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Should Parents Spank Their Children?



Back in my day, spanking was an accepted form of child discipline. If you disobeyed your parents or committed some serious malicious mischief you could expect a trip to the old woodshed. Let it be known I became very familiar with ours as my father was a firm believer in corporal punishment.

Although it was the accepted norm of the times, many self proclaimed experts today question the effectiveness of spanking. Some view it as a barbaric anachronism left over from an unenlightened era while others hail the practice as a necessity or miracle cure.

So, the question becomes, should parents spank and administer punishment or not. Unfortunately in today’s world the decision may have already been removed to some extent from their jurisdiction. New laws governing certain aspects of child discipline are being written almost daily…most well intentioned to protect minors from over abusive guardians.

But is this a good thing or just another form of government intervention to impede a parent’s right of correcting their offspring? This is a difficult question having many answers depending on individual circumstances and how parent’s themselves may have been raised. Even schools have been admonished for using the legendary “Board of Education”.

I vividly recall statements my father made about his upbringing. “My pop would’ve horse whipped me!” was one of his favorites. Such remarks can leave lasting impressions on a child. However, in my fathers’ case he was being truthful…which explains some of his child rearing techniques to some degree.

There’s no question, in his time, chastisement was stricter and more harshly administered. But, studies show parental disciplinary methods are usually copied by children and instituted into their own families becoming a vicious cycle.



This was true in my father’s case. Frankly, when it came to parenting, he was incompetent to say the least. This isn’t meant to infer he didn’t love his children…he just didn’t know how to raise them. After all, he hadn’t had a very good role model. So, he improvised using knowledge garnered from his own experiences. Unfortunately, he had joined the military at a young age and he borrowed from that.

Therefore, my siblings and I experienced many strange punishments. Many of the things he did in the name of discipline would have had him incarcerated today…although I don’t believe he ever meant to deliberately injure any of us. To his credit, he was an excellent provider. We never wanted for any of life’s basic necessities.

Here are a few examples of his that should never be repeated. My younger brother, Mike, would continuously run off, never staying where he was told. Dad’s solution was to put him in an army duffle bag, hang him on the wall in our walk-in closet and close the door, leaving him there for hours. It never worked, like most of his approaches.

I want to reemphasize I don’t believe Dad meant to do us any physical harm although some things he did caused lasting mental scars. Such as holding our head under a shower, using only hot water, or handcuffing Mike and me to a radiator and telling us later he couldn’t find the key. And some of the whippings he administered left bruises and welts. The results of this disciplinary style accomplished obedience from us but it was done more out of fear than love.


Man And The Mule Analogy

There was an analogy he used to tell us about a man and his mule. It seems a man was having a problem getting his mule to move. A passerby stopped to watch for a moment and then left. Minutes later he returned with a 2X4. Walking up to the mule he clubbed it over the head. The mule immediately followed his owner. The moral of the story was "First you have to get the mule's attention"!

Fortunately, in later years he discovered the serious mistakes he had made. My parents became managers of a home for sexually and physically abused children. They both also became devout Christians. Before Dad passed away he had become the exact opposite of his former self. His children have all forgiven him for his mistakes and love him.

Physical measures were just one form of reprimand we endured. Much more destructive in my case was verbal abuse…of course at the time I didn’t recognize it as such. “Stupid”, “dumb”, “idiot”, “retard” and a host of other like names were commonly used in reference to me. I don’t consider this as being the best means of instilling a sense of confidence in anybody.

For instance, at about 14 years old I was taking a summer school class in oceanography. I became very enthused about making marine biology a career. His response to this information was, “You’re not smart enough to do that! Pick something else.” That remark took the wind out of my sails. To this day, I still have issues with self esteem and confidence.

It’s too bad kids don’t come with a manual. In lieu thereof some parents have opted for biblical and scriptural guidance. “Spare the rod and spoil the child.” has been a popular philosophy. But it has many detractors among the ranks of highly educated intellectuals who view themselves as recognized “experts” on the subject. How many of them have raised children? Don’t be surprised to discover many of them haven’t.

