Lori Alexander Says Beating Children is God’s Approved Way of Controlling Children

spanking with beltRecently, Christian Fundamentalist Lori Alexander took to her blog to promote beating children as God’s approved way of controlling children.  In particular, Alexander objects to Dr. Spock’s no-violence approach to effectively raising children into responsible adults. Alexander will have none of that. Beat your kids, she says. God demands that parents use a rod on the backside of rebellious children. Not beating your children means you love them more than you love God; that you are more concerned with their welfare than you are being obedient to the violent tribal deity of the Bible.

Here’s some of what Alexander had to say:

Dr. Spock: “[Physical punishment] certainly plays a role in our acceptance of violence. If we are ever to turn toward a kindlier society and a safer world, a revulsion against the physical punishment of children would be a good place to start.” (p. 173)

Lori Alexander: This is in direct contradiction to what God tells us in His Word. “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.” (Proverbs 22:15) “Oh, but the rod isn’t a physical instrument,” people will tell me. Really? Please study all of the verses that mention the rod and you will see that this isn’t true. How does God discipline us? Is He only positive and encouraging? No! “For whom the Lord loves he chastens, and scourges every son whom he receives” (Hebrews 12:6). Chasten means “to correct by punishment; to punish; to inflict pain of reclaiming an offender; as, to chasten a son with a rod.” Scourge means “to afflict for sins or faults, and with the purpose of correction.” Who are we to think we know better than God? No, God doesn’t mean that we should physically abuse our children in any way. [actually, he does] We use the rod of correction as a tool to make them obey and this teaches them self-discipline which benefits them for life. Many things in God’s Word have been taken to extremes and have caused harm for people. This is not God’s way. His way ends in peace and goodness not in evil and harm.

Spock: “My other reasons for advising against physical punishment are, in brief, that it teaches children that might makes right, that it encourages some children to be bullies, and most fundamentally, that to the degree that it results in good behavior it’s because of the fear of pain. I have a strong belief that the best reason for behaving well is that you like people, want to get along with them, want them to like you.” (p. 173)

Alexander: On the contrary, pain and fear are great motivators for good as I shared in the above verse about how God disciplines us. My children were all spanked when they sinned against us or others and none of them were bullies or got into physical fights with others. They were kind to others, respected authority, and were a joy to raise. A one year old can’t comprehend “liking people” as much as they can quickly comprehend a small amount of pain that is swiftly administered for disobedience.

Spock: “I don’t think physical punishment is necessary or particularly effective.” (p. 215)

Alexander: It sure has been for centuries before you wrote your book, Dr. Spock. Children were much better behaved than they are now. God’s ways will always trumps man’s ways.

Spock: “All schools should be friendly, creative places like the best I’ve seen. We should wean ourselves away from physical punishment.” (p. 33)

Alexander: When I went to elementary school, the principal had a wooden paddle in his office and he used it! Children were well-behaved for the most part. There was nothing going on like there is in the schools today. A swat on the back side is a quick, effective method against disobedience.

Spock: “Recently I visited a small private school . . . with the idea of asking children . . . what advice to parents they’d like me to incorporate in the forthcoming revision of Baby and Child Care. In a thoughtful mood, the class was unanimous that parents should not hit their children. . . One child added that if you’re crying and your parent tells you to stop and then hits you when you don’t stop, it only makes you cry more.” (p. 229-233)

Alexander: And asking children how they should be disciplined is a wise thing? If he asked adults how they would like their government to run, I’m sure some immature adults would say that they shouldn’t be put in prison for abusing drugs, driving drunk, and getting tickets for speeding and running red lights. Children do NOT know best how they should be raised. Why not interview parents of adult children who are now upstanding citizens and ask how they raised their children instead?

