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Child Discipline

It’s tough being a Watchtower kid!

Chicago Sun-Times, November 14, 2023

The group known as the Christian Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses disavowed corporal punishment as an acceptable way to discipline children, said J.R. Brown, a national spokesman for the Jehovah's Witnesses.

"It has nothing to do with the religion," Brown said. "It isn't even biblical teaching . . . Taking the life of another is a sin. Being cruel and abusive is a sin."

[Emphasis Added]

Watchtower 1956 Feb 1 p.95 "Teddy Bear" Discipline

•Modern parents, in this age of delinquent youngsters, can take a lesson from the mother "teddy bear," the koala. When baby koalas "are really naughty," writes Ivan T. Sanderson in his new book Living Mammals of the World, "the mother turns them over her knee and spanks them on their bottoms for minutes on end with the flat of her hand, during which time their screams are soul-rending."

[Emphasis Added]

Watchtower 1954 January 15 p.49 Rearing Children in the New World Society

Recently a leading New York newspaper ran a series on teen-age crime and gang wars, and, after noting the rise of progressive methods of child training that all but discard discipline, said: "Many of those fighting teen-age crime are convinced this lack of discipline is to blame for many children refusing to accept normal standards of behavior." J. Edgar Hoover has investigated the causes of juvenile delinquency and claims ninety per cent of it is traceable to lack of parental discipline. A Brooklyn court judge contributes this caustic comment: "I think we need the woodshed for some young folks. But that is not considered fashionable now. Now we are told you must not strike a child; you may be stunting a genius."

6 But is there springing up around us a bumper crop of unstunted geniuses? Rather are we not reaping a record harvest of juvenile delinquents?

[Emphasis Added]

Watchtower 1954 January 15 pp.54-62 Disciplining Children for Life

That brings us to discipline, and forces a facing of that hotly controversial question: to spank or not to spank.

2 Many child psychologists put a "hands off" sign on children, as did one who said: "Do you mothers realize that every time you spank your child you show that you are hating your child?" Jehovah says: "He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him." A spanking may be a lifesaver to a child, for Jehovah says: "Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you beat him with a rod, he will not die. If you beat him with the rod you will save his life from Sheol." Again, "Blows that wound cleanse away evil; strokes make clean the innermost parts."


So it is with children. Some are more sensible than others; some are meeker than others. A rebuke may discipline them more than a whipping would others who are more stubborn and in whose childish heart may be bound up a more than usual amount of folly.

5 Parents, if this is the case with your child, be patient.


If you children have been the subjects of our discussion, it is because you are the objects of our affection. All right, you say, but if you grownups are so fond of us what is all this talk about discipline, and especially spanking? Well, with you children that does touch a tender spot, does it not? But to help us get to the bottom of the matter let us look at the animals that you children love. Jehovah's wisdom is reflected in his creations, so to look to animals for instruction is not to lower our thinking to their level, but to lift it to God's thoughts...

18 There is no juvenile delinquency in the animal realm, because there are no delinquent animal mothers. They do not spare the paw and spoil the young, but spank to preserve the young. They would die fighting for their young, just as your parents would die for you; yet they spank their young, just as your parents may spank you. In the woods the first mistake is often the last, and if the young animals disobeyed their mothers they would become the main course on a woodland menu and end up in another animal's stomach. So, while it may not be pleasant for them to be spanked, it is better to be beaten than to be eaten...


27 You parents know what you must do. You children know what you must do. Jehovah knows what he will do. If we obey him, he will do things for us. If we disobey him, he will do things to us.

[Emphasis Added

Watchtower 1955 March 1 p.135-6 The Bible's Answer to Modern-Day Living

How does the Bible answer the problem of juvenile delinquency? It shows that parental delinquency is the cause of it. It commands parents to "train up a child in the way he should go," not shunt him off to a Sunday school and expect him to go the way he should. The Bible does not agree with some modern views of child raising. For example, it shows that allowing a child to grow up according to its own whims and caprice is wrong and leads to crime. "Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child." The literal use of the rod in punishing a child may sometimes be necessary; the Bible recognizes this: "Withhold not correction from the child; for if thou beat him with the rod, he will not die."-Prov. 22:6; 22:15; 23:13, AS.

