The Black and White of Spanking


Yesterday morning, I was getting a bath ready for the three-year-old.  As I was adjusting the temperature of the water, I tossed several of the countless bath toys that live in the tub over to the other end, so I could get to the plug.   Tegan came up behind me, sounding extremely concerned.  “Stop!  Stop throwing those toys!”  At first I thought she was afraid it was going to hurt them in some way.

“Oh it’s okay, they’re just foam,”  I told her.

“But you should stop throwing them!”


“Because Daddy says we shouldn’t throw.”    Ah, there it was.  I’m not sure what the incident she was referring to entailed, but I’m very certain that he’d asked her to stop throwing only because there was risk of damage or impalement of some sort.  We talked about throwing for a minute, but I’m not concerned.  I fully trust that as she grows and matures she’ll learn the nuances about throwing.  Throwing balls and frisbees and wadded up paper is okay.  Throwing pillows and stuffed animals is usually okay.  Throwing rocks is okay if they’re thrown in a river, but not if they’re thrown at someone’s head.   Certain places lend themselves to throwing:  playgrounds, parks, her own house.  Others, not so much:  Church, the library, a dentist’s office.  The socially accepted norms about throwing are filled with shades of grey, so a blanket statement of “we shouldn’t throw,” would be neither appropriate nor truthful.  Of course we can throw… but sometimes we shouldn’t.

Hitting, however, is not a grey area.  It’s black and white.

Hitting is wrong.  Forcefully striking another person is wrong.  Striking someone smaller and weaker than you is especially wrong.   There’s a reason that hitting someone can land you an assault charge.  Being hit is hurtful, damaging, and violating… not just to a person’s body, but to their psyche as well.   We should all be able to expect personal space and safety, as well as freedom from being harmed at someone else’s hand.

Don’t agree with me?  Ask yourself if you’ve taught your own children that they shouldn’t hit.  Ask yourself if you’d sit idly by while your child was striking a peer.  Ask yourself if you wouldn’t immediately react if your six year old were hitting a one year old.  Of course you would…. because you know hitting is wrong.


Hit:  (verb) To deal a blow or stroke to

Spanking is hitting.  That makes spanking wrong in and of itself, but I want to take it a step further.  Not only is spanking hitting, it is hitting someone much, much smaller and physically weaker than ourselves.   Say an average toddler is 25 pounds.  His mother is at least a good five or six times his size, his father possibly eight times.    If you’d intervene when your child were striking a smaller child (and you would), why on earth would an adult striking a child be in any way okay?   It’s not.

A child depends on his parents, more than anyone else, to keep him nurtured, safe, and protected.   How frightening and confusing it must be then, when he finds himself in trouble in some way (he’s angry or frustrated or made a mistake)  His feelings are big and scary and overwhelming, and he’s then physically hurt at his parent’s hand on top of it:  A hand that he expects to hold him, comfort him, protect him, love him.  Not hurt him.  Not only does it not help the situation, it exacerbates it.  It takes the pair further from a loving, connected relationship, and deeper into one of fear and mistrust.

If you’re reading this and thinking, “But I’m a Christian!  I’m commanded to spank!  Spanking’s biblical!”, my answer to you is no, it’s not biblical.   People use a few different justifications, but the (taken out of context) scripture most often used to propogate this misconception is this one:

“Whoever spares the rod hates his son,  but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him” Proverbs 13:24

The rod referred to in this scripture – as well as the other “rod” scriptures – is that used by shepherds of that time, which were used to guide and protect sheep, not hit them.   And honestly, if you’re going to start pulling out old testament scriptures to justify your behaviors, then I hope you don’t ever braid your hair or wear jewelry or dresses or fancy clothes, because the old testament prohibits that too.

