I wrote you a few months ago about a couple boys at church who's mom had ask me to help enforce obeying the rules. Since their father is not in the picture, a few of us guys have helped by taking them out to trips and spending one-on-one time with them.

Well after I received your reply, I had to give one boy a spanking. What I thought seemed to work at the time has escalated to the spankings not deterring his disobedience. Since he started school, he has cussed at his mom and has punched and started fights with his brother. She has asked me to intervene again. Just recently I spent some time with him to try and find out and asked what the matter is. He said, "You're not my dad and I don't have to listen to you." I said, "I may not be, but you can't go around hurting your brother and cussing your mom out." The boy then said, "What are you going to do spank me? Go ahead. I am still going to do what I want." I then left to discuss this with his mom and he had left the house and stayed out. I had to physically take him to his room. Because I was there, he did not leave the house. I told his mom I would have to pray and seek Godly wisdom from someone with more experience.

He has received two spankings from me. I do feel he needs a good one to change his behavior. I want to make sure things are done correctly because the whole goal in the discipline is making sure he knows he needs a Savior in Jesus. That's why I am praying and carefully making sure I seek this right from someone with more experience. Thanks.


As with most people who write to me, you are focused on the physical aspects of the spanking, as if you did it right the next time all the problems you are having with discipline will go away. It is not the technique that makes a difference, it is the instruction and the consistency that will eventually mold the boys.

Consistency is difficult since you are an outsider to the family. Mom isn't likely to call you until the situation becomes severe. This means that the many small problems that could have been gently handled are allowed to build into a major problem. There isn't much that you can do about it. You just have to understand that each time you come, you are going to be entering an explosive situation that has already gotten out of hand.

If the boy appears unaffected by the thought of being spanked, then you may have to increase the number of swats. Yet, despite his braggadocios words, I got the impression that he did dread the spanking as you said he left and you had to bring him back.

What is likely to happen is that for a while his misbehaviors are going to increase as he seeks to find the limits of your tolerance and his mom's. Of course the side effect will be that he will end up being spanked more often. It won't continue forever. He'll get tired of the "game." But depending on his stubbornness, it might take a while. You have to look at this as something you will be doing for quite a few years. At two interventions, you have barely started.

What is far more important is your talks with him. He needs to see that you want the best for him. He needs direction in what he ought to do in situations. That means that when he bad mouths his mother, you need to ask him why, whether that his bad language made the situation worse or better, and whether he thinks that type of action will work on cops when he gets arrested. You then need to talk to him about alternatives that would have worked better. His mom will have to learn that when he misbehaves, the immediate and only answer to what he wants is "no." Each and every time will have to be discussed as to why what he did was wrong and what it is that he needs to do. "The rod and rebuke give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother." (Proverbs 29:15).

The spankings are a punishment for crossing the line, but it is the talks that will mold him into a man.

Thanks for responding back. I will have to discuss with their mom the importance of consistency and not just calling me to help when it has reached the boiling point. Many things you have given me to reflect upon. In my mind I was thinking one good spanking may be what breaks him, but as you pointed out, the importance is in the talking. Thank you again for the advice.