Parent's Fury at Ex's Father for Spanking Son Cheered—'He Has Hit My Child'

The internet has slammed a grandfather after he spanked his 4-year-old grandson for misbehaving.

In a post on the London-based discussion site Mumsnet, a mom shared her concern after her ex-partner's father hit her son.

"My son can have big meltdowns/big tantrums, usually when he's very tired. More so when he's at his grandparent's house," she wrote. "They have communicated to me that they found his behavior very difficult at one point, but it seems to have resolved now."

But after a conversation with her son, she was left taken aback.

"My son, aged 4, told me yesterday evening that grandad smacked his bottom because he was being naughty and that it 'really hurt,' he got upset as he was telling me and cried. I get the impression this wasn't necessarily recent," said the mom.

Child scared, woman concerned
A file photo of a man standing in front of a child with fist clenched, and a picture of a woman sitting looking concerned, inlay. Prostock-Studio/fizkes/Getty Images

She admitted that her son can play up at bedtime, and her 4-year-old told her that grandad "pushes him back onto the bed for being naughty at bed time."

Tracie O. Afifi, a professor in community health sciences and psychiatry and an expert in child maltreatment and mental health, told Newsweek that hitting a child has no place in parenting.

"There are thousands of studies across decades, and all indicate that hitting a child, even as what parents and caregivers refer to a spanking or smack, is associated with an increased likelihood of poor outcomes for the child including injury, aggression, antisocial behavior, poor parent-child relationships, slower cognitive development, mental disorders, physical health problems, substance use, thinking about suicide, attempting suicide, and violence later in life in intimate relationships," Afifi told Newsweek.

"There are no studies that show that spanking is beneficial to the child. Those who think that is it if done in a certain way are only expressing opinions that have never been backed (and have been refuted) by science."

Turning to the internet for support, the mom explained she was not sure what to do next.

"They are huge sources of childcare, my ex-partner is supposed to have him two nights per week but often works away so they will have him," she said. "I am furious that he has hit my child. Am I overreacting as it was just a smack on the bottom? My son can be very challenging there."

On Mumsnet, users rushed to support the mom and told her that she was not overreacting.

"I don't think you are overreacting. I would not want them to have your son unsupervised again," said one reply, while another wrote: "Personally I would be fuming and it would be the last time they had contact with my child, or at least unsupervised contact."

"The mom is describing normal behavior for a 4-year-old," said Afifi. "The mom needs to communicate to the grandfather that they do not use physical punishment and that he is also not allowed to use physical punishment when caring for the child."

Other commenters suggested communicating her concerns with the grandparents first. One Mumsnet user said: "Personally I would remind them that you don't want any smacking but I wouldn't cut them off unless they refused to stop."

Another reply said: "You could discuss it with them and say that smacking even on the bottom is no longer acceptable, and tell them how you want challenging behavior dealt with."

Afifi explained that she wished more parents and carers understood the potential impact of the wrong discipline on children. "There are no only risks involved with hitting a child. You are increasing the likelihood that the child will experience poor outcomes in the future," she said. "Spanking is not effective in the long term. It may stop the tantrum in the moment for a short time. It is not a long term solutions. The behavior will happen again resulting in the need to hit again. Positive parenting works to reduce or prevent the unwanted child behavior in the long term and it comes with no risks to the child."

"Saying that we shouldn't spank our children—or use any form of physical discipline—is not the same as saying do nothing. You still need to have rules, boundaries, and non-physical consequences that match the situation," she added.

Newsweek was not able to verify the details of the case.

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