Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Here goes

I don't believe I've actually up and said it on my blog, so I'm going to now.

I don't believe in spanking children. Ever. For any reason.

I feel it's counterproductive, it gives the wrong message, it breeds frustration and contempt, it demonstrates that we no longer have control of the situation either, and although it might temporarily change behavior, it doesn't do it for the right reasons, nor is it a longterm solution. The emotions that come of spanking include fear, pain, anger. These aren't things I want to foster in my home.

But ultimately, my main reason is that we as Latter-day Saints are supposed to act and live like Christ. And I don't think Christ would ever spank. In fact, you could not possibly come up with an argument that would convince me that He would lay a hand on any child ever.

This is actually why I embrace attachment parenting- it is the closest I've found that exemplifies how Christ would teach and discipline children. When I get tired and impatient and emotional, I try to imagine how Christ would parent if He were the mom in our family.

“I have never accepted the principle of ‘spare the rod and spoil the child.”... I am persuaded that violent fathers produce violent sons... Children don’t need beating. They need love and encouragement. They need fathers to whom they can look with respect rather than fear. Above all, they need example.”
President Gordon B. Hinckley, October 1994 General Conference.

So that's why I don't spank.

Anti-Spanking Resources with links to studies.
Project: No Spank


  1. Great post! And thanks for the link!

  2. I believe that every child and every parent is different. But the most important thing is to have the Spirit with you when you raise your children, especially if/when discipline is needed. *B

  3. While I agree that different things will work for different children, I do draw the line at spanking. There has never been nor will there ever be a child that "deserves" a spanking. No one will ever deserve to be hit.

  4. I agree. It makes me sick to see child abuse in the news (or any abuse). I hope to be patient enough to never raise my voice or yell at my children either, but that might be harder to stick to (so far I've managed, but there are many years ahead...)

  5. I think there's a difference between spanking and hitting. I'm not saying I'm pro-spanking. The juries still out on that one for me. But I certainly don't think that parents who spank are automatically un-Christ-like.

    Sometimes spanking reminds me of the law of Moses: harsh but effective for children. It might be effective as a short term teaching mechanism.

    I do not think that it should ever be done in anger and I do think that we should always show an increase of love afterwards. I don't think it's every effective for older children and I do not think it should be a "you just wait until your father gets home" kind-of thing.

    Because I don't think spanking always equals aggression, I believe that there are appropriate circumstances for this method of discipline. I have seen parents, including my own, spank with absolute control over themselves and with a spirit of love that I cannot deny.

  6. Spanking works because it creates fear or pain in the child. Creating a feeling of fear or pain in another is not Christ-like. The end. Also, He came to do away with the Law of Moses so why should our parenting take after it? How can we as parents want our children to associate fear and pain with love? The only way that spanking is a good idea is if you want your children to have dysfunctional, abusive relationships as adults. And as a personal rant, how can we look at a small vunerable being, who only wants our love and acceptance, and want to hurt and punch it? I am appalled that we are legally bound to treat our pets better then our children. Purposfully inflicting physical or emotional pain cannot be done in love. Spanking is never okay!

  7. I also hesitate to say I am anti-spanking too, mostly because I know my mom will laugh and tell me I'll probably end up doing it. I was spanked. I hated it. I don't want to do that to my children. "reproving betimes with sharpness" can be translated "correcting quickly with clarity." And don't forget the outpouring of love. But when correcting something like hitting your brother or lying, spanking is completely ineffective and sends the wrong message! I can't wait to read the links. I have a deep fear that I'll end up doing what my parents did just out of frustration. Love and Logic is also a really excellent resource, it teaches you how to give children choices and really avoid a lot of the frustrating behavior in the first place.

  8. Carolyn better explained what I was trying to say about this last Saturday better than I did.

    And I'm glad you posted about this. I kind of thought you would, after our little talk.

    Thanks for continuing to make me re-think and solidify the things I believe.

  9. "The emotions that come of spanking include fear, pain, anger. These aren't things I want to foster in my home."

    Yes, this exactly. Even if you believe you are spanking with absolute control and with a spirit of love (which I do not believe to be possible), the child can only see it as a physical attack, and will view it with fear. Is that not why people spank? So the child will be afraid of getting a spanking, and therefore avoid the behavior?

    I will never have my children be afraid of my presence. Period.

  10. I'm not arguing spanking. However I am arguing hiding behind religion for your personal beliefs. Your Gordon B. Hinckley quote was purposefully taken out of context, "In terms of physical abuse, I have never accepted the principle of..." He was not talking about spanking.

    Plus your kid's only 7 months old.

  11. There is not physical difference between spanking and hitting. parents just like to say that to make themselves feel better about using violence to control their children's behavior.

    Spanking causes the physical sensation of pain. There's no way around it.