Spock: “I hope American parents can outgrow the conviction . . . that physical punishment is necessary to bring up well-behaved children. . . There are parts of the world where it has never occurred to any adult to strike a child. I have known personally or professionally dozens of families in which the parents never lifted a hand–or otherwise punished or humiliated their children–and yet the children were ideally cooperative and polite. Children are eager to be ever more grown up and responsible.” (p. 13)

Alexander: Yes, I am sure parents can raise good children without ever spanking them but it takes a lot more time, energy, and effort and to tell you the truth, I haven’t seen many who are successful at it. In order for spankings to work, a parent must be consistent, firm, and loving. It doesn’t work without these three key ingredients. [In other words, busy parents beat their children so they will have time to do other important things such as reading the Bible and going to church.]

Spock: “There are several reasons to avoid physical punishment. It teaches children that the larger, stronger person has the power to get his way, whether or not he is in the right. Some spanked children then feel quite justified in beating up on smaller ones. The American tradition of spanking may be one reason there is much more violence in our country than in any other comparable nation.”

Alexander: No, it teaches children that they must obey and respect the authority in their lives, whether they be parents, teachers, coaches, bosses, and government which is a good thing. My children never beat up on the smaller ones. If they did, they would have been spanked and would have never done it again!

The patriarchy lives on, and the children cry.

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36 Comments

  1. GeoffT

    My view is that an occasional smack to a very early age child as a reminder of danger, for example to prevent them stepping out into traffic, may perhaps be of some benefit.

    That’s all I can say in support of any form of violence to children. In reality, most punishment of children is in response to the emotional state of the parent; anger, fear, exasperation, whatever. It’s very seldom a considered act of ‘love’. Those parents able to control themselves are probably able to consider better methods of admonition.

    The problem is the old one, violence begets violence. Children who are smacked, even those to whom it is lightly applied, are being shown the example that violence works, so are much more likely to apply it themselves in their interaction with others. Even those who can say ‘I was smacked and it never harmed me’ almost never say it benefited them, and the overall harm done is great. I’m not sure such parental behaviour can be banned overnight by legislation, but it’s undoubtedly true that children who are brought up in a loving way without violence appear to fare much better than those brought up in highly violent families. I include the tone conveyed by Lori Alexander in this latter comment.

    Reply
    1. Brian

      “My view is that an occasional smack to a very early age child as a reminder of danger, for example to prevent them stepping out into traffic, may perhaps be of some benefit.”

      One hits a child to disrespect their autonomy and hurt them. That is the lesson they learn. We tell ourselves it is really about dangerous traffic and that we don’t want them hurt so we hurt them right then and there.

      Reply
  2. Tom

    Jesus H. Christ In a Chicken Basket, how I LOATHE uneducated slobs like this Lori Alexander who proffer unsolicited advice on raising kids. One only hopes that her own kids, having endured her “chastisement,” will leave her sorry ass in a substandard nursing home to rot when she’s aged.

    Reply
  3. ObstacleChick

    I was going to comment that spanking kids,was the easy, lazy method of pu ishment but Lori said it for me. I was spanked as a kid, and by the time I was 8 I started fighting my mom back and she realized she needed a different method. I don’t like being touched against my will, and spanking heightened that – so that type of punishment would just make me angrier and more resentful. My husband and his brothers were never spanked, and they turned out fine. My husband and I didn’t spank our kids, and they are well behaved young adults. Was it difficult sometimes to come up with a punishment? Heck yeah! And when the kuds got older sometimes we asked them what they thought their punishment should be, and typically their punishment was longer than we would have given lol. But our kuds learned that their parents were not just going to beat on them every time they did something wrong. I have friends from eastern Europe who spank their kuds, and their kids are well behaved, but I see,a certain type of fear in those kids…..

    Choosing to spank or not is a very personal choice. I am glad we didn’t do it. My son went through a hitting phase when he was 3 – can you imagine the mixed message of spanking him when he hit his sister? Our solution was to make him throw away one of his toys – we only had to do it twice, then the threat of it worked.

    Reply
    1. Brian

      I too come from a being hit as a child. I vowed to respect my own children and have for themost part been able to do it. Hitting babies and children is something passed down through dark time and Lori exposes her ignorance by saying the key words about it being God’s way. I have said before and say it again. Christianity is a tool of harm in our world.