The only way to answer the question of whether to spank and discipline children or not is to weigh the evidence. Compare adults of today, who were products of so called “new age” techniques and how they turned out with those who were brought up the old fashioned way. What about today’s marriage statistics? Are moral values lacking? Do they have problems telling their kids no?

Now, look at your prodigies. Could it be it’s time for a trip out the old wood shed?

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Nate on June 17, 2013:

Hell No. They shouldn't.

John Young (author) from Florence, South Carolina on July 03, 2012:

Great comments Dad! Thanks

Daddy of 8 on July 02, 2012:

Nice article. We have 8 children, "spanking" or more accurately , swats, have been used with all of them at some point, but when used to train, it can be very effective. and if administered correctly and consistently it does not have to be used for very long. If a child is running towards the road and a truck is coming fast on the same road, I want them to be obedient when I say stop. That takes training and sometimes the "fear'" of time-out is not always a deterrent and not something they may immediately recall when they hear your voice (although sometimes it is.) Protection is the first priority and yes I know it sounds contrary at first, but if a child understands that there is physical discomfort associated with somethings, I'd rather it be from loving parents when they are young than a cell mate named Jack-knife when they are older. I agree that many folks go too far, but many don't go far enough.

jack on April 26, 2012:

at least older people are well manoured younger aged people dont understand right from wrong they are not punished when thet have done something wrong but they are not praised either

Whipem on March 12, 2012:

It's kinds funny seems as if the people saying it is wrong to spank your child come from families that did spank. The ones that were never spanked are now in prison and unable to spank anyway. I see these doctors writing these studies up and from their own words telling u&i it's wrong and they come from families that spanked. I have a buddy of which funeral I attended today (texas agg teacher david gross) that was killed in his home by a robber. The lead suspect is an 18 year old boy whine was not spanker and stepchild of this man. The kid is not proven guilty yet and could be innocent. However this young not guilty teen has been arrested for burglary of a habitat, burglary of a vehicle, theft, and now this sweet kind little exploring guy whom never had his sweet little hand or rear end popped may be charged with murder. So you choose and remember what the little lady in this great article said (my father believed in corporal punishment because back in the day it was the accepted way of child punishment) now think of safety back then and now would you pick up a stranger? Would you sleep with windows open and attic fan on? Would you leave your house door unlocked? Would you leave your keys in your car

Lala Gaga Rara on October 22, 2011:

I was spanked by my father with a belt up to when I was 14 I am fine and now I'm married with my own kids which I do not spank I think it is not bad to spank your kis but, my husband does

mom0f2 from Columbus, OH on October 06, 2011:

I was spanked as a child, usually with my fathers belt. It was not offen if it was something small that I did I was usually sent to my room. It's funny now that I'm older there have been times that my cousin and I were out shopping and a kid is having a fit over not getting something in a store and we both look at each other thinking and sometimes saying if that was us we would of got spanked. But at the same time as a kid I knew better then to act that way and I think it was the way I was raised. You never talked back to an adult. I have two small child and I use time out for the small stuff and once in awhile there is a spanking. I think the problem is when parents get to upset and a spanking turns into a beating. Growing up my father re-married and spanking was still used however my step mother would slap us across the face and with braces it would put cuts in our mouths then she would order pizza or make something like pasta that would hurt the inside of our mouths and bring tears to our eyes. I find that to be worse then a spanking because it would take forever to heal. Parents don't realize one statement can change a childs life and crush their dreams. Growing up I had always wanted to be a vet and didn't question that one day I would be. Until, one day we were sitting at the dinner table and my brother was talking about his future and I spoke up and say I'm going to be a vet, my step mother looked at me and said you'll never be a vet. I was crushed!, to this day it's a dream of mine still but because of her statement I doubt myself. I will NEVER make a statement like that to my child, my son is 4 and when he grows up he wants to be a soccer goalie, I tell him he can be anything he wants to be and will continue to believe in him.

John Young (author) from Florence, South Carolina on September 21, 2011:

Beyond-Politics It worked with me. No fun at the time, but even with the bad memories, I turned out a decent human being respecting my elders and authority.

