12 Absurd Arguments Peaceful Parents Are Sick of Hearing

The parenting landscape is rapidly changing. Peaceful parenting principles are taking root and spreading and that’s a great thing. But there’s still a lot of work to do.

As my daughter gets older, her experiences expand. That means coming into contact with more people and more personalities. My wife and I meet new teachers, coaches, and fellow parents. We’re exposed to what’s considered, “The Mainstream.”

From where I stand, The Mainstream is still quite lost when it comes to leading children. There’s a lot of open-mindedness, which is great, but there’s also a lot of ignorance.

I’ve decided that I’ve had enough of responding to the same tired objections to my parenting approach. I’m not interested in wasting my breath. What I really need is an article that I can send people right before I drop them from my Facebook list and the contacts list on my iPhone.

So, here it is — 12 absurd arguments that I’m tired of hearing. Undoubtedly, I’ve left a few out. Feel free to add them to the comments section. I’ll add the good ones to the article, post hoc.

“Kids are out of control these days because we’re too soft on them. My parents beat respect into me.” 

This is two absurd theories in one. The first is that kids are out of control these days compared to some arbitrary time in the past. The second is that being harsh and aggressive towards kids works to create peaceful citizens.

Every generation seems to believe that they’re uniquely out of control. The media does a great job perpetuating this myth. But where’s the evidence? There isn’t any. There’s also no evidence that hitting people builds respect. 90% of parents admit to hitting their children, so shouldn’t we have a society full of amazingly respectful people? The black community uses corporal punishment to a larger degree than any other culture while their violent crime rate far exceeds all others.

If you truly want to advance society, stop assaulting, coercing, and manipulating children. Growing up in a peaceful environment teaches you the language of peace. Growing up in a violent, aggressive, or coercive household teaches you the language of those tactics.

Editors Note: The growing trend to call me racist for the above statement is getting tiresome. It’s childish, unintellectual, and minimizes what black children experience. The attempts to say that I’m claiming “black people are violent” is also childish and insulting. The argument that “violence in black culture is because of the conditions they live in” is not a counter-argument. I’m not saying that the black community has a higher violent crime rate solely because they spank their kids more…I’m saying that spanking their kids has done nothing to lower their disproportionately high violent crime rate and has likely made it worse. It’s an argument AGAINST SPANKING. It’s an argument against hitting black children, just as the author of “Beating Black Kids” has made (is she racist too?). Lastly, people who authentically care about black children don’t pretend these issues don’t exist. So if you want me to remove these statements, you need to both grow up and find a way to actually care.

“Negotiating with kids is a sign of weakness.” 

Using the word “negotiation” and “parenting” in the same sentence is a no-no in the authoritarian world. The fear is that permitting negotiation gives kids power and “if you give kids an inch, they’ll take a mile.” The reality is that the world operates on the principle of negotiation and negotiating with kids will give them the tools they need to be successful, peaceful adults.

When parents use power and dominance in replace of negotiation, they forfeit the opportunity to teach their kids powerful negotiation skills while sending the message that aggressiveness and coercion are the best tools for getting what you want.

All of the evil in the world comes from power-based, coercive, authoritarian institutions that demand obedience (think religions and government). On the contrary, the marketplace–the driving force of peace and prosperity–is built on a foundation of negotiation and voluntary interaction. But one must be raised with the tools necessary to interact in the marketplace, lest they be drawn to power.

“Kids need to be punished so they associate negative consequences with their behavior. That’s how life works.” 

This is an either-or fallacy. Either kids are punished and learn about consequences or they aren’t punished and never learn about them. It begs the question, what is our goal as parents? Is our goal to raise empathetic kids who want to do the right thing or is our goal to raise kids who are obedient to rules to avoid negative consequences?

Well over 95% of households use punishments to teach consequences and we still have the largest prison population in the world, people still get speeding tickets, and lots of people get fired from jobs. Where is the evidence for the efficacy of teaching about consequences?

Besides, you can learn about things without experiencing them. I don’t need to run my child over with a car to teach them about the dangers of moving automobiles. If you raise an empathetic and virtuous child, they’ll naturally avoid situations that have negative consequences.

“My parents hit me and I turned out just fine. In fact, I’m glad they spanked me.”

This is probably the most popular default response. It comes from a place of defense. Defense for one’s parents, defense for one’s own past behavior, and emotional defense against the trauma itself.

The statement, “I turned out fine” is empty rhetoric. Most people who say it aren’t qualified or self-aware enough to make a quality determination of their psychological health. In many cases, they’re clearly not fine: they drink excessively, they have relationship problems, they struggle with self-esteem issues, and so on.

“FINE,” on the other hand, fits them perfectly. They’re Fucked Up, Insecure, Neurotic, and Emotional. The fact that they advocate for repeatedly hitting a small defenseless child whose brain is undeveloped is proof that they’re FINE and not fine.

“Spanking is not the same as hitting.”

When undesirable behaviors have a PR problem, they’re immediately labeled as something less toxic and reframed in a positive light. Hitting is wrong, but spanking is discipline. Killing a baby is a tragedy, but aborting a fetus is not such a big deal. Politicians don’t spend money we don’t have, they invest in infrastructure. It’s classic marketing. And our kids—the one’s suffering the abuse—deserve better.

If I can’t legally spank my spouse, my employees, or my demented mother for wetting the bed for the third night in a row, then I shouldn’t be able to legally spank my defenseless children. You can use whatever PR term you want. If it’s not a universal principle, it’s a steaming pile of bullshit.

Editor’s Note: I refuse to use minimizing language because I refuse to minimize the truth that many experience. No, I will not use politically correct terms. I’ve never met a mother whose unborn baby died due to an auto accident or other injury say, “well, my fetus was simply aborted that day.” They say, “my baby died.” Abortion is the killing of a baby and using minimizing language to avoid that truth is a gross injustice. It’s marketing. It’s marketing to make people feel better so they don’t have to THINK about what’s going on. I will not participate in that.

“Sometimes, spanking is just flat out necessary.”

People who lack tools always declare the default route as necessary. If you’re stuck in traffic on a freeway in a city you’ve never been to, there are no other options but to sit in the traffic. You might even tell your anxiety-ridden spouse, “this is the only way.”

If you’ve lived in the city your entire life, you might know of five alternative routes you can take to escape the traffic. You choose an alternate path and enjoy the time saved.

People who were spanked as children have learned a certain dialect of discipline. Just like a language, or the city they grew up in, it’s familiar. It becomes the default. It crowds out insight into other tools. They insist it’s necessary ONLY because they’re not privy to alternatives.

“Spanking is necessary” is a declaration of naivety and unpreparedness. Parents who fall into this trap are also the first to use the excuse, “I’m doing the best I can!” If empty excuses advanced one’s parenting skills, we’d all be experts by now. It’s time for parents to start owning their behavior and choosing action over distraction.

“You don’t know my kids. How can you possibly know what they need?”

I don’t know your demented mother who urinates the bed every night, but I know that she doesn’t deserve to be hit for it. I don’t know your spouse, but I know that locking her in her room for burning your dinner is emotional abuse. I don’t know your employees, but I know that raging at them in a company meeting is unacceptable. I know that teaching your children that hitting is wrong when you hit them multiple times per week is hypocritical.

I can know a lot of things without knowing anything about you or your children. This is nothing more than a straw man argument that allows you to avoid objectively looking at your own behavior.

“You might have time to baby your kids, but I don’t. I just need them to be obedient.”

If you have time to scream at your children for 15 minutes, you have time to warmly set limits and validate. If you have time to spank your children and levy punishments, you have time to hug them and connect with them and teach them why their behavior is undesirable. If you have time to monitor a time-out station and repeatedly put them back in a naughty chair or a corner, you have plenty of time to work out the problem peacefully.

The real deficiency isn’t with time, it’s with tools. Lastly, obedience isn’t a virtue, it’s morally reprehensible. The Stanford Prison Experiment or the Milgram Experiment clearly demonstrate the evil of obedience. Requiring obedience from your children is requiring them to forfeit their humanity.

“Kids need to hear the word ‘no’ so they don’t turn into spoiled brats.” 

You are right that kids need to learn boundaries, limits, and self-regulation. But they learn that through teaching and modeling, not by hearing an arbitrary word. If you abuse the word “no,” you can easily teach a child that they have no autonomy, that their needs and wants aren’t relevant, and that their opinions aren’t important (by refusing to negotiate). That encourages defiance, which you perceive as the behavior of a spoiled brat. Then, you double down on your tactics. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.

There are many peaceful parents who don’t set limits and boundaries, to the detriment of their children. There are also abusive parents who fail to do the same, choosing instead to completely blow their lid when the final straw breaks the back of their patience. The issue doesn’t have anything to do with authentic peaceful parenting, it has to do with limits and boundaries.

“You want to be friends with your kids. My kids don’t need me to be a friend, they need me to be a parent.”

Being “friends with your kids” is what all parents should aim to be. The phrase, however, has been hijacked to mean, “you don’t set limits or have boundaries.” Kids should be respected the way you respect your friends—and you should have limits and boundaries with your friends the same way you have limits and boundaries with your kids.

If you wouldn’t rage at your friends, don’t rage at your kids. If you would show patience and grace with your friends, then show patience and grace with your kids. If you wouldn’t hit your friends, then don’t hit your kids. If you can teach your friend something without resorting to those tactics, then you can teach your kids without them as well.

A child’s future behavior is determined by how they’re treated. Their status as a “child” isn’t an argument for the efficacy of aggressive behavior toward them, it’s an excuse. You can get away with assaulting them because they’re defenseless. To you, that’s an opportunity. Assault your friend and see what happens. What you really are, is a coward.

“Kids are not adults. They don’t deserve respect.”

You’re half right. The first statement is true. The second is patently false. Adults are notorious for treating children as second class citizens because it’s convenient to do so. It’s easier to own an obedient robot who you’re free to abuse and manipulate than it is to peacefully raise a virtuous, free-thinking, autonomous child.

Here’s a wake up call: your child is not your property. We used to say that women and blacks were our property and we’ve managed to evolve beyond that. Behaving as if children are your property is a declaration that you’re still stuck in the dark ages of humanity. Your child’s relationship with you should be seen as voluntary, just as your spouse’s relationship with you is voluntary. If you can’t earn an authentic relationship with them, you don’t deserve to have one.

Your child didn’t choose you and they can’t escape. Sick people see that as a green light for hypocritical behavior. Virtuous people see it as a mandate to treat them with the utmost respect.

“I’m a good parent. You need to stop judging me!”

One of the biggest movements right now is the mom-as-victim movement. Posting research that shows spanking damages a child’s brain elicits a victimhood response from moms all over the internet. “Yep, more judgements about how I’m the worst mom in the world! We already have enough anxiety, all you want to do is make us feel bad and shame us!”

Playing the victim card is not helpful. In fact, since the safety and psychological wellbeing of voiceless children is at stake, I’d say it’s quite selfish and destructive.

Children deserve to have a voice, regardless of how you claim it makes you feel. If you volunteer to be a mother or father, then you volunteer for scrutiny if you choose to behave in a hypocritical and destructive manner.

I wouldn’t stand for your husband hitting you, so I won’t stand for you hitting your daughter or your son. It’s not about judgement, it’s about reason.

