Thursday, April 22, 2010

Question of the Day

To Spank or Not to Spank?

I know, it's a touchy subject. (Ha, ha, pardon the pun). And I am not here to defend my position on the matter, or to judge anyone's parenting styles, nor am I here to have my parenting styles judged. I had a brief conversation recently with an acquaintance about this, and it got my wheels turning.

Originally, I was only planning on posting this as a forum to people to express their opinions on the subject, while keeping my side of the story out of it, but then I started thinking. I really want people to feel safe expressing their thoughts and feelings about this, and since I no longer allow anonymous comments, I want people to use their names. How can I expect you to feel safe stating your opinions, if I don't say mine? I only ask that no one calls DCFS on me if I'm blatantly honest.
So, to paraphrase Psalms 13, comes the old adage, "Spare the Rod, Spoil the Child." What do you think about that?

I have heard a lot of different interpretations of that scripture. I've heard that "the rod" is to be interpreted as "the iron rod" or the "word of God." Okay, I can work with that one. Of course, teaching our children the Gospel gives them guidelines to make good choices. But when it comes to discipline, if one of my children is being naughty will spouting off scripture in their face immediately correct that particular behaviour? Although, I can see the actual Good Book being a good tool to use to swat a naughty behind. Ok, I kid, but in all seriousness, yes I can see where this particular argument is coming from.

I've heard that this scripture is obsolete and no longer applies to parenting in today's world.
My response? So... you're saying that the Old Testament is obsolete? Eh, I'm gonna go ahead and say Nay.

You may not agree with me on this position, and I guarantee many of you don't, but that's okay. We're all different. And each of our children are different.

I believe that each of MY children (as I'm sure is true with most of yours) has different disciplinary needs. For instance, my oldest, KJ, is a pleaser. She would rather die, than disappoint me. So, I don't have to do much to get her to be obedient. Sure, sometime she's lazy and forgets to clean her room, etc, but she is easily motivated. My other two children, need a little more encouragement to be good.

Ok, I'm beating around the bush. Here's my take.

I DO believe in spanking. As a last resort. I also believe that there is a HUGE difference between "raising your hand in anger against your child" and spanking. I believe the line between spanking to discipline your child and abuse depends how the parent feels emotionally.
I believe a parent should NEVER spank if they've lost their temper. But the same goes for yelling and screaming (also something I do, but I'm not proud of) If we're talking strictly from a beliefs standpoint, I believe yelling at your children is more abusive than spanking them, and has more long-term adverse effects.

And it IS different with each child. Some kids just don't need to be spanked. Some kids, like my TJ (he's special), need , like I said, more encouragement. I have tried time-outs for my children. They have proved to be nothing but a complete and total waste of time and totally ineffective. Maybe that works for some, but not my kids. So, after several methods of disciplinary action fail (i.e. taking away privileges, toys, a good old flick of the ear, etc.), then and only then, do I resort to spanking. I firmly believe that children need to be taught at a very young age, that when they make bad decisions, there are consequences. And sometimes those consequences hurt. Each behavior deems a specific consequence. I'm not going to spank my kid for spilling her milk. But, after I ask her to clean up the milk (the consequence for spilling it), and she chooses to disobey me, then she will eventually be spanked. The spanking is a consequence for being disobedient, and not for spilling her milk. And I will always make sure to tell her exactly that, so she knows it.

And it's handy, convenient and fast. You can always take it with you. If my kid is acting up in church, I can quietly pull him into the bathroom, give him a swat on the bottom, and go sit back down. No one else is the wiser, except for the fact that the kid is now exponentially calmer and more reverent because he knows that I am willing to follow through with my threats.
There's my take. So, tell me yours. Do you believe in spanking? Or are you dead-set against it?
Do you have other methods of discipline that work for you and your children?

Please share!


Julie said...

I'm a spanker. I don't do it when I'm angry and I make sure that the child in question knows exactly why he or she is being spanked before the punishment is administered. I spoke with a counselor about it recently, telling her that it seemed that spanking was literally the only thing that worked with my daughter in some instances. The counselor then told me that the reason that the spanking worked was because it was a threat with which I immediately and unfailingly followed through. I'm still mulling that one over, however, I'm with you. It's always there and always handy, unlike some other forms of punishment.

