Guest Post: Kinderen Van Mijn Hart (Children Of My Heart) By Hannah Klassen

They twist the words, thus, making us out to be fools.  They are very good at their verbal gymnastics. I fall to the floor; the grief within my heart weighs down on me like a boulder. Tears flow down my cheeks, like a river.  I weep for thousand years.

Oh, *Kinderen van mijn hart, they hurt you, and they confuse your minds, they make you believe that you deserved it, that it was love that drove them to do it. Oh my dear little ones, so young, so trusting, and they twist that and warp that.

Oh beloved Papa, the darkness consumes and devours, distorts and destroys. How dare they use Your name!  How dare they say it’s Your will and Your command!  For what they do is of great darkness. To wound a child like that.  It is not just the body they harm, but also the heart, soul, spirit and mind. They say that they do it out love, but what kind of love would force a child into a helpless position and strike them, inflicting pain and fear?

While within their hearts, they have great love for their children, but what drives them to slap the buttocks is not love, but fear.  It is fear that drives their hand.  Fear of what will happen if they don’t.  Fear of what others will think if they don’t. Fear of what God will do to them if they don’t.

Oh, what a twisted web of deception, those who sit on their thrones and tell us what to do, that their way is the right way.  Why have we made them our “gods,” and obey them without question?  They are mere humans, like us.  So why do we take their words as if they are holy?  Just because their kids appear to be wonderful, productive, and responsible citizens. We know that things aren’t always what they appear.  How many times have horrible crimes become known and we cry out in shock, because we really bought the act that person was playing.  We say, “how could they have done that?”  They were such a good person and we list off all the things that we believe makes someone a good person.
Are spankings from God?  Does spanking cause a child to fear?  Is there fear in love or does love cast out fear?  Does it cause a child, when they have done something wrong to lie, hide and escape a spanking? Does spanking soften a child’s heart or does it harden it, thus, they have less compassion for their sibling who gets spanked too?  Does it produce life, light, and love?  Does it produce peace, gentleness, kindness and compassion for others?  What is the fruit of spanking?

As I explained, and article explains, spanking isn’t violence! You obviously have no clue! My mother was spanked, her mother was spanked, I was spanked, I never felt threatened, I never felt unloved, I never felt abused, neither did my mom, or hers! And their generations where better behaved,more Morgan’s, respect and values, today people are raising spoiled rotten brats who feel privileged and manipulate and get bribed! That turns out thugs and brats! Spanking is not hitting, a big difference! Hitting is in anger, uncontrolled and teaches nothing.”


“It’s kids today who are more violent and harsh and less sympathetic! Back when I was a kid, kids where kind and we all got along, a bully was humiliated and kids stood up for bullied. The generations before where respectful and kind and had more values. Kids today are rude and brash,curse and ignore authority and rules!”


“And I work with kids! Even in early nineties/ late eighties they where better behaved! Today you can get cussed out and assaulted by a three year old! Oh….and mommy doesn’t spank so kid will never empathize because he doesn’t know what it feels like!”

When I read these words, my heart becomes broken.  If this person is the posterchild for a properly spanked kid, then we all should weep until there are no more tears to shed. When Jesus was here on earth and was with people, who was the people He hung out with?  The very people this person is calling names.

Our Papa does not see any of His children in this light.  Yes, He sees all of our brokenness and wrongdoing. But, that doesn’t cause Him to despise us, rather, it moves His heart with compassion. Tears fall from His eyes, for He feels our pain and empathizes with our struggles. When we’ve really screwed up and feel like a piece of (expletive deleted), what does Papa do?  He embraces us, holds us in His arms, and tells us over and over again that He will love us forever and ever and there is nothing we can do that will ever change that. He pours His love upon us, with eyes so soft and caring, with a face of such affection, this is our God, this is our Papa.

*Kinderen van mijn hart (children of my heart).

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Guest Post: Pro-spankers And Their Verbal Gymnastics By Hannah Klassen

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?

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Spanking ALWAYS Leaves “Marks,” Therefore It IS Abuse AND Spanking IS Hitting!

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”:

Spank:

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).

