After a spanking my daughter shocked me when she did this.

I couldn’t believe it. Usually my four year old daughter, Charis, was compliant and obedient. But here she was refusing to apologize for something mean she did to an adult friend of ours. “Charis, if you don’t apologize I’m going to have to spank you.”

That usually worked, especially for something as simple as asking for an “I’m sorry”.
But not this time. She silently stood her ground.

I had promised her a spanking and as much as I hated to have to keep my word I knew it was important I do so. I gave her a few gentle swats of the bottom.

She gave a few obligatory whimpers – since these were far too gentle to really hurt.
But she continued to stand her ground – absolutely refusing to apologize.

“Charis, if you don’t apologize, I’m going to have to spank you again. And this time it’s going to be real hard. I don’t want to do that and you don’t want that so you need to go and apologize for being mean.”

She remained unmoved.

Again, I had to keep my word – so I gave a few hard swats on her bottom that would certainly get her attention. This time there were real tears but no change. She absolutely refused to even make a half-hearted attempt at an apology.

This was the first time with Charis that Jana and I had seen open rebellion raise its ugly head. We needed to win this confrontation but at what cost? A hundred thoughts and questions were rushing through me head.

She was just a little girl. I didn’t want to spank her – especially since it seemed so ineffective. If this kept up, at what point would my “discipline” turn into abuse? But I felt like we couldn’t afford to lose this battle. She was openly defiant and when rebellion wins a battle of the wills it’s strengthened, more resilient and more determined to win future conflicts.

I didn’t know what to do but I was committed to principles I had seen in Scripture. Spanking is a God-endorsed form of discipline, especially for cases of rebellion.

Spanking, is something we do for our children not to our children. It’s an act of sacrificial love – I force myself to do what is best for my child even though I don’t want to do it.

Spanking is God’s answer to keeping our children from being enslaved to the foolishness that is bound up in their hearts.

Rebellion is no trivial matter – even in the heart of a four year old. I had no choice but to follow the principles and leave the outcome to the Lord. But first, one last appeal.

Outside I calmly said, “Charis, if you do not apologize I am going to have to spank you again really, really hard.” Inside my heart was screaming, “Please apologize – at least make an effort – so I don’t have to do this!”

As I spanked her a third time I felt like an abusive dad. Was this over the top? Would she have bruises? What am I going to do if she still refuses to obey? After several painful swats I stood her up and asked her again to go and apologize.

With hot tears streaming down her cheeks she walked over to our friend and softly said, “I’m sorry”. What happened next totally shocked me.

She bolted back toward me, jumped up in my lap, threw her arms around my neck and hugged me tightly. I was amazed. It really worked.

I believed Biblically that children somehow knew discipline was a sign of love but here I was seeing it in action. Instead of running to her mom for comfort like she usually did, she ran back into the very arms that had just spanked her so hard. We embraced, now with tears running down both our cheeks. And I assured her of my love for her.

But what do you do if even spanking doesn’t work? I prepared a little ePaper with some ideas that I’m going to send as a “thanks” to all subscribers to this blog. Sign up – middle right hand column of this website – and I’ll send it to you, too.

Parenting can be tough. But you have to decide at which end you want it to be tough. You can make it ‘easy’ on yourself when they’re young, ignore their misbehavior and refuse to deal with it. By doing that you put off the pain until they’re older when you’ll be forced to suffer the consequences of rebellious teens and young adults.

Or you can choose the hard way now and enjoy life with your teens and adult children. Often what appears to be the easy way now turns out to be the hard way in the long run.

Don’t fail to discipline your children. They won’t die if you spank them. Physical discipline may well save them from death.     – Proverbs 23:13, 14 (NLT)

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9 Comments

  • Reply Molly December 15, 2015 at 5:21 pm

    Your daughter isn‘t hugging you because she thinks you love her. She is hugging you to appease you to get you to stop hurting her in the future, and because you have done a horribly unloving thing to her entirely in your own self-interest, you have put the fear in her head that she is without a person to love and protect her in this world. What the little girl never learns is that this makes her father think the beatings are okay, when what the girl is trying to do is make the beatings STOP. It never, ever works. It never worked with my father. The worse he beat me, the more I tried to get him to love me again because I knew he couldn‘t humiliate and hurt me like that and actually love me, even though I needed him to love me for my very survival.