In any case, as Christians we are no longer supposed to be living under the old law but the new one that came with Jesus, which is one of love and freedom.     I want to challenge you – seriously – to find me one scripture, any scripture, anywhere in the Bible, that even hints at the possibility that Jesus would remotely consider striking a child.   If you can bring me that scripture, we can talk… otherwise there isn’t a conversation to be had.  I don’t advocate against spanking in spite of being a Christian, I do so in part because of it… because to be a Christian is to aspire to be Christ-like.  And Christ would never, ever, hit a child.

Finally, if you are here as a former spanker, whether the last time you spanked was last year or last week or five minutes ago, please know that you are absolutely welcome here, without judgment and without reproach.   I can give you help, support and/or resources for taking another path.   I have made parenting decisions that I would now make differently, to be sure, but spanking doesn’t happen to be one of them.  So I do hope that you’ll share your story, because your testimony as someone who has walked through it is far more powerful than any that I could ever give.

And while it’s true that we can’t change the past, we can learn from it.  We can heal from it.  And we can make better choices, starting right now.

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Filed under discipline, gentle discipline, gentle parenting, spanking

59 Responses to The Black and White of Spanking

  1. Sabrina Johnson

    What do you do when one parent is for spanking and one is against? I used to believe in it, but now I really don’t think it is right. My husband on the other hand thinks it is wrong not to, and that the Bible tells us to. It tells us to discipline, but we have different views of discipline. We have had countless nights of arguing about this. I don’t know what to do. I can see the anger and hurt in our son’s eyes when he get spanked and it breaks my heart. Then there are days that he is completely overwhelmingly disobedient and I think he does need it. I know that until we both are on the same page, things are going to be hard.

    • jen

      Sabrina, to respond to your question a little bit backwards, I think what you said at the end “Then there are days that he is completely overwhelmingly disobedient” could likely be related to your and your husband’s disagreements about discipline. I know that we’ve encountered the same thing here when we weren’t on the same page about something when it comes to discipline. It’s hard and confusing for the kids to see that their parents aren’t in agreement (especially when it is causing fighting) and their behavior reflects that. You said that you’ve had countless arguments about it, but have you tried bringing it up when things are calm and both of you are happy? Would he be more receptive then? Would he be open to reading articles, websites, etc that might give him a different – but also Christian – perspective? Sometimes it’s easier to hear and accept things when they come from a third party. Also, would you be okay with my posting your question on my blog’s Facebook wall (without your name of course) There are a lot of wonderful, thoughtful parents there who may have been in your shoes. I am very sorry that you are dealing with this. I am sure it is very, very difficult.

      • Sabrina

        Sure, you can post it. We have talked about it some when things are calm, but he doesn’t think he is doing anything wrong. I am pretty sure that the reason why our son has those moments IS because of the disagreements we have concerning discipline. I am going to send him some links to read but at this point he seems pretty close minded. He has pulled the, “I am that dad, I know how to discipline my kids, and don’t challenge me” card, and I feel bad for our son because of it. I have started really trying to just do what I feel is right, and hope that he sees that things can be resolved without spanking. It happened a couple times tonight, and I know he saw that I was able to handle the situation gently. We will see how it goes. But yes, I would love to hear what others have to say as well. I am very open. Thank you.

  2. Amy

    I just love the way you put things into perspective. You make me think and sometimes you even change my mind. 🙂

  3. Wonderful post. I’ve always been confused by the notion that as Christians we should hit our children. I can’t imagine Jesus wanting us to hit anyone, let alone children.

    • jen

      Thank you. And yes, I too have never been able to reconcile the idea of Jesus wanting us to hit our children. It doesn’t feel right because it’s *not*, and I really believe we were given that gut instinct for a reason. It’s very sad to me that people will ignore that feeling in favor of following something that they mistakenly believe the Bible is telling them to do.

  4. Flo

    Wonderful writing! I like how clearly and concisely you made this very important point.

