A Review of To Train Up A Child by the Pearls

The consequences of your denial will be with you for a lifetime and will be passed down to the next generations. Break your Silence on Abuse! – Patty Rase Hopson

 


plumbing line

 

“While I have not yet read To Train Up A Child, I plan to order a used copy and will follow up with my own book review. “

 

Yes, those were my (Deb’s) words in yesterday’s post. I was so serious about reading the Pearl’s controversial book that I tracked down a copy at a local used book store early this afternoon and have already read it. I have the original 1994 edition (eighth printing: May, 1997) of To Train Up A Child, featuring an Amish family in a horse-drawn carriage on the black and white cover. This picture is significant because Michael and Debi Pearl live in rural Tennessee, surrounded by Amish neighbors who are sometimes mentioned in the book. You can read about the Pearls at their website called No Greater Joy.
 

The cover of the updated version looks much more contemporary than the first edition; however, I went through the book review featured in yesterday’s post and was able to verify that the items cited were indeed in the book. Here’s how I plan to review To Train Up A Child. Today I will provide an introduction to the Pearl’s child training practices, with subsequent commentary to follow later in the week.
 

To get us started, here are just some of the excerpts from Chapter 1 featured on the back cover of To Train Up A Child.
 

“We live in a horse and buggy community where someone is always training a new horse. When you get into a buggy to go down a narrow, winding, state highway filled with eighteen-wheelers and logging trucks, you must have a totally submissive horse. You can’t depend on whipping it into submission. One mistake, and the young men are again making several new pine boxes and digging six-foot deep holes in the orchard.” (also on p. 3)
 

It is patently clear from the start that this is a book on “Obedience Training” – which is the sub-heading on page 2. Incredibly, Michael Pearl (who I believe is the primary contributor to the book) proposes that children be trained like dogs. Under the above heading he writes:
 

“Careful training can make a dog perfectly obedient… If you wait until your dog is displaying unacceptable behavior before you rebuke (or kick) him, you will have a foot-shy mutt who is always sulking around seeing what he can get away with before being screamed at. Where there is an absence of training, you can no more rebuke and whip a child into acceptable behavior than you can the family dog. No amount of discipline can make up for lack of training. Proper training always works on every child.” (p. 2)
 

In the pages that follow, Pearl explains that parents must commence “training” BEFORE the child’s behavior becomes unacceptable. He explains that discipline, while a part of training, is insufficient to elicit the proper behavior. Therefore, training must start almost immediately after birth. Here’s one of the first examples of obedience training in the book – biting babies. Pearl explains:
 

“One particularly painful experience of nursing mothers is the biting baby. My wife did not waste time finding a cure. When the baby bit, she pulled hair (an alternative has to be sought for bald-headed babies). Understand, the baby is not being punished, just being conditioned.” (p. 7)
 

He explains that what is happening in the baby’s brain is that this information is being “unconsciously stored”. After being corrected several times, the baby has been conditioned not to bite the mother’s nipple. “This is not discipline. It is obedience training,” Pearl rationalizes. Well, here’s what I call it — CRUELTY.
 

Guess what…the child is “Never Too Young To Train”, according to the heading on page 8. Pearl explains that beginning in infancy, there is a battle for control. “Someone is going to be conditioned,” Pearl writes. He explains that it’s a battle of wills between the tender-hearted mother and the self-centered infant. Then he states:
 

“Crying because of genuine physical need is simply the infant’s only voice to the outside world; but crying in order to manipulate the adults into constant servitude should never be rewarded. Otherwise, you will reinforce the child’s growing self-centeredness, which will eventually become socially intolerable.” (pp. 8-9)

 

Under the heading “Negative Training”, Pearl uses these phrases to describe what he considers to be a disobedient child – “a devious little kid”, “exercising his “childhood rights” to unlimited self-indulgence, “the child spies the object of his unbridled lust,” “the child’s terrorist tactics”, and “the child becomes the Mafia or union boss”. (p. 12) If you give into your spoiled little brat, then Pearl concludes: “This compromise method is the making of a bitter, undisciplined, fleshly child – and eventually, adult.” (p. 12)
 

To give you an idea of the concepts explained in the pages that follow, here are some of the statements made by Pearl:
 

“What is the driving force in this child, and how can it be conquered?” (p. 14)
 

“The self-centeredness of infants and small children has all the appearances of a vice.” (p. 15)
 

“As the child gets older, say eight- to twelve-months, the adults begin to pay less attention to his demands, and a weaning process begins… He must learn that he cannot always be first… Guilty, frustrated parents are manipulated by their child’s whining and crying.” (pp. 15-16)
 

Well, that’s all I can take for today. I find it highly ironic that when To Train Up A Child was first introduced and embraced primarily by the homeschooling crowd, I was homeschooling my two children. That was a four year venture, and then they began attending a wonderful Christian school in the fall of 1999. Funny, I didn’t practice anything that the Pearls teach, and yet my daughters are godly, respectful, confident young ladies today. Stay tuned for more on “training up a child” according to the Pearls…

 

Lydia's Corner: Deuteronomy 21:1-22:30 Luke 9:51-10:12 Psalm 74:1-23 Proverbs 12:11

 

Comments

A Review of To Train Up A Child by the Pearls — 82 Comments

  1. I think it is telling to let the Pearls’ also speak for themselves—
    Select your instrument according to the child’s size. For the under one year old, a little, ten- to twelve-inch long, willowy branch (striped of any knots that might break the skin) about one-eighth inch diameter is sufficient. Sometimes alternatives have to be sought. A one-foot ruler, or its equivalent in a paddle, is a sufficient alternative. For the larger child, a belt or larger tree branch is effective.

    SOLUTION “If you have to sit on him to spank him, then do not hesitate. And hold him there until he has surrendered. Prove that you are bigger, tougher, more patiently enduring, and are unmoved by his wailing. Hold the resisting child in a helpless position for several minutes, or until he is totally surrendered. Accept no conditions for surrender — no compromise. You are to rule over him as a benevolent sovereign. Your word is final.”

    PROBLEM Child lies
    SOLUTION Switch him 10 times at noon each day. Make him pick the tree branch.

    PROBLEM Baby bites during breast-feeding
    SOLUTION Pull baby’s hair

    Dear Pearls,
    I am a pastor’s wife and have a question for you. Is it right to spank a 7-month-old for crying when put down for bed? I grew up with just ignoring the child, thus training them that they will not get their way. My husband wants it to stop all together. I know all the verses for training a child, but I am not sure how to approach this situation. I know you will give me a straight answer.
    Charity
    From Debi Pearl
    If the child has been mistrained, or if you have failed to provide a good prelude to sleep, and the child rises up to fight and resist, you should evaluate your whole procedure so as to improve your pre-sleep ritual for tomorrow night. But for the moment, you must constrain the child to obey authority and remain lying down. As a last resort, you may have to prove the power of your word by enforcing it with one or two stinging licks (applied with a small flexible switch) to the child’s leg that says to the child, “There is no reward for getting up; Mama means business; she is not going to give over to my demands; the path to greatest pleasure is to go to sleep; there is no alternative; my parents always get their way; what can I say? Good night.”

    On p. 9 they describe switching their 5-month-old daughter’s bare legs with a 12-inch long switch from a willow tree, because she was trying to climb up steps.

  2. Many people have said that there are a lot of good things in the Pearls writings. As a homeschool mom, I am appalled at the number of people in the past that have recommended their materials to me, especially the newsletter. I did not know at the time of the imbedded abusive material. I would imagine that there is somethng compelling or attractive to some people contained in what they say. As my dear husband has implied before when discussing the Pearls and others– it must have some appeal OR IT WOULD NOT BE DECEPTION.

  3. Ah and here is another quote from Debi Pearl-
    (Thank the Lord now she was not your mother and pray now for opportunities to be a sane voice to individuals you know who are deluded in to listening to the likes of the Pearls and Ezzos.)

    If your 10-month-old is pitching a fit because he wants to be picked up, then you must reinforce your command with a few stinging swats. You are not punishing him; you are causing him to associate his negative behavior with negative consequences. Never reward bad behavior with indifference. Tell the baby “No” and give him a swat. If your response is new, he may be offended and scream louder. But continue your normal activities as if you are unaffected. Wait one minute, and then tell the baby to stop crying. If he doesn’t, again swat him on his bare legs. You don’t need to undress him, turn him over, or make a big deal out of it. Just swat him where any skin is exposed. Continue to act as if you don’t notice the fit. Wait two minutes and repeat. Continue until the baby realizes that this is getting worse not better. Most babies will keep it going for 3 or 4 times and then slide to a sitting position and sob it out. When this happens, it signals a surrender, so give him two minutes to get control and then swoop him up as if the fit never happen and give him a big hug, BUT don’t hold him in the manner he was demanding. Now remove yourself from the area so as to remove him from association with the past event.

  4. I’ve never understood the concept of breaking a child’s will (I WANT my kids to figure things out and have thoughts and opinions) but I recognise a recipe to break a child’s heart when I see it.

