Misbehaving Children Need Punishment

There seems to be a lot of overlap between people who don’t believe in spanking, and people who don’t believe in sin. This is a long-standing theory of mine, but it was especially confirmed in recent weeks following the kerfuffle over NFL superstar Adrian Peterson’s severe spanking of his 4-year-old son.

To be clear, I don’t approve of Peterson’s actions. His punishment was clearly too harsh, especially for such a young child. And it’s important to note just in general that punishment can pose moral hazards for parents. Children are enormously aggravating at times, and young ones especially have no real sense of the emotional toll their behavior takes on parents. Nobody’s patience is endless, and parents can easily be tempted to use spanking as an outlet for their own frustration. That’s not a good lesson for kids.

It’s the backlash, however, that’s really telling. It’s interesting to see how willing some opponents are to argue that in fact, children don’t need to be punished, because they’re not really bad. Consider this argument from Dan Arel’s recent piece in Patheos:

If my friend does something wrong, even terrible, it is illegal for me to hit them, it is assault and I can be jailed for it. Yet if my child eats a cookie when I tell them not to, I am legally permitted to hit them, or spank them as we call it because hitting sounds to violent. Yet there is no difference between hitting and spanking a child.

Arel subscribes to the usual arguments put forward by the anti-spanking camp. It instills fear rather than helping children to understand good behavior, and it encourages them to solve problems through violence. Studies supposedly show that kids who were spanked are more likely to become bullies and have other behavioral problems.

I guess we should use other punishments instead, right? But wait! It’s not just spanking that’s bad. Time-outs are cruel as well:

When children are overtaxed emotionally, they sometimes misbehave; their intense emotions and the demands of the situation trump their internal resources. The expression of a need or a big feeling therefore results in aggressive, disrespectful, or uncooperative behavior—which is simply proof that children haven’t built certain self-regulation skills yet. Misbehavior is often a cry for help calming down, and a bid for connection.

When the parental response is to isolate the child, an instinctual psychological need of the child goes unmet. In fact, brain imaging shows that the experience of relational pain—like that caused by rejection—looks very similar to the experience of physical pain in terms of brain activity.

How should we punish young children, then? Shall we tell our 3-year-olds that they’re grounded? Restrict their cell phone privileges? A friend of mine cleverly pointed out that, as Hell has a reputation for being quite lonely, it may be healthy for kids to associate isolation with sin. But according to Daniel Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson, we should offer misbehaving children, not a “time-out” but rather a “time-in.” That is, we should shower them with love and attention to sooth their negative feelings.

I’m not a professional therapist, but if tantrums are rewarded with attention, I predict many more tantrums. In any case, it’s hard to take seriously any exploration of the topic that doesn’t recognize punishment as a necessary part of good parenting.

Why is it so hard to acknowledge that children (like adults!) can be bad? Shouldn’t this be obvious to anyone who’s ever met a child? In a world that doesn’t believe in sin, it becomes natural to psychologize all bad behavior, but especially the misbehavior of children. Modern liberals are scandalized by the idea that humans might be “born bad,” with some already-internal inclinations towards sin. If we give children appropriate love, care and stimulation, it shouldn’t ever be necessary to punish them. As the Siegel and Bryson article states, “Discipline is about teaching—not about punishment.”

In fact though, children do sometimes need, and even in a way “want,” to be punished. I remember vividly the first time I had this insight. My oldest child, then a toddler, spent the whole morning finding subtle ways to “push my buttons,” slyly violating several household rules with an obvious intention to offend. Seeing that he was in a sour mood, I thought I was responding in a loving way when I ignored his minor infractions and patiently encouraged him to play nicely. It didn’t work. He just kept getting surlier.

Suddenly it occurred to me in a blinding flash that my willingness to ignore the rules was actually feeding his bad mood. It made him feel insecure. I was acting like a sympathetic friend when what he was craving authority. So, following the next minor act of disobedience, I gave him a stern rebuke and a “time-out.” He howled and protested for about two minutes. Then he returned smilingly to his play with his entire mood transformed. Everything was fine. The moral structure of the universe was restored.

For children, as for adults, it’s actually reassuring to know that there are rules and boundaries in the world, and that trespassing those boundaries has consequences. At the same time, kids crave reassurance that they’ll always be loved even when they’re bad. By administering the expected punishment and then moving on with the day, parents can send the message, “I’ll always love you, so much in fact that I want to help you be good.”

It shouldn’t be hard for Catholic parents to understand this. Punishment gives kids a comfort somewhat akin to what we feel when we go to confession. By regularly receiving the sacrament of reconciliation, we come to understand that in fact, we don’t want to be excused for our misdeeds. Rather, we want to be forgiven. By taking seriously our real defects, forgiveness reminds us that we’re capable of doing better, that God wants us to do better, and that the Church is willing to help. Young children aren’t yet able to receive this sacrament, but parents can give them a bit of that same reassurance, by setting age-appropriate rules and administering appropriate punishments.

Can spanking ever be an appropriate punishment? I think it can, and I think Ramesh Ponnuru’s recent piece on this subject nicely summarizes the important points.

As he observes, it’s important to distinguish between different methods of spanking. Kids can be traumatized if they are spanked to hard or too often, but if spanking is used more judiciously, it can be an appropriate and effective punishment. It’s brief and immediate, which means that young children easily associate the punishment with the misbehavior. But, because it’s over quickly, it’s easy to follow the spanking with an expression of love and forgiveness, and then a resumption of the normal daily routine.

Whether or not spanking is used as a punishment, however, this much should be clear. Children, like adults, are tempted by sin. They crave moral guidance long before they are ready to make their first confession. Loving parents should of course instruct them in the good. But they should also, when appropriate, be prepared to administer punishment.

Editor’s note: The image above is a detail from “Spanking” painted by Norman Rockwell in 1936 depicting Mark Twain’s fictional character Tom Sawyer.

Rachel Lu


Rachel Lu, a Catholic convert, teaches philosophy at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota where she lives with her husband and four boys. Dr. Lu earned her Ph.D. in philosophy at Cornell University. Follow her on Twitter at rclu.

  • Fred

    I hope you are prepared for being tarred and feathered, and shackled in the public square for suggesting that progressive no no.

  • HenryBowers

    I think parents need to distinguish between the different cries their children utter. There is such a thing as too young an age for swatting; they don’t howl out of remorse, exhaustion, or frustration; they are terrified and bewildered, having no idea why they were struck. This fills our prisons and drives our public schools into the muck.

    • Daniel P

      Our prisons are filled because of abandoned children. As Anthony Esolen said, we tar and feather Adrian Peterson, but don’t even say “Boo” to fathers who leave their children and never return. It’s awful.

      • HenryBowers

        Feminism has taught us that paternal abandonment is not an anomaly, but the norm.

        • DE-173

          It’s not only the norm. it’s the aspirational state.

