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To Spank or Not To Spank?

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Del Jones, USA Today

The debate over whether CEOs are born or made remains unresolved, but there is one thing they overwhelmingly have in common.

As children, they were paddled, belted, switched or swatted.

Child psychologists wince at such a finding. They warn that spanking slows mental development and retards achievement. They say the last thing parents need in the back of their minds is a suggestion or justification that the rod is the road to vision, ruthless drive and other leadership traits common to CEOs.

But USA Today interviewed about 20 CEOs over three months and, while none said they were abused, neither were any spared. Typical is General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner, 53. He got an occasional "whack in the fanny," while growing up in Richmond, Va., but said he had it coming and that it probably had no influence on his life as a high achiever.

"I probably deserved it more," Wagoner says, and though he spanked his two sons less often, it was "probably not enough," he jokes. "I'm not sure they deserved it less than I did."

The Securities and Exchange Commission doesn't require CEOs to disclose childhood paddlings, so USA TODAY ambushed them with the question during interviews on other topics.

A handful declined to respond. "I don't remember," said Sheldon Adelson, 73, CEO of the Las Vegas Sands casino and hotel operation. The son of poor immigrants grew richer by $1 million an hour over the past two years to become worth $20.5 billion and the third-richest man in America.

But most CEOs answered the question, albeit through forced smiles. "Very, very rarely," said Cisco Systems CEO John Chambers, 56, the son of two doctors, who visited USA TODAY in July for what he knew would be a wide-ranging interview. He had no idea how wide ranging. "I'm from Charleston, West Virginia. My dad was firmer than my mom," he said.

Some CEOs had more heavy-handed parents. Dave Haffner, CEO of Fortune 500 manufacturer Leggett & Platt, says he was familiarized with his father's belt about six times a year. That includes the time Haffner, then 8 or 9, kicked down the screen door after his brother locked him in the basement.

"I received the belt when I deserved it," said Haffner, 54, who spoke with obvious love in his voice for his father, Carl, a mechanic and truck driver who expected every tool to be in its place. After the interview, Haffner volunteered to pose for a photo beside the grave of his father, who died in 1989 at 72.

Is there some connection between corporal punishment and corporate leadership? Most CEOs believe spankings played little or no role in their success but usually could cite important lessons learned. "I'm disciplined, detailed and organized," Haffner says.

Mark Cuban, 48, says he was spanked one or two times but does not remember why. He went on to become worth $2.3 billion, rich enough to buy toys such as the Dallas Mavericks. "I got the this is going to hurt me more than it hurts you' speech from my dad. I don't think spankings influenced my life one way or the other," Cuban says.

A generational thing

University of New Hampshire sociology professor Murray Straus, author of "Beating the Devil Out of Them," has been studying corporal punishment since 1969 and says it comes as no surprise that almost every CEO was spanked. They mostly grew up in the 1950s and 1960s. Although the systematic use of corporal punishment has declined steadily, 90 percent of toddlers are still spanked at least once, he says, and a 1998 Gallup Poll found that 55 percent of parents agreed with the statement "A good hard spanking is sometimes necessary."

But Straus says evidence points to corporal punishment as detrimental. If some spanked children grow up to be successful, even billionaires, it's like saying, go ahead and smoke because two-thirds of smokers don't get lung cancer, he said.

"We don't allow any other humans to be legally hit," says Nadine Block, executive director of the Center for Effective Discipline.

TD Ameritrade CEO Joe Moglia, 55 and the oldest of five children, says he was "hit" about once a month when things were going well, about once a week when they weren't. "If I came home late, chances are I'd get hit. If my parents found out I was someplace I wasn't supposed to be, I'd get hit."

Ditto if Moglia got into a fistfight - unless someone else started it. He remembers his parents as hardworking immigrants with no time for diversions such as swimming lessons. That required strict rules about playing near the Hudson River.

Forty-five years ago, the 10-year-old Moglia and his 9-year-old brother, John, rescued an injured pigeon near the river bank. A year went by. One day, his father gave him a spanking without warning or explanation. When Joe returned to his room, a laughing John revealed that he had blabbed about the pigeon incident.

Joe Moglia said he learned from his parents, and later from his athletic coaches, that "tough love is better than soft love," and he has written books on leadership that recommend positive reinforcement backed up by consequences. "You appreciate good-weather days when you get rain," Moglia says.

Incidences of CEO spankings go well beyond USA TODAY's anecdotal research. Retired General Electric CEO Jack Welch wrote in his 2001 memoir, "Jack: Straight from the Gut," that his mother, Grace, was the disciplinarian in the family. When Welch skipped altar-boy practice, she whacked him with a damp shoe.

