He was 2 1/2 and I spanked him. I spanked him over and over and over again, because I thought I was doing the right thing, the godly thing. I needed him to obey, there was no other option.

I was tired and overwhelmed, and I just wanted compliance. I wanted him to honor me by obeying me; I wanted be biblical in the training of my child. I wanted to raise an obedient child so that one day he would be great.

But my son, with the bright blue eyes, he was sad. Very, very sad.

He thought he was bad; not the bad in the understanding that we are all born with a sinful bent, but the bad as in an “I’m not lovable” bad. And he wasn’t just sad, he was angry. He was angry because he didn’t think he could change. He was angry that he couldn’t help his immaturity. He was angry that we just kept trying to spank the immaturity out of him.

And when he looked at me with wet eyes and said, “God doesn’t love me” I broke.

Spanking, first-time obedience, over and over and over and over, and honor, and love, and sadness and anger, and we both just broke.

This way of love was not working.

My husband and I learned a new way, slowly and fumbling, we learned how to love our son and nurture his soul in compassionate ways. We began listening to him more, rubbing his arms, looking in his eyes, relating with him (we sin too), and finding ways to guide his heart towards good…towards the kindess and love of God.

I learned the art of stepping down from my rank as the authority and putting myself in his shoes. Remembering the mind of a child, the immaturity, the limited understanding, the just trying to figure out my world curiosity. And when I do this, when I remember and allow myself to see through his eyes, I am following in the way of Jesus.

Jesus, who humbled himself by stepping down from his rank to live as us, among us. He wore flesh and saw through human eyes, and He had compassion on the people. He had compassion on me.

And He has been ever so gentle with me, as I’m just figuring out my world; as I’m figuring out how to fit perfect into fallen. He is in me, perfection, and His Spirit is intertwined with mine, and I’m just working it all out, this life with Him. He is maturing me slowly, gently, with His kindness and compassion.

His gentleness is making me great.

And it is the gentleness that I am learning to show my son, to raise my babies, that I believe will make them great.

“…your gentleness makes me great.” Psalm 18:35

By Sarah Mae, author of Desperate – Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breath

Need help navigating the waters of discipline? I highly recommend Heartfelt Discipline: Following God’s Path of Life to the Heart of Your Child

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  1. 1

    Oh Sarah Mae … this could have been ME!!! … My daughter also started saying the “God doesn’t love me” thing too – and that hurt sooo much!! No matter how much I *told* her he did, she had gotten it in her head that she was bad, and that God didn’t love her – He loved everyone else, but her! … Though I didn’t really make a *conscious* decision not to make spanking the primary strategy of “punishment”. I started using the 1-2-3 method, though it was counting back from 3 … and after *a while* she got the message that when I start to count back from 3 she was doing something that she wasn’t supposed to. When she stopped, I thanked her for stopping what she was doing … she hasn’t said that phrase for a good couple of months now, and she’s super excited about learning more of God & Jesus – even thanks Him for loving her during her prayer time!!! Praise the LORD!! … Thankyou for sharing this – certainly makes it easier knowing its not ‘just me’!

  2. 2
    Jenn Wagar says:

    Sarah, such beautiful words! These thoughts have been floating in my head lately…so much emphasis on spanking, authority, first time obedience, and while I recognize value in these things, I don’t think they are fully Biblical truth. Learning, training, GRACE–far more success to be found here. I want to impact my children’s souls, not just their outward behavior. So thankful to hear this written about. Check out the book: Families Where Grace us in Place. Totally amazing. Thanks!

  3. 4

    I have been in your shoes, exactly! It was so heartbreaking, that moment of failing my son. My parents had given me a book, “Shepherding A Child’s Heart” at his dedication (now 5 years ago) and it sat on a shelf until my moment of desperation. It has revolutionized our parenting and yes, there is a biblical model for spanking, but it’s not how you & I were doing it in those moments! God Bless, & thanks for your courage to share this!

    • 5

      I can’t believe there is a recommendation for Shepherding A Child’s Heart on this post. That book recommends a method of spanking that, in the guise of “love”, is actually abusive. Terribly abusive. And a huge misinterpretation of scripture. I was so disappointed that I could not even give my copy to the op shop. Spanking is hitting, whether it’s done “calmly and followed with a hug and a prayer” or not. In fact, that calm, pre-meditated spanking sounds more disturbing than a reflex action out of anger. There are other ways to parent that require neither angry hitting or calm hitting of children.

      • 6

        Be careful of your accusations. Spanking is NOT hitting. There are different forms of discipline for various situations and we as the parents need to learn what is the proper way to deal with whatever is happening at that moment. If a child was not sharing a toy or not being nice to a playmate then a removal of the toy or from an activity would be a good place to start. If the child were to proceed to throw a fit, be rude, and start hitting at the parent, well, I’d say spanking would be appropriate. In ANY discipline situation the parents needs to lovingly reassure the child that there are consequences to actions and that no pleasure is taken when discipline becomes necessary. It’s a HUGE disservice to the child when they aren’t ever told no and not taught to behave. Our great Lord disciplines us, His children, and it’s for our good and His glory. God is our example of how to be parents. Would you say that He never disciplines us? Or wouldn’t you say that sometimes the disciplines feel ‘painful’? “He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.” Proverbs 13:24 This is a good explanation of this concept –> http://www.gotquestions.org/spare-rod-spoil-child.html

        • 7

          Just a note on the name of that website…the phrase “Spare the Rod, Spoil the Child” is actually from a poem about lovers, not from the Bible. In case anyone was interested… :) http://www.thisdayinquotes.com/2010/11/spare-rod-and-spoil-child-is-not-in.html

        • 8

          “It’s a HUGE disservice to the child when they aren’t ever told no and not taught to behave.” That is a fallacious argument that has nothing to do with hitting. We say no, we foster an environment of discipleship & learning. All without hitting them.

          How is spanking NOT hitting? Euphemisms may help the hitter feel better, but if your child “spanked” your other child and explained it was “discipline” for misbehavior ~ would you accept that as appropriate? When an employer is dissatisfied with your work ~ should you pull down you pants and bend over in front of them so they can spank you? As long as they give you a hug and tell you how much they love you after?

          What about your daughters? Do you want them marrying men who tell them they hit them “for their own good” and “because they love them”? And that if they were “obedient” wives the husband “wouldn’t be forced to discipline them”?

          • 9

            HAHAHA and you accused someone else of fallacious argumentation!

          • 10

            I would much rather spank my very obstinate two year old (child number four of five) than have her run out in the street and get hit by a car. When all other options are exhausted, you must think of the CHILD! They can learn about consequences at home in a loving environment, or they can go out into the world and get the snot kicked out of them and spend the rest of their lives trying to pick up the pieces. That is, if the the thing they partake in doesn’t kill them. Loving parents give their kids consequences. And for some kids they push so hard that you must resort to spanking. But again. If my choice is spanking to keep my daughter out of the street or having her hit by a car, my choice is clear.

          • 11

            Let’s be reasonable…and use scripture.

            I’ll address your first statement, “if your child “spanked” your other child and explained it was “discipline” for misbehavior ~ would you accept that as appropriate?” Of course I wouldn’t, and for one very OBVIOUS reason. I am the authority that the Lord has placed over my children. My child has no reason to discipline my other child because that is not their place. I am the parent, I am the one with the maturity to deal with the situation, and I am the one that God has placed in my home to care, lead, instruct, and yes, discipline my children. “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” Ephesians 6:1 Continue to read 1-4, if your so inclined, it furthers my point.

            Second statement, “When an employer is dissatisfied with your work ~ should you pull down you pants and bend over in front of them so they can spank you? As long as they give you a hug and tell you how much they love you after?” Really? Where in the bible does it say that if I don’t work properly for my employer that they should discipline me? It does say to, “[render] service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a bondservant or free.” In fact, Scripture tells the employers (or in this section of scripture, masters) to stop threatening. Read Ephesians 6:5-9, to understand where I’m coming from. However, I will find in the bible where it says that I (the parent) should discipline my child when they are disobedient. Proverbs 13:24, Proverbs 23:13, Hebrews 12:7-11

            Third statement, “What about your daughters? Do you want them marrying men who tell them they hit them “for their own good” and “because they love them”? And that if they were “obedient” wives the husband “wouldn’t be forced to discipline them”?” This is unbiblical, in fact, God commands husbands to be loving to their wives. “In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church…” Ephesians 5:28-29 Here are other references-Ephesians 5:25-33, 1 Peter 3:7

            As believers, we need to take our roles seriously as parents and be mature about all areas of parenting. We are commanded to care for our children and we are also commanded to discipline as well. And it doesn’t just mean a ‘stern talking to’. When scripture says ‘rod’ I’m pretty sure it’s not referencing the act of talking…

            If you are going to refute me, please give me Scripture. God’s word is authority, and if you can’t prove it Scripturally, then you can’t prove it at all.

          • 12

            Ah yes, the “all our kids will get run over by cars if we don’t spank”…really? Hold their hand, pick them up, put them in a stroller. There are dozens of ways to keep your kids from running in the street without smacking them.

            Noel ~ first, I would say that my response was to the statement that “spanking is not hitting”. That isn’t in Scripture and it’s patently false.

            If you want a Scriptural explanation, scroll down ~ I’ve posted several Biblical refutes the the “command” to spank our children. And for your assertion that the scenarios I suggested have no Scriptural basis ~ people have used Proverbs and other Old Testament Scripture for Centuries to justify beating their employees, their slaves, AND their wives.

            Proverbs 10:23 and 26:3 say the rod is for the back of *anyone* who is devoid of understanding or foolish. The rod is NOT reserved for children.

            Following Scripture which, unlike Proverbs, IS clearly to be taken literally:
            Deuteronomy 22 ~ stoning to death for not being a virgin (v21), stoning for not crying out while being raped (v24), men are awarded marriage of woman they raped as long as she wasn’t already betrothed (v28 & 29)
            Exodus 21 ~ advocates slavery (v2), selling of daughters (v7), death for striking or speaking ill of your parents (v15 & 17), and beating of servants/maids (v20).

