Grandparents Don’t Get To Use Religion As An Excuse To Hit Kids Behind Their Parents’ Backs

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vintage grandfather photographI feel strongly that being religious isn’t what makes someone a good person, and being non-religious isn’t what makes someone a bad person. (For example: I’m a bad person because I hate to share my cookies, not because I’m a godless heathen.) Using your religion to justify hitting your grandchildren, however, does make you a bad person. Especially after the child’s parents have repeatedly told you to knock it the hell off.

Reddit user metazone has come to the Parenting subreddit to ask for help with his spare-the-rod-spoil-the-child in-laws, and the situation is troubling:

They started telling me that I would spoil my son by not hitting him, that I was stopping him from coming over (!) b/c I wouldn’t let them hit him (!!), and they tied it to their christian faith. I told them that arguing about the different methods of discipline was not the issue; the issue was that they disregarded parental policy and disrespected me. They said that this was not the issue. It went on and I tried to cut to the chase by saying that they aren’t to do it — and they both said that that they would continue to do it (!).

Sorry, it is not Grandma and Grandpa’s place to decide whether or not to hit a child. And if mom and dad “letting” you hit your grandchild (like it’s some kind of right or privilege?!) is a primary concern, maybe you need to consider retiring from this whole grandparenting gig.

The writer talks about how religion pervades every aspect of his wife’s parents’ lives, which is apparently not good enough for them: religion, and their specific, child-hitting brand of it, needs to pervade every aspect of their grandson’s life, too. The latest incident of confrontation ended with him telling him that their behavior was “bullshit” (which it is) and them becoming furious that he’d used a no-no word. It takes a very special sort of person to feel that a single cuss word is a far more grievous offense than walloping a three-year-old. Wait, did I say ‘special’? I meant ‘horrible’.

My in-laws are wonderful people, and they are religious people. Somehow, the conversation of, “So when are we allowed to start whaling on the grandkids?” has never come up. There are plenty of flavors of religion that don’t interpret Proverbs 13:24 as a justification to hit toddlers. In fact, since a verse a few lines back says, “Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish them with the rod, they will not die,” you kind of have to interpret this as a metaphorical rod rather than a literal one, since kids die all the time from corporal punishment. At least if you want the Bible to be inerrant more than you want a theological foundation for the god-given right to smack your kids.

(Image: Elzbieta Sekowska/Shutterstock)