ChildCare Action Project:
Christian Analysis of American Culture (CAP)
Thomas A. Carder
I am in no way suggesting in this article that you should use physical beating or other forms of brutality to discipline your child(ren). Read on and you will discover the true meaning of Spare the Rod...Spoil the Child.
In this article, traditional roles are assigned to the personalities, i.e., mom and dad or mother and father rather than Parent 1 and Parent 2. That a parent is portrayed as the "bad guy" does not characterize the acts of the particular personality as gender-specific. A mother, a father, and every child can be and frequently are loving, caring people. However, there is no loyalty to or preference of gender when evil and injustice are forced on children. Individuals of both genders have done horrible things to kids. Neither in this article does the frequency or magnitude of references to a personality's gender imply or otherwise express gender-specific characteristics, personalities, or moral accountabilities. Nor should behavior or performance be inferred by or from this article as gender specific or age-specific. Quotations and paraphrases from the Holy Bible are from the King James version. No attempts have been made to delete or modify specification of gender or age-specific characteristics as presented in the Holy Bible.
Some situations, behaviors, and personalities in this article are actual. Some are fictitious to make a particular point or points. There can be no assurance of correlation of any situation in this article with any actual individual, gender, or age, or any act of an individual, a gender, or an age. That an actual individual bears the same name as one used in this article or has exhibited behavior as portrayed in this article is purely coincidental.
Scriptuiral quotes and paraphrases in this article appear in bright blue typeface. A darker blue is used to differentiate a story or tale from the text. A dictionary of uncommon terms used herein is included at the end.
I may seem childlike in my writing style and flow. If true, thank you. I may seem of low scriptural intellect to biblical doctorates and scholars. To that I say you too were once ingorant of His mighty Wisdom and perfect Word. I am writing this to speak to the regular folk, not to the professional evangelists and the higher educational laureates. The message of this artricle is clear -- that discipline of children must be done, and it must done from love and understanding, not from anger or from desire to ensure the disobedient child is duely charged and pays for his/her "crime."
...so says Proverb 23:14 of the King James version of the Holy Bible. Many of the verses of the Bible require your children to obey and honor you. Many seem to require you to use a rod to actually beat your children. For example...
...hence, the expression "spare the rod, spoil the child." Literally speaking, these verses and the expression seem to say if you do not discipline your child by beating him/her with a rod, your child will likely become spoiled rotten. Ephesians 6:1-3 seem to say that your child's days may be short unless s/he honors you. The Proverbs above seem to also say that you must apply the rod of correction to the errant child freely. And a rod is a rod. The Bible is an unerring source of direction. The Bible is God's word, will, and law. And I believe what the Bible says completely! All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness [II Timothy 3:16]. "But the law of man says you will suffer imprisonment or other means of punishment if you beat your child with a rod. That to beat your child at all, let alone with a rod, is too extreme. How can I serve God's law and still meet the requirements of man's law?" Both the law of God and the law of man are indeed complimentary and can both be obeyed if you view the "rod" in the verses not as a tool of pain and injury, but figuratively as the wooden rod of a shepherd and the way he uses it as a "rod of correction" to guide and direct.
- Ephesians 6:1-3 CHILDREN, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and thy mother, which is the first commandment with promise; that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.
- Proverb 13:24 He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.
- Proverb 22:15 Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.
- Proverb 23:13 Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die.
- Proverb 23:14 Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.
- Proverb 29:15 Thy rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.
Sheep do not possess the intelligence of humans and are not born with the experience of maturity. They cannot be expected to know which way to go or what things to avoid. They must be led and sometimes redirected to keep them from harm's way. Since sheep cannot speak, they must be directed in basic ways, such as taps from the shepherd's rod. Also, sheep sometime seem to develop a mind of their own and seek to defy the direction of the shepherd.
Like sheep, children are not born with the experience of maturity. We cannot expect children to know which way to go and what things to avoid. Neither can we expect them to know good from bad or right from wrong until they develop a store of experience and unless they keep thy father's commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother [Proverb 6:20]. As parents we must teach our children in the ways and path of our Lord. We must impress His direction on children as they gain experience.
We all know that sometimes a child will deliberately resist the good and right path. They tend to choose an easier or more appealing path of defiance. Applying the rod of correction to an errant child is indeed what should be done to place and keep children on the good and right path: Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell [Proverb 23:14]. Just as the shepherd must correct his sheep to provide for their safety and long life, so must we for our children. To begin the perspective, consider the following paragraph which discusses how the shepherd guides and redirects his sheep and how the sheep view the shepherd.
Note that parts a through e of the paragraph above are discussed in detail individually as lead-in for the remaining sections of this article.
The Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is our Shepherd. He uses a "rod" to provide comfort and protection: ...I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me [Psalm 23:4]. His rod also provides correction for our paths: My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord; neither be weary of his correction [Proverb 3:11]. He admonishes us to provide correction for our children: Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell [Proverb 23:14].
How does Jesus beat away the enemies of your children, indeed your enemies? Maybe you witness His rod of correction every time your teenager comes home safe; safe because your teenager decided that it was not right
or when your teenager calls you for a ride because his/her friends were drinking.
Jesus provided His protection for your teenager through you by His guidance in your chastisement of your child. Listen to His unspoken words and watch His miracles. His miracles and how we sometimes cannot see them is revealed in a story...