[Emphasis Added]

Watchtower 1956 May 15 pp.305-6 Youth in the New World Society

5 As an illustration of child rule in the home, this occurred in a Christian home. The child pleaded and raised a fuss about a certain type of food it wanted and did this in a demanding way. The mother yielded and prepared the food. When the food was set before the child he decided he did not want it after all. The mother coaxed, but when the child feigned illness the mother took the food away. Under his breath the child was heard to say: "Well, I really got out of that one!" In this instance there was no discipline and the child was developing the trait of selfishness and was becoming self-centered. Parents may not always realize it, but children test them too. An instance to show this occurred when a four-year-old boy, when his food was set before him, threw it on the floor when the mother stepped out of the room. A mild scolding resulted, whereupon the mother placed more food before him. This was treated similarly in the absence of the mother. It was explained to him that some day he would be grown and would have children of his own, and, when asked what he would do if his child threw his food on the floor, he unhesitatingly responded: "I would whip him." He knew what was right and that proper corrective measures should have been administered. From an educational viewpoint he must have been somewhat disappointed in his parents. Children in similar circumstances could not look to their parents as a proper example of rearing children.

[Emphasis Added]

Watchtower 1956 May 15 p.310 Careful Living Helps Avoid Life's Pitfalls

2 Just having our children with us at the meetings, however, is not adequate. Here they will be expected to pay attention and not play, draw pictures or have side attractions. They should be taught that there is a time for things other than play. It may require the rod of correction to impress the necessity for being quiet and paying attention, but, when properly applied, such measures need not be repeated often. Sometimes a young boy of five or six will begin to get restless in the meeting and start fussing, disturbing many. His father, sitting beside him, will try to quiet him. He continues fussing and the father starts to get up to take the boy out. The boy does not want to go-he has been outside with his daddy before and has lost every round. So now junior becomes quiet for the rest of the meeting. Thus we see that when discipline is firmly and kindly applied so as to be remembered, it will be beneficial. Kind application may not always be soft application. Such discipline is not an indication of hatred on the part of parents, because an obedient child is generally very fond of a father and mother who mete out discipline in the proper way. Most of us have observed how children respect parents who enforce their words-with penalties, if necessary-and do not let their words die as mere idle threats. Most persons have respect for one who makes his word good, and that includes children. Children, be admonished therefore: "Be obedient to your parents in union with the Lord, for this is righteous: 'Honor your father and mother'; which is the first command with a promise." And, too, you parents who love your children, reprove the children for their good even as 'those whom Jehovah loves he disciplines, as in fact he scourges everyone whom he receives as a son.' Discipline is not pleasant at the time, but corrects for righteousness.-Eph. 6:1, 2; Heb. 12:6, 11, NW.

[Emphasis Added]

Watchtower 1956 October 15 p.637 Children Respond to Discipline

Children Respond to Discipline

A mother writes regarding her efforts at training four children: "I thought I had tried everything, as the saying goes, to make my children behave, still they were rebellious and antagonistic in our everyday relations. I had been a witness of Jehovah for five years, but my husband was violently opposed and I was forbidden to read any of the Watch Tower publications to the children. When it was stressed that it was the parents' responsibility to see that children had daily Bible instruction I decided to set aside time for daily Bible reading. This raised a howl of protest from my boys, ages 7, 5 and 3, as it always seemed to come at their most enjoyable time. After the account of creation they lost interest and the howls grew louder as I turned off the television every night and announced it was time for Bible reading. Many times I sat with the Bible in one hand and the rod of correction in the other..."

[Emphasis Added]

Watchtower 1960 February 1 p.80 Mildness and Self-Control Yield Peaceable Fruitage

15 Not only must parents in the Christian home be mild in temper toward each other, but they must also have the same mental disposition toward their children. "You, fathers, do not be irritating your children, but go on bringing them up in the discipline and authoritative advice of Jehovah." Discipline of children is absolutely necessary, for Jehovah's advice is: "The rod and reproof are what give wisdom; but a boy let on the loose will be causing his mother shame. Chastise your son and he will bring you rest and give much pleasure to your soul." It is an act of love, not hatred or ill will toward the child, for the parents to administer corrective discipline. "The one holding back his rod is hating his son, but the one loving him is he that does look for him with discipline."-Eph. 6:4; Prov. 29:15, 17; 13:24.

