Christians and Gentle Disipline - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 29 Old 12-10-2002, 09:08 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I have always practiced gentle discipline with my children, who are three and one. (Home birth, family bed~ we are all the way!)Then, last spring my husband and I found God became Christians. In my AP circle, we have the good kids. In our church circle, we have the "entergetic" kids! I know the kids at church are spanked. Our church has a lot of very AP families, with the single ovious exception. Almost all of the kids at church are angels (but not all).

What do other Christian AP families believe?

To examine the evidence I know of~

The Bible talks about the rod. The rod is a stick used to guide sheep, such as to block off a path they should not travel on, or even to beat off predators, if I am correct. But I think there is one part in there that talks about black and blue marks? Does the rod mean to hit?

Would Jesus ever hit anyone, expessially a child?! Not exactly do unto others, turn the other cheek...

God does not really treat us as equals and try to reason with us to do the right thing. He says we will go to Hell if we are bad, which seems to be spanking on a much larger scale.

I am soooo confused.

I have always loved Mothering and I hope if there are any Christians here, they can tell me honestly what they think is right, to help me sort this out.

Just to clarify~ I would never consider spanking for age-apropiate behavior or little things. I am just wondering about the biggies, like repeated complete defiance form our three year old. To be honest, I don't know if I could actually bring myself to spank anyway.

Any insights?
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#2 of 29 Old 12-10-2002, 11:15 PM
 
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Ihave never heard anything about the Bible condoning spanking. It does mention the rod but the rod was used for three things:

To hold up as a standard so the sheep could see where to go
To gently nudge the sheep back on the right path
To beat of preditors

I am sure some shepards misused thier rods just as somepeople misuse those verses.If we used the rod of discipline effectively and consistantly I don't see where there would really be a need for spanking.

The Bible also doesn't nessecarily condemn spanking (it is surprisingly silent) but does say to be gentle without children and not to exasperate them.

I think christians who ascribe to a abey without questioning philoshophy do thier children a great disservice. Sure I could beat my children into sumission without ever allowing them to questions me but that doesn't teach them anything. I want my children to know why certain behavior is expected, why it is important and I want them to be able to take those things into the real world.

The truest answer to violence is love. The truest answer to death is life. The only prevention for violence is for the heart to have no violence within it.  We cannot prevent evil through any system devised by mankind. But we can grapple with evil and defeat it, but only with love—real love.

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#3 of 29 Old 12-10-2002, 11:57 PM
 
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I dont believe the Bible endorses spanking at all, I think it is clear that the rod is used for guidance.

As in "thy Rod and thy staff, they comfort me, they leadeth me...ect ect ect"


Not "thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me, so whop me upside the head with it"

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#4 of 29 Old 12-11-2002, 12:28 AM
 
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As a Christian and a new parent - ds is 15 months - I struggle with this also. Luckily, I have a great example to work from - my mother. She only spanked us when we did something VERY serious and when she did, she did it in love. She would sit us down (not in the heat of the moment, but later) and explain what we did wrong, why she was punishing us, and how much she loved us. She would spank us (not very hard really) and then hold us afterwards.

Looking back, I remember learning my lesson and knowing that she loved me enough to discipline me! I think that spanking - when done correctly - can add to a parent/child relationship, although I am sure that those over in "Gentle Discipline" would disagree.

It really is a personal decision. I don't think that all Christians or all parents should spank - many would do it wrong. Pray about it and don't feel pressured to do something you don't want to do. We still have not made our decision here - have to see how things go as ds grows. I know an equal number of great Christian families that spank as I do that don't.

Hope that helps.

Susan

PS - Would love to hear how you came to Christ!

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#5 of 29 Old 12-11-2002, 01:34 AM
 
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Abimommy,

I am laughing so hard I have tears running down my face. I am just picturing Jesus whopping misbehaving people on the head at the sermon on the mount.

"Hey you listen up" Whop Whop

Quote:
Not "thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me, so whop me upside the head with it"



Before you were conceived, I wanted you. Before you were born I loved you. Before you were a minute old, I would have died for you. That is the miracle of life. ~Maureen Hawkins~
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#6 of 29 Old 12-11-2002, 03:44 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Abimommy~ that was so funny!

