Who REALLY Teaches People to Hit Children?

When the subject of spanking comes up on unschooling lists or discussion boards, and it does every few months, there are inevitably some parents who just don't believe that anyone REALLY recommends spanking. And even if they know a few people, or one church, maybe, they don't believe it's a general belief and teaching. Here is some evidence for this widespread teaching that children should be hit. (and at the end, some anti-spanking sites particular to this aspect of the problem)

Cameron went to a friend's 8th grade commencement yesterday (here in the Christian South). The *old* headmistress spoke to the crowd. Cameron said that she said the "S" word no less than 7-8 times (he said it could have been much more--he was so stunned!). She kept telling the parents that DISCPLINE was so important. That they shouldn't be afraid to spank. That spanking was good. That to spank was to show their children that they love them. That the world needs more spanking. This went on and on. I was appalled that someone could get away with this in public--in a public address!

His girlfriend (who went to this school last year) said that there were STILL school paddlings when she was there last year. I haven't asked Devon whether it's still going on, but judging by the speech yesterday, it must be!

Articles/pages like yours, Sandra, are desperately needed.

~Kelly, the stunned

> > > People don't spank because they're conservative Christian;
> >
> > Many DO. They'll even show you how to DO it properly!

They showed us at our Church. It was awful. We had a ten week parenting study last fall. They told us how to spank with the kitchen spatula. I was just sitting there thinking, I can't believe I'm hearing this. It's a Fundamentalist Church and we are ready to escape from all that.(I really like the links sent through previously about the people who escaped fundamentalism) Thank goodness I found this list and some other good ones. We've been changing just about everything over the last few months, all for the better :-).

[and the same mom wrote this:]

One thing I haven't seen mentioned. The Church leaders may also advise you not to tell people that you use the rod as correction. I know that is what they said in our parenting study. I think the exact wording was you have to be careful who you tell (about using the rod for correction) since people who aren't Christians, or more specifically aren't fundamentalists, may not understand and may report you. Pretty sad really but they did stress that point. So people may not even be honest with you if you ask them if they spank. We are in New England so Fundamentalism isn't as prevalent as in the bible belt but it's still there and almost all of the people I personally know, who follow that religion do spank. Plus when you are in that sort of Church it is easier than you might think to fall prey to their teachings, you don't always realize it is happening until you are away from the situation.

Jodi M. in NH

Come to a CHEO convention and you'll hear all about it. Turn on Dr. James Dobson's program in the mornings for a year and you'll her it every eight weeks or so. Read any parenting website for fundamentalist Christians, and spanking will be a primary tool discussed.

I've discovered by getting out of that world that there is a huge population of Christians who don't identify with the fundamentalist born again movement. I think they hardly know it exists. Mainline denominations that are non-evangelical often don't have an awareness that there are plenty of vocal Christians who believe in the inerrancy of Scripture and who take the commandments therein literally (not open to interpretation).

Perhaps the term conservative is alarming [to someone who] feels she is a conservative person or is conservative politically or in most of her Christian beliefs and therefore feels lumped into this label.

But Christian fundamentalists (often evangelicals) use the terms conservative and fundamentalist interchangeably and there is a distinct movement that teaches these things. I was in it! (And the parents who spank often are not angry people! I know so many who aren't. They use it as a tool to train their children. I don't happen to agree with it but I don't think assuming they are all pathologically angry is accurate either. They sincerely believe that they are being obedient to God and are raising godly kids.)

It is a movement that incorporates a lot more than spanking. Here are some of the authors people read who hold this view:

Jonathan Lindvall
The Pearls (Debbie and what's his name)
Richard Fugate
Dr. James Dobson
Mary Pride
Gary and Anne Marie Ezzo

And scores more...
Julie B

[Someone had written:] People don't spank because they're conservative Christian; they spank because they haven't learned to manage their anger and frustration in a healthy manner.

That's a nice way of saying that it's an individual choice and each person is responsible for themselves, but it ignores reality.

There are churches, not just a few but many, where parents who don't spank their children will be subjected to extreme pressure from the leadership and members.

There are books, not just a few but many, that instruct in the how and why and when of spanking to save your child's soul.

There are talks at homeschooling conferences on Biblical discipline that include admonishment that not spanking is disobeying the word of God. There are chapters in homeschooling books that explain the same.