16 Now you children, and this also includes all you teen-agers, have in mind that this discipline prescribed by Jehovah is medicine for your good, because disobedience, stubbornness and fits of anger are the ways of sin and death, and they are bound up in your heart from your very birth. It you want to live under God's kingdom rule, these devilish hereditary tendencies must be forcefully rooted out and supplanted with godly qualities, and the parental rod of correction will help to do this. "Foolishness is tied up with the heart of a boy; the rod of discipline is what will remove it far from him."-Prov. 22:15.

17 There may be rare instances where a child is so hardened in its stubbornness that even the rod of correction cannot drive it out. In the days of Israel parents were instructed by Jehovah to take such a rebel to the city fathers and they, in turn, took the incorrigible one out and stoned him to death. There were no juvenile delinquents under such a system. (Deut. 21:18-21) So also today, the New World society of Jehovah's witnesses can not and will not tolerate juvenile delinquency to exist in its midst. So, to avoid a possible death-dealing blow by being disfellowshiped from the congregation, wise theocratic children give heed to and follow what God's Word says: "Children, be obedient to your parents in union with the Lord, for this is righteous." "You children, be obedient to your parents in everything [this leaves nothing out], for this is well-pleasing in the Lord." "Listen to your father who caused your birth," the Proverb says, "and do not despise your mother just because she has grown old."-Eph. 6:1; Col. 3:20; Prov. 23:22.

[Emphasis Added]

Watchtower 1962 August 1 p.460 Building A Happy Family

14 From experience many parents have learned that the best way to train their children in Christian ministry is to get them started in the house-to-house distribution of the Watchtower and Awake! journals. (Acts 20:20) This is a wholesome work, one that can be engaged in easily by children and which generally produces good results, enabling sincere inquirers to learn of God's kingdom. Parents, do you aid your children to have talking points on each magazine so that their presentations are both effective and knowledgeable? Yes, teaching one's own children is a prime responsibility for the parents, and both should share in it to the full. This parental teaching and training leads to family maturity.-Eph. 4:13, 14.

15 However, it is one thing to know some Bible principles but another to understand where and how to apply them. This is particularly true in the case of children. Wise parents will therefore recognize this and will constantly help their children to understand the whys and wherefores. For example, a child may be told not to steal. This does not mean much to a youngster with no sense of property rights and who sees something that he wants. So the parent will have to sit down and simply explain what stealing is and that it started with Satan and, since we do not want to be like him or end up like him, we will not do the things that originate with him. (Isa. 14:12-15) Also, when wrongdoing occurs and discipline must be administered, it should be done in love and according to the needs of the particular child. Some children need only a word and they understand. Some need firmer discipline down low enough and hard enough. Still others will best respond when they are deprived of something they love very much. Wise parents will learn which medicine works best and then administer it in the right doses at the right times.-Prov. 23:13, 14.

[Emphasis Added]

Watchtower 1963 Aug 15 p.497 Each One Will Render an Account

8 All children of Adam need correction, and at times firm discipline requires the rod, in the administration of pain. "Foolishness is tied up with the heart of a boy; the rod of discipline is what will remove it far from him." (Prov. 22:15) Jehovah's discipline is thus not a watered-down discipline such as that advised by some worldly authorities who would always hold back the rod. But the literal rod is what is basically meant at Proverbs 23:13, 14: "Do not hold back discipline from the mere boy. In case you beat him with the rod, he will not die. With the rod you yourself should beat him, that you may deliver his very soul from Sheol itself." At times, then, a parent will need to speak to the child by the administration of pain. This pain, God's Word assures us, is not going to kill the child; but it will have beneficial effects, protective benefits for the child, protecting "his very soul from Sheol."

[Emphasis Added]

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