Welcome to Carnivorous Caribou

Friday, July 08, 2005

I Could Use a Hand

We've got a disciplining situation at our house (who with a 3 year old doesn't) which has raised a question.

Yes, we still believe in corporal punishment (I know, that confession will probably have the state removing my children some day). As we've discussed that with other people at times, several have made the suggestion to use a spoon, ruler or other device while spanking. Their thought process is, "that way the child doesn't associate your hand with the discipline."

I greatly love and respect the people who have given me this advice, but I don't get the reasoning. (I do plan to follow up personally with them, to see what I misunderstand.) I want to open this up to other people's thoughts as well. At first glance, the advice sounds right (and again, I really respect those who have given it to me) but I just have a couple thoughts:

1) Will my daughter just develop an abnormal fear of wooden spoons? I know, the question looks silly at first, but if I use an object so my hand is not associated, doesn't that object then become associated. Will she then associate wooden cooking utensils with something painful?

2) Doesn't an object present a colder, less personal approach? I guess I just think of all the friends I knew who had nuns whack them on the knuckles or head with a yard stick. Maybe this is just a bizarre thought on my part, but an object just makes it seem more like punishment than discipline to me. (Granted, the day comes that you move to an object simply because your hand is no longer effective.)

3) Isn't it my discipline that brings some comfort to my children? The father who does not discipline his child does not love his child (Hebrews 12:7-11). If I am to be an image of the Holy Father to my little daughter, shouldn't I be her provider, lavish love on her, be there to hold and comfort her, and yes, be the source of discipline for her. I guess I see my hand being associated with discipline as ok, as long as it's associated with grace, giving, love and protection too.

Of course, I know my perspective can be off. So like I said, if you are reading this and you remember us having this conversation...know I'm going to be looking for you to pick your brain some more. But maybe you and I haven't talked about this before (maybe I've never even met you) or I forget us having a conversation about discipline. Please give me your thoughts.


  • At 7:33 AM, Blogger The Commish said…

    I once heard a preacher speak on this exact subject -- what object to spank your children with. I honestly don't remember exactly what his final conclusion was, but I do remember that he said that something with some whipping action was best, so that it would sting quite a bit, but probably not bruise as much -- kind of like the old wet towel in the locker room example, not that he said to use a wet towel.

    Looking in the Bible, it seems to me that almost any instance in which spanking is mentioned, it implies using an object -- the whole spare the rod, spoil the child thing.

    I've heard people (usually older than I am) talk about their parents making them go find a tree branch or something like that to be spanked with and it makes some sense. They provide some whipping action for the spanking.

    I also think that by using an object, it may provide some "cooling down" time by the parent. You have to actually go get the object, rather than just spanking a child right away, so it may provide some time for the parent to spank out of love, rather than anger.

  • At 10:40 AM, Anonymous cbrassi said…

    At our house, we use a wooden spoon to "direct our children in the way they should go". We use it for two reasons .

    First, there is only one wooden spoon in our house and it has one purpose. If it is retrieved from the drawer, my children know what's coming. While using "the hand", they tended to flinch when I reached for them while they were misbehaving - thinking they would get a spanking (even if I was not giving them one). I didn't like the way that felt.

    Secondly, as our boys got older the hand was not nearly as effective. In order for the hand to work - I felt like I had to haul off and put quite a bit of power behind each swat. It made me feel like I was abusing my child (although I KNEW I WASN'T). With a spoon, I merely flick my wrist and the point is made.

    Hope this helps.

  • At 8:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Here are our household rules of spanking:
    1) The more you use it, the less effective it is.
    a) Which means in theory that if you are really good, you should have to spank each child only once.
    b) We reserved spanking for only two offenses, lying and direct disobedience. For everything else we found some other option
    2) Never in anger. There is a huge difference between spanking your children in discipline and hitting them in anger.

    Over the years we've used both the hand and various appropriate items. In my upbringing, where some people saw a belt rack as containing wardrobe items, my dad saw an aresenal. I have chosen to discontinue that practice.

    We have four children. One of them we only had to spank once. One of them we had to stop spanking because it only made him mad and we ran out of different items to use. He's doing fine now but he was certainly the strong willed one.

