The Other Side: An open letter to the anti-smacking community


I smack my children as a form of discipline.

Generally though, I am not in the habit of publically promoting the use of smacking or spanking when dealing with children. I am voicing my thoughts now simply because I am tired of a one-sided view, an un-equal debate and the growing sense that parents who smack should not publically admit the fact.

I am tired of the slew of blogs, quotes and Facebook likes and shares of pictures, depicting a small child, with fear clear on her face, writhing from the clutches of a mother whose arm is raised in full-swing ready for a beat down. She has malice and violence in her countenance. With slogans like ‘abuse’ and ‘violence’ attached.

I smack my children.
I am not that mother.

I am tired of smacking being referred to as ‘beating’. I heard a friend refer to a mutual acquaintance recently as being a strict parent… someone who has rules and if the kids doesn’t obey then you belt em and belt em until they submit.

I smack my children. I smack them more than once in given situations.
I am not that parent.

I have heard the argument that “spare the rod & spoil the child” is the Biblical foundation for physical punishment as discipline, that this proverb is the only leg us ’child-beaters’ stand on.
I do not subscribe to this view. I do not smack because I view this verse as a biblical command to physical intervention in behaviour.
Firstly, the proverb should not be taken literally, since in obvious translation it would require physical discipline by the use of a ‘rod’ or stick. In this instance, the proverb is saying that sparing a child from consistent discipline (however it is administered) will lead to a child without boundaries or a ‘spoilt’ child.
The verse is advocating the use of discipline in parenting.
So why do I choose to use physical punishment?

The Bible is clear in my responsibility as a parent.  One of the responsibilities as a parent is guiding your child in character, which leads to behaviour. I need my children to understand the consequences of their behaviour, I would like them to grieve their sins and I try to place the weight of their decision upon their shoulders.
Sometimes this is achieved through conversation- shedding light on the ramifications of their actions. When my 6yr old consistently sharpened her pencils on the floor, I took her aside & explained how her inability to listen to me, to consider my request had hurt me. I told her that I felt hurt that she was leaving mess for me to clean up, disrespecting my role and hard work as homemaker. She understood, I could tell she was sorry, I could tell the lesson was learnt.

Sometimes it is time-out, the loss of a privilege or something is taken away. Sometimes it is a smack. When my 4 yr. old goes out of boundaries, I call her back and remind her. When it happens again, I will smack her. Why? Because I need her to listen and respect my rules and boundaries. I need to her to learn that it is not ok to disregard them because it will have consequences.
Can she understand that the consequence may be the neighbour’s dog? The cars on the side-road? The snakes in the long grass? No, although we have discussed it, it is beyond her momentary reasoning to understand. She knows not to go out of bounds because Mum will see & she will get a smack.

SMACKING IN EXCLUSION
Now, I am not blind. I know there are other forms of discipline. Very good ones.
I use lots of different forms depending on situation. I note the impact of discipline in my children and order our lives respectfully. With my 4yr old you have to be very careful about explaining the impact of her behaviour on others – she will hold onto such guilt it is heartbreaking. I need a form of punishment with her that does not burden her unjustly.

I resent the general implication that because I smack my children I am an un-thinking and un-creative parent. That I am mindlessly hitting my children when they do not fall into my imaginary line.

SMACKING IN ANGER
I can get angry at the behaviour displayed by my children at times… but anger does not have an active role in my parenting. I am committed to not yelling at my kids. I do not speak in haste, especially when hurt or angry. I am committed to an endeavour not to speak words which will scar little hearts entrusted to me. I will never speak to my children about a lack of moral character, degrade their importance or I pray, give them reason to think I am disappointed with their part in my family.
If I am careful with words, does it not also follow that I would be careful with my hands?
If my children required any discipline, they are told as much. If I need, they are sent to time-out whereby I can take time for self-control. I never smack (or discipline) without explanation. I never smack without restoration and I am confident that my children are not in fear of me, my temper or unsure of my reaction.

I do not smack in anger and I resent the general implication that smacking is for my benefit, my pleasure or as a result of my emotions.

SMACKING FOR BLIND OBEDIENCE
There are specific behaviours that, in my house, call for smacking. And yes, one is disobedience.
If there is wilful and defiant disobedience from my child, they are punished.
Obedience seems to be perceived as a negative quality in a child these days? That somehow obedience as a character trait is evident of a broken spirit, a crushed imagination, of forced inferiority or regime-style parenting.
I don’t get this, for one; Ephesians 6:1-4 and also….Christ calls us to trust and obey. I do not obey my Saviour and God out of blind fear. I do not obey as a mindless robot, from a broken and crushed spirit.

