Last month we discussed a few of the challenges that come with disciplining someone else’s children as well as our own. Because discipline is an extensive and subjective area of conversation, let’s keep our discussion on it. There are many perspectives on how children should be disciplined. Spanking a child is one of the most controversial. Let’s continue our discussion by looking into the significance of spanking when guiding children. I am also using the term “guidance or guiding” mentioned in the previous column with the term discipline in this discussion. 

I was a young single mother right out of high school, and at that time, I didn’t know what to do or who to ask when it came to disciplining my daughter. I thought if I spanked (hit) her I was a bad parent and if I didn’t spank her, I was letting her be bad and spoiling her. It was a very confusing time. 

At some point, the government got involved and created laws that it felt were needed to protect children even from their parents and guardians. Many news reports exposed that more and more children were showing up in hospitals with severe bruises, broken limbs and loss of life. The perception in the reported incidents was that many of the injuries came from the way parents were disciplining or spanking their children. Unfortunately, reports of children being seriously injured by the hands of their parents are still happening today.

Parents who were not causing injury when they disciplined their children paid the price for the stigma that has become attached to the concept of spanking. Most of these parents have become apprehensive although they may feel that they wouldn’t cause any harm physically or mentally to their children.

Have you heard the phrase “spare the rod, spoil the child”? I searched and could not find this phase in the Bible. However, the Bible does provide wisdom when it comes to disciplining children. Bible verses related to the discipline of children from the King James Version (KJV) by relevance. Proverbs 18:19: “Chasten thy son while there is hope and let not thy soul spare for his crying.” Proverbs 29:15: “The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left [to himself] bringeth his mother to shame.” Through years of gaining insight from the Bible, other research and from personal experience, it became evident to me that children need some form of guidance for correction, protection, and direction.

As mentioned in the previous column it is important to know the child. The rod may not always mean to guide by spanking. I found that because my daughter’s feelings got so hurt when she thought that she had done something that would cause me to be upset that I did not need to spank her, reproof or “a good talking to” worked to provide guidance. 

One thing we know for sure is that consistently coming from a place of love when guiding children will not hurt them. We will continue our discussion on discipline next month. If you have any questions, please contact me. 

Let’s continue the discussions as I share topics about young children and their journeys from birth to school-age. After you read the columns you may use the format below to ask me questions or request topics. I will aspire to answer questions and to cover requested topics in up-coming PreK-Corner with Dr. Mattie columns of the Recorder News Paper.