Response to “spare the rod” post at PBB….

What  sobering posts over on the “Parenting Beyond Belief” blog  – called spare the rod (and spare me the rest)“, and responses to “spare the rod”.  He talks about how many people, like James Dobson with Focus on the Family, use the bible to support spanking and different views on this.  As I recently mentioned, I can’t stand Dobson or FOF. I worry about messages being spread still today, and that good Christian people (like my friend who is a new mom) might buy into because they do like FOF and Dobson. 

My parents didn’t agree on much… but, they did both believe in spanking.  I have to say that my brothers got it worse than I did… but none of us ever got it that bad.  I wouldn’t say either my mother or father was “abusive” in their spanking methods, but I realize that’s a relative statement and matter of opinion. 

I do have vivid memories of my father threatening “the belt”, although, he never used it.  He DID spank with an open hand, though… not very often… but, enough that we believed we would “get it” if he threatened it. Usually, he only had to threaten it, and not do it, but we knew he WOULD if we didn’t listen.  My mother was more sporadic.  She’d whack ya with anything in her hand, usually a wooden spoon, if you weren’t listening. But, she must not have hit us very often or hard, because we were not as afraid of her.  She’d save the important spankings for my father to dish out.   They both believed that was part of his fatherly duties.  The old, “wait until your father gets home!” thing. 

One of the more common threats that my Dad use to say was “I’m going to rip your arm off and beat you over the head with the bloody end of it!”.  Ironically, this was NOT something scary, but rather something my brothers and I found humorous.  We knew he meant it sarcastically.  He had a bit of a warped sense of humor (as do I).  This saying did, however, use to scare our friends when they heard him say it.  But, my brothers and I would just laugh and say, “aww… he’s only kidding…. he always says that… and look – we still have 2 arms”.  No, we were more afraid of “the look”, or the threat of “you’re gonna get it!”. 

I do remember witnessing my brothers getting spanked… never with a belt… and never bare bottomed…  but always dramatic.  Often, if one of us got in trouble, we all did.  And, usually he started with my oldest brother.   I was usually hysterical just from watching my brothers get spanked while waiting for my turn…  and, probably because of that, and the facts that I was younger and a girl, my dad would barely swat me, if at all.  This is something my brothers still like to throw in my face about what a faker I was to get off of spankings LOL.  But, I really wasn’t faking.  It really was traumatic just to watch and wait.  

My oldest brother would always try to act tough, and to not cry…  and so, he’d get spanked the hardest I think…  until he DID cry.  Spanking is all about breaking that will and humiliation, isn’t it?  So, ironic… now that I think about it, being taught NOT to cry… and then punished harder for NOT crying.   ??  (I never really thought about that before now… but, wow… that’s pretty screwed up! ? ?)

My other brother, would go the dramatic route.  Running around screaming and yelling “no no no!”… until my father could wrestle him over or force him to come and get it.  Because he was already screaming and crying (moreso out of anger and frustration and for the pure drama effect, I think), he didn’t get spanked as hard.  Except for the time he put a book down his pants… and when my Dad hit that with his hand, he was really mad.

Then there was me.  Watching and waiting… trying not to cry, but failing miserably at times like this…  obediently going over when called without trying to run… and, I must have looked so pitiful, that my dad couldn’t/didn’t really spank me most of the time.  A couple times, he shut the door so my mom and brothers couldn’t see, and he whacked the bed or himself instead of me for sound effects… and told me to not tell (my mother) that he didn’t spank me. 

This leads me to believe that he didn’t always want to be “the enforcer”, but did feel like it was his job… and like he needed to do it to make my mom happy sometimes.  Which also leaves me feeling a bit bitter and resentful…

Looking back, I can not think of a time that I feel these spankings were really beneficial.  I have a hard time remembering what any of them were even for??  All of the memories that I DO have of important life lessons, or times I DO think I learned something good – had absolutely nothing to do with being spanked. 