Beyond-Politics from The Known Universe ( on September 21, 2011:

Yes. Use what works, and trying to "understand your child" (or be their "friend") doesn't work. Some say that spanking is "barbaric," but some of us remember living in a time--a better time--when we didn't have metal detectors and police officers stationed in public schools, when children didn't question an adult's authority or talk back, when children were afraid to challenge authority...PERIOD, and when we didn't have households where children controlled the parents, not the other way around. It's a funny thing...those of us of received spankings swear by them as a means of keeping a child on the straight-n-narrow, while those who didn't receive spankings are the ones against the practice.

John Young (author) from Florence, South Carolina on June 30, 2011:

Well said Linc. I still don't really know how deeply my discipline has affected me. Look how I turned out...LOL

LINC on June 30, 2011: honest and real...for many people. You are very courageous to put this out there.You have touched many.

I need to share that it is all about relationship, as I have stated in my other hubs. People survive spankings if well attached to their caregivers and the tears that need to flow are elicited over the spankings. On the other hand, if you have a 'hardened ' child that is not well-connected with you the frustration you are likely releasing 'in the act' will only do damage. Much damage. Finding the tears and/or disappointment that is stored within the child for what is not working around them (ie: by setting limits) is the way to go, preferably without any hitting. Thanks JY3502

Jason on February 10, 2011:

It's interesting, how only people who spank their kids believe tjat spanking with love is appropriate. If they did not spank their kids, would they still believe that?

Also I agree with momof4boys.

"If children only make good decisions because they are afraid of getting caught, they will just get better at being deceptive." I can confirm that in myself. I would do anything it takes to avoid getting spanked. Even deny having done something.

I am happy she chose to not spank her kids. I also have a word to say to her.

Ignore what spankers are saying about spoilling your kids, if you don't spank them. And do your best to raise your kids to be happy and responsible human beings. This is the only thing that is under your control. You can treat the opinions of the spankers only as challenges that come your way to test the power of your love for your kids. Challenges that you need to overcome. Not obey. That is not to say that people who choose to not spank their children, automatically become good parents. No, absolutely not. Although by not spanking them, at least you are making them feel safe. And if they feel safe with you. Then, for them you are good. And if you are good for them, that's all that matters. After all, it's your kids that are important. Not the rest of the world. Don't expect the world to change its mind. You however have a choice of how to behave to your kids. Make the one that feels right. After all, if your kids, are not blaming you for anything. Chances are you have done a good job. Just don't be too permissive either though. Children need someone to be firm to them. What they don't need, want, and like, is someone violent around them, pretend to love them.

gregory on February 09, 2011:

Hello I have a comment to make about another comment.

sweetsusig said."My oldest daughter whom was never spanked by my husband is a firm believer in corporal punishment. She has a fear that her children will turn out like she did (as a teen)."

This is one of the problems that parents who choose to spank refuse to see. This woman that her daughter has a fear that her children will turn out like she did as a teen. This is the problem. People are taking themselves and their fears too seriously and this is why the world is such a mess. People fear something bad will happen, and they try to defend themselves by hurting others just in case. But they have no guarantees whatsoever that what they fear will actually happen do they? And next thing you know the bad things we fear do happen. What is different though is that we are causing it, on our own free will. We hurt the ones we love, and we call it discipline. This is the worst part of all. Innocent people pay for what I fear without having any proof that my fears will become true.

All of my life I had a fear that I would somehow get raped. What would happen if I carried a gun all the day long with me shooting people just in case? I'd be gone to jail.

I don't mean to offend anyone but if fear of something is what causes you to spank your child. Stop taking that fear so seriously. And last but not least. The worst of all the spankers are the ones that use the bible to justify everything. If we are going to improve as parents and human beings and have a better future, we have to change our lifestyle and thinking process. As for those that spank with love. The are the worst kind of hypocrites. I am very grateful, I am not their son. If I was, either one of us would be dead.

John Young (author) from Florence, South Carolina on February 03, 2011:

Very astute observations Momof4. Thank you for your input.

momof4boys on February 03, 2011:

While I appreciate everyone's comments, I feel I have to speak up and share my perspective about this article and the comments that have been posted. I have four sons who are between the ages of 8 and 14. I made the choice early on NOT to spank my children and I have never regretted that decision. Everyone has such great comments to make, but I want to clarify some of the things that have been said. Yes, the Bible does say "Spare the rod, spoil the child". But in Biblical times, the rod was a stick used NOT to beat animals, but to lead them, guide them, and keep them on the right path. So, yes, if children are left without a caring adult to lead and guide them, they will be spoiled.

