Monthly Archives: October 2014

Spanking was the norm in the 1950s

Is it time to bring back the smack?

Fifty years ago, children sat still in church for an entire hour.

Fifty years ago, primary school students didn’t smart-talk their teachers.

Fifty years ago, kids did not interrupt their parents while they were talking. They. Knew. The. Consequences.

Last week, my mum told me that she saw a toddler tantruming in the middle of a pedestrian crossing in busy Mosman, Sydney. The toddler was holding up traffic, screaming and refusing to move. What did the mother do? Pull him by the wrist and scold him on the other side of the street? Smack his bum? No. She bent down and she reasoned with him. You know, eye-to-eye “now Jimmy, you’re making mummy very sad. I know you’re feeling angry right now” kind of stuff.

My mother tells me this story and shakes her head. “In my day, we would have given that kid a bloody good smack”.

Nowadays the tantruming toddler can be seen everywhere (just come to my house at 7pm).

Children no longer sit still in cafes or restaurants, demanding iPads or else they will kick off. They’re even being banned in some establishments.

Teachers complain that they get no respect from kids at school anymore. Bullying is on the rise…

It makes me wonder…

When did the concept of smacking become so politically incorrect?

Has the trend towards rationalising with our children – instead of giving them a spanking – really led to calmer, happier, children who know right from wrong? Or has it led to spoiled brats, confident they can get their way?

When I was pregnant with my first I knew I would never smack my child. It was hypocritical after all; how can you expect to model good behaviour when you are using a soft degree of violence on your child? No, WE were going to have a zero tolerance policy to smacking.

And then, along came my strong willed, stubborn rock of a daughter. At first I tried every tactic other than smacking to discipline her. I was left exhausted and defeated. Sorry Supernanny, but time-outs and naughty corners only go so far when you’re faced with a girl who could stare down Stalin.


I now firmly believe that smacking is not necessary for ALL children. Some have a temperament that better tolerates vocal reasoning. But others only respond to a firmer form of discipline. They need to understand that someone else is the boss, and makes the right choices for them.

Smacking became un-PC sometime after my generation because I definitely got smacked. I got the belt and the wooden spoon. I knew I was in deeeep trouble when I was smacked bare-bum. But was it ever violent? No. In hindsight, do I feel like I wasn’t loved? God, no. Did I know who was boss? Sure as heck I did! I had a very healthy dose of respect for my parents that has now flourished into friendship.

I really do question whether this next generation will understand who is in charge? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not all “Kids should be seen and not heard” or anything. I don’t smack my daughter unless she has had warnings. I always explain why I smacked her afterwards and we eventually hug-it-out. I certainly don’t believe smacking should be done willy-nilly. Kids need to understand it is a serious form of discipline for when they seriously need disciplining.

I think of smacking like I think of organised religion. It’s alright when it’s not being done excessively.

I read a Dr. Phil article recently where he condemns smacking. Fair enough- he is using real scientific research to say there are better forms of discipline out there. But he does mention some of the benefits of smacking too; yes – I said benefits. Like how some studies show that parents who combine smacking with reasoning (ie, do both) have the most success in changing negative behaviour.

It would seem modern families almost universally agree that smacking is unacceptable. So unacceptable that those of us who do so have gone underground. (Well, apart from Tony Abbott that is!)

I’m far too anxious to smack my daughter in public for fear of condemnation or an eventual knock on the door from social services. Whereas, in my grandmother’s generation no-one would look twice.

Perhaps I should feel sympathy for this Mosman mum, who must have felt stressed as cars watched on while she tried a softer form of discipline with her child. Perhaps she was anxious, wishing she could just pick him up and smack his bum for misbehaving. Perhaps she was worried, as I am, about the looks she would get if she did so.

If “rationalising” with your kid is the better alternative to hitting them, then why are these toddlers not budging from their spots on pedestrian crossings? Why have kids become worse-behaved over time? Why is it that they have little concept of who is boss?

Whatever side of the fence you stand on, hitting your kids is super controversial and books like Christos Tsiolkas’s The Slap have shown it is a sensitive topic around the nation.

Everyone seems to have an opinion. So what’s yours? Should we bring back the smack? 


Loving the bad boys

3 rules for dating disaster

I have dated my fair share of pricks. Sure, I haven’t always been the best girlfriend myself, but in my defence, every bad habit I’ve ever picked up has been learned from one of these bastards.