    Don't do it. Don't start. Dont think "maybe." Just don't do it. Dont' justify causing physical pain to correct a child. Just stop.

  12. I'm not "blindly" hiding behind my religion.

    When Christ came to Jews in the New Testament and the Nephites in the Book of Mormon he replaced the Law of Moses and brought the higher law to govern them. He states that the Law of Moses was "Thou shalt not kill" and now the law is "thou shalt not even get angry." (3 Nephi 12:21-22) We really shouldn't get angry with anyone. If we are at the point where we are spanking and hitting our children, then we are past that angry point. It shouldn't happen. We are being held to a higher law now.

  13. I don't believe in beating your children. I believe in natural consequences. Beating is not a natural consequence. However, when the natural consequence is too ambiguous or too dangerous, another consequence must be given. In some cases, I feel that spanking might serve this consequence. But it is between the parents and the Lord as to whether or not it is acceptable. Making blanket statements is never appropriate- for example, we believe that it is wrong to kill, but we also know that Nephi was put in a situation where he had to kill Laban. Some parents may have to spank their kids and it is not our place to call them un-Christlike because we don't know what circumstances may lead to spanking. And there is a difference between spanking and beating.

    How many of you who are anti-spanking have kids over the age of 18 months?

  14. i agree spanking is wrong. but, it happens. it is something that i am not proud of, and most of the time that i do spank is out of frustration. when i am at a loss of patience and wisdom, i revert to the way i was parented.

    however, i do it better than my mom did. she was hit/spanked a lot, her mom before her was hit/spanked more and so forth. hopefully with my self control and knowledge and will to be better, my children will spank even less than i do, if not at all.

    just make sure you don't judge someone who does. you need to walk in their shoes before you tell them they are wrong and bad parents. i would say that most spanking is born out of ignorance and frustration. not a lack of love for your child. and let's face it, every parent has come to a point of frustration.

    there are days where i feel like my soul has been spanked and it is cranky and hurt. i am not proud of myself on those days. when i am on top of my game i have enough patience to deal with 'discipline' without pain.

    but, just be careful not to point fingers. you have no idea what other parents go through. you have one, sweet, lovely baby. give it a couple of years. give it a couple of more kids. you will understand the frustration. you don't have to agree with the actions.but be careful not to judge others for theirs, because that's not your job. ;)

  15. Wow. I really ticked people off. Guess I should have kept my big mouth shut. I'm not very good at that.

    When my father spanked me, he never left any marks. He never raised his voice. He never made me feel unloved or abused. Never. My father is one of the most loving men I know. And when he spanked me, I felt how much he loved me and how much he wanted me to do and be better.

    And he always hugged me afterwards.

    Spanking is not abuse. I hope never to yell at my children, lash out at them in response to my anger, or ever give them cause to doubt my love for them. And I think those goals are attainable with spanking as an option. Not a long-term option and not something that should ever be done in a power struggle. But an option for a quick and decisive response that even a child can understand.

    It will never be my first choice for discipline. But I'm not going to rule it out or point fingers at parents who do spank.

  16. I understand that parenthood is hard. I know that most parents, even if they spank, love their children and want to do right by them. Still hitting and then hugging, I love you but I will hurt you when I dislike your actions!?! How can we avoid thinking about the long term repercussions of spanking? Do we really want our children to associate fear or pain with love? If you correct with pain or fear, what will you be able to do if they have an abusive abuse girl/boyfriend or spouse someday? You already taught them early that people who love them get to hurt them and it's their fault when it happens. Oh I’m sure that spanking can be very effective in the moment, but as parents shouldn’t we care about their future too? Who will be there to spank them when they are adults and make mistakes? Oh wait that would either be kinky or assault. You are right God did say not to judge, but He also said to leave judgment and punishment up to Him. He said we’re not good at it, and He didn’t make an exception when it comes to our children. That concept is discussed in the book "The Soft-Spoken Parent"; it is a very good read.
    Also don't bring the ages of our children into this to make yourself feel better. If you saw an old women get slapped on the street, would you turn away and say well it's not my place to judge? Why shouldn't we care what happens to the children of the world, they will be our future…

  17. Wow, Tophat, you're getting some crazy traffic!

    maria: no one is hiding behind anything. The prophet defines spanking as physical abuse, and consequently does not condone it. And as Tophat pointed out in her OP, all other arguments aside, can anyone truly argue that Christ would have struck a child? I don't think so.

    mj: I have three children, ages 14, nearly 2, and 4 mos. I spanked my oldest as a regular form of punishment until she was about 5. I tried spanking with my toddler, who is, ahem, a handful, and for whom no form of consequence seems to work.

