Should we tell our children not to mention to other people that they get spanked?


I have greatly enjoyed all the information and insights that you share on this page. My husband and I are raising three sons. We use spanking as one of our disciplinary tools with the boys, especially for the 3 Ds - deliberate disobedience, disrespect, and dishonesty.

Recently one of my sons was in some mischief with a neighbor boy. Another neighbor told me and the other boy's mother what she had seen our two boys do. We confronted both boys together and they 'fessed up. She said that we wouldn't be seeing her son for a while because he would be grounded. I mentioned that my son would also be ground after he received a good paddling. I believe this admission startled her and she replied: "We don't believe in hitting." I let it go because I know not all parents approve of spanking.

After our sons were no longer grounded, my son was at her house. When he came home, he mentioned that she had asked whether he had been spanked. He said he had, then she asked him several more questions about the spanking and whether he and his brothers are spanked a lot. I gathered that the questions made him somewhat uncomfortable. More to the point, I don't believe this woman approves of spanking as a disciplinary tool and could perhaps be an anti-spanking zealot.

What do I tell my boys if she or anyone else asks if they are spanked at home? I don't want them to lie, but I'm also concerned about other people interfering with how my husband and I choose to raise our sons. For the record, we use a ping pong paddle or leather strap (for lying). We usually give two times the number of swats of their age, unless the seriousness of the offense might warrant more. We paddle in private unless the boys are being punished together and we use corner time for them to reflect after the paddling.

Spanking is one tool we use for discipline but not the only one. Still, I am concerned and would appreciate your advice.


I appreciate that you find this website useful. I can tell you have read it in detail since you are using many of my own phrases in your note.

There is no need to lie or ask your children to lie about the fact that they are spanked. Yes, there are people running around who try to use the government to enforce their personal opinions on other people. But what you should do is treat her questions the same as you would any other question that invades the privacy of your home. When you have to run down to the corner market for an essential item for tonight's supper, you tell the children not to let strangers into the home or to tell them that mom and dad are not home right now. Or, if someone calls not to say that you are gone. Instead, we tell them to politely ask, "They can't come to the phone right now. May I take a message so that they can call you back later?" The truth is told, but personal or private information is not divulged.

For the neighbor, it would have been best if your son had said, "I rather you talk to my mom about that if you are so interested." Let your boys know that not everyone has their best interest at heart, so it is best when they feel uncomfortable or suspicious to have the questioner see mom and dad for their answers. They don't have to answer every question asked of them by other people.

I disagree with the implements you use for spanking. The Bible only speaks of using a rod (or switch). See "Spanking" in the Topical Scripture Index. A leather strap, especially, can cause damage to a child's bottom. The point of spanking is to punish, not to inflict harm.

The setting of the number of strikes to twice a child's age is a bit too arbitrary. The severity of punishment, whether it is spanking, grounding, or something else, should be matched to the severity of the misbehavior. See "How do you gauge how many swats to give in a spanking?" and "How many swats is proper in a spanking?"

I also disagree with spanking for "disrespect." Not that I think children should be disrespectful or that we should allow disrespectful behavior to go unpunished, but I'm finding that the term is being misused. People will call just about anything "disrespect," such as a disagreement, a question, an attitude, or even personal frustration. Respect is what we give to people whom we see as deserving of respect. A parent doesn't gain a child's respect by forcing it on the child. A child freely gives respect to his parents because he admires them. "Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live?" (Hebrews 12:9). In this case, respect came as a result of a father's expectation of good behavior from his child. Though the punishment is unpleasant, we respect the fact that our parents are aiming for our ultimate good. The punishment did not force respect, respect was earned because a parent was willing to punish for the child's good.

Rather than using a catch-all, vague term that actually would require mind-reading to accurately gauge, stick to what can be known directly. Disobedience, rude behavior, violence, lies, and the like are specific things that can be accurately gauged and punished.

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