Hit Me With Your Best Shot

When I started this blog, I would frequent online parenting forums and strike up discussions and often debates with parents.  I've since stopped this practice for a few reasons: 1. People are a lot more bold online when they do not have to talk face to face.

2. When debates take place online, people tend to read only what they want to read or generalize ideas and concepts.

3. Mothers of toddlers will never admit they are wrong.

Okay, I threw that last one in as a jab in jest.  Inevitably, I always seem to end up debating a mother on one topic or the other and they always seem to be the mothers of toddlers.  I started this blog when my children were 5 and 6 and I tend to write this blog as a personal journey of my successes and failures in parenthood.  Therefore, I write on what stage I am in currently in parenting.

I've modified my parenting style over the years based on what was effective and what wasn't.  I'm by no means knocking mothers of toddlers, but needless to say, parenting toddlers during the cognitive years was far easier than say a hormonal teenager with a facebook account.

Last week, an article was published in US Health stating that spanking children led to mental disorders in adults and I could not help but comment on the inaccuracies and biases of this article.

First, the article did not differentiate from blatant, physical abuse of children and a calm, measured swat on the behind , which I've come to find out is a common correlation.  If you say you spank your child, people imagine a belt being administered to the back or face of a child by a parent in a rage of anger and frustration.  Let me set the record straight, that is abuse, period.  No discussion.

Back on topic, the second problem I had with the article was that the evidence found mental health issues in only 7% of those spanked?  Seems a little low to be conclusive to me?

So I was simply stating my points with these findings and also trying to make the case that abuse and spanking are two very different issues.  Enter the mother of a toddler.  Plus she was a child behavioral specialist.  From the Northeast.  And she went to Columbia.

Her point of view was that spanking in any form was abuse.  Then went on to say that children should be reared as free spirits with free will and that a parent should submit to the will and wishes of the child. In her opinion, discipline and boundaries was controlling and forcing a child to conform against their wishes. Classical Permissive Parenting.

My perspective was that clear discipline and boundaries was essential to effectively raise children.  The mother's point of view was that this was forcing my will upon my child instead of letting them figure it out on their own and that I was teaching my child to conform to society.  Her philosophy was that children are born innocent and harmless and somehow they will figure life out through education and logically thought.

I resisted the urge to quote scripture or reveal my Christian faith in my posts as someone of her background probably would have tuned me out and generalized me as a ultra-right wing fanatic.  However, a few pastors, also involved in the discussions, emailed me privately afterwards to thank me for my position.  Guess I'm not very secretive?

By the way, this mother verbally chastised or should I say degraded anyone who disagreed with her position yet she failed to offer any advice or constructive criticism to anyone on this topic.

So here on Legacy Dad, I thought I'd share my Christian perspective on this very topic.

Hebrews 12:4-11

In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,

“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline —then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all.

Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! 10 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

What I take from this passage is that discipline and sometimes hardship is God's way of teaching us as both children and adults.  The writer also contrasts that a father that does not discipline his sons and daughters creates illegitimate children, meaning non-productive members of society.  But discipline is actually God's way of  training us for righteousness and peace.

I'm not going to use Proverbs 13:24 because it's overused and misused in this context.  

However, Proverbs 19:18-20

Discipline your children, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to their death.

A hot-tempered person must pay the penalty; rescue them, and you will have to do it again.

20 Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise.

I often hear from parents a similar argument as the mother used.  They do not want to stifle their child's development, creativity or emotional well being by overly disciplining their child.  I don't think any parent wants that?  However, this scripture says lack of discipline will lead to the very thing they are trying to prevent or even death.

I've already written way too much in this post so let me summarize.

We are talking about shaping our children for a productive future based on morals, values and biblical principles.  This is done through faith, grace, encouragement, unconditional love, reasonable boundaries and moderate discipline.

Discipline is merely a tool in our parenting belt and must be used in conjunction with all the other tools.  As always, moderation prevails.  You cannot over love and under discipline or over discipline and under love.  It must be a holistic approach.

I could stretch this out for pages on what types of discipline is effective for what age, etc, etc.  But honestly, each parent and child is different and these decisions must be tailored to the parent and child.  There is no "One Size Fits All" approach to discipline and discipline adapts as the child ages and requires other forms and types of boundaries and discipline.  For more on this topic, I encourage you to read Boundaries With Children or Boundaries With Teens.

To the Mother I debated, in all fairness, she was abused as a child so I can understand her point of view and feelings on the topic of spanking.  I wish her the best and I prayed for her that night and I thank her for the inspiration for this post.

Esse Quam Videri

- Lance