      Reply
  4. Karen the rock whisperer

    I was never spanked, though the threat was there…But I never pushed my parents far enough to actually experience it. To be honest, I think it was just a threat. My mil was shocked to hear that I had never been spanked, but I gather she didn’t spank often. I suspect what spankings my husband and his siblings received were triggered by exhaustion and frustration on her part, since she was effectively a single mother trying to raise three children while working a tiring job. (Dad was in the Navy and often at sea.). Sometimes spanking happens because it’s easy.

    Reply
  5. Lynn123

    Hmm. I was spanked as a child and also grew up in IFB. Yet, here I am, a fabulous person. In my family experience, spanking was simply what you did back then. My parents were normal people, not violent, not abusive, not neglectful-well maybe in some ways, but…Anyway, spanking by a drunk, out-of-control father or a screaming, lunatic mother would be one thing-but spanking by reasonable, basically loving parents is quite another thing. And I don’t think any of it had anything to do much with the Bible in reality-it was simply the culture.

    I think there’s a middle ground where parents show respect to their children but yet also let them know that the parents are in firm control of things.

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      Whether the beatings are Biblically driven or culturally driven, it matters not. Violence is violence, and violence begets violence — just as war begets war. War never brings peace, only a cessation of hostilities, and so it is with violence against children.

      Just because something is culturally acceptable doesn’t mean we should do it. If we want our children to respect us, is using threats of violence the best approach?

      I would also argue that what you view as culturally driven actually has Christian/Biblical/Calvinistic underpinnings. The Bible remains a big problem. Do we really want to be using a 2,000-4,000 year old book written by sheepherders, tent makers, and fishermen as a guide for training, rearing, and disciplining children in the 21st century? I think not.

      Reply
      1. Lynn123`

        I can’t respond to your whole comment, Bruce, cause I’m going on very little sleep and can’t think too well. All I can say is that I did not perceive spankings as violence. If they’d slapped me in the face or thrown me against a wall-that would be violence. And I am not a violent person, just as my parents weren’t.

        Also I respect my parents, and all my children seem to respect me. I’m trying to think back re how frequently I got spanked-it wasn’t that often. I do remember my father spanking me for hanging out with an older girl next door who I’d been instructed to avoid because she told us kids very scary ghost stories, which caused me to be afraid to even walk around in my house. lol I remember my father driving down the street and catching me sitting on a little wall with her and the gang again. I knew I was in trouble. But I was not in trouble that often, and when I was it was mainly for backtalk.

        Re spanking-maybe we’re just talking about two different things. To me, spankings and beatings are very different. Also the relationship you have with your parents to begin with enters into it also. Oh, my grandma whipped us-my aunt and me-with a “hickory tee.” Now that hurts. My aunt turned out fine also.

        Well, here I am going on and on-actually to me this doesn’t make sense. There are MILLIONS of Americans who got spanked as children and are normal, decent people. Isn’t that obvious?

        Re the Bible-it says all kinds of things-some good and some awful. Besides, as you well know, most people don’t bother reading it anyway! I mean, who cares what this Lori lady is directing people do?

        I guess all I can say is what my personal experience has been, so I’ve stated that.

        Reply
        1. Zoe

          I mean, who cares what this Lori lady is directing people do? ~ Lynn123

          A lot of people care. Thank goodness.

          For those interested.

          A Christian blog -> https://spiritualsoundingboard.com They often have commentary regarding Lori’s teachings.

          Reply
        2. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

          I care because I don’t support parents using violence to discipline their children. Much like the Pearls, Alexander preaches violence as a means of breaking the spirits of children, thereby making them compliant to the will of God.

          As a pubic figure with a widely read blog, I choose to use my platform to raise a voice of opposition to the Alexanders of the world. I still believe in the social contract; to love my neighbor as myself; to treat others as I want to be treated; to make the world a place where children are loved, protected and given the space to grow without threats of familial or governmental violence. In other words, I reject American individualism with its indifference towards others.

          Reply
          1. Lynn123

            I guess the definition of “violence” is the issue here.

            As far as you trying to use your blog to counteract IFB stuff you think is wrong, I totally support you in that. If someone looks up Lori’s blog and easily comes across another viewpoint, that is a good thing. Then either she or you will be more persuasive on the topic.