As far as guilt is concerned, just because you feel guilt doesn’t mean I’m shaming you. The guilt you feel is a sign that you have a conscience—listen to that conscience, leverage it, and do the right thing.

Final Thoughts

I do take issue with the term Peaceful Parenting. Permissiveness is peaceful, but it’s not effective or authentic. Peaceful parents do need to be held accountable. If you’re parenting permissively, you’ve still got a lot of work to do.

The bigger issue, though, is people confusing permissive parenting with authentic, peaceful parenting and using that as an excuse to continue their authoritarian ways. Sometimes it’s legitimate confusion and sometimes it’s a defense mechanism. Either way, it’s important that we continue to distinguish authentic parenting principles from inauthentic ones.

While this article might sound like a harsh attack on authoritarian parents, it’s not. It’s a harsh attack on people who are unwilling to consider their behavior as destructive and who appear unwilling to afford children a voice.

If you come to this community with an open mind, I don’t care what you’ve done in the past. You’re welcome here. None of us are perfect. The only people who aren’t welcome are those who want nothing more than to protect the status quo.

168 comments
  • Adriana

    I am or try my best to be a peaceful parent and agree that the arguments above are absurd. However, I think your statement “The black community uses corporal punishment to a larger degree than any other culture while their violent crime rate far exceeds all others.” is ignorant and frankly racist.

      • Adriana

        Well, THAT was a productive response! Why not substantiate your facts? In the very brief research I did, the percentages were not overwhelming. 8 out of 10 blacks were in favor of cp while 7 out of 10 whites were in favor of cp. Even if the stats were overwhelming, why bring it up? It is just divisive and not productive at all.

        • Kevin Geary

          If you want a productive response, you should first offer one. I do not tolerate ad hominem attacks, such as the suggestion that I’m racist.

          The black community suffers from a culture of violence. Blacks are seven times more likely than people of other races to commit murder, and eight times more likely to commit robbery (per capita). ( http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2011/crime-in-the-u.s.-2011/offenses-known-to-law-enforcement/expanded/expanded-homicide-data )

          The cause of violent crime is multi-factoral. You can’t compare the spanking rate of blacks to whites and suggest that it’s proof spanking isn’t the problem because whites spank almost as much as blacks (though spanking isn’t the only form of corporal punishment).

          Here’s why that’s not a valid argument: I wasn’t arguing that spanking is the *sole cause* of violent crime; the argument very clearly states that spanking doesn’t produce more self-control and “good behavior,” which is evident when you see that the black community has the highest rate of corporal punishment AND the highest crime rate.

          Why bring it up? Because it’s a valid argument based on objective truth. Whether facts are divisive or not is not my concern. I don’t hide the truth because someone’s feelings might be hurt — other people’s feelings aren’t my responsibility.

          • HaNnah

            I just think the term ‘blacks’ makes it sound worse then the message you are trying to portray is, perhaps if you said African American community it would read better

          • Kevin Geary

            Using the term African-American would be a lie. You’re not African-American unless you’re actually from Africa. I refuse to water down the truth with PC nonsense. I expect the grown adults of the world to act as such. Plus, when you research corporal punishment, you find that it’s not widely used in Africa. However, it’s widely use in BLACK culture in AMERICA.

          • Alexis

            If you want to discuss issues with critical thinking, rather than blind emotion, I suggest you keep track of your own arguments. You have a good understanding of the rhetoric used in critical thinking, but you are using that knowledge only for your benefit.

            “The black community uses corporal punishment to a larger degree than any other culture while their violent crime rate far exceeds all others.” This is a correlation versus causation fallacy. Your statement, in the context for which you used it to make a point, implies that you believe there is causation. (ie. it implies that you believe the use of corporal punishment is a direct cause of increased violent crime) whereas it is more likely that there is simply a correlation in the data.

            Correlation versus causation is important to understand, because when we speak about issue with intention of proving a point, we tend to incorrectly frame our argument to make it appear as though there is causation.

            Additionally, you twisted your facts. The statistics you later linked (“Of the offenders for whom race was known, 52.4 percent were black, 45.2 percent were white”) definitely do not demonstrate that violent crime “far exceeds”.

            There are many causes for increased crime rates in African American culture (and I say African American for ease of reference, because you are clearly referring to the United States. Possibly additionally to Western society as a whole? To reference “blacks” as a whole is to reference multiple cultures and societies, with extremely varying data, and you risk becoming far too broad for any statistic to hold up). Poverty, lack of education, lack of healthcare, little government support, a history of oppression and countless other factors weigh heavily on the data.

            A better way to prove your point would be to take race off the table in a strict sense. Instead, research countries with lower crime rates. Do they raise their children differently? Compare the statistics between those countries and America.

            You talk like a scholar, but you fall into the same habits of any one attempting to blindly prove a point – you highlight only what you want people to see. When you want to teach individuals, the best thing you can do is be well-researched and understanding. Come at it from an angle of empathy (as you claim to teach your children) instead of blindly highlighting a race (or culture as you prefer to phrase it) without recognizing how many-layered the issue is.

            I don’t claim to know your intentions, but I can tell you how they come off. You are eager to throw in phrases like “ad hominem” and “strawman” without carefully warding your own arguments against the same fallacies.

            You did not directly state that corporeal punishment in the black community was the cause of increased crime but you heavily implied it.

            I suggest not throwing around the rhetoric of logical fallacies as a shield. I think you have a great intention, but when you throw around big words just for the sake of not having to discuss something with someone, you essentially throw their ideas out because they may not understand the rhetoric even though they would understand the concept. Don’t just tell me something is (ex. that was a strawman arguement) tell me why.

            Most people here are very gently telling you what they think, and you are insulting their intelligence by blatantly ignoring their concerned, thoughtful comments for the sake of winning your argument.

            People who truly want to teach others also want to learn and improve themselves. Scholarly articles, for example, are peer reviewed because scholars understand their ability to fail and make mistakes. It is not wrong or weak to admit that you may need to edit the phrasing, but instead you are digging yourself deeper into a minute argument. Instead of just saying “thank you, I clearly didn’t properly get my point across and I should consider rewording” you essentially ignore the many people who are finding the same issue.

            A lot of people here take issue with this (and yes, I recognize that this could very well be an ad populum argument) and that means maybe you should step back, and attempt to look at it without the emotional attachment you clearly have for this issue. While the popular opinion isn’t always the right opinion, it would be ridiculous to also discount it without taking a closer look. This is an issue most people have with phrasing, and I think you’re being unnecessarily defensive when all it would take is a bit more sensitivity.

            You talk about allowing your children to negotiate with you, and not simply shutting them down, but many of the people responding to your article are doing so with empathy, and understanding just as you seem to want your kids to do. Commenters here are actually demonstrating the qualities you implied that you wanted for your children, but you are responding to them more like an authoritative parent – sure, you’ll give them an explanation, but you won’t accept or consider their’s.

            Its a bit trite to say “practice what you preach” but I think you might do well to consider how you approach this dialogue if your goal is to welcome everyone and teach a better parenting style.

          • Kevin Geary

            “This is a correlation versus causation fallacy.”

            No, no it isn’t. You must look at the CONTEXT of the argument. The argument was made to specifically say: “If corporal punishment helps to control a population, why does the group who uses it the most also have the highest violent crime rate per capita?”

            THAT is the argument. Do not twist it. Do not misrepresent it.

            “Additionally, you twisted your facts. The statistics you later linked (“Of the offenders for whom race was known, 52.4 percent were black, 45.2 percent were white”) definitely do not demonstrate that violent crime “far exceeds.”

            Please go look up what “per capita” means. I twisted precisely ZERO facts.

            “I don’t claim to know your intentions, but I can tell you how they come off. You are eager to throw in phrases like “ad hominem” and “strawman” without carefully warding your own arguments against the same fallacies.”

            You have precisely ZERO evidence of me using fallacies.

            “Most people here are very gently telling you what they think…”

            That is precisely ZERO percent of what’s happening. Being called racist is not “gentle.”

            “Commenters here are actually demonstrating the qualities you implied that you wanted for your children, but you are responding to them more like an authoritative parent – sure, you’ll give them an explanation, but you won’t accept or consider their’s.”

            I respond to people directly. I’m sorry that people may take that as “authoritative” or “aggressive.” I’m sitting here perfectly calm. You can’t see that. You can’t hear my tone of voice. Anyone who thinks I’m being aggressive is making that up in their head. Now, if people personally attack me, which dozens have done (who are no longer present), then I will flat out tell them to straighten up and act like adults. Because they aren’t children and their behavior is unacceptable.

            Now, you’re welcome to try again, since you misrepresented my argument.

          • Shona

            You have just disappointed me with your statement, ” other people’s feelings are not my responsibility.” This is something I have tried to live by, and pass on, without the use of abusive behaviour:
            “All men are a piece of the continent, a part of the main, therefore do not send to ask for whom the bell tolls…”
            An interesting, thought provoking argument. I am always puzzled why people cannot get it. In another online “debate” (as a non abuser I am always outnumbered) a woman pregnant with her first child declared that she intended to use corporal punishment upon him/her!

        • Leah

          As adults, are we really arguing over which term is racist or pleasing to the eyes of readers? This was an article on the punishment of kids! In fact, the things listed in the article are correct, and they were not intended to be received as racist or to be putting down a race. It wasn’t stated in anyway that would make it, so the only way for someone to truly get that idea would be if they were looking for it.

      • Jade

        Hi Kevin

        Great article. But I have to agree with Hannah. I was so excited to post this on my wall for all those that advocate spanking to see. But the comment about the black community stopped me. Not that it’s racist, but it casts negative light primarily on the black community. I have a lot of black friends, being South African, and I just know that this would hurt them and make them angry and defensive. It may be a fact, but some facts can be used more discreetly. I don’t think this one was necessary. It just spoiled what was otherwise a great article. I think if you add a reference to where the information was found, it may look a little better.

        • Kevin Geary

          That’s really unfortunate, because “black” is merely a descriptive term for the community being discussed. It has nothing to do with race relations, except whatever personal undertone you give it. That says more about the people who are offended than it does about me. As I’ve already said, I do not use facts discreetly. I use these topics to vet critical thinkers from people who are manipulated by their emotions. As you see, many people are up in arms because of their own preconceived notions and are doing everything possible to misrepresent my argument and paint me as “racist.” (as if that label means anything anymore. Unfortunately, calling someone racist automatically dismisses you from an intellectual argument).

          Half my friends are black. Do you think they’re offended by me and this article? They’re not. Because I choose friends who aren’t blindly emotional and who can objectively look at the truth.

          • Stephanie

            Honestly I’m so sick of everything being about race. You can’t even use the term black anymore when that’s who you’re referring to without being a racist? African American isn’t a better term to use when it doesn’t refer to all black people…..
            If you were a black man this would not be an issue and people would agree that the black community has higher crime rates and black parents are more likely to be authoritarian.

          • mark

            Perhaps you could use the argument “communities in poverty use more corporal punishment and have higher violent crime rates” rather than saying it’s specific racial groups?

      • Pear

        No, facts are not racist, but you’re making a connection that is not factual and being racist in the process of doing so.

        The fact that your response is “I can’t be racist or have said anything racist because I have a black friend” just speaks to your own bias and privilege.

        Next time someone says “hey that was racist” – instead of getting angry, why not take a step back and ask yourself why the person is having that reaction and whether it was necessary for your article.