      • DE-173

        “As Anthony Esolen said, we tar and feather Adrian Peterson, but don’t even say “Boo” to fathers who leave their children and never return. It’s awful.”

        True, as long as they pay the child support. It’s not like fathers have any other value, according to domestic relations courts.

      • musicacre

        This is getting into other issues. It’s easy to say this is what fills our prisons with out having any idea what you’re talking about. I’m a psychiatric nurse and am the first to admit I don’t know what makes individual people “tick.” But it always seems to be a withering comment to tell someone they somehow don’t have a grasp on “psychology” whatever that is. Nobody seems to want to be accused of that, as though they are not sophisticated. As for prisons, there was study in Canada about a decade ago that found an astonishing large majority of prisoners had suffered probably from alcohol fetal syndrome, in which the frontal (judgement ) part of the brain is partly wiped out. You see the behavior in a normal inebriated person where this part of the brain is suppressed and they have little inhibition/restraint. It was estimated as much as 80-90% of the prison population had this history, add to that the bad parenting, (obviously heavy drinking was involved) and of course abandonment eventually.

        To me another issue is that spanking can’t really be discussed in isolation of parenting in general. I find that parents who pretty much jump every time their kid wants ANYTHING- and usually some unimportant luxury item- the kids are trained into an entitlement attitude, which in turn hardens into selfishness. I see it so much and I see the insolent and bored behaviors of these children. We didn’t get the surly behavior over the years and I think we were saved by being able to say, sorry we can’t afford that. No indulged kiddies came from our home, but they all come back and reminisce over wonderful real memories…

        • Daniel P

          I live in Detroit, the major city in America with both (a) the greatest number of fatherless kids, and (b) the greatest number of criminals, per capita. So yes, I think there is a connection.

          Your comments on fetal alcohol syndrome are relevant, maybe, but they would be true under my theory too. You see, fatherlessness is a common cause for both criminality (in children) and alcoholism (in abandoned/unattached women). I’ve seen a lot of kids grow up in the city hampered by fetal alcohol syndrome or lead poisoning. But that seems to be the result of their dysfunctional surroundings, not the cause.

          • musicacre

            I didn’t say there wasn’t a connection withe the fatherlessness. I was enlarging the discussion by saying in alot of cases the drinking on the part of the mother (fetal alcohol withdrawal disease) and often consequent disinterest in serving the child’s needs fits into the scenario. That is AFTER the father has left. Of course there are the exceptions: my sister was left after 7 years, not in a slum, but by a doctor (specialist) who couldn’t resist his hospital co-workers. Instead of drinking, she struggled to get a teaching degree on top of her existing art degree and taught at a private school for the rest of the time she raised the two kids.The kids turned out, not without sadness about their father, but turned out.

            • HenryBowers

              The kids who don’t know why they’re getting hit develop severe behavior issues. Period.

  • For some of us who grew up in constant terror of being punished for the smallest fault or for none at all … it is better to leave that as a NO-NO. There are sadistic adults out there. There are many of them. The damage they inflict is severe and many times is irreversible. I have three siblings that have to carry that for the rest of their lives. I had to leave home being very young to escape the beatings and constant persecution. When I reported that to adults (in the 60’s) some quoted the Bible and the right of parents to physically spank their children. But what was going on in our family was not spanking. Being yanked out of bed at three in the morning for a brutal interrogation and a beating was not spanking BUT IT WAS JUSTIFIED and understood by others as spanking. I know many good people that grew up without being physically punished and they don’t punish their children that way either. Allowing spanking in general justifies the actions of sadistic sick parents.

    • Fred

      I can relate too through my wife’s family from a generation ago. They unfortunately had a father who was truly a possessed man and I know it left scars for life on all of them. It’s easy to migrate to the extreme cases, including those busy bodies who report parents to DFAC for giving their kids a smack on the behind in public. Clearly there is a time, place and amount that is appropriate, and if administered with a vengeful heart and not from mercy and love then clearly in the wrong.

    • Daniel P

      Do you think your dad would have tormented you less if spanking had been socially unacceptable? I doubt it. He just would have made you more scared to talk about it with others.

      • I do not know, perhaps I should not opine. To this day I cannot even watch a violent movie. I understand some parents are wise enough to know the limits but I also think that other parents know how to raise their children well without ever spanking them. All I say is: Why don’t we learn what the later are doing? If we apply corporal punishment to children and not to (say) a mentally retarded adult, or a prisoner … What does that say? My position is merely emotional. I cannot stand the thought of corporal punishment. I just wish people would put as much effort in learning to raise children without violence as they do to improve their putt. I don’t believe in Dr. Spock (he was my neighbor at one point BTW) and all the psychobabble that passes for wisdom these days. I just wish people would really pray and meditate about how we are raising our children. It is obvious we are not doing a great job. I must add I raised a boy and a girl and they are two fine young persons that make me very proud. I never had to even raise my voice with them even at times when they were difficult.

        • S

          I feel for what you and your siblings went through.

          “I also think that other parents know how to raise their children well
          without ever spanking them. All I say is: Why don’t we learn what the
          latter are doing?”

          Here’s a great book to start with — Connection Parenting: Parenting Through Connection Instead of Coercion, Through Love Instead of Fear by Pam Leo.

          Compassion and understanding make all the difference.

          “I just wish people would really pray and meditate about how we are raising our children.”


          • DE-173

            “Here’s a great book to start with — Connection Parenting: Parenting Through Connection Instead of Coercion, Through Love Instead of Fear by Pam Leo.”

            Oh goody, another Dr. Spock.

            Children are individuals each of who(m?) comes with individual needs, aptitudes, limits and weaknesses that can only be learned and managed through direct personal experience. It’s hubris to write a book that asserts a universal method of raising children, and worse if people actually think that some “expert” can offer useful direction.

            We really need to get over the cult of experts.

            • S

              “We really need to get over the cult of experts.”

              It shouldn’t be an all or nothing thing. We need to practice prudence in discerning when to use the advice of an expert and when not to.

              • DE-173

                I think I explained why an individual purporting to be an expert at child-rearing is a fraud. For some things there are no experts.


                I think she made a bit of a freudian slip there, witth the cottage in the background for promoting her cottage industry.

                It’s pretty clear that she doesn’t account for sin in her babble, attributing evil exclusively to inadequate child rearing.

                • S

                  With the virtue of prudence, good religious formation, and the trusted advice of an orthodox priest, we can discern what goes against the teachings of the Church in many works and follow those that don’t.

                  • DE-173

                    Anybody that denies the reality and effect of sin, as this author implicitly does, is against the teachings of the Church.

