Spare the Rod: Don’t Hit! (Part 3)

In this final installment of my discipline and The Bible series, I’d like to ask the following question:

Could you imagine if we only did what our forefathers (and foremothers) did?

Just because our forefathers did things a certain way does not make it the best way, or the right way. If we only did what our predecessors did, we would have no plumbing, electricity, cars, TVs, cell phones, computers, indoor toilets or eye glasses. Slavery would still be legal, women wouldn’t be allowed to vote, and we’d still believe the world was flat — you get the point.

There was a time when builders stuffed walls with asbestos as insulation. Then, someone discovered (I’m paraphrasing), “wait, that’s bad stuff! It’s making people sick and it could kill you!” So we stopped using it. Until the 1970’s lead was in paint, that ‘s just how it was. Then one day someone realized it was bad, especially if kids ate it, and we stopped using lead paint.

What if we’d just kept using these things? Wouldn’t that be stupid, especially once we learned they were unhealthy choices?

Then why, in the name of God (no pun intended), do some people still hit their kids when there’s so much evidence that it’s harmful? (Click here for evidence, and here, and here.)

Times change, things change. We learn and adjust.

Yet some people insist on being literal about what The Bible says concerning discipline, instead of putting it in a modern-day context.

Here’s what I don’t understand. Why do these people take Proverbs’ words on discipline literally, while “overlooking” other things in the Bible they could take literally — like Solomon having 700 wives? I doubt there are many women out there that would be OK with their husbands having one extra wife, let alone 699!

So it’s OK to beat your kids, but not have 700 wives. Hmmm. Sounds like picking and choosing what’s convenient to me.

Simply heeding the word of the Bible when it comes to discipline is the easy way out. It’s time to stop the literal translation and take responsibility for our actions and our children’s future.

The last I heard, “turn the other cheek,” was not an invitation to take another whack of the paddle on the OTHER butt cheek.

If you haven’t already read them, here are links to Part 1 (quotes from The Bible, plus modern opinions) and Part 2 (which questions if the word of God is being misinterpreted). 

And remember, you are not alone…

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Related Links:
– Spare The Rod: Don’t Hit (Part 1)
– Spare the Rod: Don’t Hit (Part 2) 
– Never Hit a Child
– Equal Rights for Kids: Don’t Hit (Part 1)
– Equal Rights for Kids: Don’t Hit (Part 2)
– Equal Rights for Kids: Let Your Kids Decide 

Spare The Rod: Don’t Hit! (Part 2)

If the Old Testament of The Bible was written 6,000 years ago, then people who take it literally may be taking the word of God out of context. The meaning of words and concepts have changed drastically over the past 60 centuries, which leaves lots of room for misinterpretation.

Shoot the Ball!
For instance, take the example of a cowboy, a gunslinger from the Wild West. Put him on a basketball court, hand him a ball and tell him, “shoot the ball, shoot the ball!” What’s he going to do? He’s going to take the ball, drop it, and shoot it with his gun.

What you’re trying to tell him is to shoot the ball at the basket.

“The what?” He says.

“The hoop,” you tell him as you point to it.

“The who?” He replies.

Obviously his interpretation of your words is very different from what you meant. As the ball deflates you wonder, will anybody notice the bullet hole in the parquet floor?

The Question
When the Bible says not to spare the rod on a child, maybe it just means, “make certain you discipline your kids.”

Or, maybe hitting was the only form of discipline they had 6,000 years ago. If this was the case, then God might have simply been speaking to his people in terms they understood at the time.

For Another Theory…
…on why the rod is such a prevalent form of discipline in Proverbs, let’s take a look at the scribe who wrote down God’s word. Maybe his only form of known discipline was hitting. If he had the CRAP beat out of him as a kid, he’s going to filter the Word of God through his own life experience. What else is he going to say? “Give your kids a time out and use positive and negative consequences as an effective tool of discipline?”

NO! He had the crap beat out of him! He’s going to tell you to beat the crap out of your kids.

More to come on this subject soon. Until then, don’t hit!

And remember, you are not alone…

If you like this post, Stumble It!

Related Links:

– Spare The Rod: Don’t Hit (Part 1)
– Spare the Rod, Don’t Hit (Part 3)
– Never Hit a Child
– Equal Rights for Kids: Don’t Hit (Part 1)
– Equal Rights for Kids: Don’t Hit (Part 2)
– Equal Rights for Kids: Let Your Kids Decide

Spare the Rod: Don’t Hit!

I am far from an expert on the Bible, but over the past few weeks I’ve been learning quite a bit.