  5. Laura

    Prior to having kids, I was an advocate for spanking – mostly because I had been spanked as a child and didn’t see the harm in it. However, after I had my daughter and I spanked her a few times, I began to change my mind. There are probably fewer worse feelings in the world than seeing your child cry and look completely defeated – all because you resorted to hitting her in an effort to make her behave.
    The day I made up my mind to no longer spank I was giving her a bath and she did something I didn’t like, so I spanked her. Her reaction was severe enough to bring me to tears and make me feel like the worst mommy ever. It dawned on me that “I am the adult and I should be in control of my reaction to her behavior.” We all know there are times when children cannot control their reaction to a particular situation – it’s not their fault, they simply haven’t learned how to respond differently. It made me wonder what I was teaching her if I showed her that spanking was the only way for me to respond to her undesirable behavior. Not to mention the fact that since I knew how spanking her made me feel, I was mortified to think how it made her feel. I did not want to be responsible for my child resenting or, worse, hating me because I felt that I was entitled to spank her simply because I am her parent. That logic just didn’t make sense to me – so I stopped spanking her that day and apologized to her for hurting her and told her I would never do that again.
    I am a firm believer that if an adult’s only response to a child’s behavior is to spank them, then they have allowed the situation to spiral out of control. Yes, children can be difficult (to the point of frustration), but if you resort to hitting them in an attempt to get them to behave, you aren’t going to achieve your desired result. Every challenging situation with a child is a learning experience – for both the child AND the parent. It is also an opportunity to help you improve your relationship and cultivate love and understanding with your child. I mean, after all, isn’t that what we all want?
    My husband and I have had several conversations regarding spanking since I had my epiphany. Once I explained my justification to no longer spank, he agreed that my logic made sense. We now handle challenging behavior by talking with our daughter and taking the time to explain why the behavior was inappropriate or trying to figure out the cause of her behavior. It’s not been easy, but we feel it’s helped us grow as parents and improved our relationship with her. That’s an amazing feeling.

  6. Kari

    I went into parenting as a pro-spanker (raised with spanking) and my husband did not want to spank (and was not spanked as a child). Once my daughter was born I knew I didn’t want to take that path, and seeing that I had married a man raised without spanking and he was 1) honest 2) genuine 3) rational/reasonable 4) responsible 5) trust worthy 6) loving and caring ETC I knew it could work. I did not know HOW, but I knew I owed it to him, myself, and our daughter to learn more about other ‘disciplinary’ methods. Gradually, I stumbled upon blogs like yours (among others) and started applying some of the principles a little at a time (addressing all needs/prevention, seeing through the child’s eyes, listening and reflecting, changing the environment, talking it out, etc) and I must say it’s all clicking nicely. My 2.5 year old has been raised in a 100% gentle home and is thriving now- not to mention we have not experienced the terrible two’s at all. I am sold, and will be raising all of my kids in a logical/empathetic, gentle, loving fashion (with constant practice, growth & learning along the way). Your blog is very helpful, thank you!

    • jen

      Kari, that is wonderful to hear, thank you. And I’m so glad that you’ve been at all inspired by my blog. <3

  7. I agree wholeheartedly ~ and will share!

  8. Bree

    Yes!! It IS black and white. It is WRONG to hit anyone.

    I’m sure you’ve noticed whenever someone is dead-set on the fact that it IS biblical, they can’t ever clarify all the very shady gray areas within that position, such as:

    *what age do we start?
    *how old is too old?
    *what do we use to spank with?
    *is using your hand okay?
    *what part of the body do we spank?
    *how many times counts as a true spanking?
    *which sins require spanks and which don’t?

    None of the answers to these very important questions surrounding hitting/spanking seems to be found anywhere in the Bible. So if the Bible really is so clear that it is what we parents should be doing, I think it was awfully neglectful of the Holy Spirit to leave out these important details as He inspired the writing of scripture. 😉

    Just sayin’.

