Britney Dearest: {Part 1} PSA: Spankings and Whippings Do Not Guarantee Better Children

/ Wednesday, February 11, 2015

{Part 1} PSA: Spankings and Whippings Do Not Guarantee Better Children

spanking photo: SparingRod sparingrod.jpg

I am in no way trying to force my opinions on anyone, tell anyone how to parent, or insinuate that people who spank their children are bad parents. I am simply sharing my views and findings and hopefully opening your mind to understand another point of view on the topic.

Because this post was originally super long, I decided to break it up into three separate posts. Please read this in it's entirety before commenting. Thanks :-)

I have debated on whether to post this for over a year! So be patient with me :-) Also, if you do not have Christian beliefs, this will all seem foreign to you.

The Bible says, clear as day, that we are to discipline our children, but, have you ever wondered if discipline really has to include spankings and whippings? Obviously, I have. In today's society physical discipline is a very sensitive topic. I didn't plan to share topics of this nature on my blog, however, I've become passionate about learning more about it and I was curious about what the Bible really instructs us to do.

I believe some of us develop the ways of our parents and grandparents, especially if their actions are influenced by the Bible and we usually repeat what they do. They used control, and physical force to make their children behave and we end up doing the same with ours. There are families who stand firm on their belief to whip or spank their children and there are also families who are strictly against corporal punishment or physical discipline. I have grown towards one side over the other and am going against what I was taught in order to practice what I believe The Word truly says about parenting.

Before I go into detail I want to explain what led me to this decision. When my now 3yo son was 2, he would hit other children. I saw this cycle: he would hit someone, I would spank his hand or leg, he would hit again, I spank him, he hits, I spank... Of course it's not back to back to back in the same moment, it was multiple instances, but I could not accept the fact that I was doing the very same thing to him that I'm telling him not to do. I didn't understand how he was supposed to learn from that? At 2-years-old, my son didn't understand why I'm allowed to hit children, but he can't. The whole "I'm grown, you're a child" saying was nothing to him. Was I supposed to hit him harder and harder? When my older son was 4, he would hit or push his siblings out of anger. When I would whip my daughter (which was rare), she would go in her room and scream to the top of her lungs yelling, "my mommy hates me! why would she do that to me?" And guess what I would do, spank her again. She was 6 and 7 at the time. After she calmed down I would explain to her why she got spanked, but her attitude towards her brothers was getting worse and worse. She was taking her anger towards me out on them. 

I got to a point where I would get so convicted, and feel so guilty for spanking my kids, but I kept on because other parents in the church would say I should do it because it's in the Old Testament. I began to notice that many of the kids who belonged to parents who condoned spanking were some of the main ones acting out behind their parents back. Both kids and teenagers. They're good out of fear of being whipped, but what about when they grow up and no longer have that fear of being whipped? We like to blame the influences of the world and the devil for their bad behavior, which is also true, however, maybe we should also consider our parenting skills for a change. We think that because we teach our kids about the Lord, feed, and clothe them, put a roof over their heads and whoop their butts, that's enough, but it's not enough. I talked to my husband about it, about my guilt, the effects of spanking I saw with our kids, and I'm so grateful that we are  now on the same page about it, for the most part. He's won't rule it out completely, he's not an "all or none" kinda guy. We have even been working on not yelling at our kids and it's making such a big difference, especially in our daughter.

When I hear people talk about how "what's wrong with kids nowadays is that they need butt whippings" and how butt whippings worked so well for them, I usually think, "so you mean to tell me whippings made you perfect? You never lied to your parents, disrespected an elder, knowingly committed sin, etc." A lot of people who condone whippings, because whippings apparently worked for them, have done their share of "dirt" and rebelled against authority quite often in their teen and young adult years. Even their own teenagers have rebelled against them. It wasn't until adulthood (long after the whippings) that these people decided to do the "right thing" and get their behavior together (myself included). Was that because we got whippings as children or because we matured and decided to be responsible on our own will? Was it the saving grace of God and what He did on the cross that made us want to change? Or did we think back to the whippings we received as children and decide to become better?

I know families who have always been against physical punishment and their kids are very well behaved; very respectful. There's also the opposite, parents don't spank and their kids are out of control. Same with parents who chose to spank their kids; some kids are well-behaved, some aren't. My guess is that Solomon (Bible) practiced what he preached (beat his kids with a rod) in discipline, however his son, King Rehoboam, became an evil ruler. He even disrespected Solomon after his death. There's no guarantee that spankings will deter children from trouble or that they will grow up to be model citizens.

The Meaning of the Word "Discipline"
For all of our knowledge, I compared the old and new testament and looked up the Hebrew and Greek meanings of "discipline" because it's possible that individuals get different meanings of scriptures and terms used in the Bible, especially with there being so many different Bible versions.

