I am so often asked, “But does it work?” My expression of doing GBD because it’s the right thing to do is more in line with my answer to that question. I believe that hitting, regardless of what it’s called, is violence.
It is taking your hand and striking another person or, worse, taking an object and doing the same. If you were to hit your spouse or someone outside your home you would face charges for assault. The only reason this is not true of spankings is that children are still considered in our society to be property (whether someone holds this view or not is debatable on an individual level but I’m talking the level of protection afforded them by the laws). Until only recently in our country’s history it was acceptable to beat women and we all have heard the travesties of the treatment of slaves. Unfortunately, children are only assigned an attorney when their interests become so delicate that a court finds it appropriate. This means that because children can’t hire attorneys they have no rights.
I am against all violence on a personal level. I speak kindly and firmly to all (at least I try). I don’t lash out physically and have learned to not lash out verbally. And I have seen how completely unnecessary spanking is in disciplining a child.
When selecting a discipline style or tool it must be asked, “What is really being taught?” For a parent to strike a child teaches some very clear lessons–hitting is only for when you’re bigger, if you’re right you can use physical force, and, the biggest one in my opinion, “I do not respect your body boundaries.” This is especially important with children like my Liam who was born with absolutely no awareness of his own body boundaries. Had I chosen a discipline method that continually violated his body boundaries instead of respecting them he would be very confused right now instead of able to speak for himself as he does–kindly and firmly. Because I demand that my children respect my body boundaries I also respect theirs. It is important to me that what I expect from my children is modeled to them.
I don’t think a spanking will scar every child, although I do think even one spanking will scar some children. I don’t think a parent has failed if they spank, although I do think that because of the level of my conviction, and teachers being held to a higher judgment, it would be absolute sin for me to.
My Biblical goal is that parents who still choose to spank will stop doing it in the name of the Bible.
My personal goal is to teach the GBD philosophy and enough tools so that even parents who keep spanking in their toolbox will find themselves never feeling at a loss for other ideas and will find themselves eventually spanking less and less and then never.
So when I say “I do it because it’s the right thing to do” I don’t mean it as a judgmental statement, but as a statement of personal conviction. I say it meaning that even if I don’t see the immediate results I have seen the long term results in children and know that it’s the right choice even if it doesn’t seem the easiest way to stop “this” action. I say it meaning that I will not allow my frustrations to dictate my discipline choices but will constantly pull my thoughts back to my ultimate goals, my desired “end” results, and do what I believe to be right. I have seen that with enough creativity I can face any parenting challenge and, in the long run, the results are there. And I say it because I’m not doing it for the results, I’m doing it because even though the results will happen, it’s the only discipline choice that I see respecting my child and treating my current and future brother or sister in the Lord the way I want to be treated.
God has always called me back to the parable of the servant who is forgiven much and then turns around and refuses to forgive his fellow servant little. That servant then has all he’s been forgiven held against him and he’s punished severely. I don’t want to be that servant. With all that God’s forgiven me I cannot even begin to hold my children up for judgment on their minor acts against me. I have stood and defied God. I can forgive my child defying me. And it’s with the same love and grace that God used with me (both very active words, not passive) that I want to restore my children into relationship with me. We are called in Scripture to have the first be last and the last first. We are called to serve our brothers and to treat the least of these as we would treat Jesus.
I’m sure that you’ve been encouraged to look at discipline in light of the words “discipline”, “chastisement”, “obey”, “beat”. I want to encourage you to do a study on the fruit of the Spirit and on the qualities of Love and Grace and determine where these are to fit into parenting. It is these qualities that I believe make up the GBD approach to parenting and *this* is why I say it’s the *right* thing to do.