For awhile now I’ve been afraid to talk about certain topics that are controversial. Eventually I’ve gotten the courage to talk about things like cry-it-out and gentle parenting but I’ve been reluctant to be too “out there” with my opinions. What if I’m ridiculed and people think I’m a crazy weirdo? What if people are offended and think I’m only doing this to “mom-shame” those who are different? All of these fears are always preventing me from talking about some of the things that I’m really passionate about.
A lot of people will say, do you really think you’re going to change someone’s opinion by talking about this? Here’s the thing though. I used to think spanking your kids was a good thing. I used to think spanking was Biblical. I used to think a lot of things. BUT, because someone out there decided to share their controversial opinions on this topic, my opinion has changed. I’m one of the converts who actually read something with an open mind and realized I was wrong. And I’m happy about it! I’m forever grateful to everyone who shared and advocated this stuff. It opened my eyes. I believe if you can really grasp this stuff then it will be life changing! My motherhood journey and my kids’ childhoods are going to be so much better all because those people took a stand and shared. If I can use my platform here to help even one other family take a different path, then it’s so worth it to me.
There’s a quote that says “You could be the biggest, ripest, juiciest peach and there will still be someone who doesn’t like peaches.” I may lose followers or “friends” by being more bold with my thoughts, but I feel God leading me to be more unapologetically me and sharing the things I’m passionate about and things that can make a real difference in others’ lives!
Please know that I come to you, my readers and friends, not with shame and judgement if you are or were a spanker, but from a place of compassion and love and genuinely wanting to help offer a new perspective on the topic.
“But you’re just a first time mom with a one year old. How do you have any authority to speak on this subject?” I know, I know. I’ve said this same thing to myself. But what I’m about to share isn’t coming from my experiences and isn’t something I just thought up. I used to be very pro-spanking! Just consider me a messenger, passing along some life changing revelations that I’ve learned from people who DO have authority to speak on this. 🙂
1. It doesn’t model appropriate behavior. Kids who are spanked, often hit other children. You may say “kids hit each other regardless, they’re kids.” For some this may be true, but not all. So many parents report that their kids never showed aggressive hitting behavior at all until after they started spanking them. I see this all the time! Model the behaviors you want to see in your child. Teach them that hitting another person is never okay and never a way to solve a problem. Demonstrate gentleness and self-control, two fruits of the spirit, and your children will see it. They’re watching our every move and mimicking everything we do. I notice this with Gabe literally everyday when he picks up some new thing we do and copies it. Make sure the example they’re copying is a good one!
2. It’s fear-based discipline. Do you want your kids to feel like they can come to you when they’ve done something wrong or gotten themselves into trouble or be afraid to? Do you want them to behave appropriately because of their fear of spankings? “Don’t do that, do you want to get a spanking?” -It’s such a common phrase, but it teaches kids to behave because of fear of getting physically hurt instead of the REAL reason why they shouldn’t do xyz. I want my kids to feel safe with me. Safe to mess up and make mistakes and not be shamed or hit because of them. I want them to do the right thing because it’s the right thing, not because they’re afraid of the punishment. Spanking kids when they mess up conditions them to get sneakier and hide things from you. It conditions them to avoid you when they’ve messed up because they’re afraid of how you’re going to react. This will only increase with age. Foster the relationship with your kids and guide and teach them with grace so that you become a safe place for them, no matter what they’ve done. Model the unconditional love of Christ to them. This is not the easy way out and it does not mean being permissive. (1 John 4:18!)
3. It is not Biblical. I’m gonna break this point up into two parts- First I want to address the “rod verses.” Proverbs 13:24 says “Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.” This verse has been used for generations to justify spanking children, but please realize this- The “rod” this verse is talking about refers to a shepherd’s crook. Shepherds used their rods to guide their sheep. Shepherds and their “rods” or crooks were very symbolic of leadership and guidance in this culture. Shepherds never used their rods to physically hit the sheep. They used rods to gently pull them back when they were going astray, to ward off danger, and generally lead and direct their flock. This is why Jesus was often referred to as the “Good Shepherd.” Psalm 23 also says “your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” If a rod was symbolic of hitting and physical pain, this verse would not make any sense. If you ever want to dig deep into the theology, check out this article. She goes into deep detail about the original Hebrew texts and their translations in the rod verses. It completely changes the meaning of the verses and actually makes a lot more sense this way.
