ASK LISA – SPANKING

When I first got saved, spanking was the only tool I was taught by Christians to discipline my kids. Now I am learning many others, but I’m wondering when/if it is necessary to spank.

When I first got saved, spanking was the only tool I was taught by Christians to discipline my kids. Now I am learning many others, but I’m wondering when/if it is necessary to spank.

This is a hot topic for many. If you want to learn what the Word says about spanking, ask Holy Spirit to show you. It is His job to lead you into all truth (‎John 16:13). I believe in spanking, but I also believe the most loving thing to do for some is NOT to spank. Some parents are walking out their own journey of healing, anger, and emotional triggers, and giving them a tool of spanking, under those circumstances, can cause greater issues for a child. If your emotions are in the 6-10 (of a 1-10 scale), spanking shouldn’t be used. I believe spanking is done in peace, not anger. It should be done to restore the child, not punish them. And it should make sense to the child, not confuse them.

An example: A child does something wrong that you have already taught in a proactive way in the time of peace. If you haven’t done your part to TEACH, then spanking is nothing more than punishment. If they willfully rebel against what has already been taught (which is the nature of a child to do), then I would remove them from the crowd, oftentimes asking them to meet you in a designated spot like the bathroom. Spanking in front of others, including siblings, can bring shame. Ask them first, “Why are you getting disciplined?” If they honestly cannot answer you, then YOU haven’t done your job to teach and train them first. If they can tell you why they are getting disciplined, then it should be done for correction, not to inflict pain or trauma. The goal is NOT tears. The goal is for them to understand that what they did was not okay. Hebrews 12:11 – “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”

After the discipline, there should be a time of saying “I am sorry” to the person they have harmed or offended. As they age, you can add, “I am sorry for _____,” which helps them to own their specific choice. While I rarely spank at my kids’ ages now, I do have them state not only what they did wrong but why it was wrong, such as, “I am sorry I hurt you by throwing that too hard. It was not okay because it didn’t make you feel safe.” My role in teaching them right/wrong has increased over time to help them understand the heart behind why some behaviors are hurtful to others. I want to address something deeper than spanking, and that is motive. What is your motive for spanking? For many, if they were honest, they would say it was to use power with a child where they feel powerless. For others, they believe their child should ‘pay’ for what they did and believe spanking achieves that goal. Small children do not yet know right/wrong and are in a season of learning your expectations. I passionately do not believe that spanking of any form should be the yes/no, do/don’t guide for children. Meaning they threw something and were spanked, which was supposed to teach them that throwing things isn’t okay. That is pretty flimsy parenting. Parenting is a verb, and we must be teachers, especially in the early years of proactively teaching them right/wrong. We do this in the times of peace and with joy; we role-play, play games with the principles, and model for them what we do want. There has to be a season where you are empowering them to walk out their choices. THEN if you see flat-out rebellion and willful disrespect for your authority, then I would go after discipline, but not as the first tool to teach and empower. Parenting isn’t just about correcting negative behavior but seeing where our children are falling short and going after what we DO want in them. How you walk this out with a two-year-old is different than with a nine-year-old. The toddler is learning when the nine-year-old should already have a foundation. Behavior is always a flashing sign to what is inside their heart. We can’t be so quick to rid them of ‘bad’ behavior, or we will ignore the deeper issue.

To answer your question – yes, spanking is a parenting tool when children are willfully disobeying or rebelling against your instruction and should be used with the right motivation and with a heart that is in the right place.

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