            It’s apparent from your quoted scripture that you relegate your children to live in the Old Testamet while your marriage and other adult relationships enjoy the love and edification of the New Testament.

            If you want to smack/spank/swat/hit (whatever word makes you feel better about it) your kids, unfortunately, that’s your prerogative. However, to come here and claim that spanking is necessary to save our children from hell is a complete denial of the Cross, Grace, and New Testament Salvation.

          • 13

            Without engaging in a debate which has clearly touched emotive points from various perspectives, I just wanted to share that I have had good success with both of my sons teaching them not to run n the road by getting down to their level, and very dramatically explaining “car goes BOOM!” Firmly grab tummy and swiftly lay baby down, being careful not to wack head on the ground but give a good idea that cars are big and potentially scary and can squish you. “Like a big” if they are old enough to comprehend that. You can put all your frustration into the drama of our enactment. My 14 month old already is learning to pause at the roadside and waves his arm, saying BAA! BAA! So cute. He is copying me <3 we love our kids and want the best for them. May Jesus lead us, teach us, forgive us, guide us, and may our children know His love.

        • 14

          Thank you, Noel, for your comment correcting Karen. I completely agree with you, there are times when spaning is necessary and should be administered with a calm heart, following gentle instruction and prayer. After spanking correctly child usually leaves with a smile, because he has been brought back into obedience with God. I just all come sto the heart of the parent-their motives. Do i requiere obedience because i want to be obeyed or because i want what is best to the child? Proverbs 23: 13-14 are very sobering: “Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die. If you strike him with the rod, you will save his soul from Sheol.”
          Somehow this article i sends a message that all spanking is bad, that just is not Biblical. I am all for loving my kids, enjoying them, kissing them, showing them kindness, spending all my days caring for them. They are all my life- I have left a career, all glitter that is there in the world to be there for them. But there are times and only the Lord can show you when, children should be disciplined.
          “The rod and reproof give wisdom,
          but a child left to himself wbrings shame to his mother.” Proverbs 29:15

          • 15

            Spanking is never “necessary”. It is always, always, always optional. It is your choice if you want to spank your child, but NECESSARY is not a fact. You can call it a last resort. You can call it an act of the Bible, if you like, but that’s your translation.

        • 16

          Oh, one more thing. Milly said that ” After spanking correctly child usually leaves with a smile, because he has been brought back into obedience with God.” I honestly do not understand the theology behind this! If a spanking is what “brings us back into obedience with God”, where is the need for grace? It’s all about punishment restoring our relationship. I was pretty sure Jesus did that already. I say this in love, and for the sake of the children. What sort of a picture are they getting of a loving father, when the human example before them strikes them to cause pain (whether it be done calmly or in anger).

        • 17

          Spanking is not hitting? Then what is it?

  4. 18

    In parenting one of the most beautiful lessons to learn is that it’s okay to change our minds (our actions) if something isn’t working…and to recognize when that’s necessary. This is a story of that very thing. Always l o v e l y.

    :)

  5. 20

    We were so there!!! I broke one night and told my husband in tears I couldn’t do it any more – it wasn’t working. In fact it was getting worse – our child was hitting me and kicking me and scratching my face whenever he was angry. I was spending the entire day spanking my child and it wasn’t working. I wanted to change our approach. So we did. We’re still tweaking it. Kids are little individuals, not little robots. You can’t just pick an approach and expect it to work. You’re probably going to try and fail a few times. That doesn’t mean you’re a bad parent. It means you’re getting to know your child.

    I’m going to go buy that book RIGHT NOW.

  6. 22

    There are a whole slew of books I wish I’d never read when I was parenting my daughter. I feel horrid guilt over putting such high expectations on her–instead of gently training her. I get this post in a million ways. Luckily, His mercies are new every day and I have had beautiful examples from godly women in my life that help me choose a better way to reach my children. Thank you for putting into words such an important message! The best parenting book I ever read (and wish it was the only one) is “Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline” by Beckie Bailey.

  7. 23

    Such a beautiful unfolding of learning how to parent not by formula but your way, as directed by our Heavenly compassionate Lord. Unfortunately, parenting is often done by trial and error. Who the heck really knows what they’re doing until it’s their child? There is awesome advice and instruction, but we have to learn along the way, relying on the wisdom of the Lord. And yes, we’ll make mistakes, trial and error, but I so appreciate your inspiring journey of your husband and you together finding the right way for your beloved child. Thank God, kids are resilient. And so we can correct the things that don’t work along the way. I remember spanking my oldest once, and I just couldn’t do it again. It was just was too hard for me…I don’t think she’s the worse for it. And I also smacked my kids a time or two in great anger. That is against even what proponents of spanking say. That did not work…they remember the incidents oh so well. But they do forgive me!! Thank you Sarah for bearing your heart and soul. You are ministering, bringing hope to so many young moms…and even old-timers like me. Bless you!!

  8. 24

    Beautiful representation of the struggle to parent and the humility of Christ in living human. Touching. Inspiring and inspired. Thank you

  9. 25

    Thank you SO much. Spanking never made sense to me. I was a good and compliant child but still got spankings and belt-lashings from one of my parents. I intentionally found other ways of discipline with love for our only son and he is a wonderful human being. In fact, he and his wife just had a baby boy this week who I am confident will grow up without Biblically based and condoned violence and abuse.
    Bless you for putting this message in this context!

  10. 26

    Love, love, love this…gentle touch…just like Jesus :)

  11. 27

    Ah yes, this I too have done. With a little boy who sounds just like your precious boy. The beautiful lesson that you are learning …… see(ing) through his eyes……THIS is what He is teaching me now too. Seeing ALL through His eyes and loving them for who they are as He loves them. Give grace to yourself too, for you are a beautiful piece of clay in the Potter’s hand who is accepting His gentle shaping and moulding.

  12. 28
    Lucille says:

    How my heart identifies with that. Thanks for sharing!
    God bless you!

  13. 29

    This is so good, oh so good! I was falling into the trap of being too harsh, also.

    Then the Lord showed me this verse from James 3:17: But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. An a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

    This was given to me in answer to a prayer on how to best discipline my strong-willed little boy. It has saved me time and time again from being too harsh with him.

    Thank you for the reminder. ~jana

  14. 31
    Tracy in NJ says:

    I teach preschool for many years now. I have a reputation for dealing well with challenging children and helping them be successful. Here is a book I HIGHLY recommend: Sensational Kids by Lucy Jane Miller. I bet what you read will strike a chord.

  15. 32
    Kimberly says:

    I got the comment from my oldest “Mommy I can’t do it right!” Over and over again. She was giving up on herself. I was expecting so much out of her and she was only three. I have since changed from spanking to embracing my wonderfull girl and loving her for who she is.

  16. 33

    Wonderful words! I want to tuck them away in my heart to pull out and remember as my baby grows up.

  17. 34

    The two parenting styles you’re talking about aren’t mutually exclusive. My two year old isn’t a snotty brat because we have taught him to communicate. He obeys the first time most of the time, because I show him respect by warning him of what is coming rather than simply expecting him to bend to my will and stop what he’s doing immediately. I am the authority figure in a loving way, and he nearly never gets spanked, because spankings are reserved for heinous deeds like hitting sissy in the head or laying on the baby and not getting off of him when asked. I appreciate your post from the tender heart of a parent, but I feel like you are saying you can’t be a loving parent who spanks. You can! You can spank your two year old when he does wrong and then lovingly follow up the spanking with prayer and conversation and guidance. You can treat your children like they are people, and they will understand that you love them, and God loves them, and that doesn’t stop when they mess up.

    • 35
      Anonymous says:

      I agree with you Jess. I love the sentiment of this piece but there are certain situations where spanking might be the most effective form of discipline. For example, if I tell my child not to go into the street and they continue to disobey, depending on their age, a spank would send a cause-and-effect message that they understand a lot better than an explanation of the dire consequences assuming they aren’t old enough to understand death. The Bible says not to spare your child the rod and at the same time not to provoke them to anger. It appears what’s “biblical” is a balanced approached to parenting, motivated by love. Does that mean you have to spank? Not necessarily. I’m just saying, it doesn’t mean you aren’t showing your child love if you do or that they will have the same reaction your child did. I have four children and they are all different. I have to use different forms of discipline for each of them. Anyway, I still do LOVE the reminder this post provides that we should always come to our children in love and grace just as Jesus has done for us.

    • 36

      “spankings are reserved for heinous deeds like hitting sissy in the head”

      You teach your child not to hit by hitting them? Have you really though that through?

      You CAN be a loving parent who spanks, but spanking is not a LOVING act.

      • 37
        Anonymous says:

        So we should assume that when Christ chastises us, He isn’t being loving either, right? The Bible says that if He didn’t discipline us, that would be bastards and none of His. It IS loving to train your child and to correct them when they sin. I believe it’s Proverbs that says, “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child, but discipline will drive it out.” All of God’s rebukea and acts of discipline are love hugs to us even though it may not seem like it at the time. He is conforming us into His image and making us more like Him. Sometimes it hurts, really bad! But would we rather never go through pain and be carnal or go to golgatha and enter into the fellowship of His suffering and allow His righteousness to flow through our lives? I understand there are other methods of discipline but don’t demonize the main method the Bible teaches because it is proof that we love our children if we spank them. It says a father who doesn’t discipline his son hates his son, so it must be a loving act, according to God. We’re saving our child from a life filled with rebellion and mischief. Of course all our dealings with our children should be done in self control and love. And there is a huge difference in lovingly spanking your child and beating your child. One act is loving, the other is abuse and the Bible doesn’t teach or condone that.

        • 38

          I would encourage you to purchase a concordance. You are using a modern dictionary to define an English word that has been translated from Greek.

          The Greek often translated to disciple or discipline have nothing to do with physically striking someone. “Mathetes”, “sophronismos”, “paideuo”, and “paideia” have to do with learning, mentoring, teaching, and correcting.

