When you have a baby, the barrage of parenting advice out there can feel overwhelming. When you're a first-time parent, it's totally understandable to not only second guess yourself, but to also second guess some of the parenting advice you encounter. And then there is parenting advice that is just plain bad and flat out wrong, like this gem from overseas: One British parenting organization thinks hitting your kids is like breastfeeding them. This would definitely be one of those times were "smh" does not appropriately capture the full extent of my reaction.
Katie Ivens, a member of the Campaign for Real Education in the United Kingdom, appeared on Good Morning Britain on Tuesday to debate the issue of spanking children. (The CRE is described as a right-wing parenting and education group by the BBC, but the group claims it's apolitical.) When asked by the host whether spanking or smacking children should be the "ultimate punishment" or something more regular, Ivens dropped this absurdity on the telly:
I'm saying we have a tactile relationship with our children; we hug them, we kiss them, we breastfeed them and so on and there are times when, like the child running out into the road, I remember when my children did that and I shook them [and said] 'Never you do this again.'
The CRE did not immediately respond to Romper's request for clarity on Iven's comments.
Let's get real here for a hot minute. There is zero correlation between "tactile relationships," such as breastfeeding and showing affection, and corporeal punishment — full stop. There's a world of difference in the message you send to a child when you're breastfeeding them as opposed to when you hit them. One is about sustenance and bonding, the other is about causing pain and harming your child so they don't repeat an action.
The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly opposes spanking or any form of corporeal punishment for children, but it also understands that sometimes parents can get caught up in the heat of the moment, too:
The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly opposes striking a child for any reason. Spanking is never recommended; infants may be physically harmed by a parent who strikes the child. If a spanking is spontaneous, parents should later explain calmly why they did it, the specific behavior that provoked it, and how angry they felt. They also might apologize to their child for their loss of control. This usually helps the youngster to understand and accept the spanking, and it models for the child how to remediate a wrong.
The sole purpose of hitting a child is to use physical pain to communicate when words fail — and it's wrong. I am unapologetic in my belief that it is never OK to hit a child, no matter what. Spanking is associated with no positive outcomes in children, according to a five-decade study looking at spanking's both short- and long-term effects in children.
You can watch the whole exchange above, but let's be clear: hitting a child and breastfeeding are not similar, and the relationship or dynamic each of them helps a parent form with a child are also totally different.