Rav Avigdor Miller: Should Parents Hit their Children?

Q: Should parents hit their children?

A: Let me tell you something.  What I’m going to say is my own opinion, but it’s said in the Tanach: If you love your children, smack them.

Of course today, unfortunately, it’s a wicked world.  I know a nice boy, a frum boy.  He has a frum father.  His father hit him; a boy of thirteen years old and he called up the police.  It’s a terrible thing.  Police came.  The police should come and hit the boy, “What are you bothering us for?! Your father has a right to hit you!”  No, they wouldn’t say that today.  There are committees, child abuse, meshugaim, psychology.

Another case.  There’s a girl who went to a frum girl’s school.  The girl’s school had a dress code.  This girl didn’t want to follow the dress code of her school and so they said she has to leave the school.

So I told the parents, “Why didn’t you give her a slap and force her to follow the dress code?”

They said, “Well, she has emotional problems.”

So the girl become worse and worse.  This school expelled her.  She went to another school, they expelled her there too.  And now they have a great deal of trouble with her.

If you want to save your child, one slap could save the child.

One of my children once didn’t dress properly when he was young.  A little, little child.  I gave a good slap and never did it happen again.  This child never did it again and he grew up frum and happy today.  He even thanks me for what I once did to him.  A good parental slap is a blessing min haShomayim.

Of course, you can do it with chochmah.  You can say it like this, “My child, for what you did, I have to hit you.  I should hit you four times.  I’ll do you a favor, I’ll hit you only two times instead of four.  You’re getting a bargain.”

There’s no such thing as not obeying.  A child must obey!  Unfortunately today, it’s such a crooked mixed-up world that they say, “I’m going to call in the child abuse committee.”

I once had that too.  People in our shul once called in the child abuse people against a couple and the couple was so angry that they moved away from us because of that.  And they were right! Don’t use the child abuse committee at all.  They have wicked ideas that the modernists have brought in order to make up for problems that in olden days were solved very easily.

TAPE # E-240 (July 27, 2000)

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  1. Spanking’s fine for a 2 year old running into a street. But spanking a 13 year old for how they dress is more likely to backfire.

    All kids act like brats if they’re not put in their place. But some kids have real emotional problems. Spanking a child who’s not capable of controlling themselves only makes it worse.

    If your shul is calling the authorities on you because of how you’re acting, and your solution, instead of examinging your behavior, is to move away, it’s a sign of some serious parenting issues.

    He says children have to obey, but no child fully obeys. It’s more about having control of the situation than being obeyed

    • After many hours of contemplation Goose is going to take R Avigdor Miller’s advice the local therapist.

      Goose spent many hours tossing & turning as surely the local therapist giving anonymous advice on a blog must know something that R Miller didn’t but R Miller is going win this one.

      Gossage out!

  2. If the child is spanked when he is 2 years old for running into the street, it would not be necessary to spank him when he is 13. Mothers and fathers have to parent their children, not be their friend. That will happen as the child gets older.

  3. i think you should ask a Rav if posting opinions on this subject from 20 plus years ago is appropriate
    Rav Wolbe zl said these days are different…
    Many children that have gone off can tell you many stories about hitting being used improperly

  4. Does Local realize that this is quoting Rabbi Avigdor Miller? Who cares what your opinion is? If you would like to quote a dissenting opinion or say “times have changed” for context (both of which Practical does), that would be more appropriate. But simply disagreeing with Rabbi Miller because you feel he is wrong or your experience does not support it seems highly inappropriate, as least for a frum forum such as this. Perhaps Local should clarify his/her statements or religious affiliations.

    • “the square” makes a valid point. You don’t go to your doctor for baseball batting advice, you go to your coach. you only go to the doctor to find out when you’re healthy enough to go back to playing. Similarly, go to your rav for parenting advice. A therapist can’t tell you how to raise a typical child. We’re only qaulified to treat mentall illness.

      A therapist can tell you what a child is capable of before punishing them. Unlike typical children, these children will not, cannot, comply with force.

      Parents always have to establish dominance. But the means of doing so vary by time and place. Rav Miller was speaking in a different time. In a culture that uses spanking, the parents who don’t spank show their not in control by being too indulgent. When society does not spank, the spankers show they’re not in control by being angry.

      I’ve dealt with DYFS hundreds of times, and not once have I seen them remove a child for spanking. When a child threatens to call DYFS, the parents should hand them the phone and dial the child abuse hotline for them. Let the kid see that they can’t threaten the parents. You’ll hear many horror stories about DYFS tearing families apart, but you don’t see what really happens behind the scenes. DYFS won’t do anything unless there’s real abuse or neglect. Even then, they often fail to act.

  5. Things definitely did change,
    However it does seem that as we have allowed non Jewish ideas of child raising to permeate our culture, as opposed to traditional Torah approaches, slowly the same problems that were awash in the non-Jewish world 20 years ago (broken homes, complete lack of derech eretz, immaturity, irresponsibility) are becoming more and more prevalent in “our” world.
    Is there any correlation?

  6. When I ate at a family in EY I saw how a father should hit a child. He spoke so gently explained why he is doing it then said tehlim cried for a minute and smacked the child. Most parents aren’t capable of hitting only with love. If they hit it’s all anger and that back fires because they are hitting the child not the action. Ok good luck

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