Spanking our children at the right times, in the right way, and for the right reasons, has been one of the most important things we’ve done as parents. By the grace of our Lord Jesus, it helped them to be able to humble their hearts, to have a sense of remorse for bad behavior, and to want to start over with new hope.
Our most important responsibility as parents is to be an evangelist to our children. We are called to teach them the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the gospel of grace, and to invite them to surrender their lives to Jesus, trusting in his work on the cross and not their own righteousness. And we are to teach them to walk in the Spirit by the grace of God and not walk in the flesh.
But, we also have been given the responsibility of a “magistrate” by God. We, as parents, are the “civil government” for the family. We are called to restrain evil in our family, and thereby create a just and peaceful family life in which the Gospel can be preached and lived out by who ever will respond. Spanking is one of the tools of discipline that we have to punish and restrain evil.
We recommend “drawing a line”… a no-compromise line: zero tolerance for disobedience, disrespect, or dishonesty. For example, we didn’t permit our young children to say “no” to us. That word can tend to be a major expression of disrespect unless a line is drawn. Make it clear from the start that such things bring an automatic spanking. And then ask God for the courage and the competence to be consistent. And when the line is crossed by the child, spank the child with no further warnings. The trap all of us tend to get into is warning and warning and never really following through. Consistency means having the conviction to intervene and confront face-to-face EVERY time an example of disobedience, disrespect, or dishonesty is observed.
As soon as the child is old enough to know they’ve done wrong, we recommend starting some form of spanking. You can tell when it’s time. You can discern the situation. If you tell your child, “Don’t touch that lamp”, and they look at you and reach out and touch that lamp, you can tell if it is conscious disobedience and rebellion. For us, it was when they were around eighteen months of age.
Spanking each of our children appropriately at a young age was such a blessing for us because, after about a year, the spankings got fewer and fewer. By the time they are five or six, it’s hard to remember the last time they were spanked. Of course each kid is going to be different.
It worked well for us to use a thin wooden spoon. We felt it to be safer than using our hand, though there were times we used our hand. With the hand there can be too much momentum. We would pull the pants down in the back and spank one, two, or three times on the bare bottom. The thin wooden spoon gives a sting without a large momentum impact. It was our view that the actual magnitude of the spanking was not so important. That is, we could afford to have the spanking be too mild rather than too severe, because it was the act of spanking that was the important thing, not the nature of the spanking itself.
The moment there was an act of disobedience, disrespect, or dishonesty, we would tell the child they were going to get a spanking and why. We would often tell them to go get the spanking spoon and go upstairs to their room. Once in their room we would explain again why, give the spanking, and then evaluate if there was an attitude of surrender and humility or an attitude of defiance and rebellion. While evaluating the child’s attitude, we would hug our child and love our child and tell them we love them and tell them that Jesus loves them. If there was an attitude of rebellion, such as an arching of the back, or pulling away, etc., we would tell them they were going to get another spanking if they didn’t relent and surrender with a humble attitude. We would then administer another spanking in the same way as the first. Each time the child would be given an opportunity to express remorse and surrender. If necessary, this process would go on through numerous cycles, lasting forty minutes or more. It was important to us to never let go a continuing defiant attitude. Continuing until there is a humbling of the heart is of the utmost importance.
When the child would surrender with a humble heart, we would encourage them to say “I’m sorry” to the Lord Jesus, but we wouldn’t force that. We would encourage them to receive Jesus' forgiveness. We would then pray together. And we would pray that the Lord Jesus would help them with their problem and behavior and that the Lord would help Dad or Mom to be good parents. We would often acknowledge that we, as parents, often struggle with the same sins, and that Jesus “spanks” us, too. Using this time to discuss important things with the child is very valuable, teaching them what the Bible says about sin and repentance and walking with the Lord Jesus.
We pray that our Lord Jesus would give every parent who trusts in him the grace and wisdom to properly apply spanking in love as a tool of discipline. If you have any questions or comments on this or any subject, please email Kim or Jim.
Jesus loves the little children!
Critical Email about My Spanking Article
Representative of others I receive periodically.
(Received 8/3/05, Posted here 12/26/05)
"Jesus never hit children, please
re-read your bible. Jesus taught love and tolerance.
"You hit your children for up to 40
minutes for arching there backs when you gave them a spanking with a
wooden spoon. Wooden spoons hurt, normal human reaction is to pull away
from pain, not to accept it. Even Jesus arched his back when he was nailed
to the cross in pain. You hit your children until they became numb to the
pain, or was so scared of another spanking they did there best not to
react. You didnt humble them, you broke them like you would a dog.
"You want your children to be humble,
well they are not the only ones who needs to eat some humble pie. You need
to humble yourself down to their level and see what it feels like to be
hit with a wooden spoon when you sin (which everyone does).
"You abused your children. You need to spend some more time with Christ teachings and even more time in pray asking for his forgiveness for the damage you caused your children. Jesus never hit anyone. Shame on you. M."
I didn’t hit my children. I spanked them. And I never said that I spanked
them for 40 minutes straight. I said the process took as long as 40
minutes. It is not true that I spanked my children until they were numb.
Your accusations are irrational and without foundation.
I certainly understand that you and I disagree about spanking, but let’s
try to have a reasonable discussion.
What I recommend is applying the wisdom of Proverbs motivated by the love
Jesus calls us to.
To say that spanking my child, motivated by love, is the same as abuse, is
just not true.
I agree with you that I also need to be humbled. That’s why I say the
following in my article:
<<And we would pray that the Lord Jesus would help them with their problem and behavior and that the Lord would help Dad or Mom to be good parents. We would often acknowledge that we, as parents, often struggle with the same sins, and that Jesus “spanks” us, too.>>
I would be interested to hear what your views are about how someone gains
eternal life and how you view the Bible.
Thank you for taking the time to write. I truly appreciate people willing
to discuss controversial subjects together.
Proclamation, Invitation, & Warning