[photo: Jeremy Brooks]

In an on-going attempt to get create some space for spirited, yet respectful, dialogue to take place about issues important to many of us, in this installment of “Help Me Understand” I am taking on an issue that I know many parents confront as they decide how to raise their children: spanking. As a father of three children living in a bold, know-it-all city such as San Francisco, I acknowledge that any assessment of another’s parenting style is much easier to give than to receive. In many ways, when we question one another’s methods and approaches to parenting, we are questioning the very nature of our relationship with God and the integrity with which we are raising our children.

And even worse than generic parenting advice, unsolicited parenting advice  . . . don’t even get me started.

That said, I do have friends and family who spank their kids and I have always wondered why. I have friends who were spanked and, as I have shared in a previous post, I was a little more than spanked as a child, but we are not a spanking household. My children are often playfully threatened with a good beating, but they all know that it will never happen. We have chosen instead to instill the idea that disappointing one’s parents, family, community and self is punishment enough. Some might think that non-spanking is just a symptom of a spoiled America, others would say that under no circumstances do we strike a child and some simply think it’s a parenting choice.  Wherever one is on the spectrum, I do know that there are great opinions about the topic.

Like I said, I know plenty of people who spank their kids as well as were spanked themselves and many turn out just fine. But to be completely honest, I still do not get it. We are not about to start spanking our kids – new high school not withstanding – but I really want to understand. For those of you who have chosen spanking as a discipline method, how did you get there, has it worked, are there regrets and/or is there anything you want to put out there about spanking in general? And for those who have chosen other methods, why not spanking?


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