Hit:

1. Verb: “to deal a blow or stroke to.”
2. Verb: “to come into violent contact with”
(www.dictionary.com).

Abuse:
Abuse is defined as any thing that is harmful, injurious, or offensive. Abuse also includes excessive and wrongful misuse of anything” (Gulli & Nasser, 2002, http://www.ask.com/health/galecontent/abuse).

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.

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A note: This quote is actually from Phil Quinn. I cited him in my book.

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.

Also, this news story shows children can be killed through being physically punished.  Here are more horrific stories of children dying from being “lovingly” and calmly spanked/hit.  What if the child has a high tolerance for pain?  What if their wills don’t break?  That’s when we see these deaths.  Repeat spankings cause tissue to break down which can eventually enter the bloodstream and kill the child.

One last thing to consider is children with dark skin have to endure much more pain before bruises, welts, and abrasions are visible.  This is not fair!

Yes, all spanking is hitting!  And spanking is abuse!  Period!  If we can’t spank/hit adults or animals, why should we be able to spank/hit children?  They are humans too!

Instead of spanking/hitting children, please use true discipline.  That IS Biblical!  Spanking/hitting is NOT Biblical whatsoever!

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References:

Gulli & Nasser. (2002).  Abuse.  http://www.ask.com/health/galecontent/abuse.

Greven, P. (1992). Spare the Child. New York, NY: Vintage Books.

Peters, R. (2013). Maternal Warmth Doesn’t Make Spanking Less Harmful.  http://stopspanking.org/2013/06/25/maternal-warmth-doesnt-make-spanking-less-harmful/.

All About “Gentle Firmness!”

As an early childhood professional and Christian, it is important for me to dispel the widely held myth that God wants us to spank our children. Leaving infants to cry-it-out is another big trend within some Christian circles. Neither of these practices are Biblical, and are actually quite damaging to the young brain. This is why I wrote the book, Gentle Firmness. Christian parents need to be informed that the mainstream Christian parenting advice is not only not Biblical, but it deeply scars their children.

With my deep love of young children, I have always struggled with the rod verses in the book of Proverbs that seem to advocate spanking children, because seeing how children react to being spanked, and knowing what I know about how young children learn, it just never made sense that God would want children to be spanked. For example, I saw the heartbreaking event of a wonderful Christian mother who truly wanted to do the best for her children, slap her toddler’s hand for the first time because he kept touching something she didn’t want him to. It took a couple slaps before he confusingly looked at his stinging hand then at his mom to try to figure out why she hit him. I’ve also seen children “lovingly” spanked and still freeze up when they disobeyed. Interestingly, when positive discipline was used with these children, they cooperated.

Let me briefly explain that the Biblical rod was a huge heavy walking stick with spikes on one end of it. Shepherds never hit their sheep with it nor did they break the sheep’s leg. The rod was used to protect the sheep from predators. The Hebrew word for the rod is Shebet. This is symbolic for authority and discipline. It was never intended to be used to hit young children.

Another thing is that if God truly wanted children to be spanked, there would be zero neurological, psychological, or spiritual harm done to the children. But research shows otherwise. Even so called “lovingly” spanking is very harmful. And if some Christians are wary of research, many researchers actually are Christians. I cover this research in depth in my book. Romans 1 says we can learn much about God by looking at His creation.

I can also attest that leaving infants to cry-it-out always harms as crying is the only way infants can communicate. Sure, they eventually stop and “sleep” when left to cry-it-out, but it’s not the healthy sleep people believe it is. Rather, their brains are literally shutting down from stress. Then the learned helplessness sets in. Infants learn to mistrust themselves and their caregivers when their cries are not consistently and respectfully responded to. Just because allowing them to cry “worked” and they appear fine, doesn’t mean damage didn’t occur. As an early childhood professional, I cannot recommend cry-it-out ever. Infants need a response when they cry. A little fussing with our support as they fall asleep is ok, but ignoring their outright cries is not.

Understanding child development is crucial to disciplining children appropriately. When we see that God actually created children to go through each developmental stage, we can figure out kinder, merciful ways of guiding them through each stage. The Bible says that children are blessings from God in Psalm 127:3. Yet, more often than not, they are treated as little sinners in need of the devil beaten out of them. Jesus says we are to be like children in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven in Matthew 18. Jesus raised the status of children. I also discuss attachment theory in my book as God created infants to cry in order to communicate with us. Crying is never manipulative for infants 12 months and under. God always hears and comforts us when we cry out to Him. We must do the same for our children.