        • Baron Korf

          Simply put, some kids don’t respond to other forms of correction. I would know; I was one. As a grown man my dad can still whoop me in a wrestling match, so to mouthy boy he could’ve really done some damage. However, I never recall a spanking hurting longer than an hour. He tried everything from grounding to lecturing to guilt-trip to chores, you name it; nothing worked. The fear of being bent over his knee was often the only thing that could corral me. I love and admire my dad to this day.

          My wife is the opposite kind of kid; merely mentioning that you were disappointed in her behavior would move her to tears and repentance. You just have to parent to the kid with the right goal in mind.

        • Daniel P

          Many children who experienced sexual abuse are repulsed by healthy sexual activity, as adults. In the same way, children who experienced physical abuse are repulsed by healthy physical discipline, when they become adults. That’s natural, but, as you say, purely emotional.

          When you say that “we” are not doing a great job raising our kids, you make a broad generalization without a great deal of nuance. Methods vary in effectiveness and in compassion. The goal is both effectiveness and compassion.

          • My statement is a general statement. We are not living in Howdy Doody country anymore. Anyone with eyes can see that. In general we are not doing a good job. I don’t include myself obviously and others who are the exception to the rule. However AS A SOCIETY we are failing to raise good children BIG TIME.

            • Daniel P

              And this decline in parenting is associated with an INCREASE in spanking? I thought spanking had been becoming less and less common.

              • May be you are right and more spanking will correct the situation. I still think we need to go back to living the best Christian life we can and include out children in it. It is what I believe. I am not condemning those who use limited and judicious corporal punishment. I am only saying that there are ways to avoid that, and when properly done the reward is great.

                • fredx2

                  The trouble is when some people confuse beating with spanking. Spanking is limited, and quick, Beating is something else altogether and is something entirely apart from spanking, and is never right.

        • fredx2

          I was best friends with a man whose wife insisted on no spanking. She reasoned with the little ones. What happened? They grew untruly and began hitting their heads so hard on the floor that the parents were afraid they would harm themselves. No, the answer is not the namby pamby way either. People are complex units.

          • S

            “No spanking” does not necessarily equal “the namby pamby way.” Don’t generalize based solely on your best friend’s experience. As Christian West said, and others here have agreed, “IT IS POSSIBLE to avoid spanking and still be a successful parent.”

            • egalitrix

              Agreed, the logic of this very article is flawed. It attempts to promote spanking by taking isolated opinions from the other side, implying the only alternative is no punishment for children. Essentially it is a straw-man argument.

            • porkchop

              We were spanked growing up, and it left a bunch of adults with no active faith and bitterness. I chose to NOT spank or yell at my children, and I have 2 adults, and two teens that are loving, compassionate, disciplined, and polite. All are strong in their faith. I am glad I took the time to form my children without hitting or yelling.

          • Bob

            Well me and my siblings were spanked, and my brother ended up hitting my mother.

    • Daniel P

      Do you think your dad would have tormented you less if spanking had been socially unacceptable? I doubt it. He just would have made you more scared to talk about it with others.

    • DE-173

      Your experience is not the whole. Most parents are not sadists.

      We’ve actually been raising children without fear, guilt, or consequence (corporeal punishment or otherwise) . It’s not working.

      • I understand but is not an either-or proposition. I do not believe in Dr. Spock etc. Check my other comments. I do not want to repeat myself.

        • DE-173

          I didn’t say you believe in Dr. Spock.

          But you are the one that posited an either/or situation:

          “Allowing spanking in general justifies the actions of sadistic sick parents.”

          I’m curious as to who or what you think should be disallowing it.

          • That is not an either/or proposition DE173. If I say that leaving the door wide open will let the flies in that does not imply that it will happen unfailingly.

            • DE-173

              “Allowing spanking in general justifies the actions of sadistic sick parents.”

              Quite frankly, you aren’t explaining whatever you are trying to say here. What limits do you want on spanking, and who should establish, promulgate and enforce them?

    • fredx2

      No, you are wrong. Nobody should have to go what you went through. But to limit the use of a proper and effective means to discipline children with love because some very sick parents will abuse that privilege is not the answer. The answer is for all people to understand what the limits are. When Adrian Peterson leaves marks like that on his kid’s skin, we all have to say “That is too far and will not be allowed”. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

    • msmischief

      And none of them are going to listen to a law forbidding them to strike children.

    • responsible parenting

      I agree with you that such brutality (as you experienced) was totally UNjustified. But perhaps your own parents had experienced the same and (in their ignorance of better methods) imagined that it was the correct way to admonish their children.

      I too experienced admonishment, but it was swift and only in times where my behaviour was very rebellious or posed a danger to myself or others.

      The very best way of preventing such rebellious behaviour in children … is to TEACH BY EXAMPLE and FROM INFANCY: Teaching with LOVE and explaining what you are doing to the toddler and WHY (it will eventually register with them) — personally demonstrating the teachings of Christ and teaching civilised, well-mannered interactions between human beings. This teachies them there are no emotional upheavals necessary and that problems are resolved much better with a cool, level head).
      This will be of IMMENSE benefit to them as adults – both in their personal relationships and in employment situations.

      Teaching of children by EXAMPLE must take place from infancy and well into adulthood.
      It is of NO use whatsoever to begin teaching when the child is beyond 3 years of age. Many people have tragically found teaching to be already TOO LATE by then.

  • FrankW

    Thank you for adding some much needed common sense to this debate.

    The first time I really got in trouble as a child for doing something I should not have done, my father spanked me with his belt, and quite frankly, I deserved it.

    The effects of that spanking? Well, my father didn’t have to use his belt very often. I can count on one hand the number of times I got whipped with a belt, mainly because I was afraid of it. That fear helped keep me in line when I was tempted to something I knew was wrong.

    The idea that spanking a child is no different than hitting a child in the face is absurd. There is a difference between discipline and abuse, and if we as a nation have lost the ability to distinguish between these two, then it’s no wonder our youth are having so much trouble growing up. Discipline works.

    • TERRY

      “That fear helped keep me in line when I was tempted to (do) something I KNEW was wrong.”

      Good post. Thanks

      • S

        Doing good (or refraining from doing bad) both out of love and the knowledge of what is right and what is wrong is much better than doing good (or refraining from doing bad) out of fear. If fear of punishment is the only thing that keeps kids in line, then the parent or authority figure has gravely neglected his/her duty to give the child an adequate understanding of right and wrong.

        Also, when the parents take the time to bond and emotionally connect with their children, the children know they are loved, and this makes it easier for them to listen to their parents, obey them and do good more willingly — even at a young age when they are still trying to understand the difference between right and wrong.

        • GG

          Well said.

        • It takes effort, time and love to teach character. It takes some talent too. Not everyone is qualified to be a parent in this world. We need a license to drive a car but nearly anyone can have a child or more for a decade or two. The art of family life should be an important preoccupation but instead our culture does as much as possible to distort and destroy families instead of teaching people how to have happy family lives. Happy families make happy and prosperous societies. I’ll take Father Knows Best over The Simpsons or Married, with Children any time. The underlying message of art and entertainment should be edifying and Christian in tone and content. That would be a good start.

