Sep 192014 10 Responses

Most Parents Who Spank, Shouldn’t

When I was in second grade, a classmate was sent to the office to retrieve the paddle. When he returned to class, he reported the principal did not have the paddle. The teacher never second-guessed his answer.

Later that afternoon, when school was nearly out, the teacher allowed us to go in pairs to retrieve our backpacks from the hallway. I never forget the look on my friend’s face when he found his backpack with a large paddle sticking out of it. Our other friend had retrieved the paddle, hidden it in a backpack, and returned to class. (See: Three Things to Do When Parenting Goes Wrong)

I don’t know how many swats my classmate received for his lie, but I assume it was many more than he wanted.

Now that I have my own children in grade school, I can’t imagine one of them coming home having received a paddling. I have no problem with teachers and school administrators disciplining my children, but I would not want corporal punishment to be an option.

My experience mimics the progression of society on the topic of spanking. It’s perception has changed from being an assumed form of punishment to now being greatly doubted as ever being appropriate. (See: One Thing Every Parent Must Understand)

I’m somewhere in between regarding the national debate of spanking.

I disagree with those who say spanking should never happen. They often fail to differentiate between good parents who are trying to discipline their children and bad parents who hit their kids at every chance. To compare the average parent with the worst of child abuse is dishonest and unhelpful.

I also disagree with those who believe spanking must be done, with many of this position holding the Biblical text as proof of its importance. There is no question that the Book of Proverbs tells of the importance of the rod when dealing with children. Yet I believe the wisdom writer is simply using what was the common form of discipline in his day to communicate the importance of discipline.

Parents are Biblically free to spank, but I do not think they are Biblically commanded to do so. The Biblical command is they must discipline their children. Whether or not they spank is up to them.

Yet there is one thing of which I’m certain when it comes to spanking—most parents who do spank shouldn’t.

They shouldn’t because they lack the ability to truly spank in a way that is to the benefit of the child. When they spank, they most often do so out of their own frustration and anger. (See: Obey Your Mother, Respect My Wife)

This inability to remove their own emotion, think rationally, communicate clearly, and spank with compassion should prevent most parents from using corporal punishment. Too many children are being hit in the name of discipline when it has very little to do with true discipline.

If a parent believes spanking can be effective, and they can execute the discipline in an appropriate way, I have no problem with them spanking. However, when a parent has difficulty controlling their anger, they should never risk misusing spanking because of their emotion.

For parents, discipline is not an option. We must discipline our children not only for their sake, but also for the good of society. Spanking is one possible tool in the discipline toolbox. It is a tool which many should not use, not because the tool is broken, but because we do not know how to properly use it. (See: Which Parent Are You)

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