Archive for February, 2010

Negative elements of spanking per Ross Campbell p.67

  • less effective the older a child is
  • less effective the more often it’s used
  • used often, it easily creates resentment, anger, anti-parent feelings in child
  • can easily become abusive
  • may encourage violent behavior in children
  • can leave deep emotional scars

William Sears, pediatrician, lists 10 reasons not to spank in The Discipline Book. He supplies explanation after each point; I won’t elaborate here:

  1. Hitting models hitting
  2. Hitting devalues the child
  3. Hitting devalues the parent
  4. Hitting may lead to abuse
  5. Hitting does not improve behavior
  6. Hitting is not actually biblical
  7. Hitting promotes anger—in children and in parents
  8. Hitting brings back bad memories
  9. Spanking has bad long-term effects
  10. Spanking doesn’t work

Here’s spanking done wrong: kevin swanson recommends spanking 20-30 times a day.

Here’s another example of spanking done wrong:

I had childhood friends who were given 25-100 swats per day. I sat through many meals where a child was removed from the table and spanked repeatedly for not eating his supper. Sometimes the child was taken away three or four times and swatted 3-5 times per incident. . . . Nearly every infraction is punishable by hard, multi-swat spanking. This means the number of swats/licks a child receives per day can reach abusive levels very quickly.


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honestly, i like in some ways how ted tripp says to spank (i don’t like frequency, no other options for childrearing, and would prefer covered). why? because in the spanking instructions to parents he (unwittingly?) includes a lot of the positive discipline elements that ross campbell recommends.

tripp makes the actual spanking part a very small part of the whole interaction, and includes focused attention (parent and child alone, talking, time) and physical contact (positive—hugging, holding).

So if you’re going to spank, those are great elements to include.

What I find works for myself more often than not is just doing the positve elements when a kid is disobedient, then the disobedience usually just dissolves. I look at disobedience like my gas light coming on—the child’s emotional tank is low. If I spend a few minutes filling it up, the disobedience usually (not always) becomes obedience.

Next, spanking done wrong.

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I think the fundamental flaw in many childrearing authors today (pearl, tripp, ezzo, etc) is the belief/assumption that obedience is the watershed issue in parenting.

Let me say that obedience is very, very important. That God wants a child to come to a point where he freely (thougth imperfectly, as we all live) chooses to honor his parents. Especially when young, teaching obedience is very important.

But that needs to be tempered by the fact that it’s really not the ultimate goal, as many authors say it is.

So what’s the watershed issue for parents? I think it’s belief. Right belief. At the end of my parenting journey, I want my kids full of right beliefs, right faith.

Obedience is a sub-goal, a result, a symptom. Making it the main thing can be problematic for a few reasons—it can lead to adversarial relationships, it can lead to creating children who are obedient and submissive when they should not be—like in cultic or social situations, it can lead to children feeling constantly guilty for their imperfections and sins, it can lead to children misunderstanding major aspects in the nature of God toward them–for example, the basis upon which God accepts us.

That’s why obedience training has to be tempered or influenced by the greater goal of influencing or inculcating right beliefs about God.

For example, when teaching obedience, what beliefs are you promoting in your child? Beliefs like: My love and acceptance is contingent on your obedience to me. Your plans and desires are not important.

Or beliefs like: We are learning obedience together; let me show you how to obey and let me show you how to accept God’s forgiveness. Let me tell you about who was punished for your sins and why.

It’s interesting, that teaching, like tripp recommends (and ezzo?), the first-time, no questions, happy attitude obedience is a really strange concept. It’s not in the Bible. It’s a concept of perfection. Even if you get a child to that point, they will go out into life and not live that way. We all sin every day. Kids need to be taught to be ready for this. To have heart warm to God, to accept His love and forgiveness, His correction, and allow Him to transform us. Sanctification is His work. It’s a process of waiting on Him, of study, of understanding Him.

Teaching a kid that he is good and acceptable to God because he obeys his parent is a lie. We are good and acceptable only in Christ. This is our unique Christian freedom. We do not earn or deserve God’s favor. Right belief in Christ is what makes us acceptable all our lives long. All our obedience is just “Thank You, God.”

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a great thing to read

We need to teach on marriage and family in a way that ministers grace to the single, widow, or infertile woman. We need to teach on submission and church authority structures in a way that equips women abused by the very leadership to which they were called to submit to boldly live out their giftings as co-heirs with Jesus Christ. We need to teach on motherhood in a manner that sets not it as the highest good but our conformity to Christ through its trials and our failures in it.