        • FrankW

          I don’t disagree with your comments, but we should also remember that expecting a young child to understand doing good out of love for what is right and wrong can often be above that child’s understanding.

          I’m not sure most children under the age of 10 are not ready to understand that concept. As I got older, I came to that understanding through my parents’ guidance.

          • S

            I’m sorry it wasn’t clear — I meant, out of love for the parent. At a young age, the parent’s love is a reflection of God’s love for the child. If a child obeys out of love for the parent, then hopefully, with the help of good religious formation, when the child grows up, s/he will strive to obey God’s commandments and the teachings of the Church out of love for God.

          • GG

            Children go to confession at the age of reason. I assume they understand love to a level well enough.

            • FrankW

              True, but that doesn’t mean that they understand everything we understand, or the reasons why we parent them in a certain manner.

        • fredx2

          The simple fact is, that spanking has no deleterious effect. For those who are super sensitive themselves and don’t have the stones to spank their children, do it another way. Usually you ruin the kid and make his life harder, but do what your soft sensibilities will stand

      • DE-173

        Precisely. I can barely remember ever getting spanked, but when I was 14, and getting a little big for my britches and I decided to rebel against my Mother by “taking a step” toward her. There was a three day intermission until my Father entered my room and punctuated an unrelated conversation with “I heard you took a step toward your Mother. Do it again, and I’m taking a step towards you.”

        That ended my insolence and potential journey down a bad path right there. This cub needed to hear from the pack Alpha, something that doesn’t even exist anymore.

        • S

          Threats get immediate results. You may have obeyed your father on the outside out of fear, but you still could’ve harbored negative or conflicted feelings on the inside.

          Finding out where the child is at, meeting his needs and educating him about right & wrong take more time and work. But the impact is more lasting because it helps the child choose to cooperate from the inside, not just on the outside. In other words, he makes his OWN CHOICE to cooperate and is not coerced to do so.

          If people only do good because they are forced to do so, then everything would be chaos once the authority figure leaves.

          • fredx2

            So weird. So you know that this man really was harmed even though you have never met him, know nothing of him etc. You make facts up to support your political beliefs and so you cannot be sensibly addressed.

            • S

              Sounds like you don’t know much about basic human psychology. Sad.

              • DE-173

                Sounds like you think you know more about basic human psychology than you actually do know. Tragic.

          • DE-173

            “You may have obeyed your father on the outside out of fear, but you still could’ve harbored negative or conflicted feelings on the inside.”

            Spare me the psychobabble drivel.

            You have obviously never dealt much with teenage boys.

            • S

              LOL! Actually, I have 2 teenage boys. We have a close relationship, and they are quite successful academically and socially.

              • DE-173

                Speaking as a former teenage boy who has always (and until this day) been close to his Mother and who enjoyed academic success, but who has no idea how to quantify “social success”,
                here’s a hard truth you need to hear (especially since I can tell you are using the warm, emotive and distinguishing prose of “Momspeak”.)

                If your boys arem’t occasionally testing you or their limits, you might take comfort in their amiability and have a warm fuzzy relationship with them, but they aren’t making their way along the rocky road to manhood and you are orchiectomizing them. The good possibility is that Dad has been busily dealing with this without bothering you with details. “I’ll talk to him”.

                There’s a one letter difference between smother and mother. Ironically, it is your pseudonym.

                • S

                  Boy, you and fredx2 really have an anger problem. All you do is attack people and put them down with your critical and sarcastic comments. Someone must have deeply hurt you for you to become this obnoxious.

                  You must be such unhappy and unloved people. If you were happier, you would have the strength to treat people more charitably. But everyone can see that you don’t. So I pity you both. I will be so glad to pray for you. Sick people need prayers the most.

                  By the way, I’m sure you’ll have more ugly and hateful words to say. So go ahead, have the last word. Spew out all your hate. I will not be coming back to this page from here on out. The air is too toxic with you two around.


                  • DE-173

                    Wow you really are incredibly self absorbed to think disagreeing with you is hate. Your problem is that we aren’t deferent to your feel good philosophy and you are furious.

        • TERRY

          Good response. Thanks. That must be a powerful memory.
          “The cub needed to hear from the pack Alpha” – true.
          “Something that doesn’t even exist anymore.” Disagree

          • DE-173

            Correction, something (the Alpha) that is frequently absent from the home.

      • musicacre

        I have a 6th (last ) child I often have trouble homeschooling, unlike the other 5. I find after a bad day of disrespect, she suddenly changes when my husband walks in the door. She’s a teen and he has never administered corporal punishment to her, but unlike me he has no problem instantly and suddenly cancelling her priviledges.

    • DE-173

      Don’t you know that our betters think that “time out” and reasoning with a three-year old are the new enlightened ways of dealing with children?

    • Liberty

      I was spanked with a belt a couple of times as a child and as an adult I believe such a practice —with a belt— is abusive. It does more harm than good. I think a firm swat on the rear when warranted is one thing. Using an item to smack a child hard, especially when the spanker is angry, is abusive.

  • Dick Prudlo

    Dr. Spock, for those who remember this fool, unfortunately won this argument with the boomers. We not only stopped spanking we stopped having something to spank.

  • Vinnie

    Sometimes you have to get their attention. A judicious spanking does that. As was said, it shows you care enough.


    Killing them in the womb – how cruel is that?

  • Vinnie

    Hopefully, through the Holy Spirit, the Magisterium will accede to this: “…as for adults, it’s actually reassuring to know that there are rules and boundaries in the world, and that trespassing those boundaries has consequences.”

  • lifeknight

    Talk about a dicey topic!
    With a large brood it is difficult to find just the right punishment suited for all.
    Some respond to a swift swat, others you could swat for hours to no avail.
    The key is that you must know what makes the child “tick.” Some kids will do things that are wrong just to get the attention–even if it is negative.
    Find out what they most cherish when older and restrict that item or activity.
    In the end there will be one of them who thought they were “beaten” and others who laugh at the things they got away with while not being disciplined.

    • S

      “Some kids will do things that are wrong just to get the attention–even if it is negative.”

      This reflects a serious need for love on the part of the child.

      “Find out what they most cherish when older and restrict that item or activity.”

      And all the more they will rebel.

      • lifeknight

        I think you will find that there are styles of parenting and each one is unique. The choices to restrict access to various activities or games is much more meaningful with older kids—in my experience. And that is exactly what I am saying. Each child is unique and each parent does the best they know how……I prefer to not look back on negative events in my own childhood or in the parenting of a large, Catholic family. Move forward.