Chances are that at some point you too have picked someone who is wrong for you. A whole heap of wrong.Wrong on so many levels you have to take the elevator.

Most people will burn their fingers once and learn their lesson. Me? I made a habit of it.

My dad always told me the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

Well then, by this I definition I was definitely insane.

My love life was ruled by three rules:

Men had to be:

(1) Taller than me

(2) Older than me

(3) Wider than me.

God, what a shallow list right? Maybe. But it is also testimony to a teenage girl’s poor self esteem.

I wanted a guy who was older than me because I had learned early on in highschool that guys my own age didn’t fancy me. So I threw the net wider.

I wanted a guy who was taller than me, AND wider than me for the same reason –  because I wanted to feel more feminine.

I had been teased for being like a bloke in my life – usually in good humour because I was (and still am) a self professed TomBoy. Athletic, strong and muscular, I should have embraced my shape. But it was a sore point, made even worse by workplace bullying.

Once, I was the recipient of a hurtful email that was sent to me but also blind-copied to almost my entire company. The sender shamed me; pretending to ‘fancy me’ for reasons such as my man-like thighs and Pop-Eye biceps. Saying he had always had a thing for girls who looked like guys.  I cried in the toilets when I received it, not knowing at that point that so had around 100 other people. When I found that little tidbit out, I went home and cried some more.

The bloke got a formal warning from HR. I got much worse. I was bruised so deeply inside my heart that even today – a decade on – is still tender.

I will never truly believe I am pretty because of what he said. I am comfortable with how I look, but he has ripped me of the opportunity to ever look in the mirror and see real beauty.

I look in the mirror and I just see “butch”.

Bad boy no1

My bad boy experience started long before this dickhead though, when I fell in love with an older guy who was so charismatic you’d think he was made of honey. As soon as you got near him, you were stuck. You weren’t going anywhere until you sampled his deliciousness.

And boy, didn’t he know it? The guy had more girls buzzing around him than I have had hot dinners in my life. And he didn’t have the decency to enjoy them all separately, as I found out to my heartache. He liked to have them all flying around at the same time.

Bad boy no2


My next choice was around for a lot longer and much more harmful to my health. He was tall, strong, blokey, handsome. And a drinker. Turns out his booze was more important than me but it took me years to realise that one. He loved me, I know it, but he was also stupid and had no idea how to properly demonstrate it. He did stupid things when drunk. Like going AWOL for days at a time. And cheating on me. The best was when he slept with a girl the night before my 21st birthday and then told me about it at my party. I ended up with alcohol poisoning and spent most of this ‘celebration’ vomiting in my bed.

I broke up with him that day.

And got back with him the next.

How to avoid bad boys

At the time a good friend told me that your choice in a partner is a reflection of how you feel about yourself. In effect, you partner is a mirror into your soul.

At the time I didn’t understand. But now I see her wisdom.

Before you start dating, make sure you’re happy with what is staring back at you in the mirror. Otherwise, you’ll just end up with another dud.

Happy ending

The loves of my life.
The loves of my life.

I met the love of my life at a time when I was happy being single. I was happy in myself.

He met none of my criteria. He was younger than me. He was my height. He was my weight. It was normally enough for me to walk away.

But he was funny. I gravitated towards him. He was warm. He was kind. He was cute. He had ambition. We could have an intelligent conversation. (He was Scottish, but I didn’t hold it against him.)

When we started dating, I began questioning my list. The physical attributes were poor cousins to things like intelligence, honesty, kindness and humour. Sure, my man was good looking, but his personality made him smokin’ hot.

Recently I realised that I had picked a genuine “nice guy”. And I want to tell all those girls out there who have superficial lists of their own that sometimes we need to look beyond ‘our type’ to actually find the type we need.

What’s your bad boy or mean girl story? What did it teach you? 


Famous depression sufferer (and a hero of mine) Stephen Fry

How mental health week has made me famous

No, you aren’t going mad – our TV’s have been taken over by mental health week programming. The ABC’s #mentalas programming in particular as been inescapable.


The station has just embarked on its biggest-ever cross promotion of content, with mental health the focus. It’s been an orgy of illness and I think it’s brilliant. Well, compared to RUOK day in any case.