    May God have more mercy on them than they have shown to the ‘least of these’

  5. Lynne

    I think the issue is the heart of the parent. I believe that this is another manifestation of hypercontrol by some people who get “no respect” in the world and so crave to be in charge that they will do anything to get it, including spanking a helpless baby.

  6. asachild

    Think about it. These people appear to crave absolute control. Much of the world would would blow them off as weird so they must find a place that they can feel powerful. And it appears that these big, hulking people choose the only route available to them-their children. See how they can beat the you know what out of them. They appear to be nothing more than rulers in rowboats and have to use little, helpless babies for their kicks.

  7. Lynne,

    I agree, if a person feel’s that they “must” spank their children (corporal punishment is something I feel is never justified..but unfortunately everyone doesn’t agree with me), I feel that the most important guideline that we should ALL agree on is that:

    A child’s dignity, self-esteem and trust should NEVER be compromised or violated as part of any type of punishment, either intentionally or otherwise…PERIOD!

  8. This makes me ill. Just knowing that not only were these practices done to their own children, but that they are actively being practiced on infants and children today puts a knot in my stomach. This is abuse. Period. Where are the neighbors and family members of these babies? Why aren’t they putting a stop to it?

    Alternately, why are so called “gentle” parents okay with “spanking” older kids when they go to touch the stove or run out into the street. As long as they qualify the action with a “but I don’t do it to the extreme” statement, they feel it is acceptable to hit another person. Why do we think this behavior is normal?

  9. But my question is why home educators NEED to embrace these beliefs. When my husband and I started to homeschool in the late 80s it was all about freedom. Then is seems like very slowly over the years, a new mentality has surfaced – one in which we must show perfect children, home and lifestyle before the world (because that is what God has ordained, according to Doug Philips). Living under the law isn’t a new thing, but these people take it to the extreme.

    I breaks my heart to watch family after family fall prey to people like Michael Pearl, and others within the homeschooling movement. Indoctrination is still indoctrination, no matter who is pulling the strings – the quiverful/patriocentrists abuse children and subordinate their women, to the point where they become hollow-eyed followers of these re-constructionist men, and Stepford Home Schoolers are born!.

  10. hmm – interesting. I personally am not against spanking per se, though I am very much against the kind of thing being promoted by the Ezzo and Pearl. I was spanks as a kid and am none the worse for it. It was an effective deterrent for me in those years between say 2 or 3 to around 8. I hold no ill will toward my parents, nor am I predisposed to abuse my own kids.

    What I have observed and learned over the years however is that spanking is best used sparingly, and never in anger. But sometimes if a kid just isn’t motivated any other way, it can be quite effective.

    The problem with spanking is the immaturity and lack of self control that often accompanies its administration. Instead of controlled and measured discipline, it becomes revenge or a vent for anger. And when coupled with teachings like those highlighted here, it is a recipe for disaster, as has been documented.

    I would however point out that physical harshness is not necessarily abuse. Mental and physical toughness are good things to have dealing with a harsh world. And they are not gained by being pampered. I would also wager a bet that the majority of great men and women of history were spanked at least once in a way that would be classified by some posting in this thread as ‘abuse’.

    I think I have a fairly good idea of where the balance lies, but some of the comments I’m seeing here seem a bit over the top. A pop on the behind will not harm a child, and may well keep them out of a world of trouble later.

    Let’s not ‘throw the baby out with the bath water’ as we confront the insanity represented by the Ezzo and Pearl parenting approaches.

    Zeta

  11. hmm – interesting. I personally am not against spanking per se, though I am very much against the kind of thing being promoted by the Ezzo and Pearl. I was spanked as a kid and am none the worse for it. It was an effective deterrent for me in those years between say 2 or 3 to around 8. I hold no ill will toward my parents, nor am I predisposed to abuse my own kids.

    What I have observed and learned over the years however is that spanking is best used sparingly, and never in anger. But sometimes if a kid just isn’t motivated any other way, it can be quite effective.

    The problem with spanking is the immaturity and lack of self control that often accompanies its administration. Instead of controlled and measured discipline, it becomes revenge or a vent for anger. And when coupled with teachings like those highlighted here, it is a recipe for disaster, as has been documented.

    I would however point out that physical harshness is not necessarily abuse. Mental and physical toughness are good things to have dealing with a harsh world. And they are not gained by being pampered. I would also wager a bet that the majority of great men and women of history were spanked at least once in a way that would be classified by some posting in this thread as ‘abuse’.

    I think I have a fairly good idea of where the balance lies, but some of the comments I’m seeing here seem a bit over the top. A pop on the behind will not harm a child, and may well keep them out of a world of trouble later.

    Let’s not ‘throw the baby out with the bath water’ as we confront the insanity represented by the Ezzo and Pearl parenting approaches.

    Zeta

  12. Zeta,

    Of course when you assert that “you’re none the worse for it”, it requires that you know how you would have turned out without the spankings…or there is nothing to compare against … who knows…without the spankings you might have turned out very differently.

  13. Yes, I might well have been far less disciplined or less willing to pursue what is right over what I want 😉

    Zeta

  14. To perhaps add to the discussion. Here is a question. While I think it would be agreed that excessive physical discipline is bad and by some even asserted that any corporal punishment is bad, are there any here who feel at least some corporal punishment is necessary in some cases to produce a well-disciplined child? Are there at least some children for whom only physical discipline will do the trick.

    The scripture teaches ‘spare the rod, spoil the child’. Is this merely a metaphor for discipline in whatever form is culturally acceptable, or is it literal. Kids actually, literally do best when given at least some measured dose of a ‘pop on the behind’.

    Zeta

  15. Sue Michaels said:

    “When my husband and I started to homeschool in the late 80s it was all about freedom. Then is seems like very slowly over the years, a new mentality has surfaced – one in which we must show perfect children, home and lifestyle before the world (because that is what God has ordained, according to Doug Philips). Living under the law isn’t a new thing, but these people take it to the extreme.

    I breaks my heart to watch family after family fall prey to people like Michael Pearl, and others within the homeschooling movement. Indoctrination is still indoctrination, no matter who is pulling the strings – the quiverful/patriocentrists abuse children and subordinate their women, to the point where they become hollow-eyed followers of these re-constructionist men, and Stepford Home Schoolers are born!”

    AMEN and AMEN!!!

    Sue,

    I’m very concerned about this, too! I started homeschooling in the mid-1990s and remember hearing Doug Phillips at the 1998 North Carolina Home Education convention. I knew nothing about him at the time, and he delivered a very patriotic address. That was the last year I attended because my children started attending a Christian school the next year.

    Now I look back absolutely aghast at what has happened since I stopped homeschooling. I have done a lot of research on the topics you mentioned, and we have already written on some of them. Rest assured, we will be exploring them again in the future here at TWW.

    I have just finished writing a special post for today, which should be up later this afternoon. We want to keep this current thread going for a while.

    Blessings!

  16. Sue,

    “and others within the homeschooling movement.”

    It is only a part, a segment, of the homeschooling movement that follows the people who teach these things. There is a large group of other Christians and people of all other faiths and beliefs who comprise the “homeschool movement”.

    Unfortunately it is most often the Pearls, Harris’s, Farris’s, Phillips’s, and their ilk, that people outside of, or new to, home education, identify as the leaders, the “face”, of home education. (I have used up my comma allocation for today!)

    The bigger question to me is why is it “evangelical, reformed (or not), churchgoing, Christians” who are falling for the manipulative teaching of people like the Pearls, or their local “pastor” who tells them to spank till age six, or whatever? Why are these people, my brothers and sisters in Christ, being so stupid? What is it that causes them to take the words of people over the words of the Lord they follow.

    I am pretty sure I know the answer, so that’s a rhetorical question! lol

    For freedom!

    Heather

  17. Ah – reading over my last post, I forgot to make my last statement a question. I meant to say:

    Do kids actually, literally do best when given at least some measured dose of a ‘pop on the behind?’

    It was not meant to be a summary declaration of my position, but rather a follow on question related to the previous text in the post.

    Zeta

  18. Zeta,

    No, I don’t think it is ever appropriate (corporal punishment). I have heard, as I’m sure you have as well, the person the grocery store, watching the mother with the screaming child, saying something like “she needs to give him a whack on the behind” or maybe that’s exactly what the mother/father is attempting to do. But I would argue it is the wrong type of discipline and applied way to late.

    The child is behaving like that because he has not been raised properly in the first place, and when that’s the case, you can’t all of sudden give him a whack on the behind in the hopes it will fix what is much bigger problem. The temper tantrum in the store isn’t what needs to be corrected, it’s typically a last ditch, out of frustration attempt to “make the child behave”.

    First, there is the idea of “appropriate behavior”….if an infant is crying in the store because it is hungry, tired or hurting, there is nothing to correct (in terms of behavior), crying is completely appropriate. The same holds true for the person who brings their toddler to a 3 hour showing of Schindler’s List and expects the toddler to be silent (in that case the parent needs to be slapped, not the child!)

    We frequently place our children in situations which demand the behavior of an adult and then we are surprised or disappointed or even angry when they don’t “perform” as expected..again this is a parental problem, not a child discipline problem.

