Monday, December 28, 2009

Visiting an "Old-fashioned Woodshed"

From Nov. 2006

Visiting An 'Old-fashioned Woodshed'
By Rev. Mark H. Creech

According to a recent article in USA Today, there is one thing thenation's most successful CEOs have in common -- they received theirshare of spankings as children.

Although the article stated that "[m]ost CEOs believed spankings played little or no role in their success," the CEOs also acknowledged that the practice taught them valuable life lessons.David Haffner, chief executive officer of Leggett & Platt, said the spankings he received as a child made him "disciplined, detailed and organized." Joe Mogolia, with TD Ameritrade, said he learned from his parents that "tough love is better than soft love."

Also cited in the article is a recent study by sociologists EveTahmincioglu, titled: "From the Sandbox to the Corner Office:Lessons Learned on the Journey to the Top." Chapter One of the bookis called "Less Carrott, More Stick." And in the book, Tahmincioglucontends spanking taught the 55 executives she interviewed "torespect authority." "They feared their parents, but loved them aswell. Their parents would follow through with a spanking when thechildren misbehaved. Today there is no follow-through," she argued.

Fans of the Andy Griffith Show may remember that delightfulepisode, "Opie and the Spoiled Kid" -- the one where a spoiled boy moves to Mayberry and tries to run all over everybody, including Andy and Barney, the town's local law enforcement. When Andyimpounds the boy's bike for his misbehavior, the boy's fatherprotests until he discovers his bratty son would rather he end-up injail than for him to lose his bike. This prompts the father to sell the bike and accept Andy's advice that the boy needs a good visit toan "old-fashioned woodshed." Hmmm ... don't believe that would fly on any modern national television broadcast.

USA Today notes that modern child psychologists "wince" at the idea of administering corporal punishment. Dr. Robert Fathman of the Ohio-based group End Physical Punishment of Children (EPOCH-USA),says, "If you bring a child up and you're spanking them, they'remore likely to hit an animal, a pet. They're more likely to hitanother child." Other psychologists like Dr. James Dobson of Focuson the Family, however, strongly disagree, contending:

"[I]t is possible -- even easy -- to create a violent and aggressivechild who has observed this behavior at home. If he is routinelybeaten by hostile, volatile parents or if he witnesses physicalviolence between angry adults or if he feels unloved andunappreciated within his family, that child will not fail to noticehow the game is played. Thus corporal punishment that is notadministered according to very carefully thought-out guidelines is arisky thing. Being a parent carries no right to slap and intimidatea child because you had a bad day or are in a lousy mood. It is thiskind of unjust discipline that causes some well-meaning authoritiesto reject corporal punishment as a form of discipline. Just becausea technique is used wrongly, however, is no reason to reject it alltogether. Many children desperately need this resolution to theirdisobedience .... When he lowers his head, clenches his fist, andmakes it clear he is going for broke, justice must speak swiftly andeloquently. Not only does this response not create aggression inchildren, it helps them control their impulses and live in harmonywith various forms of benevolent authority throughout life." [Written in response to an question submitted through the Focus onthe Family website ]

Still more important than what the experts say about spanking is what the Bible teaches. Some may find it a surprise, but the Biblecommends corporal punishment in King Solomon's words: "He thatspareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes" (Proverbs 13:24). Some religious leaders, however, saythe word "rod" in this text wasn't meant to be taken literally. In an article titled, "Children and the Rod of Correction," Dr. Dave Miller of Apologetics Press effectively addresses this misinterpretation:

"Lest someone get the idea that Solomon used the term 'rod' figuratively, without intending to leave the impression that parents should actually strike their children with a rod, he clarified thetarget: 'Do not withhold correction from a child, for if you beathim with a rod, he will not die. You shall beat him with a rod, and deliver his soul from hell' (Proverbs 23:13-14). A proper balance isobviously needed between verbal reproof and encouragement on the one hand, and the application of corporal punishment on the other, asseen in the following words: 'The rod and reproof give wisdom, but achild left to himself brings shame to his mother. Correct your son,and he will give you rest; yes, he will give delight to your soul' (Proverbs 29:15, 17, emphasis added). The immense importance of theinterplay between positive instruction, encouragement, andnurturing, in conjunction with appropriate physical punishment,cannot be overestimated nor successfully discounted."

It's interesting to note that the "interplay between positiveinstruction, encouragement, and nurturing, in conjunction withappropriate physical punishment" in the life of today's children isoften neglected. It seems many children are subjected to one or moreextremes -- either they are completely neglected and left to raisethemselves, tortured and physically abused by twisted or insensitive parents, or over indulged by well-meaning ones with far toomuch "sweet-talking" and not enough action to back up their commands. Is it any wonder America is raising one of the mostrebellious and violent generations in its history?

Children need to be taught a healthy fear (reverential respect and awe) for God and authority figures in life. No one can betteradminister these lessons than parents. And sometimes, though itshould always be a last resort, there is no better means to get thatlesson across than to do what the parent's of yesteryear used to do -- take the youngster for a visit, so to speak, to an "old-fashionedwoodshed."

Spanking may not make a child into a famous CEO, but when it's affectionately and appropriately applied, it very likely will make him or her into an emotionally well-rounded, disciplined, and morally responsible individual.
Rev. Mark H. Creech ( is the executive director ofthe Christian Action League of North Carolina, Inc.

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