        • Kevin

          If the connection is not factual, then post your evidence. I’ve already posted mine. And if my facts are wrong, that doesn’t make me racist. When you default to calling someone racist, it doesn’t lend you much credibility.

    • Fiona

      Adriana, sadly, this is researched and is fact. If we openly observe such facts without bias or criticism we can hopefully understand why this happens and find a better way forward.

    • Debora

      I didn’t read the all discussion out this comment. I do agree with Fiona that, even when there are supportive numbers, this part of the article is losing my support.

      I come from the south of Italy. There u see parents hitting their children all the time. The relation between s panking and criminality is an issue also between white communities and I’d like you to target those people as well instead of pointing the finger on a specific group.

      I would have preferred u to use a general ‘cultures where parents spank their children’ instead of pointing the black culture out. Which black culture do u refer to? Where lives those peoples? America, Africa, all the blacks around the world?

      I do love this article and I’d love to share it but not with what is feels to me like a blank statement into it. I hope u understand my reasoning.

      • Kevin Geary

        I come from the south of Italy. There u see parents hitting their children all the time. The relation between s panking and criminality is an issue also between white communities and I’d like you to target those people as well instead of pointing the finger on a specific group.

        Sigh. Please do not misrepresent my argument. Many have done so and it’s getting rather tiring. I *did not* make the argument that spanking is the *cause* of violence in black community. Please go re-read the argument, slowly, with your critical thinking engaged.

        I do love this article and I’d love to share it but not with what is feels to me like a blank statement into it. I hope u understand my reasoning.

        I don’t understand your reasoning. You misunderstood and misrepresented my argument. So no, I don’t understand.

        • Pear

          “Please do not misrepresent my argument. Many have done so and it’s getting rather tiring.”

          Oh wah wah wah.

          So sorry consciousness raising gives you a headache.

    • Andrea

      Like said above this is simply a fact. I can’t believe that from this wonderful article that is what is chosen to stand out to someone. I know that facts can astound but don’t shoot the messenger.

  • Courtney Hall

    Your article is spot on! My husband and I decided to take a peaceful approach years ago, and not to “toot my own horn” but Im constantly told by other parents/teachers how my child is exceptionally “wise beyond her years.” Another response that drives me crazy is when I hear parents say “because Im the parent and I said so.” We’ve told our child on many occasions the word no, but we also explain our reasoning behind the verdict, the sinarios that could happen,and the consequences for other outcomes. It may seem like alot, but she has adopted this way of thinking and im pleased that she thinks for herself and can keep a cool head.

    • Kevin Geary

      Thanks for your comments Courtney. Yes, the “because I said so” line is a popular one. Many parents admire blind obedience. The problem is that obedience is antithetical to virtue. I feel sorry for children who are expected to be obedient to the whims of whatever authority figure is present 🙁

  • Um Ameenah

    As an African American mother and peaceful parent I find the article for the most part to be thoughtful and helpful. However I do take issue with your statistics about Black violence and will just implore you to research further. Maybe start with Tim Wise he has done great and revealing work on the misrepresentations of statistics to continue the racist propaganda of a more violent race of people. That said my issue with you stating it is if you weren’t offering a solution type response to Black parents why say it at all. It was at best unnecessary.

    • Kevin Geary

      It’s not about race, it’s about culture. There is NOTHING inherently wrong with ANY race. But to refuse to acknowledge that black culture in America has a massive violence problem, relative to their population size, is counter to the truth and does nothing to solve the problem.

  • Sarah

    There is an awful lot of “good” here. Why risk turning your readers away at the beginning just to stick to your “I wasn’t being racist” guns? People may learn something from this. It seems that the majority of the comments are from concerned readers who liked your article but are trying to gently persuade you to change that one piece. It’s not that difficult to come up with another amplify and, “take a different exit” (to use your traffic anology). Please don’t let pride spoil the message for those who could learn from the article.

    • Kevin Geary

      I say purposefully controversial things (but always factually accurate) to vet people who are unwilling to separate blind emotion from critical thinking.

      You’re right that it’s not that difficult to come up with an alternative way to make the point. But that would be kowtowing to people’s emotions. Anyone who deeply cares about the wellbeing of the black community should be first in line to address the factual issue of disproportionate violence and the connection to the cultural acceptance of harsh, corporal punishment.

      Why should the needs of black children be sacrificed just so emotional adults won’t get their feelings hurt? Have you considered that?

  • gwen b

    I enjoyed this, but I’m wondering what you recommend instead of spankings and time-out? For example, if a child is screaming in a store because his/her parent said “no” to a toy, what do you think the parent should do? Or in any situation where the child is doing something unacceptable or potentially dangerous, what do you think the parent should do instead?

    • Kevin Geary

      Hi Gwen,

      Great questions. The first thing I think it’s important for parents to do is to change their philosophy and principles regarding their relationship with their children. I wrote a book on that >> http://rebootedbody.com/without-a-fight/

      As far as tactics are concerned, you posed two completely different scenarios. It’s important to understand that our first job is to meet the physical and emotional needs of our children. The second job is to guide children through the world without sabotaging the first job.

      The screaming and crying over a toy can be handled in many different ways. Most parents get screaming as a response simply because their “no” is cold, harsh and disconnected. Rather, a parent who validates and is warm and offers, “I see you really want that toy. It looks like a ton of fun. But [insert reason why you can’t have toy].”

      Validation and warmth go a long way.

      With regard to safety, it’s possible to set limits with the same validation, warmth, and connection. Children respond well to limits and boundaries when they’re delivered in a connected way. They respond defiantly when their autonomy, humanity, desires, and needs are disrespected.

      I can offer more specific advice if a more specific scenario is offered. Context is everything. It’s not just about what to do “during” a scenario. It’s about what happened before and what will happen after and what has happened in the past.

      • Mandy

        You said instead of saying, “No!” to be gentle and explain why they can’t have the toy. This is a great solution, depending on age. If a 1 year old is throwing a fit because you won’t let them get a toy ball, what do you do in that case?

        I don’t personally hit my child, and do a gentle “no-no” when I don’t want her doing something harmful, destructive, etc. However, she throws major fits sometimes and I never know how to handle them because she is too young to understand an explanation. I don’t like to punish her, but I don’t like how bratty she is getting. It is just getting worse the older she gets (she’s 18 months old). What is the best method for this?

        • Kevin Geary

          Hi Mandy,

          It’s a great solution regardless of age, you just make tweaks accordingly. You can still explain to a one year old, you just use less words.

          If she has a big emotional response, you can simply choose to hold her and hug her and continue to validate her. “I hear that you’re very upset. You really wanted to go in the road and I told you no and picked you up. That’s frustrating.”

          Her behavior is not bratty in any way, shape, or form. Her brain doesn’t have the capacity to respond any differently. An emotional outburst is literally the ONLY way she can communicate her intense frustration. That’s a fact parents *must* empathize with.

          It’s not going to get worse as she gets older unless you start punishing her, yelling at her, *assuming* she’s being bratty (labeling), etc. If you validate, continue to empathize, connect, provide loving guidance, she will grow into a child who does the same and communicates back to you in a thoughtful way.

          I hope that helps.

          • Kristin

            “If you validate, continue to empathize, connect, provide loving guidance, she will grow into a child who does the same and communicates back to you in a thoughtful way.”

            I have no kids (yet), so forgive me if I appear naive. But just wanted to confirm my interpretation that 1-year-olds are able to understand and receive validation and empathy that a parent may be sending without the 1-year-old being able to verbally communicate? Do they indeed respond to these actions in a positive, non-tantrum way, and understand these positive words, even though they cannot yet speak?

            Thank you.

          • Kevin Geary

            Hi Kristin,

            1 year olds are distinctly aware of connection. De-validation or lack-of-validation represents a state of disconnection and kids FEEL that.

            Pre-verbal kids, however, are still able to interpret language even though they can’t speak. I read one study that said there’s evidence that children as young as 6 months can interpret a fairly wide vocabulary. So, there’s evidence that more than just the connection is needed to fully validate — the language has to be there as well.

            Do they indeed respond to these actions in a positive, non-tantrum way.

            Just one point of contention here: validation is not designed to stop tantrums or crying. Sometimes it does, but sometimes kids *need* to cry. Rather than hoping the crying starts, validation simply says, “I’m here with you, I care about you, I’m on your side.” Nothing more, nothing less.

            Now, on the flip side, de-validation will do one of two things: greatly escalate the severity of the situation OR teach kids to bury what they’re feeling because those feelings are wrong or unimportant. Not a good message to send.

          • tcl

            Coming to comment from experience with the toy thing. When my son was around fifteen mths that started. He would have little melt downs if he couldn’t have a toy or treat. I consistently would tell him, “I’m so sorry you’re upset. You wanted that truck and I can’t buy it today. Now you’re frustrated. Do you need a hug, or do you want me to leave you alone?” Sometimes, he would his head down on the buggy and cry. I would rub his back and make sure he knew I empathized. By his second birthday, if I wouldn’t buy something he would show disappointment quietly. By maybe saying okay, but then crossing his arms and pouting. Again, I would validate his feelings. Now, he’s almost three. Before we go in the store, he’ll sometimes ask if he can have a new toy. We will discuss budget, why he wants the new toy, and if he has for it. If the answer is still no, he will remind himself while were there, “today we cant get new legos. Were just here for groceries”

        • mzlmp

          We use redirection and steer away from the word “no”. The sooner they hear ” no” the sooner they will use it on you. Talking with them early about feelings as stated can always be a choice regardless of age, as it will become habit for them as well. At a young age redirection with entertaining them by something safer works really well, and when it doesn’t sometimes a cuddle is what is needed.

      • Tammy

        I agree with validating feelings, it helps immensely and helps my children open up and respond to me in a calm manner because I am actually listening to them and empathizing. Great article!

  • Xan

    Wow, Renee is totally right. I can’t say that’s a particularly convincing source for your numbers…

    That said, my major concern is that I think you are DEEPLY oversimplifying the problem of violence and crime in communities of colour. What about the systematic maginalization of black citizens? What about poorly serviced neighbourhoods and sub-par schools? What about the impact of poverty on youth çrime rates?

    Your article seems to blame an already disadvantaged group for their own suffering – “this isn’t ‘our’ fault: maybe if you stopped hitting your kids they’d behave better!” The problem is sooo much deeper than that.

    You seem to have great tools to offer a marganilized community to learn to parent more compassionately and peacefully. I’d love to see you work as an ally instead of creating blame and division.

    • Kevin Geary

      The FBI is not a convincing source? (Your charge is an ad hominem attack, by the way).

      I’m deeply oversimplifying the problem? I think you misunderstand. See, I didn’t make an argument for the *cause* of violent crime in the black community. I made an argument *against* corporal punishment as being effective for “an out of control population.” Those are two FUNDAMENTALLY different things.

      I didn’t blame ANY group for ANYTHING. I’m sorry that you have misunderstood a VERY SIMPLE argument. I’d encourage you to go back and read it again for clarity.

      • Xan

        No , I’m sure the FBI is fine! It was the Colour of Crime link I found concerning. Did you remove that one? I applaud that!

