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Should We Spank Our Children?

By bro Lee Tian Seng

There are many objections to parents using spanking as a mean of disciplining their children. Some think that it will cause parents to physically abuse their children, while others think that its use teaches children to use violence to solve their problems. Of course, one can abuse spanking. But if we understand the biblical teaching and purpose of spanking, we will know how to use it appropriately.

What does the Scripture teach about spanking? Spanking is a form of corrective discipline. The right to use it belongs to parents who have the duty to instruct their children in the way of the Lord. Its use is stated in the Bible.

The purpose of spanking is to correct children and put them away from their foolish ways. Children do not know much about right and wrong, and are easily drawn into doing what is wrong. When children throw tantrums and are rude toward their parents, parents should not let them continue to behave this way but should discipline them, otherwise they are likely to grow up to be adults that are demanding, inconsiderate and rude.

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

Spanking is to be executed when there is still hope (especially when children are young). Neglecting to spank our children could result in them growing up with bad behaviour and conduct. If parents do not spank their children for stealing or lying, they may grow up with these habits that set them up to be thieves and cheats. Disciplining children when they are young would set them up to be useful and well-behaved adults.

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

The motivation of spanking is not to inflict pain on our children for our own selfish reasons. Parents are given authority over their children to instruct and discipline them, not to abuse them. The Bible teaches that the motivation of spanking is love. Love in the sense that we want our children to learn what is good and right before God. Failure to discipline can result in children growing up with bad habits and doing evil.

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

God, our heavenly Father, disciplines His children when they sin against Him. The Scriptures say that He chastises (corrective discipline by punishment) men because He loves them.

Hebrews 12:5-6 - And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; for whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives.”

Similarly, God expects parents to chastise their children. Children who are not disciplined are like children having no parents.

Hebrews 12:7-8 - If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons.

Parents chasten children for their good, so they should learn to submit to their chastening. They are to endure it because the end result is the fruit of righteousness.

Hebrews 12:9-11 - Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

We know that we should spank our children for the purpose of disciplining them.

How then are we to do it? I believe that spanking needs to be done with instruction. It will be more effective since its purpose is to teach. Children need to understand what wrong they did that deserves the punishment.

Spanking should be carried out in a measured manner. Parents should not use instruments that could cause major and permanent injuries to their children, or beat up their children in a moment of uncontrolled anger or great frustration.

While spanking can quickly stop our children’s bad behaviour, we should not overuse it or use it as the sole means of disciplining our children. We still need to teach them so they understand what they have done wrong and why they are punished. We want our children to learn to behave rather than just behave out of fear of punishment.

Finally, parents need to be consistent in the use of spanking. For example, they must explain the rules clearly to their children so that they will understand what rules they broke that deserve spanking. They need to feel that they are fairly treated. Parents also need to punish when the need arises. The spanking for a mistake that happens today, should deserve spanking if it happens again in another day. If we are not consistent, the message of the discipline that we give to our children is not clear, and will confuse them.

These are some suggestions on how spanking can be done in an appropriate and effective way.

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