          The only time that these words are paired with a physical act (such as Hebrews 12:6 you referenced) are referring to the actions of God Himself ~ the perfect judge. the English “scourge” in the Hebrews verse is “phragello” ~ which is to strip a person, tie them in a bending posture to a pillar, and then whip them with a device made with leather throngs weighted with sharp pieces of bone or lead. So, if you are spanking your children in any other manner ~ it is not “Biblical”.

          Perhaps you would recognize this as the treatment suffered by Christ himself in atonement for our sins. Perhaps you would recognize that our faith in God and His infinite Grace has removed this from our future. Perhaps you could extend this same Grace to your own children.

          I find it interesting that Jesus walked this earth for over 30 years. If “spanking” is the “main method the Bible teaches” ~ then why is there not a single recorded incident of Jesus striking anyone?

          • 39

            Rachel, I would encourage you to read a single commentary on any verse about spanking, no scholar says what you just said. There is consensus that many Proverbs are about spanking. Proverbs 23 is unmistakably talking about spanking:

            “Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die. If you strike him with the rod, you will save his soul from Sheol.”

            It doesn’t mean that if you learn/mentor/teach/correct him with a rod… it literally means to physically strike. Many other verses mean the same thing even though the translation into English is more dynamic, read any scholar of Greek about it.

          • 40

            Paul ~ for whatever reason your posts are blocked to reply to, so I’m replying to my own.

            Proverbs was written in Hebrew, not Greek.

            Ultimately, if you say you hit your kids to save them from hell ~ you are denying the work of the Cross. Salvation comes from faith, not acts. Certainly not the acts of a third party. God doesn’t have grandchildren.

          • 41

            Paul,

            As for your assertion that not a single scholar says what Rachel is saying, please note that I can name several – Rev. Dwight Moody, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Also you might check the book by Prof. Odd Bakke ‘when children became people’ in which he refers to an early 3rd century Christian book which refers to the rod as words coming from a father’s mouth, not a rod. And yes, the quoted texts are from Proverbs.

            Samuel Martin
            Jerusalem Israel

          • 42

            Paul,
            First of all as Samuel said, many scholars do agree with Rachel.
            Second
            “Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die. If you strike him with the rod, you will save his soul from Sheol.”
            If you do your homework on this verse you will find that the word child was actually the age of a teenager to young man in the Hebrew, you would also find that Israelite men of that age could be stoned to death if they were not living upright lives and this verse is saying if you beat them with a large club they will not die from being stoned to death because they will learn their lesson.
            As for the many comments on here about God disciplining us I say how does He discipline you personally, maybe you should think about that and try to model Him, because He does not discipline me the way some of you are implying. And, by the way this is all coming from a parent who does occasionally spank, however, if you really do your studying you will find that “spanking” in modern form is not Biblically mandated or condemned. As Christians we should trust that the Holy Spirit is perfectly capable of leading other Christian parents in their parenting and not try to be the Holy Spirit for them, focus on yourself and your kids.

      • 43

        So we should assume that when Christ chastises us, He isn’t being loving either, right? The Bible says that if He didn’t discipline us, that would be bastards and none of His. It IS loving to train your child and to correct them when they sin. I believe it’s Proverbs that says, “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child, but discipline will drive it out.” All of God’s rebukea and acts of discipline are love hugs to us even though it may not seem like it at the time. He is conforming us into His image and making us more like Him. Sometimes it hurts, really bad! But would we rather never go through pain and be carnal or go to golgatha and enter into the fellowship of His suffering and allow His righteousness to flow through our lives? I understand there are other methods of discipline but don’t demonize the main method the Bible teaches because it is proof that we love our children if we spank them. It says a father who doesn’t discipline his son hates his son, so it must be a loving act, according to God. We’re saving our child from a life filled with rebellion and mischief. Of course all our dealings with our children should be done in self control and love. And there is a huge difference in lovingly spanking your child and beating your child. One act is loving, the other is abuse and the Bible doesn’t teach or condone that.

      • 44

        I have five kids and the youngest is a bald little boy, now 1.5 years old. All his sisters have long hair which he pulled mercilessly! When he finally had enough hair to grab ahold of, I had to actually pull his hair when he did it. He had to understand that what he was doing HURT them. He has since stopped pulling their hair (and mine).
        And as citizens of humanity, created by God, we should come down most strongly on hurting other human beings. We must give them a reason to behave kindly towards siblings (Let’s face it. Even a child as young as 3 or 4 can actually seriously harm -even kill- a small infant!)
        I believe that we are to take our parenting cues from God. he is so loving and so very tender! Yet in His love and tenderness He recognizes that consequences are the acts of a loving God! and our children are like we are: all different. Some people respond to the Lord with the merest whisper of the Holy Spirit. But some people don’t respond to God without anything less than a spiritual 2×4, or a life in literal shambles. That would be considered by some to be incredibly harsh! Yet God leads us down the path by the means needed by US!
        Do I believe that spanking is misused by many? Yes. but you cannot lump every experience into one lump and say “this is the only method always wrong!” There are some adults I know who would have benefited a great deal by having been spanked as a child! The word “bully” comes to mind.

  18. 45
    Christine says:

    I, unfortunately, went to a highly legalistic church for way too many years and everyone suffered for it especially my two sons. Spanking and being strict was part of it. I will never step foot in that kind of a church ever again for the amount of damage it did to my family and myself. All I got out of it was that God hated me and that stayed with me for a decade after I had left that church. Legalism is a satanic poison to be avoided at all costs. I wish I could undo the damage but I can’t. As a result, one of my sons will never step inside any church. That church ended up imploding years later. It was a very large, world wide one, too. I wish I had someone who would have intervened and stopped the insanity and shown me that God is really love. I’m not against spanking but it should be used when all else fails.

    • 46
      Kristin Shaw (Two Cannoli) says:

      I can’t imagine how anyone would thrive spiritually in that kind of church. How awful. How sad that someone would stand on a pulpit and teach people that they aren’t good enough. That’s not what I believe in and I’m thankful you got out.

  19. 47

    Honest reflection and a desire to change is at the heart of parenting. It’s real. And I’m good with real. We need more of it in this broken world.

  20. 48
    Barbara winn says:

    Talk to children, explain why to not do something. Spanking as a very last resort for serious problems and ask them if they understand why you must spanking as their punishment.

  21. 49

    ~ This makes me cry so…good tears of healing, however ;) I am going to save it and use it towards my wholeness ~

    For I was brought up in the horror of abuse, and it is taking me all my life to find the One, True God, who loves me the way I was meant to be loved.

    Thank you for being willing to change and become like Jesus!

    God bless you, dearly, for sharing!

  22. 50

    I love this post. I am not a parent…yet, but I am a therapist who works with many families who are often struggling with how to teach and discipline their children in better ways. And this is important for me to read for when I do someday become a parent myself. What a beautiful realization of forgiveness and showing God’s love to your child.

    • 51

      Micalagh,

      As a therapist, I would love to send you my ebook for free because I think you might find it a useful tool to pass on to Christian parents struggling with this issue.

      Thanks

      Samuel Martin

  23. 52

    This was a great post. I grew up in a somewhat abusive family, where we were not hit or beaten but the abuse was verbal. My parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, were alcholics and there was neglect, and lots of yelling, fighting and put downs. I was told daily I was a mistake, I was ugly, and I was worthless. I vowed as a very young child to NEVER treat anyone the way I was treated let alone my own children, and for the most part we didn’t. I did yell out of extreme anger, and I did slap my teenage daughter once. They are all four amazing adults now and we are very close. I have two granddaughters and my goal is to be the gramma I never had.

  24. 53
    Dee Rex says:

    Thank you so much for this post. As parents struggling with a seemingly willful child, we we were desperate to train our son. Even when he received his autism diagnosis, we were coached to continue with the spanking….more often harder if he wasn’t responding. I can’t tell you what a blessing this is to read. God doesn’t spiritually “smack” us into obedience! He gently guides us and His wisdom, superior to ours, shows us His sovereignty. As a further resource..there is a site I stumbled upon called Gentle Christian Parenting. I love it! A wealth of like minded parenting with gentility. Bless you!

  25. 54

    Thanks so much for this, Sarah Mae! I am not a mother (yet), but know a couple mothers struggling with this. This will be such a blessing to them!

  26. 55

    some of the same things we are…slowly’…learning!
    thanks!

  27. 56

    Hmmm…I am so glad this worked well for your son and for you. But…there indeed is a time for spanking, not a beating, not to break someones will, just a spanking…maybe for outright disobedience. God wants His children to obey and sometimes we have to learn the ‘hard way’ when we are disobedient. Yes, He still loves us, and is very intentional in showing us just how much He loves us, after our ‘spanking’. Just as, after we spank our child and tell him/her what they did was wrong and maybe even hurtful to someone, we pray with them, hug them, and tell them we still love them, and help them to see they can change and do better ‘next time’. There isn’t just one way to raise our children, and we all must find that way for each of our children, God’s way for each one…

  28. 57

    When I heard you relate this story at the mom conference I started to cry. My 4 yo lil man is the same way. He’s our 4th child and my husband and I have had to learn to love him in the same way. We are still a work in progress but we’re getting better every day. He is so much better now that we are more gracious parents. Thank you so much for sharing with us how precious and important it is to love our strong willed babies like JEsus loves US, HIS strong willed Big babies :)

  29. 58

    Thank you for sharing. I am still trying to solidify it, but thank you for bringing me closer to understanding some things God is trying to speak to me, both about my son and about my own heart.

    P.S. The link from your email didn’t work to bring me to (in) Courage. I think the website address needs a tweak. ;)

  30. 59
    Pamela Wilkinson says:

    This was a very uplifting article. I feel the same way about the spankings. My child is an adult but I read and see so many people using this form of discipline it just breaks my heart. I have always had the theory “Violence Breeds Violence” and have seen this play out in children who are harshly disciplined. I do not vocalize this view around many people because it seems to be a very touchy subject.
    Thank you for this!!!