        Okay, I see your point that you’re not blaming corporal punishment in black families for rates of violent crime, but stating that it’s use won’t help change the trajectory of an already-impacted community. I simply think that you parallel high crime rates with high rates of corporal punishment (source for that?) as if the two are connected. The ‘high crime rates’ such as they are, are multi factorial and a deeply layered problem. Corporal punishment, and it’s use or lack thereof, seems to me to be an almost unconnected sidebar. Don’t you think that the ‘black community’ would still have a slew of social problems caused by entrenched racism if every family stopped spanking tomorrow? Problems that have simply everything to do with being disadvantaged prejudicially, end of story.

        I’m not sure where my ad hominem attack happened – I certainly don’t mean to attack you personally, and apologize if I did. My interest is purely in your article.

        • Kevin Geary

          “I simply think that you parallel high crime rates with high rates of corporal punishment.”

          I parallel crime rates in general with corporal punishment (and other failed parenting strategies). But my comment about blacks and corporal punishment was *not* a parallel. It was exactly what I said it was: a demonstration that the group with the biggest violent crime problem ALSO shares the most widespread use of corporal punishment. That’s problematic to the argument that “society is out of control *because* we’re too soft on kids.”

          I believe that the crime rate among ALL groups would be lower if corporal punishment was halted. Corporal punishment is just one contributing factor, however.

          “Don’t you think that the ‘black community’ would still have a slew of social problems caused by entrenched racism if every family stopped spanking tomorrow? Problems that have simply everything to do with being disadvantaged prejudicially, end of story.”

          I think the black community would still absolutely have a slew of problems due to many social issues. But do you see what you did there? You dismissed the role of corporal punishment by saying, “Problems…have simply *everything* to do with being disadvantaged…” — No, being disadvantaged isn’t *everything.*

          But look — we’re getting side-tracked. The argument is about bad parenting, not the plight of the black community. We need to stay on topic.

          • Xan

            I agree. Which begs the question: how did race even find it’s way into your original article? It does seem off the point, and clearly you end up talking about that more than your great peaceful parenting ideas, because parents of colour and people who support them çan’t seem to just “look past” you angle in your first point. And I don’t think it’s unreasonable. But we’ll leave it at that. Thanks for your quick responses, even if we disagree on this one.

          • Kevin Geary

            Because it had nothing to do with race… Sorry so many cant see that. The group in question could be white for all I care. It so happens they’re not. The color is not important.

  • Tavi

    Thank you for this perfectly worded entry! You said everything I’d like to articulate, but never am able to in the heat of the moment due to extreme anger (from being brought up in a violent home, as you might guess).
    There’s another common argument I could add to this: “A lack of spanking is why the prisons are so full!”
    Yeah, sure it is. The quote that made me bristle the most in relation to this is, “Put stripes on your kids, so the state won’t have to.”
    Completely sickening.

  • jaimie

    I grew up in a home with spanking as punishment. And with a dad who had anger management issues and was violent sometimes. I can remember once him smacking my brother for spitting at him, yelling at us a lot, taking out frustration on us. He pushed me into a couch once and then yelled at me for crying about it. Kicked our dog across the breach because he was mad. So that was my example for how to deal with anger. And before I had kids I was one of those “I’ll spank my kids cause I was spanked and I’m fine” people. Then I had twins, who are 7 months old. And when I was holding these little people in my arms I realized how terrible the thought of spanking them was. And as I think more and read more on parenting, the mute I remember from my childhood that was traumatic for me. And I remember the pain that I felt emotionally and I know I never want my daughter’s to feel that way. I know it will be hard, I’m still learning to handlemy anger and frustration, but as much work as it will be for me to be a gentle parent, nothing could be worse than parenting with anger and lack of understanding.

    • Kevin Geary

      Hi Jaimie,

      I’m so very sorry for your experience. The connection you felt with your twins is the same connection I felt when I first held my daughter. It made me wonder how others don’t feel this same connection and instantly realize how tragic hitting this child at any time in their life would be.

      Thank you for your comments. And again, I’m sorry for your childhood experience. It’s such a tragedy.

    • Sylvia

      Your comment made me so emotiona, and for a few reasons. It pains me that you, and others, have such traumatic experience experiences as kids. I, myself included, but have always been the one who would rather take the beating for everyone else as opposed to witnessing it. On the flip side, it makes me SO happy that someone with your experience and preconceived notions was able to change that mindset for the sake of their innocent children. Good luck to you and your family, I hope that this can serve as a learning experience for someone who may be reading.

  • Vanessa

    Finally an article that debunks the myths about Peaceful Parenting in a clear, concise way! I loved it.
    However, I’m with the other folks…the comment about black people made me literally cringe so now I’m not comfortable sharing on my newsfeed which I’m disappointed about.

    • Kevin Geary

      Thanks Vanessa. That’s really unfortunate, because “black” is merely a descriptive term for the community being discussed. It has nothing to do with race relations, except whatever personal undertone you give it. That says more about the people who are offended than it does about me. Half my friends are black and I grew up in the largest melting pot in the world. I’m very sorry that most people seem to be deeply ignorant about race and culture.

  • Jen

    This article appeared in my Facebook page and I found it quite disturbing.

    First of all, your final point about moms playing the victim role is exactly what this article is enabling many other to do. ‘Don’t judge me’ and ‘I’m better than you’ is the tone I get from this.

    Secondly, your comment about ‘mainstream’ parents implies you believe most people are beating their kids, spanking, judging, when in reality I have NEVER heard anyone try to argue one of your 12 facts EVER. Nor do I know anyone who spanks or beats children. I don’t know who your friends are but I’m sorry if these are the kind of people you surround yourself with. You have exaggerated the level of criticism of your parenting style in order to sell something.

    You are also implying that if you practice peaceful parenting, your children will be perfect adults who never speed or lose a job or face a consequence. I do agree with the non-violent message you are sending, I believe children should be raised in happy homes with loving parents but sooner or later the world is going to hand out consequences, whether you do as a parent or not. Kids are not perfect. They are going to make mistakes and not everything is going to go their way all the time.

    Explaining why you say no or do not allow a certain behaviour is great, but it must also be known that not every authority figure in your childs life is going to offer the same courtesy. Teachers, coaches, bosses just to name a few. Coming down (in fact you are judging) on parents who just say ‘no’ is harsh and unfounded. Kids should be taught that sometimes the answer is just no and they have to respect that as adults, we are making a choice based on their best interests.That is all they need to understand.

    If you would like to argue some real issues us ‘mainstream’ parents have against people who chose this parenting style (I am fully aware that MOST peaceful parent types will not believe in these things, but as the tone of your article generalizes all other parents as child abusers, I will generalize as well):

    -Fighting for ‘no-zero’ policies in our schools, where teachers are NOT allowed to issue zero’s for work that has not been completed. I really really don’t understand this, and thankfully this policy has been removed from one of my local schools after a teacher fired for issuing zero’s sued the school board and won.

    – NOT disciplining children for bullying others, stating it is just a part of natural development. I don’t care what parenting style you practice, if you allow your child to bully another you are a bad parent. Bottom line.

    Anyway, its great that you are raising healthy, happy children but please don’t raise them to believe they are better than everyone else. No one likes pretentious. Remember, most of us are also just trying to raise healthy, happy children. That is what is mainstream in my opinion.

    Thank you.

    • Kevin Geary

      “You are also implying that if you practice peaceful parenting, your children will be perfect adults who never speed or lose a job or face a consequence”

      Kindly show me where I said that peacefully parenting kids makes them perfect. That’s *not* what I’ve argued anywhere, ever. This is silliness.

      90% of parents admit to spanking their kids. The fact that you don’t know anyone who spanks is shocking. The fact that you’ve never heard any of these 12 arguments is also shocking to me.

      Please don’t personally attack me with the “you just want to sell stuff” nonsense. It’s so silly and childish.

      “Teachers, coaches, bosses just to name a few. Coming down (in fact you are judging) on parents who just say ‘no’ is harsh and unfounded.”

      I think you’ve made it quite clear that you don’t know what authentic parenting is or looks like. You continue to pretend as if peaceful parents don’t use the word “no.” In fact, you’re making one the 12 mistakes you claim to never have heard or seen.

      “Fighting for ‘no-zero’ policies in our schools, where teachers are NOT allowed to issue zero’s for work that has not been completed.”

      This has nothing to do with peaceful, authentic parenting. Nothing. Do not misrepresent the position.

      “NOT disciplining children for bullying others, stating it is just a part of natural development.”

      This statement has no context. Bullying is subjective. I’ve heard parents say that this other non-verbal one year old is “bullying” their child. There is no clarity to your argument. Sometimes the child could be a bully and sometimes the parent could be overly sensitive. You’ll need to clear up your argument for it to be useful.

  • Hilary

    Article quote: “FINE,” on the other hand, fits them perfectly. They’re Fucked Up, Insecure, Neurotic, and Emotional…” This quote doesn’t seem very “peaceful” to me. In fact, it seems a bit cruel and overgeneralized. Many people in our grandparents (and even parents’ generation) were occasionally spanked. Not all of them are any more “fucked up” than people in our generation. Frank McCourt mentioned being spanked by both family members and at school in the 1930s, and turned out to be an incredible writer and compassionate human being…I was spanked about 8 times as a child; I’m not any more or less “fine” than many of my peers…(My mom is actually my best friend these days. She empowers me to be my best self.) In fact, I loathe these kinds of blanket statements that generalize all spanked kids as being “messed up and insecure” or that all kids that weren’t spanked are closer to being “ideal.” Again, I am not vouching for violence or repeated hitting. Yet I have mixed feelings about the article…The truth is that ALL of us have both “light/dark” elements in us… No one comes out of this world unscathed– we will all encounter loss, grief, sickness, suffering, accidents, challenging relationships, nightmares, etc. whether or not were spanked as kids. Many of us have elements of “hurt inner children” due to weathering the storm(s) of life…Is a person that allows kids to hold/look at a gun (even a fake gun) and/or expose them to violent video games/films a “peaceful parent?” Not entirely in my opinion… Yet does this make them a “BAD” parent, per se? Not necessarily… I like some of the points Kevin shared, but I feel that some of the article wording could have been less arrogant, and more sensitive.

    • Kevin Geary

      “I loathe these kinds of blanket statements that generalize all spanked kids as being “messed up and insecure” or that all kids that weren’t spanked are closer to being “ideal.””

      So, when I said, “Most people…”, you chose to translate that as, “ALL people…?”

      Do you see how that might be a problem?

      “Many people in our grandparents (and even parents’ generation) were occasionally spanked. Not all of them are any more “fucked up” than people in our generation. “

      By what scale? What analysis? What context? There’s no meaning to this statement without some qualifiers.

      No one comes out of this world unscathed– we will all encounter loss, grief, sickness, suffering, accidents, challenging relationships, nightmares, etc. whether or not were spanked as kids.

      This is absolutely true. But I’m left wondering what your point is? Does this mean that we should be hitting kids because, “they’re going to suffer trauma at some point anyway?”

  • Mayra

    GREAT ARTICLE! Thanks for doing this. I love how direct and simple you described everything. Seems like some people suffered from punishments and their brain are just going to fight and flight mode with the arguments to justify the abuse.

  • Mary

    This is an awesome article. We have always practiced peaceful parenting. I have two children, that are now adults. They are respectful of others.I know this by the way they speak when they call my work and from the many positive comments I have received from teachers and when in public. We have been able to travel and they have a lifetime of experience because I knew they would behave. The only thing I can say is that we did have time outs, they were sent to their beds if at home and usually fell asleep. If they were acting at in public we would sit down and have a snack and a drink and discuss the situation.