People also mentioned the fact that children need discipline. But there is a difference between discipline and punishment. Discipline means "to teach - especially to teach self-control to". So, again, yes - children do need to be taught to have self control. But love is a far better motivator than fear. If children only make good decisions because they are afraid of getting caught, they will just get better at being deceptive. They need to be taught to do the right thing BECAUSE it is the right thing! When they don't do the right thing, they should be made to live with the consequences of their actions. Consequences should be directly related to what they have done. Very rarely in the real world does someone bend you over and spank you when you make a wrong choice. Spanking doesn't TEACH them the right way to do things.

Others mentioned respect, but respect has to be earned. We can earn the respect of our children not by spanking them when they don't do what we think they should do, but by living our own lives with integrity and practicing what we preach. Nothing sets a worse example for children than adults being hypocritical. They can spot that a mile away. Think about some of the things we spank our children for doing: "How many times do I have to tell you not to hit your brother?" while you are pounding away on them. Hypocritical? You bet. Not an effective way to teach them to do things differently.

Again, I know we are all coming from different places having lived through different experiences, but this is a particular passion of mine so I appreciate you letting me put in my two cents. My parting advice: Before raising your hand (or anything else) to your child, think about this: What really matters? What does my child need to learn so they don't make this mistake again? What is the most effective way to teach them that life lesson. Happy parenting everyone!

tage on January 21, 2011:

my hits me when i have been a bad boy

Juls2 on January 07, 2011:

Yes, you certainly have hit on a topic there. It's one of those issues where I don't agree, nor do I disagree with spanking children. There is a difference between spanking and physical abuse. The change in attitude through the generations on disciplining children is so extreme, no medium compromise seems to have been found. Today it is not easy for parents to make their own descisions especially when there are childless experts around telling parents it's bad parenting if you do this and this is what you should be doing (those are usually the articles the children find to read)... I wonder as to the difficulties my children may have with their children.

Great article.

loverofchrist, I so agree with you and this Hip-Hop music, some of it should not be sold in stores nor allowed to be played on open radio.

John Young (author) from Florence, South Carolina on December 18, 2010:


For 15 you sure have a mature attitude. Thanks for your feed back

loverofchrist from jamaica on December 18, 2010:

I was spanked when I was younger and I am still getting spanked at my age. I'm 15 by the way and I'm not from america though. I'm from the caribbean. I'm from jamaica. My mother and father loves me and I know that when they beat me its out of love. Spare the rod and spoil the child is what the bible says and I believe the bible to be true (kjv). Its god's word. When I grow up spanking won't be my only alternative to disciplining my future children. I will love my kids but if they do anything too out of line. I will spank them. Alleast in the caribbean we don't have the government on our ass like america. the caribbean government agrees to spanking and even they do it too. U will never see in the papers that a child killed another child unless when they get a background check. Their parents didn't care about them. We don't have children killing parents here. That's incredibly rare. All u see in the papers is adults creating violence. Spanking is not a major problem here. But music is.. Dancehall,soca,parang, and all those types hip-hop, rock and roll especially and also carnival. If people listened to good music like mozart and some nice gospel. Our thoughts even though sinful would be more controllable. Cause those bad music influences disrespect,anger,violence,malica and lots more. Like for instance, we have a dancehall singer called vybz kartel (gaza emporer) he says if yuh a informa (tattle-tale) yuh get gunshot. Now if u put that in a child's mind. What would happen?. Hip-hop. These guys talk about how there girfriend cheating on them(dueces) and how all girls are bad and they just cheat and are heartless and that us boys should just use them.PUT THAT IN A child's mind and ull now why thet keep grabbing girls ass. They hear the music in almost everywhere. Technology is rapidly increasing and I think if u don't put ur upmost care in ur children. They will become stubborn. Don't focus on the form of discipline but what is causing the rebellion in the first place. Thank you

smartestkidsever on November 13, 2010:

This a very touchy subject for most I'm with the person that said spanking is kinda the uneducated way to go of course I must say I have three girls and a little talking to will useally cure any problems they have.I was spanked growing up and that was just a thing of the times any more with big brother involed with every thing you can't even raise your voice any more in wall mart to your kid with out calling the cops on you.I do beileve that spankings are not the way to go any more.

carsrus on November 12, 2010:

I do whip my 3 sons. Just the way me and my 5 bros were chastised, the belt or razor strap. It is a way to insure that they know life is not all fun and there are serious consequences for misbehavior. After the whippings, I talk to the boys about behavior and always hug em and tell them they are loved. Spankings with love are appropriate !

