I don’t usually write about this topic. But today, I felt compelled to.
I have been wanting to write a post regarding a behavior that a majority of families in the U.S. practice. In fact, within the church it is RARE to find a family who does not use Spanking as a tool to deter unwanted behaviors in our children.
Spanking and yelling were the primary tools my parents used to raise us. If we did something wrong, we were yelled at, and then spanked in anger.
There are books out there that talk about doing this in “love”.
There are detailed books out there that give specific instruction, even going so far as to say if you do NOT spank, you do NOT love your children.
As a Christian parent, coming from a background steeped in physical punishment and fear based parenting, I wanted to do things differently with my children.
At the time when my boys were very little, I had actually never heard of not spanking. The popular teaching of the day was to never use your hands, because your hands were to be instruments of love.
To spank you should use a wooden spoon or spatula. This would make it so that your child didn’t fear you.
I had no information given to me at that time that suggested spanking was not good. Even in the public schools, spanking was used by principals across the nation.
The other popular teachings had to do with scripture in Proverbs.
I call them the “Spanking verses”. They were used to tell well meaning parents that if they didn’t spank their children, they would send them to hell. They would not grow up to follow the Lord and they would become criminals and fools.
I remember when the boys were little, I had such guilt about spanking them, and most of the time I didn’t. But there were times that I did give them a swat on the behind; and then I cried and would feel terrible guilt. I desperately did not want to repeat what had been done to me as a child.
As time went on, I began to read scripture for myself, and found that gentle and tender parenting was birthed in scripture.
We spent more time teaching and talking and less time using punishments. Our relationships blossomed, and instead of anger and rebellion that was warned about in those books, we had happy young men who were serving the Lord.
When the girls came, we knew that we would have to do things very differently, especially since they had backgrounds fraught with abuse.
Over time, as I processed my own personal childhood experiences, and studied ways to parent differently, we found ourselves on a different parenting path. It began with our boys, and became a comfortable norm with our girls.
Today, I had some time to think as I was driving to and fro for several hours to attend the funeral of a dear friend’s son.
I love long drives because they allow me to think without distraction.
When we are parenting children from trauma backgrounds, we really need to know ourselves well and the reasons we get upset.
We need to know that we must be strong and loving to our children and remember to not take things personally.
We were committed to never spank our girls, yet with our first daughter, there were a few times where we actually gave her a swat out of desperation.
What failures we felt like!
How could a 7 or 8 year old bring a grown person to resort to swatting her?
It was us. Old habits die hard.
Was she being rebellious or showing us disrespect? Yes she was.
But we had to learn new ways to parent her, continuing the journey we started with our boys.
We had to BURY the spanking tool.
We had to BURY the punishment paradigm and work on a relationship paradigm.
We knew what to do. We just had to do it, and be convinced that it would be what was best. Those old sermons swirling around in one’s heart after years of bad teaching can have an effect.
First, we had to realize that if we were allowing “buttons to be pushed”, then we needed to put those buttons away.
She wasn’t intentionally pushing buttons.
I hear that all the time. “They were pushing my buttons” and the child is blamed if a parent gets angry.
The truth is, we get angry because we get frustrated. Something inside of us reacts because, “We would have never gotten away with something like that!” or “Our parents would have knocked us into next week if we had done THAT!”
PUT. THEM. AWAY.
We have learned to put them away. And we are much happier for it.
If one of our children is having a hard time, we do not own it. It belongs to her. We help her through it, instead of becoming enmeshed IN it.
And we do not use YELLING as an alternative to physical punishment, or punishment itself.
Natural consequences work very well to teach life lessons.
Natural consequences are not made up; they occur in every day life.
If I don’t pay the electric bill, the electricity gets turned off.
For our children, if they lose their allowance through carelessness, they don’t have spending money. If they don’t collect the eggs, there are no eggs for breakfast. If they don’t get their clothing into the laundry basket, they don’t have clean clothing.
There is no anger; just life lessons.
I remember a long time ago when our youngest son had lied, this is how we handled it….
He had told a worker at Dairy Queen that he put his quarter into the game and won a free Sundae. The truth was, he hadn’t, but they couldn’t prove it, and he got his free Sundae.
For almost a year, anytime I suggested Dairy Queen, he didn’t want to go, as he was eaten up with guilt.
Finally one day, he confessed that he had lied to the lady at Dairy Queen.
We hugged him and told him how proud we were of him for telling us what happened. We drove him to Dairy Queen so he could pay for the Sundae and apologize to the manager.
It was a precious life lesson for him to face the truth and clear his conscience.
At first the manager didn’t want to take his money, but we insisted she allow him to pay for it. She came and sat down in the booth and told him he was allowed to come to her store any time and how much she appreciated his honesty.
For our girls, we have had some incidents where they have confessed to telling a lie, and our response is the same. “We are so proud of you for telling the truth!”
They don’t need to be shamed. They need to be led to want to do what is right.
No Spanking Needed. No Lecture Needed.
No Yelling Needed.
Proverbs 15 :1- “A Soft Answer Turns Away Wrath”.
Romans 2:4- It’s your kindness that leads us to repentance…
There is now wonderful information available to counter act all those “parenting books” that we didn’t agree with so long ago that were so popular.
We have been able to educate ourselves with refreshing truth that is backed up by scripture. Tender and gentle parenting, love and kindness goes a long way. Relationship based parenting, works!
We ask ourselves, is what we are doing bringing us into closer relationship or is it causing division. We always want to parent in a way that foster closer relationships. And that builds TRUST.
TRUST BASED RELATIONAL PARENTING works!
The Connected Child by Karyn Purvis
Beyond Consequences Logic and Control by Heather Forbes/ Post
They Rod and They Staff They Comfort Me by Samuel Martin
Heartfelt Discipline by Clay Clarkson