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.