    From the perspective of someone who is:
    1) a mother of three children,
    2) a mother of a teenager,
    3) a mother of a toddler,
    4) a mother who practices AP, and
    5) a mother who has spanked,

    I can definitively say that:
    1) spanking does not work in the long run,
    2) spanking engenders an atmosphere of fear and anger, and
    3) there are other, better, more constructive ways to correct your children that are just as effective.

    abby: No one's judging you or anyone else who spanks ;) Having an opinion on a subject doesn't equal having an opinion on a person. IDK about other people, but while I personally disagree with spanking, I have known plenty of friends who do, and I don't think any less of them. I've spanked. I understand what it is to be frustrated, tired, maxxed out, and held hostage by your kids, and so I don't blame someone for going that route. I just choose not to myself anymore. Love ya!

  18. OK, after thinking for a while (and regretting my knee jerk reaction commenting), I would appreciate if you could delete my previous remarks. Or at least let this comment stand as an admission that I might be wrong.

    I should have said something more like "summers camp" did. She's right; the most important thing is the Spirit and perhaps the Spirit would never lead us to spank.

    What I would like to say to this debate is this:

    We can't picture Christ spanking because I can't picture a child deliberately misbehaving in his presence. So if I'm going to be a model parent, I'd like to focus on the prevention, not the reaction. I want to be the parent that my child loves and trusts so much that he or she wouldn't disobey, except in ignorance.

  19. Emily- thats great- thats your experience. But until you are able to completely and totally be in the shoes of another parent, you have no right or ability to say that spanking isn't appropriate for them. And if you note, I don't advocate spanking as a regular form as punishment as you said you used it with your daughter. I agree that used regularly, spanking isn't effective.

    I'm not saying that we should all spank our kids or that you shouldn't and I should. I'm saying that we do not have a right to say that a parent is wrong to spank a child.

    Would I try to intervene if I saw an old lady get slapped on the street? Probably, if I could. But that is comparing apples and asparagus.

    I love what summers camp said- every parent and every child is different. You have to have the Spirit with you when you raise children, particularly in circumstances when discipline is needed.

    My parents never spanked my sister because she never needed it to correct behavior. However, for me, it was used occasionally. I never doubted that my parents love me. I always knew that I was out of line before it happened.

    There are a lot worse things than spanking that parents use. I mean, is forcing a child to sit in a chair for 10 minutes any less abusive? Doesn't that create some fear as well- what happens if the child leaves that chair? And what does that teach?

    Fear of consequences is often motivation. Why do you stop at a red light? Because otherwise, you might get a ticket or worse, in an accident. Right there is fear. I'm not saying that we should strike fear into the eyes and hearts of our children. But to say that spanking is wrong because it creates fear- thats ridiculous. You could just as easily say that any discipline is wrong because it creates fear. Pain is a consequence of some actions. An unwed mother feels pain when she is faced with raising her child alone. A child that runs into the street will feel pain far worse than a spank if the child is hit by a car. I would rather have my child learn from the pain of a spank than the pain of car tires.

    Once again, I'm not advocating spanking as a regular consequence. But it is wrong to condemn those that find it necessary to use occasionally.

  20. mj: I am beginning to think you are just spoiling for a fight.

    First of all, YOU asked the question if anyone had kids over 18 months, which I answered. You don't need to be snarky and say, "Well, that's your experience." Of course it is, you asked for others' experience! You should not ask a question, and then get upset because you got an answer you did not expect or want.

    Second of all, I already said that condemning the action is not the same as condemning the person. I do not condemn the person. As I already said.

    Fear of consequence is not the same as fear of people. Yes, it's important to give our children consequences, and they should fear the consequence. But they should never fear their parents. If you give a kid a time-out in the chair, they are afraid of being made to sit in a chair. If you spank a child, they are afraid they will be hit by their mother. That's a big difference, IMO.

    Okay, I'm not going to make any more comments here, because I don't like to go round and round about things. Thanks Tophat for letting me flood your comments for a little while. :)

  21. Spanking is not a "it's up to the parent to decide." No. A "parenting decision" is whether or not to cloth diaper your child, or whether or not you co-sleep. Hitting your child is not the same thing. That physically hurts a child. That violates the UN's Resolution on The Rights of The Child. There's no "you don't know my child" here.

    I absolutely refuse to accept someone's right to hit their child, I advocate for laws that make it illegal, and I defy anyone who tells me that sometimes a child deserves it. No. Children do not ever deserve to get hit. No one does.

  22. And Carolyn, can you explain what you mean by "I can't picture a child deliberately misbehaving in his presence." Do you mean that as Christ walked the streets of Jerusalem that on the street he happened to be walking, suddenly no child would be "too loud" or run away from a parent trying to go home from the day?

    I definitely can't see that. Children won't suddenly gain years of maturity because Christ is 10 feet away.


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