As our children get older and show themselves more responsible, we should switch from giving commands to giving counsel. There will come a point where counsel is all we can give because we won’t be able to force compliance.
But I’ve seen that if we work to maintain mutual respect they will value and even seek our counsel long after they can reject our commands.
But at what age do we have to draw back? At what age are our children too old to spank?
I believe anytime we start a parenting question with, “At what age ..” we’re asking the wrong question. Because children mature differently there’s not one right answer.
Though the Bible doesn’t give specific guidance I believe we can distill some principles from God’s Word that will help us develop guidelines for transitioning from commands to counsel.
First of all, what God chose to not put in His Word is as significant as what He chose to put in. The Word is clear that a wise and loving parent will spank their children. But because it does not tell us at what specific age we should start or stop we can infer that the age will be different with each child. As the shepherd over our children we need to “be sure we know the condition of our flocks” – Proverbs 27:23 – so we can care for each child based upon their own level of maturity and need.
Each child will develop differently and needs to be treated as an individual. We see from Hebrew culture – the bar mitzvah and bat mitzvah -and from the example of Jesus at 12 years old in the temple (Luke 2) that somewhere around twelve or thirteen they should begin to assume adult responsibilities and incur adult consequences for misbehavior.
I can’t remember spanking my children beyond the age of 11 or 12 but the possibility of a spanking remained “on the table”. I believe the fact that spanking remained an option was one of the reasons that it wasn’t necessary. But, if they reverted to behaving like a child there was still the option of treating them like a child.
If we work diligently to train them as children there should be no need for spanking them as young adults.
This information is part of Chapter 5 of Spare the Rod – Five Times You Should NOT Spank Your Child. Get the entire book by signing up for this blog or get a paperback or Kindle copy HERE.