John Young (author) from Florence, South Carolina on November 12, 2010:


Thanks for your input and nice comments.

Sweetsusieg from Michigan on November 12, 2010:

I believe that corporal punishment incorporated with Love, (kind of a contradiction in terms) will give the best results. I was raised 'spare the rod' and my children were raised half that way (my husband never spanked, he doesn't believe in it) so they were fairly confused.

My oldest daughter whom was never spanked by my husband is a firm believer in corporal punishment. She has a fear that her children will turn out like she did (as a teen).

Kids need a little fear of consequences for bad behavior. That stopped me from doing a LOT as a child... the thought "Ooooo, what if Mom or Dad finds out" was always on my mind.

Great topic!! Good Hub!

John Young (author) from Florence, South Carolina on November 10, 2010:

Thank you for the kind words tnderhrt.

tnderhrt23 on November 10, 2010:

Excellently written, thought-provoking hub, a "hot topic" for sure. My dad was one of 5 sons, whose main form of discipline in youth was a "cat-of-nine-tails" whip...My mom's favorite "implement of correction" was a metal spatula on the bare behind...I raised three sons alone, and they were little Hellions...I used my hand or a belt...I don't know whether corporal punishment is good or not. But what I do know is that "no fear" breeds "no respect"...and discipline is necessary in teaching boundaries, limits, and responsibilities to children. The issue of abuse with corporal punishment arises when it is delivered in anger, I think, so I tried hard not to punish my boys in anger(surely easier said than done). I have seen the results of no discipline in a child and that is not a successful tactic of child rearing either.Like I said earlier..."Hot topic"! Good job!

John Young (author) from Florence, South Carolina on November 09, 2010:

I'm with you lilwriter

lilwriter from St.Louis,Mo on November 08, 2010:

I grew up in a small family and our parents spanked us. we have all grown into responsible adults.No mental problems emotional problems etc . the difference between a spanking and a beating is where folks dont know the difference.Yes there are other ways to dicipline a child . Raising my own Four kids we incorporated spanking and takeing privliges away. My kids are all grown now. and have told us... you should have beat our lil butts we were horriblr children..they were a handfull at times but never horrible.So to spank or not to is a personal choice . I think tho that if more kids thought they might get a butt whipping ,we would have less violence in schools just foe starters...The government needs to keep their noses outta the home and concentrate on governing themselves....

John Young (author) from Florence, South Carolina on November 08, 2010:


Thanks for your input. I'm sure many parents today share your views.

Grace Marguerite Williams from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York on November 07, 2010:

Enlightening hub! I believe that spanking is barbaric and left to those parents who are uneducated. Educated parents do not spank their children but talk to them and use other intellectual forms of discipline to correct the child. Also the larger the family, the more likelihood, physical punishment is used because the parents are too exhausted to give individual attention to their children. Children reared in small families are not likely to receive physical punishment because their parents take more time with them.

John Young (author) from Florence, South Carolina on June 19, 2010:

Thank You h_blunck. I've learned carrying a grudge accomplishes nothing. I've read a few of your articles. You are a talented individual also.

Henrik V Blunck from Kalundborg - Denmark on June 19, 2010:

Very good article indeed. I am sorry you and your brother had to go through these things, but sure glad you have overcome this to such an extent that you can talk openly about it. Keep up the good work. :-)

John Young (author) from Florence, South Carolina on June 10, 2010:

I agree. There are other alternatives. Thanks for your comments.

LarasMama from a secret location, Australia on June 10, 2010:

My mother would hit me all the time - didn't impress me much. However if I lost a toy for a week or something I really wanted, THAT made me sit up and listen!

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