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Dear friends,

Welcome to my blog. I am honored to have you visit. I hope you'll find my articles a blessing. I welcome your input and especially comments and questions.

I write as a Christian from Jerusalem, Israel about Biblical subjects.

I am particularly interested in the subjects of children, families, women's issues, corporal punishment, science and nature as these subjects relate to the Holy Scriptures.

For more information, see my website: www.biblechild.com

With every good wish - Samuel Martin

Friday, April 25, 2014

Christian Father Shares Journey To Gentle Parenting

A Christian Father of Four Shares His Journey Towards Gentle Parenting

A Guest Post From SR

Sam,

I would like to write to you about some of the experiences we have had in our no-spanking journey from a father/husband perspective. My wife often comes up with crazy ideas. Sometimes this manifests itself in something like “Cabbage Casserole” (not a good idea). At other times her ideas kind of work out (owning rent houses). So when she approached me with this crazy idea about not spanking, I wasn’t surprised. She does this kind of thing to me a lot. I understood the various sociological arguments against it, and I viewed people who espoused them as liberals whose kids probably ran wild in Wal-Mart. I used to be a school teacher and bragged about how I could tell which of my students had parents who spanked. In reality, probably most of their parents spanked. It wasn’t spanking that made the difference. In fact, the more spankings, the worse behavior. What mattered to me was not what some sociologist or psychologist said. What mattered was that the Bible told us to spank. I figured we would talk it through and I would defend the biblical position. In my mind, if God said it, it was true (“Romans 3:4 “let God be found true, though every man be found a liar”). I wasn’t expecting what she hit me with. Every biblical argument I offered, she countered. “Spare the rod…” struck down. “God disciplines the child he loves….” Doesn’t work!  “God punishes us…” Won’t hold water. I was losing the argument, badly.

She led me to your book (get it free here - http://www.biblechild.com/assets/thy-rod-and-thy-staff-they-comfort-me-mar-2013.pdf) so I could read and research it myself. I was shocked (but less so since she already defeated my arguments). All those years I thought I saw something in the Bible that wasn’t there. It was a big spanking mirage! I had read into the text experiences and ideas from my own family, culture, and past. If I had been completely table rasa, I would have realized that the word “spank” was nowhere in the Bible. The concept of discipline was there, but I had substituted “spanking” and even “punishment” in its place. I had to realize that “discipline” does not inherently include a form of punishment. Indeed, punishment is a pretty low level of motivation. I was convinced, so we changed and decided to stop spanking. We became gentle-parenting parents.

Since those early days (almost two years ago), we have done pretty well. I have reverted back a couple of times, but to my shame, I admit it was when I was tired or stressed. It was not a matter of doing what is best for the kids. It was me trying to get what I wanted right now because I didn’t feel I had the emotional storehouse to get through another fit-throwing episode. Instead of digging deep and being the adult I should be, I tried to manipulate through fear and pain. I hate even writing these words. Even more of an issue for me today is the struggle with verbal spankings. I don’t physically strike my children, but sometimes I use harsh rebukes in their place, possibly causing more damage. I’m a work in progress.

I am the father of four little boys (ages 3-9). I know about movement, fights, throwing things, breaking things, punches, etc. If people think that non-violent parenting only works on quiet little girls, let me beg to differ. My boys have changed so much since we have ceased spanking. They get along better with each other and other kids. They are more affectionate toward my wife and me. They throw fewer fits. But most amazing is this calmness they have. There is now an inner peace I see in their eyes and in their movements. It is hard to explain, but I see it in them and I see it absent in children whose parents spank. I don’t know if it is a freedom from fear of being hurt by their parents or if it is a reflection of the calmness my wife and I now have as well. Either way, it is the biggest plus I have seen since we changed.

In case you publish this, I want to give a little advice to wives who might be struggling with their husbands joining in the non-spanking journey. This is not easy for men. Men are taught to be tough and in control, so sitting back and talking gently to your screaming child while all of the restaurant looks on is difficult. We all know what they’re thinking: “If that were my child….” As men, we feel special pressure to appear in control and powerful. This comes out in the form of aggression and often physical punishment. We might be tempted to yank them up out of their seat and march them to somewhere where we can at the least rebuke sharply and at the most spank them in anger. This is the natural approach. It is not right, but it is what we have to overcome. I would suggest that in such circumstances that you, the mother/wife, go ahead and remove the child from the circumstances till the child calms down (and so does Dad). This usually only takes a couple of minutes, but that is all that is needed. People seeing you whisk away your screaming child and coming back with a calm child will probably think you spanked him, but you will know the truth. Besides, it’s none of their business.