Obedience in my children is not blind.
I explain to them the reasons behind my rules, the need for my boundaries and the reasoning for my decisions as a parent. My 2yr old is entitled to ask me ‘why’ when I set a rule. I allow it. There are no rules for which there are no reasons. Some are simple, (don’t touch the stove, it will burn you) some are because I, as their parent, am uncomfortable with it (No we won’t listen to this song on the radio, I don’t think it is suitable for you to hear).

Do I also require obedience at my word – yes.
I need to know that if I call stop to any of my children, at any age. They will know to hear me, to listen and to obey with immediacy… because they respect my authority, my position and right to command their halt.
It may have just saved their straying onto a busy street, or getting lost in a shopping centre.
It may have just saved them from playing with scissors left out by a sibling.

I do not smack my children to instil fear into them, enabling blind obedience of my command. I resent the implication that I am a source of fear or terror in any of my children or that my desire to see obedience and respect from them is tyrannical lust for power and superiority.

SMACKING IS ABUSE
I smack my children. I do not use it as my main form of punishment, nor do I think it is a last resort.
I do smack to hurt them, why else bother?
I hurt them to teach them a lesson, to protect them from greater harm and to punish grievous and intolerable behaviour.
I do not smack for my own pleasure or a personal desire to inflict pain.
I do not smack to vent, out of frustration or thoughtlessness.
I do not smack because ‘I survived being smacked and a couple won’t harm em’ – because I have never thought of doing anything else or considered/researched forms of discipline.
I do not smack to ‘put them in their place’, to demean, demoralise or instil fear.
I do not think, in any situation, I have abused my children through discipline.

The case is argued, isn’t the right to physical safety something a child deserves? Yes.

They have the right to safe boundaries. They have the right to expect respectful and safe treatment from their siblings. They have the right to live in a household where they have no fear of physical abuse. My children do not fear me. At times, they mourn the need for punishment and I have seen them mourn physical and non-physical punishment with equality.
I provide these to my children through resourceful parenting, through techniques and strategies.
One of which is smacking.

So yes, in response to the trend of anti-smacking propaganda that is flooding the parenting circles, yes I smack my children.
But I resent the implication that I do not discipline my children with grace.
I resent the insinuation that I do not teach my children with compassion.
I resent the intimidation of words like, abuse, threats of lower IQs and warped personailities.

I resent the intonation that I have authority without love, method without thoughtfulness, boundaries without imagination, respect without relationship, obedience without trust and parenting without overwhelming love.

Such exaggerated and degrading portrayals of the parent who smacks… it hurts me.
Please consider that.

to sit or to stand?


To sit or to stand… No really…. that is a genuine question.

Me? I am shrugging my shoulders.

Like literally, I am shrugging my shoulders and mumbling ‘mmm’i-dunno” in a flashback to the communication of my teens.
Because I don’t know what to do or think.

My (nearly) 5year old, Evie came home from her kindergarten class, and exclaimed “oh my God” at the traffic on the road. I did not crash the car.. but breathed in & asked her who taught her this phrase. She told me that ALL the kids say it at Kinder. And it’s not naughty, cos so do the teachers.

Initially, we dealt with it by a simple conversation about how not-to disrespect the creator of the universe and left it be. To keep an eye on.

But then hubby and I were talking about how she is still going to be desensitized to these sayings. How she is not offended and is learning in our society, not to be. She is in danger of taking – the taking of the LORD’s name – lightly.
But what should we do?

I’ve spoken to her teachers, and asked if they could be mindful of teaching her about things like ‘good luck’, ‘bad luck’ and ‘karma’. Things that have been adopted as normal by our Godless society.
How far do I take it?

I drafted a letter, using the situation of Evie’s new phrase, to tell the parents of her class – that we are bible-believing christians. That these phrases are serious and offensive to our faith and the world’s God, and I asked them sympathise and have a conversation with their kids encouraging them to refrain from offensive terms.
Hubby looked over it and said he thought it was a good letter – well written (why… shucks.. thanks) but he had some genuine questions. I list them in his words as best I can; 

Is this something we should make a deal out of?
Should we take the stand – that perhaps causes offense to some parents? 
Should we be making this issue not a behaviour issue – but a faith issue?
Are WE coming across as religious fruitcakes – rather than letting it be the gospel which is confronting?
And if we are willing to say yes to the above questions.. is this the hill we want to die on? (I had never personally heard this phrase and got sidetracked over it for a minute or two) It means, is this even the issue worth making it all this fuss over?