    • BREE! I read all of these comments and then after reading yours, I saw it was your writing! Dear sweet sister of mine, Thank you for raising these important questions and for showing me how to gently and lovingly train up my son into the man God made him to be. You. Are. Exemplary. 🙂

  9. Sam

    I was raised with spanking as the discipline… with the idea that you must fear the authority figures in order to obey them and to follow the rules. When my oldest was born I was at a loss as to how to discipline and my mother-in-law at the time said that I had to make her fear me. It never felt right and, though I spanked, I always felt like I needed to apologize afterward. With the subsequent children I spanked less and less until I just don’t spank at all.
    I do not feel it is necessary anymore and I will encourage my daughters to seek other forms of discipline. I will listen to them when they are frustrated, I might even offer up suggestions, but I will never tell them to make their children fear them.
    I can honestly say that my daughters do not fear me, in-spite of my earlier parenting errors. They all love me and respect me, and yes there are still days when we don’t get along and some days when hitting sounds like a good idea… and on those days mommy gets a time-out cause she needs to take a moment and re-coop 😉

    • jen

      Thanks for sharing, Sam! And yes, I wholeheartedly agree in Mommy time-outs 🙂

    • Leslie

      I know this comment was made years ago, but thank you! I am a former spanker as well, and sometimes i think about the fact that my son got spanked and my daughter won’t, I feel horrible that while she gets full advantage of making an effort towards more gentle discipline, he had to experience it first before the transformation began. and I worry that he will resent it, and me, and not be able to connect with me as well as my daughter is/will be able to. He’s only 4, and I know the memories of the events might be hazy, or flashes(like mine), or nonexistent/unable to access, but the memory of the emotion will still be there(again, like me and my childhood trauma). but seeing that your daughters don’t fear you and have a loving and respectful relationship gives me hope.

  10. Marina

    I recently found myself hitting my child even though I do not want to do this.
    I need support through that step backward. I had managed not to raise my hand for a year or so. But in the very stressfull times I go through I often find myself running out of patience. I see the damage on my son and feel terrible. I do apologize but the harm is done. I need help to get back on tracks. I do believe that human beings only deserve gentle loving and non violent relashionships as the build themslves in their young age.

    • jen

      Marina, thank you for sharing so honestly. The fact that you are so willing to admit that you don’t like it and to ask for help is huge! I think the biggest thing for me on the tough days is having the ability to be able to sort of re-center and find my own inner peace again. Once *you’re* feeling good, you’re not going to feel that urge to lash out in frustration at your son. Whether it’s prayer, meditation, yoga, exercise, locking yourself alone in the bathroom for 5 minutes, counting to 100… whatever works for you to step away from the situation and be able to look at it with fresh eyes.

  11. Jess

    Just “shared” this on FB! Good stuff. And I appreciate your willingness to hear from us who did spank 🙂
    Any good book recommendations along these lines?

  12. Sabrina

    Sure, you can go ahead and post it. We have talked about it some when things are calm, but he doesn’t think he is doing anything wrong. I am pretty sure that the reason why our son has those moments IS because of the disagreements we have concerning discipline. I am going to send him some links to read but at this point he seems pretty close minded. He has pulled the, “I am that dad, I know how to discipline my kids, and don’t challenge me” card, and I feel bad for our son because of it. I have started really trying to just do what I feel is right, and hope that he sees that things can be resolved without spanking. It happened a couple times tonight, and I know he saw that I was able to handle the situation gently. We will see how it goes. But yes, I would love to hear what others have to say as well. I am very open. Thank you.

  13. Martin

    have you seen this website?

  14. Both my husband and I grew up in spanking homes, but we have not once spanked our son. It was a decision that came mutually and naturally, once he was born. Raising children, especially in those toddler/preschool years can be extremely frustrating and I while I struggle to keep my composure and not raise my voice, I can happily say that spanking never occurs to me all.

    • jen

      That is so great! A lot of times parents will spank just because they’d grown up being spanked themselves, and don’t know any other way. Good for you for breaking the cycle!

