The Bible And Child Discipline

It is written:

Proverbs 13;24-He who spares his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him promptly.

Is spanking children a bad thing?

Many so claim.

However, what does the Bible teach?

The Book of Proverbs provides many insights into this question.

Proverbs 3:24-For whom the LORD loves He corrects, Just as a father the son in whom he delights.

Proverbs 19:18-Chasten your son while there is hope, And do not set your heart on his destruction.

Proverbs 22:15-Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of correction will drive it far from him.

Proverbs 23:13-14-Do not withhold correction from a child, For if you beat him with a rod, he will not die. 14  You shall beat him with a rod, And deliver his soul from hell.

Proverbs 29:15-The rod and rebuke give wisdom, But a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.

Proverbs 29:17-Correct your son, and he will give you rest; Yes, he will give delight to your soul.

Now, all of these passages (and they could be multiplied) teach the idea of disciplining children. Please notice that these passages are not speaking of abusing children, but of correcting them. Further, these Scriptures are also describing discipline primarily through physical means. This type of discipline is for the purpose of training children in for a more productive life.

Wiersbe has noted:

“Many modern educators and parents revolt against the biblical teaching about discipline. They tell us that “Spare the rod and spoil the child” is nothing but brutal prehistoric pedagogy that cripples the child for life. 3 But nowhere does the Bible teach blind brutality when it comes to disciplining children. The emphasis is on love, because this is the way God disciplines His own children. “My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, nor detest His correction; for whom the LORD loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights” (3: 11–12 NKJV; 13: 24). Do we know more about raising children than God does? Discipline has to do with correcting character faults in a child while there is still time to do it (22: 15). Better the child is corrected by a parent than by a law enforcement officer in a correctional institution. “Chasten your son while there is hope, and do not set your heart on his destruction” (19: 18 NKJV). I prefer the New International Version translation of the second clause: “do not be a willing party to his death.” A vote against discipline is a vote in favor of premature death. (See 23: 13–14.) What a tragedy when children are left to themselves, not knowing where or what the boundaries are and what the consequences of rebellion will be! I may be wrong, but I have a suspicion that many people who can’t discipline their children have a hard time disciplining themselves. If you want to enjoy your children all your life, start by lovingly disciplining them early. “The rod and rebuke give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother” (29: 15 NKJV). “Correct your son, and he will give you rest; yes, he will give delight to your soul” (29: 17 NKJV).” (Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Skillful (Proverbs): God’s Guidebook to Wise Living, 18 (Kindle Edition); Colorado Springs, CO; David C. Cook)

Some people claim studies have demonstrated that spanking children is somehow detrimental to their mental and emotional health.

What are the facts?