    Treat the child in a consistent manner, never compromise their dignity or self-esteem, and don’t place them into situations which demand more of them than they can give at their age, be willing to explain and instruct ahead of time and I think you can resolve 99% of the discipline issues in advance.

  19. This book makes me angry & sick. It is a written instructional book for abuse as far as I am concerned, and ‘freedom of speech’ or not, it deserves to be banned. In the same way that [I hope] a book of directions for pedophilia would be banned.

    As for ‘gentle’ parents hitting older children ie toddlers etc when they go to touch the stove or run in the road – it is just ALIEN to me, as a toddler is wired to explore and touch etc, and if your stove is too hot to touch, then why don’t they take the responsibility themselves and put that child into a high chair or playpen? Why do they hit a child for running into the road? I am sickened on so many levels. There is always another way to discipline ie teach a child right from wrong. I don’t believe that hitting a child should be any more legal, and certainly not embraced, that hitting an adult or animal is. Why should a defenceless child be less ‘safe’ ?? As for the extremes to which some parents go to ‘spank’ I seriously worry for the human race… switching, birching, caning, belting, wooden spoons, paddles … I could go on and on with listing the arsenal of weaponry used on children.

    I like to say to parents who do spank and say the usual ‘this is hurting me more than it’s hurting you ‘ – that hurt YOU feel as the adult, is your conscience telling you just how wrong it is to hit a child – and that they wouldn’t be feeling like that with demonstration, teaching and direction … or if they hugged their children! I also feel like asking a 12ft giant with the strength to match to go hit that parent, and see THEN if it really is hurting the ‘parent/giant’ more than they are being hurt!

    I am a 56 yr old grandmother and spanking me ruined my childhood and the relationship with my parents for good. They lost my love, respect and trust. I learned fear, pain, anger, hatred and resentment. Not what most parents want for their children.

    I never spanked my children and they are great adults. It was hard – but that is what parenting is about isn’t it?

    Sorry if I am a bit ‘wordy’ here – but as you might imagine, this subject has touched a nerve with me …

  20. The bible doesn’t actually say spare the rod spoil the child, it says to discipline the child and there are many non-spanking ways to satisfy the mandate to discipline a child.

    Hint-hint: discipline is not a synonymous for spanking. Discipline implies a relationship-based interaction in which the parents primarily teach by example.

  21. DB, you are correct in that my statement is not a direct quote of scripture, but completely incorrect in meaning and implication or the verses it summarizes:

    Proverbs 13:24 says

    He who spareth the rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him correcteth him betimes

    and Proverbs 23: 13-14 says even more clearly:

    Withhold not correction from a child: for if thou strike him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and deliver his soul from hell.

    Rod in both cases is: שֵׁבֶט

    which means:

    1) rod, staff, branch, offshoot, club, sceptre, tribe

    a) rod, staff
    b) shaft (of spear, dart)
    c) club (of shepherd’s implement)
    d) truncheon, sceptre (mark of authority)
    e) clan, tribe

    It is used in other passages specifically to describe an instrument whose use is ‘to strike’.

    We can’t pretty this up any more than we can pretty up some other passages. The Bible advocates the use of a striking instrument in the discipline of a child, and the implication is with significant force (hence “he shall not die”).

    This is not talking just about some metaphor for discipline in the non-corporal sense. And in the literal sense in our culture what it advocates is considered child abuse.

    Zeta

  22. Karlton – you said:

    The child is behaving like that because he has not been raised properly in the first place and when that’s the case, you can’t all of sudden give him a whack on the behind in the hopes it will fix what is much bigger problem. The temper tantrum in the store isn’t what needs to be corrected, it’s typically a last ditch, out of frustration attempt to “make the child behave”.

    Am I correct in that you are equating a child acting out in public with necessarily incorrect parenting?

    My first question to you is do you have children.

    My second question to you is have you ever had a strong willed Child.

    I have had both a very strong willed and a very passive child. Parents who have only had the passive kind have no clue. They come to conclusions that mirror your statement. But A strong willed child WILL act out in public, and at the most inopportune times. And regardless of the discipline approach used.

    I do not quickly pass judgment on mothers struggling with a kid throwing a tantrum in a store. They might be a poor parent. But they might also just have a very vocal and strong willed child that will try that mother’s sanity almost every day.

    Zeta

  23. oh – and one other thing – they might just have a kid that is tired and hungry and they have found that out just as they get to the checkout line. People aren’t perfect. Young parents even more so. And Kids themselves simply are not predictable.

    Consider this as well: one element of society that may well encourage abuse is equating perfect behavior from kids with perfect parenting. Next time instead of being disgusted with the mom whose kid is acting out, offer to help, or at least don’t condemn.

    Zeta

  24. Pingback: Deb’s Review of TTUAC | Why Not Train A Child? UNITED STATES

  25. Zeta

    I do not have any difficulty with “rod” being the actual instrument described. However, I believe the intent is to discipline the child. Does this mean that I am forced to use a rod because Proverbs says so? Joey seems to imply such a thing although he may be saying it for sake of discussion.

    Also, Proverbs is a collection of wise sayings and are not promises. For example, “train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Obviously there are many parents who have done this and seen their children grow up to adulthood, reject the faith, and die without repentance.

    Finally, Proverbs was written under the law. Proverbs cannot be viewed in a vacuum without adding the Gospels and Epistles. In other words, must we implement the Proverbs view on the rod or, like the Law and its well spelled out punishments, are we living under grace now?

  26. Remember that the context of my comment is folks saying the Bible doesn’t really advocate spanking, or that it would somehow be a ‘distortion’ of what the Bible says to spank your child with a switch or other instrument (like a rod). The Bible clearly has no problems with that and even encourages it.

    I don’t think ‘law’ vs. ‘grace’ applies here. The advice in Proverbs is just practical advice that is based on human nature and the nature of children. As far as I am aware, human nature hasn’t changed much since it was written, so if it was valid advice in 1000 BC, it ought to be valid advice today.

    I personally am not sure what to make of that advice, as I recognize the dangers inherent in that kind of approach. At least from our culture’s perspective. But pretending the Bible doesn’t say that, or that this isn’t the Bible’s advice on child rearing doesn’t sit well with me. It’s kind of like the folks that want to say they can neuter all the masculine references to God, or pretend the Bible doesn’t classify homosexuality as sin. It most certainly says all these things.

    I have too much respect for the text to be silent when people try to pretend it doesn’t say what it actually says. While I am not sure I know how to resolve all the issues, I do know the absolute WRONG way to deal with these issues, from women’s position in the church to how to discipline children to God’s judgment or harsh commands to Israel is to rewrite scripture in our own image. We must never, ever, ever deny what the text of scripture actually says in our search to understand what it means and how to apply it to our lives.

    Zeta

  27. Zeta, Ever wondered how many children Solomon fathered? My guess is that his sin made for his children a cesspool pit of life. Can you imagine your dad having so many wives and all those children vying for power or wanting his attention?

    Under the New Covenant, we could say he “exasperated” his children.

    You are right in that Proverbs is practical advice…and for that time. Think of this…pagan law codes called for the death of children over silly things. Even child sacrfice.

    We CAN say that Solomon was used by God for His purposes. That says very little about Solomon, btw. We can read in Ecc how vain his life was and he knew it.

    On the other hand, many comps misapply Proverbs 31 to suit their purposes. That woman was a business owner and was making decisions for her family all on her own.

    Funny how all this works when humans try to apply it today. :o)

    That is why I really urge folks to read the OT in light of the New. God is the hero and when we start trying to apply OT methods or principles to our lives, it can get real messy real fast. Are there some that are applicable? Of course! But they are ALWAYS repeated in the New Covenant.

  28. IF we followed the Old Testament to the letter – we would still be stoning people, even ‘bad sons/children’ as in Deuteronomy, we would not be wearing clothing of ‘mixed fibres’ etc. Personally I follow the teachings of Jesus – who rebuked his disciples for not allowing the children near him, who told us to love one another, to treat one another as we ourselves would like to be treated, to turn the other cheek, to forgive –

    I don’t believe anyone can ‘spank lovingly’ or ‘spank with love’. Oh THEY the parent might feel they have, but I can tell you as a child, I never felt that way. And if I might make two sentences:

    “I spanked my child for …… and I love her!!” now .. try this one on for size –

    “I spanked my wife for …….. and I love her!!” hmm.. that doesn’t sound right .. does it ?? What can the possible difference be between hitting an adult, and hitting a defenceless child 2/3 your size? I will never agree it is right to hit a child ever. I can’t. It hurts my soul…

  29. Lydia,

    Now you are moving to interpretation/application. I was simply making sure it is understood that the Bible does indeed advocate corporal punishment as a valid means of child discipline. We can discuss how to apply that now in our culture once that first fact is clearly established. But as long as folks are saying the Bible doesn’t say that, we first must clear that issue (which I think I have probably done).

    Spanking itself must be done in love if it is to be done at all. Spanking in anger is just revenge.