        • musicacre

          Exactly. Sometimes the biggest protests come from those who have never raised children and keep referring their own distant past, in which they progressively see themselves as close to martyrs. I agree that it depends on the temperament of the child; some you just have to communicate you’re disappointed in them and they’re crushed. Others, the method has to be a little more direct. Isn’t this common sense? My Dad was harsh with corporal punishment, but I got on with my life. You don’t have to let your past define your present.

          • Liberty

            So what if people who have never raised children refer to things that happened to them? Maybe the reason they haven’t had children is that the way they were punished scarred them.

    • What makes the child tick –any child– is your undivided attention. They are new to life and they need guidance. Besides they are fascinating, all of them come with a soul that is unique, they are not cattle. It takes time to know even cattle, ask any farmer. To incorporate children to your daily routine, take interest in their things, teach them useful stuff, laugh with them is what they need. If you leave them alone all day they will get into some kind of mischief: it is their way to call your attention. I used to pray with them when they were small and we prayed together all the way until they left home. They know I love them and they know I am sharing as much time as possible with them. We are in this thing together for life. What is the place of violence in a life like that? Try it. It is as hard as learning to play a violin but the rewards are great.

      • DE-173

        What is the place of violence in a life like that?

        Spanking is not violence.

        • Liberty

          Yes it can be. If it is used in order to hurt or in order to scare a child into not doing something which is a minor infraction or if something other than a parent’s hand is used for a small swat to the rear.

          • DE-173

            And driving a car can be a violent act, but the ordinary meaning of the word driving doesn’t entail plowing into a crowd. When you do, it ceases to be driving; same as when you injure a child its beating, not spanking.
            Scaring is the point. You scare a kid against a swat, because you don’t want them to find out why they shouldn’t grap the pot on the stove.
            What is it with anti-spanking activists that they just can grow up?

            • Liberty

              First, I’m not an anti-spanking activist. Secondly, I am all grown up (maybe proofread your comments so you include the right words?).

              Smacking a hand might serve the purpose better, in the case of a child reaching for a hot pot on the stove. And perhaps doing such a thing would merit a spanking to scare him but If a kid forgets to put something back where it belongs spanking him with a belt is excessive force and, in my opinion, abusive. If you want to impress upon a child the seriousness of a situation which might result in severe injuries or death then perhaps a spanking is necessary. Most behaviors do not merit spanking with a belt.

              • DE-173

                Who is discussing belts?

                • Liberty

                  There are other comments about using belts and I, myself, was spanked with a belt on a couple of occasions, none of which involved life-threatening or injury-threatening occurrences, only an angry father who himself had a bad childhood. I know what I’m talking about, unfortunately.

      • Tamsin

        Lifeknight is committed to raising her very large family in love and in connection; she is an inspiration to us all.

        • I am sorry I tempted you into the sin of sarcasm. My own personal infancy experience was bad enough that I set out NOT to ever raise a psycho like any of my parents while never ever have to spank or otherwise beat my children. They did not grow to be doctors or famous sportsmen but they are happy and they live godly lives. My only complaint is that their childhood years went too fast. We had a lot of fun together and we all learned a lot. Christ was with us all the time. Go spank your kids all you want. I’ll hug mine. I never allowed them to meet their paternal grandparents or other toxic people, even little ones they met from time to time. Perfect they are not but they grew up knowing that they are loved unconditionally and that I am here for them no matter what. With Joe we boxed, we played basketball and other sports, I gave him some street wisdom. They know violence, they live in the USA and they have to know how to defend themselves. But we were a team and we still are. Yes being a Catholic knight is one of the things I tried to instill in Joe. Being Catholic is an epic experience. Laugh all you want. You know I am not wrong.

          • fredx2

            And you know what? If you had spanked them in the same manner that normal parents spank children your kids would be virtually identical today. Your unique personal situation drove your choices about spanking, not anything inherently wrong with spanking done right, per se.

            • I am just saying that I chose not to do that because my particular experience drove me to it. Then IT IS POSSIBLE to avoid spanking and still be a successful parent may be not in 100% of the cases but it is possible. But I am afraid I belabored the point.

              • Daniel P

                “IT IS POSSIBLE to avoid spanking and still be a successful parent.”

                I don’t think anyone denied that.

        • lifeknight

          Thank you and we are still in the trenches of parenting the last two. Not always easy, but still gratifying much of the time.

    • Christi H

      It is srill possible to go to far with this technique, just like any other: my mother once confinscated and entire bookshelf because I “wasn’t listening.” Another offense caused the confinscation of several TEXTBOOKS, yes, school books! I was hard, i only cared about wholesome things, and my mothe rmade it clear that if I caused trouble she would have no problem destroying my future. I argued and was annoying and “caused trouble” BECAUSE I was bewildered at the bizarre punisments such things elicited.

      • lifeknight

        Any technique can be taken to the extreme, I think.
        I don’t think I ever took away a book that was decent.
        One of mine would hide books in the toilet tank, however! Life goes on and we all move through it. That is the only healthy way to perceive our parenting flaws.

        • Christi H

          I was forbidden to have books in the bathroom because she was convinced I only had to go to while shirking chores. (As if I wasn’t human?) I did, admitibly, read in there, but only when I had to be in there anyway. Still, she would just randomly demand to come in and check to see if I had any, and I got pretty clever at hiding them. in the wastebasket below the trash bag… in a plastic bag hung from the curtain rod between the shower curtains… medicine cabinet for smaller ones…. slipped into the hallway laundry hamper as I ducked out if they were too large for any of the others… Eventually, I just gave in and started reading the ancient copies of “This Rock Magazine” that she kept in there.

          • lifeknight

            Haha! That was a good read! Probably why you are the good person who reads Crisis today!

  • Cap America

    I’ll chip in my proudly-sexist view: men tend to understand the dynamics of punishment better than most women. Read Sirach. It really IS the case that parents need to know how to use the stick as well as the carrot!

    This said, I’ve just spanked my son once. We do time-outs or go to bed early. I just don’t enjoy spanking the kid.

    • HenryBowers

      What would happen if neighbors spanked each other’s kids? It would command more respect for the parent, showing that the parent need not deign to hit their own miscreant. To draw a blow from your parent is to honor yourself. To draw a blow from a mercenary is to humiliate yourself.

      • DE-173

        What would happen if neighbors spanked each other’s kids?

        That would be a hellish world, unless you buy into “it takes a village”.

      • Cap America

        I’ve told my neighbors that if they have to, they can yell at my son or send him home from play, etc. Parents need to trust each other and support each other; we say much the same to teachers.

  • Guest

    Someone needs to spank the U.S. Senate…

    • DE-173

      My guess is that some Senators are spanked frequently and enjoy it.

  • Funny how everyone has an opinion about something nobody but a few have all the facts. The GOV is not your friend and everyhing it ‘releases’ is suspect. There is more to the Adrian Peterson episode that may never make the light of day. His only real fault is he is not Muslim.

