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!