Listen to our Podcast on Spanking:
When it comes to parenting, there aren’t many things that garner the level of emotion that spanking does. For many, spanking is synonymous with abuse or at the very least bullying your child. And for others to not spank is the equivalent of spoiling your kid. Our goal isn’t to settle that argument. However, we would advocate that we not allow a method of disciplining to divide us, especially those of us who consider ourselves Christ followers.
In the interest of full disclosure, we do believe spanking is an appropriate option for discipline. However, we don’t feel like parents are abdicating their role as the first and best discipler of their child, just because they don’t spank. We would say, if parents choose not to spank, they must work hard at alternatives to correct willful defiance. But it can be done!
We hope you will listen to this week’s podcast where we spend the entire episode talking about how to be effective and appropriate when spanking our children. Here is a free download – “A Quick Guide to Effective Spanking” to help you remember the points we cover in today’s episode.
In this article though, we want to offer some important things to consider if you are wondering about what you are going to do in the area of spanking. These are three important factors that are often misunderstood when it comes to spanking. We know many good willed parents who have struggled with whether or not to spank. These three items helped them take an honest and informed look at this method of disciplining. Maybe they will be helpful to you. Remember we talk about all of the logistics in our podcast and we hope you will listen.
1) It’s effective – If you listened to our 9 Foundational Principles for Effective Disciplining, then you know the very first one is to determine whether your child is being willfully defiant or childishly irresponsible. For us, we found that when our children were willfully defiant, they knew it. Believe it or not children don’t like to disappoint their parents. Often when they seriously act up, they know they are wrong and there is a sense in them that they deserve a consequence. Sometimes the most effective thing was to take a particular toy or privilege away… sometimes it was to put the child in a timeout… but often the quickest and most effective way to give our child a consequence and restore our relationship with them was to spank. We are never talking about child abuse.
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. ~Hebrews 12:11
The point of course is the essence of disciplining our kids and certainly the heart of spanking. We want to bring a little pain (sting) to correct the bad behavior and eventually bring about the fruit of righteousness.
2) It strengthens my relationship with my child – One of the toughest obstacles for parents to overcome, especially in our current culture of permissiveness and helicopter parenting, is the idea that somehow I will damage my relationship with my child if I spank. Nothing could be further from the truth. Our job as parents is to clearly communicate to our kids what we expect of them. Then when they willfully decide to disobey us, to lovingly send the message, “I love you too much to let you act that way.” And in fact I love you enough to do something to help you remember what to do the next time.
In our podcast we explain some important logistics to strengthen this dynamic, but suffice it to say that today we are experiencing a deep and wonderful relationship with all of our kids. Lovingly disciplining them, and yes even spanking at times, was an important ingredient in developing that relationship. It sent a strong message to our kids that we cared and we were committed to helping them get right. It’s a scary place to be a six year old, and wonder if anyone is big enough to take you on. We must lovingly send the message, “Yes, you’ve met your match.”
3) It’s consistent with God’s word- We’ve read many articles, commentaries and sermons on spanking and the bible. Again, it would be easy to let this topic divide us. Instead, could we encourage all of us to seek what the Lord is saying to each of us individually? This isn’t a salvation issue, so let’s be in fellowship together and support each other. So when it says:
Those who spare the rod of discipline hate their children. Those who love their children care enough to discipline them. ~ Proverbs 13:24
It’s ok if some believe this verse literally means we must spank our children and others believe it is a reference to the loving rod of a shepherd used to protect his sheep. There is room for us to disagree.
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord. ~Ephesians 6:4
One of the big picture concepts we remind parents is based on Ephesians 6:4. In this verse the words “discipline” and “instruction” are translated from words that literally mean to train by “act” and “word”. It gives us a great overview of a parenting principle with our kids as they grow up. When they are young we need to train more by act and less by word… as they get older we shift our training to more by word and less by act. While it certainly doesn’t mention spanking, we would include spanking in that season of training by act. We don’t reason with a two year old and we don’t spank a twelve year old.
Parents, you are the first and best discipler of your children. Regardless of where you land on this issue of spanking, the goal of our parenting is to lovingly disciple our kids. May the Lord give you the strength and wisdom to fulfill this holy calling of parenting!