  • andrea

    As someone who was spanked as a child, I can verify that I am definitely not fine.

    “Is our goal to raise empathetic kids who want to do the right thing or is our goal to raise kids who are obedient to rules to avoid negative consequences?”

    This, in particular, got to me, because even as an adult I am very “rules oriented” because I don’t want to get “in trouble”. Is my boss going to yell at me? Hit me? No, but I still have the same anxiety. It’s horrible and it affects me in so many ways.

    One of which is that I have not and will not ever spank my child.

  • Joe

    Re: “My parents hit me and I turned out just fine. In fact, I’m glad they spanked me.”
    The best rebuttal of that argument is simply, you did not turn out fine. You turned into someone who thinks its okay to assault someone half your size.

  • CRYSTAL

    First, thank you for providing a great opportunity to continue the lessons we’re doing this year in identifying and understanding fallacies. You nailed them. It was a bonus that my children got to hear another voice saying the things I say and I could see them really examining them from other directions than they might normally think.

    Second, with regards to your observations about the black community . . . if you want a great book to refer people to that goes into this issue I would highly recommend Asadah Kirkland’s “Beating Black Kids.” She addresses the problem within her own community (the best place from which to offer reflection and criticism) that comes from continuing to raise children in a way that was originally adopted to keep them alive in an age of slavery. Fear that a master might kill your child if they looked at them wrong or defied them or had a look of haughtiness and a challenging independent spirit led to beating their own children as a means of conditioning them and preparing them for what life had in store for them. She argues that continuing to do so continues to raise children to be slaves instead of preparing them to be healthy adults engaged in a world where they have freedom and power.

    Ultimately, the idea that we should continue doing something because that’s how it’s always been done is a double fallacy. The idea that “we’ve always done” suggests both that there is anything we’ve “always” done (no one in ancient times was driving a car around and skyping into the office) AND that simply because we’ve always done it, it’s a good thing to keep doing. It seems that in EVERY area of our lives we are looking to improve and be inspired by some better way to do things – except parenting (arguably the most important thing we do!)

    I do believe obedience is a good thing – with the understanding that obedience is a voluntary choice to do as instructed by someone who has earned your trust. Once obedience stops being voluntary it stops being obedience. It may be compliance – and some amount of compliance is necessary . . . it’s why I pick up and move toddlers away from the dangerous road, and why I grab the hand reaching for a hot burner and take some time to teach them why that’s not a good plan. But blind compliance without understanding or questioning is not anything close to obedience. Blind compliance leads to cults and fascist dictators. Obedience REQUIRES questions and information and earned respect, not to mention trust. Obedience is a beautiful thing – when my children begin obeying me I know I’ve really succeeded in my goals of respectful and grace-based parenting.

    One last thought . . . when people pull the “not my child’s friend” line, I find myself sad. I’ve always purposed to raise children who I enjoy being around – people who are fun, engaged, self-aware and full of self-respect because they make choices that they believe are good and right. They are kind and firm and honest and committed. They are people I respect. I figure if I enjoy being around them, others will too. That’s a good thing. And so far it’s what is happening. I’m proud of the young people I’m moving out into the world – and they are amazing people others enjoy. Just like they learned to walk and talk and read and write without being punished, they learned to be the amazing people they are without pain or the threat of what would happen if they failed. Failure wasn’t an option – Awesome was the target and we just focused on the path there so that it was the only one they knew <3

    • Kevin Geary

      Thank you for your very insightful comment Crystal.

      I completely forgot about the “we’ve always done it this way” fallacy. That was a great reminder.

      I suppose your definition of obedience is just semantics. I agree with the underlying principles you stated, I just don’t agree that the term obedience fits those principles. This is mainly because the definition of obedience has no qualifiers: compliance with an order, request, or law or submission to another’s authority.

      I would rather use the term self-discipline. Self-disciplined people can choose to be “obedient” based on the circumstances.

  • Hilary

    Maybe that’s the biggest general difference from people who grew up in severely abusive homes vs. those that received an occasional or rare spank on the tush in certain circumstances (i.e. me.) Although my childhood was less that ideal, my parents instilled in me a sense of respect for other people from a very early age. Generally, I was expected to act well and show manners in most situations… As a peace activist these days, I rarely, if ever, condone violence… My point was that some of this article could have been worded with my compassion towards those that have suffered. Labeling people as being “fucked up and insecure” (in my opinion) is a disservice to the writer’s (probable) intention. It’s unkind and divisive. Which person (who actually was extremely abused via extreme beatings, etc.) wants to read that about themselves?

    • Kevin Geary

      Sometimes, abrasiveness is necessary to wake people up. Always kowtowing to people’s sensitivities often means your work gets overlooked. A blog post that doesn’t get read is not effective. A blog post that sometimes abrasively delivers the truth that also spreads like wildfire can be quite effective. We might disagree, and that’s fine.

      Can I ask you something? What words would you use to describe husbands who beat their wives? Would you be so compassionate toward them?

      • Destiny

        I found this reply just monumentally contradictory to your article, your virtue, and your regard for people. Are you saying that only unjaded humans of a young age deserve these nonviolent, noncoercive, nonauthoritarian approaches, but that adults who experienced such or otherwise ought to be addressed with same said tactics? You sure act
        Iike your virtue is to know better than your equal and tell them how to be less like they are and more like yourself. I certainly feel intimidated by your aproach and womder if maybe you dont have multiple personalities, that you approach your parenting in much the same way you approach your writing or expression of opinion, and that perhaps you are as much of a blubbering dickwad to your kids as you are to your readers. Manipulative, spinny, and shaming, bitoted and highly off the mark. I would think someone who practises ‘peaceful’ parenting would be far less judgemental and maybe a bit peaceful as a person. But you resort to segregation of personalities, judgement of others, dictatorship and authoritarianism, abhorrent insinuations about types of people, parents and children who dont conform to your way. Just mindbogglingly out to lunch you are. Good luck not bestowing such a twisted sense of self and others on your children.

        • Kevin Geary

          “Are you saying that only unjaded humans of a young age deserve these nonviolent, noncoercive, nonauthoritarian approaches, but that adults who experienced such or otherwise ought to be addressed with same said tactics?”

          It’s relative. If a mom or dad fundamentally wants to do right by their kids and demonstrates that, then of course they deserve compassion and warmth. If a mom or dad demonstrates that they’re a sadist who has no capacity to treat children with respect, they deserve every ounce of shame the world can drop on their head.

          “You sure act Iike your virtue is to know better than your equal and tell them how to be less like they are and more like yourself.”

          No no no. Virtue has nothing to do with me. Virtue is a standalone concept. If we all agree that hitting is wrong and I make the case that we should extend that concept to children, is that telling people how to be more like me? It has nothing to do with me.

          “I certainly feel intimidated by your aproach and womder if maybe you dont have multiple personalities, that you approach your parenting in much the same way you approach your writing or expression of opinion, and that perhaps you are as much of a blubbering dickwad to your kids as you are to your readers.”

          So, I have multiple personalities, but you don’t? Because now you’re behaving counter to how you just suggested I behave, are you not? Do you place higher standards on me than you do yourself?

          “I would think someone who practises ‘peaceful’ parenting would be far less judgemental and maybe a bit peaceful as a person.”

          Hey, look, I wrote an article just for you >> http://rebootyourkids.com/can-stop-dont-judge-nonsense/ (it’s like I knew you were coming!)

          “But you resort to segregation of personalities, judgement of others, dictatorship and authoritarianism, abhorrent insinuations about types of people, parents and children who dont conform to your way.”

          Segregation of personalities? Dictatorship? Children who don’t conform to my way? I truthfully have no idea what you’re talking about.

  • Madeline

    Okay,
    What I don’t understand is never telling your kid no. That’s not even realistic in the adult world/ workplace. How will a kid who’s never been told no react when his boss says no? I get it that some parents are big on using no. But not using it all? It’s just common sense people. Sometimes you get your way and sometimes you don’t. No is okay to say. “No you can’t eat twenty pieces of candy.” “No you can’t go beat the crap outta your brother.” Sometimes no is actually good for us. Just saying.

  • Tom

    I’m sorry but who are you to comment on my mental health? You assume that everyone that got spanked by his/her parents, and tells others that he’s fine, is automatically lying, fucked up in the mind, repressing a trauma bla bla bla.

    Seriously, have you ever thought of actually talking and listening to those that didn’t have an issue with it? Not every child grows up to be a special snowflake that instantly cries abuse when he learns that his parents hit him/her. Example, myself. I was spanked when I was younger and did something very bad. How did this all turn out? I’m an airliner pilot, I rarely drink, I have confidence in myself and in my abilities, I love my parents to death and do not have any trauma whatsoever.

    But by all means, tell me how I’m not qualified to know how I feel. Because you know, I got spanked so I must be fucked up in the head.

    • Kevin Geary

      Hi Tom,

      I didn’t comment on *your* mental health. I don’t know you, so I would never do that.

      But, what I’ve noticed is that rather than offering a rebuttal to any aspect of the article, you’ve chosen to have an emotional outburst.

      Is there a part of the article that is wrong, which you can provide some sort of argument against? Or, did it simply trigger so much anger that you wanted to vent in the comments?

      • Tom

        “This is probably the most popular default response. It comes from a place of defense. Defense for one’s parents, defense for one’s own past behavior, and emotional defense against the trauma itself.”

        You do not specify anyone, therefore target the entire group that would reply with “I turned out fine” which includes myself.

        “Most people who say it aren’t qualified or self-aware enough to make a quality determination of their psychological health. In many cases, they’re clearly not fine: they drink excessively, they have relationship problems, they struggle with self-esteem issues, and so on.”

        Once more, most people. Where did you get the info? Am I part of most people? Is it normal to claim that people you’ve never met suffer from the above mentioned issues? And even if its not me, are you qualified to comment on other people’s mental health? Or is this just an assumption?

        ““FINE,” on the other hand, fits them perfectly. They’re Fucked Up, Insecure, Neurotic, and Emotional”

        This is a downright insult to anyone that would tell you he/she is fine. You are basically calling people fucked up, saying they probably don’t know their own mental health, and drink too much. Is there any reason not to become angry? If someone you didn’t know come up to you, to claim that you don’t know jack about yourself, you’re a fucked up, insecure alcoholic. Would you think thats normal?Would it suddenly open your eyes? If someone comes up to you, and basically says “Watching violent movies as a child makes you a violent and unproductive member of society”. Assuming you watched a movie at least once, and you’d answer “But I am a productive member of society”. And the man in front of you would just go “No, you don’t know. You’re just repressing a trauma. You are a lazy worthless piece of human.”

        Now tell me, who would know better whether you are a productive member of society. The man standing in front of you yelling? Or you, the only one out of the two that knows what he does on a daily basis.

        • Kevin Geary

          Hi Tom,

          I’m struggling to understand your argument. Is your argument that the majority of Americans have no psychological issues? No relationship issues? No insecurities?

          “Is it normal to claim that people you’ve never met suffer from the above mentioned issues?”

          Are you suggesting that in order for someone to write an article about a group of people, they have to personally meet each and every one of those people? For example, if a historian is to write about what life was like 1910, he would need to travel back in time and make sure to interview everyone who lived in 1910, is that right?

