Got a Rod to Spare

“Spare the rod; spoil the child.” If I have heard it once, I’ve heard it a thousand times. A little over a year ago, I attended a training and the lecturer made mention at how the saying has been misinterpreted. He said we all think it means to spank our children when necessary, but the passage references sheepherders and they used two tools, the staff and the rod. He said the staff was used to guide sheep; bring them back coax them and the rod was used to keep away other animals or to protect the sheep. His theory is if herders beat their sheep they would run away. So his interpretation of “spare the rod spoil the child” is not to spank them, but to protect your children from predators, lest they spoil.

Now I’m not one for a whole lot of preaching and I am fully aware that every parent has an opinion on spanking, some stronger than others. So let me agree to disagree with some of you right now. I found the lecturers interpretation very interesting, I had never heard it put that way, but the saying “spare the rod, spoil the child,” is not in the bible. However, what it does say is:

Proverbs 13:24 (NKJV)

[24] He who spares his rod hates his son,

But he who loves him disciplines him promptly.

A few weeks ago at a family function, I raised the issue to a group of mothers of all ages to get their opinion on spanking. Some in the crowd felt strongly that spanking was not an option, they argued their points of violence begets violence and how spanking helps to raise bullies. Others argued, the importance of children being disciplined and having respect for authority and understanding rules and consequences.

“Respect is a two way street,” one mother and grandmother said. “Where is the respect for the child?” I read an article about a month ago about how we have become a generation of child-centered homes. The author highlighted how indulgent parents have become. How our children run our homes and our lives. Little Johnny decides what he eats, what time he goes to bed, what he does throughout the course of the day and parents have become the flunkies.

Ouch, I remember thinking, he stepped all over my toes. So where is the middle ground? Give your child some control, the books say, it will enhance cognitive thinking skills and enforce their personal authority. I can’t really say I disagree with that. I think it’s important for my children to be able to make decisions and that takes practice. But I also believe it to be my job to keep them safe. So, anything than can cause them harm will cause me to spank their butt. So playing in a parking lot will definitely get them a pop.

Proverbs 22:15 (NKJV)

[15] Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child;

The rod of correction will drive it far from him.

So no, my children do not have free reign to disrespect adults, have temper tantrums just because and throw things when they don’t get their way. My daughter clearly knows that if mommy gets to the number 5 the consequences go beyond a time out.

That’s right, I use time out too. I don’t think spanking is the “only” means of discipline, but I’m definitely not opposed to it, time out or re-directing. So to spank or not to spank, like most parenting decisions is personal and to some very sensitive. To me, no matter what your method, like most things with children, consistency is the key.


13 thoughts on “Got a Rod to Spare

  1. So, my name is Nakiah and I do “time outs”. My Mom thinks it’s stupid and says I need to “whip him” whenever I complain my kid has done something. But that was done to me and I remember how I used to HATE her sometimes and spent a large portion of my childhood thinking she didn’t love me cause, really, all she DID was spank. She was old school so she didn’t talk to us about our feeling other than to sit us in front of an ABC after-school special about suicide and tell us “you betta watch this and learn what NOT to do”. Now that I’m older, it’s funny. She only did what she was taught about kids and we’ve had many MANY discussions about how to discipline. For one thing, I let kids be kids. Am I gonna give my kid a time-out for jumping on the bed, no….just don’t wear shoes. Am I gonna give him a timeout cause he’s whining, no…..he can continue to play that violin for other folks so he knows it will NEVER bother me. Am I gonna give him a timeout for questioning me when I tell him to do something, no…..cause I want him to question authority, no matter how much it might irritate me. And more likely than a time out, he’ll lose privileges, like toys and tv(to which my Mother told me she would call Social Services cause I refused to let him watch tv one weekend, when the weekends are his only tv time. What can I say, she crazy. lol). I feel like that has a bigger impact. If he hits at school, which he did when we first moved here, he lost so many privileges and access to his stuff, he was in his room just staring into space…and he eventually wised up and realized he liked playing with his legos and cars. Now, HAVE I ever spanked him, YES. When driving cross country and he opened the door, I sure as hell did whack those little legs. But even when he gets spanks it’s only 3 swats on a clothed behind cause that’s all I can muster and that happens about once a month, maybe. I’m more likely to threaten to “beat his ass”, something that never happens but he assumes MAY happen… day…..if he doesn’t watch it. lol That said, he’s pretty laid back. Doctors say that at least a half hour of play time with a parent can snuff out most behavioral issues, but most parents don’t know what “play time” even means. I try to give this little guy at least an hour a day IN ADDITION to currently being his teacher. He doesn’t hit anymore and completely respectful of adults and even though I think he’s a beast sometimes, other parents tell me how well behaved he is. I’m always like “Who are you talking about? Auggie?” Cause to me, he’s crazy as hell but I see people whose kids are cursing them out, hitting them, smoking crack on the weekends(not really, but you never know cause they are bad as hell) and my kid told another kid the other day that “cursing is for grownups, like wine, kids don’t do that”. And after I finished laughing at the fact he knows wine is only for grownups, I had to say I’m proud of him cause, I am. And I don’t have to beat his ass to make it happen… least, not yet. 🙂 xo

    • Nakiah, thank you so much for your honesty and for all your great examples of specific incidents and their punishment in your home. And I agree with much of what you said. Lord knows I don’t spank my children every day, or every week for that matter, I am just not opposed to it under certain circumstances. I agree the way of old was not in our best interest, the whole because I said so attitude was not at all in our best interest. But I don’t think a little fear is a bad thing. I have a 20 year-old brother that I helped raise and when he was in high school I heard him tell his friends he would never smoke weed cause his sister would kill him. And although I would never physically kill him, if the thought of what I “might” do kept him drug free and in any way contributed to him being a rising sophomore in college…I’ll take that.

