Is it right for my dad to still spank me at nineteen?




I've read your 'Answers' section and have a question of my own regarding spanking. My father is a devout Christian and shares your views on not sparing the rod.

I am nineteen now and am still given very sound spankings by my father. He uses a leather strap or small switch and often lays on a couple of dozen strokes for trivial offences, like swearing. The spankings are very painful. It is very uncomfortable to sit down for a long time after a hiding.

Is it right for someone of my age to be still spanked by Dad? As I write this, my bottom is still very sore from the thrashing he gave me this morning for misbehaving in church.
Is he being too stern with me?

As I read your letter, my thoughts went to my own children who are now older teens. It has been years since I have needed to spank any one of them. Not because I am reluctant to spank a teenager, but because they have learned the lessons of their childhood well. It has been a long while since any of them have done something deserving of a spanking.

Look back over your letter and tell me, why is a young man at nineteen misbehaving in church? You write especially well for a nineteen-year-old, so I know you are well educated, but you state that at times you are behaving like a small boy half your age. Think about it what that implies. At nineteen you probably have been driving for three years. You could have joined the armed services and have been defending your nation for a year or more. I don't know what the laws are where you live, but in most states you could have been married for several years. Even though these things may not apply to you, what I'm trying to point out is that you're old enough to take on some very significant and serious challenges, yet you are getting in trouble for not controlling yourself.

I wish we could have this talk face-to-face because I'm sure you would have tried interrupting a half-dozen times with "But what about Dad?" The simple answer is that I don't know if he is too severe or not. I am only getting one side of the story and I know there is a general tendency to dress up your story to present your side in the best light. If he would like to talk things over with me, I would be happy to address his concerns.

An example from your own letter will illustrate this. You stated that you were recently spanked for a "trivial offense" -- swearing. I'm left to wonder, trivial to whom? Whom did you curse? Why did you choose to use foul language? Did you know that under the Old Law, taking God's name in vain (using it as a curse word) could earn the offender a death penalty? Even cursing your parents was punishable by death: "For everyone who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death. He has cursed his father or his mother. His blood shall be upon him" (Leviticus 20:9). Compared to the harshness of the Old Law, your father's spankings are relatively mild.

But think about this for a moment: why was cursing considered a major offense back then, carrying a penalty equal to murder or adultery? The answer is not found in the words, but in the attitude represented by the words. A person with no respect for authority is a danger to society. "There is a generation that curses its father, and does not bless its mother. There is a generation that is pure in its own eyes, yet is not washed from its filthiness. There is a generation - oh, how lofty are their eyes! And their eyelids are lifted up. There is a generation whose teeth are like swords, and whose fangs are like knives, to devour the poor from off the earth, and the needy from among men" (Proverbs 30:11-14).

If your father is a decent man, he is trying to stop you from developing bad behaviors that will keep you out of heaven, that will cause harm in society, and that will harm you. No one likes to be punished. I can't say that I ever enjoyed the paddlings that my dad gave me in my youth. "Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it" (Hebrews 12:11). I suspect that if you had your way, you would never have been spanked. But if you had your way, you would have grown up to be one of those devouring the weak in society.

However, let us just suppose that your dad has gone beyond the beyond the bounds of reasonableness; what can you do about the problem at nineteen? While you live under your parent's roof, eating their food, and using their money to go to school the most logical thing is to not do the things you know your parents disapprove. I know, easy to say but hard to do. But again, think about it. If you hadn't swore or misbehaved last Sunday in church, your dad wouldn't have had a reason to spank you. You can't control your dad, but you can control yourself -- so take away the reason for wanting to slap your bottom end.

If for some reason you don't want to do this, or if you think your dad would punish you even if you behaved well, then move out on your own. You're nineteen, more than old enough to sign a lease on an apartment and hold down a job to pay for it and your food and clothing. It will be rough because living always ends up costing you far more than you would expect, but then you would be truly independent. Then when you inappropriately swear, you can deal with a boss who fires you instead of a dad who spanks you. Then when you misbehave in church, the congregation will ask you to leave instead of your dad tanning your rear end. You see, things won't change all that much, but if you are ready for the responsibility, then it is time to enter the world of adulthood.

See also:

Answers to Questions on Child Rearing
Answers to Questions on Spanking
Careful What You Say
Called to Rise Above
It's Not My Fault
No Pain, No Gain

March 15, 2005