TexasSuz~ Sure! I love to tell it!

My then two-year-old would not go to sleep for anything late one night, so I was sitting on the couch trying to bore him into it. I wanted to read, but he kept playfully grabing away whatever I had, so I looked at our book shevles and just happened to see one of those tiny Gideon Bibles we had aquired somewhere along the line. It was so little it didn't interest him, and I just had this unreal *feeling* overcome me as I read. My son passed out in my lap, and I couldn't stop reading! I ended up praying to Jesus, half-crying, and I even signed my name in the back where they put the page for new believers. Of course, the next day I told my husband and he gave me a look... But we found an amazing church (after trying eight!) and he has become a true Christian himself! The thing that really cemented it for me, was the complete and outright, unbelievable and direct answers to my prayers. Things have happened that have just taken my breath away. I am just so glad it happened! No one ever told me that being a Christian would feel so wonderful, or that knowing God would make me so happy! Kind of like homebirth, it's one of those amazing little secrets you have to tap into, or you could go your whole life without knowing what it really means.
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#7 of 29 Old 12-11-2002, 11:43 AM
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WOW!!

Some of you guys are really blessed to be around so many nice Christian parents.

'Wasn't the case for me as a baby Christian (and very young parent) I was told by *everyone* that you *must* beat your children with a literal rod because "the Bible says so".

Even though it went against my own gut I did this horrible thing.

....Until I started doing some reading and research of my own and discovered that the Bible really *doesn't* say these nasty things (Note: I never was strict enough or hitting my children enough to satisfy any of these folks but that I did *at all* was bad on my part...helps me understand people being influenced by cults)

The church we're going to now doesn't teach on these subjects (Pastor assumes parents have enough of their own common sense and discernment to parent without a pastor telling them how)

There is a lot of diversity in the church, some parent gently, others...well,...don't.

Debra Baker
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#8 of 29 Old 12-11-2002, 11:12 PM
 
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I hope its alright to mention this here, but I'm on a wonderful yahoogroup called positive christian AP.
Its a positive discipline list from a Christian perspective. I've gotten wonderful input and support there
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#9 of 29 Old 12-12-2002, 04:29 AM
 
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WOW! What a great testimony PerfectLove! I know what you mean about direct answers to prayer! I am holding mine - my dear sweet ds! Your story really encouraged me though - thanks!

Webbeccjo: How do you get to a yahoo group? I am new to "groups" and don't really know what to do.

Susan
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#10 of 29 Old 12-12-2002, 11:50 AM
 
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I just went and signed up for that group.... What a relief to find a group I might just fit into!! I definitely don't fit in with the other parents at the church Dh and I attend.

As far as the rod verses, I agree with what's been said here... I can't see Jesus beating people and to me to be a Christian means to try and be like Christ. I was spanked growing up and I have spanked my children, but my husband and I have commited to a non-violent way to raise our children so I'm always looking to learn about gentle discipline!
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#11 of 29 Old 12-12-2002, 12:14 PM
 
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You have gotten some great answers to your question. I think it is a question we have all asked ourselves, and struggle with from time to time. There are several old threads on this subject that had some very good insights. I'm assuming they are in the archives. If you do a search on Discipline and the Spare the Rod, you should be able to find them.

I have some very good friends that use the traditional Christian "spanking" methods, and it is so sad to see their children grow up to resent them and treat others cruely. There are so many better ways to guide and educate children then beating them. Proverbs says to "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it." I choose to train up my children in the way of love, peace, hope, and faith, not fear and violence.

~b
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#12 of 29 Old 12-12-2002, 01:25 PM
 
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Don't want to get into a debate about spanking but I totally disagree spanking and "beating" are always the same thing and that the words can be used interchangeably. I also disagree that children who get spanked grow up to resent their parents and treat others cruely.

Like I said, I think that spanking, when done correctly, is a valid and positive form of discipline. My mother's use of spanking was in no way "violent!" In fact, it was very loving. I know countless others who were spanked as children and are better people today because of it.

