“He that spares the rod hates his son;
but he who loves him chastens him at times” (Prov. 13:24)
This is a timely subject during the present prevailing opinions that strongly object to the chastisement and punishment of children. Note that it is qualified with the phrase “at times.”The use of the word punishment does not exclusively mean hitting, also there are many other forms. Like any punishment it can be good and beneficial or at times, especially when parent is angry where it can be abuse. No one can challenge God’s love for man for God is love and the source of love, and in the above quotation God says: “He who spares the rod hates his son but he who loves him chastens him at times.” We know that God’s love for man greatly exceeds man’s love for his fellow man, or for his own son. God chastises man with the rod not to harm him but to correct his error and so return him to the right path. St. Paul says: “Whom the Lord loves He chastens and He scourges every son whom he receives. (Heb. 12:16)
How does God chastise? By using the rod of illness or misfortune, of accident, of hunger and thirst, the failure of crops, drought, floods, death of relatives and friends, or allowing evil spirits to have authority over men. All these rods used by God are outpourings of His love meant for correction and salvation of men. Younger children especially need persuasion and there are times with some children where verbal persuasion is ineffective and physical punishment may become necessary.
When chastising their children, parents show that they really love them, being stern but not angry, and their rod is an necessary instrument to correct them. Children are sometimes not sensitive in response to verbal rebuke or chastisement, but all children can feel the sting of the rod. The child’s body is sensitive even though his conscience may not be, thus punishment of the body is at times necessary for correction of the soul. If punishment of the body awakens the spirit with a good response, the chastisement has been proven to be effective.
A child may remain uncorrected by verbal admonition at certain times. That is the time when physical punishment can be productive and necessary, because a worst event would be if the child remains uncorrected. Punishment of the body will usually effect the decisions of the spirit in the child. Spanking is but one tool and some children respond better when given writings in the amount of one or more hundred. Such as, “I will not hit my brother again.” Quantity and length of writing could be based on the seriousness of the offense.
The Lord chastises man with a variety of different devices. But when we experience illness or other difficulties, this may not always be caused from God’s chastisement. Even if it does such occasions should remind us to correct our lives. According to a particular situation this can include minor or major illness, injury, lack of necessities, cutting off of food and water, etc. Younger children, if they prove to merit punishment, may at times need capitol punishment for correction. The Lord corrects us by deprivation and in some cases even more severe punishment may be used. Children who are corrected by punishment and deprivement usually will be corrected. The punishment is meant to be corrective and should never be the result of unreasonable anger, in which case parents should postpone all punishment, being in no condition to punish anyone but themselves.
The Lord says: “He that spares the rod hates his son.” Children especially younger ones do not always react to words and while the rod can be stern rebuke they may need correction by feeling some pain and shame. The law of God orders this to be done by those who love their children, but remember it is God who clearly says:”He that spares the rod hates his son” and He means what He says.
The author of this article mentions: My mother died young at thirty-eight years, I was six years old, and my father was left with six children, working a split shift job as chef, which caused him to be away a greater part of the day. When he was scolding we observed the following: He spoke sternly when he spoke to our older brothers, but we younger ones didn’t get a lecture but a smack on the backside. Punishments were very infrequent events but one thing we all learned well. We all obeyed him because we knew that Pa meant what he said and we had no choice but to obey the first time or we would expect trouble. There were no sad feelings, when we were punished but rather a feeling of: “I deserved it,” nor did the punishment diminish our love for Pa because he was always very good and kind to us and raised us in the fear and love of God, and he brought us to Church every Sunday.
In our family we raised eight children and it was basically the same. There was stern control but very little punishment however it did occur at times and the younger ones usually got a smack My children have brought up their own children in a similar manner with the same good results. In every case the control and discipline was practiced from the very beginning when they were very young.
In all cases mentioned we went as family to Church every Sunday.
A family that has Christian peacefulness, love and order, a faithful father and mother is destined to be happy and well adjusted with few disciplinary problems. The joy of knowing that we will live forever in the kingdom of God brightens every day of our lives, and divine joy will prevail in all such families. The best way to practically eliminate punishment is when everyone attends Church, goes to confession when necessary and receives Holy Communion regularly, for this is the Orthodox Christian way of life which we ought to live in the same manner in which we approach the mysteries: “with the fear of God, with faith and with love.”