    I hate my father. I always have. I would have been beaten if I told him that, but I always held onto this feeling. I don‘t even have the perverse comfort of believing in a god that damns people to hell to make me think that there will be any justice for me. I learned to lie. I learned to say I was sorry when I wasn‘t sorry. In fact, before I became god-free, I couldn‘t forgive anyone, because I was conditioned to believe that saying sorry was just a formality that someone offers to keep from being punished and that no one really meant it.

    But congratulations for coercing your daughter into lying to you. May your god be pleased.

    • Reply Rick Malm December 15, 2015 at 10:58 pm

      Hi Molly –
      I really appreciate the vulnerability and openness in your comments. And I’m so very sorry for the abuse you obviously endured as a child. I’m also very sorry for the perspective it has given you on God. I know there is no way I can convince you otherwise but let me just assure you that the god you speak of is a man-made monster, not the real God who revealed Himself when He came to earth to suffer at the hands of evil people who beat him – much worse than you or I have endured – to pay the price for my sins and yours. Jesus Himself said he did not come to condemn (john 3:17). He does not damn people to hell. He is the one who came to rescue folks already going there. In fact, the Bible clearly says hell was not created for people. They have no business being there.

      Again, I realize there is no way I’m going to convince you in a short little piece like this but maybe I can at least let you know my daughter, who is now in her 30s is very close to me, loves me, and hardly even remembers this situation that so traumatized me. I obviously did not do a good job of conveying what was happening or you would have understood it was totally different than what you must have endured.

      Along that line, I am about to release an ebook entitled – 5 Times You Should Not Spank Your Child. If you are interested in understanding more about the difference between beating a child and proper, loving spanking, would you let me send you a free copy? No need to write back. If you would like to see it – and I would value your comments on it too – just sign up to get my blog because when it is released I am going to send all subscribers a free copy. You can then immediately unsubscribe if you like. And I don’t make any money off this so there is no commercial motive in this. I just think many of the illustrations in the book might help you understand the heart of God and how a parent can spank while truly loving their child.

      Hey, it doesn’t cost you anything so why not give it a shot. 🙂

      Again, thank you so much for taking the time to share your feelings and feel free to write back if you would like to talk about it more.

  • Reply Lori Slone October 13, 2016 at 11:31 am

    Good read! Thanks for sharing.

  • Reply robert November 22, 2016 at 12:04 am

    I agree with Molly that you completely misinterpreted her behavior, though I do not completely agree with Molly. I agree that in all likelihood she was trying to appease you. It may not have been so you would not hit her again. It may have been because your anger at her was more painful than the spanking.

    In all likelihood you were a good and loving parent and she loves you because of this. However, this does not mean that what you did that day was helpful. You called it traumatic, and trauma is bad. Fortunately children aren’t usually destroyed by some incidents of problematic parenting, but we should avoid and minimize them.

    Children do not experience spankings as loving. You did not have to spank your child to get her to apologize. All you needed to do was to send her to her room until she apologized. Hitting her until she submitted to your will was not helpful to her. This increases the risk for a child becoming involved in abusive relationships.

    You gave no evidence of having done the most important thing that day, asking her why she did not want to apologize. Maybe she had a good reason. Maybe the relative did things you are not aware of that were inappropriate and hurtful. A huge percentage of children suffer abuse and the parents don’t even know it. Or, perhaps she was in a really bad mood and needed a few minutes to calm down. She could have learned wonderful lessons that day about thinking and talking about feelings and taking a few minutes to calm down. Instead she had an experience that if repeated enough would be tragic, i.e., that people will beat you into submission if you don’t give in and so you should not stand up for yourself. She learned disrespect for her own feelings. She learned to lie to avoid being hit even harder. All of this could have been avoided and replaced with good lessons if you had talked with her about why she did not want to apologize and given her time to calm down.

    There are different degrees and ways of rebelling. If a child says he or she is going outside although you told them not to, or if a child curses at you, it would be very problematic to let them get away with it. The response does not have to be a spanking. Grounding is a fine punishment if reason fails. A child refusing to apologize to someone she is angry with is a very weak form of rebellion at most. It is not in the nature of children or adults to follow every command given. In the military it is necessary, but not in civilian life. As a child psychiatrist I would worry about a child that did everything they were told to do, right away. If all children learned to absolutely obey authority figures, we would still be a colony of England.

