Guest Author - Kelli Deister
This is a very sensitive and touchy subject to address because there are beliefs in some religions that it is okay to spank a child. For instance, those that believe this way will often quote scriptures in the Bible that speak of the rod of correction or discipline. Their belief is that the rod is an actual paddle or stick that they are to use to spank their child with. Their belief is also that God approves of spanking and hitting a child.
I have a huge problem with this because one must then ask the question of who determines how much discipline is needed when referencing spanking? Who makes the decision as to how much to is too much or how much is not enough? Obviously, it is an individual determination based on the parents beliefs. One must than wonder how the parent determines how much is not enough or how much is too much? It must all come down to their personal belief system in this area. Some parents believe in spanking harshly. Others believe in strong consistency. Who is there to tell the parent when it is too much? No one. The parent acts according to their own beliefs. This can be extremely dangerous and many children are severely abused because of it. Some parents believe that every misbehavior warrants a spanking when that is not the case.
I have witnessed parents that spanked their child for every little thing. For example, if the children did not pick up their crayons and put them away, they received a spanking. It was as if the only way in which to keep the children under their control was to spank them for every time they were perceived to be misbehaving. There are behaviors that are age appropriate with children. Of these, I do not believe that discipline is a necessity. Instead, the parent must talk to their children, teach them, and guide them as to what is appropriate and not appropriate. If a child is believed to be misbehaving as a toddler, the parent must then ask themselves if the child has been taught in this area before. One example of this would be temper tantrums with a two-year-old child. The child needs to learn that temper tantrums will not be tolerated. There are ways of teaching them, which include time outs. This is where the parent must guide the child and teach them what is right and wrong.
There seems to be confusion when it comes to the issue of spanking regarding those that believe their religion calls for it.. One parent spanked each of her children up to fifteen times with a dowel. She believed that the Bible said that it was Godís will for her to spank her children this way. The problem with discipline in the church is that the scriptures can be misread or misunderstood by some. I personally believe the term rod is to be symbolic of discipline. However, there are many that believe the rod refers to an actual rod. Therefore, when disciplining their children, they use a stick, dowel, paddle, wooden spoon etc. I do not believe that God condones hitting or striking a child and calling it discipline.
I have said it before and will say it again. Spanking a child is abusive. No child deserves to be hit for any reason. There are many ways to discipline a child that are age appropriate. There are healthy ways to discipline a child that do not involve hurting the child. Again, education is key to prevention. Parents need to be educated on the topic of discipline. I also believe that it is the responsibility of the leaders within the church to teach on the subject of spanking and discipline. If parents are not taught correctly on this issue, many more children will be abused.