Why We Don't Spank

God makes it clear that you don't have to spank to be a godly parent.

From "The Complete Book of Christian Parenting and Child Care."

To spank or not to spank is the subject of much emotional debate among parents and professionals. The question has produced controversial books, magazine articles, and TV programs, even legislation. Many Christian child-rearing books favor spanking as an effective method of correction. Many child development experts speak out against it. Christian parents are naturally confused about all the mixed messages they received regarding the subject.

Our opinion of spanking is based upon our experience as a pediatrician and a nurse observing what works and what does not; our joint experience as spanking-- and then nonspanking--parents of eight; what God says in Scripture regarding correction; and the opinions of other Christian writers with whom we strongly agree. It is also based on the leading of God, as we have prayed for this wisdom. We are sure that the other writers, who favor spanking, have also prayed for and received wisdom and leading from God. It seems that God is saying this is not an either/or decision, and that both "sides" are to stay open to the other.

First, we have to say that it is absolutely wrong and against God's every word to be mean and abusive toward a child or to strike a child out of frustration, hostility, or anger. Everyone with a conscience agrees on that. The only reason some parents dare to do this is that children are small and defenseless. These children will grow up to be angry individuals who will most likely be mean and abusive to their own children.

Second, most everyone agrees that spanking should never be the main strategy in correction. Even parents who believe in spanking ought to strive to create such an attitude within their children and an atmosphere within their homes that spanking is seldom necessary.

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Third, if you feel you must spank, it should be reserved for major confrontations, when a parent's authority is on the line, situations in which a child (not a toddler) willfully defies reasonable authority, and other approaches are not getting through.

Here are some basic scriptural and cultural considerations that will help you understand our view that spanking not be used. Ultimately, you must make your own decision based on your beliefs and your family situation. Our position on spanking, one that has evolved over thirty years of parenting eight children, is that we won't do it.

Being reluctant to spank or refusing to spank at all may actually make you a better disciplinarian. The search for alternatives to spanking forces you to find more positive ways of directing your child's behavior. You end up knowing your child better, and your child actually has more respect for your authority because he knows that you can deliver the help he needs to not only control, but to learn better behavior. Spanking can tend to devalue a child, making him feel weak and powerless. This kind of self-image will not help him fight off temptation in the future.

Corporal Punishment in Scripture

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William Sears, M.D., and Martha Sears, R.N.
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