Eve Tahmincioglu interviewed 55 CEOs about their backgrounds for her book "From the Sandbox to the Corner Office: Lessons Learned on the Journey to the Top," on sale Monday. The book includes chapters on such things as how CEOs attacked their first jobs and how they overcame bad bosses, but Chapter One is called "Parents: Less Carrot, More Stick."

She found that most CEOs had tough disciplinarians as parents. Among those who told Tahmincioglu that they had been spanked were Time Warner CEO Richard Parsons, Shell Chemicals Executive Vice President Fran Keeth, Alliant Energy Resources former CEO Erroll Davis, SCO Group CEO Darl McBride and United Way CEO Brian Gallagher.

A mean drunk

Gallagher told Tahmincioglu that he was, at a minimum, verbally abused. "My dad was drunk all the time, and he was a very mean guy when he was drunk. It was every day, from the time he woke up in the morning with a shot and a beer. You were just afraid of him." He learned not to feel sorry for himself and that anyone could rise from a bad environment.

Parsons told Tahmincioglu that he was often spanked with a switch from a tree, primarily for misbehaving at school. Switches were also used on Shell's Keeth (from the family's peach tree) and Alliant's Davis (from a tree/bush in the backyard that could be easily stripped of leaves). Keeth says in the book that her father spanked her and her siblings "in a loving way."

Tahmincioglu says she spanks her children, 4 and 6, on rare occasions and has felt less guilty about it since researching her book. "One night, my son was being a bear, and I told my husband, 'Hit him. The CEOs got spanked.' "

She said she did not ask every CEO about their spankings, but among those who answered the question, it was unanimous. None said there was a direct correlation between spanking and success. "But they respected authority. It wasn't a joke to them. They feared their parents but loved them as well. Their parents would follow through with a spanking. Today, there is no follow-through," Tahmincioglu said.

Girls spanked, too

Spanked female executives include Keeth; Nancy McKinstry, the American CEO of giant Dutch publisher Wolters Kluwer; and Wal-Mart Chief Information Officer Linda Dillman.

Nick Turner, the 33-year-old chief financial officer of executive recruiter Kaye/Bassman International, says his sister rarely got spanked, while he and his four brothers got the belt so regularly that "by today's standards, it would be over the top."

Turner says he never went an entire month without a spanking, and he often got them on consecutive days. "Dad raised the boys, and Mom raised the girls," he says. "You were expected to say, Yes, ma'am' and Yes, sir.' You eat at 5:30, and you don't eat with your fingers. You knew it if you didn't mow the yard right away or chop wood or feed horses, you were going to get a spanking, period."

Turner gives credit to corporal punishment for his success. He says he wasn't a bad or malicious child, but he was difficult and needed to learn self-discipline and to focus on a goal. "I certainly wouldn't have done that if I had grown up with Mary Poppins."

He meets many top executives in his job as an executive recruiter and estimates that 90 percent or more got spankings. Colleagues at Kaye/Bassman had "crazy discipline" much like his own, and they turned out to be "stable, focused, competitive guys," Turner says.

If that's the case, it happened despite the punishment, not because of it, says Straus, who gave a presentation last month to the International Congress on Childhood Violence in Brazil, a country where just 19 percent agree that a good, hard spanking is sometimes necessary versus 55 percent in the United States. In Greece, 87 percent of parents agree, according to Straus. The worldwide median (half are more, half are less) is 52 percent.

Raju Reddy, the 46-year-old CEO of software company Sierra Atlantic and a native of India who now lives in Fremont, Calif., says spanking is common in Indian homes. But so are grandparents who are on hand to "soften the blow" after a spanking from Mom or Dad.

Reddy declines to discuss the discipline of his own teen children. But typical of CEOs interviewed is Jim Crane, 52, CEO of transportation logistics company EGL, who says he used an infrequent swat to get the attention of his son and daughter, now both in college.

Times are changing. McKinstry says she has never spanked her children. Moglia says he's found grounding or taking away some other liberty to be more effective.

"They have more time to think about it. If you get slapped a couple of times, it's over in 30 seconds."

Although children grow too old for spankings, their influence remains for a lifetime. When Haffner graduated from high school, his father insisted that he attend a small college, play football and maintain strict discipline. Instead, Haffner chose to go to the University of Missouri-Columbia, which his father believed to be infested with unsavory influences.

"He threw down the gauntlet," Haffner says. The two didn't speak for a couple of years. "He couldn't whip me anymore. It was because I had to prove my father wrong that I graduated at the top of the engineering class. It was a major contributor to my success. I miss the ol' coot."

Spanking doesn't make them bad parents

Straus says it comes as no surprise that CEOs who were spanked express great affection for their parents. It's not just bad parents who spank. "So do very good parents," he says. "They would be even better parents if they didn't spank, and their kids would be doing even better."