  15. Jules

    Amen! Thanks for taking time out to defend tiny humans! I will defo repost this on facebook 🙂

  16. I really appreciate your post about this. My mom and I recently had a small dispute about this. She feels that Scripture is clear that spanking is okay. I came back with New Testament passages that admonish parents not to provoke their children to wrath, not to exasperate their children, that tell Christians to bear with each other’s faults and correct each other gently. Why would Paul tell the adults to correct each other gently, if its okay to smack your child with a stick (a rod was a thin stick) if he sins? That doesn’t make sense to me.
    Jesus was most tender with the little children who approached him. He told the adults very sternly not to hinder the children. Teaching them that smacking them with a stick is God’s idea might very well hinder them from coming to Jesus.
    Yes, we do need to discipline our children. Yes, they need to understand there are consequences to their sinful behavior. But, we do need to ask ourselves whether their behavior is truly sinful or is it just childish immaturity or is it just something that is annoying (like loud, high pitched whistling)?
    I have spanked a few times in the past and for the most part, it drove my relationship with my children farther apart. Most “Christian” books on this topic advise spanking for disobedience and defiance only, doing it with a spoon, doing it in a calm manner, and only on the buttocks. Well, anything and everything can be called disobedience (and sometimes our requests are selfish), spoons are not always handy, most of time we are not calm and if we are we should be able to come up with a better solution, and trying to only get the buttocks when the child is trying to get away from you is challenging.
    Anyway, I am not proud of my past mistakes and quite frankly, sometimes I am just tired, frustrated, and exasperated. Parenting is hard work and even men of God were not, and have not, always been faithful. We need to walk with Jesus daily, instruct our children in Truth daily, and pray together daily.

  17. Pingback: When Does Spanking Become Abuse? | Why Not Train A Child?

  18. Dawn

    My husband & I both grew up in spanking homes. We knew we would spank. We have. But it doesn’t feel right to me. I have an online friend who has tried to help me find alternatives, but I keep falling back in the rut of what is familiar, and my husband falls with me. I don’t WANT to spank. I don’t LIKE to spank. But when I am at wits’ end and have no human, close-proximity resources to help with what to do, I’m at a loss of what else to try. And of course, everyone who knows my girls only sees them when they are great and well-behaved in public. It’s when we’re at home and they don’t get their way that they throw fits and become defiant. I understand learning about self-will and growing in controlling one’s temper… it’s the defiance that I will not tolerate.

    Once my 3 year old comes out of her (sometimes) hour-long tantrum, she will often come to me and ask me to pray with her to not throw fits (because we’ve taught her that GOD doesn’t like her to be disrespectful of Mama & Dada that way)… so I know the training is getting to her heart. I just don’t know how to get the fits to stop early on or to get her attention in ways other than spanking. Does anyone here have suggestions?

    • I know how you feel. I don’t care what people say about terrible twos. My children had their worst tantrums when they were three. Hang in there. Part of it is developmental, part of it is the learning curve of small children, and part of it is temperament. My children are 13, 10, 7, and 4 now. Last year, my four year old bit his sister and myself so hard he broke the skin. I don’t know how or why that stopped, except that I learned to recognize when it was coming and I stepped in to prevent it. My suggestions:
      1. Is your child tired, hungry, or overstimulated when you make your requests?
      2. Have you been cultivating relationship by spending time with her on her level (playing her games and doing things with her that she enjoys)? This point is absolutely key. My son was borderline ODD until we paid a lot more attention to this. Relationship is everything.
      3.Are your requests developmentally appropriate (asking her to tie her shoes when most 3 year olds cannot do this, for instance)?
      4. Investigating other reasons why she may refuse requests, such as sensory issues (my daughter will not wear pants, even when it is cold, because she doesn’t like the feel of the seam on her legs. She would rather not go anywhere than put on pants that “feel funny.”)
      5. You could try role playing with her how you would like her to respond or read some storybooks that model good responses.
      6. Ignore the behavior entirely. Just walk away as soon as it starts. Say something like, “I will not tolerate being spoken to in that way” and then leave the room. Conversely, you could grab the child and hold her tight from behind. Hard pressure is often soothing to a child who is out of control. (This worked well with my oldest child). Above all, don’t respond to the tantrum itself. The idea is to remain in control yourself. Little children do not know how to control their emotions.
      7. If your requests are reasonable and appropriate, when the tantrum is over, calmly ask the child again to comply.
      I hope I don’t sound like a Martha Stewart of good behavior, I certainly don’t always remember these things myself. However, they are truths that I have seen over the years with my children. By the way, time outs and spankings were what drove my son toward being ODD. It was relationship that brought him back.

