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Laura MacCorkle Christian Blog and Commentary

In Search of "The Spanking Spoon"

  • Laura MacCorkle

    Laura MacCorkle is Crosswalk.com's former Senior Entertainment Editor. 

  • 2008 Aug 25
  • Comments

There have been a lot of “in search of” type of documentaries that have released in recent years.  Everything from looking for Noah’s Ark to trying to find out whatever happened to Debra Winger (and other “older” actresses in the Hollywood scene).  Go figure. 

So in that spirit, I was thinking that it would be interesting to launch an investigation into whatever happened to “the spanking spoon.”  ‘Cause I sure haven’t seen it around too much lately—even in Christian circles.

Yes, it seems that the subject of spanking has become almost taboo these days.  And I’m not sure why.  I guess I grew up in an era when spanking was the norm (the ‘70s).  Just as their parents did a generation before them, my mom and dad held fast to “spare the rod, spoil the child.”  In fact, it was not out of the norm for me to get one (deserved!) spanking a week—if not more.

And it’s not because my parents were chomping at the bit to wale on me.  Nor did they ever get even close to what could be considered child abuse (a fear that is not unfounded in this upside-down day and age, where “right” is “wrong” and “wrong” is “right”). 

It was that I was chomping at the bit to test their authority.  So something had to be done that nipped this in the bud and brought about submission in my heart.

As a strong-willed child (who I’m sure could have been the inspiration for a dedication in Dr. James Dobson’s popular parenting book, The Strong-Willed Child), I was all about the “no” and the “I don’t want to” and the “why???”

Since my mom stayed home with my sister and me during our formative years, she was the primary disciplinarian in our family.  Our first edition of “the spanking spoon” was the hair brush.  It could be whipped out quite quickly from a handbag. should I throw a tantrum in the middle of the grocery store or at a fine eating establishment.

As I got older, I moved up to the yard stick.  I remember one (comical in hindsight) incident in which my mother was administering spankings to my sister and me with the yard stick.  And believe me, she’d given us plenty of warnings and opportunities to change our behavior (we were bickering) and our actions (we were probably hitting or scratching, as girls are wont to do). 

It seems that the maternal error in judgment was made in the decision to spank the compliant, first-born child first (my sister).  Meanwhile, back in the backyard, I had quietly slipped out of the house and climbed up into the tree house to hide and bide my time. 

It didn’t take my mom very long to find me, though.  And when she came outside, with trumpet fanfare she announced loudly from the back porch:  “Laura Roe MacCorkle, if you don’t come down from that tree house, you’ll have your father to deal with when he comes home from work!” 

Oh no … Gasp! … NOT … no, no, no … NOT … NOT DAAAAAAAAAD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Faster than an ice cream cone melts outside in the Texas summertime, I scurried down through the tree branches on the backside of the tree.  And round and round the base of the tree my mother chased me with the yard stick in her outstretched hand.

During this time, on the other side of the chain-link fence, the six neighbor children stood lined up and watched this spectacle unfold.  I’m not sure if they had time to go get the popcorn-and-soft drink combo at the concession stand or not.  But I’m sure this race around the trunk was an entertaining display nonetheless.

I really didn’t care what the kids thought anyway.  I was more focused on keeping my hind end away from the yard stick.  And from my mother. 

Eventually, though, I knew I’d have to end the roundabout, and so I raced into the house where I met my fate.  Smack.  Smack.  Smack. 

I deserved it.  I had disobeyed.  And my spanking was the consequence.  In my case, it was the only thing that spoke my language and got through my thick head, my strong-willed heart, my stubbornness and my disobedience.

I can only say this:  “Thank God my parents spanked me!”  Had they not, who knows where I would be today.  Granted, I have still made my own foolish choices and share of stupid mistakes over the years as an adult.  But I am so thankful that there is a foundation of biblical training and discipline that has informed my life.  And it is this way in which I was raised that I am now returning to as an adult. 

But looking around me, I wonder how we got from a generation who spanked (responsibly and carefully) and without judgment from the political-correctness police to a day-and-age when parents are negotiating with their children instead of disciplining them.  (Did you know that corporal punishment is banned in 24 countries?)

Something is definitely wrong with this picture.  I can only surmise that as our culture has drifted further away from the Word and the instruction therein, that we have begun to devise our own methods for what should be the pinnacle of effective punishment.  And that seems to mean that "the spanking spoon" is just about extinct.

As a child whose backside benefitted from some swats in my childhood, I know that should I have children one day … well, let me just say that I will search for and I will find that "spanking spoon."  And I will use it.  Responsibly and carefully.  And with love.

My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline and do not resent his rebuke, because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in (Proverbs 3:11-12, NIV).

He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him (Proverbs 13:24, NIV).

Discipline your son, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to his death (Proverbs 19:18, NIV).

Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it (Proverbs 22:6, NIV).

Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him (Proverbs 22:15, NIV).

Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish him with the rod, he will not die.  Punish him with the rod and save his soul from death (Proverbs 23:13-14, NIV).

The rod of correction imparts wisdom, but a child left to himself disgraces his mother (Proverbs 29:15, NIV).

Discipline your son, and he will give you peace; he will bring delight to your soul (Proverbs 29:17, NIV).

Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.  “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise—“that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”  Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:1-4, NIV).

Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.  Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged (Colossians 3:20-21, NIV).