What so many pro-spankers fail to admit is what spanking truly is. They use all kinds of verbal gymnastics, to avoid explaining spanking as it really is. The intent of the parent is to use physical pain to make misbehavior undesirable to the child. They say that the are motivated by love, and they believe that justifies their actions. Though, it will never change the fact that they are using their size and strength to put a child in a helpless position, so that they can slap the buttocks, thus causing enough pain and fear, in the hopes the child will never repeat the misbehavior again.
And that statement that they don’t leave a mark, how does one determine what that means. Is bruising, leaving a mark? Is causing redness, mean leaving a mark? Where is the line, and when does it cross into abuse?
I believe, while not all spankings can be classified as physical abuse, they all are a clear violation of a child’s physical boundaries. I would say that “loving” spankings would actually be more classed as psychological abuse, because it forces a child to choose between calling their parent out as a liar, or submitting to being hurt and forcing themselves to agree with their parents. And it’s even worse when parents bring God into it, saying that God commands them to do it. Thus the child wouldn’t just being going against their parents, but also God. That’s a very difficult position to put a child in. How many adults would be able to stand up and disagree, when the stakes are so high?
I’ve dealt with a great deal of pro-spankers and EVERY time they emphatically insist that spanking is not hitting, and that, if done “correctly,” it is not abuse.
There are so many holes in these two arguments! First, spanking IS hitting! Let’s look at the definitions of “spank” and “hit”:
1. Verb: “to strike (a person, usually a child) with the open hand, a slipper, etc., especially on the buttocks, as in punishment.”
2. Noun: “a blow given in spanking; a smart or resounding slap” (www.dictionary.com).
1. Verb: “to deal a blow or stroke to.”
2. Verb: “to come into violent contact with” (www.dictionary.com).
As we can clearly see, these three definitions are pretty similar. Because spanking and hitting is always intended to inflict pain on a child, it is covered under the definition of abuse. Pain means harm is being done to the body. The body uses pain to alert us that injury is either taking place or is about to take place.
There are many euphemisms used when speaking about corporal punishment, such as spank, whack, beat, whip, tap, smack, swat, paddle, physical discipline, correction, and slap. The need for euphemisms indicates a certain amount of denial within our society regarding the harm of inflicting physical pain on smaller human beings.
Hitting is never used to describe corporal punishment among those that support and practice it. The reality is that no matter how we try to make it sound nicer, we cannot spank without hitting the child with either an open hand or an object. It physically is the exact same action.
Second, every spank/hit causes physical and emotional pain even if it’s done “lovingly.” Love does not mitigate the emotional, psychological, or spiritual harm of physical punishment. In fact, it makes it worse!
“Many people believe that if a mother spanks her child, but is generally warm and affectionate toward her child, the spanking will not be harmful. The fact is, science does not support this cultural belief. We have known for some time that spanking is strongly linked to increased aggression in young children. Recent research in a study of over 3,000 children now shows that the warmth of the mother does not prevent the negative effects of spanking. This means children who are spanked are at much greater risk for being more aggressive – period. A mother’s warmth does not decrease the risk. Wow! How can that be?
It is important to understand what causes the increase in aggression. One obvious reason is, violence is being modeled and children are incredible mimics. Even more importantly, spanking interferes with proper development of the brain’s regulatory equipment, which develops in the first five years of life” (Peters, 2013, http://stopspanking.org/2013/06/25/maternal-warmth-doesnt-make-spanking-less-harmful/).
The fact is, being hurt by the people who are supposed to protect and love you is extremely traumatizing. Therefore, even if it’s done “correctly,” (I’ll never understand how one can “correctly” inflict pain on a child!) it still harms children emotionally. This fits the definition of abuse.
Also, I read a disturbing blog from a Christian pro-spanker about how she spanks/hits her infants and toddlers with paint brush sticks and will use a belt to spank/hit them when they’re older. She had her husband spank/hit her with a belt to see how it felt and said it wasn’t that painful. Many Christian pro-spanking advocates recommend parents “flick” themselves before spanking/hitting their children to make sure they don’t hit too hard. Yet, they say that the spanking must be painful in order to be “effective.”
I want to remind everyone that children’s bodies are usually much more sensitive and vulnerable than ours. What may not hurt YOU, will HURT the child. Not to mention the emotional and spiritual pain being inflicted on them by those who are suppose to love and protect them. Plus, we all have different tolerances for pain. What would hurt my husband a little would hurt me A LOT! Don’t use your pain tolerance to justify spanking/hitting your children.