  2. I believe at the end of the day one of the most important lessons a parent can teach a child is discipline and/or self control. Having said that, I strongly believe in whipping a CHILD’S behind!! You see once that child becomes an ADULT here in America the penalties for not having learned those lessons can be life imprisonment and even a death sentence. These ADULT disciplinary procedures are far more severe than disciplinary procedures for a child which may include spanking. At the end of the day I want to be the parent who feels he did EVERYTHING within his power to teach his child discipline, that includes spanking.

  3. Diane… I will have to agree with you on this one! I do believe children have a voice but within reason. I don’t think spanking is the answer for first consequences, but like you said when you get to “5” talking is not an option. Thankfully, I didn’t have to get to “5” very often and must say I raised pretty good kids!

  4. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: CHILDREN have changed BECAUSE PARENTS have changed. I was spanked, and spanked, and spanked, and spanked some more – and I turned out JUST FINE…I’m not in jail…I’m not on drugs…I’m educated…so….

  5. Chocolatemother I agree that this is a sensitive topic for many. With the parent-child interactions I see, I worry about the children of parents who may have no disciplinary measures other than spanking. It seems that some parents will hit their children for every single wayward step. In my opinion, that is problematic–especially given that some steps that seem wayward are really not depending on where a child stands developmentally.
    There are so many other disciplinary methods available as others have commented on; and the experts would say that the noncorporal methods (time outs, redirection, ignoring, withholding privileges, etc) are superior to spanking. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children not be spanked. I don’t know how many parents agree with the academy but I think the studies they present saying that frequent spanking leads to more aggressive behavior deserve a look.

    • If there are “cases” where frequent spankings netted more aggressive behavior from the child then the “spankings” were not administered by an EXPERT like my daddy!! Lol When he turned me loose I was as tame as a church mouse. Whatever it was I was whipped for I didn’t do “that” anymore. I must say I did find something new to be whipped for though. Let me add this, if I could go back and change anything about my childhood I wouldn’t change a thing! If my father had tried “time out” on me I would have had no fear of “wrong doing” and certainly wouldn’t be the man I am today. I wasn’t a bad kid but I wasn’t afraid of ANYTHING or ANYONE but my FATHER and his belt. For the record my mom was rather handy with the leather too. She was definitely not as skilled as my pappy though. Anyway, all I’m saying is sometimes for some kids you have to tear that azz up!! I’m definitely in agreement with SHONDA on this one.

      • Well Hump I can tell you this. I totally understand the apprehension to spank. I think there are rules that a lot of folks don’t follow. I don’t believe in spanking for everything. Although your baby cousin won’t catch a spanking for jumping on the couch or not picking up her toys or even talking back, she certainly will get one for throwing something in anger, public tantrums, disrespecting adults, and a few more. She rarely catches one without a few warnings and I have never used anything other than my hand and always to her bottom. So I guess I am trying to say, when used appropriately, I have found them quite effect in certain situations.

    • Totally agree Angela, especially with punishment and developmental development. I do think that way too many folks spank when angry, which ain’t never good. I also think it important that parents spend time every day evaluating their child and their relationship to see what works and doesn’t work, if you find you have to spank your babies every day, or every other day….there’s a problem. Just as I would say if you have to continue any line of discipline over and over it needs to be re-evaluated.

  6. “Expert” was the wrong term to use in my previous post. I don’t know that there are any medical experts on this matter. I think that we as parents recognize our children for the individuals that they are and we figure out what disciplinary measures work on an individualized basis. It is not one size fits all, at least not in my home.

  7. This is a sensitive topic…thanks Diane lol…..First, let me speak as a therapist….I have seen a gazillion children and what happens when they are not disciplined at all on inconsistently…more often than not, parents bring them to me and want me to change the child. And more often than not, I tell the parents that the child can go, but they need to stay and learn some things. I once had an experience with the parents of a teenager where the mother stated that she couldn’t get her son to iron his clothes…I looked at her and asked her what did she mean? She was dead serious…she told me she would ask him to iron his clothes and then he would leave the house or do anything else BUT iron his clothes…and for split second, I imagined how that would’ve gone down in my parents house or my house….then I asked what the consequence was for disobeying her and she looked at me and put her head down…and I felt sad for her, because she was in front of me and ashamed that she had not disciplined her son. So, as a therapist, I believe and advocate for a reward/consequence system, that usually works for kids of all ages….Now, speaking as a mother, the mother of an autisitc son and a “typical” child, you have to figure out what works for the child, what will increase compliance….I was raised old school, so we all know what that means…I think we all have to find a balance between the two worlds….most of the time now, all I have to say is , “Do u want crazy mama or loving nurturing mama” and I get results… has taken some time to get even close to finding a balance, but I think my husband I are doing ok….I just better never end up on a talk show about being a bad parent, then u guys are gonna see some fighting lol….thanks Diane, as always, u are doing your thing!!!!

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