I think that everyone has to do what works for them and that no one else has any right to judge the parenting techniques of others, short of the child being in serious danger. That being said, I also think that spanking is best done in private, or at least at home. My kids find it terribly embarrassing and the point of the punishment is to discourage bad behavior, not shame the child in front of others.

Kristina P. said...

OK, so here comes the comment from someone who doesn't have kids. But I've done a lot of research on this, have taught a ton of parenting classes, work with abused kids, etc.

Personally, I think there are better ways to handle something than by using physical punishment. But I do agree with you that each child is different.

I also love it when a parent spanks their kid because their kid hit or touched their brother or sister. I am going to hit you, because I don't want you to hit your sibling. What kind of message does that send?

I also think that spanking is a short term counsequence and doesn't usually provide long term relief, and the research supports that. It's a temporary solution.

So, that's just my two cents. It's something Adam and I have talked about a lot, as he was raised in a very strict household with a lot of physical punishment, and thinks that's the only way to handle discipline, while I believe in other types of consequences and consistency.

Kristina P. said...

I also wanted to add, quickly, that I know a lot of parents use spanking because it's easy. Many other forms of consequences take time for them to work, and consistency, and people get impatient.

Wonder Woman said...

Left a comment, got an error. Take two.

Basically, I do it the same as you. Spankings are a last resort. They get a warning, then time out. Generally the only time I spank is if they're throwing a fit in time out and kicking the door. Even then, I'll tell them if they kick the door again they'll get a spank. Then when they kick it, I spank.

It's when they are out of control -- never when *I'm* out of control. Just the other day Spiderman was throwing a fit and called Superman stupid. I wanted to spank his little bottom, but refrained because it was because *I* was angry.

Rather than write a longer comment, I'm gonna write a post. Good question.

p.s. you gonna be at the baby shower tomorrow? I'd love to see you. I would've made more of an effort for the GNO if I knew you were gonna be there, too!

steph said...

Good post! I would have to say my beliefs are very close to yours. To me God's Word is the final authority. And if the literal description of what it says makes enough sense then I don't feel the need to reach for some mysterious hidden meaning. I believe "spare the rod and spoil the child" means what it says and has been proven- children who grew up when spanking was widley accepted and widely used, behaved. Children today do not. (generally speaking) I think God designed us to respond to pain in a certain way and that is why it works. Many years ago I decided spanking was bad, that it caused aggression in my son so I stopped. It was the worse thing I could have done. He got 10X worse. I agree with you, it needs to be done in a controlled way, we should never lose our temper and always practice self control, to do otherwise is sin. But I think today's children proves sparing the rod is wreaking havoc on our society.

Just my 2 cents. :)

Love Fam said...

I totally agree with you, I think it depends on the child and I think it should be used "sparingly". I also think it depends on the age of the child, at least for my kids...the girls know and understand that when they get spanked, it is because they behaved badly. Krew on the other hand, doesn't quite understand and I think it only teaches him to hit, usually they can be reasoned with before it gets to that point, but I think someone already said that kids use to behave, when spanking was more accepted, and now it seems like there is a lot of spoiled, mis-behaved kids! I also think that is partly due to the lack of respect among adults, and thus among our children! ANyway good post!!!

Shelle-BlokThoughts said...

When taking a college course at BYU there wasn't many things that stuck with me, but one phrase did. One hit hard and firm is spanking and used for an effective consequence, but any more than that is abuse.

Meaning if you can't do it right in the first swat that you are not in control.

We've stuck to that.

If the consequence has required a spank then we have done it and we have made that one time effective.

But to be honest we haven't needed it a lot.

And usually only when they were doing something that was going to hurt them or others.

To Everyone there own.

Missy said...

We believe in spanking and have never had to spank because each of our children have different disciplinary needs. Grounding and time-outs have worked so far. If you need anyone spanked, let me know. My SIL is good to go! LOL

Connie Weiss said...

