“Stop! Baby, stop running! Help!” It was the most panicked situation I have ever had in my life. My oldest son was 2 years old and running away from me into a busy alley next to our Little Gym Class. It was an alley that had monster delivery trucks cruising in and out to deliver carpets to the Karastan Carpet store next door. I was screaming every thing I could think of. “Have a lollipop, chocolate cake!! Turn around NOW!” He didn’t stop, he ran straight into the alley. By the grace of God, there was not a truck passing by. Thank you Lord Jesus for protecting my boy.
When I reached him and finally had him in my arms, all I thought was, “This cannot happen again.” I thought maybe this is why some parents spank their kids. Maybe it’s the only way to keep him safe from this day forward? So I did it. I always had conviction we would never spank our kids. This was a desperate situation I thought. I spanked his little diaper-padded bottom. But I was only a little convinced that my baby would be safe from running into streets forevermore. His little blue eyes looked up at me with hurt and confusion. No tears, no humble recoil. Maybe he was actually thinking, “that’s all you got?” He raised his pudgy little hand and slapped my face saying, “Mama no hit her baby!” That was the first and only time my husband or I ever spanked any of our kids. And not just because our son could probably take us.
I believe that God doesn’t want His children to hurt each other on purpose. Everyone is entitled to their own parenting techniques (darn it). I know there are many people who believe in “the laying of hands on our children.” It’s not against the law. It’s not considered abuse. I was spanked, my husband was spanked. We don’t feel it was abuse either.
Though in this season of NFL players getting in big trouble for abusing their kids, and all the commentary in the news, I find myself wondering, “where do we draw the line?” The argument in the NFL players’ defense is of course, “that’s how it is in the south. This is how we all grew up. My parents hit me, and I hit my kids.”
What are the reasons for corporal punishment? I am confused by the justifications. The reasons against corporal punishment in my opinion are:
1. Spanking creates a wall of fear between parent and child.
2. All parents who declare, “I want my teenager to be able to talk to me, ” have a rough road if they spank their kids. Spanked kids will have a rooted subconscious notion that sharing about any trouble will lead to anger, pain and humiliation.
3. No matter how it’s explained to the child, it’s basically teaching that it’s ok to hurt people. They are too young to understand the difference between getting spanked and hitting others.
4. We are told in the Bible to live as Christ. Christ never ever said anything about spanking your kids. Grace, love, compassion, honesty, and understanding is what He taught.
5. I believe “the rod” is a metaphor for Faith. A rod is also known as a staff. Probably the most notable staff is Moses’. He did not beat human beings with it. He used it as a symbol of strength and Faith. As he raised his rod or pushed it into the ground, it was an act of obedience to God, and Faith in God. A shepherd uses his staff/rod to walk as he leads his sheep. He doesn’t beat his sheep with it. He might use the rod to gently guide his sheep in the right direction. “Discipline your children by the rod,” says to me God wants us to guide our children with confidence and Godliness.
6. The number of scriptures that declare grace, forgiveness, and love far exceeds the number of scriptures claiming “spare the rod, spoil the child.” The message of Christ is LOVE. How can we believe the message of the Bible is love, and believe that God meant for us to physically hurt our own children? God never punishes us. Christ never punishes us. We lead our children, guide our children, teach our children. But we are in the flesh so we will most likely punish our children. But can we at least do it without putting on them physical pain, discouragement, and shame?
7. Nowhere in the New Testament are we told of spanking and punitive parenting. “Submission” is much different from “forced submission.” The Bible teaches submission.
The verse below struck me (pun intended) because we can grow and evolve. “That’s the way my daddy did it,” maybe so. But it’s not the way we have to do it. God’s Grace will bless us with miraculous transformations through His love.
When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.
-1 Corinthians 13:11 NIV