Spanking may not be for you, or for everyone, but it can be a loving, positive form of discipline when practiced with love and concern.

Just my 2 cents...and a different way to look at the issue...
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#13 of 29 Old 12-12-2002, 01:27 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Really thankyou, everyone!
This has just been so helpful to hear all the great reasons not to.

There are a lot of Christian topics I am so interested in now, like I have just heard of Zion Birth and letting God plan your family size, and Sonlight curriculum, and even that there are Christains who don't celebrate Christmas!... I am just overflowwing. I feel like I just walked into a whole other alternative Christain world and am rethinking everything, in a good way!

It's nice to know there are other Christains here!


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#14 of 29 Old 12-12-2002, 01:37 PM - Thread Starter
 
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TexasSuz~
I think we posted at the same time!
I just wanted to say, I definitely see your point, too.
One of my best friends at church is completely AP, but she and her husband spank for the biggies. They have great kids and great realtionships with them. I think the attitude behind spanking is what's different, in the situations where spanking works for some families. If that makes sence.

BTW, I also just heard of letting the holy spirit lead you while you unschool!! Do any of you know about this?
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#15 of 29 Old 12-12-2002, 02:40 PM
 
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In my opinion, a spanking is hitting. And you cannot hit someone in love. Hitting is always an act of hate.

There won't be an ultimate agreement on what the Bible says on this, and many other issues, because people interpret it differently. So if you are looking for a reason to justify hitting a child, you will probably find one, and if you are looking for a reason to justify gentle discipline, you will find that in the Bible too.

I think it is mistake to take spanking out of a conventional context, where volumes of research have shown it is harmful to hit children, and try to focus on it as 'only' a religious issue. From a scientific, emotional, psychological, or sociological perspective, spanking has been proven harmful. If a religious discussion addressed that, it might be interesting. But usually this fact is completely ignored. In many other area's, such as politics, people are willing to consider context and current events when applying bibilical passages to gain understanding in their lives.

Why not with spanking?

Heartmama

Mother is the word for God on the hearts and lips of all little children--William Makepeace Thackeray
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#16 of 29 Old 12-13-2002, 06:53 PM
 
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Hi,

My mom also spanked us and it was much like texas's mom...we were sent to our room so that everyone could cool down and then when it was time to have "the talk" we were called down.

This taught me that my mother tried to exert self-contol and assurance in her actions. I also heard the verse "do not spare the rod and spoil the child" I think in psalms or proverbs...not sure. And for myself I rely on New testament teachings and only refer to the Old Testament for reference...so I keep that in my bonnet as guidance. Not as a command or the only way to assure a non-spoiled child.

My mom now says that she doesn't see any reason for spanking and that she feels there are many other ways to punish a child and that it would only be a last resort kind of thing...so we all grow and change, and how we see parenting changes...even as a grandmother, in her case.

I think when the time comes for punishment that "really hits home", I will let my child chose what punishment he wants...that being said, a spanking will probably be on the list and if that is what he choses then I feel that he is chosing his consequence.
I have to be honest, as a young pre-teen I would much rather a talk about morals and a spanking then not being able to go out with my friends for a week...I have never felt resentful and don't even remember ever getting a spanking...just know it happened because I have a loving mom who is honest with us!!

Good luck in your pursuit,
Oils


he is chosing
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#17 of 29 Old 12-14-2002, 04:41 AM
 
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I am on this path myself. My church as well believes that scripture teaches us to spank our children. My own mother believed that as she raised us and even when I had my first child. But she has now changed her mind and really nags on us because at this point we do spank. I am trying really hard to find new avenues of disciplining. Someone from here suggested I check out www.gentlemothering.com and I checked it out the other day and it is great. do go check it out and you can read everything they have posted with out joining (which requires money) and her stuff is wonderful and seems to be very biblical.

Barbra...I looked for the posts a while back and was unable to find them. I think they have been weeded..I was truely bummed because we had some really good discussion there.
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#18 of 29 Old 12-14-2002, 04:09 PM
 
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William Sears (of great AP fame ) has written a book called "The Complete Guide to Christian Parenting." Mothering magazine reviewed it a few years ago. In it he discusses all ascpects of attachment parenting and explains his religious beliefs (with many scriptural references) as to why AP is very consistent with Christian practises. You may want to see if you can find a copy.

