Is Spanking OK?

WARNING:  To some, this material may be considered politically incorrect, intolerant, bad parenting or down right child abuse.

Discipline is the practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behavior, using punishment to correct disobedience.

Spanking is a type of corporal punishment involving the act of striking the buttocks of another person to cause physical pain, generally with an open hand.

SpankingHere are some related stats to consider:

  • 94% of 3 and 4-year-olds have been spanked at least once during the past year, according to one study
  • 74% of mothers believe spanking is acceptable for kids ages 1 to 3, says another study
  • 61% of parents condone spanking as a “regular form of punishment” for young children, according to a different study

So it seems that the majority of people believe that spanking is an appropriate form of discipline.  However, there are tons of organizations, websites, blogs, child psychologists, and studies that are preaching that spanking is never an appropriate form of discipline.  They offer alternatives to spanking, and suggest or imply that spanking is actually a form of child abuse.  So are they right?

To be fully transparent, I was spanked as a kid by my parents, and I utilized spanking from time to time to correct my child’s behavior.  I didn’t spank all of the time, but only when the offense warranted that type of discipline.  My wife and I don’t believe that all wrongdoings are equal, and therefore we used various methods and degrees of punishment.  Only the worst received a spanking.  We also always gave our child fair warning; meaning that we told our son that if he didn’t correct his behavior promptly, that he was going to be spanked.  If he corrected it, all was well.  If he didn’t, then he got spanked.  We believe in the concept of ‘Do what you say, and say what you do’ which is a topic for another blog.  Our son quickly learned that if we threatened punishment, we were always going to follow through.

There was one spanking that sticks out in my mind.  My son did something really bad, which I don’t recall now what it was, but I do remember that we gave him a few warnings, which he ignored to his detriment.  I told him to go to his room to think about what he had done, and that I would be in later.   That gave both of us time to calm down and to meet later with a clear mind.  Later when I came in his room, we discussed what he had done, and he said he was sorry.  I then proceeded to tell him that I have to spank him because I had told him I would if he didn’t change his behavior.  He was crying so badly, and pleaded with me not to do it.  You would have thought that I was going to cut off his arm.  I know it was bad and totally wrong, but I started to find it humorous.  The reason is that when I spanked him, I purposefully would never hit him using my full force, and my hand would barely touch his bottom.  So it couldn’t have hurt much, if at all.  You see he was emotionally affected by the experience, more than by the physical pain.

Now before you get upset with me for spanking my child, and before you decide to never read another one of my articles, let’s see what the Bible says on the topic.

Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them. (Proverbs 13:24)

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.  Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:11)

Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish them with the rod, they will not die. Punish them with the rod and save them from death. (Proverbs 23:13-14)

A rod and a reprimand impart wisdom, but a child left undisciplined disgraces its mother. (Proverbs 29:15)

Discipline your children, and they will give you peace; they will bring you the delights you desire. (Proverbs 29:17)

The Bible also clearly tells us that God, our Heavenly Father, also disciplines us, His children.

My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in. (Proverbs 3:11-12)

Whatever your thoughts are on this matter, it is clear that God does discipline us, and He indicates that we should discipline our children.  The references to a rod indicates that God finds it acceptable to use spanking as a form of discipline.

Here are some of my suggestions when disciplining:

  • Always give 1 or more warnings when you see bad behavior, prior to disciplining
  • Whatever discipline you threaten, you must always follow through, so be careful what you threaten
  • Reserve spanking for the serious offenses, and use other forms of punishment for lessor crimes
  • Take some time to calm down, prior to enacting the punishment
  • Don’t use excessive force, after all, they are just little kids
  • As they get older, when you aren’t physically able to spank them, derive other means of punishment; like grounding them, taking away their cell phone, car, TV and/or the Internet

If you are of my generation or older, you can recall when school administrations would use spankings as a form of punishment.  At some point in our history, it became taboo for schools to do that.  Combined with the push to get any mention of God and Christianity out of our schools, it started the decline of our education system.  You can see thousands of YouTube videos online of students willfully disobeying their teachers, and in some cases physically assaulting them.

Over the many years of student ministry, I have personally lead thousands of students through small group bible studies.  After I had spent sometime getting to know the student, I could guess whether or not their parents ever spanked them.  I was right much more often than not.  How I could tell was observing how they reacted to authority, whether or not they confessed to their wrongdoings, and whether they respected their elders.  It wasn’t rocket science, and I didn’t need a psychology degree.  Of course there were rare times when I was totally wrong, where the parent did discipline their child with spankings, but the child was still disobedient.

So yes, it is OK to spank your children.  God tells us that if we love our children, we will discipline, and even spank, our children for their own good.

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Ken Leaman

Ken Leaman

Ken Leaman has a passion for students, and for over 25 years has been volunteering within churches, leading and mentoring students.  These churches are:

Ken is a Director of Enterprise Data Management at IHS Markit, which is a multi-Billion dollar information company. Ken has also served on the board of another non-profit called DFW HDI, which is a membership organization of IT support professionals.  

Ken, and his wife Karen, have been married for 26 years, and have a 25 year old son.  They live in McKinney, TX, just North of Dallas.

As Ken and Karen repeatedly witnessed many Christian students who were active within the Church walk away from their faith shortly after graduating high school, they grew frustrated.  Studies show that about 70% of young adults leave their faith after graduation, which is a huge issue since they are the future of the Church.  After much prayer and searching God's direction for many years, the Leaman's felt His calling to start a ministry to address this problem.  In 2014, they gathered like minded Christian professionals to help begin Young Adults of Worth Ministries.  We believe that this ministry is from God, and it will be blessed by Him for His glory alone.