In Matthew 7:12 it says: “do unto others as you would have others do unto you.”

The question is: how is this being accomplished when we spank a child? Does anybody really want to be spanked? Yes I know, some people like to be spanked. Hey, some people like to roll around in broken glass (like Iggy Pop), but that doesn’t mean it’s a good punishment for our kids! I know I’d rather be spoken to about a problem than beaten over it.

I got to wondering, does the Bible really say that if I love my child, I need to “rod” him when he misbehaves? Does it REALLY say this?

So I did some research, and here’s what I found in the Old Testament:

“He who spares the rod hates his son. But he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.” — Proverbs, Chapter 13, Verse 24

“Folly is bound up in the heart of a child. But the rod of discipline drives it far from him.” — Proverbs, Chapter 22, verse 15

“Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shall deliver his soul from hell.” — Proverbs, Chapter 23, verse 14

“Do not withhold discipline from a child. If you beat him with a rod, he will not die.” — Proverbs, Chapter 23, verse 13

This section of the Bible could have easily been called Corporal Punishment 101.

In A.J. Jacobs fantastic book, The Year of Living Biblically, he attempts to follow the “letter of the law” in Proverbs.

Unable to convince himself to buy an actual rod or paddle to discipline his son with, the author buys a “spongy Nerf bat.” On the surface it’s a comical moment, but if you dig a little deeper it’s not funny at all.

“After dinner he (his son Jasper) grabs a handful of nickels off the dresser and chucks them across the room. So I take the Nerf bat and smack Jasper’s butt with it. I’ve never spanked him before, despite several temptations to do otherwise. When I swing my bat, even though it’s spongy and harmless, I break some sort of barrier — I have now punished my son physically.

It’s an unsettling feeling. It drives home just how lopsided the relationship is. Parents have God-like physical dominance over their kids, at least when those kids have yet to reach puberty. Jasper seems undisturbed by all this. He responds by laughing hysterically, grabbing his wiffle bat, and attempting to smack me back.

So I’m basically sanctioning violence here. The rod is a fiasco. But here’s the thing, I agree with the gist of Proverbs. I need to discipline my son more. I need to give Jasper some tough love, dispense more timeouts, or risk having him turn into a three-foot tall monster…I’ve got to get stricter…”

I agree with Jacobs. It’s not about copping out of dispensing discipline, it’s about dispensing the best kind of discipline.

Jacobs’ problem is that he’s been incapable of following through on ANY form of discipline (not good for anybody involved). This is made obvious by the way his son reacts to being “struck” by the Nerf bat.

Jasper had no fear. Why? Because he fully trusts that his father has no intention to cause him hurt or pain. That’s a good thing. On the other hand, with no effective form of discipline Jasper has no respect for his father’s word. In turn, there’s never a realistic consequence for his actions, so he does what he wants. Not good.

Now exchange the Nerf bat with an actual rod, coupled with intent to “discipline,” and suddenly fear enters the picture. In this case, Jasper will probably stop the unwanted behavior because there’s a real consequence — but what has he learned?

The truth is, kids can be reasoned with. I’ve experienced it first hand. Zig Ziglar, one of my mentors, says, “people often act as you treat them.” Treat a child like they are capable of reasoning, of understanding, and they will be — especially if you nurture that.

Nurture them to a higher place. Not to a base level of fear. Stopping an action through fear does not teach virtue or ethical lessons. It teaches kids to distrust. Is that what you want for your kids? To go through life without real trust? What kind of relationships will they have with people? Their spouse and their kids? How will they perceive themselves?

In his book, A Little Book of Parenting SkillsMark Brady, PhD., explains:
“A parent’s role fulfills a sacred trust: one intended to safely help grow the heart, mind, brain and body of a vulnerable human being. No matter what you think, or what your own parents did that made you ‘turn out alright,’ hitting children violates that sacred trust.

Modern brain imaging studies clearly show that hitting children disrupts and disorganizes the developing structures of the body and brain. The home that used to be a safe refuge, no longer is. The people who used to be the ones a child could turn to for safety, no longer are. With nowhere safe to go, and no one available to turn to for soothing and help in regulating emotional distress, the world becomes an overwhelming, confusing, unmanageable place.”

My kids are two & four. They understand plenty good when I reason with them, or speak with them about the positive and negative consequences associated with their actions. The key, and the hard part, is keeping my word and following through with whatever consequence I dish out.

In Part 2 of this series I’ll consider the possibility that, if only taken literally, the Bible may be misinterpreted because the word of God is out of context. 6000 years have passed since the Old Testament was written. The meaning of words and concepts has changed drastically over 60 centuries.

