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Is it ok to spank your child?


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#1 Aaron R.

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Posted 27 May 2012 - 05:01 AM

I am wondering what the Orthodox view of this is.

#2 Rdr Daniel (R.)

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Posted 27 May 2012 - 03:09 PM

Dear Aaron,

My understanding is that a good response is for parents to ask themselves why do I need to smack my child? Are they calmly giving a slight smack to a child to correct them when it is the best option, or are they smacking the child in anger or because they can't cope. If the smacking is for the good of the child then it is o.k. if it is for the good of the parent then it is not. At least that is how I see it.

There is from what I have read no mention of not being allowed to smack ones children in the fathers, they even using the example of children being chastened for their good as an example for us in our spiritual life. But I doubt they would approve of smacking out of anger, which I would say is submitting to the passions.

In Christ.
Daniel,

#3 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 27 May 2012 - 04:51 PM

In England and Wales, the smacking of your child is severely limited by law (Children Act 2004). It is illegal to smack children hard enough to leave a mark, with parents who transgress liable to up to 5 years’ imprisonment on conviction. Orthodox Christians, like all others, must obey the law.

#4 Sacha

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Posted 27 May 2012 - 09:50 PM

Agree with everything Daniel said above. For parents who may be struggling with the issue of children and discipline, I highly recommend "Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood" by Jim and Charles Fay. It is a pretty powerful and effective book.

#5 Paul Cowan

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Posted 28 May 2012 - 07:32 PM

Spare the rod spoil the child

#6 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 28 May 2012 - 09:10 PM

Spare the rod spoil the child


Yeah, don't spare the rod - if you want your kid to be like Rehoboam.

#7 Paul Cowan

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Posted 30 May 2012 - 05:20 AM

I was thinking of not being like the priest Eli.

#8 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 30 May 2012 - 06:18 AM

Touché mon frère! Just glad I'm not a parent.

#9 Fr Nectarios Trevino

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Posted 30 May 2012 - 04:51 PM

Discipline, even if perceived as strict discipline, does not necessarily include "spanking." There were times when I did "spank" my children - but it was one, and only one, swat across the bottom - not with the intention of inflicting injury, more with the intention of obtaining their attention. There were never multiple strikes. And I do not permit such in my presence in my parish. My eldest son (now in his late 30's) still tells me to this day, that the worst punishment I ever inflicted on him was making him sit on the stair landing and say his "A,B,C's"...after doing so, he could get up and continue with his childhood. I also made him sit on the sit on the stair landing and count to 100; but that became less effective when he learned how to count by 10's. Caring for a parish it is my belief that "discipline" is not so much a problem with children as it is with the parents and their inconsistency, inattentiveness, and their own lack of self-discipline. I have come to believe that "children are more often than not, a direct reflection of their parents!" So when parents have problems with children being children, the parents should first look at themselves. Love the gift of life that has been entrusted to you.

#10 Karl El-Koura

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Posted 30 May 2012 - 06:55 PM

I think Daniel has the right idea (however I think getting into the habit of spanking can be a huge spiritual temptation for parents - one may start off by doing it in a controlled way for the good of the child, but then it's too easy to strike them in anger when one is frustrated.)

It may also be worth thinking about what happens when your child grows up and starts bullying other children. How can you tell them violence is not a good option (the last refuge of the incompetent, Isaac Asimov called it) when you, their role model, disciplined and corrected them through violence?

Karl

#11 Paul Cowan

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Posted 31 May 2012 - 05:08 AM

Sorry Karl, I don't buy that logic. Of course the child must know he is loved and the reason for the appropriate discipline. But to equate bullying to love is not even in the same ballpark. I always knew my father loved me. He was very liberal with his spankings. But I always knew why I was getting the tar beat out of me and in the end I was still loved. Bullys can't love their vicitms so transferring angerbased on spankings don't match the indoctrination our parents put us through. And no, if anything I was an introvert. He many times tried to "pull out of me" my emotions and would do all he could to get me to (in a healthy way) defend myself and fight back against him. I never would. I was only in one fight in my life and I almost broke the kid's back with a single blow. I never fought again. Discipline and fighting do not go hand in hand if the discipline is done properly.

Paul

#12 Rick H.

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Posted 31 May 2012 - 09:48 AM

Good post Paul.

Again . . . why are most of us in the mindset so often that there is one right answer that encompasses all (kids in this situation) and is appropriate for all?

Can anyone answer this for me?

Why do we think this way?

Why do we seem to feel that there is a one-size-fits-all answer in so many of our discussions here? What is appropriate for one (child) may not be appropriate for another (child). There are different types of children and there are different situations that arise as our kids mature, there are different levels of disobedience. One type of 'correction' may be all wrong for one child and make things worse, whereas the same 'correction' may be very appropriate and correct for another child.

