On Spanking

I realize this is a touchy subject. I also realize that some may be offended or disagree entirely with me on this subject. I am not a professional anything, these are just my opinions, based on my experiences. Let me also preface this post by saying that I understand reasonings behind both spanking and not spanking as a tool in parenting, but while I acknowledge the basis of corporal punishment, I have chosen a no spanking philosophy with my own children.

Today some military mom friends and I were at our local park letting our minions play in the sun. While we were sitting there chatting, a father and his (what I estimated to be) 3-year-old daughter were struggling: her crying that she wanted to go for a walk, and he was yelling at her that it was time to go. As parents, we’ve undoubtedly ALL experienced this scenario, and it is frustrating. He then spanked her, in front of everyone. When she cried, trying to get him to listen to her, he yelled at her again, “DO YOU WANT ANOTHER ONE?!” She cried no, but kept crying so he spanked her yet again before roughly putting her in the carseat. When her door was closed I watched him exhaustedly exhale, and get in the driver’s seat. Then he drove away.

Raising kids is exhausting. I get it. Boy, do I get that. As a result of us all watching this scene in the parking lot, it got us moms all to talking about the issue. And our philosophies were quite varied. With this man towering about 6’+ and this young little girl, it seemed overdone to me. What I have learned in my own parenting journey is that people do more behind closed doors than what they will do in public. If he was willing to hit that child 3 times that I saw/heard, what was he capable of while not being watched in a public park? I was spanked as a child, and I hated it. I went to an elementary school where corporal punishment was used, and the one time I got hit, I hated it. I watched kids get hit at the daycare I went to as a child, and I hated it.

Here are my issues with spanking:

  • Advocates of corporal punishment always say “Don’t spank when you’re angry. You do it with love.” How many times do you want to spank your child when you are not angry? Virtually none, in my experience. It’s always a last resort when you’ve tried “everything else” and nothing works and you’re ticked off.
  • How do you feel after you spank? Do you feel close to your child? Does your child feel close to you? In my experience, not hardly.
  • “I’m telling you to not hit your brother. So your punishment is to get hit.” Yeah, that’s logical. The only thing that teaches is that the bigger person gets to hit the littler person.
  • “I don’t know what else to do.” If we can’t outsmart our 3-year-olds, I think we may have bigger problems. Having a game plan in my mind before a situation escalates has been key to me reaching for a better alternative.
  • “Spanking is part of my discipline approach.” Discipline by definition means to train someone to obey rules or a code of behavior. Are kids really learning anything or being trained by being spanked? In my experience, it makes the child angry at getting hit. It makes the child fearful. I want my kids to respect my authority and listen to me. I don’t want them to be afraid of me.
  • Spanking (again, in my experience) tells the child that “I’m big, you’re small. I’m right, you’re wrong. Since I’m big and right, I get to hit you.”
  • Finally, “Spare the rod, spoil the child” . Ahh, yes. The Bible. Here’s an excerpt from “The Complete Book of Christian Parenting and Child Care” by William Sears M.D. and Martha Sears, R.N. (who by the way have 8 children!) that sums it up quite nicely:

“Being reluctant to spank or refusing to spank at all may actually make you a better disciplinarian. The search for alternatives to spanking forces you to find more positive ways of directing your child’s behavior. You end up knowing your child better, and your child actually has more respect for your authority because he knows that you can deliver the help he needs to not only control, but to learn better behavior. Spanking can tend to devalue a child, making him feel weak and powerless. This kind of self-image will not help him fight off temptation in the future.

Corporal Punishment in Scripture

 Proverbs 22:15 states, “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him.”

The Book of Proverbs has more to say about the rod. It is here that the Bible appears to take a clear stand on spanking:

“Do not withhold discipline from a child; If you punish him with the rod, he will not die. Punish him with the rod, And save his soul from death. ” (23:13-14)

“The rod of correction imparts wisdom, But a child left to himself disgraces his mother.” (29:15)

“He who spares the rod hates his son, But he who loves him is careful to discipline him. ” (13:24)

At first reading, it would seem that the Bible takes a clear stand in favor of spanking as an important mode of correction. While these passages seem to support spanking, this is not the only way to interpret them.

While it is clear that the rod does appear to be an object to strike with, the term rod is also used in the Bible in connection with the shepherd’s staff: “Your rod and your staff, they comfort me” (Ps. 23:4). The shepherd’s staff was used to guide the wandering sheep along the right path. The rod was used to beat off predators–not to hit sheep who strayed.”

Ultimately, every parent has to come to his or her own conclusions. I’m also VERY aware that every child is different. Even in the same family, kids need to be parented differently. But when it comes down to it, wouldn’t it be better to find different alternatives to hitting? Aren’t our kids worth that?

I think so.

Let the debate continue…..


If you’d like further information about alternatives to spanking, the links below are some that I have found extremely helpful!

Ask Dr. Sears

Why We Don’t Spank

Parenting Tips From MayoClinic


4 thoughts on “On Spanking”

  1. In being one of the mommas with you today witnessing the man spanking his child in anger and frustration when all she wanted to do was keep playing or go for a walk was heart wrenching…I only witnessed the one spank and honestly that was enough for me…especially when all she wanted was some more time, and probably more time with her daddy…just my take…needless to say I agree with you that this type of response is no good…in talking I know I shared my experience with spanking as a child and guess its just how I was raised that triggers my thoughts on such an issue..it seems every parent can learn to do something better when it comes to raising children….Specifically with spanking it is something I received as a child BUT not often..Being the oldest of 5 and raised catholic and in private schools I had my share of discipline..i then go into thinking how ive turned out and how I feel about it now as opposed to then.The spankings I got always hurt my feelings the most and sometimes as much physically…Yet looking back I can say I was shown more love than hurt, taught to love more than hurt, and avoided like the plague to ever make my dad mad, but more I strived for his approval..I don’t think I got a spanking passed about 11 yrs old….For me I think I stayed away from a lot of things that could have hurt me or could have gotten me into more trouble due to spankings…I don’t see my parents as bad for having spanked or that they did that wrong..maybe there is a fine line or a big blaring line between spanking and beating….I would much rather NOT spank and will strive to not spank especially because it does happen out of anger. Thank you for the links on disciplining other than spanking, as we can all continually learn better ways to parent.. I say why not learn better ways and methods to teach our children…While I cant say I will NEVER spank I can say if it ever happens they will be few and far between, but I would prefer to stick with a nonspanking approach.
    for those who were physically harmed beyond any reasonable stretch of the imagination; you should have never had to endure such hardship..if you did endure such hardship and you are able to break the cycle with your own children nothing but Good On You as it seems that kind of hurt can be a viscious cycle and hard to overcome as I have witnessed with persons I have known..always enjoy your blogs Lori


  2. I just couldn’t get it out of my head today so I had to write about it…it’s my therapy. I agree with you – I think most of our parenting strategies stem from the way we were raised. It’s definitely not a discussion that will end any time soon. Parenting is like religion – no one is going to convince anyone else that they have the one “right” way of doing things. 🙂


  3. I was glad you wrote about it because it had been on my mind the rest of the day too….I dread the day I do not refrain from saying something to someone doing that in public, and your right , I hate to think what happens behind closed doors..i often wonder if they feel bad about it themselves or not..wish I could protect all children from such harm…sigh


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