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Do "True Libertarians" spank their children?

Over the years, I've had many libertarians tell me that spanking my children doesn't mesh with the non-aggression principle. By most accounts, I like to consider myself just as libertarian as the next guy, maybe stopping just short of Penn Jillette style anarcho-capitalism. However, I just don't seem to have any trouble reasoning out a very simple justification for spanking my child. That's not to say that it is my preferred method, or that I think everyone should use this method, but it seems to work in some occasions and seems fitting for some children.
Simply put, parenting is force. There really isn't any way around the fact that to be a responsible parent, there are times when you must use force on your children. For those of you who take this harshly, remember, all force means is that you are controlling the actions of another. I "force" my two year old to go to bed at a certain time. I "force" my ten year old to go to school. I "force" my kids to eat, or to live at my house instead of running away with the circus.
By any account, if they were adults and I forced them to do these things, then I am a tyrant. But they are not adults, and as much as I'd like to rid them of the shackles of my oppression as soon as they are ready, they just aren't at this point. Having said that, the force I use to make them go to sleep on time is really only marginally different from the force I use when spanking them as a punishment for not accepting the earlier force I attempted with my words.
I've put a link to a good book about the topic at the top of this article. If this post isn't enough to satisfy your thoughts on this topic, and you don't want to shell out $2.99 for the book, let me know. Coincidentally, I own the rights to the book so if you want it for free, let me know and I'll email it to you. Not a great way to sell books, but I get much more enjoyment out of the debate, so feel free to lambast my pseudo-libertarian ideology on this topic. Hopefully it will make for some lively conversation on the topic of libertarians raising libertarians.

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I will say

please read the non aggression principle. There are certain instances where use of force is apropriate.

Label Jars, Not People!

It always seemed to me, in retrospect, that the point'v spanking

is not so much to teach the child in the present, but to teach them in the future.

So that when or if they are in a tight spot as adults, they remember pain from their childhood and don't do that thing.

Isn't that the theory then?

Defeat the panda-industrial complex

I am dusk icon. anagram me.

"Spare the rod, spoil the child".

"Spare the rod, spoil the child".
I got whopped. I turned out alright. It's healthy to associate pain with screwing up.

I will say there is a fine line between having a strong hand and having an abusive one though. You should never punish a child out of anger or while you are angry (easier said than done). Sends the wrong message (I'm not saying my father was abusive, but you ran when he got mad).

I've got a girl on the way (wife is 23 weeks) and I plan on spanking her, as a last resort.

If ignorance is bliss, Washington DC must be heaven.

I once heard it said that communism only works in a family...

from each his abilities, to each his needs.

Love has to be the source of a family's structure--physical punishment alone will never do the job.

Christians should not be warmongers! http://www.lewrockwell.com/vance/vance87.html



and snakepit22, how did you get the rights to this book?

you're the author?



Free market capitalism isn't right for America because it works better. It's right because it's free (and it works better).

Just spanking is not the way.

Personally I don't see the harm behind spanking a child when they are old enough to understand the lesson of improper behavior. But spanking should not be the only tool parents should use to raise children. Giving a hug when a child does something right should be used 99.9% of the time. Explaining why a behavior is good should be used 99.9% of the time. Praising with positive reinforcement should be used 99.9% of the time. If only spanking is used by a parent. Then people around the parent should teach them that it is wrong. They should hug them when they are right, they should explain why a behavior is good and they should praise them with positive reinforcement.

I agree

I once worked with a child that intentionally got spanked cause the only time his dad spent time with him was when he got spanked. Boys need attention from daddy.


Use it sparingly and not with full force but by all means spank a kid that deserves it. They are not going to break or be scarred for life.
America has gotten soft: http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200411/nation-wimps

Not one to quote the bible but... "Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them." Seems to me that includes an a**-whipping now and then.

"One resists the invasion of armies; one does not resist the invasion of ideas" Victor Hugo

I once heard a comedian say:

You are going to get your ass kicked one way or another the rest of your life so you might as well get used to it now...

We all share this eternally evolving present moment- The past and future only exist as inconsequential mental fabrications.

Different Version...

I heard it another way: "Raise your children to be resilient. It sets them up to be successful in the face of adversity which is inevitable".

"One resists the invasion of armies; one does not resist the invasion of ideas" Victor Hugo

of course

there are times when you have to use force on children, for exmple, grabbing them if they are about to stick their hands in a socket or something. But generally, using physical punishment, will teach them this is a legitimate way to solve disputes. Studies show that children who receive corporal punishment are more likely to engage in violent, anti-social behavior as they grow older. Talking to your kids and having them understand WHY they should do or not to do certain things will not only set a better example, but make them more responsible since they learn to do things because there's a reason to do them, not for fear of punishment. It will also increase their critical thinking skills if they feel free to question and understand what the rules are, and why they are there. It will improve the parent-child relationship; the child sees the parent not as an arbitrary authority figure, but a caring and thoughtful person. Hopefully, it will also break the connection between takes care of me/punishes me, which the government exploits.

I don't think it's a complete coincidence that poorer communities see higher rates of physical discipline correllated with greater cmmunity violence and dependence on the government.

Fortune Favors the Bold

The 'studies' you mention don't take a lot of other factors into


"Opponents make the false assertion that children who are “hit” by their parents grow up to be violent, citing studies that support their claim. But if you look at the details of their studies, you will note that they gather their data from interviews with violent criminals or psychiatric patients. “You murdered six women; were you spanked when you were a child?” Since 90% of all U.S. parents spank or “hit” their kids, what do you think the results are going to show? That’s right; nine out of ten violent criminals were spanked when they were children. I have never seen a study that asked a group of well-adjusted professionals if they were physically disciplined as children and what part they thought it played in their success. What would our critics conclude by the fact that 90% of the successful, nonviolent professionals were spanked by their parents?"

