Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the voice of His Servant?

Confessions of a “Spanked” Generation

[] Square brackets are used for ‘footnotes.’

The debate about “to spank or not to spank” continues and is even heating up.  The article and comments from Dr. John Stackhouse’s blog are very useful. Frankly – most times I learn more from the comments.  It is worth reading Andrew Tsui’s comments on that blog and also Roger’s.  I also wrote a short post here.

I sense from that blog that the attitude of the majority who are against spanking is one of superiority.  Here are these uncivilized “cave men” who still believed in spanking, but they actually need to grow up and learn the new and more effective ways to deal with their children.  As if the people who believe in some form of mild and loving spanking are not aware of these ‘new’ methods and every time they get into a difficult situation they resort to spanking! Oh brother! To borrow the expression of one startled commentator from the non-spanking side… 🙂

Personally – I have to confess again.  YES – I was spanked.  I was disciplined physically by my mother, my father, and by my grandparents.  And I am very happy and thankful for that.  I am fairly confident that most of the times I deserved it and it did good to me.  I am not anti social, I am not aggressive etc…and I am willing to bet [I may  try to do a mini study when I get back to my home church in Los Angeles] that most of the people from my generation were spanked [I am talking about Romanians and Romanian Americans here] and are thankful for that.

One spanking (from my lovely grandmother) stuck with me.  We went once to the ‘ponds’ (‘groape’ in my village) near our house and our grandmother could not find us.  When she found out that we were there [because supposedly some child or animal drowned there and we did not know how to swim] she gave us a pretty harsh beating.  Do I resent this? Absolutely not!  Was I unhappy then? Most likely I was, but I also learned to fear going to that place, because there is a real and very serious danger.  And I do want to thank my grandparents and parents for disciplining me the way they knew best (certainly NOT perfect), because I always knew and felt that they did it out of love.  For the role of acceptable anger (yes – ANGER!) in discipline, see the excellent discussion of Piper, Wilson, Loritts, Patrick, and Atallah here.

On my home I had a discussion with the professors from my school.  We live in the same faculty building and we share a van on the way to work and back.  I wanted to know if they were spanked and if they ever spanked!  Maybe I am the only ‘cave men’ left in this civilized society! 🙂

SURPRISE! They were all spanked [with the exception of one of the ladies?] and none of them seemed to resent it.  One of them [NT professor] almost proudly shared the last beating [frankly – from his description I would call that abuse and I am pretty confident the media would have called that child abuse!!!] he received from his father when he was 16.  He remembers he was 16 because he was mad and briefly left the house after that beating.  For the record – he was spanked because he came home at 4 am (instead of 12) and he also lied about it.  He did not seem to resent it, he loved his parents [who just came from the States and stayed in his small house for more than 2 months], and he seemed to be thankful.  This man is extremely social and funny, and I have never seen him aggressive.  He did confess that he has not spanked his teenage kids for a few years now.  [It makes complete sense since his teenage kids are some of the best behaved and sociable teenagers I know.  They were home schooled and their SAT scores are well above what is expected.]  But – he did spank them in the past, and the same seems to have been the case with the rest.  For the record – these are all PhD educated people, with most of the degrees from USA or England.

It seems to me, that some ‘buy’ what the media is saying about the new research while others (like me) do not.  See here an article that supports my skepticism of this research, though I admit that I have to read the new one when it comes out. Here is a portion of the abstract:

“The results indicated that effect sizes significantly favored conditional spanking over 10 of 13 alternative disciplinary tactics for reducing child noncompliance or antisocial behavior. Customary physical punishment yielded effect sizes equal to alternative tactics, except for one large study favoring physical punishment. Only overly severe or predominant use of physical punishment compared unfavorably with alternative disciplinary tactics. The discussion highlights the need for better discriminations between effective and counterproductive use of disciplinary punishment in general.”

I am simply NOT convinced about the evidence out there that says that appropriate spanking is bad and must be dispensed with.  It is as simple as that.  [It seems to me that most studies did not take into consideration what the kind of spanking was and very few made a distinction between abusive spanking and mild/loving spanking.]  It also – in my opinion – goes against the Biblical evidence.

NOTE: I will not engage with the Biblical text in this post.  According to the opponents of spanking this book by William J. Webbmakes a strong biblical argument against it!  All the reviews are 5 star reviews on Amazon!  See also this review of Webb’s book.

Meanwhile – I am trying (as always?) to test my heart, my motivations and teaching.  I hope to be more gracious and open-minded to ideas and solutions that go against what I have been taught and what I learned.  And I want to respect the other point of view and the “other side” even if I sometimes feel (and my feelings have been wrong many times before) that some are trying to be politically correct and they swallow to easily what the liberal media feeds them!

5 responses

  1. Christianity Today is weighing in on the issue of spanking and engaging with Webb’s book here: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2012/january/editorial-spanking-abuse.html.

    “Some Christian parents will advocate corporal punishment until the peaceable kingdom arrives. But such means should be employed miles short of abuse, without anger, and as an absolute last resort. Given the risks involved—children’s bodies are more fragile that an angry adult can fathom—we encourage parents to explore more creative and effective ways to train up our children in the way they should go.”


    February 9, 2012 at 3:09 am

  2. Miriam

    Owie! This brought back some recent memories. I was thirteen (I’m fifteen now) when Mama last spanked me. I admit I was being an awful brat and got taken to the dressing room for throwing a public tantrum. Have never done that again. Then my sister decided to make fun of me. She got spanked to. I think Mama was in a bad mood that day, LOL. I do love her though.

    April 9, 2012 at 4:16 pm

  3. I am glad you still love your Mama! I am sure she loves you too and tries to raise you as well as she can/knows! 🙂

    April 10, 2012 at 8:36 am

  4. Joe

    My wife in from Romania and I am not. She tells me that she was almost exclusively disciplined by her father’s hand, belt, and switch. Not being raised that way, it’s tough for me to imagine. But, she is a great person and has no resentment at all and loves her dad. We don’t spank our kids but I think people should be free to choose how they wish to raise their kids. Maybe I think grounding a kid for a month is cruel. As long as it doesn’t cross a certain line spanking should be allowed and accepted. Finding the line is tricky from a legal perspective.

    October 25, 2014 at 6:01 pm

  5. gregor

    Back in the 60’s our Church of Christ minister was very pro coroporal punishment and said so often from the pulpit—so my brothers got our naked butts paddled more than otherwise–even in high school yrs—as our parents were very into the church— It did not seem to have a lasting effect on us—but it sure did hurt

    May 17, 2015 at 11:48 pm

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