These books and speakers and churches are overwhelmingly conservative Christian.

When people spank because their pastors and friends and paid speakers and books all tell them it's their duty to their children and their God, that to not spank their children is to withhold love from them, it's disingenious for others to say that it's not because they're conservative Christian.

Deborah in IL

We're talking about groups like this: http://shop.nogreaterjoy.org/product_info.php/cPath/1_14/products_id/69 The book To Train Up a Child is for sale there. You can read the first chapter right on that site. It is very troubling. This is the stuff that some Christian parents are taking seriously. It is, in my opinion, the kind of stuff that gives Christians a very bad name. It is not supposed to be what Christianity is about. :(

They actually suggest setting a child up, so that you can "train" him (with a switch) not to touch things that he shouldn't. That way your children will obey you in public, and people will marvel at your well behaved children:

"Try it yourself. Place an appealing object where they can reach it, maybe in a "No-no" corner or on an apple juice table (That's where the coffee table once sat). When they spy it and make a dive for it, in a calm voice say, "No, don't touch it." They will already be familiar with the "No," so they will pause, look at you in wonder and then turn around and grab it. Switch their hand once and simultaneously say, "No." Remember, you are not disciplining, you are training. One spat with a little switch is enough. They will again pull back their hand and consider the relationship between the object, their desire, the command and the little reinforcing pain. It may take several times, but if you are consistent, they will learn to consistently obey, even in your absence."

and to make a wiggly toddler sit still on your lap:

"For the next weary forty-five minutes, fifteen times the child would make his legs move, and the daddy would turn him around and spank his legs. The father was as calm as a lazy porch swing on a Sunday afternoon. There was no hastiness or anger. He did not take the disobedience personally. He had trained many a horse or mule and knew the value of patient perseverance. In the end, the twelve-month-old submitted his will to his father, sat as he was placed, and became content—even cheerful."


Australian writer, apparently secular, promoting spanking to prevent monsters in Australia: http://www.ourcivilisation.com/public/chap5b.htm

List of Christian Sites posted by Tia Leshke, to assist one mom needing backup:

May I print this out and show to my sister in law? She and my nephew are in town visiting and I have discovered (by her proud admittance) that she is using a belt on my 8yo nephew.
I would also like to get her a book on non-punitive christian parenting. Does anyone have any suggestions?
Lastly, are there Christian websites that counter the argument to spank?
There was a list, but over the years sites have disappeared. Someone sent me a few replacement links in 2010; sorry it's no longer one particular person's list. —Sandra

New in 2012: The Rod Verses: Taking the rod verses literally

Arms of Love Family Fellowship- author of the Book Biblical Parenting
(click on banner at top to find out more about the book or check out the Amazon reviews)

Book: Families Where Grace is In Place

Parenting Freedom: Discipline

Christians for Non-Violent Parenting

Positive Discipline in the Christian Home: Using the Bible to Develop Character and Strengthen Moral Development Jane Nelson
Amazon reviews

Therapy for adults who have suffered the legalistic/ rod based parenting (and why this type of parenting is good to avoid):
Growing Up Wholly and Holy: Understanding and Hope for Adult Children of Evangelicals

The Dangers of Growing Up in a Christian Home
Amazon reviews

Tired of Trying to Measure Up
Amazon reviews

The Yucky Stuff she might be into:

The Pearls
[And a long book excerpt: http://www.gospeltruth.net/children/pearl_tuac.htm added in here later by Sandra]

Ezzo Info

most of it originally from Tia Leschke
On Vancouver Island

Other Refutation

anti-spanking Christian sites

Here is a page of many links about the Ezzos, Pearls and similar folk, on a site called Gentle Christian Mothers: Unprepared for Parenting. They have a forum here: http://www.gentlechristianmothers.com/community/

Anecdotal evidence showing that the impact of non-violent parenting is starting to convince even once skeptical Christian blocker communities

Parenting in Jesus' Footsteps, and a petition

Why Not Train a Child?
Christians refuting some of the spanking arguments used by the Pearls and others.

Attachment Parenting responses

Fresno Attachment Parenting groups collection of Ezzo expose articles

This page will be added to as other sources are discovered, and if any reader knows a good website or book or wants to offer a personal testimonial, write to [email protected].

More on not spanking and on other parenting issues for unschoolers