If it feels good, it's sinful

Why do parents believe God wants them to spank their children into submission? There are several underlying beliefs that motivate this approach:

  1. The parents believe human beings are essentially, inherently evil and thus...
  2. God wants parents to "break" their child's will.
  3. And since "foolishness is bound up in the heart of child," the only way to properly drive foolishness out of a child is by spanking.
  4. Lastly, parents believe their own human heart is "desperately wicked" and therefore, their own emotions are dangerous and not to be trusted; ie. they will suppress their natural, nurturing instinct in order to administer swift, harsh spankings.

A powerful method of manipulation is the suppression of normal, human emotions. While I was growing up, I was only allowed to feel a very narrow range of acceptable feelings. In fact, when I started going to therapy, one of the first things my therapist did was give me a kid's book that identified all the various human feelings.

Up until that point, I had methodically repressed all but a very few, select emotions. If I felt happy, I thought for sure I was sinning. God didn't want us to be happy, He wanted us to be holy!

I once had a friend in college ask me how many happy days I'd experienced in six months. Oh, that was easy. I'd only had 3 happy days. My friend was shocked. But I quickly tried to explain that actually this was good because it meant God was "working in my life." I was happy to be unhappy.

Hint: you might be in an unhealthy church environment (or following abusive teachings) if you're "happy to be unhappy." Or if the only time you feel good is when you're suffering.

I honestly believe this is how parents justify harming their children. They truly believe God wants them to make their children suffer--for their own eternal good.

When a parent sets out to break their child's will, other things get broken, too. You can't just break a person's will without affecting everything inside that person.

For example, there were several points in my life when I went totally numb. I was simply unable to feel anything anymore. It was sorta like a state of shock. I stopped caring. Thankfully, with the help of therapy, I've recovered most of my normal, healthy feelings.

But some parts of me have remained permanently broken.

This is why, when my estranged grandparents die, I won't attend their funeral. They broke me. Whatever glowing ember of normal human love a grandchild has for her grandparents was utterly quenched. I feel nothing toward them.

I suppose this why I'm so passionate about defending children. Because the truth is: you really CAN permanently harm them. You CAN break important parts of their being.

Sure, you can force your child to obey. You can break their will.

But understand that you can't choose what you're breaking. You don't have control over what happens if you choose to break your child.

If you try to break the human will, you just might end up breaking the human person.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- if you're in Southern California, my appearance on Anderson Cooper's daytime talk show airs today at 1pm on Fox11.