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Spare the Belt & Spoil the Child? How Fathers and Mothers Find Guidance in the Bible to Learn How to Discipline Kids

Updated on January 31, 2012

I'm Telling Your Father When He Get's HOME!


Spare the ROD Spoil the CHILD

Like John & Kate Plus 8 –Is it ok to swat once or twice???

“Whether the paparazzi are there or not, I am a mother first,” Gosselin told Life & Style Weekly. “I love my children and when they misbehave, I discipline them as I deem appropriate for the situation.” (Style Weekly, 2009)

For Many Here's the issue...I hit You, You hit me, we're a happy family???

Why do we feel hitting is an effective form of discipline?

Here’s an example SWATTAGE RATE that you may find oddly familiar:

  1. Did you make too much noise while mom was trying to nap before work? 1-2 swats
  2. Drank 75% of the Kool-Aid and filled the pitcher up with tap water in an attempt to hide the evidence? 5 swats (wait, 10 if it was dad’s favorite flavor)
  3. Acting-a-fool in the store while everyone watched? 3-4 quiet swats in the stores bathroom stall.
  4. Playing in the living room and broke the Figurine or NICE BOWL 6-7 swats
  5. Fighting in the car? 2-3 swats (once you get in the house)
  6. Playing in the church pew? 1-2 well placed pinches
  7. Caught playing ‘house’ with the neighbor kid? 10-15 swats (and depending upon what area of the country you’re from, a few for your accomplice too – until he/she can get home and THEIR own parents determine the SWATTAGE Rate)

I can hear someone saying right now, well my parents spanked me and I turned out all right! Let’s be honest, some of us turned out “all right” DESPITE the beatings received, not BECAUSE of the beatings received. For many it was only the Grace of God that you are ok (I hear the Amen’s…). How exactly was the Swattage determined? Who decided the thickness, length and density of the ROD to use? Was a broom handle thickness ok? How about garden hose size? Or just maybe we’re talking about a measuring rod, as in a Yard Stick? That would read a little differently wouldn’t it?

DID YOU KNOW: The Bible Does not say “spare the rod, spoil the child”. That is a misquote of the scripture.
I am sure some have just had a mind blowing “WHAT?!?!”

The misquote comes from:

Proverbs 13:24
He who withholds his rod hates his son,
But he who loves him disciplines him diligently.

Which is very close, but NO TOMATO! It's not similar enough to build an entire method of training your children around.I say this because this scripture talks of discipline for the love of the child versus to get even with them for breaking your things. Many times Swatage Rates were determined by how upset the parent is NOT really about the love of the child.

Let’s look at the following scenario: “Whew... home from work – boy I’m beat. I can’t wait to enjoy a refreshing class of tropical berry bunch Kool-Aid chilled over ice and with a slice of lemon, (whooosshho Nice big glass is poured) (glub glub glub glub – mom/dad takes big a drink) YUK! This is just colored water! Ooooo that Joey, he did it again – GET IN HERE JOEY!!!! You drank all the Kool-Aid and filled it with water to hide the evidence again didn’t you? [I’m blazing mad, You’re going DOWN Joey! Momma’s gonna tan your little hide boy!] – of course that last part is all internal talk – a GOOD parent would never admit this out loud!

Ok, a little dramatic – that’s just me, BUT I’m sure you get the picture. We often dole out punishment based upon FEELINGS of revenge, anger, shooting-from-the-hip western style justice, and quick & dirty fixes to problems we are too lazy to talk or think through – SWAT and ask questions later!

If you felt that was dramatic how about this HONEY of a dad who decided his child did not do well enough on a VIDEO GAME!! What’s the SWATTAGE RATE for poor game boy performance?

Much of what is written about discipline in Proverbs revolves around Love and the desire to save a child’s life & soul from death and terrible shame.

The child who plays too loudly for your tastes, is that leading to Sheol? How about playing and breaking a the nice bowl, does that warrant the punishment of a fool on his way to hell?

Just maybe God expects the children He created to run, play and even occasionally break your bowls.

Notice the strong use of words such as Shame & Death In the following scriptures:

Proverbs 23:13-14
Do not hold back discipline from the child,
Although you strike him with the rod, he will not die.
You shall strike him with the rod
And rescue his soul from Sheol.

Proverbs 29:15
The rod and reproof give wisdom,
But a child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother.

REMEMBER - The child who plays too loudly for your tastes, is that leading to Sheol? General KID behavior does NOT warrant the punishment of a fool on his way to hell!

THE DANGER IN: Quick & Dirty *Shooting-from-the-hip * Discipline from the center of our emotions:

EXASPERATION – Remember parents (or even leaders who are correcting subordinates) we will be held accountable!

Ephesians 6:4 (b)


Provoke them to become angry rage filled children/adults.

Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”

How many kids are in Juvenile Justice centers today filled with rage and violent tendencies? How many of them do you think were unjustly spanked/swatted/beat and EXASPERATED by the parents CALLED to love and care for them?

Ephesians 6:4 (a)

The first part of this same scripture outlines how a parent, without laying one hand in anger, on the child can speak to their understanding: (my paraphrase) “listen young person, the right thing to do is to respect what your parents are telling you, in Gods eye’s and if you do there may be a great blessing from God if you are respectful and listen *it will go well with you AND a nice long life here on earth*.

That’s a lot better than continually whacking your poor kid over the head every five minutes with a nice thick rod - "that'll learn ya boy - stop running in the house!" God have mercy on their souls! (and your's too...)

Instead, “Do the right thing mi hijo” or “you need to stop what you’re doing and make a good choice sweetheart” TALK to them first! Of course this is for a child old enough to UNDERSTAND.

Balance in discipline with the core reason being that of LOVE and not exacting revenge for how angry their actions made us is KEY.

Thank you Blue Letter Bible Online for the scripture references

Stock.xchng for public domain pictures

The Cincinnati Enquirer & Joystiq 2003-2009, Weblogs, Inc.


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    • steffsings profile image

      steffsings 8 years ago from Pacific NorthWest

      Thank you for stopping by Askme! I agree, the power of words can be just as damaging, some cases worse. It can depend on the child; some words cut deeper than the lashes of a belt while others have a natural resistance agaist words/statements that don't agree with their own self knowledge, while others have a higher or lower tolerance for either. Of only these parents understood-The awesome privillege & power of parenting they take for granted...

    • profile image

      Askme 8 years ago

      Amen! I am not sure which is more harmful, physical abuse or emotional. I see parents everyday who might as well slap their child across the face because their sharp words leave the same shocked expression on the kid's face. which do you think has the most adverse impact on the child?

    • steffsings profile image

      steffsings 8 years ago from Pacific NorthWest

      Thank you for stopping by Teendad. I was very impressed with your writing - you seem like an excellent dad.

    • teendad profile image

      teendad 8 years ago from Richmond, VA

      Good hub. Proverbs is a book of poetry, of figurative language. I am in the camp that believes the rod mentioned in Proverbs is a figurative rod, not a literal one.

    • steffsings profile image

      steffsings 8 years ago from Pacific NorthWest

      Thank you for the nod C.J.Wright - I've read your articles, this means a lot coming from you!

    • profile image

      C.J. Wright 8 years ago

      You are a great writer! It is voices like yours that should be representing Christianity.