    One thing I notice, and primarily from the ladies, is that you all seem to view spanking as revenge. Spanking should not be revenge. It is simply discipline – a means of providing a deterrent to bad behavior, as is all discipline. (and don’t think for a minute that ANY form of discipline used as revenge is not abuse).

    It uses the natural involuntary responses we have to help direct behavior – as does any good discipline. We are built from the get go to avoid pain, and to seek pleasure. Training a child involves both of these elements. We reward good behavior (provide a form of ‘pleasure’ in response to good behavior). We punish bad behavior (provide a form of ‘pain’ in response to bad behavior).

    And this is NOT uniquely human. All mammals discipline their young to direct their behavior. And sometimes it involves the direct infliction of pain. A mother lion may well nip or swat at a cub that is out of line. And generally these reactions are not harmful in the long term, but they do sometimes inflict pain.

    All discipline inflicts pain. Some more than others. And if it is not physical pain, it is psychological pain. But that is what it does. As adults we are responsible for using pain and reward in various forms to train our children in what is acceptable and what is unacceptable. And even more so, to prepare them for the rigors of life.

    To take another tack. If I get all soft hearted and never make johnny do anything painful or hard for him, will he be able to deal with the harsh realities of life? Will he ever learn to control himself? And if Johnny simply refuses to do the thing I know he must do, do I not at some point or another have to use force to make him do what needs to be done? If your preferred method of punishment is time out, what if Johnny just decides not to stay in time out? Do you lock him in a room alone (watch it, that’s not so good psychology). Do you tie him up? (nope). Do you stand there and hold him in place? What if he struggles and fights with you? Do you just let him go do what he wants?

    Whatever you do, you will eventually FORCE johnny to comply, or Johnny will learn you are a pushover and all he need do is fight long enough and you go away. And frankly, one thing I do know is that if Johnny fights me and I pop him on the bottom, the fight is over. He knows who is boss and that is that. It’s a good bit more efficient, and far less harmful than all those other methods I described.

    TealRose:

    “Try ‘I spanked my wife'”. The comment is absurd. I don’t put my wife in time-out either. Try “I put my wife in time-out” on for size and see how that fits as well. It’s not much different from “I spanked my wife”.

    It is not my job to discipline my wife -indeed, it is wholly inappropriate for me to attempt to act toward her in ANY likeness to how I would discipline a child (And believe me, any time I accidentally even come close to treating my wife like a child, my wife lets me know just how inappropriate that is ;). However, it is my job to discipline my child. And discipline often involves pain of one form or another. It’s just a matter of what is appropriate in terms of method and amount.

    Zeta

  30. Zeta, Part of that interpretation and application is understanding the different Covenants and what is applicable from the OC to the New. God always makes His laws clear. If it is a rule for the NC, it is always repeated and very clear. We don’t have to guess.

    “Hebrews 12:6-7: “…the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son. Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?””

    This verse speaks to discipline but is it advocating physical “punishment” for children? Please show me a “spare the rod verse” in the New Covenant.

    And keep in mind, I am not against spanking. Have done it and have received several when I was a child by a very loving, sold out to Christ, mom. But I do not believe it is appropriate for every child. It is totally inappropriate for a baby. If we must spank, it must be with tears in our eyes and with forethought.

    Here are a few more NC passages directed at children:

    1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— 3 “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”[a]

    4 Fathers,[b] do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. Eph 6

    (OK, so does obediance to parents guarantee a long life?)

    ” 20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.

    21 Fathers,[c] do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged. ”
    Col 3

    Where do we see spare the rod spoil the child in the New Covenant? Does this verse mean mothers are not to spank?

    Here is a former Ezzo parent discussing NT parenting. I don’t agree with everything she says about authority in the church but I do think she gets the overall principle.

    http://whynottrainachild.com/articles/new-testament-parenting/

    Another good source for what we are discussing is Jeff Vanvonderans book titled: Families Where Grace is in Place.

    I highly recommend this book. For one thing, constant spanking only deals with outward behavior and brings outwared conformity for a time.

    As believers, we should be more concerned about what is taking place in the child’s heart: Inward conformity to Christ.

  31. One of my favorites stories is from my cousin about dealing with her very willful 10 year old son. She did spank him but it was not working. Because spanking is easy and overwith quick, it was the preferred method. Taking time to withhold certain things, is harder and inconvenient for the parent.

    At one point, she realized spanking was not working with him at all. So, she started witholding things he really wanted. One was baskeball camp. He freaked out when she and her husband went through with not allowing him to go. It was a long summer week of him complaining, crying, etc. She had to deal with that all week long but it worked. He knew they were serious and he knew the consequences of certain behavior.

    At one point, he begged them to spank him and get it over with so he could go. He WANTED the quick over with punishment that caused a bit of pain for a moment. :o)

    They continued that method after that. (Most parents would not withhold sports because sports is now an idol) And it worked. He is now a youth pastor.

  32. Zeta all I can say is “preach it brother”. Your right on the money. Well said. One of the things that always cracks me up is parents who say “I didn’t spank my child and look he/ she is President today.” or “my second cousin on my mother’s uncles side twice removed did spank and it didn’t work and their child became an axe murderer” as if there is some magical one size fits all rule book for proper parenting. If it were that easy nobody would struggle with parenting. Don’t know about the rest of you but I didn’t get an owners manual with any of my kids when they came home from the hospital.

    Truth is that every kid is different and what works for one may not work for another. People that would say “all spanking is bad” are as mistaken and naive as the Pearls for thinking they’ve got the one size fits all perfect parenting method all figured out. The truth, as usual, lies somewhere in the middle. Dare I say that Mr. Pearl may have some good ideas with hopelessly wrong execution. Could it be that the all spanking is child abuse crowd might have some good points (for example witholding of priviledges from MY children is 10 times more effective for MY kids than spanking). Does this mean this will work with my neighbor’s little hoodlum? Not neccesarily.

  33. Lydia,

    I agree with you completely that spanking easily gets overworked. Especially with young parents. If the majority on this blog where saying how one should be spanking all the time, you’d see my other side. What I am trying to deal with is the idea that spanking is itself bad, or should be avoided entirely, along with the idea that spanking/corporal punishment is somehow not Biblical as a form of punishment.

    There is a balance which must be entertained. And a proper balance takes work, requires intelligence and thought. Things most people seem to try to avoid. A simple one answer fits all situations approach just isn’t real life. I would no more generally encourage a parent to spank more than I would generally encourage a parent never to spank. It depends on the child, the parent, and the situation.

    Secondarily, to try to paint the NT verses on discipline being harsh as not including spanking is to completely ignore the culture in which they were written. Specifically the Roman culture, and the Jewish culture which definitely includes Proverbs as a book of wisdom. In particular I am quite sure that when Paul wrote

    “For what son is not disciplined by his father?” at the end of the verse in Hebrews you quoted, he had in mind at the very least what we call spanking today.

    I don’t really see any significant reason to bring the OT/NT covenants into play as regards how to discipline children. Perhaps over what to discipline them for, but not so much how. The how to me is more a technical issue of what works and what doesn’t work, and I think it silly to throw out a technique used effectively for millenia – unless in the 21st century we’ve actually discovered something that is even better.

    Zeta

  34. Also Zeta brings up some very good points about the interpretations of scripture. We modern Christians are all about following scripture until it begins to clash with our modern delicate sensibilities. Then we obfuscate and rationalize about what it really means and endlessly discuss translations, new covenant vs. old covenant and the meanings of hebrew words even when the scriptures are being prettly clear about the intent. All because it “bothers” us and dosen’t jive with our modern enlightened worldview. I challenge you all to study Joshua where God commands the Jews to commit unthinkable acts like KILL women and children and every living thing in numerous cities. Wholesale slaughter that would today be considered genocide and a crime against humanity. (Lest anyone accuse me let me state I AM NOT ADVOCATING THESE ACTIONS)

    But God ordered them and his nature is unchanging. He’s the same God then as he is today. That will definatly upset your modern sensibilities and your concepts of who and what God is. I’ve come to the conclusion that God is as different from us as can be and his ways and reasons are unfathomable to my tiny mind. He might even advocate disciplining a child by spanking him.

  35. Zeta/Jerry

    No one is answering my question. Must I spank because Proverbs says I should? Pls elaborate on either yes or no.

  36. Jerry

    I have a dgtr that rarely received a spanking. She was one of those kids everyone wanted as a student. So. What gives? Also how old are yr kids?

    I reiterate. I Did spank but rarely. I am more concerned about how we use Scripture to prove our points. Is Proverbs a truism or promise?

  37. Dee,

    My apologies – lots going on.

    “Must I spank because Proverbs says I should?”

    Must you? In other words, are you being a bad parent if you don’t spank?

    I don’t know for sure, but my gut would be no, as long as you have something as effective to put in its place.

    A lack of effective discipline will ultimately destroy an otherwise good kid.

    My experience is that spanking properly administered will do the trick where that kind of discipline is needed. Could other methods work just as well or better, I just don’t know.

