Today, parents are far less likely to use spanking to discipline their children than were parents of previous generations. Megan McArdle of The Atlantic links the decline in corporal punishment as a parenting technique to a general increase in parental supervision, which facilitated a move from the belt (which delivers “swift punishment for detected wrongdoings”) to the gold star (which requires being constantly on the look-out for good behavior).
But is this new, intensive form of parenting (with an emphasis on greater monitoring and incentivized behaviors) actually better for our kids? McArdle notes parenthetically that employers complain that young workers are too entitled, and struggle in the absence of structure. But what if we have moral issues with corporal punishment? Is there a way to effectively parent with neither the belt nor the gold star?
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