          “If someone comes up to you, and basically says “Watching violent movies as a child makes you a violent and unproductive member of society”. Assuming you watched a movie at least once, and you’d answer “But I am a productive member of society”. And the man in front of you would just go “No, you don’t know. You’re just repressing a trauma. You are a lazy worthless piece of human.””

          I don’t argue against straw man arguments.

          • Tom

            You don’t argue against “straw men” arguments because you don’t have any solid argument. This is because the argument itself makes no sense. Just like your original argument. It’s just put in a different scenario. But now that it involves a different subject, it suddenly makes no sense. While it’s exactly the same as what you were portraying.

          • Kevin Geary

            No Tom, see, I can clearly show you how you did not make a similar argument…

            “Watching violent movies as a child makes you a violent and unproductive member of society”.

            I did not say that spanking a child “makes them an unproductive member of society.”

            “No, you don’t know. You’re just repressing a trauma. You are a lazy worthless piece of human.”

            Never did I say that being spanked makes you a lazy, worthless piece of human.

            This might be of use to you when trying to get your point across in the future without blatant manipulation >> https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/strawman

  • Maegan

    Reading this article and many of the supportive comments makes me think “Peaceful” parents are also “not exactly smart” parents.

    I haven’t ever defined my

    • Maegan

      My parenting style…but try to refrain from CP.

      Since the whole “black culture” thing has been addressed several times…

      I’ll ask that you please research Americas prison population…you’ll find lots and lots and lots of drug crimes (which aren’t necessarily violent!)…and the profit system for having inmates.

      None of it whatsoever is related to corporal punishment.

    • Kevin Geary

      So, let me see if I have this right:

      Your best argument is that I’m “not exactly smart?”

      Your second best argument is that there’s a lot of black people locked up for drug crimes? In other words, your rebuttal to my argument about *violent crime* in the black community is that there’s a lot of black people locked up for *non-violent crime.*?

      As you can see, I’m having trouble taking you seriously.

      • MaEgan

        I never mentioned black people and drugs. You seem really hung up on that.

        I was simply pointing out that there is a huge prison population not necessarily due to violent crime…but other crimes that aren’t violent.

        And our prison system is for profit. So the more people we can put in prison…regardless of their need to be rehabilitated (which is supposed to be the focus of prison) is the reason the population in prison is so high.

        • Kevin Geary

          “I’ll ask that you please research Americas prison population…you’ll find lots and lots and lots of drug crimes.”

          We were talking about black culture. You mentioned America’s prisons and drug crimes, of which black people are unfairly incarcerated a disproportionate rates. That’s a fact.

          I’m not talking about non-violent crimes. Not once. It’s always been about violent crime. So, what’s the purpose of your speech about America’s prisons? Please stay within the context of the discussion.

          • Maegan

            “We” were talking about no such thing. While I have issue with your comments regarding race, crime, and physical/corporal punishment…I said I wanted to address another aspect that you misrepresented.

            From your own blog:
            “Well over 95% of households use punishments to teach consequences and we still have the largest prison population in the world […]”

            I tried to explain why we have the largest prison population…and that you should perhaps do some actual research on the matter b/c as others have mentioned “correlation is not causation”. I’m also trying to be mostly helpful here b/c if this blog was the only thing someone who spanks ever saw about peaceful parenting..it looks a lot like propaganda instead of a helpful essay.

          • Kevin Geary

            While your comments about the prison system are true, they don’t really disprove my argument. The argument was against the efficacy of consequences. Wether the prison system is the way you say it is or not doesn’t change the fact that people *know* there’s a prison system and still manage to end up in it by breaking the rules. In other words, the *consequences* they were given as a child hasn’t kept them from the *consequences* of their choices as an adult. Unless the prison system is arresting people at random, your argument doesn’t mean much.

          • MaEgan

            That’s possibly the worst response I’ve ever seen. You’re officially the worst representative of peaceful parenting I’ve ever seen. Congratulations.

          • Kevin Geary

            Ah, I get it now. You want to be able to tear people down with personal insults, and when they point that out and form a coherent argument against whatever else you’ve said, you want to further insult them?

            That’s an interesting way to spread your ideas.

  • Marie

    I disagree with your article completely. I have a totally different style of parenting that includes spanking, and I have two happy, healthy daughters who excel in everything they do and know they are loved. That is what works for us. That being said, it’s nice to see people approach parenting proactively and with a strategy. I believe some people use a no spanking policy as an excuse for their no parenting policy, and that is far more detrimental than a child getting their bottom swatted. I also agree with the words you have used and you not changing the facts to be more PC. Good for you. It’s refreshing to see a different point of view that is rational and not defensive.

    • Kevin Geary

      Hi Marie,

      Thanks for your support. I’d encourage you to look into the research regarding spanking, fear, and changes in the brain as well as the inefficacy of punishments and rewards. While this article wasn’t written necessarily to help people change their minds, there’s a lot of great research out there that might.

      Cheers.

  • Heidi

    I would love to recommend this post to some of my friends, but your use of profanity in the middle was unnecessary. If you could edit that statement, I would gladly send a whole slough of people your way! Thanks for considering it.

    • Kevin Geary

      No offense, but this kind of pre-supposes that you have friends who need your protection from certain language or something. Or, that your friends aren’t adults. Don’t you think the message is more important than shielding people from a word? I mean, do you boycott all R-rated movies too?

  • andrea

    I just wanted to thank you for writing and sharing this article. I anticipated raising my child as I was raised… the whole “spare the rod, spoil the child” deal. However, once she was born, and I was able to experience her vulnerability and see how fragile young children are, the thought of hitting her, in any capacity, seemed absolutely absurd.

    Instead of trusting my upbringing, or my new found instincts, I decided to look at research and see what it said about effective methods of discipline. Aside from rhetoric, I could not find a single relevant study that demonstrated that using physical force as a means of discipline was effective, or in the best interest of children. What I found was completely the opposite. So, with all of the most current research saying spanking is BAD for children, it baffles me that an overwhelming majority of parents are still such advocates for physical punishment.

    I have been outspoken about how I feel about spanking, and I have had my friends and family get upset and offended by my beliefs. I have heard that I am going to spoil my child, that she will be a disobedient monster, etc., but my responsibility isn’t to comfort them, it is to be a good parent to my child.

    When I feel judged for my parenting decisions, it is reassuring to read articles like yours. To know there are other people, however few, that are advocating for the fair treatment of children. Thank you.

  • DL

    First off I take issue with your statement that “black parents use corporal punishment and have one of the most violent communities” – there are so many reasons why black communities have higher rates of violence – poverty, marginalization by society, and systematic abuse – that don’t have anything to do with if kids are shanked. Your statement seemed to ignore all the other reasons.

    The question I have is what is the solution? I don’t have kids but I have been a nanny. I don’t spank kids because I don’t think it works, but I understand the desire to. When a child throws a raging tantrum for hours it is hard to know what to do.

  • kris

    Look I’m going to be honest I personally see good and bad in this article. My first problem is yes you should be a friend to your child but more importantly you need them to know you are a parent. Second I don’t see any harm done with timeouts what so ever being a parent myself I see it as an effective way to get around spanking. Expecially when you have a child who won’t stop and listen to calmly explaining and they need that chance to cool down as well as the parents. I find this actual article to be made up of what the world expects like others have stated different children need different things. My son has been put in time out and told no he can not do something or get something for whatever reason and thrown a fit and calmed down in time out. He’s not emotionally hurt by it. For crying out loud he is the happiest little boy. Like I said this whole article I find just insane. I see it as judging the parents who have to use other methods to be able to communicate with there children. My son is my world and I feel as if this article is telling us were bad parents because we don’t follow these 12 steps

    • Kevin Geary

      I’m so confused at your comment. First, you say that there is “good and bad” in the article, but then you call the entire article “insane.”

      My first problem is yes you should be a friend to your child but more importantly you need them to know you are a parent.

      You do realize that the first half of your sentence does not discount the second half, right? In other words, I can be a friend of my child and STILL be a parent. They’re not mutually exclusive.

      Second I don’t see any harm done with timeouts what so ever being a parent myself I see it as an effective way to get around spanking.

      You do realize that “it’s an effective way to get around spanking” is not an argument that supports your claims that there’s no harm done, right?

      I find this actual article to be made up of what the world expects like others have stated different children need different things.

      You do realize that “different kids need different things” isn’t an excuse for harmful or disconnected parental behavior, right? Nor have I ever made the statement that all kids are the same and need the same things.

      My son has been put in time out and told no he can not do something or get something for whatever reason and thrown a fit and calmed down in time out. He’s not emotionally hurt by it. For crying out loud he is the happiest little boy.

      You do realize that your inability to form basic proper sentences raises questions to your qualifications to determine the emotional wellbeing of your child in complex situations, right?

      I see it as judging the parents who have to use other methods to be able to communicate with there children.

      Time out is not communication. In fact, by definition, it’s the absence of communication.

      Here, you may this helpful >> https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/strawman

      My son is my world and I feel as if this article is telling us were bad parents because we don’t follow these 12 steps

      That’s precisely NOT what this article is doing. If you take it that way, you’re simply allowing your insecurities to limit your parenting potential. Just because information has been provided that may contradict what you currently do doesn’t mean it’s shaming you or telling you that you’re bad.

  • ANONYMOUS

    Legitimate question. How does one “negotiate” with a 1 year old? How do I as a parent teach my daughter not to slap her hands on the window because she may break it and cause herself harm without spanking her. (which is working since she hasn’t hit the window since).

    • Kevin Geary

      Hi,

      You don’t negotiate with a one year old. You calmly set limits and boundaries. If your Alzheimers father was banging on a window would you spank him to make him stop? Principles have to come first. You will only see other solutions when you refuse to choose force.

      “which is working since she hasn’t hit the window since.” — Nobody said pain doesn’t work. The question is, what are the consequences to your daughter and to her trust in you?

      • Anonomys

        first of all, being a 1 year old isn’t a mind debilitating disease, second, if I was causing irreversible harm to my child by spanking her I have yet to see the results. I was actually asking for advise, how DO I set limits for a 1 year old?

        • Kevin Geary

          first of all, being a 1 year old isn’t a mind debilitating disease…

          That’s not the point. The point is the principle of not hitting people, especially for doing things that are outside the scope of their mental faculties.

          if I was causing irreversible harm to my child by spanking her I have yet to see the results.

          This begs the question, “do you even know what you’re looking for?” It also begs the question, “how long does it take those results to develop?” It also begs the question, “do you want to wait to see what those side effects look like?”

          I made the statement that principles have to come first and you chose to respond dismissively.

          I was actually asking for advise, how DO I set limits for a 1 year old?

          I know you were asking for advice. The challenge is with the tone I believe I’m getting from you, which is one of “if you’re so smart, then tell me X, Y, Z. And if it doesn’t align with what I believe to be true, I’m just going to dismiss it and move on.” It also doesn’t help that you wrote “Anonymous” in the first name field. That doesn’t exactly get our conversation off to an honest start.

          So before I offer you any advice, can you commit to not spanking? Can you commit to that first principle?

          • ANONYMOUS

            “That’s not the point. The point is the principle of not hitting people, especially for doing things that are outside the scope of their mental faculties.”

            It was the point it sounded like you were making, I honestly just don’t respond well to people comparing people with serious brain damaging diseases with children punishments, you are not the first, you wont be the last. Perhaps a better comparison could have been made?