    Zeta

  38. I think what Zeta and I are getting at (or at least what I’m getting at not being able to speak for Zeta) is that it is wrong to say that all spanking is bad. It is an acceptable and biblical form of child discipline. I don’t read Proverbs as a commandment. If we view the Bible as the inspired word of God, then Proverbs could rightly be considered as advice on a multitude of subjects, from the Father. So if God, the Creator of the Universe thinks spanking is important enough to devinely inspire Solomon to write about it and says it’s o.k. then who am I (who are any of us for that matter) to say differently. Does God command you to do it? No. I believe the take away is that if you love your kid you’ll discipline them even with the “rod” if you must. Are you (or anyone else) in a position to say it’s wrong? Absolutly not.

    Since you asked I have three boys, twins age 7 and oldest is 10. If I could freeze them at their current ages I would in a heartbeat. We have too much fun together for them to grow up and they aren’t surly teenagers yet. They also still think I’m cool. There are very few people in the world that feel that way so I’m rather enjoying this time:)

  39. Yes Dee, my youngest daughter needed a grand total of 2 spankings in her 18 years (she got 3, but one was an ooops on my part – but to those tender hearts out there, this kid needed so little formal discipline I doubt these spankings actually hurt).

    My youngest son has had a few more. But like you, at this point I don’t spank much nor do I see a real need to. My experience is that for the most part spanking is a tool that if things are done right is only rarely necessary. But it sometimes will do the trick like nothing else I know of can.

    I would say from the other side of things, when advocating spanking as a tool for discipline, especially with young parents, one should be very careful to urge restraint and emphasize that very young children should NOT be spanked. Further, often young parents need help understanding what kinds of behavior should be gently understood and redirected, vs what behavior needs direct correction.

    Zeta

  40. Zeta

    I am still not getting an answer to my question. Must I use the rod in order to correctly follow Scripture?

  41. Jerry

    I am about 10-15 years ahead of you on the kids age scale. I wish you well as your children begin to challenge your point of view. As you probably know, most kids leave the faith when they go on to college. My oldest two have not and my youngest, about to start college, are still following the Lord.

    I am not opposed to judicious spanking although I believe it should be more rare than the norm. But, I am big on Scripture and following its mandates. I became concerned about Gwen Shamblin and her Weigh Down Workshop long before many people. The reason was simple. I felt she was playing fast and loose with the Scripture, often applying it to weight loss when that was not the intent of the writer. However, so many people told me that it could be applied that way and it worked! Needless to say, Shamblin was running a cult and is no longer considered correct. Of course we should not be gluttons and that is Biblical but she took other verses waaaaay out of context.

    So, that is why I am harping on this subject. Even if I agree with occasional and rare spanking, I am trying to figure out if Proverbs is the best “proof” of the validity of that approach.

    So, here is my question. It would seem to indicate that, if I do not use a rod (and I did not) then, according to Proverbs I would be unwise for NOT using the rod. Therefore, am I rebelling against Scripture? Does this verse mean that I must run out, find a rod, and start using it? Why or why not? I am looking for more than a yes or no-I need some explanation.

  42. Jerry wrote,

    “Since you asked I have three boys, twins age 7 and oldest is 10. If I could freeze them at their current ages I would in a heartbeat.”

    This is something close to my heart. No you don’t.

    Really.

  43. Zeta

    You and I are writing each other at the same time. Why do I get a pass on the rod? Shouldn’t I do what Scripture says? Also, I never use a “rod.” So, is my spanking invalid? Why use the word “rod” if that is not what is intended? I know. I am being a pain but this applies to many issues that the church gets all bent out of shape over-like YE so i am trying to flesh this out andI promise I am not doing it for the sake of argument.

    PS Have you heard the latest brouhaha with Ken Ham. He has been “disinvited” from two homeschool conferences. Even the YE crowd is getting miffed off.

  44. Proverbs does not actually say to spank. Proverbs says to use a Rod. We must understand what the rod is. Either we take it as a figurative concept of authority or we take it as a huge staff which would kill a child. Also, the proverbs are referring to a teenage boy, not a young child. Although the rod in question could also kill a teenage boy.

  45. Zeta,

    I have 3 children, and one very strong willed, a drama queen of the first order…I’ve been through my share of hell.

    I still maintain that for the most part, a child who acts out in public, at an age when they can understand it is inappropriate, has issue which are almost certainly a mix of biology and environment. I found it very difficult to parent my daughter, and I attribute a good deal of her acting out, to my lack of parenting skills or at least my ability to make a good connection with her. I love her dearly, but I realize that I certainly could have done a better job, if either me or my daughter had slightly different personalities.

    I think what I am trying to say, is that acting out, is, at least partly, the parents fault, but I do not think there is necessarily any “blame” that needs to be placed. No one is a perfect parent, and depending on our personalities we will do better with certain types of children than others. All I am getting at is that we should realize when we are ineffective and not try to “fix” the problem by spanking when we already know it is ineffective. It just makes matters worse.

    Before you ask, I don’t have a good answer to what we SHOULD do, except to suggest, in retrospect, that if we recognize that we are having difficulties, then I think it makes sense to consider outside professional help…mostly for the parents, because you aren’t going to change the child’s personality by yelling at them louder or repeating disciplinary methods that aren’t effective. Nothing works for everyone.

  46. Zeta (part 2)

    I also have a son, 2 years older than my daughter who I have never had to discipline even once in his entire life. He’s as close to perfect (ok, well he does love to procrastinate), as a parent could hope for in terms of being easy to raise.

    He is respectful, but also doesn’t pull any punches, almost “too” honest at times, but kind hearted and generous.

    My third son, (actually the oldest) was adopted, and while we had a typical relationship, we never really bonded. I am not sure if that is a function of genetics or personality…he is the one who, when he was old enough, headed out, joined the army, and now is living on his own. We here from him now and then, but it is definitely a more detached relationship than the other two.

    I love all three of them equally, but I enjoy spending time with some, more than others. Just a fact of life I guess.

  47. Here’s a thorough introduction to the book of Proverbs (http://bit.ly/fNdqSe). I offer it as being relevant to the discussion. I feel it offers a nicely balanced view of the purpose of Proverbs. The key is that, since Proverbs is part of the canon of Scripture, it cannot be thought of as simply a wise book like the Farmer’s Almanac or something Garrison Keillor wrote. Instead, it is the inspired words of God written down by human hands. Paul told Timothy that all of scripture is God breathed. To take Proverbs as “generally true sayings” is, to me, perilously close to declaring it man’s work, not God’s.

    I’ll take a stand: Proverbs is promise in the same way as any other Scripture is promise.

  48. Dee I thought I answered you above. Proverbs confirms that spanking is a biblical and correct method of child discipline. It does not command you to do it but advises you that it is a Godly tool in your parenting tool box. Should you choose not too simply because you think it’s wrong would to my mind be a case of you ignoring God’s good advice. Should you never NEED to spank your child because it’s not effective or your kids an angel or whatever then great.

    Now as to the “rod” issue. Was Solomon saying “beat your kid with a stick”? Or was he being metaphorical and using the term “rod” (a common form of punishment at that time that everyone was familiar with, even adults who could be caned or whipped in public for various minor crimes) as a general metaphor for punishment that involved striking the other person. Who knows? I’ve never seen a Bible that could cut you but it’s often refered to as a “sword”. I suspect the later is more applicable but the reference is what it is. I’ve never used anything other than my open hand to spank my kids because it’s illegal (in California) not to mention unneccessary. However, I was paddled and made to cut switches off the willow tree in my Grandmother’s front yard. By todays standard my Grandparents and Parents were monstrous child abusers. I suspect that’s true of many people’s parents and grandparents. Really?

    Now on to DB. What are you talking about???? If you think there’s something bad about me having the obviously unrealistic wish that my kids could stay innocent kids forever and not have to deal with the trials and tribulations of growing up and being adults, well then, I don’t much care what you think. Yes I Do! Really.

    Lastly Dee are you implying that because my children are still relatively young I have no bussiness offering an opinion on child dicipline because I haven’t seen it all yet? Let me add that in addition to being the father of three, I am the “parent” to about 100, let’s be judicious and call them “young adults”, in my military unit as their First Sergeant. I have the enviable job of teaching young people all the things that many of their parents failed to teach them when they were kids. Stuff like integrity, telling the truth, self control and discipline. I think it’s made me uniquely qualified to have an opinion on parenting because I get to deal with the end results.

  49. Chris

    Thanks for your reference. Now, can you answer my question? If I choose not to hit my kid with a “rod” am I in violation of Scripture? I spanked a coupe of my kids a couple of times with my open hand. No rod. Am I unBiblical? Should we all be beating our kids with a “rod?”

  50. “Now on to DB. What are you talking about???? If you think there’s something bad about me having the obviously unrealistic wish that my kids could stay innocent kids forever and not have to deal with the trials and tribulations of growing up and being adults, well then, I don’t much care what you think. Yes I Do! Really.”

    Do you want to know what I’m talking about or do you not much care about what I think?

    Because I have strong opposing opinions about the subject at hand yet I chose to respond to this seemingly unrelated statement and I had no ill feelings when I replied to you.

