Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Is Spanking Biblical?

Corporal punishment has been somewhat of a sore-spot in our household. When I became a believer, I was very firm about the need for spanking while raising children. Very. Very. Firm. Jaden, too. In fact, when researching Attachment Parenting just prior to Jericho's birth, I stumbled across the typical AP (Christian and otherwise) stance on spanking (it should never be done) and nearly fell out of my seat. And that was when I determined to never label myself as a big ole wimpy attached mama. I was fully indoctrinated in the common belief that if you don't lay a hand on your child, he will never become an adequate adult. I LOUDLY scoffed whenever I heard 'hippy' parents talk about 'peaceful discipline'.

As Jericho has grown up and started to display *ahem* behavior, I find myself utterly appalled at the idea of hitting him. I have also met more and more Christian families who don't spank and have raised beautiful, respectful children. My stance has gradually shifted from "know your child. Some children need spankings and some don't. If you do spank, NEVER do it while angry" to "I'll never spank". I'll be honest and admit that Jaden isn't on board with this. We have some discussions to have. I have a feeling after reading a bit more on the topic he'll at least understand where the other side is coming from. I have learned a lot about the Biblical meaning behind such verses as:

Proverbs 23:13 "Withhold not the correction from the child; for if you best him with the rod, he shall not die"

In all of the "rod" verses, the Hebrew word translated "child" is "Na'ar" which in the orginal language meant "Shaken off" and was used to describe a pubescent boy or young man. That's just about the age that every pro-spanking community agrees that parents should make use of other methods of discipline.

Also, the word translated "Rod" in these verses was the word "Shebet". Psalm 23 says "Your rod (Shebet) and Your staff; they comfort me". How could a stick used for beating also be used for comfort? A shebet was typically used as a large walking stick, held by the head of the family. It's a symbol of leadership, strength and guidance. The term used for instruments typically used to beat someone was the word "Choter".

This is just the beginning. I found myself thinking more and more about the way the Lord disciples us. What's His demeanor? What are His methods? He is gentle and sweet, like a mother with her nursling. His grace abounds. Though we deserve the "Choter" daily, His approach isn't to scare the poo out of us. He gently draws us in, brings us closer. Perhaps a more Christ-like method of discipline would be to draw in your child to a peaceful place. Maybe a little bit of "mama time" would soothe a frustrated spirit.

Anyway, all that to say, check out this link:

Besides, the goal in discipling our children isn't to repay evil for evil. It's to raise competent and respectful adults who love the Lord. I think it's important (and hard) to look at the big picture when our children are driving us bonkers. If a different, more peaceful method of changing behavior works, then why resort to physical punishment? I'm not perfect (far, far, FAR from it) and obviously neither is Jericho but there has never been a time (as of yet) where I felt like spanking was my only option. I've read books about discipline, asked other peaceful mamas and read numerous posts so that I have an arsenal of tools at my disposal. I will leave with a Verse and a few places where you can go for parenting support.

The Love and Logic series of books by Jim and Charles Fay, has been INDISPENSABLE! This is where I've gotten the bulk of my 'tools'. I am especially loving "Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood". It's so logical. And so loving. There ya' go.

How to Talk So Your Kids Will Listen and Listen So Your Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish is next on my "To Read" list. I've heard nothing but awesome about this book.

Positive Discipline by Jane Nelson also gave me GREAT tools. A must read.

Playful Parenting by Laurence Cohen is another on my "To Read" list. Again, great reviews.

The Discipline Book by the Sears family is a great one, as well.

Gentle Christian Mothers has great posts and an ever more AMAZING forum for natural Christian parenting. I highly suggest signing up (membership is open this month but is known to close randomly... Keep trying!) and if you have more questions about spanking, feel free to bare your heart out to these amazing, non-judgmental ladies!

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:18