  31. 60
    Sarah C says:

    Thank you so much for this post. It is very encouraging. Plus, I’ve been so waiting for the new HeartFelt Discipline book for come out. Do you know when it will be on Amazon? Thanks!

  32. 63

    I really enjoyed this post. We never spanked either of our children, and I’m so glad. Not having spanking as an option encouraged us to work harder and be more thoughtful in the way we disciplined them. 1-2-3 Magic helped when they were little, and heart to heart talking and consequences helped more as they got older. Last year my 12 year old son died in a freak accident. I’m not sure why I’m adding that here, but I am. I guess I am just so grateful that all the touches I gave him were gentle ones.

    p.s. Celebrate Calm is a wonderful website/resource on parenting and discipline as is the book Grace Based Parenting.

  33. 64
    Anonymous says:

    I think I understand the sentiment here and appreciate that nurturing is becoming the first “go-to”. It should be. I also don’t think “spanking” should be lumped into a category of parents who only demand compliance. Maybe there are some. But, I would guess there are quite a few parents who do nurture and who also have used spanking in a select situation. Plus, there is another discussion not mentioned…consequences that are age appropriate. A 2 yr old should not be disciplined the same as a ten yr old. I just feel like this tends to be going towards a label or grouping, rather than heading towards understanding.

  34. 65
    Kristin Shaw (Two Cannoli) says:

    I have a son who is 3, and I have never spanked him and never will. To me, there is no sense in teaching a child the lesson that I can hurt him if he does something wrong. That teaches him, in turn, to hit. Anyone who says it doesn’t is kidding themselves.

    Mothers who are using the Bible as justification to spank their children need to look again at Jesus. Do you truly believe that he would recommend spanking as a punishment? I don’t even know Jesus that well, but I can tell you that this gentle man would not have recommended spanking, no matter what was said before him.

    Sarah Mae, I have been a fan of yours for several months now, and I applaud your honesty and changing your path. It is not my place to judge you; I only want to tell you how much I appreciate the message of gentleness. More people should listen to that message!

    • 66

      Jesus is God who wrote the entire Bible including Proverbs which is replete with commands for parents to spank their children (see my comment below). Jesus Himself made a whip of cords and drove people and animals out of the Temple and flipped tables over in righteous anger, you clearly don’t “know Jesus that well” Kristin.

      • 67
        Kristin Shaw (Two Cannoli) says:

        I believe most people interpret the Bible and Jesus’ words incorrectly to suit their own purposes. If you want to continue to use the Bible to continue to spank your children, go ahead. I don’t believe it and I won’t believe it.
        The God I believe in is much more gentle and loving. I believe most people spank from anger and frustration, not in a loving, positive manner. I can’t see how you can.

      • 68

        The children He pulled onto His lap and told us to become more like them.

      • 69

        Paul,

        This is so ridiculous. I have heard this over and over again.

        People seem to imagine that it was perfectly fine for Jesus (or anyone) to make some type of a “whip” and sort of run around hitting other human beings.

        Let me ask you this. If a person did that today, they would be arrested and it was exactly the same thing in that period. Just like you cannot “assault” people today, Jesus did not “assault” anyone at that time. Had he have hit anyone, He could have been charged with a crime and would then have been subject to punishment Himself. You need to read my free ebook.

        Samuel Martin
        Jerusalem Israel

  35. 70

    It’s so disheartening to me to see Christian mothers abandoning Biblical parenting. It’s an epidemic these days. We’re doing it all in the name of gentle parenting, as if those mothers who use the rod with wisdom aren’t gentle. I kind of resent that notion. Of course spanking can be done incorrectly, but are we to throw the baby out with the bath water? If your an angry mom who spanks, your child doesn’t need an angry mom who doesn’t spank. Not spanking wont cure it. It’s your own heart issue. I have 4 children and we use spanking as our discipline. Our house is full of joy and happiness. I would never abandon the Biblical call to use the rod because of guilt or my own issues with anger. That’s unfair to my children. The moms that I know that do not spank are not somehow miraculously happier, nor are their children. Quite the contrary actually. Heart training takes years to see the fruit sometimes. We say spankings don’t work, however it can be a 8 year process so how do we know. We’re not talking about behavior modification. Spanking isn’t popular these days but I refuse to let my children be an experiment and hope that my modern unbiblical parenting is going to work.

    • 71

      “…we use spanking as our discipline. Our house is full of joy and happiness.”

      Every “Biblical Chatisement” author I have ever read speaks to the fact that children are to be “disciplined” (hit) until their children stop crying and respond with “joy”, “happiness” or a “good attitude”. Your children “appearing” the way you have demanded under the threat of physical assault is not proof that they are truly happy.

      They’ve just learned what to do in front of you to prevent being hit.

      • 72
        Kristin Shaw (Two Cannoli) says:

        I agree with you, Rachel. How much more joy and happiness would they have without the spanking? Beating our kids into submission is not the God I believe in. This is all making me sick.

    • 73

      Perhaps friend, you could be mistaken that we are abandoning Biblical parenting? Perhaps we have prayed, and watched, and read the Word, and are being guided by the Spirit and have read other views on Biblical discipline and have studied and pondered deeply and have come to a different conclusion than you? Perhaps also we are neither advocating spanking nor saying never to spank?

      Kendal, perhaps you would consider reading “Heartfelt Discipline”, which includes a thorough study of the use of the rod in the Bible.

      Peace.

      • 74

        Amen

      • 75

        You are totally correct Sarah. Thank you for speaking out on such a touchy subject. I believe as you do, but am afraid of speaking out about it because of all the judgement of other Christians. I spanked my oldest two by following various “experts” as well as all the well-meaning older woman in my life and I deeply regret it! My other two I rarely spanked partly because they were more easy going, but also because I was seeing the results of spanking my older two (anger, sadness and a a feeling that they were unlovable). I had just decided never to spank again (youngest was 5) when I got pregnant with our fifth child (now 8 weeks old). I will never spank this child no matter what my husband or “wiser” Christian women tell me. I have thought about it, prayed about it, read about it in great length and have made my decision based on what I believe God is telling me. I am NOT abandoning “Biblical Discipline” I am simply understanding what Biblical Discipline really means and it does NOT = spanking.

      • 76

        Sarah, I have always appreciated your kind gracious heart. And I do enjoy reading your different perspective on topics. I just don’t understand this new wave of thinking parents have about spanking. Of course there is total freedom to parent how you feel the Lord is leading your family. I certainly have no right to tell you how to parent! I am baffled though by this idea that spanking isn’t Biblical, that the Bible isn’t clear on how we are to train and instruct our children. What are we basing this idea on? Where are Scriptures to defend the idea that the rod is not to be taken literally?
        I love Sally and Clay Clarkson! I have read a couple of their books and have truly been encouraged and changed. But I wholeheartedly disagree with their parenting/discipline philosophy. I think when you abandon what the Scriptures teach on discipline it’s treading on dangerous ground.

        • 77

          Kendra ~ you are grasping at straws to defend your point. If you want to spank your kids, it’s currently legal and pretty much accepted.

          However, if you are going to continue to claim that the Bible “commands” us to spank based on a literal interpretation of Proverbs ~ I have a few questions for you…

          What size stick are you using? (Scripture is clear ~ it’s a ROD) After the beating (Proverbs clearly says BEAT) do you dress the wounds or leave them so your children can be uncomfortable longer? How many times can your children defy you before you stone them to death? (Exodus 21:17). Have you taught your daughter to scream out if she is ever raped, because she needs to know if she doesn’t that you will stone her (Deuteronomy 22:24). If your daughter lives, at what age will you sell her? (Exodus 21:7).

          Ultimately, how do you reconcile Proverbs stating that the rod saves our children from Hell when the New Testament clearly states Jesus is our savior?

          • 78

            Rachel, can I ask right now if Jesus is behind you driving your point so forcefully or is your ego? We are all sisters in faith just trying to raise our family as we feel Christ is leading us. No need to prove or disprove one form of parenting is better or wrong. We need to support each other is these tough parenting times not argue or tear each other down.

          • 79

            Katie ~ it has nothing to do with my ego. It has everything to do with the thought of how many children a day hear from their parents, “I’m hitting you because God wants me to.” “I’m hitting you because i love you.”. “You must learn to be obedient to me before you can be obedient to God”. It has everything to do with grieving how this must impact their view of our Graceful, loving, and forgiving Father who went to the Cross to forgive ALL our sins.

            It has everything to do with Kendra repeatedly accusing anyone who does not spank as “abandoning Scripture” while giving misinformation including that Proverbs is to be taken literally. (Curios, Where is your admonition to her that SHE support all forms of parenting? Why is it only addressed to me?).

            This is not about “proving” a superior form of parenting ~ it’s about asking someone to be consistent: either Proverbs is literal or it is not: either the rod is actually a rod or it is not: either the rod is for all or it is not: either the rod produces salvation or it does not. No one here who states we *must* spank has been willing or able to address these questions ~ and that speaks volumes.

      • 80

        Amen!

      • 81
        Julia Reffner says:

        Thank you for clarifying this, Sarah Mae. This is exactly the interpretation I had when reading, that your article wasn’t really about spanking but about listening to the Spirit and demonstrating grace to our children. I am a bit frustrated with all the disagreement here. We need to follow biblical principles but also let the Spirit led us day-by-day. I think its easier to follow a book or hard and fast guidelines based on our own legalistic rules. But that’s not what God desires for us. Thank you!!

    • 82

      Kendal,

      I share your concern about needing to have an accurate systematic theology (to know what God wants us to do or not do).

      Teachings which on the surface may seem so clear and plain in Scripture to someone reading a text written over here in Israel some three thousand years ago.

      Let’s be clear. My grandmother lived in Eastern Oklahoma and some of the terms she used like “Sky West from Crooked” meant that you did not know where something was coming from like the wind or something like that.

      You can searth the whole of the internet and you cannot find this phrase even though it is Eastern Oklahoma slang from 120 years ago.