    Spare the rod, spoil the child has been misinterpreted to mean corporal punishment. The word rod in the bible is not a device of corporal punishment. Psalm 23:4 “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” A person will not be comforted by the thought of being hit with a stick by God while walking through the valley of the shadow of death. The rod of Moses was used to do miracles and rescue the people, not to hit them.. “And thou shalt take this rod in thine hand, wherewith thou shalt do signs”. It was also used to guide them.

    Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him. Moses rod was used to guide the people and help them with miracles, it was not used for corporal punishment. Telling a child that what he or she did is wrong and they should behave differently is providing guidance. I’m not saying that this is always enough and that punishment should not occur.

    Finally, Proverbs was written by primarily, but not exclusively, by Solomon, not God. That someone got a proverb included in the book of Proverbs does not make it divine wisdom. There is a strange tendency to believe that if someone said something long ago it had to be right. Even Aristotle, one of the greatest geniuses of all time got some things wrong. For two thousand years people believed that objects fell at a rate proportional to their weight. He was wrong, as Galileo proved.

    • Reply Rick February 9, 2017 at 2:56 pm

      Hey Robert.
      Sorry to be so slow in responding to your post but I would like to comment – I’ll try to keep it brief – on some of your thoughts (mostly because it might benefit other readers).

      YOU SAID: I agree that in all likelihood she was trying to appease you. It may not have been so you would not hit her again. It may have been because your anger at her was more painful than the spanking.
      RESPONSE: I find it interesting and quite revealing that people immediately believe someone is angry because they are spanking their child. In my book I point out that one time you should never spank your child is when you are angry. A spanking is not an act of anger. Once people get over that misconception they are miles along the road of understanding why it is God’s primarily endorsed method of discipline.

      YOU SAID: Children do not experience spankings as loving. …. And “Hitting her until she submitted to your will was not helpful to her. This increases the risk for a child becoming involved in abusive relationships.
      RESPONSE: These are two sweeping statements that you cannot substantiate (and I would say are false). 1. Children do not experience spankings as loving.
      Just read the next comment in this series from a woman who was obviously spanked by parents who understood the Biblical method. I would agree that they don’t see it as something they like – which they shouldn’t – but we do many things for our kids that they don’t like (make them eat veggies, go to school, do homework, get out of bed In the morning). None of these are seen by children as loving actions but in reality they all are actions done out of love for the child. It is the lazy parent who lets them eat what they want, go to school only when they feel like it, sleep as late as they want and who does not love them enough to spank them when they have earned it.
      2. This increases the risk for a child becoming involved in abusive relationships.
      You say this as though there is a mountain of evidence to back it up when there really isn’t. Again, a spanking is not an act of anger or of violence. If you are talking about that sort of “spanking” we aren’t even discussing the same topic.

      YOU SAID: You did not have to spank your child to get her to apologize. All you needed to do was to send her to her room until she apologized.
      RESPONSE: So you would rather reject the child and shuffle them out of your presence. I would suggest that creates more trauma. It says, “Get out of my presence until you can meet my standards.” Pretty cruel in my book.

      Finally, rather than deal with your rather lengthy comment item by item, let me jump to the main reason we aren’t even in the same book, let alone on the same page.

      YOU SAY: Finally, Proverbs was written by primarily, but not exclusively, by Solomon, not God. That someone got a proverb included in the book of Proverbs does not make it divine wisdom. There is a strange tendency to believe that if someone said something long ago it had to be right. Even Aristotle, one of the greatest geniuses of all time got some things wrong. For two thousand years people believed that objects fell at a rate proportional to their weight. He was wrong, as Galileo proved.
      RESPONSE: Apparently you feel qualified to pick and choose which passages in the Bible are from God and which are not. In which case, you become the final authority and source of all wisdom. I’m sure you aren’t intending it that way. No one would be that arrogant but let’s look at it logically.

      If I read something in Scripture that I disagree with and I then assume it isn’t from God. If I agree with it then I assume it is from God. Hmmm. So, ultimately, I determine what is right, what is wrong. I give the thumbs up or thumbs down on the entire Bible. After all, none of it was actually written by God Himself. It was all written by men. So I choose which “men” I agree with and which ones I think are wrong. I make the book line up with my wisdom.

      I don’t have that much confidence in my own little perspective. I’ve only been on this earth less than 100 years. I’ve only lived one life in one time in history. I’ve traveled a lot and experienced a lot of different cultures but visiting them does not make me qualified to say I understand them. My life experience is just too short to feel I can determine what ultimate truth is.

