Spanking Deficit Disorder (SDD) Is Producing a Generation of No-Discipline Children
by Jim Feeney, Ph.D.
- Summary: When visiting someone in their home, I can tell in just a few minutes if the parents run the home or the kids do. It astounds me that grown men and women allow their children routinely to disobey them and even to defy them. In most cases, the root cause of the problem is the growing epidemic of SDD in our modern western society. SDD, you say? Yes — Spanking Deficit Disorder.
- The old saying "Spare the rod and spoil the child" is not a verbatim quote from the Bible. But it is definitely a truth correctly drawn from a number of Scriptures, as we will see below. Spanking children was a "given" in the Bible as one important part of a biblical package of effective child-raising methods.
Ephesians 6:1-3 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” — which is the first commandment with a promise — “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”
Colossians 3:20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.
- •• “Honor your father and mother” is one of the Ten Commandments. It is very important to God that parents teach children to obey. In the early years of a child’s life, children learn to obey those in authority by learning to obey their father and mother. Sadly, many parents today have abdicated this responsibility and are raising children permissively, neglecting their biblical obligation to discipline their children as needed. This puts their kids on the fast track to first being spoiled children, and then to becoming juvenile delinquents or worse, because they haven't learned at home the important lesson of respect for authority.
- • Parents, take careful note that the Scriptures (above) declare that an obedient child “pleases the Lord”. It is your responsibility — not the church’s, the school’s, or the government’s — to raise children that are well-pleasing to the Lord.
• If you wish to fulfill your parenting duty biblically, you will need to include spanking in the broad mix of your parenting responsibilities. The failure of too many modern parents in this regard has led to the growing epidemic that I call “Spanking Deficit Disorder” (SDD).
- •• I have written in broader scope and more detail elsewhere about Raising Godly Children. I refer the interested reader to that article to get a broader perspective on effective parenting. In the balance of this article, I intend to focus narrowly on one great error in modern parenting — that is, the failure of parents to spank unruly, disobedient, or defiant children. My support for this position will be from the Scriptures of the Bible, and specifically from the Proverbs, which teach extensively on this.
- • Some years ago a pediatrician was lecturing in Anchorage, Alaska. He commented (correctly) that the Bible does teach spanking, but he added his personal opinion that the “Bible is wrong.” Well, at least he was being honest in both comments: (1) spanking is biblical, and (2) he did not personally believe the Bible’s teaching on it. Those who share his disbelief are likely to leave this article at this point. Those who do believe that the Bible’s teachings are true, please allow the following Scriptures to shape your thinking on spanking. Years from now, parents, you will be thankful!
Proverbs 13:24, Amplified Bible He who spares his rod [of discipline] hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines diligently and punishes him early.
Vs. 24, God’s Word translation Whoever refuses to spank his son hates him, but whoever loves his son disciplines him from early on.
- •• Some parents will say, “Oh, I love my children too much to spank them.” To which God is saying, “No, you don’t; you actually 'hate' them if you refuse to spank them when they need it.” Being permissive with an unruly child is not an act of love. To the contrary, you are setting him or her up for failure throughout life. Their failure to learn and practice obedience in the home will follow them in their relationships to authority later in life.
•• And note that we parents are charged to discipline “diligently”. Not just when we feel like it. Not sporadically. Not after the child disobeys your instruction three or four times. No! “Diligent” discipline is consistent and immediate. Don’t allow the child to “work” you, to passively-aggressively just quietly ignore your orders. If you tell the kids, “in bed in five minutes”, then if they are still watching TV ten minutes later, they need a spanking! Every time! Every time — and you will be amazed at how fast they learn to obey the first time. Be diligent in your discipline, not loose and haphazard.
Proverbs 19:18, Good News Translation Discipline your children while they are young enough to learn. If you don't, you are helping them destroy themselves.
- •• Start early disciplining your children — “while they are young”. If you fail to bring needed adjustment to them in their formative years, that task becomes much, much harder in their teen years.
•• Parents’ failure to discipline their children, including appropriate spankings, is setting those kids up to “destroy themselves”. You can count on this — if you allow a young child to get away with being rebellious to you, there is a strong likelihood that their rebellion will be grievously evident to you in their teen years. And much of the blame will go to the parents’ earlier, antibiblical permissiveness.
Proverbs 29:15, The Living Bible Scolding and spanking a child helps him to learn. Left to himself, he brings shame to his mother.
- •• Moms (and Dads), do you want to be ashamed of your children? Then just ignore scolding and spanking in their formative childhood years.
•• You’re the adult! Children are a blank slate and need parents to teach them how to act honorably and with good character. This takes time and effort, but it is 100% worth every hour, day, and year you invest in properly raising your children to be honest, respectful, obedient citizens. I am thankful that we applied biblical principles in raising our children. All four have turned out to be responsible and well-respected adults, all successfully and happily married and serving the Lord with their families, and all of them having continued in great relationships with us their parents.
Proverbs 22:15, KJV Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.
- •• Children are not born with godly character. In fact, foolishness is bound in their little hearts. Anyone who has ever watched a child throw a temper tantrum knows full well the truth of this verse. And may I add, appropriate to this topic, that the #1 best and immediate solution to a child’s temper tantrum is a good spanking. No “time-outs”, no trying to “distract” them. No! Just administer a good spanking immediately after each temper tantrum, and lo and behold, those tantrums will disappear to your amazement. “The rod of correction shall drive it far from him.”
Proverbs 23:13-14, The Message translation Don’t be afraid to correct your young ones; a spanking won’t kill them. A good spanking, in fact, might save them from something worse than death.
- •• Spankings, when needed, are therapeutic. They have a positive effect of “saving” the child from troubles their unrestrained conduct may bring them farther down the years.
•• A serious word of caution is in order here. Nothing I am saying here is in any way an encouragement of child abuse. There is a huge difference between a properly applied spanking, done by a loving parent, versus injurious child abuse. I recommend the former and deplore the latter. The laws of my home state (Oregon), at the time of this writing (2013), describe the allowable, “justifiable” physical force parents may use towards their children. I strongly advise you to study the current laws of the locality where you live and to act accordingly with godly wisdom.
- • 161.205 Use of physical force generally
The use of physical force upon another person that would otherwise constitute an offense is justifiable and not criminal under any of the following circumstances: (1) (a) A parent, guardian or other person entrusted with the care and supervision of a minor or an incompetent person may use reasonable physical force upon such minor or incompetent person when and to the extent the person reasonably believes it necessary to maintain discipline or to promote the welfare of the minor or incompetent person. (bold type is mine, to emphasize important points)
Proverbs 29:17, The Message translation Discipline your children; you’ll be glad you did — they’ll turn out delightful to live with.
- •• That’s what all of us who are parents desire — children who “turn out delightful to live with”. Parents of young children, I appeal to you from the bottom of my heart — love your children, train your children, and discipline them (including spankings) as needed. The subject of good parenting is far broader than just spanking. Far broader! But without corporal punishment as part of your parenting repertoire, the Bible says that you are setting your children up for eventual failure.
- • Don’t out of misguided motives “refuse to spank” (Proverbs 13:24, Ampl.) and therefore set your children up to “destroy themselves” (Proverbs 19:18, GNT) and “bring shame to [their] mother” (Proverbs 29:15, TLB).
• To the contrary, give your kids a biblical blend of love, training, and discipline (including spankings), and watch them turn out “delightful to live with”.
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©2013, 2015, James H. Feeney.
How to Raise Spoiled Children
and Future Juvenile Delinquents