Should I give my seven-year-old a spanking for getting an F on his report card?


Yesterday my seven-year-old son came home from school with an F, on his report card. I told him the last time if he gets another F, I was going to get a spanking. Is that the right thing to do?


When I received this note (what you are seeing is a severely edited version), I immediately marked it down as a lie. There were many details which were just plain wrong, such as a seven-year-old (first-grade student) in school in the middle of July. "But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death" (Revelation 21:8). I was puzzled, though, by the motivation. Was this person just getting kicks from sending lies to preachers? Are they a part of the anti-spanking crowd seeking ammunition against spanking by giving a ridiculous scenario? Or, could they be mentally unstable people who get their jollies from reading about spanking?

Who knows? However, I did decide to use a small section to talk about the issue of proper or just punishment. Spanking is recommended in the Scriptures as one of several avenues available to a parent to correct misbehavior. If you read through the passages listed in the Notes on Spanking, you will note that the type of behavior being corrected is described as:

  • Stubborn and rebellious (Deuteronomy 21:8) - refusing to change, disobedient, bitter, provocative
  • Devoid of understanding (Proverbs 10:13) - acting without reason or heartless
  • Him who forsakes the way (Proverbs 15:10)
  • A fool (Proverbs 17:10) - Literally means "fat," indicating a person who is lazy and uncaring
  • Destructive (Proverbs 19:18)
  • A scoffer (Proverbs 19:25) - A person who mocks others. Someone who refuses to believe despite adequate evidence.
  • An evil heart (Proverbs 20:30)

Thus I have always recommended that spankings be reserved for cases of violence, willful rebellion, or where there are no other obvious means of punishing available for that particular disobedience. Spanking, by itself, is a deterrent, but it is insufficient to change a child's behavior. "The rod and rebuke give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother" (Proverbs 29:15). Spanking must be accompanied by rebukes -- corrective teaching. It is not enough for a child to know that something is wrong. He must also be told what is right and how to achieve what is right.

The case described is a perfect illustration of how to be a foolish parent. A small child is told "not to get an F," no mention is made about why the first failing grade was received or what steps were taken to remove distractions or give aid so that an F need not be earned. The entire focus was on the punishment and not the misbehavior that needed to be remedied.

Receiving a poor grade means a child needs to be taught how to learn. Spanking in this particular case accomplishes absolutely nothing.


Excuse me, these are not lies; I can tell you that. Oh and the thing I sent in about my son in school and stuff, that was true because he goes to summer school, and don't even say otherwise. They do grade him according to his work in summer school. and the thing about my friend, Jessica, [not posted] really did happen, OKAY? So don't even go there, you don't even know what [profanity deleted] is a  lie and what isn't! YOU GOT THAT? So he did go to school in the middle of July because he went to summer school. Anything else?


Thank you for confirming the insincerity of your questions. The lie in your last note [never posted because it was obviously contrived], by the way, was two-part:

  1. pretending that a past event recently took place,
  2. asking whether it could happen to you as if you were a child when you were an adult.

I've already pointed out the flaws in your prior note, but for completeness, your note came on July 15th, which even for summer school students comes at the beginning of the second half of the summer term; report cards are not sent out until the end of summer. Add to that my extreme skepticism that a first-grader would need to attend summer school due to a prior failure -- unless both parents are working and using summer school as a babysitting service, but then it would indicate parents who are not strongly involved in the rearing of their child. Such a parent would be ignoring their child and not spanking their child in an abusive fashion as you claimed to have done with your husband [that section was deleted before posting], especially for getting an "F." As I said, your note struck me as "wrong" and whether I pinpointed the exact section that was wrong doesn't matter.

I think what you are really upset about is that I'm not giving you ammunition in your campaign against spanking. You can't stand the fact that parents can both spank and be reasonable at the same time. As typically happens when a person is caught, you turn against the person pointing out your flaws, and as often happens you have become profane. I hope that one day you will give up your sinful ways and follow Christ.


That is not true. All I wanted to know is if it could happen? I never said anything else about a campaign or something like that. I am nowhere near upset because you wouldn't give me ammunition or something like that, but I would like to tell you something. If you don't listen to me and refuse to give me answers to that, then I will deal with it, but what I cannot deal with is that you think I am a liar. There is only one thing I lied about and I think we both know what it is (now don't we) so either you email me back and tell me why I am not getting the information I should be getting from a priest, (or whatever) or you go on and do your little thing and pretend that you know when someone is lying and be like that. It is not my choice, it is yours. So deal with THAT!


The problem is that you haven't been honest in your questions. I'm perfectly happy to help people deal with problems and find solutions based on the Scriptures, but when a person erects a false front then it is impossible for me to give a good answer. I stated that your notes weren't sincere and you have twice indicated that they did contain some falsehoods, though somehow you have convinced yourself that you are not guilty of lying.

If you wish to ask a direct, forthright question to which you would like a biblical answer, I'll be happy to respond. But this hidden agenda thing is just not worth my time.

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