  • At 11:29 AM, Blogger Gary Underwood said…

    Yeah, after reading Danny's original post, I was thinking that it doesn't matter what you use to spank your child.

    However, each of the comments adds insight:
    (1) Commish saying it takes time to go get the object, so you have to cool down and realize your motive...
    (2) CBrassi saying that an object usually gets the message across more.. and
    (3) Spanking only for certain offenses, and you certainly don't want the belt-rack to be seen as an arsenal.

    I do want to point out that the Old Testament "rod of discipline" was not an object, but a symbol. The rod actually means "discipline" not "wooden object" or something like that. We always think that from our American perspective, "Spare the rod (spanking tool), spoil the child," but in actuality, the Bible is saying something more like this "Spare the rod (of giving out discipline), spoil the child."

  • At 11:41 AM, Blogger danny2 said…

    thanks guys for the thoughts. it may be wise to use an object for the reasons you guys listed over the "hand associated with discipline" thing.

    my dad had the belt rack arsenal too. and looking at my life, i think it was 150% proper to used on me. however, i just can't see myself doing it.

    i'll probably just pull out another one of his tricks that seemed to work rather effectively: i'll look my kids in the eye and remind them, "you know, if we were in the old testament times...i could stone you for your disobedience!" i always seemed to mind my p's and q's after that reminder.

  • At 11:43 AM, Blogger danny2 said…


    just wondering from your post. one child has only been spanked once?

    does that mean according to theory 1a, you think you did a better job with that child than the others?

    that child has only lied once while under your roof?

  • At 11:46 AM, Blogger Gary Underwood said…

    I am glad that my Dad didn't use his belt rack as an arsenal, unless fighting the battle against bad fashion.

    He did, however, use a thin wooden paddle that said "Colgate Toothpaste" on it.

    No wonder I'm using Crest now!

  • At 11:47 AM, Blogger Gary Underwood said…

    Wow - I am enlightened by my previous post!

    I want my daughter to be a Buckeye fan when she grows up....


    I am going to spank her with a blue paddle with a big yellow letter "M" on it.

    All in love, honey.. . all in love.

  • At 1:47 PM, Blogger The Commish said…

    Oh my goodness -- this line of posts has now gotten ridiculous, but I will definitely remember to spank my seven month old daughter with something bearing the Duke insignia when the time comes.

    I can remember being spanked with a belt only once or twice (as well as a spatula or something like that once or twice), but I also remember being spanked by a hand on MANY occasions. I never had some irrational fear of belts, spatulas or my parents' hands, so I think that if the spankings are done correctly and with explanations as to why they are getting spanked, I don't think most children will have some irrational fear of objects.

    I do, however, like the idea of using an object that stings more than actually pounds or beats(thereby bruising). The stinging wears off in a few minutes, where bruises can last awhile (and can get you in hot water if the kid goes to school and someone would see a bruise).

  • At 2:08 PM, Blogger The Commish said…

    One other more serious note on whether to use an object to spank or whether to use a hand.

    If you determine to use an object to spank, then I think you could sort of use that to gauge yourself. If you determine that everytime you spank your child, you will use a set paddle, then that should be the only way you "hit" your child.

    If one day your child acts up and you hit them with your hand, then you know that you did that out of anger or frustration and you know that you need to correct that action. It almost gives you an opportunity to gauge for yourself if you are spanking for correction or because of anger/frustration.

  • At 3:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Answers to Danny's questions:
    1)The child we only spanked once was the most compliant of the children. With that one, once the reality was established, the threat was sufficient.

    2) I think we actually did a better job with some of the other children than with that one. The compliant one was almost easy, the others took more skill.

    3) The spanking for lying was for the times when the child got caught and we had concrete proof. I'm sure there were more lies than we are aware of and some that we were aware of we couldn't prove, we just knew.

  • At 3:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    One last note: (from me)
    Have you heard the translation of the verse that literally says, "Train up a child "according to his way" as opposed to "in the way he SHOULD go."? If that's the better translation, the verse is not a guarantee of successful parenting, its a warning against the dangers of letting the child do whatever he wants.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home