Spare the Rod

“Spare the rod and spoil the child”, they say. Do you agree with it? Were you spanked as a kid? Was it appropriate? Some people see spanking as child abuse or an outdated method of punishment. Where do we draw the line when it comes to disciplining our children?

This popular expression is not found in the Bible.  So where does it come from? Well it turns out that it’s from a 17th century poem by Samuel Butler called “Hudibras”.  In the poem, a love affair is likened to a child, and spanking is commended as a way to make the love grow stronger.  The actual verse reads,

“What medicine else can cure the fits

Of lovers when they lose their wits?

Love is a boy by poets styled

Then spare the rod and spoil the child.”


Some advocates of spanking children point to Proverbs 23:13 for justification.  It says: Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish him with the rod, he will not die. Basically, do not withhold instruction from your child: if you discharge your responsibility as a parent and correct him/her, you can save them from death – spiritual, physical, emotional or psychological. Also Proverbs 13:24 – Whoever spares the rod hates their children,   but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.

So is spanking an effective means of disciplining kids. This topics on whether to spank or not seems to generated so much emotion. First, what does the law say? Is it illegal to spank your kids? The answer is no-but parents who spank must be very careful to avoid abuse which is unlawful. Thus, while spanking is not illegal, bruising or otherwise injuring a child is.

How many parents spank or even are in support of the practice. Some professional organizations of physicians, psychologists and human rights groups have suggested that spanking is detrimental and leads to family violence and child abuse. But what about mild spanking as a corrective measure? Is it a good idea? Spanking works best when coupled with other disciplinary measures, such as, verbal correction, time out and logical consequences. Talking with the child about what behavior is expected and why-with the potential of a follow-up spank- may work best.

In my opinion, spanking should be used selectively for clear, deliberate misbehaviour, especially a child’s persistent disobedience of a parent. However, it should also be used where the child receives at least as much praise for good behaviour as correction for defiant behaviour. Is it true that only a parent should administer a spanking, not another person?

Whatever your opinion, let’s not lose sight of the point here, which is, if one does not discipline a child, he or she will never learn obedience and good manners. Like my Bishop always say that between a child and foolishness is a rod if you remove the rod then the child becomes foolish. It sounds best in Swahili “Katikati ya mtoto na ujinga kuna kiboko… isipotumia kiboko mtoto anakuwa mjinga.


5 responses to this post.

  1. Mmmmh nice and educative read, i like the saying in the conclusion….but worry is,, i n schools where children spend better part of the day, spanking is being faced out,, and it is a directive from the Ministry of Education….wats your take on that?


    • This directive was proposed by parents through The Kenya national association of parents as a result of extreme spanking which bordered child abuse. However, you’ll notice that in most schools spanking is back although not pronounced but parents have even sanctioned it. Nevertheless, as i mentioned spanking should be used selectively for correction of defiant behaviour.


  2. […] Spare the Rod ( […]


  3. Posted by Mindy on March 27, 2012 at 6:26 am

    Loved your post I just blogged the same topic! Caught you in the ping backs. Personally, it isn’t about just spanking…. It’s about discipline.
    My mom always used to say there’s a fine line between ‘use and abuse’ – goes with anything not just your kids. Gambling, eating, drinking… anything overdone or in excess in abuse. That which is done with love and compassion – is not abuse.


    • I agree with you discipline is done with love and there are better ways to discipline and even that spanking if not abused it can serve well its purpose as God intended it to be


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