    When I had four young children, I felt the same way; I wanted to have things stay the way they were because I had a baby in that fun happy stage where the baby is easy to parent and cuddley and loveable and my three other children were similarly in pleasant stages of development and I had a dream (likely a vision) that involved our family being caught in a moment of time, a perfect moment of time, but caught still like a bug trapped in amber.

    I woke up shaken. It was real (leaving a lot of details out) as though I had experienced what I had dreamed.

    But I realized that my children aren’t mine, God puts them in my care for a short season of childhood. Also, only God is outside time, we are fluid in the river of time and change is a constant that is essential for life.

    But it is also a gift God has given us to lend context to our experiences (again, leaving a lot out.)

    Now, the little baby is a grown man who just graduated summa cum laude and his life is going to bless this world in some tangible way. His three older siblings are a teacher, a doctor, and a business woman that is a veteran of the Marine corps that served with honor in Iraq.

    These things don’t happen to people frozen in time.

    Also, the baby that I wanted to cuddle forever has four younger siblings that are every bit as dynamic and gifted as their older siblings.

    I’m sorry if you took my comment the wrong way but someday you will be glad that time is fluid and in God’s perfect hands.

  51. Here at last, a perfect example of why “religion” can be a dangerous thing …

    Jerry says, “Proverbs confirms that spanking is a biblical and correct method of child discipline”

    and yet virtually every organization with expertise in child rearing and the psychological development of children agrees that spanking a child is NOT a good or healthy way to discipline children, and it can in fact cause damage to the child, both psychological and physical.

    I am beside myself in disbelief and rage that we as human beings would choose to follow the advice of people from 2000-3000 years ago as opposed to everything we have learned in terms of mental health and well being over the last 50 years, all so we can protect our cherished notions of biblical perfection. Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face! But in this case it is even worse since we are placing the mental well being of our children on that sacrificial alter in order to protect our own selfish, and unfounded ideas.

  52. Hi Karl

    My daughter is home from the hospital and is slowly getting better.

    Here is a question. There are many cultures that advocate spanking a kid. Many folks who are not religious do so as well. Could it be that occasional judicious spanking is a cause and effect that people, religious and not, have observed over the millenia?

    As you know, I am very against child abuse and worked in the field. I do not see that an occasional spank is abusive. However, people like the Pearls and others go over the top.

    What are your thoughts on the occasional, careful use of corporal punishment?

  53. Dee,

    I thought I had answered you, but basically, NO, I do not think that proverbs REQUIRES the use of a ‘rod’. This is a standard kind of confusion that crops up in cases like this. That verse in proverbs clearly allows for and promotes corporal punishment. That is one aspect. But I don’t think it is ONLY talking about that. In more general terms it means do not withhold discipline from a child. And in that sense, one is in reality obligated to use the very best methods of discipline possible.

    In that sense I think it does make sense to look at this culturally, in the sense that say the Bible also commands the anointing with oil, which in many ways was a key medicine of the time. It does not mean we should restrict ourselves ONLY to oil as medicine. Nor does it mean we’ve done something wrong if we never use oil as medicine. Likewise the verse in proverbs discussing the use of the ‘rod’ as an implement of discipline. If we in the 21st century have been able to develop better and more effective means of discipline that the ‘rod’, then by all means I think the scripture in essence commands us to make use of them, and not to be sparse in our discipline of our children, whatever method we use. That is, we need to correct our children when they are out of line and not give in to their childishness.

    Zeta

  54. “Then we obfuscate and rationalize about what it really means and endlessly discuss translations, new covenant vs. old covenant and the meanings of hebrew words even when the scriptures are being prettly clear about the intent. All because it “bothers” us and dosen’t jive with our modern enlightened worldview. ”

    So, Scritpure is always clear, plain and obvious on the B issues. And we know the translators were “inspired”, right? Sort of like Paul writing that women will be saved in childbearing. It is the plain reading so we must agree that there is only a work of salvation for women in bearing children.

    Come on, Jerry. You are trying to insult us above with claiming we are obfuscating and rationalizing what scripture means. As if it is a sin to question such things.

    OT has stoning, too. After all, God is “unchanging”, right?

    “I challenge you all to study Joshua where God commands the Jews to commit unthinkable acts like KILL women and children and every living thing in numerous cities. Wholesale slaughter that would today be considered genocide and a crime against humanity. (Lest anyone accuse me let me state I AM NOT ADVOCATING THESE ACTIONS)

    But God ordered them and his nature is unchanging. He’s the same God then as he is today.”

    God is unchanging but the way He relates to US has changed. And you can even see such a progression of change in the way He not only relates but communicates in the OT. Now He relates to us how? It has changed once again in the NC.

    I have asked over and over. Where is the “spare the rod” passage in the NC? God is always clear about things and always repeats in the NC what is brought over from the OC.

    And one of the things He tells us is not to embitter our children even though we are to discipline them. Which is a root of “disciple”. Let us work to make them disciples of Jesus.

  55. Hey Chris, If we really want to get technical then Proverbs is not for female children. It was written to a “son”. :o)

  56. Dee,

    I am against corporal punishment.

    I do not think it is necessarily a case of being abusive, I think a child can be spanked without it being abusive, but I also think that hitting a child, under any circumstances is ineffective at best and damaging at worst. We should be following the best guidelines that the experts can offer, but certainly not ignoring them simply because someone thousands of years ago decided that using a “rod” was a good thing….it isn’t.

    Like all things where the bible and science seem to come into conflict it requires one of three courses to be taken by the faithful…and they are:

    1. Follow scripture…science be damned
    2. Follow science
    3. Reinterpret scripture to make the apparent conflict disappear.

    Maybe everyone would like to classify themselves on the issue of corporal punishment.

  57. Karlton said:

    “and yet virtually every organization with expertise in child rearing and the psychological development of children agrees that spanking a child is NOT a good or healthy way to discipline children, and it can in fact cause damage to the child, both psychological and physical.”

    Karlton, I have seen some of the children raised according to what these experts this is ‘best’. And I’m sorry, I’ve seen far better results from a loving family that does practice spanking on occasion.

    There are several problems in your line of argumentation, not the least of which is the fact that psychology is perhaps the weakest and least objective of the sciences.

    Further, I don’t know how many times I have seen what is obvious to anyone who has actually had their own kids ‘confirmed’ or ‘challenged’ by some young researcher clueless about children to start with. If I had my way, no-one would be allowed to research child behavior and discipline unless they had at least 3 kids of their own.

    One of the most horrific terrors any parent can face is to be put in the hands of some young social worker fresh out of college full of ‘research results’ that hasn’t a clue what a real child is like.

    Now you may regard my comments as ignorant. But they are not. I have seen this first hand, and have a relative that has been a child social worker for over 40 years. And one of the most difficult tasks she faced was keeping young college grads from destroying already fragile family situations with their ‘research’ based ignorance.

    Spanking used with restraint as a tool of discipline by loving parents is not harmful. On the contrary, it is quite effective, and more often than not produces very well behaved and polite children. And that is simply just the way it is, research or not. And that opinion is not based on “Religious Belief”. It is based on years of experience and observation. That other methods may be equally effective I am not challenging. But I am challenging what I feel is your own ignorance as to the real effect of well administered traditional forms of discipline.

    Zeta

  58. “Karlton, I have seen some of the children raised according to what these experts this is ‘best’. .”

    You mean like the experts at the Department of Education? And we have millions of kids graduating HS who cannot read above a 6th grade level? Those experts?

    One of the biggest shockers to me was when I was doing a training project with our state and met many of the big wigs in the state dept of ed and the post secondary council of ed. Most of the senior bureaucrats never had kids of their own!

  59. Hi Zeta

    I wanted you to state what you believe to be obvious. As you know, what you are proposing would not be acceptable to people who read the Scripture in a wooden literal way. It is those people who would claim that I must discipline my kids with an actual rod in order to be a bible believing Christian. As usual, you answer very well. Have you ever though of writing a book?

    Are you following the Ken Ham brouhaha? I will write about it next week. As some have been saying , it is tit for tat. And it is long overdue.

  60. Zeta,

    No one is talking about social workers fresh out of school, I am talking about industry level expertise that is the result of years upon years of actual studies and based upon what we currently know about human and child psychology. To say that ” you have seen some of the children raised according to what these experts this is ‘best’. And I’m sorry, I’ve seen far better results from a loving family that does practice spanking on occasion”

    Implies that you have actual statistical data, you know all other things in those families are equal, you taken into consideration other actions that both parents have undertaken…or is this just “I know cause I know”.

    Having had children may give them a better understanding and empathy for the parents, but not necessarily a child. Before you say it, I am not suggesting all children are the same or should be treated the same. I think that is a discussion between the parent and the professional.

    It’s amazing that we will without hesitation, engage an expert’s advice on virtually any other topic, but when it comes to rearing children we think we are experts by virtue of having the correct plumbing.

    Some general info…

    There are many countries that legally ban and condemn the practice of corporal punishment for children such as Austria, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Cyprus, Denmark, Latvia, Croatia, Bulgaria, Germany, Israel, Iceland, Romania, Ukraine, Uruguay, Venezuela and Hungary.

