When my former wife told people in the country that she did not smack her children, she was told that her children would grow up wild. This does not begin to pass the muster of history.
The baby boomers grew up in violent authoritarian households of the World War II generation; and they have the reputation for having been the wildest generation in history. The following generation – generation X – and my generation – generation Y – have been nowhere nearly as wild; and we grew up at the time that domestic violence was against the law.
The baby boomers endure the accusation of having been “spoiled”; but that is simply not the case. They grew up with the whip. They saw how wrong that was, and they have tried other methods of upbringing. Some of them have worked better than others.
My younger brother did not get hit by either one of his parents; but he is nowhere close to being wild. He has a PhD in nanotechnology from Stanford, and he is working on a top-notch project for a great American corporation. He was never into drugs; he was never into gangs; he was never into truancy. He has become in every manner a respectable person. And he grew up completely without violence.
As a non-violent father myself, I say with full certainty that non-violent methods of upbringing work. I treat my daughter as an intelligent form of life, not as an animal. When she does something wrong, I explain to her why it is wrong, and she does not do it any more. Not only does she behave, but she also gets good grades in school, has maintained good friendships with other children, and is the happiest child I've ever known.
The “spare the rod, spoil the child” claim is simply wrong. The World War II generation did not spare the rod, and it raised a generation of rebels. Whereas the children growing up when domestic violence was illegal turned out to be a lot more tame than their parents.
Much more effective than violence is engagement. It is learning to relate to the child at her level and to treat the child as a human being rather than as a beast. The people who want to use violence instead are lazy parents.
And lazy parents have no business claiming to speak for Christianity, tradition or family values.