I am the mother of eight children and am regularly complimented on the behavior of my kids. Recently, I’ve thought a lot about this issue of spanking and how some people (the media, in particular) completely skew what it means to “train up a child.”

“Mom, do you want me to take the baby?” “Dad, I made your coffee.” “Mom, I’ll get the younger kids’ lunch.” “Dad, we cleaned your car.” “Mom, I made you some lemonade.”

All the above quotes are things I hear every day. My children are obedient. Yes, my children are spanked when needed. And no, my children are NOT abused. Rather, because they are lovingly corrected, they love to serve their father and me. It is a real blessing to us, and others always notice. I will never understand what makes a person harm or abuse a child. It is a sad reality that has been around for centuries. It is my opinion that when a parent doesn’t spank his child for wrong behavior or attitudes, he is loving himself more than his child. I don’t like spanking my kids. I’d much prefer to play, smile, and have fun, but I’ve found when I allow a bad attitude, ugliness toward a sibling, or disobedience of any kind to continue, the behavior only gets worse. A spanking administered correctly brings relief to a child. I never cease to marvel at this reality. Nevertheless, I am tempted, as any parent, I’m sure, to skip the spanking in hopes that a verbal rebuke will suffice. While sometimes this might be enough (or an alternative such as loss of privileges), often it is not.

I’ll show you what I mean. I have several boys, and occasionally an older brother entertains himself at a younger sibling’s expense. I call that bullying. I find myself saying, “Stop that. You know better.” or “You wouldn’t want someone to do that to you.” Recently, one of my boys was having a particularly good time teasing his younger brothers. I remember thinking, even saying, “I need to spank him soon.” Instead, I said, “Be nice” or something similar. After several days of this, I finally did what I knew I should have done sooner, all the while shaking my head at my unwillingness to inconvenience myself. Spanking is not fun for me. But that spanking instantly resulted in sweet relief for all concerned. My bully son was suddenly thoughtful, playing with his younger brothers instead of mistreating them. He was helpful to me, serving me and his siblings. It was as if his guilty conscience was saying, “Thank you for finally spanking me. I feel better now.” On his own, he just couldn’t stop being mean to his little brothers, and it left him unhappy with himself.

The spanking gave him the extra motivation he needed to act as he knew he ought, and it resulted in him liking himself better. This same scenario plays out over and over in my home, and it always makes me smile. They get off track and I lovingly guide them back on.

On his own, he just couldn’t stop being mean to his little brothers, and it left him unhappy with himself.

I know that some who are opposed to spanking would say our kids obey because they are afraid of the rod or afraid of their parents. To that I say, yes and no. They are not afraid of us in the way you suppose. They do not cower in fear, worried their transgressions will bring them severe pain, just as I do not cower and tremble when I see a police officer on the side of the road. I do, however, have a certain amount of “fear,” which I would equate to respect for that officer, remembering the “pain” of previous speeding tickets. Thus, I maintain my speed within the posted limits. Likewise, my kids are constrained to stay within our limits. But it doesn’t stop there; they genuinely want to please us. And I so enjoy a glass of lemonade!

On the flip side, when I don’t spank and instead attempt to talk them out of a misdeed, they are grumpy and almost mad or unhappy with me! A strange phenomenon indeed. So while I don’t enjoy giving spankings, I will continue to do it because I heartily enjoy the results it yields.

“But the salvation of the righteous is of the LORD: he is their strength in the time of trouble” (Psalm 37:39).