A Look At The Spanking Controversy in Canada

The United Church Observer has published an article called, To Spank Or Not to Spank, by Sarah Boesveld about the spanking controversy in Canada.  While I am glad that the United Church of Canada has taken a public stand against spanking, I do not link to this as Christian arguments, but of interest as a news story.  Canadian Evangelical, C.L. Dyke of Scita Scienda, explains why in a comment  which I will reproduce here.

The greater context to this is that the UCC is a denomination which has thrown out orthodox (I use the word generically, not denominationally) Christian doctrine in favour of unbridled humanism. They actively disavow the deity of Jesus Christ and the authority of the Bible–scripture is a text to be interpreted by today’s shifting social customs, and filtered for generic principles common to human decency, rather than a narrative deserving of the same respect and scholarly approach as any other ancient text.

The quote in the article about supporting the oppressed lines up to this:

–Support anti-spanking

–Support homosexual advocacy and lobbying

–Support abortion (hmm, an interesting clash of principle occurs here)

–Reject the deity of Jesus Christ and His calling upon humankind to repent of sin and accept personal, substitutionary salvation based on Christ’s atonement; eject pastors who preach it.

Meanwhile, Canadian law is already very pro-child.

In writ, it is illegal to spank under the age of 2 or over the age of 12; it is illegal to leave so much as a red mark; it is illegal to spank with an implement.

In practice, spanking of any kind has the potential to incur social services intervention.

As someone who is anti-Pearl and pro-attached/gentle parenting, but not anti-spanking across the board, I feel the scales are already sufficiently balanced against the principles of individual freedom in our country’s legal system.

While the compassion expressed for Hana Williams’ horrific death is only appropriate, the UCC’s word is pretty tainted to me as a Canadian evangelical. I’m not sure how we are to see the brokenness of humanity healed without Christ.

The UCC’s solution is moral relativism and socialism. Given the (for now) fringe push on the far left to accept pedophilia under the guise of “children’s sexual rights,” that approach doesn’t avail for me as a guarantor of children’s rights and safety in this life, all eternal considerations aside.

 

Gentle Parenting and Defiance

MamaPsalmist considers how hard it is to leave punitive spanking behind when a child is being defiant and if it is worth it in, Coming Out of Hiding.

Analyzing the Schatz Tragedy

Cindy, from Under Much Grace, analyzes what causes people like Kevin and Elizabeth Schatz to harm their children in a new series:
Why Good People Make Dangerous Choices (Pondering Pearl and Lydia Schatz)

An Introduction

Part I: Virtue In Place of Unquestioned Obedience.

Part II: How Dehumanization (and Declaring War Against Family Members) Causes Moral Disengagement

Part III: Defining Aggression as Normal, Acceptable, and Desired Behavior

An Addendum Note About Lydia Schatz and the Correction She Suffered for a Mispronounced Word: Liberian Adoption and Reactive Attachment Disorder

Part IV: The Milgram Experiment and the Pressure to Commit Evil for the Common Good

Part V: Pondering the Atrocities of the Jewish Holocaust and its Relationship to the Study of Obedience

Bad Apples or Bad Barrels? The Short and Long Versions of Zimbardo on the Lucifer Effect

Part VI: The Calm Before the Storm Following the Schatzes’ “Guilty” Pleas

Part VII: The Breaking the “Diabolical Will” of Infants in the IFB – Even at Hephzibah House

