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Opinion | Family

Saved by Spanking

Reconsidering the controversial form of discipline in light of a new study—and timeless Scripture.

I was spanked. Not often, because I was a good kid. But still, I have one clear memory of getting a solid swat across my butt: I was probably 5 and had thrown a doozy of a tantrum in the grocery store. My mom told me that if I didn't calm down, she would spank me when we got home. I didn't calm down. So when we got home, she unloaded the car, put away the groceries while I sat, brooding and panicking. When she finished, she called me over with a pat of her lap and gave me a couple whacks.

I don't remember crying. I'm sure it didn't hurt (my mom's pretty wimpy). So of course it hurt my mom more than it hurt me, as she assured me when she hugged me afterward. And in fact, according to a study by Marjorie Gunnoe, a professor of psychology/child development at Calvin College (full disclosure: my beloved alma mater), those whacks made me the well-adjusted adult that I am today (*cough, cough*).

While other research (the ones that have kept my husband and me from spanking our children—well, except that once) has shown that spanking ramps up aggression and other not-so-great attributes in kids, Gunnoe's study says that "children who remember being spanked on the backside with an open hand do better in school, perform more volunteer work and are more optimistic than others who were not physically disciplined," according to The Grand Rapids Press.

Of course, aside from loving and following Jesus, the qualities that Gunnoe mentions—doing ...

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