- to take the drugs from one of his/her friends
- to take the beer from someone at the street dance
- to go with the guys to terrorize the convenience store clerk
- to slip that store-owned CD, walkman, candy bar, jewlery... in his/her pocket
One day a man who built a nice house in the flood pains below a dam was told by a civil worker that the dam was breaking and that he must leave to save himself. The man said to the worker "Thank you for your kind concern, but I have faith that God will save me." With so many people to warn about the coming flood, the worker just shrugged and moved on. Sure enough, a while later the flood waters came. The waters came up to the man's porch and into the first floor of his house, so he went to the second floor to wait out the flood. Then another civil worker arrived in a boat to rescue the man. But the man said "Thank you for your kind concern, but I have faith that God will save me. Just go ahead and help others. I have all the help I need." A couple hours later, the waters became deeper and deeper until the waters reached the second floor of his house, so the man went up to the third floor. After a few minutes another civil worker in a bigger boat came up to the man's house shouting "Get in the boat. You're gonna die if you don't. Soon the water will be too swift for boats." But the faithful servant of God said to the boater "Just go on and help others. God will save me." And so the boater did. In about another hour the flood waters grew and flooded the third floor of the man's house. So, the man went out onto his roof to escape the flood waters. Then a helicopter flew overhead and lowered a ladder to the man. But again the man professed his faith and said "Thank you, no. There are many others who need your help more than I. God will save me." As the helicopter flew away, the flood waters grew and swept the man's house away and he died. When the man got to the pearly gates, he wondered "Why did I die? I had faith God would save me?" Bothered by this, the man asked God "Lord, why did you let me die? I had faith you would save me. How could you do this? Wasn't there something you could have done to save me?" God replied...
"I sent you a rescuer on foot, two boats, and a helicopter. What more did you want?"
Jesus works His miracles in natural ways. Don't look for lightning, thunder, bells, whistles, magic, or other wondrous obvious events. While they might happen, it is best to look for His miracles in simple and loving ways. Be like the child. Don't try to analyze how and why, just accept them and muster a sense of indebtedness to Him for His grace in providing wisdom for your children through your chastisement of them.
From time to time, your child will flex his/her independence by challenging your authority. S/he will do so by what might be called irrational and even bullheaded disobedience -- it is inevitable... Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child... [Proverb 22:15}. While some defiance and disobedience is likely, it is not God's will for a child to defy righteous, fair parental authority, specifically; Honor thy father and thy mother... [Exodus 20:12], A fool despiseth his father's instruction; but he that regardeth reproof is prudent [Proverb 15:5]. According to psychologists, psychiatrists, and child protection workers, allowing a little defiance of parental authority is okay and even healthy to the normal development of the child into proper independence. But allowing too much defiance can easily lead to arrogance, and arrogance to rebellion. Proverb 8:13 says ...pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I [the Lord] hate. First Samuel 15:23 states ...For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft... Before using the rod of correction, the wise parent must observe whether the child is acting within a reasonable level of defiance or is being rebellious.
When your child exceeds reasonable defiance, the parent must use the rod of correction to bring the child back to the correct path, away from the path of rebellion: God setteth the solitary in families: He bringeth out those which are bound in chains: but the rebellious dwell in a dry land [Psalm 68:6]. Rebellion will lead to family division as the child who is rebelling demands independence and autonomy s/he is not ready to manage.
We as parents truly do want to let our kids have what they want. Mostly we want our kids to have the special things, even independence and autonomy. But when we are confident the child is not yet able to handle the level of independence and autonomy s/he wants, it is what is called between a rock and a hard place. Refusal of things very special to the child can lead to the child isolating him/herself from the parents. And when a child has isolated him/herself, his/her thinking can muddle and inherently turn to self pity or feelings of sorrow for him/herself, and even anger.
Continued concentration on denying the child his/her deep wants can change the feelings which grew in isolation into rebellion. This may be especially true when the child is convinced "I'm not a child." While you might agree s/he is no longer a child physically, you know s/he is emotionally and mentally immature. The family dysfunction caused by rebellion left unchecked for too long will almost invariably result in division of the family, one against another or all others, which is not good: ...every city or house divided against itself shall not stand [Matthew 12:25]. Since God admonishes us to correct our children, it is good to use a rod to apply correction to ward off family division resulting from rebellion: Thou shalt beat him with the rod... [Proverb 23:14] when the rod is parental influence and controls to encourage appropriate behavior and character. "Thou shalt beat him with a rod?" Let's take a deeper look at "beat" and "rod."
"Beat," as used in the Bible, was taken from the Hebrew word naka. Naka means many things besides beat. It means strike, slap, and other expressions of violence. It also means smite. God performed many smitings and some were not violent, for example, smiting with blindness. That certainly would be a severe tap from His rod of correction, but it is non-violent. Likewise, beat may translate into non-violent expressions of corrective or disciplinary techniques. Many words have dual or multiple meanings.
The rod of correction can take many forms other than a literal rod. For example, loss of privileges can be a parent shepherd's tap from the rod of correction. The loss of privileges often serves better to correct the child than does physical punishment. Being deprived of a sweet treat after each tantrum sooner or later makes the child think twice before throwing another tantrum. The next time the child decides to raise her fist to slam it on the floor, she is likely to remember... Being taxed in accordance with the severity of the defiance sends an inescapable message to the child.