    • GG

      Are you joking? Aside from the brutal beating he has multiple children with multiple women. That is a standard no decent person should defend.

      • DE-173

        Now he’s obviously not joking. If AP were Muslim, we’d have to respect his cultural prerogatives, because of diversity. It’s kind of like when Demoncats like Nancy Pelosi tell us that there’s a “war on women”, but proudly or is that sheepishly wear a veil in Muslim countries

  • Ladasha Smithson
    • Daniel P

      Do any of those studies distinguish different methods of spanking? Spanking in anger is always harmful, in my opinion. But it is possible to spank without expressing anger.

      • Ladasha Smithson

        Yes several do. It seems not to matter the age of the child either, whether they be 3 or 10.

        Interestingly enough, up until modern times, spanking was only ever used on adults. The phrase “Spare the rod, Spoil the child” isn’t even in the bible.


        • Daniel P

          Ladasha, can you find me a specific citation for your claim that they differentiate methods?

          Your claim about the Bible is, roughly, false. Proverbs 13:24. And your claim that spanking was only used on adults until modern times is, frankly, laughable. I am a classicist, and I can tell you that every Greek and Roman child was disciplined with corporal punishment. It is literally all over the literature. Your sources are deceiving you.

          • Ladasha Smithson

            I’ve provided my sources, that means the burden of proof is on you to disprove them.

            • Daniel P

              You are trying to *convince* people of something. You believe that we are harming our children. We do not believe we are harming our children. I do not have an infinite time to investigate — can you at least tell me which sources distinguish between angry spankings and calm spankings? Those are the only studies I have time to read.

            • DE-173

              There is no “burden of proof” and certainly not one that provides you with a presumption of rectitude.

          • The “rod” in biblical terms is NOT to hit the child with it but the piece of wood that one sticks next to a sapling tying it to make sure the tree grows straight. Of Christ we know that he will “rule the nations with an iron rod” (Revelation 2:27) I sincerely hope my hermeneutic is correct in this case. I don’t think Christ is going to go around the Kingdom of God spanking people with an iron rod.

            “He who withholds his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him diligently.” There is no mention of spanking here.

            • Daniel P

              What is your source for believing that the child was not supposed to be struck with a rod? It sounds like a very strange interpretation.

              Also, see the letters of Paul: “He whom He loves He disciplines; God is treating you as sons.”

              In Greece and Rome and Israel, sons were disciplined with corporal punishment. That is an established fact. The apostle Paul endorsed that practice, not only as a physical — but also as a spiritual — reality.

              • //Also, see the letters of Paul: “He whom He loves He disciplines; God is treating you as sons.”//
                Does God hit His sons and daughters? I can recall the merchants at the Temple but those were not His followers.

                • Daniel P

                  See Prov. 19:18; 22:15; 23:13-14; 29:15.

                  Especially 23:13-14: “Do not withhold correction from a child, for if you beat him with a rod, he will not die. You shall beat him with a rod, and deliver his soul from hell.”

                  Your interpretation is false, my friend. How exactly can you nuance *that* verse?

                  • You are quoting other verses now. How does that makes my interpretation false? So the Scepter of Christ is to be understood as a Reign of Fear? Are you Protestant? When did you stop beating your wife? … just kidding.

                    • Daniel P

                      Haha. Oh, wait, no, that’s not funny.

                      Obviously, the teachings of Proverbs are all of a piece. If the one recommends physical punishment, the other (which uses similar language) does too. You may deny that Proverbs is giving good advice, certainly. But you should understand that those people who taught you that the Hebrew people didn’t use rods to punish are wrong.

                    • So every time shebet is mentioned — according to your interpretation — is to remind us of spanking. “The shebet will not depart from Judah” means poor Judah will get a beating for life. “Her Son shall rule the nations with an iron shebet” means Christ will be a sort of dictator that will spank us too. Look up “literalism” in a good Catholic dictionary before hurling charges of falsehood so lightly. Pray Scripture and you’ll see better.

                    • Daniel P

                      Of course not. That’s a straw man.

                      Shebet means various things in various contexts, like any other word. But when Proverbs talks about the rod, in the context of child-rearing, it pretty clearly always means physical punishment. That doesn’t mean the resonances to guidance and such aren’t there — they are. But the direct denotation of the word, in this context, implies corporal punishment. (Not necessarily spanking).

                    • Daniel P

                      Oh, and — yes — Christ will punish those who disobey Him. That’s Bible 101.

                      (He probably won’t spank them. Sheesh.)

                    • See that’s a straw man a false interpretation and silly to boot: Christ will punish the wicked and the rod means he will govern His Kingdom in the same manner? I am not responding any more to you Daniel, you are uncharitable and obtuse. Someone has to tell you that. You must be a very lonely person who seeks no truth or counsel only to compete and impose opinions. Good bye!

                    • Daniel P

                      What did I say that was uncharitable? If I did say something that hurt you, I will apologize. But now, you seem to be yelling at me, and moreover claiming I am lonely and uninterested in truth.

                    • So go an beat your kids in peace. The Bible is on your side. And don’t forget to carry your wooden cross and pluck your eye after that girl in a mini skirt walks by.

                    • DE-173

                      Again you conflate spanking with beating. Are you incapable of that distinction, or unwilling to make it?

                      Spanking: controlled, limited. produces minor and short term discomfort, no physical injury or marks

                      Beating: uncontrolled or poorly controlled, not properly limited, produces deep and lasting pain, results in physical injury or marks.

                    • I will leave the distinction to the children. May be they are as incapable as I am to thread so fine.

                    • DE-173

                      Never heard that you should “work out your salvation with fear and trembling”?

                      Fear has its place.

                    • Daniel P

                      Now that you’ve added tons of content to this post (which makes all of our comments sound strange, most likely) let me say that I have not once criticized your opposition to spanking. My entire focus has been to say that your interpretation of scripture is wrong. You said that your views were based on emotions, and I suggested that you might have different views if you hadn’t been hurt so badly.

                      I do not think in terms of violence first. I rarely spank my children. But they know it is a possibility, and it can be very effective. They know how deeply I love them, because I constantly tell them so. You don’t know the first thing about me as a person, or as a parent.

            • fredx2

              Tell yourself that.

        • fredx2

          That’s pure nonsense,

    • fredx2

      Modern science is full of political pressures rather than science. A few years ago science “proved” that spanking was bad. The media told us all about it. Then, someone with a brain rather than an activists heart looked at the Science. The science was about children who were severely beaten, not spanked. There is a world of difference. If you spend any time away from liberal news sources you will see that science now says spanking – judiciously applied – s a perfectly fine method of discipline, in fact it may be the best and most efficient.

      • DE-173

        I’ll begin to believe “science” can make universal claims about spanking when it finally decides whether coffee is good or bad.