This is my hubby. He is wise and smart and biblical & he is questioning me.
So now I don’t know….

Am I that fruitcake mum? Who HAS to have a conversation about Jesus with her daughter whenever she is exposed to a different worldview? I have been teased for being so in the past.
I see every conversation as a chance to get theological… am I going into overkill? Is there overkill?
I started this thought process, thinking that I do not want my children to see these phrases as ‘lesser’ swear words. I don’t want them so influenced by society that the name of the God does not register when taken in vain.
I was thinking that this is the name of my God that is taken so lightly.
That this is something I could do, to say to the parents of Evie’s kinder…
“here is a family that follows Jesus”
“We are salt and light  – to flavour you and shine on you – not the other way round.”

I wanted to make a stand, for all the times I never make a sound…

And the name of the Lord God seemed a really good place to stand on?

Now I don’t know.
Do you?

No really, I’m asking.

Spiderman Undies & the Wrath of God


I live in very close proximity to my neighbours.
Like close… we share a backyard and if one of my kids opens the bathroom door while i am on the toilet. I can see right through their laundry window and into their lounge room.
Good morning Neighbourino’s.
I need to drink more water.

My neighbours have children the same age as mine. They play outside often. Often the girls congregate at my steps to play, chat and generally make their presence known. I pick up snippets of conversation as I carry on about my day. (not sitting on the lounge eating ice cream and watching oprah…whaat?)
You know, I bustle about with my general cleaning, mopping, ironing, baking and other domestic bliss things.

Once i heard them talking and my 4yr old pips up and says excitedly,
My dad LOVES spiderman! he has spiderman knickers Mumma got him!
Too much info, I make a mental note to laugh later at the mention of my hub wearing ‘knickers’. I am about to go have a word with them about appropriate conversation topics when I am cut short by Tash, our neighbour’s daughter,
MY DAD likes to tuck his shirt into his knickers.

Meh. Now we are even.

There was a time though, when the conversations between our daughters is tougher to deal with.
My child sent her friend home in tears once, having told her that her behaviour would make God angry. My neighbour comforts her daughter. She ensured her that God never gets angry. He never gets sad and we do not ever need to be scared of displeasing Him.

Something in my guts drop.
I disagree.

Every hour the girls spend together is locked in a battle.
My mum says God does get angry…
… my mum said He doesn’t
…yes He does!
No He doesn’t!…

I bring my debater inside, hoping the theological debates will fade into forgotten so they can play together again soon. Without battle.
I told her that she should not have told her friend that she was making God mad – rather encouraged her to do what was right. We talked about the importance and potency of our words.
It was a great chat – but she couldn’t let me go without wanting it in black and white.
does God get angry?
So I tell her that yes, our actions grieve our Great and Merciful God greatly. That his wrath is justified and that is the point of Grace.
I tell her that fearing God isn’t about being scared – but knowing that it is holiness and perfection that we are faced with. And knowing that that is a big deal.
so…. we are right and they are wrong?

that is what it is boiling down to?
What do I say to that?
My hub comes home to this mess that is tolerance, community living, unity in the body of christ… and the doctrine of grace explained to a 4yr old.
I heap my failing mess at his feet, o wise husband. Make everything ok. Glorify God our Father with what we teach our children… but don’t make the neighbours hate me!
What?! what do we tell her?
My Hub’s answer was profound and true.

“what does the Bible say?
If it is true and Biblical… we teach it to our children.
We impress it upon them
and live it by example.”

Oh.
That seems obvious enough. So why in the midst of it all… was I creating theology based in my life experience? Based on fitting in with my neighbours? Based on ‘what feels right’, ‘sounds right’ or ‘fits right’. Why was I explaining away the wrath of God, so I didn’t upset the neighbours. So we could let everyone win.

Why did I fling myself at the mercy of my husband’s human guidance, in total desperation and anxiety… when there was a shelf of the living, breathing… Word Of God… sitting there all the time?

the model parent


I am a list-maker.
I love a good list.
I even write things on the list that I have already done that day…just so as I can cross them off my list. I sit on my bed after my shower and gaze into my wardrobe. I’m thinking about what i will wear and in what order I will get dressed. I am all about having an action plan.. and theme music.