Having said that, I know that my local Christian book store won't carry it because they prefer Ezzo style books. I had to specially order it to give to my sister-in-law when she was expecting - I thought that she might be more open to AP ideas if they were presented in a biblical context. I was wrong - they gave the book away and are quite happy with their decision to spank and keep emotionally distant from their children, all in the name of Christ. : Reading a book like this may help you in articulating why you do what you do, and give you more confidence in doing it.
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#19 of 29 Old 12-14-2002, 11:11 PM
 
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Having been horribly beaten until I blocked a good deal of my childhood I strongly oppose spanking in any form, someone may do it differently than I experienced but I dont see the difference.

Having strong feelings about this subject I have a hard time being open-minded about it.

Not wanting to offend anyone...I just can't really be rational about it.

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#20 of 29 Old 12-15-2002, 07:11 PM
 
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I am sorry Abimommy. What a rough life that must have been. Their is a difference. I exeperienced a difference growing up. That said...physc's usually agree that those who have been abused shouldn't discipline in that matter.


We do spank and I am trying hard to curve it because I am learning their are better ways. Acusing me of damaging my child (not saying anyone did but I know some thoughts are there) would me be like me assuming that because you don't spank you are a terrible parent and that you don't train your child..you let them do whatever they want.
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#21 of 29 Old 12-15-2002, 07:47 PM
 
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I don't remember being spanked as a child and only remember having my hand slapped a couple of times. My dad was not very involved in our day to day raising and my mom had her own problems to deal with. That being said, she was a great mom. I never doubted her love. We spent a lot of time with my grandmother also who never laid a hand on us. I think that because I was raised with alternative forms of discipline that is what feels natural for me. It never occurs to me to spank one of my boys. There may be times I want to ring their necks or whack them upside the head, I don't. Those urges come from my own anger and frustration, not from a place of guidance.

My brother and I both turned out to be wonderful people. We were not hell raisers. Those that think that spanking is the only way to raise well behaved children should meet my brother and I. I can prove that wrong.

I think the thing that made the biggest impact was that my parents made us choose our own punnishment. We, of course, were always harder on ourselves than our parents would have been on us.
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#22 of 29 Old 12-15-2002, 08:14 PM
 
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cobluegirl wrote:

Quote:
Acusing me of damaging my child (not saying anyone did but I know some thoughts are there) would me be like me assuming that because you don't spank you are a terrible parent and that you don't train your child..you let them do whatever they want.
You are right, no one is accusing you personally of having damaged your child. But as gently as I can, I have to point out that what we are talking about--spanking--is an act which decades of research has shown again and again to be volatile and unpredictable in how it affects a child, regardless of frequency, or the intentions of the parent.

Some children are very affected by being hit, even infrequently--and I think it is asking too much to expect people to believe it when a parent says "I spank, but my kids aren't at risk".

Based on decades of research, any child being hit is potentially at risk.

Your comparison to the reverse statement isn't balanced. When someone says they don't spank, it only points out one thing they don't do. It would be a huge assumption to propose "Then you must be doing nothing". I'm not sure I see the logic in that?

Heartmama

Mother is the word for God on the hearts and lips of all little children--William Makepeace Thackeray
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#23 of 29 Old 12-16-2002, 01:48 PM
 
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Decades of research is again changing. Spanking in Love isn't the samr thing as spanking out of anger or beating.

Beth~That is great! Like I said...I am learning new ways od disciplining. I was spanked as a child, in anger alot of the time, so it takes great self-control not to fly off the handle. That being said...I am not or ever have been angry at my parents for behaving that way even though it was wrong. I am not a damaged human because of it.
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#24 of 29 Old 12-16-2002, 11:03 PM
 
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I am not damaged. I am over it. I am a rational person and I understand a lot of it was caused by illness and crazy meds. I love my parents and we have a great relationship. In fact, I have always loved my parents very much. But I also had a lot of fear, and thats a cycle I dont want to see repeated.

