There is a sticker on our fridge (I don’t even remember where comes from) which says “LOVE IS THE ANSWER. WHAT’S THE QUESTION?”; only recently I have found out that the famous quote belongs to John Lennon.
For years series of specialized books on ‘right’ parenting are being printed, however none of them defines exact rules and golden formula on how to become an ‘effective’, a ‘good’ parent. How should a parent behave to create a ‘loving and caring’ environment for his/her child so that children grow up realizing their full potential? How do we need to be ‘good’ parents to allow our children to grow up merrily and happily without anger and disappointment?
It will soon be 12 years I am a proud father. During these 11 years there have been many funny moments that I have spent with my son Hrant, when we made each other happy and filled our lives with memorable moments. But just like in the lives of every parent there have also been moments of anger when I punished my boy (I and my wife can write a book or two about the ways we ever punished Hrant). But every time when I appear in a tougher and harder situation as a parent, and I need to decide the ‘right’ way to act, I always remind myself ‘Love is the answer’.
In recent years we have been talking a lot about corporal punishment being common among parents living in Armenia. And often next to this we also speak about the fact that most of the parents (65%) who spank their children also confess that they don’t know of a more ‘effective’ way to discipline. I believe this is one of our biggest problems as parents – not being prepared with knowledge and tools to discipline our children without violence.
I am also very much concerned about the fact that many parents and school teachers that spank their children or students justify their action referring to the Bible.
Bible doesn’t teach us child abuse
Don’t use Bible to justify physical violence!
There are people who sincerely trust the Old Testimony and come up with wrong understanding of some of the verses claiming that Bible teaches us spanking our children to bring them up as devout people. But does ‘don’t spare your rod’ really mean that you need to spank or beat your child (otherwise you will fail in proper disciplining and lose ‘control’ over the child)? It is but painful to understand that people who think so are truly caring and devoted parents who love God and love their children, but to me, they just have an entirely wrong interpretation of the words ‘rod’ and ‘switch’.
Here are some of these ‘questionable’ quotations from the Old Testimony that gave way to the widespread interpretation.
“Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him”. (Proverbs 22:15)
“He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes”. (Proverbs 13:24)
“Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.” (Proverbs 23:13-14)
“The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.” (Proverbs 29:15)
These verses may wrongly suggest that they encourage the rod, at first sight at least. I believe that these verses need to be given a closer reading and better reinterpretation. Here is how I interpret them. The Bible has different interpretations for the words ‘rod’ and ‘switch’ – pretty often they are used as wooden sticks to walk, write, fight, rule and punish. More often, however, these items are used by shepherds to direct their wandering sheep into the right path. But never do the shepherds use the rod to hit the sheep.
But aren’t the children far higher valued than the sheep?
In the Psalm 23:4 the ‘rod’ is used as ‘directing the one who walks in the darkness’ - ‘Even though I walk, through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me’.
I know people who live with deep faith in God, and among them faith leaders, who don’t use rod, but they are led by love as the only effective and important way and mean.
Faith leaders nowadays more often use the words ‘rod’ and ‘switch’ to symbolize parents’ responsibility and authority. When God talks to us about the ‘rod’ maybe He talks to us about our authority as a parent? About our responsibility as a parent?
The Bible, especially in the New Testimony, teaches us to respect and love our children, to take the best care about them.
In the New Testimony Christ converts the old ‘tit-for-tap’ approach with the ‘other cheek’ one. Christ preaches us delicacy, love and solidarity; He never encourages the ‘usage of rod’.
Paul the Apostle teaches parents not to promote aggression among their children as physical abuse generates aggression.
I encourage you to stop for a second and once and for all admit the fact that the Bible doesn’t teach us to spank and beat our children to become ‘good’ parents.
Leave alone that ‘rod’!
Children must live free of violence, full stop!
And there is no justification to violence against children either in the Bible, or in any solid professional literature, nor does the human history justifies the necessity of violence against children.
I do understand that there are situations when one’s past, temperament, and probably imperfect relations with the child make one think that violence is the best solution to discipline the child.
Believe me, it is not! We can make an extra efforts, think and rethink of ways of non-violent parenting. Step by step we can create a violent-free environment for our children where they are not afraid of their parents, but respect and trust us as their best friend.
I endlessly love my son, and as a parent I am sure that in any tough situation love is the only answer, love is the way!