. . . She feels pressure to be like Ruth or the Proverbs 31 woman but not so much to be like Christ. But Scripture doesn’t give us that leeway. She was created in God’s image and is being conformed back to Christ’s. Period.

Thank you, Wendy.

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OK, here’s another bit of common sense I’ve gleaned. When reading a childrearing book, ask yourself: what attitude does this writer have towards children? Is it proud, overbearing, unmerciful, or conceited? Or is it humble, understanding, and compassionate?

When I read Pearls’ site, his attitude towards children surprises me by how unkindly he talks about them in some ways. Watch for this. Another lady who teaches childrearing classes in my church (mostly for troubled, abuse-risk homes) also was turned off by the harsh tone in his book.

Ezzo has this effect sometimes, too. A few months ago, a couple in our church just had their first baby, and I went to visit her a few days afterwards. I found her reading the Babywise book in Russian. I asked her what she thought of it, and her reply was interesting: “When I woke up this morning, I was so happy. But I’ve been reading this book all day, and now I feel like my child is a monster.”

Watch for this. When you read a certain author, what rises within you? I need to be in control? It’s-me-against-them? I can’t let my infant manipulate me. Crying is suspect. No mercy. I must always punish a wrong . . . .

Or do you feel compassion, a desire to be with your child, a desire to understand him more? Do you feel like you are on his side, working with him to help him understand the world and himself and God? Are you made to be more sensitive and attentive to the complete openness of your child’s heart toward you as his parent?

Does the book orient you to prioritizing your needs and desires as a parent/person above those of your child in a way that is unrealistic or teaches you to be selfish? Or does the author help you synthesize meeting the needs of your child with meeting your own needs?

Compare authors. Who really understand the physical, emotional, spiritual needs of children, of different age groups, etc. This is important. For example, if you choose to use Ezzo breastfeeding recommendations, that is your right as an educated parent, but be aware of what you need to watch out for:

One such book, On Becoming Babywise, has raised concern among pediatricians because it outlines an infant feeding program that has been associated with failure to thrive (FTT), poor milk supply failure, and involuntary early weaning. A Forsyth Medical Hospital Review Committee, in Winston-Salem N.C., has listed 11 areas in which the program is inadequately supported by conventional medical practice. The Child Abuse Prevention Council of Orange County, Calif., stated its concern after physicians called them with reports of dehydration, slow growth and development, and FTT associated with the program. And on Feb. 8, AAP District IV passed a resolution asking the Academy to investigate “Babywise,” determine the extent of its effects on infant health and alert its members, other organizations and parents of its findings.

Another research concern with Ezzos’ recommended CIO (cry it out) to be aware of:

Of course, the environment after birth needs to continue to protect the child from harm and toxins. One often unrecognized toxin results from stress. As little as ten minutes of crying alone causes baby’s blood oxygenation to decrease, blood pressure to rise, stress hormones to release, and even tiny brain bleeds to occur. When this occurs regularly, it actually rewires the baby’s brain to become anxious, depressed, and/or to experience other unhealthy states. Cortisol, one of the stress hormones, actually washes over the baby’s brain as a toxic coating, influencing dysfunctional development of synapses. The notion that crying is good for babies or even that it is not harmful has been unequivocally proven wrong.

I’ll also give a personal examlpe. Around age four, Skyla started saying the weirdest thing: “I’m going to run way . . . to the balcony!” In moments of frustration, she would say this. I puzzled about this and noted it, usually (thank You, Lord) just responding with a mild, “Please don’t talk that way” or something. Then I was flipping through a book just on four-year-olds, and the author described this exact running-away threat as unique to 4yo development. You know, it’s not something to panic over; overreacting just makes it worse. It’s just gone away.

What is the spiritual orientation of the author? This can be critical. Do not assume because an author claims Christianity, that this is true. The internet is so available. Do your research.

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Is spanking Biblically mandated?

I think this is a crux question. I think it’s crucial because many advocates teach this, like Trip and perhaps Dobson–I’ve not read his materials. I’m going to speculate a bit and say that the current spanking emphasis is probably a reaction to the hippi movement (ie., cast off all authority).

But it’s an interesting question of our beliefs, isn’t it? Do you believe that, as a Christian parent, you are required to “rod” your child? For example, viewing spanking as a universal command for childrearing assumes that spanking is universally effective (because God prescribed it for all kids).

