In case this is the first post of mine you read on this topic, please start by checking out this post in which I list several things “the rod” is and several things it is not. There are more than enough misconceptions out there to keep us talking about this for the next 20 years but I want to address how our family looks at the 6 that Tripp lays out; 3 in this post and 3 here.
To reiterate what I’ve said in the other two posts on this topic, we do not follow the guidance and instruction of the Pearls, the authors of To Train Up A Child. We also aren’t on the other end of the spectrum either, where we never use form(s) of physical correction. All that being said, this is a continuation of probably one of the most personal posts in this series in that I will be explaining how my husband and I view each of these objections and how we still view using “the rod” as a God-ordained component of shepherding our child.
The following objections are laid out by Tripp after he walks us through several distortions of the rod. I alluded to these here and will address them throughout my responses to the following 3 objections (the first 3 are here).
Objection 4: I’m afraid of teaching them to hit
If you don’t use physical discipline out of anger – i.e. responding immediately to a situation with a spanking – your child will recognize that a spanking only comes after intensive and gracious conversation that gets to the heart of the issue and not just the behavior.
Spanking or any other form of physical correction should never be used out of frustration. As a parent, it is your job to train yourself in God’s ways and learn the harness your emotions through His strength and wisdom.
Objection 5: It doesn’t work
I will concede that it seems to not work. However, what I hope you are willing to see is there are reasons why it doesn’t work…which are: spanking in anger, inconsistency, lack of continuity, and ineffective spanking. Let’s look at each one of those.
Spanking in anger: no one, especially a child, is going to submit themselves to someone who is angry and out of control. Even the littlest of children have a sense of justice and while they might seem to respond well to the spanking, it is out of fear and not placing themselves under your God-given authority.
Inconsistency: if they don’t know what will elicit a spanking, they’re going to test their boundaries. Constantly. I know I would. So why would I be inconsistent with my child?
Lack of continuity: it takes 17 times repeating an action to make it a habit. I’m not saying that after you spank a child 17 times it will always work after that but I am pointing out that we are not changed overnight and neither are our kiddos. We’d be foolish to give up on a workout regiment after 3 days of not seeing change, wouldn’t we? Then why do we give up on parenting actions after a similar amount of time?
Ineffective spanking: we cloth diaper our children. It would be a complete waste of time if I spanked our daughter through a thick cotton prefold, waterproof (=durable) cover, and her pants. Not that I want to hurt her or leave a welt but the point of the rod is for her to feel it.
Objection 6: I’m afraid of being arrested for child abuse
Our society thinks of spankings as the Pearls and other Christian fundamentalists have promoted them. I firmly believe his is not how it should be done and is not how we do it in our home. That being said, I love what Tripp has to say about this:
Spanking should be done in the privacy of the home. It should not be a public matter…public spanking may add the idea of “shaming” to a spanking that should be private three-way event – God, parent, and child.
Which brings up the important question of how to discipline outside of the home. If you have been biblically parenting at home, you will rarely have to face a situation in public that would warrant a spanking…in which case, I’d probably just remove our child from the situation and go home anyway.
What do you think of my responses to these objections? Has this treatment of the subject of physical punishment produced fruitful conversation with your spouse? Feel free to comment below or contact me directly.
This is part of a 31 day series of shepherding a child’s heart in 5 minutes a day (click here for the series intro). I pray this series edifies you as much as reading Tripp’s book has encouraged and challenged my husband and I in how we raise our children. Subscribe to the blog in the side bar if you’d like to get posts emailed to you in a weekly digest or subscribe on your favorite blog reader.