While physical punishment of a child may get temporary compliance, it might eventually cause the child to fear you rather than help him/her understand there are consequences for unacceptable behavior. Not to mention the pain and possible injury from the physical punishment! Such fear will likely grow into rebellion as the child ages, especially if the fear changes to hate. The child should be helped to learn wisdom in order to understand that doing a wrong thing is wrong simply because it is wrong, not because of fear of being caught. A child should learn that doing it right is the way it is supposed to be done. Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding [Proverb 4:7]. If taps from the rod of correction are necessary, they should be effective if you use them early, consistently, wisely, and with love.
While the Bible says CHILDREN, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and thy mother, which is the first commandment with promise; that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth [Ephesians 6:1-3], the Bible also says And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord [Ephesians 6:4].
First, let's talk about "Honour thy father and thy mother." Some terms used by Merriam-Webster to define honor include "high regard," "respect," "adherence to principles considered right," and "integrity." To obey God's law your children must have high regard and respect for you. Your children must also learn God's principles of right from wrong and good from bad. You must teach them so they may understand. They will not likely learn right from wrong and good from bad on their own: ...a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame [Proverb 29:15].
If you as a parent have no integrity or have questionable integrity, your principles and values may not be righteous. If true, you cannot expect your child to have high regard and respect for you. You cannot get your windows clean using a dirty rag. The cleaner the rag, the cleaner the windows. Likewise, the "cleaner" your integrity, values, and principles, the "cleaner" they will be in your kids. Integrity, values, and principles are not taught to children, they are caught by children. "But I teach values to my children by discussing good character with them and by requiring honesty from them." Words are cheap. Actions speak much louder than words. If you want your child to be totally honest, you cannot tell little white lies once in a while. If you want them to have strong integrity, principles, and values, you cannot cheat the checkout clerk for a few pennies every now and again. Your acts of telling the truth and giving the pennies back to the clerk quietly and without boasting send very good and very strong messages to your kids. Don't expect your children to have integrity any better than yours. They will copy you. You must set the high standards expected of them by practicing the same high standards. That is how you spell integrity! Visibly practicing integrity might be the finest of all from the rod of correction!
Next, let's talk about "...provoke not your children to wrath." To provoke means to stir up on purpose. If you were to make your child angry just to make him/her angry, you would be provoking your child. When your child acts up, consider A SOFT answer turneth away wrath; but grievous words stir up anger [Proverb 15:1]. An "answer" can be anything you say or do to provide correction, support, or direction. "Grievous words" from you may be screaming and belittling language, or may be unreasonable demands of performance or behavior. By the way, there is nothing wrong with anger. How you handle or react to anger can make anger undesirable.
Wrath, however, is more than simple anger. Wrath is named a few times in the Bible such as in "The wrath of God." He always has a good, righteous reason for His wrath. God never has and never will pour his wrath unrighteously. Likewise, a child must have righteous reasons before his/her anger may be called wrath. For example, a boy may righteously feel wrath if he develops infection from a beating with a surveyor's stake by a drunken father for failing to take the trash out. A girl may righteously develop wrath if a drug-addicted mother throws a cup of hot coffee on the child for failing to keep her elbows off the table. But it is incorrect to say that a parent has brought a child to wrath when the child is angry just because mom/dad won't let her pound on the TV screen or won't let him reach atop the hot cookstove. It is not wrath but anger when your daughter growls because you won't let her go on a date during a tornado warning. When your son acts up because you deny social or car privileges because of his disrespect, it cannot be called wrath, just anger.
Another example of anger is what happens inside you when you are in a hurry and your car won't start. The car certainly didn't fail to start intentionally -- it simply wouldn't start. Wrath is what you might feel if a gang brandishing baseball bats tries to break into your stalled car with you in it. You have no justification for being angry at the car for not starting -- it is useless. But you are most certainly justified for having wrath toward the gang members trying to break into your car.
It would be best if you could enforce righteous rules and conditions without making your child angry. Remember God's admonishment in Proverb 15:1, A SOFT answer... But the ...foolishness...of youth [Proverb 22:15] will not always allow the child to remain calm and rational, no matter how soft your answer. When you chastise your children, remember that in Colossians 3:21 God advises us: Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged; discouraged from wanting to honor your rules and conditions, even worse, discouraged from following your chastisement when you are out of sight. Remember the adage "out of sight, out of mind?" Be humble but be firm. You cannot let the child rule you (easier said than done, huh? My five-year old daughter has me wrapped around her little finger). Use tough love if you have to, but be sure it is love and nothing else that drives you to correct your children -- love of God, love of His law, and love for the child...and in that order.
The rod of correction is also a rod of support and understanding. The rod of correction should sometimes be of positive nature such as a kind word when the child is embarrassed. A tap of support and understanding from the rod of correction may be a solid presence when the child is confused, or a loving hug when the child is sad. A gentle kiss on the cheek when the child regrets what s/he has done is a mighty fine tap enjoyed by all. When your child comes to you for advice or just to talk, stop and listen sincerely. Even if your child comes to you just because s/he wants company or has somethin' important to tell you, stop and listen with interest. Let me tell you another little story.