    Children who are spanked or victims of other corporal punishment are more likely to have sexual problems as a teen or adult, according to new research presented today by Murray Straus, co-director of the Family Research Laboratory at the University of New Hampshire.

    Widely considered the foremost researcher in his field, Straus presented his new research findings at the American Psychological Association’s Summit on Violence and Abuse in Relationships: Connecting Agendas and Forging New Directions held Feb. 28 and 29 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Bethesda, MD.

    Straus analyzed the results of four studies and found that spanking and other corporal punishment by parents is associated with an increased probability of three sexual problems as a teen or adult:

    1. Verbally and physically coercing a dating partner to have sex.
    2. Risky sex such as premarital sex without a condom.
    3. Masochistic sex such as being aroused by being spanked when having sex.

    These results, together with the results of more than 100 other studies, suggest that spanking is one of the roots of relationship violence and mental health problems. Because there is 93 percent agreement between studies that investigated harmful side effects of spanking, and because over 90 percent of U.S. parents spank toddlers, the potential benefits for prevention of sexual and relationship violence is large, Straus says.

    Furthermore, because other research shows spanking is not more effective than other discipline methods, there is no need to expose children to the harmful effects of spanking. We can help prevent mental health problems and relationship violence from happening by a national health policy recommending never spanking,” he says.

    Straus is the co-director of the Family Research Laboratory and professor of sociology at the University of New Hampshire. He has studied spanking by large and representative samples of American parents since 1969. He is the author of “Beating The Devil Out Of Them: Corporal Punishment In American Families And Its Effects On Children.” He has been president of three scientific societies including the National Council On Family Relations, and an advisor to the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation. Much of his research on spanking can be downloaded from http://pubpages.unh.edu/~mas2.

    Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/284742

    Children who are spanked frequently at age three are more likely to be aggressive when they’re five, a recent study has found.

    The results reinforce earlier studies which have found that children who are spanked have lower IQ scores and that frequent spanking has been linked to anxiety and behavior problems and higher risk of violent or criminal behavior, depression and excessive alcohol use.

    Researchers surveyed 2,500 mothers across the United States.

    Nearly half said they had not spanked their three-year-old in the past month, while 27.9 percent said reported one or two spankings and 26.5 reported spanking more than twice.

    Two years later, the mothers who had spanked their children more frequently reported higher levels of aggression such as arguing, screaming, fighting, destroying things, cruelty or bullying in their five-year-olds.

    The results held true even when researchers accounted for potentially confounding factors such as the presence of aggression within the family and parental stress, depression and drug or alcohol use.

    “There are ways to discipline children effectively that do not involve hitting them and that can actually lower their risk for being more aggressive,” said lead author Catherine Taylor of the Tulane University School of Public Health.

    “So the good news is, parents don’t have to rely on spanking to get the results that they want,” Taylor said in a press release.

    “If they avoid spanking but instead use effective, non-physical types of discipline, their child has a better chance of being healthier, and behaving better later.”

    The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly opposes striking children for any reason and recommends time outs, withholding privileges and logical consequences like taking putting toys away for the rest of the day if a child does not pick them up.

    There are just the tip of the iceberg, in terms of current thought and research on spanking.

    Lydia,

    Those kids can’t read primarily because of poor parenting, not poor educating, and where education does sometimes fall on its face, it tend to be because they try to accommodate parents for fear of law suits. Parents refuse to allow teachers to hold students back a grade, They get called on the carpet when kids don’t study and therefore don’t pass exams, parents get irate when good teachers try to either keep a child after school to help them, or don’t spend all day with “their” child at the expense of the ones in class who are putting the time and energy. I am not saying schools are without their issues as well, but a big chunk of the problem that kids have in learning is their home environment NOT the teachers….and I hope you are not suggesting more spanking at home would help.

  61. Karlton,

    The research you raise has serious issues. For one, Straus especially tends to lump all forms of corporal punishment together. That is (likely due to the bias of the researcher) no serious attempt is made to differentiate the different applications of corporal punishment. For example, they do not differentiate between spanking that is performed in anger or at inappropriate ages from spanking that is performed strictly as a controlled disciplinary action and only under those circumstances for which other means are ineffective.

    Now consider in as a counter these two studies, which very carefully isolated the various parameters I mention, and in which the following was found:

    Researchers at the Center for Family Research at Iowa State University studied 332 families to examine both the impact of corporal punishment and the quality of parental involvement on three adolescent outcomes — aggressiveness, delinquency, and psychological well-being. The researchers found a strong association between the quality of parenting and each of these three outcomes. Corporal punishment, however, was not adversely related to any of these outcomes.

    The studies in question are:

    Simons, Ronald L., Johnson, Christine, and Conger, Rand D. “Harsh Corporal Punishment versus Quality of Parental Involvement as an Explanation of Adolescent Maladjustment.” Journal of Marriage and Family. 1994; 56:591-607.

    Olweus, Dan. “Familial and Tempermental Determinants of Aggressive Behavior in Adolescent Boys: A Causal Analysis.” Developmental Psychology. 1980; 16:644-660.

    And this goes back to my earlier point about psychology being the weakest of the sciences. A researcher like Strauss who is rabidly opposed to spanking will not explore all the parameters necessary to differentiate what is known by most people who believe spanking is a valid form of punishment: Spanking should never be done in anger and only over a certain range of ages and only for children that are particularly aggressive or unresponsive to more passive measures.

    Strauss in particular represents the extreme, and his conclusions are absurd relative to what is reality. Most of the maladies he attributes to spanking have INCREASED in our permissive society and as we have moved AWAY from spanking as a common form of discipline.

    Again, by not differentiating good parenting and spanking practices, he stacks the deck in his favor by treating all physical discipline, including those elements anyone would classify as abusive, as ‘spanking’. It is no surprise that beatings and physical abuse seen in anger would produce some of the results he claims.

    The counter to this is that the researchers try not to apply their own subjective opinions to the kind of physical discipline, treating some as ‘good’, and others as ‘bad’. However, this is absurd. There are many elements in life which in moderation are beneficial, but in excess are harmful. If the researchers do not try to separate out cause and effect by the kind of physical discipline, then they automatically eliminate the ability to determine if such a variation in effect exists. This is especially true for elements for which the maximum negative potential far exceeds the maximum positive potential.

    For example, a glass of red wine per day is quite helpful to ones heart. 10 glasses is not. 25 glasses per day will likely destroy your liver. And over 100 glasses per day may well kill you. If we just treat ‘drinking wine’ as a single variable, the overwhelming conclusion will be it is very bad for you and the benefits of a single glass per day will be completely obscured.

    Zeta

  62. I have a question. What is your reason for spanking if you believe in spanking?

    IOW, what advantage does it have over alternatives?

    What is motivating you to promote or defend the practice?

  63. What is my motivation for using spanking: For certain ages and certain states of mind in the child it is the only method I know of that is truly effective. In general, discipline inflicts some kind of pain, either physical or emotional. Most children don’t want to hurt. So they will avoid incurring the discipline. Over time, this guides their behavior into acceptable norms.

    However, Most (all?) non-physical forms of discipline require the child to be rational for them to work. Often children simply are not rational. Reason will not work in those situations. The aversion to physical pain is built in and not dependent on reason. So, when a child is not rational, reason based discipline will not work or works very poorly. OTOH, spanking will work because it bypasses reason and goes straight to a reflex response to avoid the pain.

    Zeta

  64. Zeta,

    You made more than a few accusations concerning Straus…do you evidence for those accusations?

  65. Zeta, thanks for answering my question.

    There is so much complexity to these issues but I think we might also have a different way of viewing these issues.

    I was in the thrift shop two days ago and a lady was there with a little one that was about a year old and the baby kept grabbing things and dropping things out of the cart. The poor mom was frustrated and told her to stop and asking, “Why are you doing this to me?” (note: I am not citing a story with an abusive parent but one that was seeing things from a different perspective.) I wanted to tell the mom that the baby was intent on learning some simple Newtonian physics and was conducting some hypothesis testing but I wasn’t sure how the mom would receive my observations so I held my tongue.

    The baby and mom had two different agendas. If you look from the young child’s perspective, some of the more advearial elements of parenting lift.

    More later.

  66. Ok,

    At this point I find myself in an odd situation. The extremity of the position of Karlton and some others (that ALL spanking is bad) has put me in the position of having to defend spanking in a way that I am personally uncomfortable with. I am not for any kind of angry beating of children, or any form of discipline that is administered out of anger rather than love. Most of you that are against spanking see any kind of corporal punishment as a beating and can only see me as advocating abuse, which I am not.

    As a result, I’m going to say a couple of more things and move on from this topic. Karlton, sorry, I’m not going to pursue a long discussion about Strauss. His research is one sided. There is research that counters his conclusions and his conclusions and contrary to my experience, absurdly so. Spanking has not resulted in sexual problems for me or anyone I know. It has not produced aggressive behavior in my kids, nor did it in me. And so on.

    I am going to finish with an example that I think shows the effective use of spanking and also illustrates why I would keep it in my list of punishments, albeit with caveats as to its use.

