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Location: Allentown, PA

I'm a Christian wife and a mom to three daughters and two sons. I'm a member of the board of directors of EmPoWeReD Birth. In my "spare time" I'm a doula, and a certified childbirth instructor.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Blast from the past...

Recently my attention was drawn to something I had written about 3 years ago on a parenting discussion board. I was struck by the process I have gone through in getting to where I am now in regards to the discipline of children. I was on a pathway...here is what I said:

Poster Stina
Pie said
: "I don't know how you see it, but to me the verse "beat your
child with a rod and you shall deliver his soul from hell" is pretty self
explaining. "

: I disagree with you.

On the surface, this verse *does* seem to be linking physical punishment of a
child to salvation. It says that you will save the child from hell--what is that
but "salvation."

BUT....I do not believe that is what the verse is *really* saying. We have
discussed it quite a bit around here, and I have come to be comfortable with
this verse saying basically that there are some teens who are just so wayward
that you need to "knock some sense into them." They need extreme consequences to
"wake up" and get their focus back on God. Now in the culture this passage was
written to, that extreme consequence was a flogging. In our culture it may be
jail time, fines, community service work...if I have a wayward teen I'm sure I
would struggle emotionally with doing it, but I believe the best thing I can do
for that child is not to shield him or
her from the legal ramifications of
his or her actions, but rather support him or her through the period of

You say that preconcieved notions when reading scripture often lead to
twisting of scripture. I very much agree with you--and I think that is what Ezzo
has done. It might interest you to know though, that before I had children I did
believe in spanking "in moderation...."

I'm not totally opposed to it now, but it was when I still believed that the
Bible supported spanking that I was introduced to the arguments that it does
*not* support spanking. It took me some time to come to grips with the
notion--but for me the evidence was overwhelming.

My husband and I VERY rarely spank (I can probably count on one hand the
number of times I've swatted my almost 4 year old on the behind, my 2 year old
has gotten 1 or 2 swats from me)--we find other consequences for misbehavior to
be more or equally effective in promoting right behavior, and certainly more
respectful of our children. We also find expecting *good* behavior and training
toward that, and having reasonable rules and expectations for our kids prevents
a lot of misbehavior. I grew up so used to children getting spanked and
accepting it as a way of life.

When I first smacked my DD's hand when she was about 10 months old and she
looked at me with hurt shock in her eyes, it really threw me for a loop. I
wondered how in the world she knew to be so offended--she looked like I'm sure
my face would look if someone slapped me in the face--violated. That really
spoke a lot to me. Now when I hear parents joking about spanking their children
and how their children know to expect it and don't even bother trying to run
away...well I wonder what it took to break that God given sense of self respect
and self preservation.

The only time my husband and I spank is when it is an issue of urgent
physical safety--like when our oldest daughter almost ran in front of a moving
car. Or, admittedly, those occassions when we as parents are pushed to our
breaking point--and we certainly do not think that is a reasonable justification
for spanking.

Of course now I've come to the conclusion that spanking really isn't an appropriate or respectful way to deal with children--not that putting that belief into practice is easy! I do still stand by the notion that turning a wayward teen over to the legal authorities can be the correct path in parenting.



Blogger Anne Basso said...

I agree totally.

7:00 PM, June 09, 2005  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

I also agree... but the insight about needing to "knock some sense" into a teen is very interesting... I agree it's dangerous to shield a teen from ramifications of punishment. God doesn't "sheild" us from the consequences of our sin, but He *is* there with us as we experience the consequences of sin, which is amazing to think about!

1:40 PM, June 12, 2005  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

I usually can spell... umm, shield. ;)

1:41 PM, June 12, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't get over how often these committed "non-spankers" lose their cool and end up spanking their kids. Then they loudly preach against the behaviour they once practised. At first it reminded me a little bit of Jimmy Swaggart condemning Jim Bakker for "adultery" and then himself patronizing prostitutes. But I think even more than hypocrisy, the anti-spankers' "do as I say, not as I do" attitude stems from the fact that they've set themselves an ideal to which they can't live up. Perhaps if they included spanking in their repertoire of disciplinary measures, they wouldn't fall into the hole they constantly tell others to avoid.


8:31 AM, June 24, 2005  
Blogger TulipGirl said...