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#25 of 29 Old 12-16-2002, 11:20 PM
 
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cobluegirl wrote:

Quote:
Decades of research is again changing. Spanking in Love isn't the samr thing as spanking out of anger or beating.
Most parents who hit their children, whether in a "calm" or "angry" frame of mind will tell you they love their kids, and spank them because of it. There is more than enough research to suggest that being hit, regardless of the attitude of the parent, puts a child at emotional risks that could be avoided if the parent did not hit their child.

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Mother is the word for God on the hearts and lips of all little children--William Makepeace Thackeray
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#26 of 29 Old 12-17-2002, 12:01 AM
 
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I don't buy it Heartmama. I guess it all depends, like everything else, what research you are reading. I am not saying that some children aren't harmed from spanking. I am sure that is the case. It is unfair, however to assume that every child that is spanked will suffer emotional problems. Different personalities of children does have to be taken into consideration whatever form of discipline you choose.

Like I said before. I am not knocking gentle discipling. I think it is great that you have started out that way and have a great success with it. However some of us didn't know there was such an option and have other methods and just because we do doesn't mean that we are damaging our children. Some of us are trying to change. It would be nice if we could get a little more support from those of you that have always done things this way. Instead all we get is "oh you are abusing your child, how can you" atttitude.

edited to add: sorry didn't mean to hijack the thread....as far as the bible and spanking goes...I think that is up to how one interperts(sp) it. Like someone stated before...One can find a way to back either position. I will state again there is lots of good gentle disciplining christian stuff at www.gentlemothering.com
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#27 of 29 Old 12-17-2002, 12:24 AM
 
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I agree with you 100% cobluegirl! I know that there are those who think that their way of parenting is the only "right" way - but you are not one of them and you can see both sides of the issue. Wish more people could!

I stand behind my statement that spanking is different from hitting or beating and can be done in a loving, child affirming, positive way. I grew-up in a family where this was the case and have witnessed many other families that use spanking as a positive form of discipline when needed. I will not make any excuses for my mother's spanking or say that I am "damaged" because of it. I am sorry that more of you have not met parents who correctly use spankings in addition to other forms of discipline - if you had then you might not be so judgemental towards those that spank.

I am not saying that all parents should or could use spanking correctly. I am just saying "do what works for you and don't judge others that do differently."

My favorite MDC qoute: Diversity does not mean that we all look different but think alike.

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#28 of 29 Old 12-17-2002, 02:22 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Obviously I am not an expert as I am the one that started this thread, but I have been doing a lot of thinking, and I would like to add something I have seen.

In my church, there is one family who spanks for biggies. They are otherwise very AP and have great, great kids. When they get spanked, it is for real and not taken lightly. It is also very rare. The parents are calm, loving, and enjoy their kids.

There is another family whose three year old is just out of control. He is (sorry) just a monster!! He hits his mom, screams, kicks, runs away, purposely BMs in his pants...watch out! His parents spank all the time, and in a less forceful way. They are not AP, they yell, and seem rather unhappy in general.

I think this shows it is your whole parenting package, not just spanking, that makes or breaks it.

Well, I looked at the Sears book and the other mothering site and the Bible, and I can't say that is is biblicial. I guess it is a personal decision, and one that does not work for everyone.

Thankyou everybody for answering.
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#29 of 29 Old 12-18-2002, 02:27 PM
 
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Cobluegirl, I never said you were abusing your kids. I said again and again that from the research, spanking puts every child at a *potential* risk.

TexasSuz, it isn't a matter of how a parent spanks that would change my opinion. I believe hitting a child is inherently wrong. I believe there is always a better way, and it is worth the effort to reach for it.

I have no more resources available to myself than either of you. All of us here at Mothering are aware of gentle discipline, and can network here and through other websites the support we need. I was spanked often as a child, and most people I know spank. Spanking is, fundamentally, a choice the parent makes. We are all free thinking individuals, as capable as the next here of choosing gentle discipline if we find value in it.

Heartmama

Mother is the word for God on the hearts and lips of all little children--William Makepeace Thackeray
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