The reason I named my book “Gentle Firmness” is that discipline must be gentle but firm in order to be effective. If discipline is only gentle, then it’s too permissive. If discipline is only firm, then it turns into punishment. Children need gentle but firm discipline. The principles of Attachment Parenting encourage gentle but firm discipline for all children. All children deserve sensitive, respectful care.

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The Yoke, The Pointing Finger, and The Judge

Isaiah 58:6-10

“Is this not the fast which I choose,
To loosen the bonds of wickedness,
To undo the bands of the yoke,
And to let the oppressed go free
And break every yoke?
“Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry
And bring the homeless poor into the house;
When you see the naked, to cover him;
And not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
“Then your light will break out like the dawn,
And your recovery will speedily spring forth;
And your righteousness will go before you;
The glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
“Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
You will cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’
If you remove the yoke from your midst,
The pointing of the finger and speaking wickedness,
And if you give yourself to the hungry
And satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
Then your light will rise in darkness
And your gloom will become like midday.”

This passage shows God wants to break the yoke of oppression which He did through Jesus. In fact, Jesus said, “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew11:30, NASB). Yet, many Christians do the exact opposite of what Isaiah 58:6-10 tells us to do.

Christians point their fingers at others, especially children. Christians put the yoke of oppression on others, especially children. And Christians judge!

I have been guilty of pointing fingers and judging myself. I am far from perfect.

Of course, before I get into how we do this with children, I need to comment about the most recent ways Christians are pointing fingers, placing the yoke of oppression onto others, and are judging. This week the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that gay marriage should be allowed in every state. This has Facebook going nuts. Many Christians are angry. People are arguing. Memes are going around. And many profile pictures have rainbows on them.

I’ve stayed out of it for the most part except for commenting on a few friends’ posts.

I believe the act of engaging in homosexual acts is a sin according to the Bible. I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman as even Jesus reiterated in Matthew 19:4-6. Marriage is a symbol of the covenant between God and the Church, therefore, it is Holy Matrimony. That being said, this is not a Christian nation. I’m not sure if it was ever really founded on Christian principles. What this country was founded on is freedom. That includes freedom of religion. I am free to follow Jesus and worship Him openly. There is a reason for the separation of church and state. The government has no business telling us what religion or deity to follow.

Allowing gays to marry is simply giving them freedom. Do I agree with that lifestyle? No. Is it my job to push my Biblical belief onto them? No.

I am not condoning the lifestyle of homosexuality. But, God gives us free will. They are free to live how they want. They’ll never enter into Holy Matrimony, but since this is a free country and as long as they’re not hurting anyone but themselves, I believe they should have equal rights.

If we want them to come to Jesus, we need to love them as Jesus does. We are all sinners. Stop judging, pointing fingers, and placing the yoke of oppression on them and just give them grace and love. They already know we disagree. Instead of making this such a huge deal, why not quietly show them love by remaining peaceful? It doesn’t mean we condone it. It just means we be Jesus to them.

Now, when it comes to children, many Christians also put the yoke of oppression on them, point their fingers at them, and judge them.

The primary way we put the yoke of oppression on children is putting unrealistic, unattainable expectations on them. Expecting infants to sleep through the night is unrealistic and unattainable. Expecting toddlers to control their impulses and emotions is unattainable and unrealistic. Expecting children to cheerfully obey the first time is also unattainable and unrealistic. Christians who have unrealistic, developmentally inappropriate expectations of children oppress them because they do not allow them to be children. They force children to be someone they’re not. Children are not free.

Then when children don’t live up to the unrealistic expectations, they get fingers pointing at them saying how “bratty, sinful, defiant, rotten, spoiled, and horrible” they are. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen this happen to children who were just being children. Of course, many parents point their finger at their children while rebuking them. Yet, the opening passage tells us to stop pointing our fingers at each other. This applies to children too.

