Disciplining Your Child

Many of us will remember Candace Cameron Bure from ABC’s Full House, where we affectionately knew her as “DJ Tanner.” Today Candace is a role model to young women everywhere, with a testimony of growing up in Hollywood, while growing in faith with God.

This month, Candace gets candid on the topic of spanking when a reader asks, “Why is it that Christian parents are taught to hurt their children when it’s clearly not what Jesus taught?”

Hi Candace, I have a question for you. What “discipline” technique do you employ or recommend? I too am a Christian. However, I am quite concerned that many people who want to follow Jesus’ teachings are misled. Jesus went against many of the practices that are laid out in the Old Testament. He was a pacifist. Why is it then that Christian parents are taught to hurt their children when it’s clearly not what Jesus taught?

The reason that I ask is because on Kirk’s site he promotes the book and videos of Shepherding a Child’s Heart, and your forum also talks about the book.

The book demands that the child be hit each time they do something that the parents object to, even when a baby cries about having their diaper changed!

Page 154 “Rebellion can be something as simple as an infant struggling against a diaper change or stiffening his body when you want him to sit on your lap. The discipline procedure is the same as laid out above. You have no way of knowing how much a child a year old or less can understand of what you say, but we do know that understanding comes long before the ability to articulate does….When our oldest child was approximately 8 months old….Obviously he was old enough to be disciplined.”

“Spanking” is a cutesy word for hitting. If an employer spanks his employee he would be arrested.

I respect you and wanted your insight–I couldn’t ask Kirk about it because he doesn’t have this type of forum.

First I would suggest that parents read Shepherding a Child’s Heart for themselves and come to their own conclusion. You pulled an excerpt that sounds misleading. When read in the context of the whole chapter—and the entire book—you would see that there is absolutely, without question, NO abuse. That excerpt was simply talking about our defiant nature—even as young as a baby. It DIDN’T go on to say they should be spanked for not wanting their diaper changed.

A spanking is NEVER done in anger or in rage. It is a loving correction done with explanation and prayer to simply teach a child right from wrong. And please understand that a spanking is not the first resort. When a child is asked to do something and defiantly refuses, it is then that they would be lovingly corrected. As small children, often a second asking is good—something like, “Sara, Mommy asked you to put your toy in the basket.” If not responded to again, then correction would be appropriate.

Do you ever have to teach your child to say, “NO! That’s MINE! Gimme!”? Of course not. That is the sin nature we are all born with—a selfish, defiant attitude. We have to teach our children to share, to be kind, and unselfish. The Bible fully supports “the rod of correction,” but again, never in abuse, anger or for a parent’s selfish reasons to control his children.

Jesus did not come against the teachings of the Old Testament, but He fulfilled the “Law,” and the practices that the law entailed. We must keep in mind that Jesus is the same God “Yesterday, today and forever.”

I discipline my children by spanking when the situation calls for it. Once a toddler is walking around and getting into things, a slap on the hand is one way they respond to correction. It shouldn’t hurt as much as be a surprise, and discomfort to them. This prepares them that the word NO comes with a consequence. Once my children were around 18 months old, and we knew that they could understand our instruction, they were spanked on the bottom if they disobeyed. As my children grow older, we find more creative ways to discipline, allowing the punishment to fit the crime. These types of disciplines are effective and biblical when done in love. It is the responsibility of all parents to teach and train their children

I sincerely hope you would read Shepherding a Child’s Heart in its entirety. The title is so appropriate, because it is a WONDERFUL book that in no way teaches us to abuse our children. It’s all about getting to the heart of the matter and guiding them to understanding Godly submission.

Of the 19 chapters in this book, only one is dedicated to “the rod” even explaining common objections.

I hope this has shed some light on my view.

P.S. I also read an interesting article that Dr. James Dobson wrote for Focus on the Family titled, “To Spank or Not to Spank.” In it He writes:

“Contrary to what you have read in popular literature, this firm but loving approach to child rearing will not harm a toddler or make him violent. To the contrary, it is most likely to produce a healthy, confident child.”

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