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"He who spareth the rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him correcteth him betimes" (Proverbs 13:24)
"Withhold not correction from a child: for if thou strike him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and deliver his soul from hell." (Proverbs 23:13-14)
The question of spanking is one of the most controversial subjects among Christian parents as well as the non-Christian world. With re-definition of child abuse laws it seems obvious that before using this approach to child discipline, one must fully understand what is appropriate and what is not.
What separates the two opposing views on spanking? Simple, how teaching is applied with the use of this discipline. Is the spanking applied with love or out of frustration? I have seen the mental scars of abuse both physical and mental. I have not seen a scarred life from a swat to the butt. No one will ever convince me that a swat motivated by love is worse than words conceived in malice. More kids lives have been damaged by words than by the rod. Spare the rod and spoil the child. No. Love the child enough to overcome the frustration and teach them by using all the tools you have available, including the hand if needed.
The debate will never end until both sides understand that a spanking is the use of minimal force to correct a behavior or to keep a child from doing a potentially harmful act. Abuse is the use of force either physical or mental to inflict pain where at best the only goal is punishment. Until the sides unite and present a common strategy that promotes the best of both sides we will continue to have paralyzed families and schools, and our courts will continue to be filled with kids with no respect for themselves let alone adults or society. Teaching boundaries is critical to a child for social growth and functioning as a child and later as an adult. Without boundaries there is nothing but chaos.
I am called "old School" because I believe that a spanking at the right time may become a necessity in the learning process of our children. That necessity is when verbal instruction in a change of behavior has failed. It should never be the standard method but the exception. In my experience, when swatting is a consistent reality of crossing set boundaries or ignoring verbal correction it becomes a little used reality.
I do not like the term spanking, it creates in my mind a child over the dad's knee receiving ten blows to the backside. A spanking in my view is an immediate physical action taken to reestablish verbal communication between the adult and the child. Over the knee takes on the connotation of punishment instead of correction. If both parents use corrective spanking and allow other adults the right for the same reasons then punishment spanking would be a very rare or absent event. A punishment spanking is reserved for one occasion, repeated bad behavior. It should be used very sparingly and wisely. Remember, an event that warrants a punishment spanking probably denotes a failure in previous lessons. I. E. you and the child are both responsible that the punishment spanking had to take place. Review your tactics.
Ground rules for using spanking as a method of disciple.
In my day...
- A spanking is applied immediately or not at all. No "wait until your daddy gets home", no marching the child off to another room. A swat, and a repeat of the verbal correction that the child ignored.
- A spanking is not the first action. It is the last resort.
- A cupped hand with no follow through applied to a baby's diaper creates a startlingly loud sound. There is no skin to skin spanking of a baby except -
- Two fingers applied to the back of the hand when a baby is reaching for danger and has ignored a "No". No hand movement just the two fingers. This of course is used only after grabbing the infant's hand and pulling it away has failed.
- For toddlers the cupped hand is still the method of choice. After potty training the cupped hand forms an air cushion when the hand is first separated from their rear by only a layer or two of cloth. Cupping the hand also gives you the split second to remember love not frustration.
- The whole idea is for the child to understand that a spanking is not when they should start obeying but that verbal messages are to be obeyed to avoid the spanking. Later they will grasp why a loving parent corrects their behavior.
My Father was known as the fastest belt in the East. Yet I defy you to find one cousin or childhood friend of mine that "felt the belt" that doesn't still admire him and consider him a good influence in their lives. He never used it out of laziness or meanness but only when his verbal expression was ignored. A hand movement, pain, and then complete focus on what he was saying. The visual. Somehow (I've always envisioned hours of practice) my Father was able in one motion and with one hand to unbuckle his belt, pull it out of his pants, fold it in half in the air, smack you on the butt, and then be putting it back on before you could turn and give him the attention he had asked. You will note that I did not condone the belt or anything else but the hand. That is mainly because I know of no one else with the control, both mental and physical, displayed by my Father. None of us felt the sting more than a few times. We learned to listen. The belt served mainly as a deterrent to inattention.
My Grandfather had a woodshed and a razor strop. By the time I was old enough to feel the strop I had heard all the horror stories. When the day arrived, I was not taken to the woodshed but instead sent to get the razor strop. By the time I had retrieved it, I was crying like a baby. My Grandfather talked to me and then we re-hung the strop. He had my complete attention when he spoke from that day on. The strop gathered dust.
Not only did my relatives have my parents permission to correct me, with a swat if necessary, but so to did the school and our neighbors. Immediate correction. Was that swat ever needed? No. You learned very early that there was nothing you could do worse than disrespect an adult. The best you could hope for after such an act would be not being able to sit comfortably for awhile, and that wouldn't be the punishment. As a teenager, the police didn't take you to court or have your parents come down to get you. They escorted you home, waited for you to get to the door, and ever so briefly hit the siren and drove away. The behavior was up to you to explain and your parents to correct.
How did we turn out? Quite well if you forget that one of us become a politician.
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