Mocha With Linda hosts a weekly meme called Flashback Friday. She’ll post a question every Thursday, and then Friday we can link our answers up on her site. You can visit her site for more Flashbacks.
The prompt for today is:
Were your parents strict, permissive, or somewhere in-between when you were growing up? Did you tend to be compliant or rebellious? What did you tend to get in trouble for doing? How did your parents discipline/punish you – spankings (and what did they use when spanking), revoking privileges, grounding, time-outs or some other manner? Did both parents handle punishment or did one tend to do it more than the other? (And which one was it?) Is there anything that you have admitted doing since you’ve been an adult that you got away with as a child? Or is there anything you were punished for that you have since learned your parents had to try hard not to laugh while they were meting out your discipline? If you are a parent, what is something you have done or not done (or vowed you would never do) as a result of your growing-up experiences with discipline?
My father could be overly strict and quite harsh, and my mom was a little more permissive when she could be without going against his wishes. Maybe she was trying to make up for him, but I think she was just more that way in personalty anyway. I think that, rather than suffering from mixed signals, her softness kept me from a terribly negative response to my father, and his strictness kept me from giving way to my natural inclinations. I tended to be pretty compliant, both because I was afraid of punishment, but also because I loved my parents and wanted to please them. I tend to be a rule-keeper by nature, though of course I was willful and disobedient sometimes. My only really rebellious phase was around the time just before and after my parents’ divorce — I did some pretty stupid things then and I am so glad the Lord protected me from serious consequences and from continuing down that road.
I don’t recall that they ever used time-outs. I think they did revoke privileges or ground my siblings — or maybe that was after my mother and step-father got together. I don’t recall ever having privileges revoked or being grounded myself. The primary method of disciple was spanking, although yelling and ridicule were natural reactions of my father’s. His discipline was inconsistent and sprang up suddenly like a summer thunderstorm. Both parents believed that any cuddling or hugging after spanking took away the effect of it. My dad primarily did the disciplining with his belt. I don’t remember ever being spanked by my mom though she must have when I was little. My mom and I could talk about the whys of an issue.
You might be surprised that my husband and I spanked our kids as well, but we handled it differently. We believed spanking was Scriptural (still do) but needed to be handled carefully. We saved it for deliberate, willful disobedience and not childish forgetfulness or accidents. We tried never to spank in anger — thus the “Go sit on the bed and think about what you’ve done until I come up” was as much for our benefit as for theirs. We always sat down and talked very calmly with them first, both so that we understood what had happened — sometimes as a parent you can walk in on a situation and think something has happened that hasn’t — and also so that they understood why they were being punished. We brought up any Scriptural principles involved in what they had done. We spanked only on their bottoms, using a hand or wooden spoon, until we sensed a difference in attitude. Then we hugged, told them how much we loved them, and put the matter behind us. We always tried to leave the encounter on good terms with each other.
I didn’t believe the phrase, “This hurts me more than it does you” until I became a parent. But I’ve seen the fruit of lives that have almost no self-restraint, and I wanted them to learn right from wrong and obedience. I’m sure there were times I let things go that should have received punishment, but overall I felt it would be harmful to let them get by with deliberate disobedience and defiance. One thing I liked about spankings was that it dealt with the issue and then got it over with. Being sent to one’s room is not much of a punishment for kids these days, with all they have to entertain themselves there, and groundings, to me, just dragged it all out that much longer and caused more resentment. My kids always resented a simple swat — sometimes I did that when I felt the issue didn’t warrant a full-fledged spanking, but that usually made them angry or hurt their feelings when an actual spanking didn’t.
An older father with a whole brood of very sweet grown kids and grandkids once told me that if you discipline your kids as you should when they’re young, you don’t have to very much as they get older, and I have found that to be true. When obedience and respect is the tone of the home, that spills over into situations outside the home and the pre-teen and teen years. I don’t think we spanked our oldest and youngest past the age of 4-6 or so; the middle one a few years more. Spankings did not occur all that often. Mostly we talked (they may have said lectured 🙂 ) about what was wrong and why and what they needed to do about it. I don’t recall ever using a time-out or grounding. I don’t think we ever even revoked privileges: I threatened to when we had one computer and they all needed to take turns with it. Actually I think I threatened to make a schedule for computer use if they couldn’t find a peaceful way to handle it. And I think a few times if they were fighting over something, I put it away for a while. We did incorporate dealing with natural consequences — if they broke or spilled something, they weren’t punished but they had to help clean it up or fix it, because that’s just life: even if you don’t mean to cause a problem of some kind, if you do, then you need to be willing to correct it. I don’t think we ever used chores as punishment, either — chores were just a natural part of life.
I don’t recall hearing about about my parents laughing over any disciplinary incidents later, but I do remember one time when my family was all together my sisters sharing hilarious stories of things that happened that my mom and step-father never knew about (they were there and laughed, too.)
With my own kids, once my husband was spanking my middle son with a wooden spoon when it broke right in the middle of things. They both started laughing and the spanking was over. Another time we were in the grocery store when my middle son was a pre-schooler, and we saw a package of wooden spoons. He pointed to them and said, “Look, Mommy, spanking spoons!” They must not have traumatized him too much!
Proverbs 29:17 says, “Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul.” I see so many parent-child relationships which are not restful at all, with a constant struggle between parent and child. I know some personalities are harder to discipline: I recommend James Dobson’s Strong-Willed Child.
I mentioned before believing that spanking was Scriptural and I wanted to expand on that a bit. Proverbs 13:24 says, “He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.” It takes effort and carefulness and thoughtfulness to discipline in a right way, but it’s not love to let a child get away with everything, or to make excuses for him, or to constantly nag him. The NIV version of Proverbs 23:13-14 say, “Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish them with the rod, they will not die. Punish them with the rod and save them from death..” The KJV uses the word “beat,” but it doesn’t mean it like we think of that word today: it’s not advocating abuse or the parent being out of control. Proverbs 19:18 says, “Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying.”
Many passages compare God’s chastening of His children with a father’s loving discipline of his son. Here’s one from Hebrews 12:
5And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him:
6For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.
7If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?
8But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.
9Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?
10For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.
11Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.
I wanted to emphasize that last verse: “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.” That’s the goal.