Yes, we’ve discussed it previously, last year. Still, it’s a topic that is sometimes on my mind, as I try to raise three kids with a minimal loss of sanity for everyone involved: To spank, or not to spank; and if to spank, how?
So, let me toss out a few questions that I’m currently mulling over:
1. Is a universal model really possible? Is it ever appropriate to say “never spank” or “always spank”? Or is each child and each child-parent relationship sufficiently different that it’s futile to say “you should always do X”? (Also, how much can be determined from anecdotal evidence?).
2. For non-spanking advocates — how does one discipline children? (Bear in mind the constraints of limited time, limited patience, other siblings demanding resources, etc.) Is there ever a time when spanking is appropriate? How can that be determined?
3. For spanking advocates — how do you draw the line between spanking and abuse? Are there hard-and-fast rules? Is it “I know it when I see it”?
3a. What happens when one person’s legitimate spanking is another person’s abuse? Do you call the bishop / police / social services when you see a neighbor or friend spank a child with a hand? With a belt?
4. Is it better or worse to spank children, as compared to taking them to a doctor who prescribes all manner of drugs for them? Which is worse, if both are bad — the spanked child or the Prozacced child?
5. How do we incorporate various gospel teachings into our understanding of the discussion? What does “spare the rod, spoil the child” mean? What is “unrighteous dominion”? How much weight, if any, should we give to any denunciation or lack of denunciation by church leaders?
6. What exactly does the social science say, if anyone knows? I hear masses of conflicting claims from different people; they can’t all be right. Citations to specific sources, if available, are appreciated.