Growing Kids God’s Way – Part 10 (Gary’s Views on Spanking)

As promised the partner chapter to my last post. I apologize for the length of this post. But I do feel it’s justified. Some of the Ezzo’s most harmful idea are located in this chapter, and I feel that skimming over them without discussion really is a disservice.

Chapter 12 starts of rather strong with the author loudly proclaiming the need for pain in a child’s life.

“Rebellious and defiant acts sometimes produce their own pain as a natural outcome. When they do not, parents then must structure an appropriate form of consequence to motivate change. In both cases, some form of pain gets the attention of children faster than anything else. Man may grow complacent with pleasure but never with pain. Pain is an educator.” p 185

Growing Kids God’s Way

I have to insert the flowchart in here again as the chapter structure is still using the tiers and alphanumeric labels from the flowchart in the previous chapter.

The author’s first main section in the chapter is titled “F1 Pain.” I’ll move again into a quote as it truly demonstrates the author’s feelings towards the need for pain in a child’s life. It’s very clear that the author feels a child must experience pain in order to be properly corrected and punished.

“Pain is a gift from God not the result of Adam’s fall into sin. Pain warns us that something is not right and needs attention. In fact in the human experience, nothing gets our attention as fast a pain. In the training process, the same axiom is true. Pain has one purpose; it helps a child focus and gain self-control over destructive behavior, whether it is disobeying, talking back, or an intentional discourtesy.” p 185

Growing Kids God’s Way

We then move onto sub-tiers from this category. The first being “F2 Natural Consequences.” Natural consequences are pain or punishment that occurs naturally from a child’s “foolish behavior.” The author uses two examples in this section. One that I can logically follow, and another that I find to be a stretch. The first is a child that is advised to slow down and be careful. The child doesn’t listen and hurts his knee when he trips. The second is a scenario that a parent sets up for a child. A parent tells their child to get ready for an event by a certain time 8:30 am. If the child is not ready before the exact time then the child looses the privilege of attending the event (even if the parent and child could still make the even in time). I honestly have trouble seeing how this is a “natural” consequence. As this is a designed test by the parent with a dedicated punishment for the child who falls short of the parent’s test or standard.

The next subsection is “F3 Structured consequence.” The author defines this section as being needed when a child’s foolish behavior fail to cause naturally occurring pain or consequences. We move into even more tiers as the author divides this section into three parts (Refer up to the chart at the top of the blog if you get lost). Those three parts are F4 logical consequences, F5 isolation, and F6 chastisement.

F4 Logical Consequences is defined by the author as a punishment that is related to the offense. The example he gives is the loss of a privilege. Such as losing the ability to hang out with friends after school for a child who comes home late. The author does make it clear that the child can have additional punishment added to a “Logical consequence” and recommends spanking / chastisement if the parent deems the offense worthy of it. The author seems to advise spanking as a greater necessity if the child is younger.

“With our last example, the loss of the privilege of staying after school to play may teach the eight-year old the seriousness of his actions better than a spanking ever could. The reverse is usually true with younger children.” p187

Growing Kids God’s Way

The next structured consequence the author recommends is “F5 Isolation.” The author doesn’t offer a lot of direction here other than to say that children are social creatures and forcing them into isolation from their peers and family will cause pain. The author recommends this be used as a partner to “timeouts.” The odd part about this is that the author calls them “reflective timeouts” and he states they are used before a child gets into trouble. (His example of punishing a child by timeout, in the previous chapter, for something they hadn’t done yet makes a bit more sense now). A child is to be placed in timeout if the parent thinks they are getting rowdy, but haven’t yet broken a rule or instruction. If the child continues to be disobedient after their “reflective timeout” then they are to be isolated away from others as punishment, either in their room or away from their friends.

I think this type of punishment relays the level of control and self regulation that is expected from a child. A child is to be in full control of their body and emotions. And if they aren’t they will face punishment for it, or face isolation until they are able to regulate themselves.

Much of the rest of this chapter is devoted to the next structured consequence “F6 Chastisement.” The author make it very clear he’s referring to spanking by use of the term. Though he does claim that the term “chastisement” refers to the biblical form of spanking. Gary Ezzo goes on to make the bold claim that there is no legitimate evidence to support the idea that spanking is harmful to a child. This is entirely untrue and multiple studies that have concluded spanking is not helpful and can cause increased aggression and anti-social behavior in a child.

“Parents hit their children because they think doing so will improve their behavior,” Gershoff said. “Unfortunately for parents who hit, our research found clear and compelling evidence that physical punishment does not improve children’s behavior and instead makes it worse.”

Gary then goes into a very strongly worded argument against opponents of spanking. With his prime example being the image of a child running toward traffic and needing physical punishment in order to listen to their parent. The author then argues that spanking has become the cruxes of a pro-god or anti god type of argument. Those that Gary terms secularists he feels are trying to remove all vestiges of Christianity from culture.

“For example, in the mind of one who begins with the rejection of a personal Creator, is spanking the first and foremost center – piece of concern, or is the primary issue the fact the spanking is linked to the Bible and thus to God? Does an anti-God stance motivate the secularist to get rid of all perceived, God-associated sanctions and prescriptions in order to move us, culturally speaking, toward a God-free society.” p189

Growing Kids God’s Way

This type of argument is foolish. And it ignores the majority of complaints against spanking. Mainly that it’s it harmful to a child’s neurological and social development. Arguments against spanking are not social and cultural arguments, but arguments against behavior that is causing harm to a child. Also it ignores theology such as child liberation theology that uses the bible as a basis for advocating for children that can’t speak out for themselves.

The author then attempts to give themselves biblical authority for their argument by pulling in verses such as Proverbs 13:24 “Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.” Per the author, God praises and supports spanking; and God uses language to indicate he chastises those he loves. (Remember that the word chastise is equivalent to spanking in this book).

Gary also makes further bold claims that increased violence in the 1990s is tied to a lack of corporal discipline in the home (Page 190). He states that in the 40s-60s violence and aggression were almost non-existent in the school aged child. But that no-spank theories have lead to an increase in violent crimes such as rape, murder, robbery, drug abuse, bombing, assault, extortion, suicide, arson, burglary, and gang warfare. He lists these crimes specifically being linked to no-spank philosophy on page 300 of appendix four. (I shouldn’t need to say it, but there is no proof to support this. Nor does Gary list any proof in Growing Kids God’s Way to support his theories.) He also closes his list with abortion as the “most violent crime” that is encouraged by no-spank theories.

Gary contrast this supposed reality with an ideal Christian family that support spanking their children. “The purpose of Biblical discipline is to teach morally responsible behavior, shaping Christ-like keepers of God’s moral mandates-kingdom-builders who live out the fruit of the Spirit and touch others with the character of Jesus.” p190. Can you see the juxtaposition? Kids that grow up in a home that promotes spanking show Christian love and kindness to others. But those that grow up in a non-spanking home will grow up as rapists and involved in gang warfare.

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