IN PART ONE OF THIS series we noted some of the biblical commands to practice corporal discipline with our children. Of course, we are not talking about spanking teens. We are talking about toddlers, pre-school children, and to a limited degree, children in grade school. When parents diligently and consistently discipline with love, the need for spanking ends, depending upon the child, somewhere between the age of five and ten. Here are some reasons that spanking is the best practice.
First, the child must be controlled. Children need to be trained. A child not disciplined, a child left to itself, will be completely self-centered. That child will be a terror, and the parent of this child will be miserable. Even the most hardened social liberal understands this. So the question is not whether to control the child but how. What is the best way?
You can try reasoning, but just about every sane adult agrees that you can’t reason with a two year old.
You can try time-outs, but again, time outs have limited persuasive power with most toddlers, especially one that is strong willed.
You can try rejection: you ignore the child for 24 hours until you have put them in their place. But what could be more damaging to a child’s self-esteem? What could be more conducive to PBA, performance based acceptance?
You can try nagging. It usually looks something like this. Jimmy, set the table. Jimmy, I told you to set the table. Jimmy, why don’t you set the table? Jimmy, if you don’t set the table, I am going to be really angry, etc. etc. etc. The parents voice gets louder and louder as they become increasingly angry and frustrated.
What is the result? First, you the parent are angry and frustrated. Your blood pressure is up. Your are agitated. In addition, you have taught the child that your command is irrelevant. You have trained them to not obey until the fourth or fifth command. Will they transfer this attitude to God and his commands? Even worse, you have taught the child to despise your authority. Will they will probably despise God’s authority also? This is a problem because a child unable to respond to authority will have little capacity for adult happiness or fruitfulness. The eternal spiritual consequences are even more alarming.
How much better to say “Jimmy, please set the table.” Jimmy ignores you. It is one strike and you are out. You place Jimmy in your lap and loving spank him. Then you hold him until he quits crying. Last, you guide Jimmy through reconciliation with you and God. You have trained Jimmy to obey on the first command.
When the “one strike” policy has been repeated consistently, the child will learn that you mean business, and the child will start obeying on the first command. No nagging. No screaming. No yelling. No frustration. Instead, happy, obedient children that you enjoy being around.
Christian parents should always use discipline to preach the gospel to their children. That is the subject of our last post.
(For more information on this subject see Pastor Farley’s book, Gospel Powered Parenting).