Little Bubba gathered a beautiful bouquet of flowers for his mom `cuz he luvs her. It doesn't count that the beautiful bouquet of flowers was just a handful of dandelions -- they're flowers, ain't they? Bubba was so thrilled with the thought of giving them to his mom he ran to the back door and threw it open to rush to his mom's side. Now, mom had just spent the whole day cleaning the carpet and was very tired, laying down on the couch to rest for a minute or two. Bubba ran up to mom with his beautiful flowers and joyfully s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d his arm to give her the bouquet. Mom was startled and sprang up to see what in the world was going on. She noticed the horrible muddy footprints on her clean carpet from the back door to the couch where Bubba was standing, holding the flowers with a big smile. Mom shouted to Bubba "How could you do this? You've ruined a whole day of work by not taking your shoes off before coming in the house! I am so disappointed in you! You've been told many times to take your shoes off before coming into the house! Now I'm going to have to clean the carpet all over again!" Then Bubba began to dissolve. He was crushed -- mom didn't like the flowers he worked so hard to bring her.
The theme is that when someone brings you a gift, don't look to see if his/her shoes are muddy. Likewise, if one of your children needs you, don't ignore the signal even if you are very busy. If you really are too busy or it is not safe to stop and listen at the moment, simply tell the child you cannot stop right now but will in a little while. Kids are smart -- they will better understand if you explain rather than bark that you are busy. The same crushing blow little Bubba felt can be felt by your teens if dad shouts at them when they come home late but proud that they didn't take the drugs offered them, or didn't drink the alcoholic beverages, or said `no' to sexual advances, even after "everybody else is doing it." Taps from the rod do not always have to be for discipline -- the taps may be simply to get your child's attention to let them know you are near and will support them as quickly as you will correct them. A child who is confused, embarrassed, or sad needs redirection because being under the influence of these emotions, whether s/he is defiant, may cause the child to wander off the good path. In these cases, discipline may not be necessary, but support and understanding are necessary.
Your figurative rod of correction should be unbending no matter how much you want to change a righteous "no" into a "yes." Your figurative rod of correction should be unbending especially when the child keeps on and on and on about "why" or "why not." If you weaken and change your "no" into a "yes" after six days of pouting or after his/her voice volume starts shaking the windows, the wrong message is sent to and received by the child. The child only learns that s/he can get what s/he wants by keeping up the pressure or by making a louder noise. However, you must know how important the activity or possession is to the child before you say "no," especially to teens. Then you might measure whether the outburst is truly rebellion or just anger. It is unfortunate but the media have conditioned our teens into believing that something as insignificant as a pimple on the end of his/her nose may be a life-and-death struggle for the teen. So, we as parents have the most difficult job in history as the media continue to steal childhood from our children. Whatever the form of discipline and correction we use, it must be done with love and never in anger. And discipline our kids we must...Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying [Proverb 19:18]. If you can find justification to change your "no" into a "yes," you shouldn't have said "no" in the first place.
As a sheep may fall into a pit from which it needs help to get out, our kids are now more than ever faced with a vast array of social, emotional, and behavioral "pits" from which s/he may not be able escape on his/her own. Even if we as parents cannot bring our kids up out of a pit, God can: He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock... [Psalm 40:2]. He can provide the means to enable you to lift your kids up out of any pit.
The pits the kids face are more severe and evil than ever before. For example, the child may start to believe what s/he sees and hears in many PG, PG-13, and R-rated movies, in music videos, on TV programs, and in commercials. Some people who create media such as these seem to be more skilled than ever at sneaking in blatant promiscuity, subliminal sexual suggestion, and even sexual perversion. Creators of these media also seem to prepare themes which...
Kids can also learn how to take drugs, commit a crime, or have sex by watching these media. But then this is America where everyone has the right to free speech! Maybe so, but no one is free from accountability. How can we stop these media when the law allows such trash? By not watching them! And by not letting your kids watch them! Sooner or later the sponsors of the media will get the message when sales of their products fall because fewer people see their advertisements and commercials and watch fewer of their movies.
There are many pits your child may fall into other than media fantasy. There is a very large pit of drugs out there. The pit of unconditional acceptance by a gang is a very strong lure when the child feels s/he does not get acceptance at home. That the "other kids" get to do it, say it, go there, take that, wear it, get this, eat that... is one of the strongest lures and hardest pits to escape. That children want more than they should have is to be expected but some parents actually do not bridle their children -- they give their children just about anything the children want. And you have to combat the effects of these parents on your kids: when your child sees that the other kid(s) get whatever they want, your child will not readily understand why s/he cannot have anything s/he wants. Your child(ren) will likely hunger for the seeming freedom of the unbridled child, not understanding that pit is indeed a pit.
The worst pit of all is the pit of hate developing into rebellion because your child feels s/he should be able to have or do whatever anyone else has or does. Your child may feel "You simply don't care a thing about me otherwise you would let me...!" Many kids, maybe even most, feel this way at one time or another in their short adolescence. But how long or how much work it takes to soothe this feeling may be a measure of whether the feeling is ...the foolishness...of youth [Proverb 22:15] or true rebellion.
