Minister’s Blog

14 March 2019

The Scottish Government are taking soundings about the right of parents to smack their children. The Free Church have defended smacking on Biblical grounds. The Church of Scotland have supported a ban on different Biblical grounds. They cancel each other out!

Although I smacked our children, inheriting this strategy for effective discipline from my parents, I regret it for three reasons. Firstly, it was unnecessary. There are plenty of alternative strategies which I did adopt as the children grew older.

Secondly, this strategy is built on fear – and that is not a good basis on which to build family life. God is love and love should be the dominant force within the environment of the home. There is no way to monitor the fearfulness this strategy generates.

Thirdly, the motivation for using this strategy is not always pure. If we could be rational all the time, we could be sure that the reason for smacking a child was entirely based on what the child had done.

However, there were times when I reflected on my actions and wondered whether my frustration or anger with the child was not contaminated by a frustration or anger I felt about what was going on in other areas of my life.

This reflection did temper my actions but I live with some regret. For when Hairy Smith was headteacher in Ardrishaig Primary School, he belted people regularly. But when Mr. Paterson followed him, he belted no-one. I loved his class and thrived on his love and respect.