      Now, lets go back over 3,000 years and read the book of Proverbs. Are you 100% sure you understand 100% what the meaning is? I am not sure myself and I grew up in a home where my father was an internationally recognized theologian and I live today in Israel and am pursuing Christian education at the graduate level.

      Be careful and make sure you “understand what you are read” because there was an Ethiopian Eunuch who asked Philip to come and sit with him. Sit with Sarah Mae here because what she is saying is moving in the trajectory towards redemption as Prof. William Webb would say.

      Punishment does not engender righteousness in anyone.

      If you’d like to learn more, feel free to write me as my ebook on this subject is 100% free with no obligation.

      Samuel Martin
      Jerusalem Israel

    • 83
      Carmelita says:

      Kendal,
      I read your blog. Awhile back you blogged how you had your daughter describe you in one word. What word did she use to describe you? Happy? Joyful? You said that your home is full of joy and happiness so surely these words were what your daughter used to describe you, yes? Oh wait, it was “ANGRY”.

      • 84

        Please, lets not do the dirty work of the devil. He is marveling how one post on being gentle and tender is turning mother’s against each other. Please….please lets just love and support one another. We are all different because that is how God created us. Only each family knows what is best for that family.

      • 85

        Carmelita, interestingly enough, that is when I was very inconsistent with my discipline and doing more “talking” and less spanking. My children were frustrated and I was angry. Now that we are “back on track” so to speak our house is so much happier. I’m not an angry frustrated mother, and my children are truly a blessing. And I’m not ‘desperate’ as so many mothers are. Motherhood is hard work, no doubt but the Lord has given us the tools to use to train and disciple our children.

  36. 86

    This is absurdly anti-biblical. When the child said “God doesn’t love me” you chose to cast the Bible aside instead of teaching him the truth through the situation.

    The Bible clearly states that you do not love your child if you do not spank him: “Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.”

    You are being disobedient to God if you do not spank your children: “Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die. If you strike him with the rod, you will save his soul from Sheol.”

    Spanking is one of the most loving acts you could do for your children: “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him.”

    “The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.”

    You said, “He was angry that we just kept trying to spank the immaturity out of him.” Of course he was! You don’t spank a child for being a child, you spank them for disobedience. The Bible says “Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged,” and “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”

    Do not let your emotions allow you to make irrational decisions: “Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying.”

    • 87

      A spanking is the perfect opportunity to bring in the Gospel: “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by Him. For the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and chastises every son whom He receives.”

      You are doing great harm to your children if you do not spank them and your husband should be man enough to do what God requires of him. This is very shameful.

      • 88

        Well said Paul! I love that you brought up the fact that we don’t discipline for childishness. Exactly! Foolishness and childishness are 2 very different things.

      • 89

        Paul,

        I almost never comment on anything my wife writes. However I realized you have given me quite an invitation to participate since you have fondly regarded my manhood as “shameful”.

        “You are doing great harm to your children if you do not spank them and your husband should be man enough to do what God requires of him. This is very shameful.”
        As far as what God requires of me is the same he requires of you. Trust Him and obey Him. How I find it ironic that I am sitting here only 2-3 years removed from saying verbatim the exact same things your saying and quoting the same scriptures with the same enthusiasm. Yet I am now heavily criticized by a fellow believer who has neither talked to or met me. So here I am having walked through what you advocate and have been counseled by people who recommend that I save my son’s life doing they very thing you support. Let me share something with you regarding your other heartfelt comment. See below:
        You said, “He was angry that we just kept trying to spank the immaturity out of him.” Of course he was! You don’t spank a child for being a child, you spank them for disobedience. The Bible says “Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged,” and “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
        I hope you realize that there is disobedience in immaturity as well as immaturity in disobedience. Because they are immature they are disobedient. I don’t pretend that every time I disciplined my son I was perfectly calm, attentive and in the perfect mind set. But were you there when he repeatedly was “out right disobeying” and I was spanking him and calm manner as possible. Then I share with him repeatedly bibilically why I was “disciplining” him. The more I took the time and care to administer the rod to my son the more obedient he became. But while I had his obedience I was losing his heart. I would argue that I was losing his heart to “Sheol” while I had his obedience. Were you there when Sarah and I prayed to God asking Him how we should discipline and lead our son. Paul, were you there when we heard from God guiding us to stop giving our son the rod? So by your account and standards, we were some how disobeying and obeying God all at the same time! A profound mystery! The mystery, was the complete change we saw in our son! The change I saw in my relationship with him has come full circle. God has redeemed our family through this. The shame upon me would be unbearable if I had lived up to your standards of manhood.

        • 90

          Jesse, I can imagine how difficult it is to read the comments to your wife’s heartfelt posts and try to refrain from responding when she and or you are slandered. However, I wish you would have refrained in this case because your response, however understandable, lowers you to the level of discourse in the comments. I’ve gotten dirty entering the mud pit trying to protect my own on many occasion, and it’s never worth it.

          Sarah Mae, Thank you for your courage to write about issues that are important to every mother, but hold the potential for so much backlash!

          It is difficult to tell from your article, and from your husband’s comments, if your family believes spankings are wrong for every family or just for your family. However, I think that even if we hold different views on what the Bible teaches about spanking in particular, we all can benefit from a reminder to be gentle and to reflect on how God deals with us, His children, so thank you for the reminder.

          I have a 3 year old, a 2 year old, and a 4 month old so I am a relatively new parent. My three year old is already giving my husband and I a run for our money, and we are having to tweak and sometimes totally rethink our parenting strategy. I don’t think anything in our marriage has caused us to realize how very much we need the Lord like dealing with our wonderful three year old son. Our son has us before the Lord desperate for wisdom, strength, patience, peace, joy…. Parenting is sanctifying us, and for that, I am thankful for the tantrums that have me leaving the grocery store with an empty cart two days in a row and even for the ones that leave me sad for days.

          My son’s disobedience has caused me to think about what a sight I must be to my heavenly Father when I am throwing a “tantrum,” disobeying or running away when He’s calling. God’s grace and mercy are so amazing!

          Thank you for your reminder today to seek God’s heart as we discipline.

          • 91

            “It is difficult to tell from your article, and from your husband’s comments, if your family believes spankings are wrong for every family or just for your family. ”

            We don’t like to comment on what is good or not for other families. We all must go before the throne of grace and say, “God, what do you say?” And then we follow the convictions of the Spirit as He guides and we parent by faith. :)

        • 92

          I love you, baby. You are my hero, wise and true.

        • 93
          Anonymous says:

          Jesse you are an awesome dad and replied to Paul with incredible grace. Incredible grace and compassion!

          I am fascinated at the controversy Sarah’s post stirred up… Let me say that when I think of whose house I would want to be a kid at…it would be Sally and clay clarkson…right? I am glad to have role models like them…and love how her kids have blossomed into young adults who enjoy the love and company of their parents!

        • 94
          Lindsey says:

          Thank you for sharing your heart about what you are doing to raise your child the best way you know how! (And kuddos to you for seeking God’s wisdom with your particular situation and particular child instead of trying to continue a cookie-cutter answer.)

        • 95
          Anonymous says:

          You Go Sarah’s husband!! Good for you stepping in & speaking on behalf of yourself & your wife. @ Sarah…God blessed you with a REAL man. Thank you for sharing your heart.

    • 96

      Hi, Paul,

      The harsh tone of your words speaks far louder than any verse you’ve quoted or argument you’ve made, here.

    • 98

      Paul,

      In Scripture, what is a ‘child’? Do you know there are nine different Hebrew words that describe nine different phases of life of a “child” – Which phase are these texts talking about?

      I have a whole chapter on this in my book. It’s free. Maybe you might modify your view.

      Best wishes

      Samuel Martin

  37. 99
    Heather says:

    I am so confused by people saying that the Bible commands me to spank. I have never, ever read any translation that says to spank. The rod verses that are being thrown out obviously do not mean spank, so where is everyone finding these “Bible says to spank” verses?!

  38. 100
    Heather says:

    I ‘entered’ too early. My question is, Paul, where in the Bible does ‘disciple’ ‘discipline’ = spank? It keeps getting talked about like it’s fact that spanking=discipline. You can’t just throw this line out there like it’s truth.

    • 101

      Heather,
      The “rod” in the Bible is referring to corporal punishment. It is to be taken literally not metaphorically. The only time we’d take scripture metaphorically is if the literal interpretation makes no sense. Society wants to change that interpretation to make it more comfortable. This is about your child, not you. Not spanking is a selfish act, IMO.

      • 102

        Oh my goodness. Proverbs is considered historically and across not only all denominations but in Talmudic arenas as a book of POETRY ~ it is full of simile, metaphor, & personification.

        Proverbs 23 ~ which is claimed literally to support striking children also says:

        23:3 ~ put a knife to your throat if you’re hungry
        23:16 ~ my kidneys will rejoice when thy lips speak right things
        23:23 ~ buy the truth, sell it not
        23:27 ~ a whore is a deep ditch, a strange woman is a narrow pit

        That should ALL be taken literally?

        • 103
          Kristin Shaw (Two Cannoli) says:

          Rachel, I don’t know you, but I love your passion for truth. Those who take the Bible so literally are bending it to their will; read Rachel Held Evans’ Year of Biblical Womanhood, or A.J. Jacobs Year of Living Biblically to see all of the variations in translations around the world. There is no RIGHT way, in many cases – there is only the way that speaks most to that person or, in this case, parent.

