Why I won’t spank my children

16 thoughts on “Why I won’t spank my children”

  1. I only spanked my daughter once. It was when she was a toddler. I was emptying the dishwasher and she kept grabbing the knives. I kept moving her into another room and redirecting her to another activity and she kept running back into the kitchen and grabbing. By the third redirect she thought it was a game and ran in squealing and giggling. I spoke in a stern voice trying to convey that it wasn’t a game. She wasn’t getting it. I finally swatted her diapered butt with my hand. The sound (I doubt she felt it through all that padding) startled her and she suddenly understood what “NO” meant.

    I have no advice to give. I was blessed to have a child with whom I could reason, who only threw one tantrum, who was very compliant and who is now a lovely twenty-four year old. Maybe I do have advice – reason with your children. Take the time to explain things – what behavior you want from them and why. And if you have an unreasonable child, good luck to ya’.

    BTW: Whenever my mom spanked one of my sisters or me she would say, “This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you.” I always wondered why she did it then.

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  2. I was raised receiving quite severe spankings until well into my teens. As a young single parent, I spanked my daughter too – not as severely, and I did try to find more meaningful consequences-oriented ways to respond to bad behavior, but still enough that … well, I wish I hadn’t. I think it’s great that you and your wife have thought about this and made a conscious decision. That said, I do believe there is one time when spanking may be appropriate, and that is when a child is deliberately disobedient in a way that endangers them or someone else. For instance, the kid who yanks their hand free and dashes into the road. I would have no hesitation in upending such a kid and walloping them hard enough to make the occasion memorable. Then AFTERWARDS, once the tears were dry and everyone had calmed down, I’d discuss what happened. But I think a reaction as fast as instinct would be appropriate there, because a car doesn’t slow down and think about it before it hits you.

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    1. Oh come on, now. Since when did Hobbits start driving cars? 🙂

      Seriously…thanks for sharing this. In the scenario you mentioned, I’m with you in that I would find it necessary to use whatever force was required to protect my child from immediate harm… in this case, physically yanking them out of the road instead of counting on my ability to reason with them in time. (While the car is bearing down is probably NOT the best time to ask, “Do you really think that’s a good decision you’re making?”) But I’m not sure I’d see the need to follow it with a physical punishment. I’d like to think the occasion of being unceremoniously yanked out of the way of a moving vehicle would cause enough shock to allow the message to sink in. In fact, if I did follow it with a spanking, I’d worry that my child’s chief takeaway would be, “He hit me!” rather than “Wow, I almost got creamed by that car. I’d better not do THAT again!” Especially since my daughter knows how we feel about hitting.

      Of course, it’s one thing to calmly speculate about my reaction while sitting in a safe, comfy chair without the rush of adrenaline…

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      1. Some Hobbits are more adventurous than others … although my husband would maintain that the biggest adventure of all is to be one of my passengers…:)

        It’s certainly not a simple issue. I have completely rejected the “spare the rod, spoil the child” argument I swallowed as a young, newly “born-again” mother. But I also have ugly memories of parents whose children went to the same Montessori preschool my daughter attended, who were absolutely determined NEVER to “crush a child’s spirit by crossing their will”, and consequently quite often seemed powerless to do anything but manipulate through guilt and nagging. One thing is for sure, parenting these days is quite a lot more challenging than it used to be!

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      2. Sorry…all this talk of Hobbits has got me thinking about second breakfast and what a wonderful idea that is.

        Agree that it’s not a simple issue. I think a lot of us have run into examples on the far end of the spectrum, like the one you describe: parents who don’t seem to put any constraints on their child’s behavior for fear of crushing their spirit. I understand the last part. One of the things I’ve tried to share with my daughter is that it’s OK to feel mad or frustrated, that we shouldn’t hide or suppress our feelings…and that what matters most is how we choose to act on them. It’s important for there to be meaningful consequences for bad behavior, even if spanking isn’t one of them.

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  3. This is a refreshing perspective on the impact of spanking, particularly how it relates to societal violence overall. As one who has grown to understand the importance of having action plans to try new methods of discipline, especially with a teenager, I continue to feel the urge to want to use force. I then remind myself of the outcome and find another course.

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  4. This was an issue that annoyed me during our elections here in New Zealand last week. The Conservative Party is all about Christian values, but I don’t understand when conservative and Christian values became the same thing? Jesus was by no means conservative and I can’t imagine him condoning smacking a child. You are so right when you talk about the contradiction of teaching our kids to turn the other cheek and at the same time saying smacking is ok. Thanks for the article 🙂

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    1. I can’t imagine Jesus condoning it either. It would seem to fly in the face of everything he taught about nonviolence. If we’re called to subvert evil with love (instead of reciprocating with violence), how much more should we respond with love and restraint when our kids get out of line—which, while annoying, certainly doesn’t rise to the threshold of “evil”?

      Thanks for sharing.

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  5. Anger is such a powerful emotion so few have mastered. We didn’t use spanking as a discipline for many reasons (to do with personal experience). Violence is not the way to change behavior.

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  6. Never, ever say never. Culture dictates the rules of spanking. I grew up black. In my world there was no such thing as the word “spanking”. It was called a “whooping” or one got their “ass” beat. History tells the story. My grandparents grew up in the south. In the south, and many other places, you gave your child a “beating”to keep them alive. Perhaps if Emmett Till’s mother had “spanked” him when he looked at a white woman wrong, he would be alive today. Admittedly, I did not spank my children often, but when I did they still remember. They do not remember those times with malice. I spanked them when what they did could have harmed themselves or others. Never, ever say never or WON’T ! You will do what you must to ensure your child grows up to be happy and safe.

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  7. I wish every young Christian parent could read this. Modeling violence is counter productive to teaching children the appropriate way to deal with conflict. That being said, verbal and emotional abuse also has long lasting scars. I saw an interview once with a young woman who was severely beat by her partner. She was asked what was the worse thing he did to her. She said that the verbal and emotional abuse was worse. Mind you, she was beat so badly that she was hospitalized. Having experienced both physical and emotional abuse, I would have to agree with this…

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