Does Spanking Teach Respect?

Due to an inability to sleep comfortably, I decided to get up and check the status of some of my Facebook conversations. One of them included the comment “parents need to bust their kids ass when they get out of line. i think we all respect our parents for that.”

People often mistake fear for respect. We have been taught to confuse these words. Respect is a recognition and and acknowledgment of ability. Fear is worry. Spanking causes worry about a repeating spanking. Spanking causes worry about being hurt if they repeat whatever it is that caused the spanking to begin with. The only respect a spanking can cause is a recognition and acknowledgment that the person spanking them can hurt (or embarrass) them into submission. Spanking is, quite simply, a bigger human using physical violence to subjugate a smaller human. Spanking causes fear, not respect.

Children learn respect by seeing their parents work to accomplish things. They learn respect by recognizing the sacrifice and work their parents parents put into raising them. They learn to respect the love and care their parents show them. They learn respect by figuring out “why” parents set boundaries.

Sometimes, children push the boundaries. Sometimes, using physical force is a valid way to enforce these boundaries. An example of appropriate use of physical force is when I smacked my daughters hand away from the hot stove when she was little; sometimes physical violence is necessary to protect them. Another example that I feel was appropriate use of physical force was when my son crossed his arms across his chest and said “NO” when I had sent him to a timeout on his bed. He found himself running to get to his bed to get away from the smacks I delivered to his defiant little butt. Now, he knows to accept the punishments he is given. The first example was necessary. The second example was me, as a parent, not having the intelligence to see a better way to overcome his defiance.

My kids are good kids. They aren’t perfect, but they are much better behaved than many of the kids I see today. Some of that good is because they know that I am bigger than them, and that I will enforce my expectations (fear). Most of that good is because I have taught them that the boundaries are set for real reasons, and they understand that those boundaries were set because of my knowledge and my desire to protect them from harm (respect). The only time they even think about getting spanked is when they are considering open defiance (or lying, which I have told them is the same thing as open defiance). My kids will usually follow the guidance I give them because they have learned that there are usually good reasons for it. Children taught mostly by spanking will follow the rules they were given until they think they found a way to not get caught.

Summed up: Spanking doesn’t teach life lessons, and it doesn’t teach respect. The only real thing spanking teaches is fear. Sometimes fear is a useful tool, but if you want respect from your kids, you need to use it sparingly, or not at all. Use your intelligence and your example, instead of your muscles, to teach them real respect.  

Published in: on August 1, 2011 at 9:18 am  Comments (3)  
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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. the way you are portraying spanking is wrong. Spanking is done with good intention not in anger. What you speak of is BEATING. I was spanked and never feared my mom, i learned not to do the things that caused a spanking, and to this day i respect her like none other. So i do agree BEATINGS can cause fear, but not spanking. Even the bible tells us Not to spare the rod or we will spoil the child.

    • You are providing a delineation of severity. I was referring to how these actions actually work. Both “spanking” and “beating” operate through the fear described in the article. While I can agree that there is nothing wrong with an occasional use of non-damaging physical punishment, the point of the article is that it doesn’t teach “respect”. It teaches fear. Your delineation of severity does not change that.

    • On a second note, The Bible does indeed say to not spare the rod. When one looks with any knowledge at all at the herding life that that statement is based on, one would quickly realize that the rod is only used in gentle guidance toward the sheep. It was held out to give the shepherd longer arms to direct sheep away from ravines, etc. and if the shepherd was lucky, he even found a staff that had a crook at the end of it to help him pull lambs out of those ravines if the fell in.

      Shepherds never used their rod or staff as a striking instrument. They needed the sheep to trust them, and hitting one of the sheep would cause panic in the others. Any striking was done away from the rest of the herd.

      This example is one of the best examples in the Bible for non-violent dealings with children. It is sad that this has been perverted from its obvious and logical meaning, and even more sad that there is a mentality that bought into it.

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