    A child, say 3 or 4 years old, is out playing in the yard with the parent with a ball. The ball accidentally goes into the street. The child begins to run to go get the ball, and a car is coming down the street. The parent yells to the child, ‘stop johnny’ and begins running to grab the child. But its a really close situation, and all the while the parent is yelling stop and the kid makes it into the street, but the driver sees him and slows down. The parent gets the child and heads inside.

    Now, if the parent spanks the child in a way that produces a good bit of pain over this (but no real physical harm – just the stinging pain on the buttocks), most children having experience that ‘trauma’ of the spanking are pretty much guaranteed not to run out in the road again like that when the parent is yelling stop!. And that is because the aversion to pain is instinctive. Further, it is pretty much obvious to the kid why he is getting spanked. The parent cares about them and does not want them to be hurt in a way that is permanent. The danger from the car is very real. The danger from the spanking is perceived, but not real.

    Now, If the parent sits the child down and explains how dangerous that situation was and how upset they were and how much the child might have been hurt, the child may or may not get it.

    If the parent takes away TV for a week, they may or may not get it.

    Personally, I do not trust anything but a good honest spanking to be sufficient to ensure that child will never run out into the street again. And here is the deal. The spanking if properly done will not harm the child. Yet it may well save his life in the end, because the second time such a situation arises the parent and child may not be so lucky. And while I know spanking will be effective, I do not know of anything else I can count on to be that effective.

    I don’t know about you, but I would gladly then administer the spanking in that situation rather than take a chance on some other unproven disciplinary ‘technology’.

    And that is likely where I am going to bow out of this discussion. On to other things 😉

    Zeta

  67. I should have said :Properly administered (non-excessive/non abusive) spanking has not produced …

    Zeta

  68. On last comment to respond to DB – I have already read both the paper being critiqued by your link and the critique itself. From my perspective, the critique you link to is itself flawed. I find especially absurd the idea that all forms of physical abuse should be lumped together into a single variable to ‘avoid bias from the researcher’. It would be quite simple to just classify the physical punishment according to perceived pain/ amount of real physical damage/time to heal/age of the child and then see what the correlation was between various degrees/frequencies of punishment and negative behaviors. There is no need to make a value judgment on the punishment itself to differentiate between the types of physical punishment and examine their effects.

    I believe other studies that have attempted to make such a differentiation show that there is no correlation or even a negative correlation (positive benefit) between spanking used as I described above and negative behaviors. That is, while excessive spanking in terms of frequency or force may well be bad, moderate use of spanking is not, to the point it can have positive overall effect.

    Zeta

  69. The scenario of the child running into the street has been raised by many people defending spanking and I will respectfully disagree with the conclusion that this is an appropriate occasion to spank a child.

    The parent is emotional because of the near miss. (which is actually a near hit but I digress.)

    The logic that a hard spanking will deter the child in the future is flawed. If a child is still in a stage where he or she is impulsive he or she needs to be protected from traffic not spanked out of an understandable emotional reaction to seeing a child in such a dangerous situation.

    I believe the studies you cite in support of spanking and what is being discussed here has some merit. I believe that what is being observed is the benefit of good basic loving parenting. I believe this will actually overcome some of our flaws and our children have the potential to turn out fine in spite of some of the things we do *because* we love them and that love compensates for our shortcomings.

  70. Zeta,

    I guess we are going to have to agree to disagree…in my opinion, and that of an overwhelming majority of child care professionals in numerous countries there seems to be evidence that spanking, of any type, causes or has a high likelihood of producing problems down the road.

    In addition, I can not justify, in my own mind, an adult needing to inflict physical pain on a child when there are many other equally effective and potentially less harmful methods available.

    As in many other areas, the ends cannot and should not be used to justify the means. Hitting a child to intentionally cause physical pain by an adult is inexcusable.


    In conclusion, I think every person, whether they have children or not, should seriously consider whether Is it a good idea to subject children to pain and voilence and public humiliation as a way of encouraging healthy emotional development and good behavior?

  71. Zeta, DB, Karl etc,

    I want to add one perspective. I happen to know Zeta. He is one of the kindest, most controlled people that I know. He gives me much to live up to. I also know his offspring and they would do any of us proud. I think he is a good example of how, if one should choose to spank, to do it right. I think that we all may agree to disagree in the area of judicious spanking. What is being discussed here is the flat out abusive punishment of kids.

    Having served in the community as a public health nurse, I know the type of kids these studies are picking up. It is the angry, swat across the face parent. The abusive parent who spanks while drugged out. The parent who has no time for his kid and gets annoyed if the child should demand attention.The exhausted parent who is working two jobs and living in poverty and has no reserve left to handle a child. These kids do grow up to have significant problems. I know, I have been around long enough to see the cycle repeat.

    The few times I spanked, it was in direct response to a kid running into traffic and it was quite effective. I am not saying that is the only response possible but I sure understand it. I have asked my kids if they remember being spanked and they do not. The key here is prayerful, thoughtful response on the part of the parent.

    And, if truth be told, in certain times of my life, I would get angry and frustrated. I am glad Idid not choose to spank during those times in my life. True confession: I yelled at them a few times as well. I admit that I was a bit out of control and spanking would have been wrong in that circumstance.Usually I would send the kids to their rooms, think of an adequate punishment and go on.

    Thinking about myself, I know that I am a rather common human being who is trying to follow God. I know I make mistakes in all aspects of my life, including how I interact with my kids. So many books which advocate spanking will always say to not do it in anger. I have often pondered that point. I frankly think it is very, very difficult not to spank in anger. If people would be honest, I bet a fair number of them who subscribe to “its OK to spank but no spank in anger” school would admit to spanking in anger and frustration. And that is when it gets dicey. I personally think kids get over being yelled at a couple of times a bit easier than being spanked in anger. But, I have no research to support this, only a hunch. So, for me, except for those few times involving frank danger for my kids, I did not spank. However, I did discipline and my kids remember many of those instances very clearly.

  72. When a child runs out into the street it is very scary for the mother. When she finally has the child safe, she is beside herself. Her reaction alone is enough to scare the child and leave the impression that this was very serious. I don’t believe that the physical pain is necessary. That said, I certainly understand the desire of the mother to make the incident as memorable as possible.

  73. I agree totally with Karlton.. children should never be hit EVER.

    As for Zeta and this hypothetical situation of a child running out of the yard into the road – WHY is this child IN a yard that it is able to get out of ?? My children played in our REAR yard – means it was a closed in area. No running out there! I really feel that a lot of these situations are parent made problems and they should be far more mindful of their children.

    I am a 56 yr old grandmother and to most pro spankers I was not ‘abused’… well I sure as heck felt / feel abused! Spanking this quiet, gentle child filled me with anger, hate and resentment. I couldn’t understand why they didn’t just TELL me or talk with me. I have never understood why to some parents, saying ‘sorry’ is not enough – because they choose to think they know what is in their child’s mind or because they feel that a good spanking will somehow magically clear the air, make the child ‘pay’ some how ?? I felt from my earliest memory that hitting another person was wrong, and I was incensed. My parents lost my love, respect and trust. I couldn’t trust someone who hits me. I couldn’t and can’t respect anyone that hits another.

    And yes, I did raise my children without violence – and I do believe spanking is violence. I also knew that if I HAD have hit my children they would have been a lot more difficult to live with.

    I do not believe in my wildest nightmares that Christ would hit a child. Love is the greatest thing. And hitting ‘with love’ is NOT possible. As a parent you might think so. As a child – I felt hated, hurt, and totally unloved – and just having that ‘talk’ after being spanked of ‘oh we love you’ told me nothing except they lied. I can imagine by now, you think that I am an ‘angry’ individual etc. Usually I am very quiet, seldom if ever losing my temper. However, I do get angry about hitting children.

    Now, if you can spank, and guarantee that child doesn’t feel anger, [you have been instructed not to anger after all], if you can guarantee that it doesn’t mind being hurt, if you can guarantee it doesn’t go on to feel emotionally damaged as an adult then perhaps you are right. But I don’t believe spanking solves anything or teaches anything. I don’t learn in an atmosphere of fear of being hit. And if you only fear being hit, what are you the child learning about deciding right from wrong? You can’t force a person or a child to do something and believe in it – you can only give them the right tools in the sense of using their own brains to work it out for themselves.

    Discipline as we all know means to teach – and to teach with grace and love, one can do that without hitting.

  74. TealRose,

    Sorry for the delay. I was beginning to feel like the only one who felt that way. I guess what surprises me the most, is that, in spite of whether people believe that other methods are just as effective, why in the world would you argue “for” hitting a child.

    Strange world we all live in.

  75. Karl, I agree…for me there is NO difference between hitting an adult, an animal or a child – except I find it even more heinous to hit a child. You are not the only one who feel that way – there is a whole world of us over here in Europe. True there are still those that feel that spanking a child should be allowed – but most of us don’t. As my two children grew up – they are 31 & 27 now – I can honestly say that I know of NO other parents that spanked, and none our children’s friends were spanked. It just wasn’t an issue.

    Indeed it is a strange world we live in …