There are books out there (written by people who hold medical degrees who also say they’re Christians) that go into detail about why spanking children is okay and how it doesn’t really hurt them. There are also books out there (written by people who hold doctoral degrees and say they are faith-abiding people) that offer logic about why spanking children doesn’t do much good for them in the long run.
You can find a book, written by an expert, to support whatever side you fall on. But I’m going to give a few brief reasons why I firmly believe that it’s best to NOT spank.
- Spanking teaches our children the wrong thing.
Spanking might be an immediate deterrent for a child’s misbehavior, but what are we really teaching them by spanking them? That it’s okay to be hit if you deserve it? Spanking is a form of hitting, and if we spank our children, then it creates confusion (not to mention shame and fear) in them when we also are trying to teach them that it’s not okay to hit (like if our children are fighting over a toy and start hitting each other or if our children are having a meltdown and they start hitting us).
Do you notice that children hit because they are children? They don’t know a better way. And so for parents to spank their children (or otherwise hit them or strike them in any way), it shows how childish the parent is that he or she would try to settle a matter by using force instead of discourse. Something that we should want our children to internalize is that it’s not okay to hit or to be hit. For any reason. Period.
- Spanking has no positive long-term effects.
I can’t quote empirical research on this, but I have a feeling that it wouldn’t be too difficult to find some that supports my inkling that spanking is not effective (respectable-ly speaking, no pun intended) over the long-term. What I mean is that spanking does more harm than good on the positive development of a child.
Spanking might seem to work in the moment, or it might make a parent feel powerful to have the upper hand (again, no pun intended), but spanking is simply not a child-friendly discipline strategy. It doesn’t really work, and it only creates resentment and other kinds of psychological discord/cognitive dissonance, which is completely unhelpful to a child. And then to try to justify a spanking to a child (most especially if biblical justification is given) is just, frankly, abusively sick.
- Spanking is simply a smoke screen for our incompetence.
If we don’t know what else to do to encourage our children to make positive choices, then the way forward is to keep seeking out and practicing effective parenting methods, not to resort to spanking. Our children can’t help being children. But since we are no longer children, we can learn a better way and help point our children towards that better way, too.
What that better way looks like (for both parents and children, individually and together) will probably include staying calm even when there’s anger to be felt, talking things out even though there may be conflict, and coming up with a solution even if the problem is complex. The main thing to keep in mind (if we’re truly interested in the well-being of our children now as well as in their future) is to not spank. Find another way. (Yes, we can.) Figure it out. (Yes, we can.) Be a truly effective parent (Yes, we can.)
What are your beliefs about spanking?