How do you get over the embarrassment of spanking a teenager?


I'm glad I came across your website and read so many things from other dads of older boys. I'm a single dad of a 13-year-old boy. I've been needing to spank him for his improper attitude, but I have been very afraid to. Mostly because I'm uptight about male nudity, but I realize that spanking him with jeans on won't be effective. Do you have any advice on how I can begin?  Any help would be appreciated.


The verses in the Bible dealing with spanking do not mention the attire of the one being spanked. See "Notes on Spanking" for a list of these verses. There is no requirement to bare a boy's bottom in order to give him a spanking.

What I have mentioned in the past is that jeans make the sting of a rod far less painful, thus a parent ends up compensating by delivering more blows and harder blows to accomplish the same end. Sometimes a parent will comment "I've tried spanking, but he just laughs it off as if it didn't hurt." In such cases, I have pointed out what should be obvious, swats on an uncovered rear-end will be more effective. A completely bare bottom is not necessary. Spanking over underwear will be almost as effective as on unprotected skin. If such bothers you, have your son change into a pair of lightweight shorts or pants.

How do you start? First, define for yourself and your son what is going to be done for bad behavior. Spanking is not the only option for a parent. I recommend that different methods be used as appropriate for the crime. Like most things in life, one method is not the most effective in all cases. See "Notes on Disciplining Children" for a list of ways discipline can be accomplished. It is my recommendation that spanking be reserved for acts of willful or purposeful disobedience, cases where other forms of punishment just don't fit the crime, or as an alternative to another form of punishment where the teenager is allowed to choose which punishment they want. For example, if a boy puts a hole in the wall out of frustration with his girlfriend, you certainly could spank him, but it won't be nearly as effective as having to purchase the repair materials out of his own pocket, performing the repairs, and being banned from talking to his girlfriend for two weeks. The latter gets its effectiveness from being closely tied to the problem and its cause.

Too often parents select spanking because it is quick. I also suspect that parents prefer it because it allows them to vent their personal anger. When such is the case, they are approaching discipline for entirely the wrong reason. Children need discipline to correct bad behavior, not because they have annoyed mom or dad. Personal vengeance is forbidden (Romans 12:19). A Christian is not to use evil (personal vengeance) as a reason to punish wrongdoing (Romans 12:17). As hard as it is, a parent's personal frustration should not factor into when or how a child is punished. Parents should have a goal in mind for the behavior of their children. They should have rules that define proper behavior. Punishment is then used when those rules are broken to steer a child back onto the proper course.

If spanking is deemed necessary, find a small branch of a tree or bush about 18 to 24 inches long. It should be about the size of your little finger. Make sure it is not so stiff that it would shatter during use, but it shouldn't be so flexible that the end will bend and whip the child. You will probably have to whittle any knots, twigs, and leaves from the rod so that it is smooth. The act of getting a switch will give you a chance to personally calm down and examine the situation objectively. It also increases the dread on the child's part knowing that his punishment is forthcoming.

Have the boy bend over your lap or a neutral object. This tightens the bottom muscles and has the boy place himself in a position of submission (giving an emphasis on humility in counter to the willfulness he may have earlier displayed). Place one hand or arm in the small of his back and use the other arm to switch his bottom with the rod. The hand in the small of the back will prevent him from jumping up. A switch, or rod, stings a surprising amount; you will not have to use large swings or a lot of muscle. As for the number of swats, ten seems to be a good average number for a teenager.

If this still seems difficult, you might be able to find an experienced Christian male in your area, perhaps in your congregation, who can show you how it is done the next time your son is in need of a spanking. Most states permit spankings of the type I have outlined by a parent, guardian, or by a person designated responsible for the care of a child (even on a temporary basis). At times children get the idea that they can prevent a spanking by threatening to turn a parent into the police or child protective services. I suspect the idea comes about because a few states specifically forbid school teachers from using corporal punishment, but this doesn't apply to everyone. You might run into a social worker who is either unfamiliar with state law or is an anti-spanking zealot. However, the vast majority understand that moderate spankings, as I just described, are legally allowable. See "United States Statutes Pertaining to Spanking" for a brief listing of these laws.

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