        3. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

          You say people turned out “fine.” How can you know this?

          Reply
          1. Lynn123

            You’re right. I can only go by that they seem okay to me. If their IFB upbringing damaged them, I might not know that. I’m sure my IFB upbringing did damage me in various ways, but I guess it’s a matter of degree? I take the damage very seriously, but I also know many people have been thru far worse abuse in their young lives, and I also know that I have had an overall good life in spite of that influence. Would I want that mess for my own children? Hell, no! And I’m thankful for a thoughtful mind and a love of books and ideas that finally helped me work my way out of it. So, again, more power to you in working against it.

  6. That Other Jean

    Dr. Benjamin Spock was a wise, considerate person. Lori Alexander, not so much. I’m glad I used Baby and Child Care as a manual to raise my children, 40+ years ago. They’re happy, useful, independent people today. How are Lori’s kids doing?

    Reply
    1. Lynn123

      I’m glad your kids turned out fine, and I hope Lori’s do, too. I think there are many factors related to how kids turn out, so it’s not really this simple.

      Reply
  7. Tammy

    I was spanked, similarly to the way some readers here have commented, and I am most certainly NOT okay. I am a very broken individual who lacks confidence with something as mundane as making comments on blog posts to being out in public around large crowds of people. I have a plethora of anxieties and self doubts which stem directly from that type of parenting and being raised in a baptist background with its patriarchal ideology.

    Sadly, I started out raising my children that way as well. But the good news is I eventually learned that spanking was not only ineffective but also entirely unnecessary. And as we went along, my hubby and I learned better ways of parenting our own children. What we learned is exactly what Lori pointed out, it takes time and effort to parent children. But unlike Lori, I’m glad we didn’t waste more time with the bible and our imaginary friend. Instead we learned to teach our kids about empathy, and to recognize that they were kids and not mini adults as we had often expected them to be.

    I have apologized to my children for my poor parenting in the early years. But I wish I had known better from the start.

    Bruce, please keep these types of posts coming. They’re too important. And maybe you will help some people to learn it’s better to teach children how to be decent human beings rather than beating it into them with fear and intimidation (what some people try to call “respect”). Maybe some will learn before they become parents and pass along harm.

    Reply
  8. Brian

    Tammy, thank-you for respecting yourself and your children. I am so sorry that you had to be hurt as you were but you have take the bad and made it something that builds the world and makes it better for me too. I had a similar experience to yours, was disrespected and put a very far second behind the IFB God. When I started my journey in stopping violence, I was afraid of losing everything. Instead, I found that life can be free and that children do not need to be ‘taught’ but just loved and worthy of spending lots of time with… they learn everything they need to know from who you are and not at all what you say and ‘teach’. I used to think as Lynn123 and had some hard times admitting how disrespected I was as a child. Just stand by yourself, Lynn123, and really remember what it was like to be hit by your mother and father. Do you hit your partner too? Do you hit misbehaving strangers? Of course not. Just meditate on that for a bit if you would. It is a crime, a terrible crime against the self to smack, to hit, to spank. (Parenting without Punishing by the wonderful child advocate, Norm Lee, who was beaten by his daddy.) Can children endure spanking and horrid disrespect? Of course they can… should they ever need to?

    Reply
    1. Tammy

      Brian, I appreciate your kind words. And many of your posts are insightful and helpful to me. I like your honesty.

      Here’s the insanity. If my adult neighbor did or said something disrespectful towards me, and I got a tree limb and went over and smacked him with it several times, I would be arrested for assault. (And rightly so.). But if I did the same thing to my child, people would praise me for being a “good” parent! It makes me sad.

      I’m a grandma now, but our rules still apply: people don’t hurt people; and people don’t hurt animals.

