I’m a parenting coach – this is why smacking your children could ruin your relationship forever
- Gen Muir is an Obstetric Social Worker and Parent Educator
- The Australian parenting expert shared her thoughts on disciplining children
A parenting expert has revealed why ‘smacking’ your children can lead to life-long mistrust and permanently damage your relationship.
Gen Muir, from Sydney, is an Obstetric Social Worker and Parent Educator who has worked with more than 40,000 parents over her career.
As a mum-of-four, Gen has a great understanding of the challenges modern parents face while raising their children.
Gen has come across thousands of parents who ‘slam’ gentle parenting and think the only way to discipline a child is to ‘hit first and ask questions later’.
But research has revealed that physical punishment results in children not being able to trust their parents to help them when they’re in trouble – so they end up hiding parts of their lives and emotionally distancing themselves from their family.
Gen often hears other people say that children won’t learn if there are no harsh consequences, or that [the adults] who were smacked at children turned out ‘fine’.
In a recent clip, the parenting expert shared an anecdote about how one of her clients completely changed his view on the best way to discipline his child.
‘I had a session with a dad about boundaries and how to set them without smacking, a time out, or any form of punishment,’ Gen said.
The dad felt like his son wasn’t respecting him, and revealed that his own father used to mercilessly hit him as a child.
‘He was so swift with punishments – my siblings and I learned to respect and not to question him,’ the man said.
He then asked Gen if his son questioning him was a lack of respect, and if it was truly so ‘wrong’ to hit children as he turned out ‘fine’.
But Gen told him that while it was confusing to do things differently from your parents, it’s important to understand the social context of their behaviour.
Gen Muir is an Obstetric Social Worker and Parent Educator who has worked with more than 40,000 parents over her career
‘The new way of setting boundaries might have a child who ‘looks’ like they’re disrespecting you or they’re having these big feelings in public – and you might doubt yourself and think you would never have behaved like that.
‘If you hit and scare your kids, you might get respect – or what looks like respect in the moment – but ultimately, your child is not learning how to work through their emotions with the co-regulation that the parent provides.’
The parenting expert added, ‘Evidence says they won’t come to you – you won’t be the first phone call when they’re in trouble at 16 because you’ve taught them that you will shut down and hit them, you will send them to their room.’
The dad then had a realisation and revealed that he would have ‘never’ gone to his father with a problem.
‘My dad would be the last person on my list, even if I had a problem now,’ he said.
As a mum-of-four, Gen has a great understanding of the challenges modern parents face while raising their children
Many shared their views on ‘gentle parenting’ after being smacked as children.
‘I thought I was fine until I had my own kid,’ a mum said. ‘Now I’m dealing with repressed trauma and healing while trying not to repeat my parents’ mistakes.’
‘You’re absolutely right,’ another said, ‘My mother could never understand why we weren’t close but I wasn’t allowed to have my own voice.’
‘Strict parents always use the word ‘respect’ when they mean ‘obedience’ – it’s not how you treat small children,’ a third wrote.
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