When you have a plan (and Eye of the Tiger playing in the background) then you OWN doing the dishes, you attack the pile of clothes and you are a force that all dust and dirt must be reckoned with.
I think maybe there should be more purpose in parenting.
A little bit more offense than defense.
A little bit more training and modelling than discipline and damage control.

What if you had goals for your children? Like, not just the general goals of, “you know, happy and healthy and stuff.” Not just thinking, well obviously I want them to be good kids. But what if you sat down and said….
Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-control.
What if, you assessed these fruits of the spirit in your own life – looked at how you model gentleness and self-control. What if there was purposeful training of your children in these things.
Wouldn’t that flow onto and into their behaviour?
Do I want my kids to not bully the kids next door, because they are not allowed to… or do I want them to have learned and seen kindness displayed in our family and our relationships?
Do I want them to not steal from the jar of marshmallows (It’s a pretty big jar…and i like the pink ones) because they are scared of getting caught? – or because they have self-control and goodness?

I definitely have rules and boundaries in my home for my children and there are consequences if they are broken. But more than well-behaved, I want my children rooted and sustained by scripture. There is purpose to my parenting that goes beyond surviving each day… especially those days.
There has to be graciousness in my parenting – which is hardest to do when it is most needed. There needs to be purpose.
I look at my 2yr old and see a need for kindness in her. So I pray for kindness in my own life, in my own day, that I can model and show it to her. I seek ways to encourage and train her in kindness.
I think that is the key to her being the kind of 2yr old that doesnt bully her neighbour anymore.
What goals do you want for your kids? What can you train them in this week?
Can you go a week without raising your voice in anger?
Do you model prayer and scripture to your children?
Can you show them appreciation and gratitude for all that they accomplish?
Do you show self-control over your temptations and cravings?

Are the prayers for your children  – visible in the life you are modelling for them?
I know that whenever I look at my children and think about their ‘training’ – I am always convicted of my ‘modelling’.

1question, 2answers, 4bowls of ice cream


There are 2 couples who love the Lord dearly.
They drop a couple of kids into the mix and an interest in the mission field.
Then a question is raised one evening, over ice cream.
Though we all finish our ice cream… the question is unanswered.
To the blog, I say, all hail the blog.

So – both parents agree totally that children are a gift from God.  We agree that they belong to God and that we as parents as just guardians over them, entrusting to raise them in Christ and to the glory of God.
No arguments there.
But what is responsible stewardship?
This question divided opinion & caused a night-long debate involving many bowls of ice cream, hot chocolate and the agreement to disagree.
The question was placed in this context –
Is it responsibility to move to an area or country that is considered persecuted or dangerous – deliberately at the risk of your children -to witness for Christ?

One answer was no.
It is not responsible Christian parenting.
God has entrusted us, as parents, to keep our children as healthy and safe as is in our power. We are to commit to raising them in truth and right Christian living, to witness to the world around us. But our responsibility as parents cannot allow us to endanger our children.
Why would God bless us with children if he planned a life of danger and persecution for us? If that was God’s intention for our lives – then we would (as the Apostle Paul did) remain single. To be free from the responsibilities of parenthood – to take the gospel to these places.
Yes – it would be wrong and disobedient to NOT go somewhere God commands you – but God would not command a parent to physically endanger their child. He would not give a gift of responsibility such as children – to then demand its misuse.
God would not command, or approve of parents who take their children to war zones, closed countries, tribal situations or any other physically precarious countries and situations – not even in attempt of His service.
That answer was a ‘no’

The other answer to that question is (obviously) yes.
God would command – and does command parents to follow Him, even into certain danger & persecution. In the bible, in the book of Matthew – Jesus says that if we love our families or our children more than him, then we are not worthy. If the welfare of our children is more important to us as parents, than the Glory of God and the proclamation of the gospel – then we are not worthy.
The bible says that it is God who gives, and God who takes away. It is God who knows every hair on our head and the number of days appointed to us – and to our kids. It is God who is sovereign over the countries of the West, of tribal countries, militant nations, impoverished nations and closed Islamic countries.
It is in God that we should put our hope and align our path. It is His commands that we should follow… and He commanded us to take the gospel to every tribe, to every tounge. He didn’t give free pass to Christians who are scared, to Christians who are married, to Christians who are reluctant or to parents who want to shield their children. He said that we should take up our cross… and follow.

