Sarah, of Under the Olive Branch, explains why she does not believe in spanking in a well researched and chatty post entitled, A person’s a person no matter how small. She also answers some common arguments for spanking with counter arguments, which many will find helpful.
Here is an excellent article from Crystal Lutton, of Arms of Love, on how to use Grace-Based Discipline on the older child.
Dulce de Leche has written a post explaining how Punitive Parenting Shames the Parents in This Hurts Me As Much As It Hurts You.
Rilla G. shares how she came to raise her child in a No Spanking Zone.
Rilla has generously given me permission to reprint this post below:
This post was originally written and published in 2009 on an older and now inactive blog I published for a number of years.
I generally keep this blog “on topic” with regards to organic gardening, an eco-friendly lifestyle, recipes, etc, and don’t make a habit of talking about my faith much because it’s a very personal and often touchy topic. That said, lately I’ve felt very disturbed by how so many Christian parents are still parenting in the dark ages in regards to discipline. This is a topic that I’m feeling more and more passionate about all the time. I posted the following essay on my password protected private blog, but I feel it’s time to “go public” because it’s something that really needs to be said, especially within Christian communities, where spanking is still the norm. Anyways, without further ado, here’s what I need to say about gentle Christian discipline, otherwise known as the “no spanking zone”.
I was raised in a highly punitive home. Me and my siblings were spanked excessively as children and into our early teens. I knew I hated that feeling of constant dread when interacting with my parents, and I hated being unable to gain my mother’s approval most of my childhood.
Yet I never considered not spanking my own kids because I believed it was Biblical.
When my son was born I found a website forum called Gentle Christian Mothers and was shocked to discover there was a whole community of Christian parents who were taking a stand against spanking. It was a bit overwhelming at first, and I wanted to keep spanking as an option in case my child was just totally rebellious and needed a “good spanking” (talk about the worst oxymoron ever!). I quickly left the online community at that time because I felt offended by their firm stand against ALL physical punishment and felt they were not following the Biblical stance I was raised believing was true.
Of course I wasn’t spanking him when he was a baby, but once he hit 2, I just knew I wasn’t going to be able to spank him. It felt so wrong to consider hitting a small defenseless child who didn’t even speak English yet! In addition, it seemed so counter productive to hit my child when I didn’t like his behaviour, yet I was trying to teach him that hitting is wrong. Talk about crazy making.
I rejoined the GCM forum, and felt extremely validated the second time around.
Grace-Based Discipline is a model of discipline which, though it rejects the popular view that the rod references spankings, affirms the authority of parents as outlined in the Bible. Extending grace to our children is not permissiveness. We believe that parents are to set a high standard for behavior and children are to uphold that standard. Many gentle parents are prudent and selective about the type and number of rules they enforce. Many grace based parents enforce those rules using low coercion, cooperation, negotiation and compromise. However, GCM does not embrace the philosophy behind TCS (“Taking Children Seriously”) or non-coercive parenting. True, quality discipline combines knowledge of age appropriate behaviors, reasonable standards, clear expectations, proactive discipline and consistency. Grace is extended in a parent’s willingness to help their children meet that standard when needed and to forgive when the standard is missed. (GCM)
I learned about redirection, and the concept that kids who feel bad act bad. I was quite amazed when I realized, and saw in practice, that generally when a child is “misbehaving” there’s a root to the issue like hunger, fatigue, strange surroundings, illness, or other circumstances. When I addressed the root issue instead of the behaviour, the bad behaviour naturally disappeared in almost every case!
It’s such a simple concept, but I went from being completely frustrated with what I perceived to be out of control behaviour, to intuitively recognizing when my child was getting tired, sick, or hungry, and responding to that need instead of trying to treat the behavioural symptoms of these needs with discipline. This one lesson alone resolved most of our issues.
I also learned about age appropriate behaviour and normal child development. Behaviour that I had always believed was “bad” was actually part of normal child development, and with a little guidance and teaching, those behaviours could be transformed into an opportunity to guide and teach! Wow!
I found that parenting gently was a LOT more work than just punishing bad behaviour because it required I get off my butt and participate in parenting. Parenting is just another word for teaching in our home, and includes modeling the behaviour I want (no screaming, no hitting, speaking with respect, showing kindness, helping, loving, and affection). It required us acting the way we want our son to act! Novel idea…
I had to learn and practice speaking in a gentle but firm manner. If my child didn’t want to do something, it meant getting up and assisting him, showing him how it was done, and enforcing the behaviour I needed him to show. At first I thought it would nurture laziness in him, but I found the opposite was true. Using a firm kind tone of voice, combined with my willingness to help when a task was too overwhelming for him, actually served to make him more independent and nurtured a desire in my son to gain my approval by doing what he was told and it doing it well.
The more I practiced gentle parenting, the better I understood the grace that God extends to me as HIS child. God doesn’t berate me, he doesn’t yell at me when I fail, he doesn’t beat me when I make mistakes, he doesn’t punish me when I do something wrong. He works in a gentle loving manner that softens my heart and causes me to WANT to model HIS behaviour. When I’m unable to cope with a task, he steps in and helps me.
If God doesn’t use punitive methods to discipline me, an adult with free will, why would I use punitive methods on a developing growing child who is learning how to exercise their God-given free will in an appropriate manner?
God provides a model of grace-based discipline that we can reflect in the way we parent. His character is love. When we raise our children with grace and love, they respond in kind. My son is a typical 5 year old. He gets carried away sometimes, and pushes his boundaries. When I speak to him with respect and teach him how to be respectful and honor boundaries he responds positively and with a desire to please.
Think about this. If a family came to visit, and was staying in your home, and the wife hit the husband, or the husband hit the wife, every time the other did something wrong, wouldn’t you classify that as classic abuse? Wouldn’t you feel obligated to step in and intervene? Possibly even call the authorities? If that is so… How is it any less abuse to hit a small child when they do something wrong in the name of discipline? Why aren’t we intervening more when adult parents are hitting their child?
Canada’s Laws on Spanking
In its decision Friday, the court ruled that reasonable corrective force can be used against children between the ages of two and 12 years old.
The court said it was unacceptable to hit a child with an object, like a belt or paddle. Blows and slaps to the child’s head would also be unacceptable.
For corporal punishment to be legally acceptable, it must involve only “minor corrective force of a transitory and trifling nature,” the court ruled.
I won’t be addressing the Biblical Questions because it has already all been said so much better at Arms of Love by Crystal Lutton. If you want a really great parenting resource, her book Biblical Parenting is one I would highly recommend.