As a father today, I don’t condone the use of physical punishment. (Although, my lack of patience at times brings the thought of implementing it into to my head.) I also don’t see how nuns thought that such physical reprimand helps and supports the discipline they were probably seeking.
My opinion is that these nuns or educators were taking it upon themselves to play a role of God. “My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves.” (Proverbs 3:11-13 NIV)
My problem with the physical discipline is that I believe it causes resentment. How would you feel if someone hit you? The physical punishment causes anger, and another spot in the bible says, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4 NIV.)
Words can have the same effect: to teach and mold or anger and exasperate. Personally, I find myself reverting to a mocking sarcasm if my five-year-old-son isn’t listening. Which effect do you think that had?
Whining is a default for him to get his way, which is incredibly draining at times. And yes, maybe I have enabled this behavior. Say he defaults to whining when he wants a second helping of dinner, and then I jump in with a whining repeat of what he just asked for. How is that disciplining him into proper behavior?
Hence the balance of discipline enters the play. The discipline needs to be painful enough to change the action, but loving enough in effort to not evoke anger.
Boundaries by Henry Cloud has been a great place for me to start.
Parenting young children is hard work. But the mantra, “Hard choices, easy life. Easy choices, hard life,” comes to mind. (Recently attributed to 62-year-old Olympic weight lifter Jerzy Gregorek.)
We put in the work now to teach out kids what types of behavior is acceptable and unacceptable, so they can be successful as they enter the word on their own.