There is a video going around Facebook from a mom who thought it would be funny to show the world that her little boy put on ten pairs of underwear to protect himself from being spanked/hit for, yes this makes sense, hitting his sister. Then she proudly announces that she still spanked/hit him on the leg.
The child looks afraid and has a shy smile on his face during the video. But, pro-spankers can’t see that. They insist that he looks “just fine.”
Then the pro-spankers proceed to laugh at the child’s fear and pain. They applaud his mom for inflicting pain on him, then taking a video of him showing how many pairs of underwear he wore, and proudly proclaiming that his efforts to protect himself didn’t work.
A lot of the pro-spankers insisted that they were not damaged from being spanked/hit as children. They kept laughing at the pain. Then when people like me tried to show them that this wasn’t funny, and that children are human beings too that never deserve to be hit, they went into attack mode.
So, you think you’re not damaged? Think again!
1. Do you laugh at videos showing children fearful and in pain?
2. Do you believe spanking/hitting children is “fine” and even “good?”
3. Are you defensive when people like me stand up for children?
4. Are you unwilling to consider gentle yet firm discipline?
If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions, I’m afraid you are. And if you answered “No” to these questions, then you probably understand you have been damaged by spanking and don’t ever want to hurt your children in the same way.
Here’s the thing. Most damage from spanking/hitting is unseen unless you know what you are looking for. We now have mounds of research from scholars such as Gershoff, Straus, Holden, Turner, and Miller showing that corporal punishment puts children at a higher risk of anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence, brain damage, denial of pain, anger, aggression, learning problems, sexual dysfunction, and continuing the cycle of violence toward children. It even puts children at risk for health problems later in life. Just Google these names and tons of valid, reliable studies will come up. Plus more from others.
People can be sick with cancer and one would never know it by looking at them. Appearances are often deceiving. Pro-spankers tend to exhibit symptoms such as lack of empathy, aggression, and just plain meanness.
So, my husband and I are grieving his mom who went Home August 8th, 2015 and it’s become more and more obvious how the United States wants to repress pain as soon as possible. Any negative emotion is pushed into a time frame, and once that time frame is over, it’s time to “get over it.”
Western society minimalizes everything unless the media finds it sensational and can then exploit others’ pain.
It wasn’t like this in Bible times. People spent weeks or months in mourning. It wasn’t rushed. You could actually mourn without pressure. Now, once the person is in the ground, it’s time to move on.
Well, I’m not ready. Grief does not work that way, especially when it’s aMOM!
Watching my husband grieve his mom has been unbearable. She carried him in her womb, nursed him, and did all the wonderful mom things with him.
How in the world do you simply “get over” that? Guess what! You DON’T! Especially when she was a wonderful mom that never intentionally hurt him.
She was my second mom for 17 years. She fully accepted me into her family. With my disability AND our age difference, she could have chosen to be like my dad and reject me and disown her son. But she and her husband welcomed me right into the family as did the rest of my husband’s family.
To be hurting this much actually makes me happy in a way because to hurt THIS much means she did something VERY RIGHT. I’d choose this grief over the weird, yucky grief I had with my dad who abused me.
We need to stop teaching children from infancy that happiness is the only acceptable emotion because it’s not. It has created a society where pain and suffering must be dealt with as quickly as possible because it makes others feel uncomfortable. God never intended that. Validate your children’s negative feelings. Help them learn healthy ways of dealing with negative emotions.
Then, teach them how to help others who are in pain. Because while anyone can put a smile on his/her face and act “fine,” the pain is REAL no matter how old you are. It helps if not only God, but other people actually come along side you and help carry some of the pain. We can’t stop it, but we can help carry it!
Romans 12:15 New American Standard Bible (NASB):
“Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.”
Hebrews 4:14-16, NASB: “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
I love this passage! God wants us to come to Him with confidence. That means no matter what we’ve done or how we are feeling, we can approach God in humbleness and reverence knowing He will always accept, love, and forgive us. He also sympathizes with whatever we are going through.
“See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him” (1 John 3:1, NASB).
Can you say the same about your children? Do your children have enough confidence in you to come to you for anything and everything? What about you? Are you totally confident in going to God for anything and everything?
Sadly, the answer to these questions for many is “no.” Our world tends to use threats and fear to control children. Infants are left to cry-it-out instead of being sensitively responded to when they cry. Children are spanked/hit and otherwise punished instead of being guided through problems. Churches teach that God is mean and angry instead of loving and merciful.
Treating children harshly makes them lose confidence in us and, ultimately, God. How can anyone approach someone in total confidence if they might hurt or reject us? I know I can’t.