Sara Blakeley may be an exception. She says she was "spanked and spanked often," so much that she would wear all of her days-of-the-week underwear at the same time to soften the blow.

Today, she is the founder and owner of a women's undergarment company approaching $1 million in sales.

Blakeley says she thought of a name for her company while sitting in Atlanta traffic. It's a name that nobody seems to forget.

Spanx.

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:no: I watch The Super Nanny! She rocks!! :dance:

Everyone that has (or wants to have) kids should watch her show... it's great!


OUR COMPLETE TIMELINE

Latest steps:

10/26/2006- Consulate receives case (seriously, one month to receive the case?? BS!), and packet 3 that I sent even before they had received the case.

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01/31/2007- I'll have to send them one last financial support evidence.

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I dont belive in hitting kids. I certainly willl threaten them with a beat down but, would never follow through..

Unfortunately, your kids will know this. They will play you and basically wind you up because they are EMPTY threats. If you are going to threaten them with something, and they do what you are telling them not to, you NEED to follow through with it.

If you're not going to smack your child (a "beat down"? #######?) choose a more suitable punishment. Remove toys, games or priviledges.

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My ex-girlfriend had 2 children and they were at times little hellions! The reason they were allowed to be that was is "Child Protective Services". Their mother had issues when she was brought to the USA from Greek by an alcoholic and abusive man this was when she was pregnant with her first and that child was taken away until she could prove independence from him and she worked her @$$ off to get prove that she was not dependant on the guy!

When the second child was born (4 years later), the father was so "cheap" he would not pay for formula for the child and since her milk was not effective in feeding this child CPS thought she was starving it.

With her past she is afraid that CPS would step in again even though she was merely disciplining. The oldest child (and it seems many children today) know that if they were spanked that they could complain and this complaint would be reported to the CPS, even if they deserve (need) it.

I believe it is important to discipline a child for wrongdoing and that includes spanking! I do agree there is a point when it can become abuse (that woman in the shopping mall parking lot comes to mind).

With the government involvement I would suggest that it is difficult to give the discipline (spankings) without being accused of abuse and this worries me about the direction of our country...among other things! ;)


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I dont belive in hitting kids. I certainly willl threaten them with a beat down but, would never follow through..

In my opinion this is one of the largest downfalls of parenting. If you dont believe in it dont do it, find some other tool. But empty threats confuse children, they never know when you will follow through and when you will not.

Don't say it if you are not prepared to follow through. At a young age kids need consistent parenting.

Of course I dont have children but I have watched my brothers and sisters raise 7 children and have listened to them closely as they have talked about how they would have done things differently. So this is an opinion of an observer.

Paul misses Anna

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EYE CONTACT, STERN VOICE! PRICELESS!

We got a new tv, so he made a fort out of the box! Josh in the box!

Edited by Carol&Marc

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CAROL & MARC

MY HONEY'S PROFILE

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Discipline HAS to start early, has to be consistent with both parents and you have to follow through. I have seen out of control cousins who were so bad I even wanted to smack them all because one parent would try to discipline and the other would defend them and in the end no sort of disciplinary action occurred. All I know is the more I learn about how bad some kids are the more scared I become of being a mom. The main thing I am scared about are my parents because this will be their first grandchild and they are going to want to spoil it. Okay I'm hyperventilating again...

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Timeout chair is BS.

I'd say after about age 9 or 10, spanking just doesn't really make sense nor is it effective. Direct consequences - like locking their bike up in the garage for a week when they leave it out on the driveway when you've told them and reminded them plenty of times to put their bike away. It's about teaching your kids responsibility with their behavior - that there is a direct connection between their behavior and the consequences is crucial. When you look at career criminals, they never seemed to have grasped that connection - and most probably never were taught about consequences.

EYE CONTACT, STERN VOICE! PRICELESS!

We got a new tv, so he made a fort out of the box! Josh in the box!

:lol: Cardboard boxes make awesome forts! :yes:

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I don't see anything wrong with a swat on the behind.

I got them. I administered 2 or 3 to my son in his childhood.

What I don't believe in is instilling 'fear' in your child. And you can do that without laying a hand on them.

Let them know you mean what you say. Firmly and fairly.

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[ quote name=Steven_and_Jinky' date='Oct 11 2006, 06:26 AM' post='499892]

Timeout chair is BS.

I'd say after about age 9 or 10, spanking just doesn't really make sense nor is it effective. Direct consequences - like locking their bike up in the garage for a week when they leave it out on the driveway when you've told them and reminded them plenty of times to put their bike away. It's about teaching your kids responsibility with their behavior - that there is a direct connection between their behavior and the consequences is crucial. When you look at career criminals, they never seemed to have grasped that connection - and most probably never were taught about consequences.

