Archive for the ‘Wm Sears’ Category

Couple of things I want to say on this topic.

One main thing is that it’s better to cultivate the natural love power that God instilled in your child for you, than to spend most of your time exercising the punishment or negative power that you have.

What does this mean? Clay Clarkson in Heartfelt Discipline talks about the natural affection children have for their parents. I think Ross Campbell speaks of this, too. Parents are in a unique position to transmit love and acceptance to children that no one else in the world can do for that child.

Not long ago, I understood that God is not scared or repulsed by my sin. He dealt with it in Christ on the cross. Now I am perfectly accepted. And you know, it’s only that acceptance that moves me towards postive transformation—not fear, shame or guilt.

Be careful with parenting instructions that teach you to be heavy handed, to prove your parental authority by exertion of force, to use mental or emotional manipulation or unkindness with your child. How does God treat you? How does He feel towards you? The way you treat your chilren changes you. Who are you becoming?

Yes, there is a lot we want to see changed or developed or transformed in our kids—God sees the same with us. God doesn’t demand perfection from us, and we cannot demand this from our kids. He’s slowly working in us “to will to do of his good pleasure.” Childrearing is part of that process in your child’s life if s/he becomes a believer. It’s OK that it takes time, years, to be transformed. It doesn’t have to be when a child is 2 or 3 or even 10. Christlike transformation is a lifelong process for us all.

Use of positive desire in childrearing is extremely desirable. As much as possible, we should be dispensing positive elements like focused attention, time, pleasant eye contact, holding, hugging, etc. And doing that while we are instructing or correcting. It doens’t mean our kids never cry or experience unpleasant things. But the overall tone of our interactions should be positive.

Pleasant feelings are the healthiest motivators—if the pleaant feelings are moving in the direction of guiding the child to do what is right. For this reason, training should be as positive and pleasant as possible. And also for this reason, punishment should not be the primary means of relating to a child.

This important concept of using positive means to control your child’s behavior is exactly the opposite of what is being taught from some Christian sources today. . . . Misunderstanding the true needs of their children, reactive parents have gone along with harsh, discipline-oriented parenting and then later watched their chilren develop anti-parent, antiauthority, anti-God attitudes and values. (Campbell, RP, 165-166)

Bad power is the power like the unsaved “lord” over those beneath them. It’s an interesting thing for me to examine how I am using my power as a parent. Am I using it to spank? Yell? Punish by withholding myself? To assert my parental authority? Or am I using it to edify and nurture? To bless and give pleasure while training?

The commands to God for children to obey their parents are given to the children.  God didn’t say “parents, make your kids obey you.” Sure, at young ages, we definitely train and teach them to obey. But we do that knowing that they need to reach maturity where they themselves desire and choose to do this, imperfectly, sure. But Christ lived the perfect life for us all. And we are in Him, we have that perfection applied to our accout already.

Parents, need, at some level, to accpt vulnerability before their kids. Strangs as it may sound. But . . . I am still thinking . . .

more to come if i can get my thoughts in order . . .


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I admit, this was my automatic assumption earlier. The only way I knew or could conceive of to make kids behave was to spank.

However, as I started this unexpected journey into childraising options—mostly driven by my own desperation—I found that there are actually a lot of ways to graciously help children learn obedience. It requires a lot of physical activity on the part of the parent (hence, for example, this site’s name “get off your butt parenting“) and some thoughtfulness, but it’s usually a lot “happier” approach to childrearing.

Learning this stuff is a process. When I first started not spanking, I yelled in order to motive/punish. I quickly realized that instead of using physical force (spanking), I was using verbal force (yelling). Not great, but it was a stage I went through.

Then, I learned things like distraction (to get a child off of a not-allowed object to an allowed object) and natural/logical consequences.

I stopped thinking about spanking/punishing for every offense. Some parents are trained that this is vital. It’s not. Kids are learning and make mistakes. Now, if I am working on a particular issue with a particular child, I am consistent so the habit is learned. I do also have some general house rules, like you don’t eat if you don’t help clean up (and not eating is not an option).

But it also broadened my thinking about parenting in general, of all the positive training there is to do, that kids even want to do.

For example, right now I’m a bit concerned about how Skyla treats Vika sometimes, just disrespecting her person by hitting or shoving. It’s becoming a pattern that needs to be dealt with. So I’m catching it each time with verbal requests; then once I did to her what she did to Vika—that was unpleasant for her but it didn’t help her change. I actually forget what consequence I am applying right now—I hope I remember before tomorrow!

But the deeper issue I’ve been thinking about is that I need to teach Skyla ways that she can express love to Vika, to train her to make this a priority in her life. So I’m pondering how to do this. My first idea is to have her pray for Vika. After that, maybe thinking of a gift to give her or some other way to endear Vika to her on a regular basis. Maybe you have an idea?

Another thing I’ve learned is truth-telling. I used to use that old routine of . . . “If you dont’ come now, I’m leaving.” Walking away, waving bye. . . . All in the hopes that the child will come crying, running to you out of fear of being left behind. How many times have I done that? It’s miserable, but it usually works.

But all this stuff got me thinking that I would just tell the truth. So now I do. “Vika, I can’t leave until you come, so would you please come and get your coat on?”

Oh my word. Why did no one tell me how effective that is? They just come. Now sometimes, very rarely, I have to say, “If you don’t come now, we will not come back here to play” (logical consequence). But that’s the exception.

So anyway, I’m just trying to say that not spanking really doesn’t mean permissiveness. It could, sure. But it’s not a given.

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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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