There may be cases in which no amount of taps seem to work. In these cases, there may be a very deep cause of the defiance or rebellion. This child may have lived a life of listening to crazed and screaming arguments between his/her parents. S/he may have had to listen to lies and hate words from one parent about the other. The child may have been allowed to "play" one parent against the other, indeed, this child may have been encouraged to do so and even taught how to do so by the wrongful parent. There is no one way or even a best way to help this child return to the correct path but the parents can help this child strengthen his/her character and personal integrity by always displaying togetherness and unity, and for the child, not against him/her. There can be no polarization between parents if the child is to enjoy self-respect and discipline. The parents must be together in all matters of correction and support (as well as all other aspects of rearing children): Behold, how good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity [Psalm 133:1]! Also, when a child who is upset with dad says things to mom in confidence such as "I hate him. He's so unfair. I don't trust him. I wish he would leave me alone," mom should not say responses such as "Nohe'snotmumblemumble. Did you have a good day at school today? Was lunch good? What are you going to do tonight?" with insincerity and unspoken agreement. Even if mom agrees with the child, mom should not encourage such disrespect by noticeably agreeing with the child whether verbally or by suggestive expression or behavior.
Nor should one parent say things to the other parent, while in front of the kids, such as "There will come a day when Junior won't back down" or "I think Sissy is right about you! You are the most hateful man/woman I've ever met" or "I don't blame Bubba for hating you." If you must say these things to each other, say them behind closed and soundproof doors. Don't force your kids to take sides. Don't encourage the child's rebellion against the other parent by saying such things in front of the child. And when a parent is alone with a child, the parent must not belittle the other parent -- to belittle is to be little. Neither can there be any "You're too hard on him/her. Leave him/her alone" in front of the child. Nor can there be any "You're the most selfish --- I've ever known," nor any "I've been talking with some professionals and they think you are imbalanced" in front of the kids. Hearing this kind of hate talk over and over and over would cause any rational child to develop a distrust and even dislike for whomever the words are directed, even if the hate words are lies.
If one parent uses "meat n' veggies" discipline while the other uses "cake n' ice cream" discipline, you can only expect the child to side with the parent who uses "cake n' ice cream" discipline. You can also expect the child to rebel against the parent who uses "meat n' veggies" discipline. For example, if mom is the "cake n' ice cream" disciplinarian and barks these kinds of hate words about dad in front of Junior day in and day out and year after year, Junior will have no choice but to start mistrusting and even hating dad whether the hate words are true or not. And mom must expect polarization between her and dad. Also, if mom seems to unrighteously growl at Junior, mom must expect dad to come to Junior's defense. And dad should come to Junior's defense if mom's growling is truly unrighteous. However, dad should wait come to Junior's defense until he and mom are behind closed doors rather than in front of Junior. If dad were to "shield" Junior from mom in front of Junior, Junior will see this as dad taking sides against mom, thus further polarization. Such polarization paraded before the child will only serve to force the child to take sides. The relationship of the child with the accused parent will only become bitter and decay, eventually beyond full recovery. Forcing children to take sides will invariably dissolve some of the very foundation of the family relationships just as any other acid. Further, if mom encourages one child to freely "speak his/her mind" to dad, mom must be prepared to hear the same child freely speak his/her mind to her...there can be no double standards. Polarization and double standards serve only to divide the family, and such division is not in accordance with God's will: ...every city or house divided against itself shall not stand [Matthew 12:25]. Consider the following scenario.
Tuesday evening. Mom is sitting on the living room couch. Dad comes home. Fifteen-year old Junior is in his room. Mom just finished strongly scolding Junior for repeatedly failing to do his chores.
Mom, to dad, fuming, with her arms crossed:
"I told Junior to make his bed before he left for school. It's still not made! He was told to take the trash out last night. It's still in the house! I told him to clean his room before he left for school. It's still a pig's sty! He's had plenty of time to do all of these things this morning or since he's been home from school. This happens two or three times each week. I've had it! I am fed up and I can't take it anymore!!"
Dad, to Junior, dad looking bewildered and tired:
"Junior! Come in here please!" [a minute or two of silence] "Junior! Come in here please!" [Still no response] Junior, come in here!"
[Junior arrives in the doorway, and just leans against the doorjamb with "Whadda ya want? I'm busy" on his face]
Dad: to Junior, calmly and firmly with direct eye contact. Mom is still fuming at Junior:
"Your chores for today were to make your bed, take out the trash, and clean your room before you left for school. They are still not done and it's 6:00 PM." [Junior's expression now changes to one of getting ready to cry.] You had time to do them before and after school. Get them done before bedtime tonight if you want to..."
Mom, interrupts dad but now with music in her voice and an angelic expression (Junior has not moved):
"Oh, he'll get them done without you yelling at him! He always does! Maybe jus' a little later than you think is reasonable, but he gets them done! Don't be so mean to him! Leave him alone! He probably had a bad day! If you don't stop abusing him I will leave you!"
Dad, finishing his talk to Junior who has not moved and is now looking down his nose at dad:
"...if you want to use the phone tonight. You know your share of the chores. Don't you think it would be a good idea do them now?"
Junior, to dad:
"Why do I have to do those things? Why can't you? I don't want to do them! And you can't make me! Mom is nice to me. Why are you so mean? I ain't gonna do them no matter what you take away from me or do to me! I've done nothing to deserve this abuse!"
