Tell Me About It: Mom, dad differ on spanking their toddler

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Question: My husband and I have a toddler who has never been spanked. We have differing views. He's old-school and thinks kids need a spanking occasionally. I both abhor the idea of hitting my child and fear I might take things too far if I don't draw a bright line in the sand that our family doesn't hit.

We did discuss this pre-child, but we remember the outcome of that conversation quite differently (which probably signals its own set of issues). Any advice? He's not someone who finds "the research says . . . " compelling.

Answer: That in itself is cause for concern. "The research" is an idea that warrants skepticism, certainly, because it has been used to justify all kinds of contradictory things over the years. Still, taking a dismissive position is different from being skeptical. That has more than a whiff of his thinking his way is right and everyone else - science, the village, you - can stuff it.

It's time to tell him you feel very strongly here - about the spanking issue in particular, and the need for compromise, flexibility and mutual respect as co-parents in general.

This isn't about getting your way - parents will disagree on things - it's about getting your due respect. Spell that out for him, too.

If you don't believe you're getting that, then it's referee time, be it with a parenting class or a marriage and family therapist.

You also can't ignore the fact that he hasn't actually spanked your child - right? Philosophies are important, yes, but not as important as what he does.