Read the full article here...


Christians should not be warmongers! http://www.lewrockwell.com/vance/vance87.html

Why not just punish them by

denying them things they really want and can only get from you? You can teach them the virtues of voluntary trade from an early age.

“The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants.” — Albert Camus

This is a good question

I find that this works almost all the time. There are times, though, that a swat can prevent a more dire consequence, ie. swatting a child who defiantly attempts to run in the road after you have firmly warned him not to, or similar actions dangerous to himself or others.

"Hence, naturally enough, my symbol for Hell is something like the bureaucracy of a police state or the office of a thoroughly nasty business concern." ~~C.S. Lewis
Love won! Deliverance from Tyranny is on the way! Col. 2:13-15

Phxarcher87's picture

As a libertarian i appreciate

As a libertarian i appreciate my parents spanking my butt, but i hope to not have to with my children.

James Madison

My spanking philosophy is to

My spanking philosophy is to limit it to only when it is necessary to protect the child from a greater harm.

Accidental down vote.

was meant to be an up vote, but the finger slipped. Sorry.

Too bloody right I did!!!!

Toddlers need to learn that danger and out right defiance bring a hard punishment! Pain (and the illusion of it) is a great deterrent.A cupped hand on a nappy sounds terrifying, and hurts little.
However, once there is a verbal understanding, things change, privileges taken away, extra chores, and smacking becomes unnecessary and counter productive.
I was told by a very wise person, "the toddler you have is the teenager you will get....discipline early, and don't make a threat you can't carry out".
We have never raised a hand to our children past toddlerdom, and have FANTASTIC teenage children who have never given a moments grief.


Force becomes necessary when there a lack of understanding caused by an environment of physical, emotional or psychological disengagement. For a child to learn, for any brain to learn, it must be relaxed, it must feel safe in its environment for learning to occur. Where there is the 'naughty' child, there is the child that is lacking some form of internal rest. Surely there must be seriousness with the child, one must respect and understand the child when there is 'naughtiness' or 'good' behavior. Aggression begets aggression. The child cannot truly respect, trust, or learn by the persuasions of 'reward' and 'punishment'.


I have always considered spanking the act of a coward.

This is because I know a parent who spanks his kid to get the kid to do what is wanted would never slug his boss to get a raise or a cop to make him not issue a speeding ticket. I seriously doubt he would slug Mike Tyson to make him get out of his way either. But since a kid is not able to strike back or really do anything about being spanked, some people justify using this as a means to control and get what they want from the kid.

And it is totally unnecessary. It is just that some people have not learned the skills to get cooperation from their kids, and since they don't know a better way, and they are willing to act cowardly, they go ahead and hit.

So maybe you could say it is a Libertarian issue, but I think that is the wrong context. It is lack of knowledge and perhaps being taught violence by their own parents visiting violence on them as an example, and it is an expression of a cowardly personality.

"Bend over and grab your ankles" should be etched in stone at the entrance to every government building and every government office.

I won't.

Since we are to be the change we want to see in the world, I'll opt out of spanking. I will do my best to be a good teacher and student. Children have much to remind us about freedom. I heard a great idea that as a punishment make your kids do something creative like paint or draw something before they can play or something.

"You're not going outside until I see a mountain and a f***ing rainbow, Robby."

Haha. Do not swear at your kids but do be light with them or do your best to. They're gonna get their a*ses kicked plenty when they're out on their own.

"We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience"—Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

I tell the story of how I came to support Ron Paul

How I read through some verses in the Sermon on the Mount and the Holy Spirit showed me the way past the dissonance of the left/right paradigm and how government violence does not align with how Christ wants us to live. The exact same moment, when the topic is parenting, is what I'm referring to when I explain the paradigm shift I had that allowed me to see spanking children is wrong. It was all the same paradigm shift for me.

Defend Liberty!

I dunno about spanking but trussing them up

like little Christmas hams and throwing them in a dumpster?

Just waiting for the right moment.

Be brave, be brave, the Myan pilot needs no aeroplane.


me too

Striking a person is violent.

Striking a person is violent. It's aggressive. It's the initiation of the use of force.

How is using that against your children teaching them anything valuable? If anything, spanking a child is teaching them (by your example) that conflict resolution can be achieved by using force. Is that really the way you want to teach your children to handle conflicts?

I have only been a "libertarian" for about two years, but after I accepted the non-aggression principle, I almost automatically rejected spanking. And I WAS spanked as a child. I think it's morally reprehensible and I don't think it is as effective as peaceful parenting.

Coincidentally, after I came to fully understand the NAP, I no longer can justify supporting any form of government, and have decided to no longer vote.

"No physical quantity explains it's own existence, and no amount of time can consume an infinite series of events to bring you to the present, which means all of these somewhere have to be explained by one self-existent cause which is not physical."

My view on this..

Parents who use violence against their kids are cowards because if the kids were somehow stronger they would reconsider their methods and use an alternative to avoid getting their own asses kicked.

If you plan on spanking kids, don't have them. If I see you do it, you will be talking with me.



I try to change people every day. Do You?

Interesting article from

Interesting article from HuffPo on a parallel topic. Funny to see the HuffPo be more libertarian than many of YOU:


"We need to let 3-year-olds climb trees and 5-year-olds use knives....

Children can go hungry from time-to-time....

Children should spend less time in school."


not so much spanking kids as it is having those brats call social services and turning you in for it! I had that happen with my kid. I told said kid that if he ever did it again I would let them take him and that put the fear of God in his ass!