Escaping the corporal punishment mentality

Early in childhood I thought everyone spanked their kids. I was spanked for disobedience, laziness, backtalk, bad attitude. I was used to it. I was not spanked every day, probably several times in any given week. But with all the kids in my family, multiple spankings were given out every day in my home. When I was in charge I was taught to spank my siblings for disobedience, to maintain control.

When I was a “mothers helper” at age ten for a woman having a tough pregnancy, I watched her kids all day while she directed from the couch. Her seven year old son talked back at some point during the day and I remember his mother writing it down to tell his father. When his father got home from work he immediately escorted the disobedient child to a back room and administered the spanking, the blows and screams were audible from across the house. The child came out of the room wiping tears off his face and bragged to me that his dad had used his belt to spank him, and I never blinked.

All this to say, I was used to the corporal punishment model. We only fellowshiped with like-minded families, so most of the people we knew used spanking as well. And anyone who didn’t was usually portrayed in a negative light, “Look at how badly behaved their child is”, “It’s too bad they let their children rule their lives”. We all pitied the non-spanker’s, how sad that they had let the world undermine their parenting. Spanking was the Biblical way to discipline children, if you didn’t spank, everyone knew that your child would grow up unruly, ungodly and (worst of all!) disrespectful.

When I quit spanking a year ago, I felt so alone. Surely I was the only christian parent that didn’t spank. What if my kids grew up ungodly? What would everyone think of my parenting. At first I didn’t tell family members, but when I did I was met with skepticism. “It won’t work for long” they condescended, “maybe you can make it work when they are little, but what about when they are older?” or “you only have girls right now, eventually you’ll have a boy that “needs” to be spanked”. I was tempted to give up on the whole thing. On those early bad days where everything went wrong and I had no idea what to do, if I couldn’t spank, how was I supposed to maintain control? Time outs? Yelling? I didn’t want my kids to get used to pleading or bribing. Often I found myself banging my head against the wall in frustration, baffled.

When I started googling phrases like “I stopped spanking now what?” and “how to get good behavior without spanking”, I wasn’t too excited about the results. It’s amazing what bizarre stuff is out there. But over time I’ve collected a little arsenal of encouraging blogs and websites. It has been so exciting for me to find a “community” of parents who are raising their kids without spanking. I realize that my kids are young and there are lots more bumps in the road, but I feel equipped to face the challenge. Thank you to everyone who shared their favorite websites!

I’ve shared the books, and I promised to share the links, and here they are! Hope they help you as much as they’ve helped me.

Why consider non-spanking discipline choices?

Dr Sears on why not to spank

Website of stats, articles and history of spanking –

Testimonies from parents who have spanked

Catholic Dr and Father lists 10 reasons why he cannot spank

These websites refute the punitive discipline mindset and share stories and tips for the gentle discipline mindset. In my times of doubt I have found them inspiring. When looking for ideas on how to train I have found them very helpful:

Lists of specific problem behaviors and ideas on how to deal with them from Dr Sears.

Good counter-arguments against Michael Pearl and encouragement for raising kids.- nogreaterjoychildren

nogreaterjoychildren – Facebook Group

Blog series refuting “To train up a child” –

This site periodically links to blogs that have written on spanking/discipline, great stuff! –

whynottotrainachild – facebook group

Besides it’s hilarious title, this website has some great thoughts. – Get off your butt parenting

Interesting blog where she talks about discipline and refutes Dobson – Dare to Disciple

If any of you have a favorite that I haven’t listed here, please share it in the comments!

Fundamentalist Approved Feminist Literature
Re-post: I am Not My Parents
Rather Dead Than Queer
Re-Post: Lies we tell ourselves about abuse
  • Megan@SortaCrunchy

    Oh WOW. What a great resource!

    This: "When I quit spanking a year ago, I felt so alone. Surely I was the only christian parent that didn't spank. What if my kids grew up ungodly? What would everyone think of my parenting." I've been thinking about writing a post that for a long time, but I haven't had the courage. Thank you so much for addressing this here! What a great, great list!

  • Megan@SortaCrunchy

    Oh, I know what I was going to add. Crystal Lutton is the author of Biblical Parenting and she has some great articles here: There is a whole series on the "rod" verses as well as some practical help in the Quick Reference section.

    Also, at Gentle Christian Mothers (which is a great resource), there is a section open to general public viewing with more resources on gentle discipline:

  • Hermana Linda

    Thank you for linking to my site ( I second the recommendations that Megan left. I suggest you try to join Gentle Christian Mothers next time the registration is open(hopefully in Sept.) They are an invaluable resource.

    By the way, not all the testimonies on that page are of moms who gave up spanking. At least one is a mom who still spanks but gave up following the Pearls' teachings.

  • Young Mom

    Thanks for the clarification!

  • Rebecca in CA

    Great sites to bookmark! Thanks for posting these.

    I remember when I was first reading Maria Montessori's writings, when my first was around one, and she was talking about how punishment was irrelevant and unhelpful. I remember thinking, "surely she's not saying you shouldn't spank children???" I couldn't believe she was saying that, because she was talking about how the children were pleasant, obedient, compassionate, all the things one hopes to cultivate…I really thought that the people in the world who didn't spank their children didn't care anything about character and had horrible little monster children. So I just couldn't believe what I was reading!

    Off topic, but do you know that Dr. Sears and his wife became Catholic last year?

  • Young Mom

    Really? That's so interesting!

  • Hermana Linda

    I have a great site for you which I forgot to mention before. Dare to Disciple

  • Rebecca

    As a teacher, I've always had to find other ways to discipline and get respect/good behavior from children – and it shocks me that it is a Christian teaching to spank! (I admittedly live under a rock, but still!)

  • Hyacynth

    Oh, great post! I've felt alone, too. We'e resolved to not spank as well. I was totally taken aback by the perspective against spanking in the Bible when I read Heartfelt Discipline by Clay Clarkson. It's a great read, and it delves into why the spanking is not a Biblical mandate or even suggestion.

  • Young Mom

    Thank you for the extra links and titles! Always looking for more to research!

  • Amber

    I grew up in a household in which corporal punishment was the discipline; however, I chose to go a different route after graduating in child development. Something about spanking children who have no idea what they've done wrong just sounds awful. Does that mean I'm not tempted? Heaven's no. But, withstanding the temptation encourages me more and more.

    Good for you for changing your parenting even though it is terrifying to feel so alone. You are awesome. : )

  • Young Mom

    Amber: I hear you on temptation, wow is this a hard habit to break. Thank you for the encouragment! :)

  • Beth

    This is so good for me to hear because my husband and I have been discussing whether or not spanking is a good idea. Our first is only 7 months old, but people give you all kinds of advice on discipline. It's great to hear from somenoe with expereinece using different methods.

  • Nicole

    I also like the thought in Parenting With Grace that discipline means to teach. Spanking doesn't teach a thing, it is purely a form of punishment.