[Junior stomps off to his room while he is finishing his response and slams the door on the last syllable. He is now out of earshot.]
Mom, fuming again but now with intolerance added:
"I just can't stand his arrogance and disrespect. He talks to me like I were an insect. He'd better shape up or else. I am so fed up with him! I can't take this anymore!"
[Mom goes into Junior's room]
Mom, to Junior:
"Don't be upset with your father. He means well. You don't have to do those chores. I'll take care of them for you when he's gone. And you may use the phone anytime you want to."
Mom has changed her tune because of Junior's pouting and anger (or maybe because of her hatred for her husband). Changing your tune is not in accordance with Proverb 19:18 which states: Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying. Whether mom or dad is the one who changes tunes as the result of the "crying" of his/her child, the wrong message is being sent to and received by the child. And that message is, as you might have guessed, that once the child makes a loud enough or strong enough noise, one of the parents will break down and the child no longer must do whatever it is s/he does not want to do.
Any marriage is likely to experience arguments, but the arguments must be stifled and held back until the kids are out of earshot. If an argument does happen in front of the kids, hugs of apology between parents must be done freely in front of the same kids who had to listen to the argument and not wait until behind closed doors. Further, one parent must absolutely not independently change the type or severity of the corrective taps once both parents have agreed on the type and severity of the corrective taps. If an agreement between both parents on the type and severity of taps from the rod of correction cannot be reached, Parenting With Love And Logic teaches whichever tap that represents the strongest position should be the tap used.
A small child left alone, literally, will not survive. Abandonment of kids and throwing newborn babies in trash bins seem to be popular nowadays. Mothers/Fathers who just don't want to take care of their kid(s) seem more prone than ever to simply dispose of the child(ren) in the most convenient means available. Abortion is one of the options legally available. Stranding the child in the woods, although not legal, is yet another choice some parents have made. Leaving the child(ren) with the local child welfare office is another means available for parents to abandon their kid(s). Whether left in a garbage bin or the woods, the abandoned small child or infant will die from starvation or exposure. Although death by abortion is not starvation in the truest sense, it might as well be since the baby is deprived of life! While leaving a child with the welfare office is certainly a more humane way of abandoning the child, s/he still feels the hunger and emptiness left by the separation.
An older child or teen left alone in the pit of the gang, of drug experimentation or addiction, or crime, of homosexuality, or any one of the hundreds of social, emotional, and behavioral pits may also starve: starve from lack of clean and wholesome life and righteous spiritual care. Anyone who has seen or counseled these victims has at least an idea of the starvation they suffer. Psalm 68:6 says ...but the rebellious live in a dry land. The pits of drug addiction, crime, and especially a life without Jesus are certainly "dry lands;" dry (empty) of righteous direction, goals, purpose, and true love. The "love" found in these pits is very conditional: conditional on whether the child does as the pitmaster bids. If the child does as the pitmaster bids, the pitmaster "loves" the child. If the child does not do as the pitmaster bids, the pitmaster discards the child. These dry lands cannot "feed" the inhabitants. And there seems to be a strong relationship of childhood rebellion with drug use, crime, social perversion, and abuse of subsequent generations.
There is a terrible emptiness in starvation in these dry lands. And there is no earthly sustenance available in these pits to fill the emptiness. There may be a "quick fix" to fill some of the emptiness but the emptiness returns, and much deeper than before. The richness and wholeness everyone needs are not available in these pits, but are available in God's unconditional love and in His love through parents.
Starvation does not have to come from the lack of physical and material necessities. We must also ensure our children are "fed" the body and blood of Jesus. If the child is deprived of these spiritual needs, s/he may suffer a spiritual death for which the earthly father is responsible!
Predators swarm every street corner, bar, and alley. Predators are also abundant at school, at the skating rink, and even at church. Each predator is ready to swallow up and consume your child, indeed, anyone's child: to take the child into the pit dug by the predator to serve him/her and his/her master. A predator may be
As parents we must, absolutely must, be ready to recognize any of these and a zillion other predators and to quickly lower our rod to our children to snare them up from the predator's pit.
- the guy down the street who wears a long coat in hot weather
- the guy who sells watches and stereos real cheap from the trunk of his car
- the lady next door who doesn't mind if a little too much skin shows
- the shifty-eyed dude who tells you your tire is flat
- that poor fella who just needs a ride...anywhere
- the kid in the locker room who gives your child free of charge a harmless little something jus' to take the edge off the pain or jus' to feel good
- that strange woman two streets over who always wears black whose kids put strange symbols on their stuff
- the peer or relative who says SECRET things to your child
- the aunt or uncle who likes to snuggle with little Sissy...with all of Sissy
- the aunt or uncle who likes to snuggle with little Bubba...with all of Bubba
- the guy/gal who says God is dead
Your weapons against these predators are God's protection ...thy rod and thy staff they comfort me [Psalm 23:4]), your love for your child, and the police. God put police on the planet to help you lift your children from the predator's pit. Use the police or other legal authority freely and without fear of reprisal from the predator. If the predator thinks s/he can intimidate you into inaction or apathy, s/he will never leave your child alone. Fear not what your acts to protect or rescue your child(ren) will do to the predator. The predator is not concerned with the well-being of your children so you must be strong and willing to get involved. While we each must possess the spirit of forgiveness, the predator must accept the consequences of his/her acts, for s/he will be dealt with, either by God alone or by God and the police. One way or another, the predator will learn the wrongness of his/her evil ways either now, while on the Earth, or in judgement which, by the way, is not ours to give: Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord [Romans 12:19].