EYE CONTACT, STERN VOICE! PRICELESS!

it was a little short

We got a new tv, so he made a fort out of the box! Josh in the box!

:lol: Cardboard boxes make awesome forts! :yes:


coracao.gif

CAROL & MARC

MY HONEY'S PROFILE

Remove Conditions

08-28-08 - Mailed I-751

08-30-08 - Delivered

09-01-08 - Touched

09-03-08 - Check cleared

09-06-08 - NOA1 in the mail (dated 08/29???)

10-09-08 - Biometrics (Touched)

12-16-08 - Email "Card production ordered"

12-24-08 - Santa came and brought my present (Greencard in the mail!)

kitazura.gifkpuppy1.gif

BICHON FRISE LOVER!!!

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I don't see anything wrong with a swat on the behind.

I got them. I administered 2 or 3 to my son in his childhood.

What I don't believe in is instilling 'fear' in your child. And you can do that without laying a hand on them.

Let them know you mean what you say. Firmly and fairly.

I agree. I got spanked when I was a kid, and even though I am the one who received them, I never thought of them as scary or mean, but as a punishment. My parents had a way of doing it that wasn't just lashing out nor intimidating. They never hit hard, just a swat like you said. I wish more parents did that today, because after working with preschoolers and a little older children, I saw how extremely bratty the next generation of children are. It so happens it's the generation of kids who don't get any spankings nor any consequences to their actions.

At the school I worked at, when the kids were bad they had to go to a time out type of chair called "reflection" to reflect on what they did. *rolls eyes* The kids who were always in trouble were always in and out of the chair, and yet always repeating the same things they weren't supposed to do, because their parents at home never disciplined them. The only kids who were sad about going to the time out chair were the kids who were usually well behaved but might have had a bad day. The misbehaved kids would care less.

Whether I spank my own kids, I can't say, until I actually have kids and see what happens.

My parents had us respect them and know they mean what they say, and even mean what they look like. lol My dad could just look at us and we knew we better stop doing whatever we are doing that was bratty. I used that technique on the preschoolers too. With just a look..."you better cut it out". lol But that look was only useful because of the established respect.

Edited by stina&suj

Married since 9-18-04(All K1 visa & GC details in timeline.)

Ishu tum he mere Prabhu:::Jesus you are my Lord

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At the school I worked at, when the kids were bad they had to go to a time out type of chair called "reflection" to reflect on what they did. *rolls eyes* The kids who were always in trouble were always in and out of the chair, and yet always repeating the same things they weren't supposed to do, because their parents at home never disciplined them. The only kids who were sad about going to the time out chair were the kids who were usually well behaved but might have had a bad day. The misbehaved kids would care less.

Yeah. Time-out works sometimes in some situations, but parents have to be active and really look at the underlying issue. For one, kids have a lot of energy and need to expend it. If they are spending a lot of time in front of the TV or playing video games, they're going to get restless. Sometimes kids will act out because that is the only time they will get your attention. I don't think kids are inherently bad or bratty - they just need parents who are actively involved in their lives and there to give them boundaries and guidance.

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At the school I worked at, when the kids were bad they had to go to a time out type of chair called "reflection" to reflect on what they did. *rolls eyes* The kids who were always in trouble were always in and out of the chair, and yet always repeating the same things they weren't supposed to do, because their parents at home never disciplined them. The only kids who were sad about going to the time out chair were the kids who were usually well behaved but might have had a bad day. The misbehaved kids would care less.

Yeah. Time-out works sometimes in some situations, but parents have to be active and really look at the underlying issue. For one, kids have a lot of energy and need to expend it. If they are spending a lot of time in front of the TV or playing video games, they're going to get restless. Sometimes kids will act out because that is the only time they will get your attention. I don't think kids are inherently bad or bratty - they just need parents who are actively involved in their lives and there to give them boundaries and guidance.

I'd feel bad for some of the kids who would be at the school from 7am until 6pm, because both parents worked long hours. I know these days, it usually takes 2 incomes to run a housee, but some of these kids had little to no time with their parents during the day. It'd be bedtime for them after eating dinner and that was the end of the day. It was sad. And many times, they would act out and get in trouble. So we would try to keep them active and having fun in the after school program.

But everything we tried would get reversed when the child was back with their parents, if the parents did not follow through. Many children would act pretty good around us teachers, and as soon as their parents walked in the door, they'd go crazy and do everything they aren't supposed to, because they knew mom and dad wouldn't do anything about it. Like what happens on Supernanny, etc, they know the nanny means business but without the parents following through, as soon as the nanny leaves it reverses back.

Edited by stina&suj

Married since 9-18-04(All K1 visa & GC details in timeline.)

Ishu tum he mere Prabhu:::Jesus you are my Lord

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