Reader’s Question: What are your opinions on spanking?
Spanking; this is an area of child rearing where opinions are usually very strong. I’m stepping into this topic with a precursor: what I am about to write is my opinion; yes it’s being backed by some biblical standing, but don’t get angry if your opinion differs. I would love to hear about the different opinions out there through reading some of your comments, so feel free to comment at the end on what you think about this topic.
So, what is my opinion on spanking? I think spankings are needed, and are biblically based. I grew up in a spankings free household. My mom held the philosophy that many mothers hold; she wanted to be our friend. As much as I love my mom, and I do because she is amazing, I disagree with that philosophy. So Mom if you are reading this, sorry but this probably doesn’t surprise you anyways. J Parents are to be the authority figure over their children; “training them up in the ways they should go, so when they are old they will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6) It is the young formative years that children develop their view on authority, including both respect and obedience. If the authority training that they are presented with within their home-life is one where the kids rule the roof, then that will transfer over to their view of authority at school and possibly their view on Godly authority as well.
The idea in spanking is not to become this scary dictator of a parent that children are afraid to be around, but rather it’s supposed to, when done correctly, present the parent as the one in charge in a caring and loving manner. Which if boiled down to one word it would clearly be defined as respect.
Now each child is different, and spanking may not be necessary for all of your children. My oldest, Eleanor, has not been spanked all that often. Now she went through a couple of months where she was testing our authority, and yes she received several spankings then, but in general she is a great kid who is very obedient. I do think however that the reason we have such an obedient four year old is because we have reinforced the necessity of obedience in her head. We have this saying around our house that Eleanor can quote off the top of her head, “obey right away without delay”. She knows mommy and daddy are final authority and if she crosses that authority she will be disciplined.
There have been times where she has disobeyed in areas that didn’t seem that important, but we still disciplined, because children need consistency. It does nothing for them if they get disciplined once for something bad, but not the next time. And threatening children with discipline but never following through is only making your situation worse because they now know mom and dad aren’t really going to do anything about it so they will just keep right along in their disobedience.
Now the times we have had to spank Eleanor it has been a very intentional process. We never spank on the spot, no matter how angry or frustrated we may be. Whenever Eleanor does something wrong I, or my husband, bend down to her level let her know what she did wrong and that she has disobeyed and will be disciplined for it. For example, last week at church Eleanor went outside without our permission; this is a big deal in our book. So when I found her, as angry and half scared as I was, I told her what she did wrong and that when we get home she would be disciplined. So now she had the entire car ride to fret over and think about her wrong-doing, while Aaron and I had time to calm down so we didn’t spank out of our anger.
I think this process is very important because it creates a much longer lasting memory of the event for the child verses just spanking on the spot where sometimes the kid isn’t even fully aware of what they did wrong. And it keeps the parent in line as well, so they are not over spanking.
It is a very sad fact that some parents have chosen to take advantage of their authority through different means of abuse, and I understand that there are parents who when they were children were beat and not spanked, so that makes the idea of spanking the children they now have very difficult. So if you disagree with spanking for that reason or even for other reasons, that’s fine. There are many ways to properly discipline without choosing to spank. I just encourage you to choose a form of discipline and then make it consistent.
God has blessed us with our children, and we only have a handful of years with them in our house before they go out on their own. It is our responsibility to teach them, discipline them, train them, prepare them, love them, pray for them, and give them over to God.
I hope you are all having a great week!
Coming up on Friday: The Drinking Dilemma