We used to spank...but it resulted in the kids (they are 10.5 months apart) spanking each other for silly reasons.

The naughty step has worked out much better for us.

Ana said...

Well, I'm not a spanker. I wasn't sure what I'd do before I had kids, but after they arrived, I've found spanking to not be palatable. I decided against it after watching just how much my kids mirror my own actions. If I don't want them to hit each other, I don't think hitting them is a good idea.

Spanking works because of fear. I was spanked and so was my husband. In my case, it bordered on abuse, so I'm not the best case study on it, but for him, well, I love his parents. They are great people. But he has almost no relationship with them, and sometimes I wonder if it's because they used spanking to keep the kids in check. Fear of spanking did keep them in line, and I know they didn't use it in public, or even all that often. But he remembers it, and he has a pretty bad memory when it comes to his childhood. Hitting sticks out.

Anyway, blah, blah, blah, I could go on and on, but I have never really understood how people latch onto that Old Testament verse as a reason to spank. This is the same set of scriptures that set out the Mosiaic law, which we no longer follow. So why are we bound to that one?

Ana said...

Oh, and to add to that, I think the real reason we have so many kids out there who don't know how to behave is not because we're not spanking them. It's because we're not parenting anymore, we're trying to be their "friends", and leaving them home with babysitters or an empty house. We have guilt and try to make up for it by buying them stuff or letting things go that we shouldn't. I don't need spanking to control my kids, and they are definitely different, but I do have to work hard to find a discipline style that does work. I can't just let stuff go.

Katy B. said...

I just started writing a post on my blog about this very same subject after watching a talk show with women on both sides of the issue of spanking. Crazy!

Anyway, I'd have to agree with what Ana has commented.

My father has worked for CPS in the state of Arizona for over 35 years. He's seen it all. (I could never do the job that he does. Just the thought of seeing a child that has been abused greives my soul) And here's what he's always told me in regards to spanking.

For the most part the majority of parents who do use it as a form of discipline, regardless if it's a last resort and insist on justifing it, use phrases like, "My child won't respond to time outs." or "I've tried everything and nothing else works." or "My parents did it and I'm okay, so what's the big deal?" or "They need to learn to respect me."

Children are entilted to their feelings and are entitled to use their free angency. Yes, there are consequences to all our choices, but when has "hitting" been approved as one of them? Because no matter how much you sugar coat it, you're "hitting" your child. Plain and simple. And that's not okay.

Never has in any conference talk or church handbook said that "spanking" is prohibited. But there is the letter of the law and the spirit of the law. I don't ever recall the Savior using violence in his teachings or in his dealings with his fellowman. Even those that were beyond horrible to Him, he restrained himself. He used Self control.

People forget that self control is just as vital as of freedom of choice is.

Okay, so that's my two "long" cents on the subject.

I hope I haven't come across as judgemental. I so didn't mean to make it sound like that. I apoligize if I did.:):):)

veronica said...

I've used spanking. I think that since it's a pretty rare thing around our house, it really gets their attention.
I never spank when I'm angry, though.

Mikki said...

The Mosaic law was done away with because Christ fulfilled it, and set forth new law. I don't know that anything has changed concerning the discipline of our children. I believe it can be an effective tool when used as you've described it. I love what Shelle form Blok Thoughts shared. One good swat should do it.
I was raised with corporal punishment, yes I feared it, but I don't think it did me any long-lasting harm. I think it did me more good than anything. What I really dreaded most, was the hour long talking to my dad would give us before or after the spanking.

Steph said...

I spanked my kids on occassion but I know it's not for everyone. I think the most important thing is for parents to have the ability to discipline as they see fit based upon each individual child. Some react well to time outs, others to stern looks, and some need a swat on the bum.

Braden said...

Sherrie, why don't you discuss something that is less controversial, like Twilight or politics or things like that :)

I'm on the tail end of 5 kids and I've tried a lot of things. Especially with our first bunch who came close together and quickly. We just didn't find spanking to be effective. For what it's worth, it seemed to set our kids' determination to not show any weakness.

But, I think this is VERY personal and I would not ever want to tell someone what they should/shouldn't do with their kids.