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Mom Shares Video Of Her Son Begging To Not Get Spanked For Being 'Curious'

Photo: TikTok
Screenshots of video of boy begging not to be spanked

A mom seemed to think she was sharing a cute moment of her son when she posted a video of him talking about a mistake he made to TikTok.

But others on the app saw something entirely different — a scared little boy begging his parents for mercy. It quickly led to accusations of abuse, and a debate about spanking, and gentle vs. authoritarian parenting.

The mom's video shows her son begging not to be spanked for bending a fork because he was curious about how strong he is.

In the video, posted by TikToker @jett_theshowstopper, a little boy named Jett holds up a fork he bent as his mom tells him to explain what happened. He addresses his dad in the video, presumably so his mom can send the video to his father. As many noticed, he appears to have a tear on his cheek and it seems like he may have been upset and afraid before his mom ever began filming him. 

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 Photo: TikTok

After his mom directs him to speak to the camera, Jett says "Dad, I'm sorry, but I might have did this on accident." He then holds up the fork he bent, and begins negotiating with his parents. "It was an accident, so don't spank me when you get in here, okay?"

His mom then asks him to explain "Why did you do it?" at which point Jett's story changes. Instead of saying that it was an accident, he confesses that he "did it because I wanted to see… how strong I was by bending a fork." He then returns to pleading not to be punished for his experiment. "Sorry, so don't spank me whenever you get in here. Okay? Deal?"

 Photo: TikTok

Many on TikTok were disturbed by the video and thought Jett's pleading indicated he was being abused. 

Jett's mom captioned the video "When your 4-year-old wants to find out how strong he is! LMAO," and seems to have thought the video was one of those cute moments of the funny things kids do when they know they've messed up. But the reactions to the video on TikTok tell a different story, as does the fact Jett's mom turned off the comments.

People were truly disturbed by how afraid Jett seemed to be of the wrath he would incur for a simple act of curiosity. "The fact this poor baby has to beg not to be hit for being a curious, precious toddler," one woman wrote in a TikTok duet. Another mom posted that "my heart is breaking" at the sight of Jett "literally begging not to be spanked."

"This baby is 4 and bargaining with his father and begging him not to spank him... because he bent a fork out of curiosity," another TikToker posted in response. "It's a FORK. There is no justification for spanking a child," the woman continued, going on to say that Jett's clear anticipation of being hit likely means it's happened many times before. "This isn't a 'cute' video. It's sad," she concluded.

 Photo: TikTok

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Many viewed the video as an indication of what is sometimes called authoritarian parenting.

Many of us adults were raised by parents who used authoritarian parenting, which is characterized by a strict and punishment-based approach. The most extreme examples include punishments like spanking, but many experts include punishments like time-outs as part of authoritative parenting.

In contrast to what is known as gentle parenting, which focuses on molding and disciplining kids in ways that accord with their level of mental and emotional development, authoritarian parenting is more strict and punishment-based. Because small children are too young to understand harsh punishments like spanking and time-outs, experts say the approach teaches children only fear-inspired obedience and results in sneaky, anxious kids who are afraid of and don't trust their parents.

Jett certainly seems to fit that bill judging from the video. Aside from his fearful begging with his parents not to spank him, he also tells a lie at the beginning of the video, saying that he bent the fork "on accident" when in fact he did it deliberately out of curiosity. 

According to parenting experts like therapist Dr. Judith Joseph, children lying about the things they've done is a red flag indicating that they are afraid of their parents. And as Joseph goes on to lay out in the video below, punishing them for doing so often makes the situation even worse when it comes to the child's emotional and mental state.

In the end, Jett's parents took his "deal" and didn't spank him, as his mother revealed in a follow-up video in which his dad watched his bent-fork confession and gave him a big, warm hug in the end instead of a punishment. 

 Photo: TikTok

We can surely all agree that that's a far better ending than the alternative. But it doesn't detract from the outsized repercussions Jett was afraid he'd face for an insignificant mistake. As one concerned commenter put it while watching the follow-up, "Tell me why this kid said 'don’t spank me when you get in here'... It’s just a bent fork. You can always buy a new fork."

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John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social media and human interest topics.