Both endeavours attempt to encourage mental health conversations in the community but to me one feels forced, the other, free. One commercialised, the other raw. Sorry Hugh Jackman.

RUOK day definitely has good intentions and some people rave about both the concept and its effectiveness. To me, it’s another strapline for teenagers to mock and ridicule and I really REALLY don’t think mental health issues need more ridicule.

Plus (sob) did a single person ask if I was ok on the day? No….And, even if they did, what would I have replied? I would have lied no doubt. “Yes yes, I’m fine”… Because asking a hollow question will get a hollow response.

And often people who ask “are you OK?” might be petrified about your answer because they dont fully understand your condition and how on earth they’ll respond if you say “I’m not coping”.

It’s not that I’m hating on RUOK day, don’t get me wrong. If it helps even one person with their condition than I completely applaud the campaign. It’s just that I think the ABC are doing the conversation piece better. I feel like they’re accurately painting a portrait of ME, and what I live through. And even though it isn’t my face on screen, by representing those like me, I do feel a little bit famous.

For once it seems like stigmas are being properly challenged and confronted in the media without the mentally ill being unintentionally put “on show” as freaks.

Here’s what I’ve learned from the #mentalas campaign:

Felicity's Mental Mission, ABC
Felicity’s Mental Mission, ABC
  • 1) Insanity is ugly. That’s why there’s little government funding, support worker budgets slashed and no one wants to talk about it.

Mental illness looks like your mum drinking herself to death to drown out the voices in her head. It’s a middle-aged man thinking god has impregnated him with the next messiah. It’s a teenager looking at a length of rope and thinking, “maybe this is my answer?”

People hate ugly. People avoid ugly. But our society is making a crucial error in judgement here: Mental illness is ugly – the people who suffer it are not.

My mum had cancer. She lost her hair. She lost her eyebrows. She lost a breast. She has a suite of scars that can leave you breathless with sympathy. But is she ugly? Hell no! We all accept it was the cancer that was to blame. No one turned away from my mum during her time of need. But someone with psychosis? Different story. We are blaming them. Pitying them. And turning away from them. Both socially and politically as ABC’s Q&A pointed out so brilliantly.

  • 2) People with mental disorders aren’t weak.

I have endured at least a decade feeling pathetic as a result of my anxiety. There are times when I’ve found it all too much; turned down invitations to parties where “cool kids” will be because I know the stress of choosing the right outfit will actually break me. I know my thoughts are irrational but I can not control them. This lack of control makes me feel weak.

And for those suffering other forms of mental disorders lets spare a moment to consider what they go through. Their minds are literally hijacked – they become confused, profoundly sad, and they fear it is hopeless.

Imagine if every day, the simplest of tasks weighed you down, but you kept on trying to do them anyway. This is not weakness. It is bravery.

Sometimes, just driving a car makes me feel like I’m wading through mud with a backpack on. And leg weights. But I still try. Sometimes, I give up and cancel an engagement because I just can’t manage my nerves behind the wheel. But other times I do ok. I take each day as it comes.

Some people’s conditions are so severe that they can’t do what they want. Their obstacles are insurmountable.

We met some of these people in the ABC’s Changing Minds documentaries, and were gifted with insights into the lives of sufferers of psychosis.

These people are GOOD people.  They do not need judgement. They are not weak; but they do need help.

If you broke an arm, would you need help? Yes. Would we call you weak? No.

Let’s be clear. Like physical illness, mental disorders can temporarily weaken you. It doesn’t make you weak.

  • 3) More people suffer than we realise because this is the “silent disease“.

Not only does mental health feed on silence in the mind (so perfectly described in Felicity’s Mental Mission) but due to feelings of shame, many are unprepared to speak out.

Apparently, more than 10million Aussies suffer some mental health condition. That’s almost half of us! As we learned from the Robin Williams tragedy, no one is “safe” from mental illness. It’s as indiscriminate as cancer. As unforeseeable. And every bit as life changing.

So this is it. My cyber applause for the ABC for giving us really stimulating content that gets people thinking and talking and understanding more about mental illness.

And here’s my humble request. Keep it coming. Don’t stop. Don’t leave it to one week per annum.

I felt less alone watching myself reflected on the faces of these documentaries than I did on RUOK day, wondering whether anyone was going to pick up the phone and call me.

What do you want to see more of in the media to help educate the nation about mental illness?