to comfort them {to be a gentle parent}

So I had a minor issue on facebook.
A friend made a comment about
how Christians must spank their children,
you know,
"for their sake" and I,
I just couldn't keep my mouth shut.
Although I was gracious and not condemning,
I ended up getting unfriended.

Now I know I have readers and friends
who do spank and so
I am treading lightly,
hoping to not offend.
I do not spank my children nor
do I punish them.

Even with my very first baby,
well meaning Christians would talk to me about
the importance of spanking,
of not "Sparing the rod"
and though I had nothing at the time
to back me up,
it just didn't sit well with me.

I would look at bright blue baby eyes,
eyes filled with awe and wonder,
with the beauty which came with newness,
and imagine causing pain to that little soul.

I would read of Christ,
His commands to love,
His gentleness with children, with people and
never could I see Him spanking or
desiring a child to be spanked.

It all fell into place when I saw
how Jesus is the gentle shepherd and
read (over and over) psalm 23:

 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.[a]
    He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness[b]
    for his name's sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,[c]
    I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
    your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

His rod and staff comforts us.
Comforts us.
His rod comforts, it doesn't hurt.
He leads, He guides, He comforts and
that is the use of the rod, not punishment.

With this knowledge the actual verse,
"He who spares the rod hates his son" prov. 13:24,
makes perfect sense.  If I fail to love, comfort,
guide my children then it is as if I do hate them.

And I could finally breathe because
I didn't feel like I was backwards.
That intuition I had to love and guide my children,
to shower grace upon them and
teach them with gentleness, was not wrong.

As a shepherd leads,
as The Shepherd leads.

And so these words fill my parenting...
grace, gentleness, guidance, love, hope.
Words which Christ, The Shepherd embodies.
I do not spank and I am not ashamed.
I think I'm in pretty good company.


  1. I applaud you...
    trust that inner voice...
    kids are such a gift, aren't they?
    you sweet mama you, you make me smile.

    We don't spank either, and after 24 years, have never regretted it once...
    Here's my perspective; flaws and all:

  2. That last picture is a testament to the cause! Look at those awesome babies and tell me they are "out of control" because you don't use force. You should be proud! :)

  3. Love this post! I struggled earlier this week when reading someone's post that alluded to the fact that spanking a toddler was necessary. My heart hurts when I hear Christians say things like that...everything I know about child development(and the nature of God) tells me the opposite. I wanted to say something and chickened out. Thank you for being a kind and compassionate voice. Love to you and your beautiful family!

  4. Amy, In case you don't know about it, there is a website that I love called... It is amazing and full of great advice ans scriptural references in defense of gentle discipline. Thanks for the boldness to share this!!!

  5. good job in approaching this subject.
    I know it is a sensitive one for many.

  6. I spank. But I'm glad you've figured out what works for you.

  7. Yes, my heart tells me the same... oh Amy, I would just love to meet you in person as I feel we have much in common.
    Your writing is so much more eloquent than mine. Thank you.

  8. I just found your blog through Rhythm of the Home. I really appreciate this post and the post about the church. I am struggling with our church community for many of the same reasons.

    This I have spanked my children...because of "advice" and, even though I wasn't doing it out of anger, I would feel HORRIBLE. It didn't sit well with me either.

    Every time I think of the "rod" verses...I visualize a flock of sheep. A shepherd (a gentle one) would not use the rod to physically discipline his sheep! He uses it to guide them/redirect them...Thank you for this reminder!