said, with Lara adding, “a big fat no”.
Later in the show, ‘strict’ parent Andrew teared up as he explained the smacking, saying: “I think we need to be really careful when disregarding or passing judgement on our parenting style because of one tool that is used in exceptional circumstances, very rarely, to bring correction.”
He continued: “We want to be the best parents that we can be and we want to love our children and see them grow. We all love our kids heaps and you don’t want to do anything as a parent that will give baggage to your kids. It’s hard to try and get it right and so we’re doing our best.”
Dr Coulson explained “the research is really clear, smacking does not serve our children well. It doesn’t help them to grow or develop.
“In fact, just recently there’s been new studies that have come out about how harsh punitive parenting – including smacking – is associated with reduced brain size in children.
“It’s a hard thing to say in a room like this, but it needs to be said. There just isn’t any evidence to support smacking as a useful parenting tool. It’s one that does need to come out of the toolkit.”
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