Smack by Cartoon Illustrator Maeve O’Keeffe

Cartoon illustrator
Smack by Illustrator Maeve O’Keeffe

Smack – Cartoon Illustrator

Is it OK to smack your child for bad behaviour?  Pope Francis apparently thinks so, sparking controversial debate across newsprint, social media and radio.  Last Monday, it was one of the topics on PJ Coogan’s ‘Opinion Line’ @pjcoogan on @Corks96FM .  As a mother of three, I’ve had many scenarios where discipline is needed and was happy to join the discussion.

Speaking about fatherhood, Pope Francis is said to have recalled a father telling him “At times I have to hit my children a bit, but never in the face, so as not to humiliate them.” That’s great,” the Pope seemingly agreed, “He had a sense of dignity. He should punish, do the right thing and then move on.”

Some of the listeners who spoke on PJ’s show had no problem with this. A slap or smack on the bottom would do their child no harm, arguing that “Our parents did it to us and we turned out alright.”  Admittedly, these smacks were used sparingly, with one caller divulging that the threat of the wooden spoon was enough to make him behave!  The shame of a slap stays with you, while another caller reminded that we must be parents first and friends second.

So if we ‘Spare the rod’ do we ‘Spoil the child?’  I don’t agree that slapping a child is acceptable.  There are other ways to teach manners, discipline and good behaviour.  Kids aren’t stupid.  Deprive them of something they like – like PlayStation or computer games and they’ll get the message.  Sure, you’ll hear the roars and rants of protest “That’s not fair,”  “I hate you!” “You’re the worst mother in the world.”   So what?  Stand firm, lock the damn thing away and remember – we’re their parents, not their pals.

We’re human.  Being a parent is tough and believe me, there are times when our kids drive us demented but no matter how frustrated and frazzled we feel, there is no excuse for hitting a child.  Seeing an adult – a mum or dad do this, sends a message that it’s fine to strike another human being.  What kind of example is that for a child?

Children have a sense of justice, of what’s right and wrong.  It’s wrong to hit.  Likewise it’s wrong to disrespect, bully and victimise people and children need to learn that as early as possible.  But ‘A good slap’ is not the way to go about it.  I know there are no easy answers. Better to lead by example and live kindly?  The Pope is a figure of great influence and should consider the fact that parental discipline has changed and physical violence, no matter how minute or well intended, is not acceptable.

Any comments? Post to my blog or email

Maeve O’Keeffe, the Frazzled Mammy!   ©Maeve O’Keeffe 2015

Maeve O’Keeffe is a Cartoonist, Illustrator and Journalist in Cork, Ireland 

Contact : e-mail or tweet @frazzled_mammy

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