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05/10/2011 / melgardener

The Slap – Are you going to watch?

I heard about this book and subsequent mini-series some time ago and it piqued my interest so I picked up a copy and, all figures of speech aside, absolutely devoured it in a weekend.

I’m sure most of you would have heard about the premise by now – a weekend barbecue, a parent slaps a child, chaos ensues. The attendees at the barbecue are divided: was it the right thing to do or is hitting a child always wrong? From all reports, readers of the book were also divided and, when it was released in 2008, provoked many heated discussions on just this subject.

This week, the miniseries airs on ABC1 and, from what I’ve heard, it’s pretty true to the book (not surprising, given that the book’s author Chrisos Tsiolkas had a hand in the screenplay). It’s sure to set tongues wagging around the water cooler again as this is an issue that has long divided many members of our society.

As a mum with kids who have friends around to play, this is a treacherous path I tread often. The simple fact is that different kids require different levels of discipline in different surroundings – and it’s almost impossible to get it right every single time. Particularly as my kids get older, I find I don’t know as much about their friends (or their parents) so I have no moral barometer with which to measure the situation.

I tend to fall back on the tried and true “my house” rules which go something like this: child does something of which you do not approve; you remonstrate with said child who promptly responds with, “but I’m allowed to do it at home”; at which point I explain that it’s not allowed at “my house”. Most of the time this works – I find kids are generally open to the idea that different rules apply both in different environments and in different situations.

But…when it comes to physical discipline, then it’s a different story. I don’t subscribe to smacking or hitting as a form of discipline for my own children and I don’t believe it’s ever appropriate to smack or hit someone else’s child. One of the arguments raised in the book is that maybe the parent was protecting his own son and therefore his response was justified.

For the record, I disagree.

It will be interesting to see how this is portrayed on screen but, the way the incident was described in the book, I cannot feel that ‘the slap’ was the only option left to the parent. Either way, there are sure to be some interesting discussions happening on Friday.

Where do you stand on smacking/hitting children as a form of discipline? Have you read the book? Did you enjoy it?


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