I admit to having spanked my first child a couple times… which was more like a swat on a padded butt…  and nothing like the “proper spankings” described in the post at PBB. Each time I did, I immediately felt guilty and regretted it.  Each time I did, I was completely frustrated, upset, and/or scared when I did it.  Like, when my son was at the defiant 2 year old age and liked to  say “no” and run away as most 2 year olds do.  One day, though, he almost ran in to oncoming traffic as I called him and chased after him.  When I caught him, I was both relieved and upset, and it was almost a reflexive swat that I gave him. Part of me thought it was just the normal and right response.  Like it was something I ‘should’ do, or ‘had’ to do… “for his own good” (ugg… I am wincing at that saying as a I type it).  Once I calmed down, a bigger part of me just felt it was wrong. 

I am glad that I felt that way, and that I did not continue to use spanking as a form of punishment.  I realized there were other ways….  better communication, and if necessary threats and punishments (time outs, no more TV or Computer, no treats, etc.) that I could follow thru on more easily, that were also more effective and obviously the better choice.

It’s funny, we do not spank our boys now (ages 5 and 10) and we do not go to church.  My boys are also probably more concerned with doing the “right” thing , and “being nice” than most of our friends kids that go to church every Sunday.   I’m not just bragging here, and I know I’m bias – but, I can’t think of ANY kids we know that have better behavior or attitudes than our boys.  Sure, our boys and aren’t perfect angels – but, I tell you what… they are genuinely GOOD kids.  You might not believe me, but, this is not just my opinion.  We constantly have have friends and family tell us how they are impressed by how well behaved our boys are. 



8 Responses to “Response to “spare the rod” post at PBB….”

  1. realworldmartha Says:

    I hope a difference of opinion is ok (if not just delete me). I am a christian but believe that many people are well aware of the damages of physical punishment (even Christians). Some people hide behind the Christian label because that’s their history not belief system. I do have to disagree that Dobson encourages spankings ( I do believe he has a heart for children but it might be a difference of opinion that makes people focus on that). I have heard him speak on this subject (not often) and in my opinion it is not encouraged and there is a very specific manner in which this is to be done (not in anger, not hard, only in extreme circumstances, etc). I don’t think we ever really see many peeople using it in the manner in which he or others speak. I am not big on spanking but I think the spaking you see and what others talk about are two different animals. I also, like you, try and use other methods (with rare spankings when oldest son was younger – not youngest as he was adopted)and have two well behaved Christian boys who love people and their God who loves them.
    From just another watch part in life.
    Debbie aka The Real World Martha

  2. samanthamj Says:

    Hi Martha – Welcome, and thanks for your input. Of course a difference of opinion is ok. =) I have yet to delete anyone… of course…. there’s always a first. 😉

    I haven’t heard Dobson speak – but, have seen his articles, and books. Did you see the excerpts taken from his “Dare to Discipline” book that were mentioned on the PBB blog at: To me, many of the examples Dobson gives are NOT extreme circumstances that should justify spanking/hitting… and seem like they could be better addressed without spanking.

    Dobson is a little too big on the whole power-play issue for me from the story he tells about his dog… to his kids. I guess that is just more the old school way of thinking… which isn’t always bad… but, isn’t always worth repeating. You are right that often it’s determined by people’s history, and not faith. Their parents did it to them… so they think its okay to do to their kids. They aren’t evil people… but, sometimes, people need to take a step back and really look at the big picture. Actually, I bet, if my father were around he would probably agree with much of Dobson’s reasoning and ideas on spanking too. And, I certainly don’t think my Dad was a terrible Dad… or was abusive. I think he thought he was doing the right thing – even without the bible telling him so. I just don’t agree.

    I do know families who spank regularly… and truthfully, it doesn’t seem to be working for them either. And, while it happens at all different levels, and to different extremes, for all different reasons… even if done under the most specific “correct” & loving (if there is such a thing) and calm way… I still don’t think it’s does the child any good. I don’t think it CAN be “done right”.