Part VIII: There But For Grace

Part IX: Using the Milgram Study to Understand How Pearl Becomes Appealing

Part X: The Schatz Family is Not Unique

My Experiences With Spanking

“Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.” -Prov 22:15

This Bible verse and the idea that it refers to a literal rod encompassed most of my mother’s parenting philosophy. How to Be the Parents of Happy and Obedient Children by Roy Lessin strongly influenced her interpretation and application of this verse. One of the messages of Lessin’s book is that a child’s salvation depends on frequent and hearty spankings. My mother was passionate about obeying what she believed God wanted.  She didn’t raise her voice at me or spank me  “in anger.” However, I was spanked on the legs with a dowel rod for every infraction, including refusing to hug her after a spanking.  No “disrespect” was tolerated. This meant I had very little avenue for the expression of negative emotions except stuffing them down. This suppression of emotion back-fired when I became violent towards other children as a preteen. Later when as a teenager I learned to refrain from violence toward others I began to turn the violence towards myself. I had hysterical episodes where I would violently hit myself and destroy any possession I cared about that was breakable. As an adult I still struggle with feelings of self-hatred.

Throughout my childhood there was an emphasis on perfection. The burden of proving the effectiveness of my mother’s parenting fell directly on my shoulders. When people would comment on how well behaved I was she would often respond, “That’s what spanking will do!” Sometimes she would add an anecdote to show how stubborn I had once been and how spanking worked even for children as strong-willed as I. She often said she spanked me because she loved me and that it was really sad some children’s parents didn’t love them enough to spank them so they could be better people. Because of comments like this I believed I had an idyllic childhood and a mother worthy of sainthood. I thought the depression which haunted me was all my own fault for not being cheerful and content enough. When I had children not only did my depression become worse but now my children shared the results of my miserable negativity. I didn’t want to spank them but I had been trained that if I didn’t I was disobeying God and I didn’t love them. I did not spank as early or as often as I had been spanked but I felt horrible inside when I did spank. I found myself becoming unreasonably angry with my children when they disobeyed because I dreaded “having” to give them a spanking. Finally one day I faced God with an open heart and I told Him I found it hard to believe that a loving God would require a mother to deliberately cause pain to her small child. I asked Him to show me His true plan for parenting, whatever it might be. That very day I saw my daughter giving one of her baby dolls a spanking. She whacked it indiscriminately all over. Suddenly I saw my parenting through a child’s eyes and I was shocked and horrified. I began researching the so-called spanking scriptures and I was led to Gentle Christian Mothers where I finally found help for a different way of parenting. When I realized the rod was one of guidance, discipleship and example, I began to cry. It was as if a huge burden had been lifted from me. I haven’t spanked my children since that day. We still have a ways to go in healing our relationship but we have already come so far. It has amazed me how much I learn about them and how much more I can help them when I take the time to look for the why of their behavior instead of masking the problem with a spanking.

The transition from punitive to gentle parenting has been difficult. When I stopped spanking my children their repressed emotion began to come out. For a time it seemed as if they were always angry and I had to remind myself they had a lot to be angry about. I have had to learn new ways to help them deal with emotion and new ways of setting boundaries in a kind but firm manner. In short, I’ve had to re-parent myself and my children all at once. Things have gradually gotten better as I’ve learned from gentle mothers who are wiser and more experienced than I. It has taken a lot of prayer and a lot of hard work. Recently I saw something that made it all worth while. My daughter was playing with her baby doll and she pretended it was trying to hit her. Instead of hitting it as she once would have done she sweetly said, “No, no, be kind,” and gently restrained it with a hug. I could finally look into the mirror of her innocence and not shudder.

People often use the argument that spanking doesn’t work. I haven’t found that to be true. Consistent spanking does work in the short term if your goal is a smiling little copy of yourself who does everything you say and who doesn’t know how to say no to anyone who plays the authority card. Long term, it leads to depression, anger, fear, lack of personal boundaries, and if healing is not sought, violence.

Some of these things have been painful to share but I want to help people see the dark side of the spanking fairy tale. There is no magic formula for parenting. It’s about love, persistence, empathy, boundaries and admitting mistakes.

If you are considering raising your children with spankings and punitive parenting please look into their little eyes and commit to breaking the cycle of violence. If you were raised this way, please get help and healing so that you don’t pass on the violence to others. Thank God, in His love there is a more excellent way.