As expected, Martin Freeman’s admission he has smacked his children twice drew outrage yesterday.
In some quarters, the Hobbit actor’s words were misrepresented to suggest he does it excessively.
In others, he was vilified for having done it in the first place. Yet here’s the thing: most people I know who are dead set against smacking don’t have children.
The rest struggle to deal with their kids challenging their authority.
That’s not a judgment, no parent is perfect – me included.
But we all start out with the best intentions of reasoning calmly with our sons and daughters when the reality is that most parents – as Freeman put it – reach “the end of their rope”.
He said: “One of the rules is, don’t smack your kids or call them little f***ers. But, you know, I’ve done both.
“This idea you only ever rationalise with a toddler? Genuinely, good luck. If you can do that, God go with you.”
I have to be honest, I have more of a problem with the language than the smacking.
Yes, there are some cases where people do cross the line. They absolutely should be prosecuted.
But no sensible parent would genuinely want to arbitrarily harm their offspring.
In most cases it is the parent who feels worse after the act than the child.
It is illegal to smack a child under The Children Act 2004 unless it amounts to “reasonable punishment”.
Yet many of the kids sticking two fingers up to authority these days have probably never been chastised or heard the word “no”.
Those who were smacked include ex-Blue Peter presenter Radzi Chinyanganya, who maintained on Monday that it did him no harm.
He told the Jeremy Vine Show: “I got a couple of… slaps on my bum… but looking back it was good for me because six-year-old Radzi wasn’t going to be rationalising with logic and reason.”
Parenting isn’t an exact science. The nonsense they feed you in ante-natal classes goes out of the window when you enter the delivery suite.
After that, each parent is doing the best they can. Freeman included.
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