To spank or not to spank…that’s probably one of the most frequent debates I have heard about parenting, but something seldom talked about from those who teach on parenting. I suppose I should not be surprised when I am addressed with this question often since I frequently teach on issues such as parenting, marriage and the family. Recently when I spoke on 5 Words to Shape Your Parenting, I received several questions again about this subject. Yesterday I began this subject of discipline. Read that post HERE.
Here are a few of my thoughts about the issue:
- This is a personal issue and one I do not feel comfortable solving for parents. A parent can and will only enforce consistently those discipline strategies he or she agrees with personally.
- This is an important question, but not at all the most important question about parenting. The bigger issue is having an overall plan for parenting. I know too many parents trying to solve this question, but they have never fully thought through a strategy for where they are leading their children and how they are going to get them there.
- The goal of parenting is far more important than the methods used in parenting. In our parenting we tried many different methods; some worked and some didn’t. The key was that we were intentionally thinking through the goal and working towards realizing that goal in our boy’s lives.
- Each child is different. We saw more positives in corporal punishment with one of our children than the other.
- You should never spank, or do any discipline, in anger.
- The child should never be able to question your love after the moment of discipline has passed.
- I did spank, but I hated every moment of it. At a certain age it was the best method for one of our boys to discipline him through a strong-willed period. The cliché “this hurts me more than you” was really true for me.
- The Bible verse that is often questioned is Proverbs 13:24, which says, “He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.” I believe this verse can easily be interpreted as referring to spanking, based on the way the Bible uses the imagery of the rod and staff of a shepherd. The shepherd’s methods to train the sheep were always for the sheep’s best interest, but would not have always been considered gentle discipline. The verse is a principle, however, and I think it refers more to the principle of effective parenting than it gives us a mandate to spank.
- The mother and the father should agree on the form of discipline. If they do not, they should perhaps get help to come to a sense of agreement. Mothers and fathers should recognize that each plays a unique role in the process and one handles discipline differently than the other. I was much sterner on my boys than Cheryl was and she was much more of a nurturer than I was, but both were necessary.
For me the end goal of my discipline was clearly spelled out in the Bible: Proverbs 29:17 says, “Discipline your son, and he will give you peace; he will bring delight to your soul.” What parent would not want to see the principle of that verse come true in their life some day? Good parenting should do what works best to accomplish the goal of parenting.
What are your thoughts on this issue?