Only when defiance is more pleasant to the child than the consequences are unpleasant must you use "a little extra stout tap." An example of an extra stout tap would be requiring the stubborn child to repeat a poorly performed chore until s/he gets it right.......
...it provides amazing results. Each repetition of a chore is a from the rod of correction. And likewise is the "GOOD JOB!" a tap from the rod of correction. Giving your children taps of support and esteem is just as important as giving them righteous correctional taps. While using the rod to tap the errant child back onto the correct path, be very careful that your taps are not so severe that they push your child off the other side of the path. The wise parent uses the rod of correction righteously. The wise parent never uses the rod of correction to cause physical, emotional, or spiritual injury.
Injuries usually leave scars. Scars in human tissue are deformed tissue and serve as reminders of the trauma that caused the scars. Scars in the child's emotions and spirit may serve as reminders of the trauma that caused them. Children find it hard to forget (and even harder forgive) trauma that leave emotional and spiritual scars. The child in the above cartoon may never get the room as clean as the dad (or mom) would like it, but don't push discipline to the point where correctional taps leave scars.
The sheep come to know that the shepherd uses his rod only when it is necessary. Specifically, when they need to go a different direction, whenthey need to start moving in a specific direction, or when they must stop whatever it is they are doing. Soon they understand the shepherd uses his rod out of love and never for selfish or unrighteous reasons. Eventually the sheep understand that when they feel the correctional rod, it is for their own good. Likewise your children should come to understand that your fair correctional and supportive taps are for their own good.
Kids need and want guidance and direction. While few adolescents will admit it, they want discipline and truly understand the need for it. Chaos and disorder, the offspring of defiance and rebellion, are not in accordance with God's will and are inherently unpleasant. Humans do not want chaos and disorder, they want discipline and order. And providing early guidance and direction will indeed lead kids away from chaos and disorder onto the right path. Providing righteous consistent guidance and direction will keep them on the right path.
Whether sheep truly understand what is happening as the shepherd beats off predators with his rod, the sheep soon realize they have nothing to fear as long as the shepherd is near. Likewise, once your kids see that you won't stand idly by while the predators try to consume them, your kids will understand that you are a source of protection for them: a source they can trust.
As time progresses all these pieces and parts of the puzzle of parenting come together very neatly into a picture of love and protection, into a picture of security, as long as you use the rod of correction early, consistently, and wisely, and as long as both parents are completely together in the type and severity of discipline and in love.
I have used only a few examples of corrective taps in this article and I have seemingly drifted between age groups -- this was for a reason. There is no single tap which works best for any particular child. Also, what works well for one age group will not likely work well for another age group. Further, even if a particular correctional tap works for a male child, it may not work for a female child of the same age. And a tap that works for one errant situation may not work for another errant situation. It is up to the dedicated and prudent parent to find the correctional taps which work best for each of his/her children individually.
Each of the example correctional taps I've used in this article are of the non-physical type. Other taps have been and are used by some people, e.g., spanking. Physical correctional taps may work with some children, but may cause other children to react negatively with hate and rebellion, especially children in the teenage and late pre-teen years. Physical punishment of late pre-teens and older is typically ineffective and inappropriate. If you must use physical punishment, use a light swat on the behind, about the same amount of swat you would use to swat a mosquito, and only for children younger than late pre-teen and who are old enough to understand and use "Yes" and "No." It doesn't have to be painful to be a spanking. A message is sent whether it stings or not.
Some professional and paraprofessional groups define spanking a child as "hitting" the child. I do not necessarily agree. When I was hit as a child, it was when one of my schoolmates connected his fist forcibly with my face, or when my older sister used her fist to get from me what she wanted. My parents spanked me, and I deserved spankings (especially the time I was 8 years old and set fire to a field of grass next to a shed with dynamite in it -- I never again played with matches). Yeah, my parents spanked me, but they never "hit" or "beat" me. While spankings worked very well for me, I do not condone physical punishment. The fiber of life is just not the same as it was when I was a child, thus the correctional techniques of yesteryear may not fit in today's system of human values. Whomever does use physical punishment, both parents absolutely must be completely together and unified in the type and severity of physical punishment. Emotional reactions of the child to physical punishment are of a different nature and magnitude than the emotional reactions to non-physical punishment. The heightened stressful reaction to physical punishment added to polarization between parents in front of the kids may have irreparable and devastating effects on the child and how s/he feels about you and him/herself.
I've said it a number of times and it is worth repeating; both parents must, absolutely must, be completely together in discipline of their child(ren). There absolutely cannot be any polarization or arguing about the discipline in front of the kids. Nor can there be any double standards. Such bitterness and acidic emotions as you have never seen in your child can surface under the influence of polarized parents. The acidic emotions caused by polarized parents can be severely magnified by using double standards. And your child(ren) will have to take these feelings with him/her wherever s/he goes -- and it is not your child(ren)'s fault, it's your fault!