      • 104
        anonymous says:

        “The only time we’d take scripture metaphorically is if the literal interpretation makes no sense.”
        Sorry but that is just not true. There are many types of literature in the Bible— as the original audiences would have understood— and each should interpreted according to its kind. There is historical narrative, poetry, apocalyptic literature (unique to the culture and time— parts of Daniel and Revelation are examples), letters/prose, etc. and good biblical exegesis can only be had when you are knowledgable of and considering these crucial factors. You don’t interpret poetry or wise sayings the same way you interpret a historical account. You don’t interpret a heaven sent vision the same way you would read a matter-of-fact letter. Even within the different literary styles, different literary devices are used— figures of speech, hyperbole, euphemisms, rhetorical questions and so on. Jesus spoke in hyperbole— exaggerations used to make a point, not to be taken literally. Paul asked many rhetorical questions, which were not literal questions but again, he would ask them to make a point. A great book that helps in understanding and interpreting the Bible is How to Read the Bible for All It’s Worth by Fee. And if you get the chance you should read Heartfelt Discipline because I think Clay and Sally give a sound Biblical exegesis. I know it is outside of the box of what many “Christian authorities” have been saying for the last 30 years but somehow in recent years we’ve bought into a lie… that says the Christian life is all about living and walking by faith *except* for when it comes to parenting. When it comes to parenting we seem to buy into the lie that we should go back to living under the law and by formulas. Jesus fulfilled the law and we now live under grace not law and formula. The bottom line is relationship not obedience (obedience flows out of relationship not the other way around). Why wouldn’t living and walking by faith include parenting— we are wrong to compartmentalize our lives that way.

      • 105
        africaturtle says:

        corporal punishment yes, but but moreso a caning (ROD, BACK, YOUNG MAN) than spanking (hand/belt/spoon, buttocks, young child) Don’t you think? I mean, take it really litterally and you see that it’s not what you’re talking about either. Caning does exist as a punishment in some countries. Also there are some societies where spanking does not exist (thinking of a particular one in South America where moms use a dead chicken beak to “peck” (gently) the kids leg to show when they are displeased with a behaviour) …Would you then say that if these people were to raise children properly they need to put away the chicken heads, go find a branch and start whacking??? Most of what you are holding to as *TRUTH* is CULTURAL understanding of FOREIGN texts. And yes, (to answer a question you asked earlier) it IS possible that people/Christians have been getting it wrong for a LONG time. Look at Slavery if you want an example of a cultural “norm” supported by biblical texts and that people defended ruthlessly for a REALLY long time before it became the new norm to *not* expect slavery as a part of life. I put this out there as food for thought.

      • 106

        Kendal, that is a very poor application or very poor hermeneutics. The book of Proverbs is a book full of hyperboles. If we were to take every single proverb literally, we’d have to put a knife through our throat every time we feel like overeating (23:2), or hit any fool over the back with a stick (have you stopped the last person who cut you off in traffic yet?), just to name a few. You are right – culture and society wants to change Scripture to make it more acceptable, and that is exactly what some parts of American society has done with the book of Proverbs. We have turned it into a pick-and-choose-which-one-you’d-like-to-apply book. On top of what, we insert our own practice of what we deem culturally and socially ‘acceptable’ (NOT biblical) and spank with a spoon or hand, when the verse you use clearly states to use a rod. Not only that, we omit follow on verses insinuating that by spanking we save our children’s souls, which is highly, highly problematic concerning the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith alone. What a sad day for Biblical integrity! You are right… we do pick and choose, don’t we? Including using that verse to justify spanking in our own context.
        We’d pick a verse that doesn’t even talk about a child (the Hebrew word used is ‘na’ar’ and refers to a young man, not a young child… if you’re really interested in delving into the meaning of the Hebrew :) ) I recommend http://www.aolff.org for exegetical studies on the meaning of the ‘problematic’ verses in Proverbs) to justify hitting our children.
        I am a fierce advocate against hitting anyone, including our children, but I ‘lay low’ and tend to take Sarah Mea’s approach. However, I am an even fiercer apologist and defender of Scripture, and I must respond when I see it so arbitrarily interpreted and applied by shoddy hermeneutics.

  39. 107

    I am thankful we can seek the Lord on how to parent each our children. I see good points on both sides of this issue. What concerns me about this post is the bantering (arguing) back on forth between some of these moms. I have friends I love on both sides . Praise God , I love them all ! With the exception of extreme situations I don’t see it as my place to stand on a soap box defending my viewpoint. The growth and change the Lord has done in me over the years is amazing . I think the most important point is to Have your childrens HEARTS and to continually seek the Lord for guidance and direction for your family.

  40. 108

    Thank you for your heart-felt article. I didn’t see it as pro or anti spanking; you were just sharing your heart and telling what is working for your family. I love how everyone who is pro-spanking says their being Biblical, and everyone who is against spanking says that they are being Biblical as well. We need to seek to please our father God in all things, including how to raise and discipline our children, instead of seeking out man’s formulas for “perfect” children. God made each of us an individual, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to child discipline. We need to seek God’s heart in all things!

  41. 110
    Melanie says:

    Years ago, I read a parenting book that instructed parent to make children obey immediately (delayed obedience is disobedience) and to spank them for every wrong action until they were submissive in spirit. I tried applying these strategies in my home for about a week before realizing that it was not working. It was only making me an incredibly angry and critical parent, seeing rebellion in every imperfect action. I’m so thankful the Lord stopped me before it went any further.

    However, I did still spank until my children were older for other methods of discipline to be effective. I did reserve spanking for direct disobedience or more severe issues. I found that spankings were just what my strong willed son needed to turn him in the right direction but they didn’t prove to be the most effective parenting strategy for my sensitive, tender-heart daughter. Every child is different.

    To say that we shouldn’t spank our children becase it teaches them to hit doesn’t ring true with me. Authorities often have to take measures that those under authority are forbidden to do. Parents have spanked children for hundreds of years and the fruit of modern parenting methods can clearly be seen around us. My mom spanked me but I never felt unloved by her. My dad was verbally and physically abusive and I did not feel loved by him.

    I’ve seen parents who spank raise amazing kids and I’ve seen parents who don’t spank raise amazing kids. The common ingredient has always been abundant parental love, consistent discipline and support. The problem isn’t spanking-it’s our sinful and selfish hearts.

    This post is beautiful and doesn’t need to cause a spanking/no spanking debate. It should simply inspire all of us to be the most loving and compassionate of parents and to seek God for his will in raising each of our amazingly one of a kind children for Him.

    Thank you for sharing Sarah Mae!

  42. 115
    Beth WIlliams says:

    There are several different forms of discipline that work on children. Remember that each child is different and you must consider that when doling out the punishment.

  43. 116

    Sarah’s post reminds me to remain open to the Holy Spirit’s gentle, quiet leading in all our parenting practices. I see the heart of Sarah’s message and am thankful for it. She is one of those rare souls who is always willing to examine herself, remain transparent and simply share how she’s changing. I am grateful for that kind of example and hope to be that kind of mom myself.

    • 117

      Amen. Could not have put it better myself. Thanks EE.

    • 118
      Kristin Shaw (Two Cannoli) says:

      Sarah’s messages have always felt very gentle and loving to me. I appreciate her honesty and I’m sorry for those who are telling her she is wrong. We do the best we can – even if I’d never spank my child myself, I have not walked in her shoes and I appreciate that she is sharing her journey.

    • 119

      YES! Exactly Elizabeth Esther! Thank you.

    • 120

      Thank you for this beautiful, gentle post. I’m a mom of a 17 month old and am only on the cusp of having to deal with these issues. Thank you for directing us all back to praying for what’s best for our families.

  44. 121

    Thank you, Sarah, for sharing, Obviously this is a hot button issue for a lot of people, and I appreciate your candor, despite the backlash it’s received. Some of the discourse here makes me sad, for many are assuming that parenting and discipline is one-size-fits-all and what works for one particular mom, with one particular child in the context of one particular family will work for everyone is all situations at all times. NOT true!

    From reading this post, should we not all be encouraged to not only put ourselves in our children’s shoes, but also one another’s? And trust that as I am seeking the Spirit to direct my daily steps as a mama of three little boys, so another mom is doing the same with her littles, too?

    There are clear biblical grounds for spanking. Yet there should ALWAYS be room for Spirit-leading! As God loves, encourages, corrects, trains, and disciplines each of HIS children according to our needs, so we are called to do the same for ours. I think that’s what Sarah is saying. And to that end I pray for wisdom with my three little men daily. It can be hard. Really hard. So I’m thankful that God is always by my side.

  45. 122

    I love this post because it’s not talking about pro/con spanking, and for those who see it as such, they’re just in the habit of getting into this debate often, and see this as yet another ripe opportunity.

    This post is about parenting mistakes. I can totally relate. I could have written this post verbatim with my oldest child. This formula of spanking a child to submission was working on the outside, but we were losing her heart. If a parent says “spanking is the solution!” they are wrong. If a parent says “not spanking is the solution” they are also wrong. If you read Sarah Mae’s book, she goes into further detail of the solution isn’t any formula regarding spanking, time outs, whatever. That’s the point. The solution is to bring each child before the Lord, and discipline with the motivation of reaching that child’s heart and pointing them towards Christ. I know for my 5 children, that’s going to look different for each child, and further, for each situation. Do we spank sometimes? yes. Rarely now. We’ve found that the more we get down to the kids’ level, look them eye to eye, and hear their hearts, we are able to better teach them to bring their sin to Jesus, and find rest in his grace. Some of our kids need to calm down in the corner. Some need to go to their room. I think what Sarah is trying to say is that we need to shift our thinking from a formula, and let the Holy Spirit fill up our toolbox of parenting “techniques” with the intent to not make our children sinless, but to teach them how to deal with their sin.

    I would go further and say I have a tough time yelling at my kids. I yell much too often, and for one of my children in particular, my yelling is 10 times more damaging to her spirit than a spanking. Yet no one here is talking about the violence on a child’s heart that yelling can do, and no one gets up in arms on debates like this about yelling. In all respects, we need to be careful with our children’s hearts, and use wisdom guided by the Holy Spirit to help our kids deal with the core issue of sin.