      So, I have chosen to believe that God determined which passages would be included in his word and which ones would not and that he has gone to great lengths to preserve his word for me. I realize that may seem naïve – it may even be naïve. But it has worked pretty well for me. And I am much more confident doing it that way than for me to pick and choose which I believe and which I don’t. I just don’t make a very good god.

      We are on different pages about this issue – and I suspect thousands of others – because I have chosen to not rely ultimately upon my narrow scope of experience to determine what ultimate truth is.

      I’ll bet you don’t hold a single opinion that is wrong, do you?

      OK, that was kind of a mean joke. Of course we all believe all of our opinions are true – or we would change them. But that is the point, As we grow and learn more our “ultimate truths” change. Otherwise we aren’t growing and learning. I am not confident enough to base my life on what my current “ultimate truths” are.

      If living by your own set of eclectic standards – picking and choosing what your own set of truth is – if that is working well for you then that’s great. I just don’t have that much confidence in my own wisdom and I only have one life to live. I don’t want to experiment with it and find at the end that I chose a stupid path – which seemed wise in my own eyes. Especially since every man’s way is right in his own eyes.

      So, I am choosing to follow the wisdom that has worked for 6,000 or more years.

      If you’d like to continue the conversation please read the book I wrote – Spare the Rod – before you even respond so we are talking about the same thing. Otherwise it’s a total waste of time – like you talking about oranges and me talking about apples. Of course we won’t come to any understanding or make any helpful progress unless we are both talking about the same thing. And, you will have no idea of what I mean by spanking unless you read the short book.

      Don’t want to buy a printed copy? No problem. I’m not in it for the money, I’ll send you a PDF just so you can see what Biblical spanking looks like. THEN, if you still think it better to send a kid off to his room – and deal with the rejection of that, we can talk.

  • Reply kristen February 6, 2017 at 6:01 pm

    I was spanked as a child and teen and actually looking back I have no bad memories of it. Yes I remember crying from the pain but also a feeling of renewal. I was spanked at home and at school (the cane). I’ve pondered this a lot. Why do some people live their adult lives looking back feeling contempt or feeling abused as a result of being spanked and yet I don’t. I felt that both my parents and my teachers loved me and were wanting to do the best for me. Other feelings were thouse of embarrassment for having done something wrong and anoyance in myself for doing it. Sometimes I can even recall thinking as I was about to do something that this is wrong and doing it anyway. I think also that at both home and school, once the cane was administered the issue was over. I always had a feeling of this is a new start.

    • Reply Rick February 9, 2017 at 2:59 pm

      Thanks for your comment Kristen.
      Obviously you had parents and teachers who understood the Biblical method of spanking – not an act of anger or retribution. Rather a very self-controlled act of love used in rare situations of rebellion. So many have not experienced that type of loving discipline and so react based upon a misunderstanding, poor definition of “spanking”. Thanks for letting them know it can be a positive experience – as Scripture says.

  • Reply Joe November 19, 2017 at 8:07 am

    “I believed Biblically that children somehow knew discipline was a sign of love but here I was seeing it in action. Instead of running to her mom for comfort like she usually did, she ran back into the very arms that had just spanked her so hard. We embraced, now with tears running down both our cheeks. And I assured her of my love for her.”

    Your naivete on your child’s wish to avoid suffering at your hand is jaw dropping.

    • Reply Rick Malm November 20, 2017 at 10:32 am

      Hi “Joe”:
      Thanks for taking a moment to comment.
      Your reasoning leaves me a little confused. If she wished to avoid suffering at my hand it seems she would not have run back to me but to her mother. But the good news is, we don’t have to guess. My daughter now has children older than she was when this incident happened. When I wrote this post I talked with her about it first to get her take on it and ask what was going through her head.

      How interesting that one who was not there, does not know the situation or the people involved would be able to assess what happened better than I was – or even better than my daughter (the supposed victim.) But that’s one of the sad things about what’s happening today – everyone is an expert and no one wants to learn from those who might have a different perspective than themselves – even if that different philosophy has stood the test of time – as spanking has.

      If you have successfully raised children who are an honor to you and the Lord then I commend you on it. But my concern is you either do not have children or are now in the child training stage of life. I say “concern” because you only get one chance at raising your children. You don’t want to blow it. Therefore, I suggest you follow the proven methods Scripture teaches versus experimenting with all the fleeting theories that are blowing in the wind. Your kids are too valuable to experiment with.

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