I have seven children.
I do not discipline with corporal punishment.
I do not make empty threats, bully, scream and yell.
My kids are not out of control brats.
They do chores. They help with younger siblings. They respect their father and myself.
It goes against what many people believe when I say I do not use physical force and yet my children are still well behaved.
I am not here to debate who is parenting right versus wrong. I am simply writing this blog to explain why I parent how I parent and how it works for my family.
I’m a Christian. And in that circle, spanking as discipline is touted as the correct way to raise a child. So I will start with that point. First of all “Spare the rod, spoil the child” is NOT EVEN IN THE BIBLE. It’s not. The closest one can find in the Christian bible is in Proverbs chapter 13, verse 24: a verse that says “He that spareth his rod, hateth his son but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.” (King James Version) In the New International Version the verse translates as: “Whoever spares the rod, hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.”
Many folks take the verse at face value and assume a rod is a stick to beat with. But in the book of Proverbs the word shebet (rod) is used 5 times. We need to keep in mind that the book of Proverbs is a book of poetry and it does not neccesarily need to be taken in the literal sense of the word. In Psalms, we all know that popular group of verses that mention “Thy rod and thy staff comfort me.” In those verses is the same word “shebet” but it clearly is speaking about a tool of guidance and safety. Shepherds used rods and staffs while working out in the fields to keep their sheep from wandering astray and to protect them from wolves. They did not BEAT their sheep with the rod, they gently but firmly guided them. If we are honest with ourselves while studying the word of God we will see how violent that culture was historically. (example:they stoned adulterous women to death.) But Christ himself stepped forward and did away with that form of dealing with transgressions, did he not? You know the story where he stood up and said “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” If he was in opposition for corporal punishment of an adulterous adult woman, why in the world would he be in support of hitting small children? Perhaps we have been interpreting that verse incorrectly for far too long. A rod as a form of discipline, not cruel painful punishment.
At the end of the day it comes down to this for me. I cannot love, trust and worship a God who says it is acceptable practice to cause physical harm to a child. It is cruel. And my God is not cruel. He is firm and wise and holds me to high standards. But he is not cruel. I utilize wisdom in raising and guiding my children. My discipline is my rod my shebet. It is not a large stick to beat my children with.
The research is there. Statistically speaking, children who are raised with corporal punishment are more likely to grow up to be felons of violent crimes. I am not saying ALL children by any means. I am just saying the facts are there that violence begets violence. If a young child is taught that a proper penalty for a wrong doing is to hurt a person, they may grow up and feel justified to right wrongs physically themselves. I am not saying it happens to every person. I am saying the risk is higher. Just like every person who smokes will not get lung cancer but your risk goes up the more you smoke in comparison to a non smoker.
There has to be significant changes that take place in a child’s psyche when they are hit by a parent. It is pure logic. For the first few years of a child’s life they understand that their parent will be there to protect them. That parent keeps them safe 100%. Then all of a sudden one day that same parent inflicts pain. This causes confusion in a child’s way of understanding. Suddenly the dynamics have changed. Personally I have always found it a bit twisted that we teach our children to respect their privates and not let anyone touch nor see those certain body parts but then we hit them on one of those private areas. I was spanked one time as a young girl of 9 by my stepdad and I can honestly tell you I was more humiliated by the fact he spanked me on my butt than about any pain the spank might have inflicted. I was mortified and embarrassed. It was not a bare butt hit but it might as well have been by the way I felt during and after. Ashamed and confused. We are sending mixed messages to our children. My assumption is we encourage hitting on the fleshy buttocks because it leaves little to no marks. This rationale makes perfect sense to me because I was a victim of domestic violence for 4 years. I understand all too well the intricacies of abuse. Abusers go for the parts of a body that won’t show marks so easily or can be covered up by clothing. It is easy to not feel guilty if you don’t see the proof of your abuse.
The fact is, the long term effects of hitting a child are psychological, not physical. Marks on flesh fade away for the most part. But the changes that take place in our understanding of the world around us, about discipline and love and trust and security, are all morphed when we are hit by a person we fully trust. Don’t tell me it doesn’t. I can tell you with vivid clarity exactly the way I felt the very first time my ex husband shoved me down in the grass that day. He was never the man I fell in love with after that moment in my mind. Never. We are teaching our children by our actions.
I am raising 6 sons. And I have heard the argument a million times over. If I do not spank my sons, they will grow up to be out of control punks. Can you just IMAGINE? Six boys growing into hormonal raging teenagers in one house at one time??? It will be chaos and anarchy!
My oldest son is 14 now. He is one of the most calm, focused, studious teenagers I have ever known. He is not rebelling. He is not up in my face yelling or throwing stuff or punching walls. He understands how to communicate his feelings, how to resolve conflict with patience and a matter-of-act attitude. I think he, at his age, is a wonderful testimony to the fact that a child CAN be raised in a loving home without violence as a threat of punishment and still carry all of the tools required to function in society without being a criminal.
My greatest hope is that this legacy is carried down to my grandchildren some day. That I can set a snowball in motion to ensure that my children are the kind of loving parents who know how to teach and discipline without becoming physically abusive and that they can raise children themselves who understand what true discipline IS: training, teaching, preparing for life.
Children do not learn the lessons desired by being hit. And if they manage to, it is in a roundabout way. I am teaching my sons that hurting another human being solves nothing and simply causes damage. My hope is that they will apply this concept to the rest of their journey.
I wish more people practiced empathy and peace in their daily lives. Imagine what this world would be like if we all did. Imagine a world where we were all taught as children to sit down and discuss differences in a respectful manner, where we could be taught the WHY behind the rules and come to respect the need for order and laws because we truly understood them, where communication is key and respect means being and giving not just receiving.
I want to live in that world. I am creating it for my children in our home.
World peace begins at home.