I know a great deal of people who are so used to being rejected, hurt, and treated harshly/abusively that they struggle to trust God. They’ve been spanked/hit in His name and fear that He will hurt them whenever they mess up. Some Christians find the thought of someday seeing Jesus face to face and His unconditional love for them more terrifying than the thought of going to Hell due to how they were treated as children. That is beyond sad!
We need to do our best to be Christlike with our children. That means responding to our babies’ cries every time they need us. It also means being willing to help children when they openly tell us they’ve made a mistake. This does not mean being permissive as many may think. This means stepping up and saying, “Thank you for telling me. What can you do to make this right? How can I help you?”
Connection, as L. R. Knost says, is key to guiding children of every age through problems. Connection leads to trust. And trust leads to confidence in us, and ultimately, God. God wants our total trust and confidence in Him.
Also, let’s not forget the second part of the introductory Scripture. God sympathizes with us! Jesus was 100% human and 100% God. He suffered from humanness. He was thoroughly tempted by satan and did not sin. And yet, when we sin, He doesn’t sit up there and wag His finger at us and say, “You disobeyed me so I must spank you.” No, instead He gets on our level and says, “You messed up. I forgive you. How can I help you make this right?” Yes, we suffer the natural consequences of our actions, but God will help us through it. He gives us mercy, grace, love, and forgiveness.
If you read this post, you know my husband and I are grieving the loss of his mom. Again, I’m so grateful God can sympathize with our pain. I’m so grateful God doesn’t punish us when we mess up usually because we are hurting inside and that hurt can come out as us lashing out.
God wants us to come to Him with total confidence. And since we are responsible for leading our children to Him, we need to do our best to help them be able to come to us with total confidence. If they can’t, they’ll find someone else to place their confidence in and that person may not have their best interests at heart.
Yesterday my mother-in-law went Home to be with the Lord. Today is the 12th anniversary of my dad going Home.
I am am filled with grief as I write this post. Thankfully, last week my husband and I were able to visit her. She and I were quite close. I miss her so much.
She was such a wonderful, kind, generous, loving, and gentle mother to my husband and his sister. When my husband and I began dating, she totally accepted me into their family. She beamed with joy on our wedding day.
My husband and his sister have all happy memories of her. She wasn’t perfect, but she was a great mom. And that is her legacy!
My dad, however, was physically, emotionally, and verbally abusive to me. I hate that that is his legacy as I can’t deny what he did to me. Yes, he was often loving, but after 33 years, it’s the yucky stuff that still comes to mind when I think of him and that makes me sad. It’s especially hard on days like this to remember him because he refused to heal our relationship while he was still here.
It’s an interesting thing. The more a parent hurts a child even if the parent is loving at times, it is those harsh, abusive times that come to mind most when thinking about that parent. Yet, if a parent is loving, gentle, kind, and empathetic, THAT is what the child will also remember the most.
No matter how “lovingly” you hurt your children, they will remember those times more even if they try to deny it.
Do you want your legacy to be how you inflicted pain on your children? Or do you want your legacy to be how you loved them and positively disciplined them?
It’s up to you and until you die, it’s never too late to repair and heal the relationship with your children. I wish my dad had repaired our relationship before he died in 2003.
I’m so grateful my mother-in-law left behind a wonderful legacy for her children and to everyone who had the pleasure of knowing her. And even though my mom is still alive, I’m grateful her legacy is positive. She sacrificed so much for me.
For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.
According to this Scripture, we are no longer to be afraid, especially of God. As I explained in this post, we can’t truly love, trust, or respect someone of which we are afraid.
If we have accepted Christ’s amazing gift of grace and forgiveness, then we are His children as this verse says. We should no longer be slaves to fear. Sadly, though, many of us are still slaves to fear due to how we were raised as well as had church doctrine.
Fear is not a good thing. When a child’s brain is wired with fear from harsh/abusive parenting, he/she will likely suffer with anxiety for the rest of his/her life. This is not good and can make the person feel like a failure because no matter how hard he/she tries, he/she can’t always overcome the intense, overwhelming fear and anxiety.
Yet, according to this Scripture, God loves us so much that He wants us to call Him, “Abba! Father!” which means Daddy.
It’s not easy to call Him or our earthly fathers “Daddy” in a totally trusting manner when we’re scared of Him or them. We may do it to please our earthly fathers, but it’s not out of complete trust.
Children need to be taught that they’re completely safe with us and their Heavenly Daddy. They should know without a shadow of a doubt that neither their earthly parents or their Heavenly Daddy will never intentionally hurt them.
Please use trust, connection, and love to parent.
And we, adults, should get used to calling God, “Daddy!”