    • 123
      Lindsey says:

      I really like your comments. Thank you Gretchen for your vulnerability and honesty, especially sharing about the emotional tenderness of your child who is more sensitive to yelling than other children. I love that you said, “In all respects, we need to be careful with our children’s hearts, and use wisdom guided by the Holy Spirit to help our kids…”

  46. 124

    God bless you Sarah Mae! Thank you for sharing – I had a similar motherhood moment like that myself a couple of years ago but never knew if it was “right” but after attending Mom Heart in CA recently (you were GREAT btw!) I felt such encouragement. It was like a weight lifted. I think Sally said something like: God has given mothers an intuition and if you are a Christian, you have the Holy Spitit. So if you are a Christian Mother you really need to trust your instincts. SO encouraging to be reminded of a simple truth like that! xoxo

  47. 125

    Sarah!
    I was at the TX conference this weekend and so appreciated you speaking about this same topic.
    I shared most of the same thoughts and feelings. Being taught about first time obedience as a new parent did not serve our family well. It has brought years of guilt to both my husband and myself. We are so thankful for God’s grace and that He does not require that of us.
    Thanks for sharing and bringing to light what is a very controversial topic in Christian circles.
    May God continue to bless you and your family abundantly

  48. 126

    Best wishes from Jerusalem. This is one of the most honest and courageous posts I’ve read in quite sometime on this issue. I have written a free ebook on this subject that anyone can get just by writing me. ProfM William Webb has reviewed the same on his blog – http://www.redemptivechristianity.org – Spanking is one of the most widely used Biblical peactices and most misunderstood.

  49. 127
    Lisa G. says:

    The “heart” of this matter is definitely the heart. We need to be leading our children to Jesus, to lead them to love Him and depend on Him even more than they love and depend on us. How humbling is that? We can see that sin is the root of all our heart conditions. We see that in a 2 year old who hides when he knows he’s done something wrong. We need to examine our hearts, our motivations, our love for our children. Do we want obedience for the sake of them obeying us? Or are we modeling a godly obedience, because God’s standard is far better than any standard you or I could dream up as parents. As Christians, we are all united in Christ. When we argue with each other over spanking/not spanking, we are missing the point. Like Sarah Mae said, we all have to give an account to God for how we have raised the precious children God has given us. External obedience may make us feel we are doing our job, and it is desirable, but it’s the child’s heart for the things of God that truly matters.

  50. 128
    Whittney says:

    I listened to you speak at the Mom Heart conference this weekend in Dallas and your words were wise then and here in this article. I am happy to be free of the burden of “experts” in parenting books that allow no room to respond to the Holy Spirit and heap on guilt. Keep up the good work Sarah Mae!

  51. 129

    Thank you for sharing; I know it’s hard to relate certain aspects of our spiritual journey when the naysayers are so abundant. You kept it real without condemning those who are led to parent differently. Your grace-filled approach to parenting gives me hope and helps me feel that my family is not alone in our non-traditional, long-studied, prayerful convictions.

    I love your honesty and bravery in sharing this in spite of whatever “scandal” it causes in the mainstream. And I must confess, I will not be sorry if this post ignites an online conversation on this desperately misunderstood topic. One that is honest, rational and “heartfelt.” (I’ve added that book to my wishlist, btw.) Yeah, I’m a dreamer.

  52. 130

    Let’s be clear about one thing the Bible teaches.

    Man has a spirt inside him. It is called the spirit of man (I Corinthias 2:11).

    Children do not have this spirit. We are told my psychologists and those who study child development that children do not even recognize even the most simple aspects of what it is to be a human being.

    For example, I have a six year old and a ten year old. A couple of years ago, I could ask my then four year old. “Do you have a sister?” She would answer: “Yes.” Then, I could ask her: “Does your sister have a sister?” She told me NO!

    The point it, small children do not even begin to understand even the most basic aspects of cognitive thinking and life.

    To train such kids using corporal punishment is so unfortunate because that is never ever what the Bible intended.

    When you live in and understand greater the context of Proverbs and the fact that it was a book written by parents (yes, I believe some parts of Proverbs were written by women and not only chapter 31) for their SONS, not daughters, you may start to get a different point of view on this issue.

    Samuel Martin
    Jerusalem Israel

  53. 131

    Thank you for this beautiful post. I used to strongly believe in spanking before I had children. I was spanked as a child and felt it was the right way to discipline. When we had our son, he was not an easy baby and a very, very active toddler. He was curious about everything and would often repeatedly go back to things after being told “no”. I noticed right away that my way of disciplining him didn’t seem to be catching on, but I figured if I just stuck with it, he would eventually learn. Well, he didn’t learn no matter how much I spanked him. He always acted so strangely when I would spank him. Like he didn’t feel it or like he was unconcerned or like it didn’t even phase him. I spanked harder and he would just hit me back every time I spanked him. He started having a problem with hitting other kids. I figured I was just doing something wrong. Then at 3 years old he was identified as being on the autism spectrum and I realized with a heavy heart that he never understood what I was trying to teach him. He only knew that Mama was hitting him. I immediately stopped spanking him. He is 12 now and he still to this day struggles with shame and wonders often if he is loved by us, his parents. He still remembers every spanking. He still remembers every harsh word I said in total frustration, thanks to the amazing memory of the autistic brain. When he was in first grade we discovered that the best discipline for him was to make him jump on the outdoor trampoline for 10-15 minutes. Other parents did not understand and thought we were rewarding his bad behavior, but what they didn’t understand was that the only way for him to calm down enough to verbally and mentally process his wrong behavior was to get the joint compression and sensory input from jumping. Now he is a charming young man with a strong sense of right and wrong. His younger sister is not on the autism spectrum, but we realized that even with a “normal” child no spankings were ever needed. If I could go back and do it over, I would skip the spankings entirely. It was entirely unnecessary and very damaging. And the thing is, most parents don’t know their child is on the autism spectrum until they are tested. And many until then think their child is just strong-willed and continue to try and beat the autism out of them. What a tragedy! The very things I saw as disobedience were the things that I value highly about him now (curiosity, perseverance, focus, creativity). We have a lot more peace in our home now that discipline is handled in gentleness and with understanding of God’s grace to ALL of us, children included.

    • 132
      Kristin Shaw (Two Cannoli) says:

      Oh, Faith, I can only imagine how difficult it must have been to write this. It’s a great lesson.

    • 133

      Yes – a thousand times yes. I have been there. I only tried spanking my son a few times when the Spirit inside of me stopped me in my tracks. I just couldn’t shake the feeling that I wasn’t doing the right thing for him. I didn’t know why other than God’s leading. A year later he was diagnosed with Autism. Now I know why God stopped my hand from more spankings. I’ve learned so much about my boy and how to teach him. I can appreciate Sarah Mae’s post and your comment so very much. Gentleness has been a far more effective teacher in our home. (and yes to the trampoline – we have one set up in our son’s room and it helps immensely!!)

  54. 134
    VanessaR says:

    @ Noel: I have far too often heard statements such as your own from other people who somehow equate disciplining without hitting as meaning children are not being taught how to behave. It’s even more mystifying, to say the least, to hear someone state that disciplining without hitting somehow amounts to not saying no. (How, pray tell, do you draw that conclusion?)

    I actually find it quite disturbing that one would make such a irrational leap and factual error in examining how to help children to learn all they need to learn.

  55. 135

    Amen, Amen, Amen. You are spot on and thank you for having the courage to speak out and explain it so beautifully. LOVE this!

  56. 136
    VanessaR says:

    A couple of the posters here who appear to use scripture combatively to inform everyone how their parenting using hitting is above and beyond reproach sadly remind me of my mother-in-law. An extraordinary missionary, her zeal for scripture-based living and her strict adherence to this particular approach led to some very unfortunate outcomes. Her certainty and self-righteousness has now softened in her 80′s, and she talks sometimes of errors she made with all best, seemingly biblical intentions.

    Children have much to learn from us. Some of what they learn is the result of unintended consequences. Humility can under-gird authority (as in servant-leadership) and scripture can be misused as a highly clumsy weapon far more damaging than a simple rod.

  57. 137

    Thank you sweet Sarah for writing this. We kept trying to follow through with spankings but ended up in a similar place. It has been SO MUCH BETTER without. By learning the ways our children communicate, show frustration, sadness, confusion…by seeing things through their eyes, we are in such a better place. And they are better behaved! They know they are loved and valued and heard.

  58. 138
    Sarah Whitworth says:

    Oh this is so me!! Our daughter is now almost 17 and when she was a preschooler I was determined for her to obey. Through a series of interventions and the pure voice of God, coming from an experienced preschool teacher, I learned a similar lesson. And when my voice quieted, hers did too. When I paused and listened and redirected quietly, she usually chose to obey. Even today we are different personalities and she still wants to do thing her way (which usually isn’t how I would do it) but she is an amazing young women, who loves God and is and will change her corner of the world for him. Thank you so much for the reminder of the power of gentleness.

  59. 139

    Sarah I really want to thank you for your transparency and courage in sharing your life with us. I am saddened and amazed at the responses. I don’t know how many of the commentors have read “Desperate” but I think the comments illustrate the way Christian women seem to treat each other. Instead of cheering each other on and encouraging we are so quick to criticize, judge and some of comments are saying if you don’t mother my way then you are a bad mother. I for one am “desperate” when it comes to raising my children. I didn’t have a good role model and most days feel like a failure in raising my children. I have all these expectations of myself and then as seen in the above comments all of the expectations that others put on mothers. I focus so much on things that are not important in the scope of eternity. And forget what my ultimate goal is with my children – I want them to love Jesus, serve Him and love others. So what am I doing today to give them a heart like His? I know for me that to come anywhere close to doing that I have to give them over to Him daily and seek Him. I think Sally talks about it several times in the book where she says that she had to go against some of culture to do what she felt lik God was telling her to do for her family. So I guess all this to say that I pray that we can have compassion for each other as moms and encourage one another in whatever choices we make. As Sarah says at the end of the book – we can be the change makers and I believe it starts with being on each other’s side and supporting each other.

