In 1956 Trinadad born musician Lord Melody wrote a little diddy called Mama Look a Boo Boo, a song subsequently recorded by Harry Belafonte and also, inexplicably, actor Robert Mitchum. Here's the "King of Calypso" (years before he went bonkers) singing the tune on The Nat King Cole Show. Why show it here? Well, aside from the freakish way Belafonte twitches and jerks, the song itself is about some children so disgusted by their father's hideous physical appearance that their attitude over it drives the man to beat them. Now that's exploitative B-movie fodder if I've ever heard any. (And if the Sci-Fi Channel refused to show it, Lifetime certainly would.)
You know, it's hard to imagine someone getting away with lyrics like these today. "I couldn't even digest me supper - Due to the children's behavior - John (Yes, pa) come here a moment - Bring de belt, you're much too impudent - John says it's James who started first - James tells the story in reverse - I drag my belt from off me waist - You should hear them screamin' round de place - Mama, look a boo-boo they shout - Their mother tell them shut up your mout' - That is your daddy, oh, no - My daddy can't be ugly so." Dysfunctional to say the least. Super Nanny would not be pleased.
On the subject of spanking Richard W. Cross, Ph.D. and father of five, writes that "In its commentary on the fourth commandment, the Catechism references Ecclesiastics 30:1-2, which appears to tolerate if not sanction the use of CP [Corporal Punishment]. "He who loves his son chastises him often..." In the same paragraph, the Catechism extols parents to create a home where there is "... tenderness, forgiveness, respect, fidelity, and disinterested service. There is no commentary on the seeming inconsistency between the two prescriptions. Neither the New Testament, nor subsequent Church teachings on the rearing of children specifically prescribe nor prohibit the use of CP, but rather passively acknowledge that it is an option in encouraging discipline - perhaps a pastoral "silence implies consent." The Catechism’s juxtaposition of Ecclesiastics 30:1-2, with the surrounding commentary would suggest that the Roman Catholic Church’s most recent statement would recommend the principle that virtuous parents may use CP as a disciplinary measure towards their children."
But, like everything else, the freedom to tan a child's hide can't be separated from the restraints inherent in the rest of Church teaching. After a rather thorough essay in which he examines the religious, familial, societal, and governmental aspects of discipline, Dr. Cross reaches the conclusion that "CP is a tool that parents must use along with a heavy dose of love and affection, the parent’s own self-discipline, and clearly stated rules in the family. Those who use CP indiscriminately, who lack common sense, or self-control, or moral character, will use CP poorly simply because it will issue forth from them not as a matter of family law and a sense of the common good, but simply as another form of impulsiveness. It is not the use of this tool of CP that betrays a character flaw in the bad parent, but rather, it is the parent with a significant character flaw who uses CP badly."