“Properly administered corporal punishment can be an extremely effective tool in a parent’s arsenal.”
Scott Morefield is the editor of the blog Raising Godly Children and a regulator contributor to The Blaze. In the following viewpoint, he argues that a small but vocal minority is using incendiary language to spread anti-spanking rhetoric and sway public opinion. Morefield contends that spanking and abuse are not synonymous and that corporal punishment has been used by parents throughout civilization. He also notes that support for physical discipline can be found in the Bible. Morefield asserts that parents have an obligation to lovingly discipline their children; by removing spanking, he says, they will be deprived of their most effective bargaining tool.
As you read, consider the following questions:
- According to the author, is all physical punishment inherently violent?
- Does Morefield describe the current generation of parents in positive or negative terms?
- As stated by Morefield, what advantages do adults who were spanked as children have over those who were not spanked?
Do you spank your kids?
On second thought, don’t answer that question, especially if you live in Michigan, where a mom faces prison (yes, actual prison) for disciplining one of her children with a wooden paddle; or Delaware, which passed the nation’s first “anti-spanking law” in 2012 by redefining child abuse laws to include any act that causes “pain.”
Now “pain” has a pretty broad meaning, particularly when you’re bringing lawyers into the picture. Does Jimmy feel “pain” when he’s grounded from electronics and suffers the indignity of actually having to make his own entertainment?
Does little Suzy experience “pain” when mom and dad make her eat something that’s good for her but that she doesn’t really want to eat, like brussel sprouts?
Do hurt feelings, or a bruised ego, count as “pain”?
Granted, none of those things are exactly what we’re talking about. What we ARE talking about, of course, are good ole’ fashioned butt whoopings, the kind most of us over the age of 35 experienced on a pretty regular basis back in the day.
And being prosecuted, regardless of the legality or illegality of “spanking” as a practice in any given state, is a legitimate concern.
Who Owns Your Kids?
Discussions on this topic tend to reflect a fundamental ideological difference between atheistic and Christian-principled governance—who owns your kids? The way our society chooses to answer this question will determine what kind of country we live in. Will we go the direction of every totalitarian dictatorship from the Bolsheviks onward, or will we choose family and freedom over tyranny?
It would likely seem to an unbiased observer that spanking is becoming quite passé these days, but that’s not exactly the case. Although an ABCNews poll found that 65 percent of Americans approve of parents spanking their children (a rate that has remained unchanged since 1990), [based on] the howls of protest that typically come from a small but very vocal minority on the left, one could understand the confusion.
However, liberals are working hard to sway public opinion and the law in their direction. They use incendiary language—spanking is “hitting,” corporal punishment is “violence,” and so on—and maximize their use of the slippery slope fallacy by pointing out extreme cases of abuse.
Their logic at least at first glance seems reasonable. How does “hitting” children, even on the buttocks, teach them to solve problems and interact with others non-violently?
First of all, physical contact isn’t necessarily “violence” particularly if such contact doesn’t cause injury and doesn’t take place for the purpose of “violating, damaging, or abusing.”
Second, given that parents have pretty much always practiced corporal punishment, why hasn’t civilization long ago descended into utter chaos? In fact, the argument could easily be made that today’s generation of entitled, coddled, spoiled, disrespectful kids are the ones who could quite possibly end everything and fewer of them have been spanked than any previous generation.
Biblical Support for Spanking
Biblically, of course, the case for spanking is pretty open and shut. For those who believe the Bible relays the words and thoughts of God, I think it’s pretty safe to say that God believes in spanking.
“Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.” Proverbs 13:24 ESV
But wait, there’s more!
“Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him.” Proverbs 22:15
“The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.” Proverbs 29:15
Understanding that Proverbs are principles that are generally true, not necessarily commands, there is wiggle room for parents who choose not to spank their kids. Every child is different. If you discipline your child in other ways and have had success, more power to you. Unless your kid is a terror to you and everyone around you, I’m not judging.
Choose Loving Discipline Over Coddling
However, as a general principle, I believe the world would be a better place and the future would be in better hands if more parents chose to lovingly and effectively discipline their children using any reasonable and appropriate means necessary, up to and including spanking.
Taking spanking “off the table,” is pretty much like our president taking ground troops or nukes “off the table.” You remove your most effective bargaining tool!
We’ve all seen it—the screaming 5-year-old in the middle of the restaurant that mom simply can’t do anything with until she gives him the cookie he wants; the kid who screams and berates his parents in the middle of the park because he’s not ready to leave yet; the 3-year-old who pulls a temper tantrum right there in the middle of the Walmart aisle until dad tosses the desired toy in the buggy.
Too many parents plead, and coddle, and lecture, and finally tolerate, and ignore, and appease, then give in to apathy, and pretty soon the inmates are taking over the asylum faster than Adolf Hitler took over Czechoslovakia.
Are the parents in charge, or are the kids?
But “no, oh no,” liberals tell us, spanking is never appropriate. We can “reason” with our 2-year-old and turn him into a proper world citizen.
Really? Maybe you can, but the last time I tried to reason with a 2-year-old I got a handful of green beans in my face.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that children “in charge” is a horrible idea, and that’s not just because our family in particular would be subjected to hours upon endless hours of “Peppa the Pig” and “Doc McStuffins” (thank you, Nick Junior!).
Please, oh please, tell me how sparing your children a few minutes of temporary discomfort while they are young is better than locking them in a cage when they are old enough to really become unruly. And God knows, we lock [incarcerate] lots of people in cages these days, more than any other country.
Spanking’s Positive Effect on Young Children
There are, of course proper and improper ways of spanking children. I’ve listed several of those on my blog. It’s never acceptable to physically or mentally abuse a child and some parents have taken spanking entirely too far.
But let’s not toss the baby out with the bathwater. Properly administered corporal punishment can be an extremely effective tool in a parent’s arsenal.
By trying to take away the right of parents to properly discipline their children, liberals are in actuality chipping away at the very foundations of society itself: the ability of future generations to discipline themselves, much less their own children.
The Bible cites wisdom we all know, that foolishness is BOUND in the heart of children. It also lists a tried-and-true way to drive it FAR from him.
A 2010 study conducted by Calvin College psychology professor Marjorie Gunnoe found quite conclusively that people who were spanked as young children—up to the age of 6—perform better in school as teenagers, do more volunteer work, are more likely to want to go to college, and were more likely to grow up to be happier and more successful adults than their peers who were never spanked.
Turns out God isn’t the idiot some people think He is.