            “It also doesn’t help that you wrote “Anonymous” in the first name field. That doesn’t exactly get our conversation off to an honest start.”

            I always post as anonymous, there are to many people out there with bad intentions, I do have a social network page, posting anonymous to pages like this keeps strangers from finding me easily.

            “I know you were asking for advice. The challenge is with the tone I believe I’m getting from you, which is one of “if you’re so smart, then tell me X, Y, Z. And if it doesn’t align with what I believe to be true, I’m just going to dismiss it and move on.””

            I do apologies for the tone that I gave off, I’m just skeptical that way I suppose. That and you just ever so leisurely comparing Alzheimer’s and dementia with children gave me the impression that perhaps you don’t know everything about parenting. Have you worked in a home with Alzheimer’s patients? If you have, what do you do with patients that are causing a danger for themselves or others? If you don’t, then stop using that as a comparison as you cannot truly compare children and Alzheimer’s patients, they are NOTHING alike, they are completely different. If you can promise this, then I can promise to devote to not spanking my child. I’ve wanted to do that from the start, but she doesn’t respond to redirection or bribery. So I ask one last time, how DO you go about training a 1 year old to not do something like bang on windows or eat rocks?
            You’re right though, I don’t know if I am causing mental harm to my child that may or may not develop later in life. I am not a psychiatrist. However for now, i’d rather have her hate me than have her die of blood loss when she eventually slams her arm through that stupid window.

          • Kevin

            Look, it’s clear that you don’t understand what an analogy is and are not interested in having a productive discussion. I feel sorry for your children. They have a mom that can’t get past her own ego to do things that would benefit them.

        • pear

          With my one year old, simple talking to them, coupled with redirection worked.

          Usually when adults hit, it’s for themselves, because they’re tired, angry and frustrated. Next time you have the urge to hit askyourself, are you doing it for your child or for yourself?

          • Stephanie

            Yes the solution is simple: distract the one year old to prevent them from hitting the window. the kid is just experimenting with the window, probably experimenting the parent/caregiver’s reaction too. So just distract them with another way of experimenting. just take the kid physically away from the window. it’s so easy to distract a one year old !

  • Jordyn

    Wow, coming from someone claiming to be peaceful this article is hateful. Also the biggest crock if shit I’ve read in a long time. Nothing wrong with spanking your kids. It’s not abuse. Quit trying to push your views on people. Who are you to say you’re right and everyone else is wrong? Very offensive.

    • pear

      There are plenty of studies that prove that not only does spanking not work to stop “bad behaviour” it causes significant changes in children’s brains.

      If I don’t like what you’re doing, do I get to slap you? Of course not. So why is it okay to hit children?

  • Michael Boyd

    Keven, I like how you pulled many more helpful ideas into one article herein. Nice job! The world definitely needs alternative and healthier models for raising children, ones whom we should all hope grow up to become loving, caring, responsible and respectful adults.

    Looking towards trying to be helpful as you might write other articles down the road, please allow me to suggest that some of your argumentation comes across as more anecdotally based and not nearly as much based in science and scholarly research. This is unfortunate because I do believe science and fact are very much on your side. Note that writing in the style that you did leaves room for opinions like this reply that soon followed:

    “Wow, coming from someone claiming to be peaceful this article is hateful. Also the biggest crock if shit I’ve read in a long time. Nothing wrong with spanking your kids. It’s not abuse. Quit trying to push your views on people. Who are you to say you’re right and everyone else is wrong? Very offensive.”

    If you had noted that “psychological research shows that….” it may have then been near impossible to argue with facts you had stated. Anytime you offer what reads like an opinion, you leave room for responses where one may be deemed just as good as any other – and not likely to lead anyone to want to change from ground zero when it comes to altering parental behavior and modeling.

    Also, if you want to sound more professional in your writing in general, you might want to avoid language that is not beneficial or even still considered vulgar (by ordinary dictionary definitions):

    …“FINE,” on the other hand, fits them perfectly. They’re Fucked Up, Insecure, Neurotic, and Emotional. The fact that they advocate for repeatedly hitting a small defenseless child whose brain is undeveloped is proof that they’re FINE and not fine.”

    Using words like “fuck” in an article like this is a huge turn off and meant that my forwarding it to certain friends is not something I would likely now do. Like it or not, no few folks today do still find language like that offensive, but at the very least it is not very scientific/professional.

    Lastly, after writing a nice and helpful article like this, why did you then feel need to come across as so defensive when commenting on other’s replies?
    It would likely also serve you well to remember this old adage as you write: “In time people may come to forget what you said but they will never forget how you made them feel.” Just something to think about.

    When you said this (below) in one of your replies, didn’t you think that maybe you were stooping to a level that you would later regret?

    “Look, it’s clear that you don’t understand what an analogy is and are not interested in having a productive discussion. I feel sorry for your children. They have a mom that can’t get past her own ego to do things that would benefit them.”

    Not very helpful nor lending weight to the truth of your arguments in this otherwise great and timely article.

    –MIchael.

    • Kevin Geary

      Hi Michael,

      Any writing style leaves room for comments like that. Those people are called trolls and emotional vampires. This is a *blog* not a scholarly research paper. I write how I write because it’s me. I don’t sugar coat and I don’t tip toe around people’s sensitivities. If people don’t like it, there’s an internet full of other writers they can go read.

      Here’s the deal…my articles get shared by the thousands BECAUSE of how they’re written. Sugar coating things and tip-toeing around sensitivities makes for boring work. And in order to understand the gravity of the situation CHILDREN FACE, it needs to be DIRECT and in people’s faces. That’s my opinion so that’s how I write.

      Saying my responses to these childish emotional vampires is wrong doesn’t mean anything to me. They didn’t come here with an open mind and they’re being vulgar, therefore I’ll dispense with them as I wish.

      • Stephanie

        (in advance, sorry for leaving so many replies, but this article is so great and sums up the whole situation so beautifully, that I feel passionate about it)… I believe that no matter what style you choose for such content, people will feel defensive because it touches how a vast majority of us adults were raised, and being told theses truths just triggers a defense mechanism. I had read a similar article in French about how spanking will cause damage to the developping brains of children, the article was full of the newest SCIENTIFIC evidence, and the comment section was identical to the comments you are getting, even though there was so much evidence. I just discovered your blog through this article and I’m glad I did! thanks

  • James

    You seem to be very argumentative and extremely biased in your beliefs. This does not make you right.
    It is respectable the message you’re trying to relay but it’s so ….argumentative and gave me the wrong vibe.
    This is the issue with parenting style differences. Each group thinks their way works or is better and feels the need to defend the whys and the how’s of what they do and in doing so you offend them as well.
    Why even argue with the other side? Why spend so much time and energy defending your choices?
    Unless you’re trying to “save” the non peaceful or what have you.

    • Kevin Geary

      Is arguing bad? Why are you acting like I’m being bad for being passionate about children’s rights? Seems silly, doesn’t it?

      Each group thinks their way works or is better and feels the need to defend the whys and the how’s of what they do and in doing so you offend them as well.

      What I’m talking about is not opinion. It’s a FACT that hitting a child is a violation of their rights. I’m talking about PRINCIPLES. I’m not talking about “time out is more effective than yelling” or some other candy bullshit. I’m talking about the rights of children to not be hit. There is no valid moral argument against that.

      Why do I argue against the other side? I don’t know…why shouldn’t I? Why are you here questioning my behavior? Are you so better than others that you believe I should be doing something differently with my time? This conversation is a waste of time. I’ll keep standing up for children, you keep questioning people who do. But don’t expect me to respond to you any further.

  • Ifeoma

    Where is your proof or evidence that black people spank at higher rates than whites? Or any evidence that violent crime is higher among blacks after controlling for socioeconomic differences? The article seems to perpetuate prejudiced and stereotypes.

    Both me and my ex were spanked growing up (I am black/ he is white). And we both experienced resistance with our families when we told them it was not something we would do with our son. Very few of my friends black or white spank. Additionally, it is not uncommon for black people who do not spank to remain silent.

  • Thomas

    Now, I agree withe most of these in principle but spanking is not hitting if it’s being done properly. I expect this will ruffle some feathers but it’s not. How I was raised and how I’m raising my kids is that it is purely a punishment. I don’t spank them unless I’ve exhausted every other technique or punishment in my arsenal and believe me, I’ve gotten creative without needing to resort to pain or shock and awe as a negative reenforcer. I don’t spank them when I’m angry and believe me, it really does hurt me as a parent far more than it hurts them. They’re both cloth diapers so unless you beat them within an inch of their lives they’re not likely to notice it, it’s the shock of the forceful pat on the ass that gets their attention and tells them I probably shouldn’t do this. Children trust us and to beat them as though they had murdered someone is unacceptable. However when the occasion calls for it, there is absolutely nothing wrong with spanking. The conclusion drawn from African American populations is not supported in scientific study and if it is and I’m wrong then you need to make that study available to your readers. There have been multiple studies done on spanking and the one conclusive fact is that we simply don’t know. Because there is so much that happens between the psychosocial development stages and adulthood there’s no real way to know if a person came from a household of spankers or abusive father’s and mothers or a peaceful parenting jousehold, at least not by psychological normalities or abnormalities, especially examined in adulthood.
    Lastly, negotiating with my children is not an option as I don’t negotiate with terrorists.

    • Kevin Geary

      Thomas, it would serve you well to read the entire article before commenting next time. Your opening argument is already well countered in the article.

      What exactly is the conclusion I drew from “African American” populations? I’d love to hear you sum it up, because so far 99% of people have manipulated my argument to suit their white-knight agenda.

      You say you don’t negotiate with children because you don’t negotiate with terrorists. Well, I don’t converse with you anymore either. All further comments from you will be deleted.

    • Stephanie

      How I understand what you’re saying is, that if they don’t notice it, and if it hurts you more as a parent than it hurts them, then spanking is not the appropriate solution and is the expression of your failure to find an alternative, efficient one and the expression of your frustration for not finding an other way to handle the situation. Can (can’t) you see this?

  • Stephanie

    What a wonderful, intelligent and great article! Thank you for sharing these views. I find that everything you say just sums up everything that is wrong with ordinary parenting methods in my opinion.

  • Lisa

    For someone who is advocating the development of empathy, compassion, the skills of communication and negotiation for your children you seem to be practicing much of the opposite of that in this article. Your tone and attitude in the original writing and definitely in response to comment does not feel peaceful by any means.

    Any instance where someone has said something that is critical of a portion of your article you respond patronizingly and condescendingly. Where is your open mindedness, your compassion, empathy and curiosity in understanding other people’s perspectives? Are these just qualities you want to support in your children or do you practice and model these behaviors in yourself with people other than your children? Here you have not treated others they way you seem to want your children to treat people.

    • Kevin Geary

      Sigh.

      How do you know I’m responding in a patronizing or condescending way? There is no tone of voice on the internet. You’re simply projecting your own emotions onto my responses. But yes, when people respond only with insults such as calling me racist and sexist, I’m not going to be patient with them. I refuse to be shouted down by ignorant, insulting people.

      There is nothing to “understand” about that perspective. I model empathy and compassion and understanding with rational people, not children in adult bodies.

      I am perfectly willing to have a discussion about anything people feel might be controversial. If you knew me, you’d know that I have had many of these conversations. However, nobody who disagrees with this article has approached this disagreement rationally, choosing instead to lead with insults and blind dismissal. I don’t have time for trolls.