Now, I know which side of this debate I was on.
I love, love LOVE my children and I want with all of my heart from them to be safe, for them to be happy and to grow in age, maturity and faith until they are old ladies and men. But more than I desire their happiness, I must obey my God. More than I desire their protection, I must proclaim Jesus Christ. More than I want them to grow old, I want them to grow in faith.
My beautiful children do not belong to me – they are Gods. He would have them live in persecution and danger for the sake of His name. I cannot deny God what does not belong to me.
I cannot – though I am so, so tempted.

Now, I am not saying that the only faithful parents are those living in ‘dangerous’ places. And I am not saying that we should all let our kids play out the front of our homes on the road – I am saying that I, as a mum, believe that God is king over my family. I believe that he has the lives of my precious ones in His hand and were they to be safe or were they to be killed – it is all in His control.
I believe ‘responsible parenting’ is to walk with my children & my God – though a minefield rather than to endeavour to keep them safe by my attempts – here in Australia.
All the eletrical plug protectors, seatbelts, helmet, rules and supervision in the world is no match for the sovereign providence of God in the midst of gunfire.

That is why I answer yes.

nappybag, i love you.


 

The problem with nappy bags (or diaper bags) – is that they are actually necessary. And it is this fact which makes them immensely dangerous to me. I have loved and lost many a nappy bag these past 4years.

First; they woo me.
Hanging in the shop, they say to me, “I am unbelievably useful and practical.” and “I am actually quite trendy and cool – you will be the coolest mum carrying me around.” or even sometimes – when I am a bit unsure, “You could just keep me for the pram, or the back of the car till we see if it will work out between us?”

Then, it becomes serious between us.

I take it to the next level and bring this new nappybag into my home, I introduce it to my kids, I make part it of my life. Sometimes this comes at the expense of the feelings of my previous nappy bag – sometimes – even, I bring home a new nappy bag a little on the sly. But then, inevitably, I wear an outfit or feel in a mood that nappy bag can’t live up to.
I get lazy and forget to pay nappy bag attention – i just grab a nappy and wipes and put them in my regular handbag.
I do this all without thinking of nappy bag’s feeling.
I don’t know what to tell you.
It’s me, nappy bag… it isn’t you.

Man, when I look back on the last 4 years, I have spent money on nappy bags that I didn’t need to spend. (my hubby coulda told you that at every interval in those 4years…but I’ll let it slide) It isn’t that I have a love of nappy bags in particular – though i do love bags. It is my materialistic side coming out into the open. Just because i can justify it under the heading of ‘needing’ a nappy bag.
It has got my thinking though, about the way I behave in front of my children. (well, my girls in particular i guess, 1 because they are girls and 2 because my son is 11weeks old – he notices nipple and poo… that’s about it!)

My 4year old in having stress attacks about wanting to wear a dress, she wants to look pretty, to get her hair done in just the way she wants it… she is stressing about all these very superficial things.

They are not abnormal behaviours for a 4year old girl, or so i am told?

But they are not really what I want my daughter to be focusing her attention on.
I don’t want her to judge her worth on her outwards appearance.
I don’t want her to judge her beauty on her outfit or accessories.
I don’t want her to value possession and looks in her friends and heroes.

How do I combat this trend in her?
Especially when she sees me valuing new possessions, when she sees me apparently having superficial ‘needs’. When she sees me fling wide the doors of my cupboard, sit down with a sigh and survey in dispair a wardrobe of ‘nothing to wear.’
I have gained weight since having kids, I swear that I have an extra bumcheek somewhere in my jeans, I have excess tummy that I could fold up and tuck into a nice pair of massive undies (you know the kind, that go all the way up – to try and smooth out the bulges) and I have boobs that I have to retrieve from my waistline to pile into my bra every morning – I agonize in front of the mirror when trying to get dressed, just like the next mum.

But is this the example I should be setting to my daughters? Can I combat superficiality, misguided self-confidence, materialism and worldly self-worth in my daughters- when I have modelled all of these traits not 5 minutes before?

There is a balance between taking pride in your appearance, looking nice and expressing your style – and the pitfall of ‘needing’ clothes and things that you really don’t need. I am wondering – where on the scale am I? Do I look for the approval of man – or God?

What kind of scale do I want for my daughters?

‘Style and accessories’? or ‘Fearfully and Wonderfully Made’?