      • Dawn

        Thank you! I will definitely be spending some time in serious contemplation of the points you made. I believe that part of her problem is she is truly cognitively above average compared to most 3 year olds. She’s not quite 3.5 years, but can almost read and she has a memory that is unbelievable (could recite from memory the 23rd Psalm by 2.5 years old). I’m convinced her cognitive abilities compound the difficulties that emotional immaturity naturally present.

        It is important to me to understand her and guide her heart, not just her actions. I appreciate your input and will watch for any other comments as well. Thank you!

  19. Theresa

    I am never able to defend our choice not to spank in such a clear understandable way. Thank you for helping us with these beautiful words. Question for you…I very much want to share this article and our choice with my friends and family on Facebook but when I try to post it I only see it on my page not in the news feed. Do u happen to know what I am doing wrong?

  20. Melissa

    Reformed spanker here… I will admit that I have spanked my daughter up to as recently as maybe a week ago, despite the fact that it breaks my heart. I have always felt spanking is wrong, but I get enormous pressure from my parents to spank her. My dad tells me all the time that he was an incorrigible child, and that spanking was the ONLY THING that worked on him, and he insists that my daughter is the same way.

    But guess what? She is NOT incorrigible – she is very high needs, very clingy, very high energy, and sometimes she wears me out beyond what I think I can bear. But incorrigible, she is not. She is sweet, loving, full of praise and encouragement for those around her, and extremely attached to me. I am trying so hard to break the cycle my family has perpetuated for years and to parent only gently and with love. I still fail some days, because spanking and harsh discipline are habits learned, and habits are hard to break.

    Something that’s really convicted me this week is similar to what you mentioned, in regards to hitting someone so much smaller to ourselves. I have been divorced since my daughter was 7 months old, because my ex-husband was abusive. The thought that I cannot shake this week is this – why is it that if a man hits a woman, regardless of why, it is always wrong and always abuse? No matter what his reasoning is. And it could be argued that an adult woman is at least somewhat capable of defending herself. So why then, is it acceptable on any level for an adult to hit a small child that is completely incapable of defending themselves? How can that possibly be okay?? And the only conclusion I can come up with is that it’s not. So I will continue on my journey and recommit every morning to using my hands only to show love to my precious princess!

  21. Tilly

    i think that hitting someone is very differnt to smaking if u smack when ur angry its wrong u should only smack when ur calm and explaining to the child what they have done wrong and that u r not angry

    • jen

      What is different about it? And what difference does it make if you’re angry or not? To use the the word you use, “smacking”: Would you be okay with your child smacking someone else, as long as they did it when they weren’t angry?

  22. Pascal

    Well, the Holy Spirit definitely concurred with discipline in Hebrews 12:5-11. Look up what that word means in the Greek. It has the idea of chastening. Much of the New Testament quotes the Old Testament. Here the writer is quoting Proverbs. There should be a balance to our discipline for Paul warns fathers not to embitter your children. But to suggest that we should not spank our children because of the New Testament is woefully misunderstanding the relationship between Old and New. By the way, the New Testament never states that disciplining children was done away with by the coming of Christ.

    • jen

      My question was, where in the scriptures does it say that JESUS (who only ever treated children kindly and gently) would ever consider striking a child?

    • Natalie Everson

      Have you ever studied the word “chasten”? I was shocked to find out that it had more to do with speaking than it had to do with anything physical.

