When Spanking Your Children Becomes a Fight Between Black and White

Hi Meltingpot Readers,

In all my years thinking and writing about the clashes that can occur in interracial/multicultural relationships, the debate over spanking was never one of them. But recently author and child advocate, Dr. Stacey Patton wrote on her blog about a letter she received from a White father who needed advice because his Black wife’s family used spanking as a form of discipline and he refused. And now race was becoming part of the fight. It made me think. Check out the situation for yourself and see how Patton advised the father.

I’m curious, what other clashing parenting traditions do you think come up in inter-cultural relationships? I know el esposo and I are always fighting over whether sleep-away camp is a rite of passage or a form of child abuse. What about you guys? What are your parenting culture clashes about? Feel like sharing?

You know I’m listening.


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11 Thoughts to “When Spanking Your Children Becomes a Fight Between Black and White”

  1. Soy yo

    I’m an American married to a Finn and living in Finland, so race is not really an issue ( except whe people assume my daughter’s brown eyes MUST come from me, the non Finn, lol) but culture certainly is.

    I think potty training might become a battle because I have people already saying I should have started at 3 months, 6 months, and my daughter is not a year old yet!

    Also here kids are much more independent, you can see kids on the bus alone going to and from school that are only 6 or 7. They all have cell phones, at least and with good reason. When we moved here my son was almost 9 and when I found out the only option was for him to walk and ride the regular public bus to school and back and that there was no after school care available after age 6, it was a tough adjustment! We got him a cell phone right away, needless to say. I can remember calling him a lot in mornings and afternoons to check and making a rule that he MUST answer.

    Good thing crime is extremely low here, even in this big metropolitan area!

    I don’t know that there is a cultural issue with spanking, my husband says he used to have to go out in the yard to choose his own switch for a spanking…. With my son, I have swatted his clothed bottom with my hand and even that seemed to be sufficient. Also like others said, after a few times, the threat worked well.

    My dh is not going to hit our kids with a switch, but I am not sure how he feels about a swat on the bum.i guess we should talk about it!

    1. Soy yo

      Oh I meant to say I am a white American, not to imply that being American = white!

      1. Ms. Meltingpot

        This is a great perspective. Thanks for sharing. And clearly spanking is not something only Black people do. It’s great to hear the switch example from non-Black people. That sounds horrible, but I hope you get what I mean. 🙂

        1. Wendy

          Going out to get your own switch or retrieving your father’s belt was very common in my neck of the woods.

  2. a

    I hope i dont sound like willie lynch seriously i dont. we are not talking about abuse or slavery but i grew up in da hood. I know my family and say what you want i never really got beat but the threat actually did keep me in line as a child esp in an envirnoment where if you dont obey you could get killed. The severity of situations called for extreme measures my young mind simply didnt understand the dangers i was up against but i understood pain meant ‘dont do that again’. Thats hard to explain to the ‘modern family’ i dont want my kid blowing up stuff you know.

    1. Ms. Meltingpot

      I hear you and I feel you. And I was threatened with spankings as a child too and I don’t feel abused or insecure as a result. And I only recall maybe one or two actual spankings. After that, the threat was all I needed. I do believe spanking can be dangerous and in principle should be avoided, but I also believe in allowing families to figure out works for them. It’s a tricky thing to mandate. Thanks for sharing though. I appreciate your insight.

  3. a

    I spank i am blk and white. My husband prolly cannot b white soley bc we spank round these parts and it works. I prolly would not spank a white child. Or a black child who grew mostly around white people. I know its not politically correct to say. But spanking or threats of spanking worked with me and i am prolly 60% blk so there will b beatings in my house sorry. Sometimes a conversation or priveledges being revoked simply is not effective esp when you grow up poor. There are no priveledges lol. There sometimes is no reasoning with a hardheaded child and i was a hardheaded child. Pain is the only thing that was effective. I know prolly sound REALLY racist but i respond to something i can feel. Ie. A hot stove, telling me was not always effective. Thereason i would not spank a white child is simply in my experience they do not respond well to spanking and it creates further rebellion and not obedience.

  4. Mi

    Hi LT,

    I just wanted to leave this link about the new pope’s Latino identity. When I first heard his parents were Italians, I was confused as to why the American media kept referring to him as the first Latino pope. I then decided to go along after I found out he was born and raised in Argentina. Latino or not, Habemus Papam and I think identity politics is very entertaining.


    1. Ms. Meltingpot

      Totally agreed! Thanks for the link.

  5. Cyretha

    As you know, we don’t have children, but if we did, I am sure the issue of at what age should children have sex would be the hot topic. Often we have discussed this. My husband believes children should have sex whenever they want. I am like “No Way”!!!!!! I don’t care if it is a boy or a girl. Now, I am not so conservative to believe in only abstinence, but there are just too many emotional issues to have to deal with if you let the hormones get the best of you. I have had this conversation with some of my friends who have children. At least two of my friends with kids under 20 let their children bring their dates home for sleepovers. In one case they even make up the guest bed so that the couple can sleep together. That for sure would have never happened in my parents’ house.

    1. Ms. Meltingpot

      I am totally with you. “No way!!!!!!” Let’s keep our kids, boys and girls, believing in waiting until the right person and the right time. Puh-lease.

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