To Be a Better Father to Your Children, Ignore Proverbs and Eclus

When kid 1 was very young, he took threw rocks at my new(ly purchased) car. Scratches, dents, chips in the rear light lenses, the damage was…extensive.

Fortunately, I didn’t catch him in the act, only finding out about it when I came home sometime later. When I did find out my reaction was…poor.

Spare the rod and spoil the child.


This  sentiment has informed child rearing through all of history, inside the Christian world (and outside it), and…it’s wrong. In controlled tests, the threats of severe discipline were shown to have only a temporary effect on controlling a child’s behaviour.

I guess, due to that temporary effect, in Eclus 30:1 we are advised to beat our children, and beat them often.

There is great wisdom in the bible, but this advice is bullshit. I was not often physically disciplined, but enough to learn at a gut level that striking a child is wrong.

When kid 1 damaged that car, he was not being malicious, he was playing (we often threw rocks in the river).

I it was fortunate that I didn’t catch him in the act, if I had I fear I might have struck him. I have a bad temper, and hadn’t yet learned proper control.

But. I. Didn’t.

My reaction was bad, but did not include physical discipline, for which I will be eternally grateful. The thought of having stuck my 3 year old makes me physically ill, and my readings on the psychology of persuasion only reinforce this conviction.

Did you know that dolphins cannot be trained via negative feedback, i.e. through punishment?

Did you also know that dolphin trainers’ children turn out to be remarkably well adjusted, and well behaved?

Why do we treat captive animals, trained for mere entertainment, more humanely than we treat our own children?