And remember, you are not alone…

If you like this post, Stumble It!

Related Links:
Spare the Rod: Don’t Hit (Part 2)
Spare the Rod, Don’t Hit (Part 3)
Never Hit a Child
Equal Rights for Kids: Don’t Hit (Part 1)
Equal Rights for Kids: Don’t Hit (Part 2)
Equal Rights for Kids: Let Your Kids Decide

Dealing with Terrible Tantrums

Recently my 2 1/2 year old son, Joss, went through a 10-day marathon of uber-tantrums.

Night and day, out of the blue tantrums terrorized us all. The worst were in the middle of the night, where I feel most unprepared to cope with a screaming child. Here is this little person throwing everything out of his bed — while kicking, flailing, screaming his head off.

I’m sorry, but having the ass of beanbag duckie hit me in the face — no matter how plush it might be — triggers my own anger and frustration, making me ready for a tantrum of my own. Not a good place to be (for either of us).

There are hundreds of articles about this subject online, including 121 on FamilyEducation.com’s Tantrum page. So I’ll spare you a rehashing of the same old stuff. Since my son has not taken to throwing refrigerators (yet), I’m sure the sound advice on a trusted Web link will suffice.

Instead, I’d like to take the discussion to another level and question the very essence of a tantrum, and our role in them…

FamilyEducation.com’s article Taming Toddler Tantrums, raises some good points that I’d like to use as a springboard:

1) “Parents of toddlers need to keep one thing in mind when their child begins to have a tantrum: Your child can not help it
2)
“When her [your child’s] frustration builds to a certain level, your toddler literally loses control.”
3) “If it’s frightening for you to see your toddler possessed by the demon of tantrum, think how she must feel.”

After reading this article I was reminded that my little boy is depending on me to set an example by keeping control of myself — but more importantly to take care of him.

There have been times where I’ve let him down. My results have been inconsistent — sometimes reacting with compassion and patience, other times losing my temper, being gruff and yelling (learn more about the adverse affects of yelling at kids here).

My worst moments happen when I’m tired and overwhelmed, which sounds a lot like how Joss is probably feeling when he’s having his worst moments. If I’m having trouble (and I’m a somewhat mature 40 year old), how hard must it be for him?

Simply put, it does not matter how tired I am, how stressed, etc. I’m supposed to be a grown up. This is my son’s life on the line! These are defining moments that will either help or hinder him for decades to come. This is serious stuff! Yes, kids are resilient. But they’re also sponges, delicate and in need of the tools required for a healthy life.

This is not “oh you’re doing your best, don’t beat yourself up” stuff. This is “you better get your shit together, or you might rob your son of his potential.”

Some may say that I am being too hard on myself, that I should give myself a break. I say that without a constant desire, coupled with taking the necessary actions to improve — how is that my best? My goal is to keep both of my sons’ potential intact, AND help it grow. If the mechanic fixed your car and then it blew up as you drove away, would he be told, “it’s OK, you did your best…” I don’t think so.

Sometimes our best sucks.

And that’s OK as long as we’re willing to do something about it and take responsibility for ourselves.

Switching gears (no car analogy intended):
The more I think about point #1 listed above: “Parents of toddlers need to keep one thing in mind when their child begins to have a tantrum: Your child can not help it,” the more I wonder if it’s completely true that the toddler can not help it. Because sometimes when Joss has a tantrum, I offer a consequence (like taking away a toy, or “no cookie for dessert unless you stop”) — and he stops. Within 5 seconds, he’s done. He can be reasoned with — sometimes.

Is there a tantrum threshold? A point of no return where reason is just too UN-reasonable for my little boy? If so, what am I missing? Because I can’t seem to tell the difference between the tantrum that can be reasoned with vs. the tantrum that has no chance of being reasoned with.

It could be that my limbic system (in the brain) is being “held hostage” by what it is interpreting as beratement, verbal violence, or something to that nature. Come to think of it, beanbag duckies’ ass hitting my face does feel like physical abuse. I find it very hard to detach myself emotionally from the tantrum. It’s like turning a 100-watt stereo up to full power and standing 6″ away from your premium subwoofer. As the beat rattles your bones and prepares to shatter your eardrums, how can one be expected to say, “dude that’s just really loud. It’s OK though, I won’t let it bother me…”

(NOTE: Joss’ tantrums coincided with a cold he was suffering from. Since he’s feeling better and getting more sleep, they’ve subsided — thank the Universe. The correlation is clear between the cold and the tantrums, and that’s something to keep in mind for the future.)

And remember, you are not alone…

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