    Personally, I regret spanking my boy the few times I did. I know there are better ways I could have handled the situations. Are they scarred for life because of it? I don’t think so… and sure hope not… but, I don’t think it did them any good either.

    As Dale mentioned in his post (

    “Every time it represented a failure in my own parenting.“

    I feel that way too…


  3. realworldmartha Says:

    Thanks for your reply back. I really do enjoy hearing from other people. We both may not change our opinion but it does enlighten us to other persepectives. I enjoy that. I don’t want to be a history christian or because so and so in my family was. I want to know what I believe and use it.
    Have a terrific day. I hope to talk again.
    Debbie aka The Real World Martha

  4. tobeme Says:

    I do not believe in spanking in any way shape or form. I raised two childeren who are now young adults and I never once hit them. There were times where I may have wanted to, however I never did. Guess what, they have grown to be two of the most wonderful people I know.
    Hitting a child who cannot defend themselves is wrong. Would you feel comfortable if your spouse hit you as a form of punihment, no of course not.
    I agree with you there are better ways to teach our children, viloence is not the answer. Spanking teachs that violence is a way to solve problems.
    Great post, great message.

  5. KnotKeats Says:

    HI, I haven’t dropped by in awhile. Good topic.

    As one who has never had any children, nor raised any, I believe I am a correct and complete authority on the subject.

    I never remember being spanked. Never. My parents told me they did a couple of times, but it was more of a swat to get my attention. Since I turned out so well, it’s obvious that once a child is old enough to understand and remember, spanking should never be necessary. Before that, it’s like raising a puppy. You have to get their attention somehow, and without language you have to resort to something more attention-getting.

    As a child, my mother comforted and helped cover-up my mistakes. It was Dad’s job to discipline the kids. He did this by sitting us down and explaining, in excruciating detail, what we had done wrong, how we could have avoided it, why it was wrong, how to correct it, and coming up with thought experiments as to how we could avoid repeating such mistakes in the future.

    This was infinitely boring and time-consuming. I envied my friends who just got a quick whack with a belt or a stick. I thought they got off easy.

    I still do (think they got off easy). Spanking only reaches the primitive part of the brain that encourages you to not get caught. Actually being forced to think about and understand the consequences of bad behavior is absolute hell!

  6. samanthamj Says:

    KnotKeats –
    Ha! Well – thank goodness you stumbled in here! We needed the input from the “correct and complete authority on the subject”. 😉

    Your point is well taken. The “right” way to do things isn’t always the easiest… for any of the parties involved. The “quick fix” doesn’t always work long term. And, our children will learn more from reasoning, and explanations… than from violence. It sounds like a no-brainer, doesn’t it?

    Someday, if and when you have kids… you might find it’s not always as easy as it sounds, though. Still… I’m sure you would/will follow in your father’s footsteps and expose them to the same boring , torturous lectures. LOL


  7. Sue Ann Edwards Says:

    I’m honesty not even going to check out this ‘Dobson’s’ arguments. It’s quite easy to discern he’s a control freak, into dominance, due to unresolved emotional insecurity issues within himself. Reminds me of the emotionally retarded god of the old testement.

    This is not the kind of character I allow around my children.

    The subject is Discipline, Self Discipline and, what you have described is typical for a lack of it. Emotional insecurity being absent, we result in trying to be authorities over others through the use of force.

    The Parent lacks Self Discipline, so sees any questions concerning ‘why?’ as a threat to ‘their’ authority. These are signs of inner weakness of character.

    Any character behaving such a way in my house and towards my children would receive all the benefits of my cast iron skillet across their skull.

  8. samanthamj Says:

    Sue –
    HA! I like the skillett upside the head remark! =) That would leave a mark. lol

    It’ amazing how most parents are so protective and will do ANYTHING for their kids… but, how many also don’t think they are doing anything wrong when THEY themselves hurt their own kids, isn’t it? When they use scripture to jusitfy it, it’s even worse yet.

    Thanks for the feedback…

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