Family,

Spare the Rod?

The “intellectual elites” are sending the message throughout society that spanking your child is wrong. Jenn and I have been struggling to understand where we stand. We like some of the non-physical techniques like time-out and prefer to implement a non-physical means of discipline if possible. I find myself saying to Matthew that he’s either going to time-out or getting a spanking.

Jenn and I have been seriously studying this topic recently. We visited Dr. Sears website, read information in commentaries and the bible, and found some information out of universities. What we found is very revealing.

There is a very thorough article at the Biolo Website titled “Spare the Rod”. It refutes each argument of people who are against spaking. It is probably the one stop shop to shoot down those that say it is bad to spank.

The research presented on Dr. Sears site is mainly showing the effects of abusive forms of punishment in an abusive environment. There is little mentioned about the effects of a more balanced approach withing a loving environment. Dr. Sears says that the effects are “less”, but that is very ambiguous. Really, “less” could mean “zero”. And actually, there is a study showing that a balanced approach to discipline in an encouraging nurturing environment actually provides the “most favorable outcome”.

Dr. Diana Baumrind of the Institute for Human Development at the University of California-Berkeley, conducted a decade-long study of families with children 3 to 9 years old. Baumrind found that parents employing a balanced disciplinary style of firm control (including spanking) and positive encouragement experienced the most favorable outcome in their children. Parents taking extreme approaches to discipline (authoritarian-types using excessive punishment with less encouragement or permissive-types using little punishment and no spanking) were less successful.

Those who are against spanking will also site that it will damage your child for life and they will suffer in adulthood! But again, their research is very biased towards abusive forms of discipline in very abusive environments, or teenage spanking. Research is showing that the link between adult aggression and spanking in childhood cannot be supported by the data.

In a 1994 review article on corporal punishment, Dr. Robert E. Larzelere, a director of research at Boys Town, Nebraska, presents evidence supporting a parent’s selective use of spanking of children, particularly those 2 to 6 years old. After thoroughly reviewing the literature, Larzelere concludes that any association between spanking and antisocial aggressiveness in children is insignificant and artifactual.

After a decade of longitudinal study of children beginning in third grade, Dr. Leonard Eron found no association between punishment (including spanking) and later aggression. Eron, a clinical psychologist at the Univeristy of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research, concluded, “Upon follow-up 10 years after the original data collection, we found that punishment of aggressive acts at the earlier age was no longer related to current aggression, and instead, other variables like parental nurturance and children’s identification with their parents were more important in predicting later aggression.”

It’s interesting that Dr. Sears also attempts to interpret Scripture to fit his disciplinary beliefs. I have checked a number of different sources for interpretation of Scripture and it seems unanimous that everyone understand the “Rod” to mean corporal punishment. But Dr. Sears insists that it’s just a Shepard’s stick used to nudge sheep. The more I think about it, the more ridiculous that sounds. If I tried to push Matthew with a stick when he’s misbehaving, he’s likely to just yank the stick away from me and start beating me with it! Those tantrums can be pretty nasty.

After reading this research, not only are we more careful as to what we believe from supposed Christian doctors, but we are going to feel more confident in disciplining our son. Yes, he gets spanked, but he is also showered with lots of love. The pictures on this site don’t lie. He is a very happy boy.

 

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