Proverbs 13:24 He who spares the rod hates his son,
but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.
This is certainly a forgotten verse in much of society today! The 20th Century had lots of psychologists who insisted that “corporeal punishment” was “damaging to the psyche” of a child. I honestly think most of them must not have had children of their own! Actually the famous (or infamous) Dr. Spock in his later years regretted rather bitterly what he had unleashed with his books on permissive parenting. There is no question that there can be a fine line between discipline and child abuse, but that line isn’t necessarily physical, and dealing with it is one of the challenges of being a parent. Each child is different, and what is entirely appropriate for one child can be excessive for another. However, in current society parents have literally had their children taken away from them by the government for simply spanking them. That is tragic, and is child abuse on the part of the government. A major part of the picture is that children have to learn that actions have consequences. Sometimes those consequences are pleasurable, and sometimes not. When they don’t make that firm connection early on, we wind up with adults who disregard laws, as well as the needs of other people, and do whatever they want, often with disastrous consequences. Logic and reason don’t work with small children certainly, and they don’t work nearly as often as we would like them to even as they get older, all the way up into adulthood. It often takes a little physical pain to get the point across. That said, the most important principle in it all is that actions can be bad, but children as such are not. What needs to come across is, “You are my beloved child, but that action has got to stop.” When that is firmly in place, the children feel loved and grow up well adjusted, to the pleasure and satisfaction of the parents.
My parents never used a strap or a stick on me, but I can remember some spankings. They tried what is often called a “time out” with me, (they called it a “thinking session”) but I can remember enjoying them, because I had a very active imagination and I would just sit there fantasizing all sorts of wild adventures. I don’t think I ever felt unloved by my parents. I have certainly lived a blessed life! As a pastor and teacher I am often called on for advice (all too often when it is essentially too late) and have even led parenting seminars. My heart breaks at times seeing how some parents deal with their children. Emotional abuse is sometimes even worse than physical abuse, and a failure to discipline, physically when need be, fits into the category of emotional abuse. It is particularly heart-rending when parents lock their children out of the house as a punishment, or otherwise use abandonment as a tool of “discipline.” That is flat out child abuse. It is far kinder to the child to “apply the board of education to the seat of learning,” to change the undesirable behavior. The thing is, I don’t have legal authority to intervene, so unless the parents explicitly ask me for input, all I can do is pray. I do a lot of that!
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for being the perfect Father, never abandoning us but always seeking the very best for us. Help me be the child You desire, relating as You intend with Your other children, so that the lies of the enemy may be defeated and Your perfect will be done, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!