Second, to admit that spanking is wrong is to admit our parents (who spanked us) were wrong. For some people, this can be a difficult admission. Be patient with him and don’t point out that his parents were wrong. You might mention how amazing the journey of life is and how much we learn along the way. Then leave it. Eventually, you or he might be tempted to convince his or your parents about how spanking is bad, but unless your parents actually spank your children, it might not be the best choice of battles. They are not in a position to spank, so why start a possible fight and power struggle.

Last, men are not always very good students or communicators. You know this. If you will provide the material for him to read and study and just let it go, you will find better results. He is probably not going to listen to you or your logic and explanation. Leave him the materials (written by Samuel and others) so he can “discover” this information for himself. It also takes men time to process things after we mull them over in our minds for a while. Do not bother him during this process that might take months. He needs time to gather his thoughts, and you asking him what he thinks or if he read the material yet, just makes him want to reject it even more. Give him the materials, and then give him time and space.  He will bring it up when he’s ready.

Sorry for such a long letter. I just wanted to share some of my thoughts and hopefully help some others in the process. Please feel free to use this as you see best.

God bless you in your work,

SR

Note: This text is has not been edited by myself in any way other than adjusting the formatting of the paragraphs.

Samuel Martin

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2 comments:

Brian Tucker said...

I think this article is great ! Although I differ on a couple (non-critical) details. One thing is , my husband would never, not EVER read material unless we either read it together out loud or it comes to a point of "critical mass" to where he's desperate for a change. Also, he very much respects and listens to my opinion on spiritual and parenting issues...if I didn't pursue a change in our parenting (which was very limited in spanking due to abuse I suffered at the hands of "Roy Lessin" spankers , as well as emotional, sspiritual, verbal, & neglect )who'd also been the products of abuse and are not able to be in our children's lives. I've done intensive research and prayer over discipline for our 3dd (10, 8,& 4) we've mostly yelled and been quite honest with them "we were not taught by our parents a Godly way to handle our family and we are praying continually and trusting God to lead us but we mess up, you are free to talk to us about their feelings"....we daily ask forgiveness of them because we know we mess up often and seek out their input on our family life. I was led to gentle/peaceful/grace based/ attachment (which doesn't end after babyhood) parenting in just the last year *as well as unschooling....anyway, we have felt as though we are parenting ourselves and just figure things out as we go a long as well and it hasn't been easy (my parents divorced *after 33 yrs* in 09 and exploded my family *of 10* and my dad disappeared and mom has chosen a life I cannot expose my children to anymore/) my husband's father died of early onset dementia this year after 6yrs of sickness and inability to speak or understand anything. When I have spoken to my parents I have shared the true bbiblical stance on discipline with them and what it does to children in order that healing may one day be had for them and so they can understand that their actions directly affected my siblings choices to refuse anything to do with the Lord (and my many times in the hospital for depression and an eating disorder, which they've told me is just me being weak and attempting to get their attention....my mother in law continues to ask me "why won't you spank them? " for not CHOOSING to gain absolute control over my children's actions and them simply being children...I will note that we get compliments so many places we go at how sweet and loving our girls are... (our oldest was diagnosed ADHD a couple years ago as well as a sensory and language processing disorder (she basically has a very difficult time remembering the meanings of many things I say, and also loves feeling strange textures and still will get into some things much like a toddler*but she's brilliant and writes pages of lyrics of worship music and she and her sisters have outstanding musical ability. Our youngest is our first to throw actual fits in temper so this is definitely a trial with no family (and the church) not in our corner...
But God is amazing and has brought much more peace to our home. I've prayed and prayed that my husband would know how to spiritually lead our family but I also know certain things he'd not even consider let alone make a decision on on his own and asks me to take the reigns in helping him to understand....I'm incredibly blessed by your letter (but remember all men have different personalities , some appreciate a personality in their wife and for her to take different actions:)

Bless, your wife, & your 4
. Little men! Becky

Samuel Martin said...

Becky,

Thanks for writing. Really appreciated.

Sam