But I am Saying That Spanking Your Child Isn’t the Way
Parenting is one of the hardest, easiest things that I have ever done. If I had spent more time being guided by the God-given instincts and discernment than by the fear of man, I would have made much different choices earlier in my parenting journey. I have had to repent, relearn, and dig into that inner voice (Holy Spirit in my case) that guides my decisions.
You see, if you know anything about my journey, you know that I wasn’t spanked growing up. To clarify, my mom tells me she tried once or twice because people in the church were pressuring her, and it felt so wrong in her spirit that she never did it again.
I asked her last year what made her choose different. When the church was telling her to spank and culture was telling her that spanking was the way, what made her do things differently?
And you know what her response was?
She told me, “Because God is merciful. And I wanted to reflect His love and mercy in my parenting.”
Let that sink in.
God is merciful.
She wanted to reflect God’s love to me, her child. And from her own upbringing of having been abused, she knew that hitting a child on the bottom would never let them feel truly loved.
You may think I must’ve been some crazy hellion, but I was an A student on the honor roll. I had friendships and connections in my life, and I gave my life to Jesus at 19 years old. Sure, I made poor choices. Sure I sinned. Sure, it wasn’t perfect, and I’ve had to work through other issues in my childhood, but being spanked and the pain that causes wasn’t one of them.
I could go into the theology on this issue, but the truth is, there are others who have already done a much better job of explaining the whys behind why spanking is not biblical. Specifically, Flourishing Homes and Families has numerous workshops that dig into the theology of parenting, including one in particular about whether spanking is biblical or not. I highly recommend checking out their resources or heading to their Instagram to read through their free highlights on it. It’s a good start. Jesus, the Gentle Parent by L.R. Knost is another good option from a Christian perspective.
There are a lot of Christian voices out there that will tell you that Gentle parenting is bad because it can lead to becoming too permissive. But the truth is that incorporating spanking in your parenting is equally as bad (if not Moreso) because it can lead to escalating forms of abuse. It’s easy to spank when you are angry, even if that’s not your intention.
We now have a whole lot of brain science that shows us that children who are spanked (even if it’s controlled, not all the time, etc.) show the same brain changes as children who are severely abused. Let that sink in. Even your biblical models for spanking can cause trauma in the brain of your child.
According to the WHO, at least 60% of kids still endure some form of corporal punishment. Screaming and other forms of abuse are also prevalent. Additionally, frequent spanking can lead to mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and even dissociative disorders. The evidence gathered over the last 50 or so years are showing that there is no positive benefit to spanking. The evidence shows that spanking is either negative or had a neutral effect.
I am not here to convince you to spank or not to spank. The truth is that the Lord is the one who opened my eyes and showed me the errors of my ways. And it needs to be the Lord guiding you in your parenting choices. And while gentle/respectful/peaceful parenting has numerous benefits, some of the best out there when used consistently, there are certainly other methodologies that would be far more beneficial long-term than spanking ever will be.
The best thing you could ever do for your child is to learn skills that help you manage your own emotions and triggers first. Then learn developmentally appropriate behaviors in children. Learn non-violent ways to communicate and address those behaviors. You learn how to hold boundaries, keep them safe when needed, and hold space for their big emotions, without letting those emotions persuade you to change course.
When my oldest was little, we actually used Love and Logic for Early Childhood. It was very helpful for us, but unfortunately, we still used spanking as a “last resort”. Because it was legal and the church we went to promoted it and my husband was spanked growing up. I don’t blame any of those things for my choices. But those were the primary drivers that influenced my decisions in that season. I was afraid that if my children didn’t behave properly in all situations then I would be viewed as a bad, unruly, and unChristian mom. And so, I let my fear rule me in how I parented. And while I have changed course and repented. I still live with some of the effects those choices.
I pray that your parenting journey would become lighter in the coming season. That the burdens, fears, and challenges you are trying to overcome would become easier than ever before. I pray you would break cycles from generations past and that your heart would be healed and whole. I pray for restoration in your parenting relationship. For connection and trust to be rebuilt and that your children would grow up knowing they are loved by you.