Spank­ing is re­spon­si­ble dis­ci­pline for un­ruly chil­dren

The Covington News - - RELIGION -

Ques­tion: I have never spanked my 3-year-old be­cause I am afraid it will teach her to hit oth­ers and be a vi­o­lent per­son. Do you think I am wrong?

Dob­son: You have asked an im­por­tant ques­tion that re­flects a com­mon mis­un­der­stand­ing about child man­age­ment. First, let me em­pha­size that it is pos­si­ble— even easy— to cre­ate a vi­o­lent and ag­gres­sive child who has ob­served this be­hav­ior at home. If he is rou­tinely beaten by hos­tile, volatile par­ents, or if he wit­nesses phys­i­cal vi­o­lence be­tween an­gry adults, or if he feels unloved and un­ap­pre­ci­ated within his fam­ily, that child will not fail to no­tice how the game is played. Thus, cor­po­ral pun­ish­ment that is not ad­min­is­tered ac­cord­ing to care­fully thoughtout guide­lines is a risky thing.

Be­ing a par­ent car­ries no right to slap and in­tim­i­date a child be­cause you had a bad day or are in a lousy mood. It is this kind of un­just dis­ci­pline that causes some well-mean­ing au­thor­i­ties to re­ject cor­po­ral pun­ish­ment as a method of dis­ci­pline.

Just be­cause a tech­nique is used wrongly, how­ever, is no rea­son to re­ject it al­to­gether. Many chil­dren des­per­ately need this res­o­lu­tion to their dis­obe­di­ence. In those sit­u­a­tions when the child, aged 2 to 10, fully un­der­stands what he is be­ing asked to do but re­fuses to yield to adult lead­er­ship, an ap­pro­pri­ate spank­ing is the short­est and most ef­fec­tive route to an at­ti­tude adjustment. When he low­ers his head, clenches his fists and makes it clear he is go­ing for broke, jus­tice must speak swiftly and elo­quently.

Not only does this re­sponse not cre­ate ag­gres­sion in a boy or girl, it helps them con­trol their im­pulses and live in har­mony with var­i­ous forms of benev­o­lent author­ity through­out life. Many peo­ple dis­agree, of course. I can only tell you that there is not a sin­gle wellde­signed sci­en­tific study that con­firms the hy­poth­e­sis that spank­ing by a lov­ing par­ent breeds vi­o­lence in chil­dren.

Ques­tion: We hear a great deal th­ese days about the demise of the nu­clear fam­ily. Do you think th­ese re­ports are ex­ag­ger­ated?

Dob­son: Un­for­tu­nately, no. I’m con­vinced that the threat we’re fac­ing in the area of fam­ily break­down is very real. It’s a trend that in­volves a huge num­ber of peo­ple in the United States and around the world, and their ranks are grow­ing ex­po­nen­tially.

Ac­cord­ing to the cen­sus fig­ures re­leased in May 2001, the nu­clear fam­ily has con­tin­ued its down­ward spi­ral that be­gan in the early ’70s. In­deed, it is now in an un­fet­tered free fall.

Our lo­cal news­pa­per in Colorado Springs, The Gazette, shouted the news in 72-point type: “Nu­clear Fam­ily Fad­ing.” The Bos­ton Her­ald, in a col­umn writ­ten by Don Feder, car­ried the head­line “Nu­clear Fam­ily in Melt­down.” Al­lan Carl­son of the Howard Cen­ter for Fam­ily, Re­li­gion and So­ci­ety said, “We are mov­ing to­ward a post-fam­ily so­ci­ety.”

Sadly and omi­nously, th­ese as­sess­ments are true. This Godor­dained in­sti­tu­tion, which has pre­vailed in al­most ev­ery cul­ture on Earth for more than 5,000 years, is un­rav­el­ing right in front of our eyes.

Here are some of the most dis­turb­ing find­ings from the re­port: House­holds headed by un­mar­ried part­ners grew by al­most 72 per­cent dur­ing the past decade, most of them in­volv­ing peo­ple liv­ing to­gether out of wed­lock. House­holds headed by sin­gle moth­ers in­creased by more than 25 per­cent, and those led by sin­gle fa­thers grew by al­most 62 per­cent.

For the first time ever, nu­clear fam­i­lies dropped be­low 25 per­cent of house­holds. A third of all ba­bies were born to un­mar­ried women (33 per­cent), com­pared to only 3.8 per­cent in 1940. From other stud­ies we know that co­hab­i­ta­tion has in­creased by 1,000 per­cent since 1960. We are also see­ing a grow­ing num­ber of un­mar­ried women in their 20s and 30s who, like ac­tress Jodie Fos­ter, are choos­ing to bear and raise chil­dren alone. Clearly, there is gen­uine cause for alarm where the wel­fare of the tra­di­tional nu­clear fam­ily is con­cerned.

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