      • Ladasha Smithson

        My sources include multiple studies over many years. The most recent was published just this year.

      • musicacre

        Oh the liberals who push their experiments in the name of social engineering….they don’t even admit it’s social engineering. This may be a little off topic, but here in Canada many years ago the socialist republic (province ) of Quebec decided it would be progressive and “nice” for the students to address the teachers in a casual way, “tu”. (meaning “you”, in very familiar casual terms.) About 10 or more years ago there was a strange announcement on the news that they were switching back to the formal, right across the board, “vous”. They noticed the students were walking all over the teachers. Not often you see a social experiment reverse itself:)

    • DE-173

      At least three of those links are useless as “sources”, sorry.

  • Tamsin

    Dorothy Sayers’ short story Talboys, in her Striding Folly collection of stories, is a very funny take on the psychology of anti-spanking activists.

  • James

    It shouldn’t be hard for Catholic parents to understand this. Punishment gives kids a comfort somewhat akin to what we feel when we go to confession.

    Catholic children don’t go to confession until they are at least 7 years old. This is because the Church has long recognized that little children, while bearing the effects of Original Sin, are incapable of committing actual sin. They are developmentally incapable of understanding right from wrong.

    There are good reasons to spank at times-the biggest one being to inflict immediate physical pain when an child cannot understand abstract physical danger. (For example, spanking a child who impulsively runs out into the street.) But for the most part it is inappropriate and, more importantly, ineffective.

    • S

      “… for the most part it is inappropriate and, more importantly, ineffective.”

      Agreed. There are more effective ways of dealing with children’s misbehavior. Best thing to do is to have an open mind and investigate other methods first, then come to a more informed decision before judging and bashing others for their beliefs.

  • Nick_Palmer3

    As usual, Rachel, a very good piece!

    St. Augustine’s theory of education, based as it was on Original Sin, saw even the very young baby as self-oriented rather than God-centered. The baby’s radical selfishness, however, had a low “damage potential” because of the young child’s limited scope for doing harm. He certainly did not propound in “punishing” a week-old baby, but did believe that the child should be disciplined once he grew old enough to understand. This is central to re-orienting him toward others and toward God (and away from self). I’ll go with Augustine over Spock.

    Although I sometimes threatened, I never spanked or struck any of my three children, all now in their 20’s. Perhaps a symbolic smack on the bottom, but nothing more. Nevertheless, spanking should be an option.

    On another note, Rachel cites Dan Arel’s piece from Pathos. Now there is someone who needs, or needed a smack. What mush-mouthed torture of the English language!

    “If my friend does something wrong… it is illegal for me to hit THEM.” [emphasis here and below added by me] Who is he talking about? Who are they? Does his “friend” have schizophrenia?

    “…if my child eats a cookie when I tell THEM not to…” Oh, my goodness. Dan’s English teacher shouldn’t have “spared the rod.”

    • Bill

      I couldn’t help but think immediately to St Augustine upon reading the article.

      I had my thoughts prepared to post and low and behold you posted a similar thought.

      The baby in St Augustine’s papers say’s that the baby was found to be jealous when his brother was allowed to suckle and he was not. This is selfish, but what could a baby know other than the want of his mother’s milk, and jealous, from nowhere taught, that denied instant gratification of his mother.

      What this scenario of St Augustine does teach, and you have also suggested, is that the baby cannot be “punished” for the temper tantrum and jealousy for he knows not why he did something wrong. We must know that the child will comprehend what was done wrong to also know a punishment was just, whatever the form it takes: grounding, bed early, no TV, etc.

      Our job as parents is to make aware the reason’s that behaviors are unacceptable and to provide space for reflection of that idea. Time outs, go to your room to think about, and then discuss why is all only possible when an understanding is possible. When our daughter meekishly admitted that she understood that she had hurt someone’s feelings after first saying for two hours of “I’ve done nothing wrong” and another two of quiet contemplation in her room. That behavior was never repeated, …well exactly.

      Some things such as a baby touching a hot stove and “smacking them” or yelling only creates an immediate halt to what could be a terrible situation. This is few and far between. A child knows a parents survival scream of fear and reacts – such as about to stroll into traffic. None of these are punishment, but teachings that things are dangerous.

      Spanking never happened in our house, but there were trying days and groundings, etc. as known punishments ahead of time, not made up on the spot.

      Our daughter is a well grounded adjusted young woman now about to start her family life in a couple months with her new baby.

    • musicacre

      I think the symbolic smack on the bottom is more effective than everyone gives credit. It’s the humiliation of it, not pain that gives pause to the perp. I just spent a (Canadian ) thanksgiving with a young sister and her husband and 2 small kids and the weekend was characterized with them (esp the 4-year old boy) acting up 24-7, and the Mom constantly screaming but doing NOTHING. By the end of the weekend, during the dinner the little guy (and he is cute) took to rushing his Mom and kicking her; repeatedly. The hubby conveniently would be in another room and when she screamed at him he broke Nana’s pinwheel crystal wine glass on a nearby table. We all just watched mutely as my mother cleaned up the glass as the 4-year old boy proceeded to destroy Grandpa’s hydraulic chair…….with the help of the out-of-control 8-year old girl……

  • Watosh

    Absolutely. Traditional wisdom is “spare the rod, spoil the child. Now my wife and I raised 4 children, close together in age, 2 girls, 2 boys. We never beat them, but we were consistent and from a very early age they became accustomed that they couldn’t do everything that they wanted to do. Sometime a little tap on the back of the hand to indicate no. Very young children understand this better than talking to them. The thing is, I was rather surprised to find people taking about the terrible two’s, we hadn’t noticed any tantrums during that time. t would give them a admonitory cuff sometimes, without warning when they knew they went to far. I didn’t want them to get the idea that could rely on getting a warning, I wanted them to develop an awareness. Like I said though, we very, very seldom had recourse to physical punishment, generally we never had to, especially the girls. The boys more frequently might need a cuff once in a while. Also we always saw that they had regular meals and we were close to them. My wife was a stay at home mother when they were young. My parents had a collection of humbles decorating their living room and other such items. We would spend a couple weeks with them and they remarked that they never had to remove thee little Hummles when we visited, whereas sometimes they would when other s came by. and we didn’t have to warn them not to touch before either. Now when they got older , teenage, the time for any physical punishment was past, and they were not so easy to control, though no real problems. I say this because these past years now I have spent witnessing young children at Church and around, I get the impression that now it is universal that parents must not say “No” to their children. I have seen small toddlers tear up a pamphlet and the parents do nothing in church. I am particularly struck that when finally one parent tries to impose some discipline on a misbehaving toddler it is most often the woman. The husband or man leaves discipline up to his wife. To me that is incredible since I was a first responder type in that area. In church I have seen toddlers control their parents should their parents not do what the toddler wanted. These toddlers learn fast. They can punish their parents to get their way. I really don’t understand how grown ups can be controlled by a two year old. A lot of people controlled me in my work, but no two year old was going to do that. Their seems to be a taboo about physical punishment. This time out business always struck me as a cop out. Give the kid a good slap on the backside and it is over and you and the kid move on. It never heart me more than it hurt them. But again, we never really resorted to physical punishment very much because our children understood from the earliest age that we were their parents, and we were in charge, and we took good care of them and always had their interests at heart. I don’t mean to brag, it is just that I just shake my head at modern child rearing ideas. We all have to recognize limits and boundaries. I was glad to read what Rachel Lu had to say because she is a young person who has gotten on the right track. Positive reinforcement is good, but alls societies soon recognize there is still some need for negative reinforcement too, at times.