      • Tim

        Great article. I really appreciate your perspective. And you deserve kudos for not kow towing to the overly sensitive reactions of those who can’t handle a perspective that may contradict the way they were brought up. Living in this ultra-sensitive super-PC world it is refreshing to see someone stand their ground when shouted down as being “racist” for speaking about hard truths that people choose to compartmentalize as racist.

  • Lanita

    Nice writing … You and most white Americans miss the bigger reality in “black violence”, this is slave mentality in the family. It’s the legacy of a Alavert tradition. None of it is even real, but in the psyche of so many it lives still. These articles always say it’s one way, well it just isn’t. Life is complex, children are complex. Look to tribal life for real kid raising advice 🙂

  • Matthew

    Not to say I disagree with any of the core principles being followed here and I definitely do not think physical correction works or is merited, but to say that abortion is killing a fetus and then later say it is killing a child is using the same distortion language you accuse the media of using to spin things. Certainly you aren’t comparing a fetus inside of a mother to an autonomous child acting outside the womb? Other than that enjoyed the article and am right with you.

    • Kevin Geary

      Actually, using the term “fetus” is manipulative language in this case. If a “fetus” dies in utero, women say, “I lost my baby.” They don’t say, “ah, no biggie, I just lost a fetus…can always make another one!” Yet, when talking about abortion the act is minimized by never referring to it as a baby and arguing that it’s not in fact a baby.

      I’m not the one doing the manipulating.

        • Kevin

          Come on now, we’re all adults here. This blatant manipulation is not fooling anyone. The use of “baby” as a term of endearment is a slang definition and you very well know that.

          • Allison

            Does someone not know science? Technically, they are not babies. A fertilized egg is a zygote, then it becomes a blastocyst, embryo, and finally, after 8 weeks (10 weeks after pregnancy), it is a fetus. Bear in mind the fetus is basically a parasite (definition being an organism that lives off or in another organism, obtaining nourishment and protection while offering no benefit in return) until it is able to have a chance or surviving outside the uterus.

            A mother can “call” her gestating cells whatever she likes, but it is not the correct term. So who is manipulating?

          • Kevin Geary

            Allison,

            We’re talking about practical language. Have you ever been pregnant? Have you ever had someone come up to you and say, “When is your zygote due?” “When is your fetus due?”

            “the fetus is basically a parasite”

            But this, again, is manipulation of language. A parasite, in a practical sense, is something you do not want inside you. A fetus/baby, is something mothers CHOOSE to have inside them (yes, you’ll surely bring up the edge cases of rape and incest to cloud the picture because you love manipulation so much…but I digress).

          • Allison

            No, actually, I would not bring up rape and incest. Either way, a pregnancy is a pregnancy. It is a scientific process that occurs in the female. I was essentially pointing out that the proper way of speaking about gestating zygotes is just that. There is no child until it can survive outside a mother’s body. That is what I like to call an operational definition. Science.

            And people say they had a miscarriage most of the time, as well as people saying when are YOU due, not when is the baby due. until it IS a baby, why call it that except for being emotionally charged?

          • Kevin Geary

            You’re seriously going to argue that people don’t call unborn children babies? You’re being intellectually dishonest to defend your act of aggression against unborn children.

            I’m not going to have an entire abortion debate with you, because you’ve already shown intellectual dishonesty by insisting that people don’t refer to unborn children as babies and that unborn babies are “parasites.” I don’t have the time or patience for that childish nonsense.

  • Aurum Raptor

    I’m impressed with your article. It surprises me that it takes a series of analyses to discover that authoritarian parenting results in not-exactly-well-developed children and young people. I would have figured it was common sense and simple logic – clearly my faith in humanity was misplaced. I am a prime campaigner against this kind of behaviour, for it is extremely prevalent where I live. You, sir, speak the truth and are worthy of my appraisal. Very well done on speaking out and injecting some colour into this controversial black-and-white situation.

  • Linnea

    This was fantastically blunt and unapologetic – and consequently, exactly what I needed to squelch the last of the doubters which reside in my own head when it comes to my parenting path. Now I can argue with myself more effectively, and eventually maybe even stop arguing with myself altogether, and fully embrace the parenting style of my intiution, without comments from the peanut-gallery of my conditioning. Thank you

  • Alan

    Fantastic article. I cannot believe I am guilty of the wrong kind of parenting I have been expressing for so many years trying to control that which was out of my reach to control and believed that anger, hostility, threats verbally and physical were the way to resolve issues at home with my kids. Ironically, I believed, from the bottom of my heart, that my way was the best way to handle situations. Most excellent read.

  • Christine

    Thank you for this article and this website! It really helps me to not feel so out there. I practice peaceful parenting although I didn’t know it was a thing or there was a name for it. I have heard many of these same arguments, especially the being a friend and so I am not a parent thing. I am really proud of my kids, both teens, and I get complimented all the time on them.
    I think that talk or force does very little, that kids tend to do what you do not what you say. If I expect something from my kids, then I expect it of myself too. I am far from perfect, but I do my best to set an example with my own life. Kids are their own people, they have their own thoughts and feelings. My hope is that they will always feel okay coming to me for guidance when they need it.
    I feel privileged to know and watch my kids growing up. I am so fortunate!

  • Kelly

    Kevin,
    This is actually the first time I have heard of “Peaceful Parenting” in a way that presents it as more than “Permissive Parenting.” I have not really delved into the idea because it never really seemed that appealing to me before. However, after reading two posts from you, I feel like, “Ah ha! This may be the missing link I’ve been looking for!” Are there any books you can recommend? Or would you be willing to perhaps email back and forth a bit? I briefly looked into it on my own, but I found little to help me as it all leaves me feeling very helpless, asking, “But what about when you have multiple children? You can’t give that kind of attention and time to EVERY child ALL the time. And what about the father? Doesn’t he deserve some love and respect too? How can you maintain the ‘sacred mommy-daddy time’ if you’re dropping everything all the time for your kids? What about yourself?” Of course those questions leave me feeling confused. I can’t just give two of my kids back! lol. I am sure that’s not what Peaceful Parenting is about either. I doubt there would be a following to a philosophy that can’t apply to anyone with more than one kid. If you can help me find some reliable information, that would be great!
    Thank you so much for your time!
    ~Kelly

    • Kevin Geary

      Hi Kelly,

      I’ve been thinking about doing a podcast episode where I bring on a guest that is open to the philosophy but has a bunch of questions. Basically, I’ll just let the person fire away for an hour or so. Maybe you’re the right person for that episode?

  • smorales

    Thanks so much for this piece. Like you, I will enjoy sharing it in order to save some of my breath. I’m a mom of twin 6 year olds who are peacefully parented and here is a discussion between my kids this morning:

    Henri and Aurora discussing when Henri will agree to be done with a toy they mutually own:

    Aurora- “Can I play with it in 10 minutes?”
    Henri- “No…I’m not happy with that…”
    Aurora- “How about 20? I’ll deal with 20 minutes.”
    Henri- “Ok, I will agree to that.”
    Aurora- “I’ll even deal with waiting 29 minutes!”
    Henri- “I’ll go with that, then!”
    Aurora- smiles and says “oops…”

    29 minutes later, Henri hands the toy to Aurora. Both are content. I didn’t have to do anything.

    They don’t fight and argue like typical siblings and it is due to them learning tools of negotiation and communication alongside respect and non-aggression. Their lives are better because of parenting this way. Is it hard? Sure! It takes time, effort, patience…like anything worthwhile.

    Thank you, again!

  • Maureen McCarthy

    Peaceful Parenting needs to start with our babies; we need to treat and respond to them with respect, empathy and kindness. This means giving up callous “independence-training” techniques such as leaving babies alone to cry uncomforted. Research findings from the fields of neuroscience, anthropology, psychology, etc. show their harmfulness – to babies’ brains, anti-anxiety systems, health and physical development, as well as to babies’ relationships with and trust in their parents. You can learn more at http://www.ListenToYourBaby.com. Peace.

  • Angi

    While there is SO many things I completely disagree with–first and foremost that does not make any sense and is a complete cycle is your quote

    “Negotiating with kids is a sign of weakness.”
    Using the word “negotiation” and “parenting” in the same sentence is a no-no in the authoritarian world. The fear is that permitting negotiation gives kids power and “if you give kids an inch, they’ll take a mile.” The reality is that the world operates on the principle of negotiation and negotiating with kids will give them the tools they need to be successful, peaceful adults.”

    Okay…..so then if you negotiate with your child then how do you do your next quote?
    ““Kids need to hear the word ‘no’ so they don’t turn into spoiled brats.”
    You are right that kids need to learn boundaries, limits, and self-regulation. But they learn that through teaching and modeling, not by hearing an arbitrary word. ”

    Maybe your kids are complete saints, but when I use the word “no” the go into negotiating mode–which then defeats the purpose of the kids “hearing the word no.”

    I’ve used the time-outs, the take away toys, the explaining, all of this–sorry, but my child is a complete brat. He does not respect anyone. I’m at a loss as this “no spanking” thing isn’t working and hasnt worked in over 6 yrs. So, I will go to what I did with my first child (whom is the sweetest, most caring, and gentle child ever) and explain where needed, and spank when needed.

    Until I hear from a child that said “spanking made me turn into a mass murderer” I think I will use that as a form of severe punishment.

    I don’t need my child growing up in the world being so over sensitive that when his boss says “no” he runs crying into his office. This is what is happening with our kids needing “safe spaces” because their parents never effectively taught them toughness and love.

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  • Guy

    I’m sorry, but pretending the world doesn’t revolve around violence is pure absurdity.

    Sure we have laws and people claim they want peaceful lives, but on a constant basis people always turn to violence.

    For example, you break the law, what happens? You get arrested, by an armed man or woman, who if you don’t cooperate will cause you violent harm, this isn’t an opinion, but a fact. This holds true on the small and large scale. A country wants something from another country, sure they can negotiate, but the end of the day, even within negotiation the threat of war pushes us forward.

    Violence needs to be embraced in the sense that not only is a part of the world we live in, all animals act violently towards other animals and even other animals within their species (usually more so).

    Now I ask, as parents our job is to what? Make kids think that the world is this great place, where a peaceful negotiation will bring you what you want? No, we need to raise our children knowing that if aren’t prepared to violently protect yourself and your self interests, then you aren’t willing to protect it at all.

    That being said, perhaps there are other solutions, but seeing the trend of the kind of people who have children (and yes before you ask I don’t believe everyone should have the right to have children) and how they act and how they raise their children, is it any surprise that at the end of the day violence is king, it the underlying factor of our world.

  • virginia

    thank you!

    the only point that got stuck in my craw was the one where children aren’t the parent’s property. i see my child as my responsibility/mine/my property/myself. i also believe in the marriage vows where the spouses belong to one another as well. can’t a family be each other’s “property” while honoring the individual’s wants/needs at the same time? we are all bound and belong to one another and that is our love.

    see, i hear progressives state that children do not belong to parents and that children belong to everyone/the community/the state and i do not like the implications of that. i also hear progressives claiming that childhood is a social construct and they push “children’s rights” and use that propaganda as an argument for lowering the age of consent and to promote pedophilia.

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12 Absurd Arguments Peaceful Parents Are Sick of Hearing

by Kevin Geary time to read: 11 min
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