“Marjorie Gunnoe, a developmental psychologist at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, who is not a spanking advocate but is an openminded researcher, questioned 2,600 people about being smacked. One-quarter of them had never been physically disciplined. The participants’ answers were compared with such behaviors as academic success, optimism about the future, antisocial behavior, violence, and bouts of depression. According to the research, children spanked up to the age of 6 were likely as teenagers to perform better at school and were more likely to carry out volunteer work and to want to go to college than their peers who had never been physically disciplined. “The claims made for not spanking children fail to hold up. They are not consistent with the data,” said Gunnoe. “I think of spanking as a dangerous tool, but there are times when there is a job big enough for a dangerous tool. You just don’t use it for all your jobs.” Child psychologist Elizabeth Owens, scientist at the Institute of Human Development at the University of California, Berkeley, conducted a study. She concluded, “If you look at the causally relevant evidence, it’s not scientifically defensible to say that spanking is always a horrible thing. I don’t think mild, occasional spankings in an otherwise supportive, loving family will do any long-term harm.” Akron Law Review published a study that examined criminal records and found that children raised where a legal ban on parental corporal punishment is in effect are much more likely to be involved in crime. Psychologist Aric Sigman states, “The idea that smacking and violence are on a continuum is a bizarre and fetished view of what punishment is for most parents. If it’s done judiciously by a parent who is normally affectionate and sensitive to their child, our society should not be up in arms about that. Parents should be taught to distinguish this from a punch in the face.” Jason Fuller says that Sweden is “… an ideal laboratory to study spanking bans,” for a generation ago it became the first nation to impose a complete ban on physical discipline. According to Fuller, police reports indicate that since the spanking ban, child-abuse rates in Sweden have exploded over 500 percent. Even just one year after the ban took effect, and after a massive government-run public education campaign, Fuller found that “not only were Swedish parents resorting to pushing, grabbing, and shoving more than U.S. parents, but they were also beating their children twice as often.” After a decade of the ban, “rates of physical child abuse in Sweden had risen to three times the U.S. rate,” and “from 1979 to 1994, Swedish children under seven endured an almost six-fold increase in physical abuse,” Fuller’s analysis revealed. More than half of Swedish schoolchildren are undergoing some sort of therapy in an effort to solve learning problems. Kenneth Dodge, a professor at Duke University, conducted a long-term study of corporal punishment’s effect on 453 kids, both black and white, tracking them from kindergarten through eleventh grade. Now that is a scientific study. When Dodge’s team presented its findings at a conference, the data did not make people happy. They found that the more a child was spanked, the less aggressive the child was over time. The spanked black kid was overall less likely to be in trouble. Scholars publicly castigated Dodge’s team, but Dodge—who remains adamantly against the use of physical discipline—was so horrified by such questions that he enlisted a team of fourteen scholars to study the use of corporal punishment around the world. The researchers failed to find evidence that spanking had negative effects. Dr. Diana Baumrind of the University of California, Berkeley, aided by teams of professional researchers, conducted what many consider to be the most extensive and methodologically thorough child development study ever done. They examined 164 families for over a decade, tracking their children from age four to fourteen. Baumrind found that “spanking can be helpful in certain contexts” and discovered “no evidence for unique detrimental effects of normative physical punishment.” The study also revealed that children who were never spanked tended to have behavioral problems, and were not more competent than their peers as other professionals had suggested. If we were to adopt the methods of the professionals, reasoning backward from a select group, we could reference “studies” proving our point. For example, USA Today interviewed 29 CEOs of very successful businesses regarding the cause of their success, and in the process discovered that all 29 were spanked as children. Following their methodology we could conclude that spanking will lead to becoming a very successful CEO. Of course that was not a scientific study, and the correlation proves nothing except that spanking does not prevent one from becoming a successful CEO. So actual scientific studies lend weight to what the Bible says: “The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame” (Prov. 29: 15). All presidents of the United States, including Obama, were spanked as children, as were nearly all senators, congressmen, and military commanders. In a 2011 USA Weekend interview, First Lady Michelle Obama admitted to spanking her daughter Malia once or twice when she was little. Laura Bush told Dr. Phil she did the same to her twin daughters, Barbara and Jenna, when they were young. In a three-way discussion on Fox News, host Arthur Aidala says he was “spanked with a belt” and thinks it was a “good idea.” Gretchen Carlson said she “was spanked, but things have changed.” Aidala and Jonna Spilbor, both prosecutors and defense attorneys, said they spank their children as well. NEW YORK “STUDY” On a flight to New York City to appear on TV, the woman I sat next to on the plane said she had spanked her children. The taxi driver said he had “walloped” the kids when it was needed, and they were all in college now or successful in business. The director of the show said she was spanked and spanked her kids as needed. The make-up ladies and the back-stage hands were all sympathetic with my position. Only the host of the show and his selected audience thought “all studies confirm that hitting children will cause them to be violent. …” He had no children, thank God. His husband could not conceive, for obvious reasons. And his star witness, a child psychologist, said that parents “cannot be trusted to exercise corporal punishment” because they are so angry and out of control, indicating that was the reason she could not trust herself to spank. TO BE FAIR If you draw a line through history at the point where spanking was abandoned, you will find that it coincides with significant increases in juvenile misbehavior, suicides, low self-esteem, self-loathing, and a general degeneration of society. You will also discover that where parents give up corporal chastisement, they resort to emotionally abusive methods such as screaming, insulting, and humiliating in order to control aberrant behavior. We are not suggesting that the cessation of spanking is primarily responsible for the increase in juvenile misbehavior and crime. There are many factors, and this is not the place to discuss them. But just as we cannot say that lack of spanking causes delinquency, the progressive cannot say based on the “statistics” that spanking causes delinquency. However, in answer to the progressive claim that spanking is responsible for youth misbehavior, if the statistics do speak in regard to delinquency, they would say that the cessation of spanking has increased misbehavior in youth, not diminished it as they suggested would occur with its elimination.” (Michael Pearl & Debi Pearl, To Train Up a Child: Child Training for the 21st Century-Revised and Expanded, 81-84 (Kindle Edition); NGJ Ministries)

Once again, the facts demonstrate the accuracy of the Bible.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.

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