10) It hurts me more than it hurts them – often used as a punch line in parenting circles every parent knows the truth of this statement. It’s hard to inflict pain on someone you love so much. And of course our child’s comeback to this statement is, “but not in the same place.”
9) It might be illegal (It’s not in my state of Washington)
8) It’s hypocritical – Why am I spanking my kid for hitting another child?
7) I’m afraid to hurt my child – I may want to punish my child for disobedience but I don’t want to hurt them
6) It’s child abuse (never an option!!!)
5) What will people say?
4) My child will grow up violent
3) My child is going to be afraid of me
2) I want my child to love me
1) It’s unbiblical
There aren’t many topics that can ignite passions like spanking. Both sides have “experts” with well thought out arguments on the use of corporal punishment. I have no delusions of grandeur. This blog won’t deliver the final word on the topic. I know some reading this have some deep seeded wounds that prevent them from even considering the use of corporal punishment. While I can’t completely understand your pain, I wrestle with many of the same concerns others grapple with. Given time I could probably list 100 reasons I don’t like spanking. I’ve given you 10.
But let me give you three reasons I still choose to spank.
1) It’s effective – when my child was willfully defiant, spanking was the quickest way to correct the behavior and restore the relationship. Research is clear that punishment is very effective at modifying behavior. I’m not aware of any study specifically on spanking, but done correctly its use would certainly fit in the category of punishment. Remember we are never talking about child abuse.
Hebrews 12 says this, 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
We are talking about bringing pain (a sting) in order to train.
2) It actually strengthens my relationship with my child – we know when the same person bringing the punishment also brings the positive experiences, it actually strengthens the relationship. The key to effective disciplining, whether we’re talking time outs or spanking, is to communicate the heart of discipline which is love. My first job was to make sure my kids knew exactly what was expected of them. Then when they willfully disobeyed there were consequences. But they knew nothing would happen until they heard these words, “I love you too much to let you act like this. To help you remember what to do the next time, I’m giving you a spanking.” So I never worried they would be afraid of me. It didn’t send a mixed message because they knew they weren’t being spanked for hitting they were being punished for disobedience. And being calm enough to say those words help ensure I would never spank them in anger.
The relationship with my kids was deepened not damaged. Some of the sweetest moments were praying with my kids after they repented and apologized for their disobedience. I’m close with my kids today, not in spite of, but in part because of, our willingness to discipline.
3) It’s consistent with God’s word – I don’t believe the bible mandates spanking. By the same token I think it is a long stretch to declare the bible prohibits spanking. Or to suggest because Jesus never spanked a child we shouldn’t spank a child. Read carefully Hebrews 12:3-11. The heart of this passage is a loving father will discipline his son, to the point of bringing pain. Not because he hates him, but because he loves him and desires the best for him. Yes, we need to be wise and operate within the laws of our state. But to love someone enough to do something you don’t want to do in order to ultimately benefit them is by definition the Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12).
Spanking has somehow become a lightning rod in the church. I would ask that we choose to love and support each other in this high call of parenting. It’s the largest single task you will take on in your lifetime. It’s also among the most important. When we disagree on the specifics of parenting, let’s intentionally pray for and support one another. I’m curious what your experience has been… growing up and as a parent with spanking? Any suggestions or tips for other parents?