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Are You an Ostrich Parent? You Refuse To Listen To Expert Parenting Advice?

Bonnie Harris

Health, Wellness, & Safety

Are you the parent or do you know the parent who says, “Nobody’s going to tell me how to raise my kids. What was good enough for me is good enough for them. I was smacked all the time, and I came out just fine.”

I call these Ostrich Parents. The parents who can’t or won’t look beyond their own experiences to see there are better ways; the parents who don’t trust trusting children; the parents who see the only option to the traditional reward and punishment method as push-overs who let their kids run wild with no limits.

Recently, researchers from the University of Manitoba reported on data from more than 34,000 adults and found that being spanked and other forms of corporal punishment increased the risk of developing mental health issues and mood disorders in adults, including depression, anxiety, personality disorders and alcohol and drug abuse. Corporal punishment includes spanking, slapping, shoving, grabbing, and hitting. Being spanked increases the risk of major depression by 41 percent, alcohol and drug abuse by 59 percent, and mania by 93 percent.

The study was no surprise. The comments at the end of the article were startling. A few of the comments included the following:

  • This article is ridiculous. That is all.
  • My Mom was a serial spanker when I was a kid. I am 63 and have managed a pretty normal life and I am no murderer or haven’t attempted suicide.
  • In my 65 years I’ve seen the results of people who were spanked and people who weren’t. I’ll hang out with the spanked ones, the others are usually horribly self-centered.
  • I was spanked as were my siblings, as were my children.
  • I got spanked quite a few times as a kid, and I deserved every one I ever got.
  • Me too! And heaven help us if we picked a bad switch!
  • I disagree with the experts, that is what is wrong with this society. There is no consequence for their actions, so they don’t have a valid reason to not just do whatever they want – from disrupting in public to murdering someone.
  • Lets not try to turn the tables to keep from spanking these bad a– kids.
  • No study is going to tell me how to raise my kids. My mom did it old school and the four of us turned out just fine.

Are we really fine? Can we stick our heads in the sand and say what was good enough for me is good enough for my kid and expect better results? Do we really think our emotional state as a result of physical and emotional punishment is not going to affect our kids? We have a society of the walking wounded.

  • 22 million Americans have a substance abuse or dependency problem
  • A half-a-million US children 9 – 12 are addicted to alcohol
  • More than 10 million abuse prescription medications
  • About 1 in 9 youths abuse prescription drugs

And then there’s food, gambling, and sex addictions, workaholism, anorexia, bulimia, cutting, etc. The reason for most addictions and substance abuse problems is depression, avoidance, and covering up emotional pain.

  • An estimated 1 in 10 US adults take anti-depressants.
  • Pre-schoolers are the fastest-growing market.
  • The percentage of prescriptions for antidepressants written by non-psychiatrists has more than doubled in recent years.

Do we really not think that these statistics reflect how we have been bringing up children for the past many generations? Addictions of all kinds are attempts to feel good because without the substance or behavior, the person is left feeling empty, lost, depressed, unloved, misunderstood, unappreciated.

When a child screams, “No you can’t make me. You’re not the boss of me” or “You’re stupid, I hate you”, many parents can interpret the words as expressions of the frustration and powerlessness provoking the words. These parents do not take the words personally.

But many parents scream back, “Oh yes, I can too make you. I most certainly am your boss and you will learn that.” And “Don’t you dare talk to me like that. You get to your room and don’t come out till you have something nice to say.” The frustration and powerlessness are missed totally and all attention is put on the behavior—only the tip of the iceberg.

These are the parents who are not fine; the ones who suffered the same emotional and verbal abuse as children; the ones whose buttons are getting pushed and are passing on their legacy.

Ostrich parents! Take your heads out of the sand and look around. Your lives could be so much better. And your children will have a better chance of turning out the way you want.

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Bonnie Harris

Bonnie Harris, M.S.Ed. is the director of Connective Parenting and is an international speaker and parent educator. She has taught groups and coached parents privately for thirty years. Bonnie is the author of two books, "When Your Kids Push Your Buttons" and "Confident Parents, Remarkable Kids: 8 Principles for Raising Kids You’ll Love to Live With”. You can learn more about her work at or follow her on Facebook