4. Secondly, I want to ask, can you imagine Christ physically hurting a child? As Christians we all strive to become more like Christ. Think long and hard about Jesus Christ. Read one of the gospels that talks about His life here on earth. Read stories about how He treated and interacted with sinners, and the compassion he had on them. Read stories about how He treated and interacted with children. Read stories about how He responded when others tried to use violence to punish. When Peter cut the ear off the soldier coming to get Jesus, Jesus had compassion on him and healed his ear, telling Peter to put his sword away. (John 18:10-11) When a crowd was about to stone an adulteress woman He stopped them and said “Let any one of you who is without sin be he first to throw a stone at her.” He had compassion on her and did not condemn her. (John 8:7-11) The Bible paints us a clear picture of who Jesus was. I cannot even begin to fathom Jesus spanking a child. Not in my wildest imagination! It’s just not who He is. He was never punitive in any way; in fact He came to save us from paying the physical penalty for our sins by dying on the cross for us. God did punish people in the Old Testament. People had to physically pay for their sins. But then He sent His son to be our Savior and pay the ultimate price so that we would not have to. I firmly believe Jesus would be against spanking, which is really all the reason I need to not do it.
5. It’s scientifically proven that spanking is harmful and changes the brain. I know many people scoff at “scientific research” and say not to let scientists tell you how to discipline your kids. I’ve had people say that to me. This isn’t the opinion of a few “experts” though. If you look at brain scans and compare people who were never spanked with people who were regularly spanked, the people who were regularly spanked have less grey matter in the prefrontal cortex. This is hugely significant. You can physically see the difference in the brains of people who were regularly spanked. Grey matter in this area of the brain is crucial. Having less is linked to mental health issues, depression, and anxiety, all of which are on the rise. Having less grey matter in his area of the brain also reduces impulse control which is ironic since this is usually what you’re trying to “teach” kids when you spank. Most people don’t realize just how harmful spanking can be. Pediatricians and the AAP are now urging parents to please not spank their kids, saying-
“It’s not effective, it takes six times longer for a child to learn something after they’ve been hit,” says Hallman.
The AAP puts it this way: “Discipline teaches kids what is acceptable. Punishment might work fast to stop bad behavior, but it is not effective over time… Corporal (physical) punishment also does not work.”
After decades and decades of research on this, the results are crystal clear.
Many people were spanked as kids and turned out “okay” so they see no harm in it. Most people who turned out “okay” despite being spanked still have smaller unseen issues though, like anxiety (me..🙋🏼♀️), anger issues, insecurity (also me), difficulty talking about their feelings in a healthy way (also me!), etc. etc. Spanking does physical irreversible damage to your child’s brain, which could lead to serious issues. It’s just not worth that risk.
6. There are other ways to discipline. Discipline literally means to teach. Discipline does not equal punishment.
If there are other ways, why wouldn’t you choose them over spankings? I see spanking as the easy way of disciplining. It requires less work to spank your child instead of using gentle methods that require more from the parent. I would personally argue that spanking doesn’t work; not once you see the big picture. It may temporarily “fix” an issue but not in the long run. But even if it did work, does that make it right to physically hurt a child who is still learning how to behave appropriately? I saw a quote yesterday that I thought was an excellent rebuttal to this: “I’ve had people shrug at my moral stance, and insist that spanking “works,” and I’m sure it does. There are lots of things that work that I’ll never try. If I disagree with you, shouting you down works, but wouldn’t it be better if I engaged you in reasonable debate? If I need money, stealing works, but wouldn’t it be better if I worked to earn a higher income? If you’re standing in my way, pushing you works, but wouldn’t it be better to politely ask you to allow me to pass? Indeed, spanking may work, but there are better ways. They just take more effort.” -Teacher Tom
Want to stop spanking but don’t know what else to do or where to start filling your “parenting tool bag” with other options? A few of my favorite resources for this have been:
–Simply On Purpose instagram: watch her stories highlights for so much valuable advice and information. She is a Christian and is also very well educated on this stuff and has successfully used gentle methods with her own children.
The following are affiliate links that earn me a small commission if you make a purchase through them but do not cost you any extra. I only recommend things I personally love!
One last food for thought:
“If it’s so hard for us as adults to always remain in control of our emotions, to always respond with kind words and patience, to always hold on to our self-control when we’re tired or frustrated or disappointed or angry, can you imagine how much more difficult it must be for children? Yet we expect them to forgive us when we ‘lose it,’ but punish them when they do the same.” -LR Knost