  23. jen

    Also, you said, “the New Testament never states that disciplining children was done away with by the coming of Christ.” This post was about spanking, not discipline. Very important distinction to make.

  24. Carrie

    Thank you! We have chosen not to spank our children (we were both raised in spanking homes) and we are the only ones in our extended family that don’t spank. It makes me crazy to hear, “you just need to spank him.” Really?! And it also makes me crazy to hear that spanking is biblical. The rod was used to guide and protect, not to harm. And just because I don’t spank my children, does not mean that I don’t discipline them. I cannot understand why people think that if you don’t spank, you don’t discipline as if spanking is the only form of discipline out there. Anyway, thank you for this blog post, it makes me feel less alone and less crazy when it comes to my beliefs about spanking. 🙂

  25. A Native American friend of mine told me his father spanked him one time when he was a young child. My friend had reached for a live copperhead snake in the woods. It was the only time his father had spanked him in his life, and he did it to save his life. He did not do it with anger. This friend today, now in his fifties, is one of the most soft-spoken, kindest human beings I know.
    I heard something else from another friend. Spanking in anger is never good. However, at this point in my life, I simply cannot spank my son, angry or not.
    I was spanked. I spanked. Now I don’t. I wish I never did spank, but I did. It’s done. And it’s not too late for healing.
    Messages come to us when we need them. They come to us in various ways. They come to us when we are ready. The lesson against spanking came to me in two different forms: First, I read a particular book on parenting (which I have recommended before), and second, I saw my child as an innocent, pure creature of God. I saw that all children were closest to God. This does not mean I had to “read a book” . I wish I had the insight to have first “seen” my son in the purest light, and then read the book if needed, but I didn’t. It doesn’t matter how the message came to me. I’m just glad it did. I hope it lands on every single parent, every adult, every guardian of children everywhere.
    I have said this before, and I will say this again. I highly recommend reading “Spiritual Parenting” by Hugh and Gayle Prather. Perhaps you are ready for it, just like I was. Or perhaps you can already see your child in that Light.

  26. becky

    I really Like the initial post. What I would Like to know is some helpful ways to not spank. I would Like to be spankfree but not Sure how to effectively. My children get a lot of timeouts and sometimes the fits can be really bad and I’m not Sure how to deal with it other then spanking. I was spanked and always told “spare the rod, spoil the child,” I’m Sure everyone’s heard this. It would be very helpful to know how I can effectively convert. Thank u in advance.

  27. sarah

    i “tried out” spanking with my oldest, and will regret it forever. thank you for specifically welcoming those of us who have reformed. 🙂

  28. Stephanie

    I too, was pro spanking until I had children. Even now, I find myself wanting to revert back to that mindset.

    For my husband and I, the change came when we decided to become foster parents. We had tried to conceive for two years and were unsuccessful, and felt God leading us strongly toward fostercare. We care for our nieces and nephews often, and have spanked them through all our time with them (with their parents consent obviously). We saw nothing wrong with it.

    When we decided to adopt, and to foster- we realized that we would not be allowed to spank children that were placed in our home. And we understood that restriction. After all, the children in foster care are often placed there because of physical abuse. The fine line that exists between spanking and abuse is pointless to them. Any sort of violence can remind them of the trauma they have been through.

    When we met our children, and their circumstances, we knew even further that we could NEVER raise our hand to them. We are reminded of their past often, and it’s heartbreaking.

    And yet, the old habit of spanking sometimes creeps into my mind at my worst mommy moments. I have not ever hit them, but there have been times when my daughter is particularly mouthy, or is throwing such a fit- that my instinct tells me to smack her mouth or to spank her to snap her out of it. But I could never to that to her. Because she tells me all the time that “Old daddy used to whoop my butt” and if she ever said that about me, I would die. For her, we are the safest place she has ever known, and I refuse to compromise that.

