Making Sure They Learn Their Lesson

I really believe that most parents get no pleasure out of spanking their children and do so only so that they will “learn their lesson.”  But what does spanking children really teach them?  I have seen many testimonies of adults who were spanked as children who did not learn what their parents meant to teach them.  Some of those testimonies can be found in this discussion at Gentle Christian Mothers.  But wait.  Can a child really learn without corporal punishment?  Here is a memory from David H.  Roper who learned a very important lesson without being spanked or even yelled at.  After reading both the discussion and the devotional, take a while to reflect on this question:  would he have learned the same lesson if the person who heard him say that word had spanked him, yelled at him and/or washed his mouth out with soap?

Dara Stoltzfus has a post about this same topic regarding The Lion King.


  1. Rebecca on May 31, 2012 at 8:34 am

    I learned lots of lessons thanks to corporal punishment.

    I learned how to lie.
    I learned how to hide what I was feeling.
    I learned to look my parents in the eye and ask for forgiveness while cursing at them inside.
    I learned how to never, ever get caught.
    I learned that when a parent hits their child, they are doing nothing but “provoking them to wrath” which is biblically forbidden.
    I learned that hitting a child and blaming it on Jesus puts a wall between the child and God that takes years to remove.

    I also learned that I would never hit my child. And I’m pleased to report that my child, at almost 9, is kind, considerate, honest, open, and can admit his mistakes to us without fear of reprisal.

    I learned that God’s Grace is big enough to overcome even the abuse dispensed in His name, and that it’s possible to break the cycle.

  2. MrPopularSentiment on May 30, 2012 at 12:33 pm

    Even if a lesson is learned through corporal punishment, it’s learned for the wrong reason. Kids will learn not to do X because otherwise they will be punished – not because it’s the wrong thing to do. What that means is that how well a child behaves will depend on their temperament, their risk tolerance. How much is X worth to them? Is it worth the punishment? If the answer is yes, they will misbehave anyway.

    Gentle parenting may be slower, but it’s so much more effective. It teaches children to moderate their own behaviour, to not do something bad because it might harm someone or cause someone to be sad. That internal motivation only gets stronger with age as they become better at abstract and empathetic thought, while the lessons of corporal punishment get weaker with age as they stop fearing their parents as much.

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