A no spank rule, a one spank rule, or other . . . maybe we think the way we do because we think 'our way' is the 'right way?'

Yes, 'children will be children' and we don't want to make robots out of them for sure, but the point is there is not one right answer here. Some kids will respond to just being put in a corner and this is the right and wise thing to do. Other kids need a more severe form of punishment, like spanking (and sometimes more than one swat).

I have watched so many kids grow up into out of control young men and women who have overwhelmed themselves to the tune of their parents (who refused to spank them) telling them, "Just use your inner voice Tommy." Or, "Don't make me give you a time out Tommy."

Sometimes the incompetent parent is the child's worst enemy.

There is a balance to strike in the parent-child relationship, but there is not a one-size-fits-all rule/answer here. I continually shake my head at the posts on this forum that manifest this mentality so often. As Fr. Jack Sparks wrote in "Victory in the Unseen Warfare," it is 'each as is appropriate for oneself.' It is each as is appropriate for one's child. The lack of understanding this is why we have so many screwed up kids today and kids from yesterday who are screwed up parents today.

#13 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 31 May 2012 - 10:07 AM

I can only speak from what I hear about children in England but children are under very severe peer pressure which then gets put on their parents in relation to buying the right toys, clothes gadgets, and so forth. Some Orthodox parents I know resist this by not allowing TV and computers to dominate the home; their children - it appears - are then much better balanced as authentic human beings, though one wonders if they are perceived as 'odd' by 'normal' children. But children are indeed individuals, and I can think of two children brought up in the same way in an Orthodox home, and one is all we would wish a child to be and the other is not.

#14 Karl El-Koura

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Posted 31 May 2012 - 01:53 PM

I didn't see Father Nectarios's comment before I posted mine (it must have been awaiting moderation), but I agree with him, with the caveat that you must have the spiritual discipline to follow that rule (and never spank your child out of anger or frustration, even when you're having a bad day, which in my experience is the state I often see parents in when they spank their children).

Paul, I can't buy what you're saying either. How can you beat the tar out of someone with love? I never equated bullying with love; I equated bullying with striking someone in anger (or beating the tar out of them, as you put it).

Rick wrote:

Again . . . why are most of us in the mindset so often that there is one right answer that encompasses all (kids in this situation) and is appropriate for all?

Can anyone answer this for me?


I agree that we too often get trapped into this kind of thinking, but I disagree that these comments are a manifestation. Some things can be relativized, but others cannot. So it would be (I hope you'll agree) incorrect to say, "Well, monogamy is good for one person, but polygamy may be good for another. We can't have a one-size-fits-all approach to marriage after all."

The question Aaron asked is whether spanking was ok, and I believe what Daniel and Father Nectarios have done is not to say it was their way or the highway, but to set up limits within which spanking might be ok. You still need the discernment to know which punishment is effective to correct a particular child, but it's worthwhile to have warning posts along the road to remind you when you might be going too far in a certain direction.

#15 Rick H.

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Posted 31 May 2012 - 06:18 PM

. . . is not to say it was their way or the highway, but to set up limits within which spanking might be ok.


Discipline, even if perceived as strict discipline, does not necessarily include "spanking." There were times when I did "spank" my children - but it was one, and only one, swat across the bottom - not with the intention of inflicting injury, more with the intention of obtaining their attention. There were never multiple strikes. And I do not permit such in my presence in my parish.


I dunno, this sounds pretty cut-n-dried Karl . . . "I do not permit such in my presence." That sounds a little like my way or the highway to me. As far as monogomy goes I'm not sure what the point of that is here, although I think you agree there is not a one-size-fits-all rule for child discipline.

A spanking is supposed to hurt sometimes.

I remember the first time I got a swat from the principle with a paddle in the 4th grade. I turned around and looked at him with glassy eyes and kind of sad and he said, "It was supposed to hurt!" :-)

Now I suppose someone will talk about child abuse in this thread.

#16 Father David Moser

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Posted 31 May 2012 - 08:41 PM

Spanking, or any corporal punishment, has only one purpose and effect - to extinguish (do away with) an undesirable behavior. Spanking/punishment cannot teach new behavior, it cannot by itself have any positive effect on a child. Thus spanking, whenever it is used as a form of discipline must be paired with some form of teaching a new desired appropriate replacement behavior and positive reinforcement of that behavior.

Spanking has its place and its role, but that place and role is only a small part of a much greater effort. If you, as a parent undertake to spank your child, then you must be prepared to spend easily 10x more time and energy working with your child to teach and reinforce the new behavior (and in the process of this the child learns how much he is loved as communicated through all the time and attention you are giving him).