    Now there are cases of abuse by a parent, but that does not mean that we have a choice of physically abusing children or of letting them do what they want. children are cute but they can be vicious too.

    Now the thing is, one morning as we crew members were waiting for our plane to get checked out, in our conversation some one told of an incident involving their father. The fellow was Polish and his father was a Polish immigrant. He was playing ball when he broke a window in the house. His father came out and asked him if he was the one who broke the wind, and he said my father said,”Look I just want to know if you broke the window, I won;t punish you if you did it, I just want to know who did it.” So the fellow thought and said to himself, well he won’t punish me so I will confess. When he did, his father whaled him good. He said after as he was crying he asked his father, “How come you spanked me, when you said you wouldn’t? His father looked at him and said majestically, “I changed my mind.” Now this was really kind of a bad thing his father did to him, though we all got big laugh as it was sort of a Polish thing. But why I remember this yet, is his son, then an Air Force Captain, laughed heartily with the rest of us, to him that was kind of an amusing story. He had no resentment about this, he didn’t nurture ill feelings, he wan’t being critical of his father, it was just a humorous incident. Now a lot of people might have used this to paint their father as a bad man. He didn’t. It showed understanding, and that is something we need.

  • Fred

    In classrooms full of kids over the course of several years, I can tell you it’s easy to pick out the kids who haven’t been spanked. They are the unruliest ones.

    • DE-173

      Works the same way on train rides.

    • Ladasha Smithson

      Odd, I’ve worked with children professionally out side of the classroom and I have had the opposite experience as you.

    • Fargo106

      You would be wrong in many cases, one I know for sure.

  • Elwin Ryan Ransom

    I think that rules should be limited and clear. Punishment should also be. There are always times when individual circumstances trump rules. The failure to understand these three concepts is one of the problems in our schools. Here is an article on just this issue as manifest in schoolsschools: http://conservativeteachersofamerica.com/wordpress/tag/dr-david-swanson/#sthash.LBEsXcRB.dpbs

  • Was not Fr. Geoghan who was arrested for patting a child’s behind in a swimming pool? Can a three year old discern the difference between spanking and gross physical abuse? A commenter in this very section referred to spanking as a sexual practice (see Congress needs to be spanked etc.) I tell you if any of spankers you were to spank my Marie or my Joe when they were children I would have shown them the difference between a spanking and a sever beating. I am tall and weigh over 240 lbs. and I boxed amateur a good part of my youth, and … from 16 to 19 I lived on the city streets and I survived a few fist fights. Now I only beat guys my size and only if they beat me or my loved ones first. The spanker readership of this site is revolting. And by the way this is the magazine that published a literary critique on this. http://www.crisismagazine.com/2008/when-i-was-cruel
    Not to mention certain “adventures with minors” that one of the former directors had.
    I thought this joint had changed but now that i see better … I think not.

  • Kevin Roberts

    Oh yes, please! Let’s go backward as a species and a culture and start beating our kids again! Can we also treat our women as property and use the Bible as justification for enslaving darker-skinned peoples? Oh, and while we’re at it, let’s stone adulterers, execute gays, and treat mentally-ill individuals as possessed by demons! USE YOUR BRAINS PEOPLE!

  • M.J

    Disagree with modes of punishments that include time outs as well as spanking /yelling; instead , would suggest that the aggarvated parent and child huddle up , with the guardian angels , doing delievrance prayers for both ( Inam eof Jesus, I take authority on each and every spirit ( of fear/rebellion ) in myslef and this child and bind you away ; thank You Lord for sharing Your Spirit and power, through Your Incarnation ) , repenting that the parent has failed in grasping the preciousness of the child , the truth of the angels beholding the Father’s Face and doing what is done to the child , as done to The Lord .
    True, in our culture of death, it would take good bit of preparation and prayer , on an ongoing basis , for oneself . the child and ancestors , to develop enough trust in The Lord , that He can pour in His Spirit , to heal the rebelliousness and wound of rejection which is what mostly comes out as tantrums .
    One prayer from the book – Freedom through Deliverance, by Rev.Fr.Carl Schmidt is , before sleep time – in Name of Jesus , I command my (? the child’s ) soul spirit , to praise and worship The Lord Jesus, from midnight to midnight ‘ ;

    how many parents invoked the Holy Spirit , through Rosary prayers may be all through the pregnanacy ..not late even now – both parent and child get together , at every misbehaving episode and say a few Hail Mary’s for the offender as well and thank The Lord, trusting that He used the occasion for good !
    God Bless !

  • PiusXII

    So true that children can push our buttons! We’ve
    raised four children .
    yes…..spanking no
    discipline included:
    For older children:Age- appropriate natural
    consequences,banishment to bedroom,lecture, lost priviledges.
    For toddlers: physical boundaries and age
    appropriate expectations.
    Our parenting included:
    Our time(when possible), attending behavior,
    respect,honesty, gratitude.

  • Liberty

    Unfortunately it seems like most parents these days prefer to be friends with their children and allow all kinds of behavior rather than be strict. This means children are really in charge and it is very bad for them and for future teachers who have to try and deal with misbehaving kids in class. I keep seeing articles by Catholics which excuse bad behaviors, even at Mass! I have been teaching for over 15 years and it is very true that the majority of kids need clearly defined structure, rules, expectations, and consequences. With those they thrive. Without them they get confused and act out and don’t do as they are told. Yet I constantly see my Catholic friends excuse (and by doing so encourage) bad behavior and give their kids the power.

  • Kaiser Bill’s Robin

    Whatever happened to the Naughty Step?

  • Tantem Ergp

    I stopped using the phrase “time out” with my kids as it doesn’t imply failed behavior. It’s an athletic term meaning regroup/refocus. Totally different message. We have 4 children, three are boys, and our phrase was “the penalty box”. Also an athletic term, but implies they actually did something wrong. It was our laundry room where they had to sit alone. Worked like a charm.

  • Julie

    Punishment does not produce morality. Kids who are punished for a behavior will still do it behind their parents back. Check the research! http://m.psychologytoday.com/blog/feeling-our-way/201401/punishment-doesnt-work