Given today’s twisted, anti-Christian, topsy-turvy notions of right and wrong, especially in child-rearing, where it’s supposedly “wrong” to spank your children because it could make them “violent,” yet seemingly a higher percentage of kids than ever before are growing up dysfunctional, rebellious, uncontrollable, drug-addicted, violent and, in some cases, downright murderous, Christian parents who Biblically discipline their children are quickly becoming outside the norm. All too real is the fear of being accused of “child abuse” by ninnys who would prefer the State raise children so they can turn them into uncontrollable little monsters, albeit perfectly suited to a career in bureaucracy or on a SWAT team raiding an organic dairy farm somewhere.
Regardless of what the world may think, we believe the Bible teaches corporal punishment and, despite the fact that children of every generation have probably been accused of being more wayward than their predecessors (as evidenced by our grandparents being quite upset at our parents’ odd taste for drive-ins and that newfangled “bee-bop” music), we believe that today’s crop of children, due to a lack of discipline, are growing up especially and uniquely dysfunctional in almost every possible way. As far as society has declined, I shudder to think what we will become when they rule.
That said, it’s up to us as Christians to be the instruments of Christ’s Dominion over the part of the earth He has given us, starting with our own families. It is our Christian duty and responsibility to raise our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Fortunately, the Bible has given us several specific principles and instructions regarding this. Let’s start with those:
“He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.” Proverbs 13:24
“Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.” Proverbs 22:15
“The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.” Proverbs 29:15
First of all, I want to make it very clear that Proverbs are principles that are generally true, not necessarily commands, and may not be applicable in every situation. If you have chosen not to spank your children, we are not judging you as a parent. It’s not our place! Every child is different, and maybe some children don’t respond to spanking at all but do respond to other forms of discipline. The main point here is you must firmly, decisively, and consistently discipline your children. If spanking isn’t for you or your child, fine, but please remember that if you try to condemn those who do you are also condemning clear Biblical teaching, which definitively defines corporal punishment, administered in love, as legitimate and effective.
Should you choose to spank your children, here are some principles to follow:
1.) Bottoms are for spanking – You might think that bottoms are for sitting or going potty, but really, God made a spot, unique to all the other spots on a child’s body, with plenty of “padding” so that parents could lovingly apply the board of education to the seat of instruction. This should go without saying, but parents should never, ever, physically discipline a child in the face, arms, or any other part of the body (duh, right?!).
2.) Don’t use your hand – Hands are for holding. Hands are for hugging. Hands are for high-fives when they score a basket. In our opinion, children should never associate a parent’s hand with pain. Instead, use a paddle, wooden spoon, belt, or other appropriate inanimate object.
3.) Start young – How young you start is up to you (some Christian resources say light corporal punishment can be understood by the child at around one year), but until a child reaches some magical point between ages 3 and 4 (it’s different for every one), rationalizing, grounding, threatening, and begging don’t seem to work, but spanking does. In fact, properly administered corporal punishment can truly be the only thing that keeps your child from being a complete and utter terror to you and those around you.
4.) Never spank in anger – If you are angry, send the child to his room and spend some time in prayer and contemplation. If possible, discuss the situation with your spouse. The main thing is, do not take any disciplinary action until you are calm and thinking straight.
5.) Spanking should be rare – This will vary, of course, depending on the age and individual will of the child. As a general principle, don’t spank for minor offenses or mistakes. Instead, spanking should be reserved for rebellion and major offenses.
6.) Be consistent – If you say something is a spanking offense, and your child does it anyway, then spank them! Failure to do so will only cause the behavior to continue, except now you’ve lost your child’s respect. This applies not only to spanking, but to every area of discipline as well. The old saying “say what you mean and mean what you say” is certainly true!
7.) Spanking should progressively decline the older a child gets – There is an age where spanking should no longer be used as a disciplinary tool. It’s different for each child, but the point where it would be humiliation instead of punishment is probably the right time. Besides, taking away electronics and/or grounding them is much more effective at these ages.
8.) Never, EVER, cross the line from spanking to abuse – Spank hard enough to get the job done (you’ll know), but never so hard that it becomes abusive. Be ever mindful that the purpose of spanking and other forms of punishment is never to break a child’s spirit, but rather to mold their will into a more Christ-like character.
9.) Talk with them, pray with them, and forgive them – Your child needs to know exactly why he/she is being spanked, that you are doing it because you love them, and, finally, that they are forgiven. God chastens us, but He still loves and forgives us.
Chastening and love go hand in hand in Scripture (Hebrews 12:6). Jesus, the ultimate Parent, chastens those He loves when they go astray. So should we be with our own children. So many parents want to be the “good guy,” but their unwillingness to be the “bad guy” in the face of disobedience and rebellion harms their children far more in the long run.
“Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish them with the rod, they will not die. Punish them with the rod and save them from death.” Proverbs 23:13-14 NIV