    I agree that spanking and discipline are two VERY different things. My children are disciplined, and I like to think they are pretty well behaved (as much as a 3 and 4 year old can be) and that in and of itself proves that children do not need to be spanked.

    However, I am still not 100% against spanking. For my household, it will never happen. But my family still believes in it. My nieces and nephews are still spanked by their parents (although my family has been wonderfully supportive about our kids, and tends to take their children into other rooms to discipline them that way if needed) and I don’t think they are scarred by it.

    I think that spanking can often be the easy way out. Not always, as I’ve stated- but I know it seems a heck of a lot easier to spank a child than to spend the 45 minutes it takes to discuss WHY with my 4 year old. And that’s where I think spanking can go wrong- to many varying degrees.

    This probably seems completely contradictory. But I feel I have a unique view on the subject. 🙂

    Thank you for posting the article. Hopefully I will remember your words the next time my beautiful spirited daughter tests my patience 😀


    great perspective! we’re not christian but find unjustified spanking in our religious community as well! thanks for “calling a spade, a spade”. 🙂

  30. kelvert1 .

    My children are now 4 and 6 and have never, ever been spanked. My husband and I were both spanked and we wanted something different, very different. Of course it has been hard some times, parenting can be hard, but I do not regret it one little bit. We actually use no form of punitive parenting but we are very big on discipline, My kids are great

  31. Jason

    1. God is light and in him there is no evil.
    2. Jesus is God.
    3. If 1 and 2 are true, then Jesus can’t do evil (he can’t sin.)

    Your argument presupposes that all forms of hitting (including spanking) are evil.
    You also argue that Jesus would never hit, or by doing so it would be evil.
    However, Jesus took time to weave a whip and use force to drive money changers out of the temple. This appears to be a form of discipline by force.

    So, was this evil? If so, you must concede that Jesus sinned and ceased to be God.

    Not sure if you really want to take this route.

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  33. Kim

    Thank you for this post. Very thought provoking.

  34. Ash

    I’m really struggling with this. I don’t ever want my daughters to fear me or to think that I would hurt them, and for normal acting out because she’s 3 or tired or learning I don’t agree with spanking at all, but for safety violations I do want them to associate that kind of disobedience with hurt so they would take seriously when I say “don’t run out in the street” or “you can’t touch the stove” I won’t let the natural consequences of getting hit by a car or having boiling water fall on them be their teacher -sometimes for safety you need to have immediate obedience. How do you address these safety issues in a gentle way? (Like the poster above mentioned the grandson getting spanked for getting too close to a copperhead)

    • Stephanie

      I was a spanking parent for 10 years, and I had the same questions. What I learned was that if you teach your child how to keep themselves safe, you don’t have to hit them OR let them get hurt by a stove or car. For the stove, you teach them what “hot” means… let them touch things that are hot, but not hot enough to seriously hurt them like hot dish water, or hot pavement. Let them touch it, and say “HOT!” and pull their hand away and pretend to check it for “owies”, so they get the idea that “HOT” is something that will hurt them. Then, when you can see that they are really grasping the concept, you can take them to the stove while it’s preheating and let them feel the heat coming off of it and say “HOT!” and pull them back, showing concern and checking them for “owies” again. Once they have really grasped the idea that “HOT” hurts, they will not intentionally reach for anything that you tell them is hot.

      I spanked my first 4 kids, trying to teach them not to touch the stove, and they all did it anyway as soon as they thought I wasn’t looking. I taught the next 3 with the method I just outlined, and not one of them ever got burned, they all backed out of the room on their own when I warned them that the stove was hot. The same idea works for teaching them how to be safe around the street. Give them the tools they need to keep themselves safe and make good decisions and they are going to be a lot less likely to get hurt. You do NOT need to hit for “safety issues”, if they are too young to understand the danger, then it is your job to keep them physically restrained and safe. If they can be taught, then it is your job to give them the tools they need to keep themselves safe, and gradually give them more freedom as they prove that they understand the danger. Hitting them never has to be part of it at all.