      Reply
    2. Lynn123

      Brian, thanks for your kind and supportive words. I’m feeling like the issue here is that where some see spanking, others see hitting and beating. In my mind, they are very different things; but all of us do not think alike. Your statement that it’s a crime to spank-that sounds quite drastic to my mind. But that doesn’t mean you’re wrong and I’m right. We just look at the same action and see very different things happening. Maybe you think I’m nuts, damaged, whatever to even think of considering spanking to be an acceptable thing. Again, the heart of the parent, their relationship with their child, etc. also enters into all this. And also, I think way more damage can be done with words or neglect than any spanking.

      Reply
  9. Tom

    The “I was spanked and turned out fine” argument is bullshit. Anecdotes are not evidence.

    Reply
    1. Lynn123

      Tom, well, do I not have a right to tell my own story? Do I not know myself and my life better than you do? If I tell you that I was spanked occasionally and turned out fine-how is that bullshit? How is that you respecting me?

      Reply
      1. J.D. Matthews

        You have the right to tell your story, but you seem to be under the misconception that we’re obliged to validate you in some way. Sorry.

        Reply
  10. Ami

    “I was spanked and I turned out fine.”

    No. Because you were hit, you believe that hitting children is okay.
    That is not ‘fine’.
    That’s sick.
    Fucked up.
    Wrong.

    Reply
    1. Lynn123

      I think we have different definitions of the words spanking and hitting.

      Reply
      1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

        They are one and the same. To spank is to hit. If it’s not, please explain how spanking is not hitting. The motivation, the act, and the effect all seem to be similar to hitting. If it walks, talks, and acts like hitting….it’s hitting.

        It’s hard for any of us to admit that their parents and later ourselves were violent and abusive. But, that’s exactly what spanking is, regardless of who’s doing it or their motivation for doing so.

        The reason people have responding harshly to you is that you are advocating hitting children as a means of getting them to what you want them to or to punish them. Remove the parent-child dynamic, and such behavior towards anyone else would be considered assault. You advocate for using violence against children by their parents (with your approval based on you being spanked yourself), yet you disapprove of a husband doing the same. Why is that? You see the former as good child training, yet you see the latter as domestic violence. Surely you can see the double standard in your argument?

        Reply
  11. J.D. Matthews

    Lynn123, the example of your own corporal punishment that you chose to post was your father smacking you for choosing the people you wanted to hang out with. He literally hit you for choosing a friend.

    How you don’t find that hideous and abusive is beyond me. That’s awful, and quite frankly, under the law, it’s a felony. It should not be defended in any way.

    Unfortunately, it seems like your father passed along his narcissism to you. That’s a pity.

    Reply
    1. Lynn123

      J.D. Matthews,

      In my opinion, what’s a pity is that I was dumb enough to comment on this post to begin with. My being relaxed and telling an instance from my childhood has led to my being insulted and called a name. But, my main embarrassment is that my telling my story led to someone making outlandish comments about my own father. I regret saying anything at all on this subject.

      Reply
      1. Emma

        Some people who are spanked turn out fine, some people don’t. I respect that some people who are spanked as children are fine with it. I only ask that they acknowledge that some of us are affected by it, and bear that in mind when they raise their children.

        I had sexual reactions to being spanked, which is a common protective mechanism against fear. I turned out kinky. I really don’t like spanking and bondage, but I don’t have a choice if I want a sex life. I’m wired that way. I can’t get pleasure from anything else. Would I be kinky if I hadn’t been spanked? Maybe. But I’d sure as hell be more comfortable with my sexuality if I hadn’t been aroused by my parents spanking me.

        Maybe one in ten children are affected by being spanked. Maybe less. Still, I wouldn’t wish this on anyone. There’s no way to know whether your child is going to be the one who reacts like me. Can you see how being turned on by grown adults – adults that you’re related to – hitting you is an incredibly traumatic experience for a child who doesn’t fully understand sexuality yet?

        Reply
        1. GeoffT

          Emma, you’ve introduced a perspective on this debate that had never even occurred to me. I was largely in the anti-smacking camp with provisos, but now I’m inclined just to say it’s always wrong.

          Reply
          1. Zoe

            Emma, this is a contribution to the topic that is important. Thank you for sharing it.

