I saw a meme on facebook recently, and I wonder if those who like it have thought it through. The meme says this:
I’m afraid of a world run by adults who were never spanked as kids and got trophies just for participating.
How do you feel after reading that quote? Do you think it’s true? Do you feel connected to others who agree with that sentiment and feel like cheering “Amen!” along with the crowd? Or do you feel saddened, wondering how people can think violence is the solution to help raise our children into healthy adults? (Or perhaps you, like me, are scratching your head and wondering why two such seemingly disparate ideas–not-spanking and giving trophies for participation–are being coupled together!)
If you don’t spank your children, seeing that others feel scared of a world run by children who weren’t spanked, do you feel convicted and think, “Wow, maybe I need to start spanking!” Or do you feel upset that so many are judging you and your children? Or maybe you yourself weren’t spanked as a child. Maybe you received a trophy or medal for participation (*gasp*). Do you feel offended that others are scared of a world run by people like YOU?
Do you feel anxious as you picture a world run by adults who were never spanked as kids? Or perhaps, looking at the world we live in today, you feel hopeful at the idea of a world run by adults who weren’t spanked as kids, but are saddened because you fear that there is a long way to go before we get there.
If you don’t agree with that meme, maybe you can’t get over how illogical the statement sounds. It certainly makes a lot of assumptions. Maybe you think it’s narrow-minded and simplistic. It sure has its basis in stereotypes and lays a huge amount of blame for the troubles of the world on families where children aren’t spanked (just think of the huge variances involved in such families) and in which children are given trophies for participation.
I wonder if some blame shifting might be at play here. If we look down on other families, the way they raise their children, and the type of adults we fear will be the end result, do others who spank their children feel better about themselves and their children and feel assured that they aren’t adding to the “scariness” of our future world?
Maybe you wonder, what exactly is that meme saying? It raises a lot of questions in my mind. I wonder does it mean that those who agree with it think spanking is the main determining factor in how a child turns out (and where do trophies come into this)? Should we judge others on the basis on how their parents raised them? Do those who agree with that statement believe there is no hope for a child raised without spanking?
The biggest question raised in my mind is where is gospel, and where is mercy and grace in all of this?
Trophies for participation or not–and I know I personally was pretty elated at the medal I received for the triathlon I completed this past summer. Spanking or not. . . . these things do not define good parenting. A good parent might or might not spank their children, and a bad parent might or might not spank them. There are so many variables that I can barely begin to scratch the surface.
Spanking can look as different in different families as apples are from. . . . , oh, I don’t know, how about mangoes. Sometimes a parent slips up and spanks and then humbly apologizes and makes amends. Sometimes parents have many discipline tools in their toolbox, and only use spanking as a last resort. Some parents spank when their child does something annoying or embarrassing, while others save it for what they term “direct disobedience.” Some save it exclusively for “danger situations.” Some do it in anger because they snap and feel out of control. Others recoil in horror at the idea of doing it in anger and use a very carefully predetermined formula which a parenting “expert” has told them is the “right” or “Biblical” way to do it. Some children are more naturally compliant and only need a “look” for their parent to gain compliance, and some are more strong-willed and don’t follow along so easily.
When a bunch of parents rally around in support of spanking it’s concerning because, for one thing, spanking is hitting, it’s violence, and it’s never the right solution to help teach and meet our children’s needs. It breaks connection and relationship with our children rather than building it up. Also, though, seeing parents rally around in support of spanking is concerning because of the immense amount of possible variables involved: what you mean by spanking could be at complete odds with what another parent means by spanking. They could be so different from each other that you would be heartbroken if you were to hear what they mean by it.
Above I asked the question “where is the gospel, and where is the grace and mercy in all of this?” Parenting a certain way does not save our children. The way we choose to parent is important, no doubt about it, but it doesn’t nullify the fact that Jesus saves, not a parenting method: spanking (or not spanking) doesn’t save, our parenting doesn’t save. And thank goodness, because we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and even if we tried to be as good as we could be, we could never save ourselves. We are only saved by God’s grace. It’s the same way with parenting. We could be the very best parent in the whole world, but we still would fall short, we still would make mistakes, and we still would need to rely on God’s grace to save our children.
Just as God extends mercy and grace to us, I believe we should extend it to our children. Jesus paid for our sins, not only for my sins, but for my children’s sins, too. He took the punishment for their sins, and I don’t need to punish them further.
My kiddos have all made a profession of faith, have been baptized, and take communion at church each week. Are you who are Christians who say that you are scared of a world run by adults who weren’t spanked saying that this doesn’t matter? You know it does matter. Whether you agree with the way I parent my children or not, how could you say you are scared of a world run by children like mine? My children are empathetic and caring, creative, they are great thinkers, they love animals, they care for God’s creation. They are not perfect, but I dare say that you are no better than they are. We all are in need of God’s grace, living together in this world He has made. If you are a Christian reading this, you, as do myself, my husband, and my children desire to bring glory to God, and why can we not work together rather than tearing one another down. I’m not scared of a world run by your children, even if you spank, because I believe deeply in God’s grace, and I hope you will learn not to be scared of a world run by children like mine.