I can't get over how often these committed "non-spankers" lose their cool and end up spanking their kids.

*L* I'd love to meet a committed "spanker" who loses their cool and ends up being gentle with their kids.

2:45 PM, June 24, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This may come as a shock to you, Tulipgirl, but many - I would say most - spankers do love their children. I find it hard to believe that parents in the '50s and before, almost all of whom used corporal punishment, didn't treasure their kids. Also, if you preach against a behaviour (drinking, premarital sex, spanking, etc.), don't you have a moral obligation not to practise that behaviour? For instance, if I thunder against the evils of alcohol and then go to a bar and pass out drunk, am I not being a hypocrite? But again, unfortunately some - not all - committed non-spankers don't believe in any sort of real discipline (yeah, they call it "gentle discipline," but from what I read of them, some of them are even against timeouts). Then when their kids act up, they lose their cool and end up spanking them. Lest you accuse me of making this up, look at the "I lost it today" and related posts on Gentle Christian Mothers.

By the way, I'm being pretty "gentle" with the Gentle Christian Mothers, pardon the pun. You should see what someone on Goldie's site said about them.


1:31 PM, June 25, 2005  
Blogger TulipGirl said...


It may come as a shock to you--but I have never once stated online or in real life that Christian parents who choose to spank do not love thier children.

I KNOW that Christian parents love their children. And want the best for their children. And really, for the most part, are doing what they believe the best is.

And I also know that mothers--spankers and nonspankers alike--make many mistakes. Again, thank God for his grace towards us and our children.

2:34 PM, June 25, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's a quote for people who like to rant about others' behaviour but do the same thing in their own life:

And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? -- Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam [is] in thine own eye? -- Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.


11:12 AM, June 26, 2005  
Blogger Jenn said...


Sorry for the delay in replying to you, but a "thank you" to Tulip Girl for stepping in. I was moving to a new home and on vacation.

I want to reaffirm what T.G. said about parents who believe in "loving spankings." I do believe that the average advocate of parenting practices such as those advocated by Tripp, Pearl, or Ezzo really does love their children. I do not think they are anywhere close to being in the same category as the drunk parent hitting their child around for no reason at all. But just like the couple who cohabitates before marriage "because it will help us find out if we are compatible," I think parents who follow philosophies like this are misled.

Anyway... "lovely" quote there about the mote/beam. A bit misapplied though I think. I could be wrong, but I believe that the passage applies to folks that go around find the flaws in other people, acting as if they themselves are perfect. That is not my situation at all.

I freely admit that it is a struggle to parent "gently." I loose my cool sometimes. I yell at the kids. Sometimes I would just love to give them a few swats to get some sense into them--not that I really think that would work--its honestly more about venting my own frustration. But I restrain the urge with God's help--just like I restrained the urge to drink alcohol underage when it was all around me in college; and restrained the urge to have intercourse with a boyfriend who told me after we'd been kissing probably a bit too long "I have a condom down in my car that I could get..." (so much for all the conversations we had prior about chastity! He didn't last much beyond that event before I gave him the boot.). Are you going to tell me that somehow because you choose to spank you don't fall into the same situation? (LOL T.G. about the spanking mom "loosing it" and reverting to gentle discipline!)

If that passage were meant to say that we could never speak up and identify a behavior as less than what we think God would want...well then preachers would be out of a job, because they certainly have their share of beams.

My pastor admits that he struggled greatly with God recently about a pledge to our new buildging fund--all the while he was exhorting the congregation to be in prayer and obey God's leading on their own pledges. Was he "pulling our motes" while there was a "beam in his own eye?" No--because he was honest about his struggle. If he'd been up there the whole time going on and on about how perfect his giving record was and how we should follow him...that would be a different thing--but he consistently told us to follow God.

I'd hazard a guess that you have exhorted fellow Christians to avoid sins that you were struggling with at the same time--perhaps in your single days encouraging a girlfriend to remain chaste while you were dealing with temptation yourself with a boyfriend; or more recently encouraging a young married woman in your church to be careful about the words that she uses with her husband when you just had an argument the previous night with your husband where you said things you wished you hadn't.


9:34 PM, June 29, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder how the high and mighty Tulip Girl feels about the fact that one of her former followers at Gentle Christian Mothers has recanted her previous position.


2:18 PM, April 25, 2006  

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