Finally, many Christians judge children. They can’t negatively label children without judging them. And with judgment comes punishment by either ignoring an infant’s cries so they “learn to sleep,” which the only thing infants learn through cry-it-out is that we won’t come. They still wake up hungry, scared, in pain, sick, hot, cold, wet, poopy but they won’t cry out because they’ve learned nobody will come. This is not what God wanted. And they don’t enter a natural sleep when left to cry-it-out. Infants’ bodies shut down from all of the stress of crying and they enter a forced state of sleep.

As far as judging children and really, anyone, Jesus says not to do it.

Matthew 7:1-5 states, “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”

When we decide that a child deserves punishment for “defiant” behavior, we are judging the child. Instead of judging and meting out what we think is “proper punishment,” we must connect with and discipline the child.

Let us stop, as Christians, doing the very things God is trying to undo. Stop placing the yoke of oppression on others. Let us stop pointing our fingers at others. And let us stop judging each other. May we love one another as the Bible says over and over again.

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Born to Love and Radiate!

In Shawn Mullins’ (1999) song, Shimmer, he sings:

“Sharing with us what he knows
His shining eyes are big and blue
And all around him water flows
This world to him is new
This world to him is new
To touch a face
To kiss a smile
And new eyes see no race
The essence of a child
The essence…

He’s born to shimmer
He’s born to shine
He’s born to radiate
He’s born to live
He’s born to love but we’ll
Teach him how to hate.”

I often hear Christians say of toddlers and young children that we don’t have to teach them how to hit, kick, or bite. They are born knowing how to act “naughty.”  When Christians say this of young children, they’re referring to children’s “sinful nature.”  But, do young children really come into the world knowing how to be mean and malicious?  Based on what the Bible says and on my knowledge of child development, the answer is no!

In fact, Jesus tells us to become like little children in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven and also gives us a very stern warning regarding causing them to sin!

“At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’  And calling to Him a child, He put him in the midst of them and said, ‘Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven'” (Matthew 18:1-3, ESV).

“Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matthew 18:4-6, NASB).

 “See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven continually see the face of My Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 18:10, NASB).

And look how Jesus reacts when His disciples try to keep children from being brought to Him:

“But when Jesus saw this, He was indignant and said to them, ‘Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these'” (Mark 10:14, NASB).

You see, as the song says, we are born to shimmer and shine.  Young children are so open to God and Truth. They only act out physically when they don’t know how to verbalize to us. This has nothing to do with children being “sinful.”  Children are just learning and developing. It’s not their fault their brains are young and immature. It’s not their fault they lack verbal skills.

We are the ones, as the song says, that teach our children how to hate and stifle their lights. How?

Every time we impose our wills unnecessarily over children and treat them harshly, we’re teaching them hate and are slowly putting their lights out. Yes, most Christian parents claim they’re showing their children “love” by ignoring their cries, spanking/hitting them, and sending them to isolation. This is a form of hate.

The Bible says gentleness and compassion is true love. Harshness is not. If we want our children to truly shine, shimmer, and radiate, we need to treat them as Christ treats us.

We also need to make sure we shimmer, shine, and radiate God’s Light to all!

“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16, NASB).

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Born Sinful?

I believe the doctrine of original sin is man made like the doctrine of spanking is man made.

God created children to go through each developmental stage. Babies cry to communicate. Toddlers test boundaries and lack impulse control. Young children do not set out to sin until they are older.

God does not call children sinners. The way we view children is how they will behave. Many Christians seem to view children as “sinners” and “manipulative.” That’s Dobson’s view too as he calls them horrible degrading names in his books. This sets up an adversarial parent-child relationship.

Interestingly, God calls children blessings in Psalm 127:3. I view children as little people in need of help, guidance, and discipline (teaching).

When the focus is on cooperation instead of control, children cooperate. Children do better when we view them as God does. Young children are not capable of truly understanding sin. They even have a special knowledge of Who God is according to Matthew 25:11.

I do believe Jesus cried as a baby and screamed as a toddler because these are developmental behaviors. James 4:17 states, “Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.” This can only apply to older children and adults who truly understand sin. “Moreover, your little ones who you said would become a prey, and your sons, who this day have no knowledge of good or evil, shall enter there, and I will give it to them and they shall possess it” (Deuteronomy 1:39).

God clearly says young children do not know right from wrong. It’s up to us to gently teach and guide them through each developmental stage.

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