Hebrew language:
Chasten (yacar)- to discipline; train; instruct
Discipline (muwcar)- train to obey; correct
Greek language:
Discipline (paideia)- the process of educating, nurturing
Chastening (paideia)-  training of a child, correction, instruction

Hebrews 12 Discipline and Scourging

First, let's look at the definition of the word scourge according the the Merriam-Webster dictionary:

:someone or something that causes a great amount of trouble or suffering
:a whip that was used to punish people in the past
:whip: especially: one used to inflict pain or punishment
:an instrument of punishment or criticism
:a cause of wide or great affliction
:to cause a lot of trouble or suffering for (someone or something)
:to punish severely
:to drive as if by blows of a whip

synonyms: destroy, ravage, devastate, ruin

Some people try to justify spanking in the New Testament using Hebrews 12 where it speaks of "disciplines" and "scourges". Firstly, I believe that when "scourges" was used in Hebrews 12:6, it was in reference to afflicting situations, not a literal beating with a whip. Even in our sin, God doesn't beat us with a whip or belt, nor does he instruct anyone else to do it, He lets us deal with the consequence of our sin, e.g. break the law, go to jail; fornicate, get an STD. Let's consider the fact that Hebrews 12 was addressed to adult believers, no matter our age, we're all children of God. Why are our biological parents limited to whooping or "scourging" us only as children when we oftentimes deserve it as adults? What I get from Hebrews 12 is that the passage was written to adult believers/witnesses in order to prepare them to endure persecution for their faith and witness. It wasn't implied that God was disciplining them because they committed sin or were disobedient. Hebrews 12 was encouragement, not punishment. They needed to learn to die to their flesh in order to be prepared to resist sin and endure persecution for His name sake. God was training/disciplining believers to mature as Christians.

We, as parents teach our children to do things they don't like to become good, God-fearing people. Who likes cutting grass? Cleaning their room? Doing the dishes? Homework? Coming home at curfew? Turning the other cheek? Being nice to others when they're mistreated? The list goes on and on. We don't let our children raise themselves, we raise them and show them how to be, whether they like the process or not, because we love them. Or, let's look at it this way, if we don't have trials to overcome we wouldn't have a testimony, we wouldn't know how to teach other saints to overcome. God leads us into situations in order to strengthen us and plant a mustard seed of faith in others. He trains us up to be able to witness His greatness to others and lead them to Christ. Here's a different example: You have to discipline or train yourself to eat healthy and workout daily. It sucks not eating what you want and it hurts to workout, but you're not punishing yourself. The rewards are great; you're building physical strength and living a healthy lifestyle.

God Does Not Punish Us, He Disciplines

Discipline involves training, nurturing, correcting (chastising). It does not involve inflicting {physical} pain on a child in order for him/her to learn; this is punishment.

Here is a further illustration of the difference between the two from a blog I read recently: "There is a huge difference between punishment and discipline.  Punishment is all about behavior change.  It works on the outward behavior first and foremost.  The hope is that enough punishment for bad behavior will force the child into a pattern of good behavior. Punishment can be delivered without any love at all.  In fact, it’s meant to be rational, impartial, and free of emotion.  Take the criminal court system as an example.  The judges, jurors, and jailers don’t make the laws (legislators do that).  They don’t enforce the laws (policemen do that).  They punish lawbreakers who have been caught by the law enforcers.  The goal of the justice system is to objectively apply a punishment to fit the crime.  It’s about destroying the will to do that negative behavior again." The problem with punishment is that it really only works on outward behavior. A child who is punished may be very obedient to their parent's commands, but they still struggle with inward sin. Worse yet, they will likely become sneaky, afraid to share their struggles with sin with their parents because they know that, like a  perfectly fair judge, their mom or dad will always meet out a punishment.

The focus of discipline, on the other hand, is to nurture children. It is to teach them, actively, how to behave correctly. It maintains relationship while still upholding a standard. It is grace-based; it is relationship-oriented. It does not pit the parent against the puts the parent on the same team as the child." Source

The punishment part may explain why so many people in jail are repeat offenders and why so many young Christian people are having babies out of wedlock while still living with mom and dad.

"There needs to be a sense of calmness and order in the house. If you are spanking your kid for being physical and chaotic, aren't you adding to the physical chaos by being physical and violent with your child? What are you teaching them?" -Dr. Phil

Also read:
{Part 2: The Old Testament "Rod of Discipline"} Parents, Put Down the Belt (Or Whatever You Use)
{Part 3} "Bad Kids" Do Not Need More Spankings

More Sources:
National Center for Biotechnology Information - Effective Discipline for Children
Gentle Christian Mothers - Choosing Not to Spank
Ask Dr. Sears - 10 Reasons Not to Hit Your Child
Dr. Phil - To Spank or Not to Spank
Got Questions? - How Should Christians Discipline Their Children? What Does the Bible Say?
Bible Gems - Should Christian Parents Spank Their Children?
Religious Tolerance - Child Corporal Punishment: Spanking. What is the "Rod" Mentioned in Proverbs?

Whether you agree or disagree, please feel free to comment.

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  1. I absolutely love this post Brit! And to get to these point, because I could say a lot concerning whooping. I agree discipline it's not always physically spanking your child. There are and more effective forms of non-hitting discipline, that will teach your child, yet maintain their spirit.

  2. This was really good!!! I agree, whippings and spankings in my opinion are not effective if done excessively.I barely spank my kids. I posted a similar post on Wifee4life and a couple of the ladies were not too pleased. Great way of breaking it down!!! Good insight and backing it up with references may spare a few kiddies buns this


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Hi! I'm Britney. I'm a wife and a mother to 3 children + 1 fur baby. I write about everything family, home, and DIY related. I'm slightly obsessed with home decor Instagram accounts and DIY blogs. Junk food is my peace. Read more

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