  60. 140
    Celeste says:

    Wow! So many lovely responses to this wonderful, heartfelt article and SO many disheartening responses. When will we as Christians stop arguing this issue? One thing I have learned this far in parenting five children, is that I must seek the Lord’s guidance in these matters. I need to consider my family, my children, my temperament, and then seek God’s counsel. I am responsible to The Lord for my children, not anyone else’s. I used to believe I could spank, but as I listened to God speaking to me on this, I realized it wasn’t what he wanted. There are many ways to discipline effectively and I have seen them work in my own home. There is no guarantee that any one way of disciplining will turn out Godly children. Isn’t it all in God’s hands ultimately? I must listen to The Lord and work my hardest to love and disciple my children and then rely on him for the results. Love YOUR children in the way God wants YOU to love YOUR particular children. I do highly recommend Heartfelt Discpline.

  61. 141

    When our children were much younger, we found ourselves in a similar boat, having to re-examine what worked for them and what didn’t. The Old Testament records God disciplining His children through a variety of ways, so one singular method isn’t best for all.

    Thank you for your transparency, friend. You are a light. xo

  62. 142
    Sarah A says:

    thanks for sharing…definitely need to learn to discipline with gentleness and not anger!

  63. 143

    This is such a POINTLESS DEBATE !!! Everybody knows no one is going to change his/her point of view !
    What matters is THE END RESULT. Do you have kids that are obedient ? Do you have kids that are respectful ? Do you have kids that love the Lord and others ?
    If you do then, GREAT ! The way you discipline is not that important !!!!
    You should read George Barna’s book about raising spiritual champions. It is NOT another book on HOW TO discipline, rather, it is a study on families that have raised spiritual champions and tells us how they got there. The 3 THINGS they ALL did was LOVE their children, PRAY for them and BE CONSISTENT in their discipline (thus the children knew what the limits were and what the consequences were when the limits were trespassed). THE ONLY THING THERE WAS NO CONSENSUS ON WAS SPANKING.
    Some spanked, some didn’t, BUT THEY ALL RAISED SPIRITUAL CHAMPIONS !!!!
    So, let’s STOP ARGUING and let’s just find THINGS THAT WORK FOR US AND OUR CHILDREN (let’s admit it, we are all different (and come with our preconceived ideas about spanking based on our past), AND our kids are different (they respond differently to different kinds of discipline)). Let’s not judge each other, but let’s focus on raising children that HONOR GOD, and let’s focus on being people that honor God too so we can be good examples to our kids !!!!

  64. 144
    Tamika G says:

    I really enjoyed your article Sara! I am always looking to improve my parenting skills knowing that I want to please my Father in Heaven and raise children that will be great for HIS GLORY! It is really sad to me that on this list people are really going back and forth about non-essentials. Let’s love like our Lord and not aim for the gut knowing we are all created in His Image and Likeness. After all you don’t know who on this forum are of the household of faith and who are not. Let’s represent CHRIST well and love like He loves. Remember that as parents we should all be seeking God for wisdom & direction NOT being like the PHARISEES (which I am just as likely to fall into this myself) who have “The Right Way” as if JESUS said your way is the ONLY way. All of the comments are so confusing that for a weak believer it can cause more confusion than edification.
    Romans 14
    Amplified Bible (AMP)
    14 As for the man who is a weak believer, welcome him [into your fellowship], but not to criticize his opinions or pass judgment on his scruples or perplex him with discussions.
    In Christ,
    Tamika

  65. 145

    Thank you so much for this, Sara.
    I grew up with this type of “biblical” discipline and while I was a well-behaved child, my heart was rebellious and full of anger. My brother did not fare so well. It breaks my heart even to this day.
    My husband and I have resolved that we will not be striking our children, and it is HARD! If anything, it takes more consistency and more prayer!! And NO, not using physical discipline does not mean permissive parenting. An excellent book we’ve found is Peaceful Parents, Happy Kids by Dr. Laura Markham. She may not be Christian but she is Jewish, and a wise and wonderful person.
    My inclination is to take their actions (toddlers!) personally and want to right a perceived wrong against me…which is confirmation enough that I should not be using physical discipline – I don’t trust myself one iota to wield it “for the glory of God.”
    I have also never felt “spanked” by God. Oh yes, I’ve been hurt by the world and the natural consequences of my actions, but the grace and goodness of Jesus has continually been gentle and kind. If He loves me more than I could ever love my children, then I choose to follow HIS example. How amazing it is that he freed us from the Law and I can break that “rod” into a million tiny pieces.
    Thanks again.

  66. 146

    Thank you so much for this, Sara.
    I grew up with this type of “biblical” discipline and while I was a well-behaved child, my heart was rebellious and full of anger. My brother did not fare so well. It breaks my heart even to this day.
    My husband and I have resolved that we will not be striking our children, and it is HARD! If anything, it takes more consistency and more prayer!! And NO, not using physical discipline does not mean permissive parenting. An excellent book we’ve found is Peaceful Parents, Happy Kids by Dr. Laura Markham. She may not be Christian but she is Jewish, and a wise and wonderful person.
    My inclination is to take their actions (toddlers!) personally and want to right a perceived wrong against me…which is confirmation enough that I should not be using physical discipline – I don’t trust myself one iota to wield it “for the glory of God.”
    I have also never felt “spanked” by God. Oh yes, I’ve been hurt by the world and the natural consequences of my actions, but the grace and goodness of Jesus has continually been gentle and kind. If He loves me more than I could ever love my children, then I choose to follow HIS example. How amazing it is that he freed us from the Law and I can break that “rod” into a million tiny pieces.
    Thanks again.

  67. 147

    This is easier said than done- especially with a very strong-willed child. It sounds to me like it was more of the parents feeling guilt than the child actually hurting. There is absolutely nothing wrong with spanking a child and if you do it right, you will never actually have to do it. I can count on one had how many times I’ve had to spank. All I have to do is say, “clean up or _____________,” and my 5 year old does it. Sometimes I don’t have to say anything. I just show it to him. A little bit of fear is good for kids. That’s what’s wrong with kids today. There is no fearful respect and then they act like brats.

  68. 148

    Thank you for posting this, Sarah Mae, as I am a first time Mama to an 18 month old and have so much learn about parenting. I needed to read what you shared on your blog and I thank you. God is using it in my life.

    It breaks my heart to read how harshly some people are being on here to one another.

  69. 149

    God is the God of Truth AND Grace. We should use both with our children AND each other…

  70. 150

    It is unsettling (to say the least) to read the comments by those who clearly have never read the bible under their own tutelage. Clear your mind of family, friends, books, preachers, and false prophets like Michael and Debi Pearl. Read YOUR Bible with YOUR own eyes. Pray with YOUR own heart. And if after reading the Bible and praying you still want to physically and spiritually abuse your children, rinse and repeat until it sinks in.
    To those saturated in religiosity, those relying on false prophets, those who refuse to think for themselves: If you insist upon hitting your children, please stop calling yourself a Christian, because you do not follow Christ.

  71. 151

    Fantastic post, thanks so much for sharing.

  72. 152

    Wow!
    Love the post. But the comments boggle my mind. How can you spank your child because “the bible told you so”? Did it actually tell you what exact mis-steps are worth a spanking? Or are you using your own interpretation on what things are to be dealt with with words and what things are to be dealt with by hitting your child? I’d imagine you wouldn’t spank your 2 year old for delaying bedtime. Well, I would hope so, anyway. So what makes you believe that spanking is ok for, let’s say, a 6 year old who is refusing to clean up his room? Or a 10 year old who’s skipping school?
    If there are better ways to deal with the 2 year old, maybe there are better ways to deal with the 6 year old? And maybe the 10 year old is skipping school not because he is disobeying but because he is being hit at school, too. In any case you are interpreting and bringing your own cultural influences into your decision making process. That is not following scripture literally.
    Using corporal punishment as the go-to reaction to what you perceive as disobedience means missing valuable moments in which you could get to know your child better.
    I wasn’t spanked as a child and I am 100% sure that my parents did not do me or my brother a disservice. We both turned out fine and are now responsible, loving parents ourselves with a very close bond with our parents and each other.
    And it has been proven time and time again by child psychologists that it is not a very effective method to raise children. No matter what you think the bible tells you to do.

    I can’t even believe that this attitude is out there.

  73. 153

    Very useful details. Hope to see more posts soon!

  74. 154

    I don’t believe Sara’s intention was to demonize spanking, but rather to not overlook the heart of our children. Sometimes we spank out of anger, rather than love, and we can learn to show grace in many of those moments. I loved your post, Sara- such good reminders. Thank you for being brave!

  75. 155

    Sarah, thank you.
    I could have written this post. Not so eloquently, but my experience has been similar. My son was angry and I held him at a distance – rigid with my demands of perfect obedience, quietness when I wanted quiet, and perfect performance for each demand. My frustration level with him was nearly through the roof and a couple weeks earlier I had snapped and screamed because he dumped out yet another bin of items I was in the middle of organizing. One night at bedtime I tried to do our catechism with him, expecting his regularly rehearsed answer – a child of God. “Clay, who are you?”
    “I no wanna say that. It makes me sad.”
    “Why sweetheart, why does that make you sad?”
    “Because I no like God.”
    Stunned, I stammered out, “Why don’t you like God, baby?”
    “Because when you go ahhh!”
    My heart broke into a million pieces and shattered on the floor. Because of me. Because when my children look at me, they decide what God is like. And he didn’t like God because of me. Because I was not showing him what the God of the universe was like – instead I was showing him some cheap, mean, selfish, impatient, unloving counterfeit.
    Things have gotten so much better since I have come to realize that in order to train my children for the Lord, I need to truly love them, to show then gentleness, kindness, respect, and compassion. My son now runs up to me and gives me kisses for no reason and says, “I love you, Mommy.” With prayer and the grace of God, I will press on, to love my children in the manner that Jesus loves me.

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  1. [...] How Gentleness Makes Our Children Great | (in)courage http://www.incourage.me/He was 2 1/2 and I spanked him. I spanked him over and over and over again, because I thought I was doing the right thing, the godly thing. I needed him to obey, there was no other option. I. [...]

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  3. [...] if just a few hours earlier, I wasn’t sitting in mom’s group discussing how to be more gentle with our [...]

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