Monday, July 4, 2011

Hodge Podge

My thoughts have been scattered lately. Here are some of them:

Yesterday, I was frustrated by this thought: Many Christian children end up with bruised bottoms after they receive spankings. Sometimes, the bruises turn purple. I remember the use of a switch being touted because it left no marks while inflicting a great deal of pain. The same Christian parents who feel that they are following God's commands when their children are spanked hard enough to leave bruises would be upset if they saw a child in the grocery store or at the park with bruises on their arms, legs or face that appear to have been inflicted by a parent. These parents would call those bruises signs of abuse. What if these bruises were on a child's back? Again, these parents would probably worry that the child with back bruises was abused. Yet, the literal command in the Proverbs is to beat a child (actually, a teenage boy) on his back. Nowhere in the Bible is the bottom advocated as a place to strike a child. (Neither is striking a small child biblical, but that is beside the point here.) I wish Christian parents would wake up and realize that there is no difference between a bruise or a welt on a child's bottom as opposed to a bruise or a welt on a child's arms or legs. It makes no difference whether the parent was spanking in anger or as seemingly justifiable punishment, the results to the child are the same. In fact, children who are spanked because they have done wrong wallow in shame and feelings of self-loathing and self-hatred long after the spanking ends. God is not the author of this treatment!!! Please, parents, study your Bibles! God does not command us to spank our little children.

At the same time as I have been pondering spanking, I have also been pondering permissive parenting. I read a very wise warning recently. In summary: if we let our children act in some manner that we don't approve of, and ignore their behavior, hoping it will just go away, we actually make our children insecure! This is because children are excellent at reading our nonverbal cues (tension, frustration), and they see that while we don't like what they are doing, we are allowing them to continue in that behavior. They leap to the conclusion that we don't like them. This really made sense to me--I have seen many children raised in permissive homes who are incredibly insecure, wondering constantly if their parents love them.

I heard a sermon recently that I disagreed with . The preacher taught that the reason we as Christians should avoid sin is because of the gruesome consequences of said sin. This preacher overlooked the teaching in Romans 6 that we do not sin because we have been crucified with Christ and have a new nature, because we are dead to sin (though we can still choose to live in it). When we as Christians encounter sin, we are to realize that we are dead to sin; sin has no power over us. We are to stand in our co-crucifixion with Christ, and the Holy Spirit will empower our new nature to do right. I was frustrated with the sermon mostly because consequences really only make us avoid outward sin. What about the hidden sins of the heart? Sins that we can cover up and pretend to not have? Sins like murderous anger, greed, jealousy? God's solution to sin was to make us new, to give us the Holy Spirit, to remove sin's power over us. God deals with the heart. I see how Christian parenting has been influenced by wrong thinking about why we don't sin. Christian parents are taught that if they can give their children enough fear of the consequences of sin, then their children won't sin. Children who are raised this way often become prideful because they do not engage in outward sinful behaviors. They often do not see their need for God to work in their hearts, to deal with their inward sins. We need to teach our children right and wrong. When they cannot control themselves, we need to walk beside them and help them to do right, to instill in them that there is a right and a wrong. We need to let God's spirit work on their hearts as they grow older, convicting them of inner as well as outer sin, leading them to a genuine understanding of their need for a Savior!


  1. The ideas you have touched on here are intriguing. I would love to read more about them, and see them flushed out with research, Scripture, and stories from personal experience. These are things I have been thinking a lot about lately.

  2. Your definition of permissive parenting does not fit what I know of as permissive parenting. I am a permissive parent, but I still set boundaries and help her make wise choices. I let her color on the walls, for example, not because I choose to let her do that even though I don't want her to, but rather because I'm really truly okay with her coloring on the walls. I don't "let my children act in some manner that I don't approve of, and ignore their behavior, hoping it will just go away," and I actually don't think that actually describes permissive parenting. Furthermore, I believe that what is most important is my relationship with my daughter. If I can foster an open a loving relationship with her - which is my goal - I will consider myself a success. I don't see how my style of parenting - which I call permissive parenting, or attachment parenting - could ever lead to my daughter feeling insecure about my love.

    As to what you said about bruises, though - spot on!

  3. I would love to see this post, as Lisa said above, expanded more (even into a study?) as I agree with what you've said and where you are going. Thank you for this! Bright blessings, Shanyn the Strawberry Roan

  4. Children should never be spanked in anger/frustration/mommy-out-of-control-for-some-reason. A spank should never leave bruise either. For a great explanation go to: for her thoughts on the subject. She also deals with the sin/heart matter, which is often overlooked. We've had very good success following her guidelines (while praying for God's wisdom above all else).

  5. Thanks for this post! Christian parents have really been sold a bill of goods when it comes to spanking/punishment/outward behavior, etc. Thanks for providing a voice of reason and grace!

    Libby Anne, I think your parenting style as it's described above, is not permissive in the way many people would define permissiveness. Yes you are allowing your daughter to do some things others may view as permissive, but as long as you are OK with it, you are still being a responsible parent. Permissiveness would be to indifferently allow your child to paint on the walls even though you asked her not to. Every family has it's own unique standards of what is allowed and encouraged--and that's OK! It sounds as if you're a wonderful mommy, dedicated to fostering a close relationship with your daughter.

    I also practice Attachment Parenting, but in no way believe that makes me a permissive parent. It prompts me to be kind, gentle, and patient, yes - but it doesn't mean I turn a blind eye to my child or don't teach him what I do and don't consider appropriate behavior.

  6. Thank you, dear readers, for all of your thought-provoking comments. I plan to delve into these issues more in depth in the next few days! I look forward to continuing to hear from each of you.

    Thank you, Brenda K., for clarifying the definition of permissive parenting. I could not agree with you more. Does this help, Libby Anne? I would not consider you to be a permissive parent. I let my little guy play in the rain, jump in muddy puddles, and do many other things that most parents would never let their children do, but the key is that I am allowing these behaviors, not ignoring them and letting them slide.

    Rachel, I would definitely like to delve more into the effect of spanking on children, and whether or not it is a necessary or effective way for our children to be "convicted" of sin.

    Lisa and Mystic Mom, thank you for your challenge to delve more into the topic. I am definitely going to take you up on the idea.