I could fill reams of paper with additional suggestions of what to do and what not to do regarding correctional and supportive taps, but each would be at best a guess for your child as are the suggestions herein. It is not possible within the scope of this article to tell you how much arrogance is defiance or how much defiance is rebellion. No one can know your child as well as you, and no one can know your home life as well as you. Many professionals can help by applying the "average," the "average of averages," the "most expected," and the "based on observation, data, and findings" to your particular situation, but none of them can know your home as well as they who live in it. It is up to you to find the best and most effective technique of administering supportive and correctional . And Jesus can help you find the best methods in the most effective way in the most timely manner. Pray on this matter, then listen to your heart as you ponder or apply correctional taps. He may be telling you to "stop," or He may say "you're doing fine." He may even take advantage of the professionals He put here and tell you to "get help." If you find yourself down to your last nerve and your child is on it, seek professional help.
If you do get professional help, you must be open, honest, and accurate with the professional. The professionals cannot know your child(ren) or your home life as well as you. You must describe it and describe it well and above all, accurately without change from the way it really is. Don't try to smell like a rose if you are covered with vinegar. And don't try to pour vinegar on those who smell like a rose. If the professionals can get a solid and accurate description of how it is at home, they can fine tune the "averages" and change them to "almost absolutes" to give you the best solution available. But it is up to you to make it open, honest, and accurate.
While all reputable professional guidance or counselling providers have much to offer, I recommend you first seek guidance or counselling from a Christian-based source, whether the source be from the clergy or from a commercial provider. In cases where a medical condition may be the cause of your child's defiance or rebellion, professional services are trained to recognize the need for medical help.
I assumed the parents reading this material do not abuse their children: that each parent is justified in administering correctional measures and in the severity of the measures.
There are many other references in the Bible about beating disobedient or errant children with a rod. If, after reading this, you still to chose to interpret "beat" and "rod" literally, I remind you of the perfect wisdom of Jesus as he dealt with the men who wanted to stone the prostitute to death: He said "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone." Let me follow His example and say "Let he (or she) who is without sin strike the first blow." It is a humbling and sobering reality, isn't it?
This dictionary is not intended to be used instead of or to replace legal terms or to settle disputes. Its only purpose is to aid in the understanding of material in this article. Any conflict or differences between the provided definitions of these terms and definitions of the same terms provided in published dictionary(ies) will give way to the definitions provided in the published dictionary(ies)
abandonment -- to leave; to desert; to leave to one's own means
adage -- saying; cliche;
admonish, admonition -- advise; counsel; caution; warn
apathy -- lack of concern or care
arrogance -- upitiness; haughtiness; insolence; vanity
autonomy -- freedom to rule one's own affairs without supervision or control by others; the right to govern one's self
belittle -- ridicule; humiliate; mock
betimes -- early
blatant -- showy; clearly revealed; unmistakable
brandishing -- shaking or waving with intent to do wrong or harm
bridle -- limit; restrain; prevent
chasten, chastening, chastisement -- punish; reprimand; scold; to correct through punishment
clergy -- a body of officials authorized to conduct religious services
compliance -- yielding to requirements; satisfying set conditions
condone -- approve; justify
confidence (in) -- trust to keep secret or to one's self
consequences -- penalties to pay
crazed -- senseless; without logic or reason
deliberately -- on purpose; intentionally
despiseth -- despise; to look down on with contempt; to regard as worthless
disfunction -- poor or absent functioning within a group, e.g., the family
errant -- wandering; going astray; doing wrong; moving aimlessly
figuratively -- suggestive; symbolic
forsake -- abandon; desert; leave
grievous -- causing suffering, grief, or sorrow
icon -- image; mental picture
impunity -- without punishment; being exempt from punishment or accountability
incarnate -- having bodily and especially human form and substance
indebtedness -- owing to another
inescapable -- cannot be confused or misunderstood; cannot escape from
integrity -- decency; honor; principle; honesty
irrational -- not capable of reason or logic
irreparable -- hopeless, not possible to repair
justification -- reason; foundation; free from guilt or blame
literally -- actually; exactly; precisely
malcontent -- displeased; unhappy; disappointed; dissatisfied with the existing state of affairs
miry -- heavy and deep
obedience -- doing as told by authority; following orders/direction
perspective -- viewpoint; a view of things, a way of seeing things
perversion -- abnormality; deviation; corruption
polarization -- having opposite extremes
profitable -- gainful; worthwhile; advantageous
promiscuity -- lack of sexual restraint or wisdom
prudent -- practical, wise at management of affairs
logical -- reasonable; sensible
receptive -- interested; open-minded
reproof -- disapproval; reprimand; blame for a fault
righteous -- free from guilt or wrong
solitary -- living apart from others; unity
spare -- refrain from punishing or holding accountable
subliminal -- disguised; hidden; not obvious
sustenance -- food; nourishment; the necessities of life
unerring -- perfect; without error or mistake
unified -- a group being or performing as one
unity -- group oneness, togetherness, or harmony
© 1994 ChildCare Action Project, Thomas A. Carder
Reviewed for Comment by: Dr. John D. Duncan and Dr. Donald C. Kelly. All rights reserved.
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Thomas A. Carder
ChildCare Action Project: Christian Analysis of American Culture (CAP)
Copyright ChildCare Action Project (CAP) 1996