If children have an image problem, a judicious spanking may be the cure
BY BILL SHERMAN World Religion Writer
Monday, January 21, 2013
1/21/13 at 6:44 AM
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I firmly opposed spanking until I had kids of my own. And even then, I was dragged kicking and screaming into the world of corporal punishment. But once there, I appreciated the ancient wisdom of Proverbs 13:24.
Since I'm now an old guy, some might think I just inherited my old-fashioned view as a natural part of my repressed 1950s mentality. Not so. When my wife and I had our first son, we were steeped in the progressive mentality of Madison, Wis., circa 1967.
Our child-raising Bible was a book called Summerhill, about a school in England by the same name. The essence of that book, and the school, was that children are born good, and left to their own devices will naturally develop into good, responsible adults. That is, unless they are warped by the evils of coercive parents and society. Spanking was foremost among those evils.
So, two kids later, my wife and I were still doing everything we could to let them do whatever they wanted, fearful that any kind of physical discipline would warp their tender psyches.
And, as my pastor sometimes says, we found that we were raising third-world dictators. Chaos and disorder reigned in our house. Grandparents were the only people who could stand to be around us long.
Then we became Christians. And read a book on the biblical way to raise kids. With great trepidation we lined up the little dictators and made a decree: "From now on, you have to obey us. If you do not, you will get a spanking."
It took about a week of spankings to convince them we meant it. The change in our house was so rapid and so profound that everyone who came over said, "What has happened here? It's so peaceful. The kids are so happy."
Proper spanking is not to be confused with child abuse, or wanton hitting. It is reasoned, consistent, never done in anger, never causes injury, and always followed by hugs and reconciliation. It is started at a young age, and inappropriate for older children. It corrects rebellion and disobedience, not childish carelessness. It is judiciously administered by parents, not grandparents.
My sister, who went through a similar process with her kids, said children should be disciplined because if they aren't, no one can stand to be around them, and that's bad for their self-image.