But, short answer, I don’t think it’s true, that spanking is Biblically mandated (i.e., required) for godly childrearing. If you look at the scope of Scripture, this idea doesn’t make sense. Along with that, I don’t think that the main thrust of childrearing should be based on three to five verses in Proverbs.

The proverbs that speak of the rod are somewhat elusive. The rod in question is a literal shepherd’s staff–it’s about the height of a man, and thick. The application is also left up to speculation—where to strike—bottom or back or somewhere else?  Is the word “child” better translated “young man”? These are some speculations, but the idea of spanking as Biblically mandated needs to be examined closely by parents.

I’m not saying it’s unbiblical, but I’m saying it’s most likely not a practice commanded or even recommended by God.

Karen Campbell expresses some interesting thoughts along these lines.

I began to look at each of those one anothers of Scripture in a new way and found myself asking “How does this apply to relationship building with my children?” I read through the New Testament and through the book of Acts and read as though I was reading it all for the very first time. I took note of how Jesus responded to those who sincerely came to him in repentance. He forgave them and said “Go and sin no more.” He didn’t exact some sort of punishment on them. Of course, there were often natural consequences, but God also gives people grace to accept and address those consequences and experiencing consequences and learning from them is one way we grow in God’s grace.

I also realized that Jesus’ harshest words were for the Pharisees, those who took God’s word and added to it, making rules that placed terrific burdens on the backs of others. I asked myself “Do I do that to other people?” “Do I do that to children?” I began to see that even though I might not appear to be one outwardly, inwardly I was capable of acting like a Pharisee all the time. I had my own list of do’s and don’ts, especially with my own children. I had my own list of acceptable dress, behavior, etc. that went beyond what the Bible teaches. And the worst thing was that I was very capable of having expectations on others that I wasn’t expecting of myself.

As I began to think through the application of the one anothers in Scripture, realizing that they all apply to all Christians toward each other, husband and wife, parent and child, elder and church members, etc., I started to realize how much of how we relate to children violates these one anothers.

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spanking. I’m going to do this in several posts so I can keep it organized and readable. (i find it ironic somehow that i am writing about this, but life is weird like that.)

People talk about reading such and such book and just weed out the good from the bad, spit out the bones, etc. This advice assumes certain things, which perhaps the person being spoken to doesn’t possess, certain knowledge or life experience, or certain personality traits perhaps. Well, common sense is learned, so here’s some common sense I’ve learned so far, though i am no expert myself.

Some spanking adovocates are like those described in Ross Campbell’s Relational Parenting:

There are people who seem to remember childhood spankings almost with fondness. These are generally the people who advocate spanking. I believe these folks were the ones well loved by their parents. Because their emotional tanks were full, they could accept spankings from their loving parents as an extension of their love. And they recognize that the punishment helped to shape them into respectful, mature adults. p67

I could be a spanking advocate of this category. i was spanked in my childhood, though i have almost no memories of this (and my parents said just looking at me would bring me to tears). so i have no “negative” associations with spanking; i remember this maybe once happening.

My first commonsense comment about spanking leads nicely out of this point. Whatever childrearing materials you read: Spanking should be rare, and not a first resort.

There are people today who defend what they call a biblical approach to discipline by relying on three verses fromthe book of Proverbs: 13:24, 23:14, and 29:15. They seem to believe that corporal punishment is the primary way of disciplining and relating to a child. These folks neglect to mention the hundreds of Scripture verses dealing with love, compassion, sensitivity, nurturing, understanding, forgiveness, guidance, kindness, affection, and giving—as though a child had little or no right to these expressions of Christian love. (Campbell, 68; emphasis mine)

So there’s a first point, if you going to use spanking or are reading about spanking, it shouldn’t be the first resort or the primary way of disciplining a child. Spanking is a punishment, and as such, it is only a small part of  the whole topic of discipline. Spanking is negative. Disciplining should be much more full of positives—focused attention, physical contact, eye contact, requests, gentle physical manipulation to help a child fulfill a request. . . .

I stress this also because a lot of Christian parents start their parenting journey with this one tool in their hand. They don’t know any other way of training their kids, positive or negative. And therefore they naturally resort heavily to this one factor. I did this. And I hated my constantly-negative interactions with my two-year-old. I mostly just threatened it, and that was enough, but that was hideous. So I started reading, reading, reading . . . .

OK, that’s all for now.

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