      2. Brian

        Lynn123, Your comment regarding turning out fine is clichéd speech. and can be called, anecdotal fallacy. Because you feel you turned out fine regardless the hitting/spanking/swatting, does not mean that those actions were fine and dandy. It might be that you are correct and you somehow simply integrated those ‘assaults’ as normal life. But the more likely answer to me is that you were harmed in such a way that you are unable as an adult to see the harm done to helpless children by hitters. I regret that you will not consider the matter further. Have you read Alce Miller on the subject? If I am invited by you, I will be happy to include a relevant quote by her.

        Reply
      3. J.D. Matthews

        Sadly, your response only validates what I was saying.

        It’s not outlandish to call someone who hits a child, in response to the crime of choosing a playmate, a narcissist and a monster. That’s abusive and an actual criminal act.

        Try this as a litmus test: if doing the action to someone else who is not your kid would get you charged with an assault and battery, then it’s probably not something you should do to your own offspring.

        If you’re doing this to your own children, I hope for their sake that they’re taken away from you and given to a more worthy parent.

        Reply
  12. Tom

    I was spanked, slapped, and had my hair pulled, and I “turned out fine” as well. Put myself through college and law school, and passed my bar by the time that I was 27.

    But that kind of behavior toward a kid is never justified: I got where I did not because of it but in spite of it. If anything, it kindled a resentment for those who arbitrarily and capriciously use positions of authority to take advantage of others.

    So, if you want to swap anecdotes, there’s mine.

    But science does not support the use of corporal punishment as an effective way to raise kids. It’s easy to see why Benjamin Spock, whose education is grounded in science, would be a source of resentment to someone like Lori Alexander, who is only grounded in fables and folklore.

    Reply
  13. Karen the rock whisperer

    I’ve been thinking about this thread, and one of the things I believe is true is that most of the posters are thoughtfully anti-violence. This is not that common a belief, and we should remember it. It’s easy to be non-thoughtfully anti-violence, carrying the general belief that violence is bad except for the exceptions. Spanking children. Executing criminals. Things that our society has historically honored as ways to keep our society civilized. Spanking children was a method of civilizing them. Executing criminals was a way of ridding ourselves of the worst evildoers. It’s the kind of thinking that allows someone to root for drones that take out terrorist leaders and damn, those other folks at the wedding (or all the folks at the wedding that wasn’t where the terrorist leaders were) were collateral damage.

    When you start to think about it, though, limiting violence in every possible way is hard work. It’s more work to raise kids to behave without spanking them. Do you have the time/energy to raise your kids nonviolently? It’s easy to say well, if you don’t, you shouldn’t have had them, but we are all human and humans make mistakes with things like birth control. Joe Politician is clearly the best candidate for your state’s governor; he understands how to solve your economic crisis, and one and maybe both your state houses will have the votes to support him. However, he’s VERY pro-death-penalty. How do you vote? Your government is bombing innocent people. It isn’t a LOT of innocent people, relative to all-out war, after all. What is your political take on it? How much do you care?

    So, I’m just pointing out that good people can make decisions we disagree with, and feel pushed into a corner trying to defend them based on morality. It takes a lot of practice to answer questions about such issues without automatically feeling guilty and persecuted. Life is complicated. I want to believe I’m on the right in every decision I make, while my reasoning brain knows that’s impossible. But damn, get me feeling about it, and reasoning brain goes off to get a cup of coffee or something.

    This should NOT be considered an excuse for spanking (which I strongly disagree with), nor should it be considered a comment on anyone’s contribution to this discussion. Instead it’s an appeal for all of us to keep thinking, to keep challenging our beliefs when given the opportunity to do so, and to remember that changing someone’s mind usually requires empathetic understanding first. ( Not everyone’s mind can be changed, and not everyone’s position has something that a random individual can be empathetic about. YMMV.)

    Reply
  14. Emma

    Thank you, GeoffT. I appreciate your willingness to listen.

    I’ve been part of kink communities since the day I turned 18. I’m not the only kinkster who loathes their sexuality thanks to being spanked as a child. It’s shameful to admit that you figured out sex when your parents spanking you, so nobody wants to say anything. But if we don’t speak up, nothing will change.

    Reply

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