Some rules for spanking/punishment
1. It should not be public - it should not bring shame or embarrassment to the child
2. It should hurt but not injure (no marks!)
3. It should never be administered in anger or when angry
4. It should always be accompanied by a period of teaching and practicing the desired behavior
5. Never let the event pass or resolve without expressing your love for your child

As a final note, another very important rule about punishment (not necessarily spanking). Sacraments (like going to confession) or the imposition of the Church attendance/service should never be used as punishments. Making a confession can be taught as a part of the replacement behavior but never as the punishment itself. Likewise attendance at Church and participation in the services can be required (just as cleaning a room or doing the dishes) as an expectation of living in the household and being a part of the family - but they should never become punishments or a part of a punishment.

Fr David Moser

#17 Paul Cowan

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Posted 01 June 2012 - 06:39 AM

Some Orthodox parents I know resist this by not allowing TV and computers to dominate the home; their children - it appears - are then much better balanced as authentic human beings, though one wonders if they are perceived as 'odd' by 'normal' children.


Well, I'm seen odd by my peers even today when I tell them I don't watch TV or movies.

Paul

#18 Rick H.

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Posted 01 June 2012 - 10:59 AM

Spanking, or any corporal punishment, has only one purpose and effect - to extinguish (do away with) an undesirable behavior.



This is very true. When I got my first swat (or 'whack' as we called them then) with a paddle in the fourth grade I did not repeat my offense(s) again. My behavior was changed in the blink of an eye. Although, no new training was needed because I knew what was right and what was wrong. And, knowing there would be consequences to choosing the same wrong behavior in the future (punishment escalating to 2 whacks next time) this was all it took to modify my behavior. I was a pretty good kid in school after that. I think this was possibly my 'welcome to the real world.'

If there are any hard and fast rules for dealing with behavior problems with our kids, I think this is one for sure in terms of letting them know there will be consequences for continued undesireable behavior. And, here we kind of have run the circle in that there are different consequences for different children based on the individual child. The strong willed child might need a whack or two whereas others might just need some time in the corner.

Spanking one's child and punishment is such a small piece of the puzzel when it comes to bringing up our kids.

I focused just about all of my efforts with my two daughters on building character in them and bringing them up in a way so that they would be strong, smart, independent women able to take care of themselves and make the 'right' decision for themselves when they were older. I was always teaching and planting seeds in them from the time they were very young at every given opportunity morning, day, and night. They laugh about that know as young adults as they look back and realize what I was doing. And, they both thank me for that now, they say they can still hear things that I have said in the past in their minds even today when they encounter certain situations and they are glad this is the case. They also laugh because they know even today, as adults, I am still planting seeds.

Again, there are different kids with different natures and different needs. I was lucky, I had smart girls with good natures and they were receptive to the efforts of their father. Not everyone is this lucky, but special needs aside possibly with the way we approach our little ones sometimes we make our own luck, as the saying goes. Forget about hard fast rules that are supposed to apply to all kids, just spend time with them, love them, make sure they know you love them, teach them, talk to them like they are smart kids and explain things--don't just tell them what is wrong and what is right tell them 'why' reflect on things with them--build character in them and deal with them as needed. When these things are in play spanking is a moot conversation. I have strong views on spanking children, yes some need this . . . but, I'm not sure I ever spanked my one daughter and the other maybe twice in during her entire childhood. But, that was me and that was them, you and your's are in your own unique set of circumstances. Hard fast rules are not always your friend when you are a parent raising children in the real world. Lest we are derelict parents (or caught in a cycle of dysfunction ourselves), nobody knows what is better for your little boy or little girl than you. Period.

Including the subject of spanking children, there is no formula for raising children without turning them into robots or perpetuating and continuing to breed dysfunction in a family.

Edited by Rick H., 01 June 2012 - 11:41 AM.


#19 Aaron R.

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Posted 01 June 2012 - 01:32 PM

Spare the rod spoil the child


I thought it would be interesting to look up this verse in the Septuagint. The difference I found very interesting.

" He that spares the rod hates his son: but he that loves, carefully chastens him." Proverbs 13:24 (Septuagint)


#20 Rick H.

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Posted 01 June 2012 - 01:35 PM

"The coiner of the version that we use in everyday speech was Samuel Butler, in Hudibras, the satirical poem on the factions involved in the English Civil War, which was first published in 1662:"

Love is a Boy,
by Poets styl'd,
Then Spare the Rod,
and spill the Child.



NASB

He who withholds his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him diligently.




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