kevin swanson suggests the need to discipline 20-30 times a day

It took some digging but I did find a sermon where one of the patriocentrists has spoken about the “discipline” of children. Here are some quotes from Kevin Swanson.

“There are some children that need to be disciplined, and I’ve heard this from Godly parents, 20-30 times a day. Some children 20-30 times a day, 3,4,5,6 years in a row. It is just overwhelming for some parents.”


“God limits the severity and civil magistrate has some very clearly defined pervue in cases of child abuse in the Scripture. This is a very, very important fact because you know the state is clueless on this issue, utterly clueless. In fact, I have a hard time finding a magistrate or legislator who knows what their role is in the family and is very plainly laid out in Leviticus 24:19 ‘If a man cause a blemish to his neighbor as he hath done so shall it be done to him.’ The use of the rod is very clear, no lasting harm allowed, period. Now this should relieve the conscience of every Christian parent here who from time to time leaves a bruise on a child, it’s legitimate, it’s not lasting harm, it’s not lasting harm. You understand some children bruise just like that, some children don’t, but children are very different in this way. But I’m bringing the word of God to bear on your consciences today. The state should not be an issue here when it comes to obeying the word of God. Now granted we do everything we can to agree with our adversary while we’re in the way with him. We don’t want to make a spectacle out of ourselves.” He goes on to say do it in private. (If you can stomach it, there are more appalling quotes from pastors on this subject, on Jocelyn’s website.)

From this mom and grandma’s perspective, any parent who feels the “need” to “discipline” 20-30 times a day, every day for 6 years really needs some Titus 2 instruction on different ways to deal with children. That’s 43,800 to 65,700 times and taken in context of this message might mean that many swats. At least. On what day into this parenting process would the normal mom say “this isn’t working” and then figure out something else? And then let’s multiply Kevin’s numbers by, say, 5 children. That’s 219,000 to 328,500 times you “need” to “discipline.” Perhaps this is the typical Swanson hyperbole at work, but maybe not.

Then let’s toss in the things that some of these people think are offenses that require “discipline,” such as simply being shy or not being able to keep your own little two year old legs from wiggling during the typical 2 hour patriocentric worship service. As I have said several times, the ignorance of the basic physical capabilities of small children and the unwillingness to consider their fragility astounds me. No wonder these parents are “overwhelmed.”

Sadly, Kevin Swanson is on his way to central Illinois for a “worldview” conference that is being promoted to homeschooling families in my area.

By the way, if Kevin or any of the other patriocentrists come out with a statement regarding the Pearls or their teachings, please post a link in the comment section.  I want to be very accurate in presenting their quotes.

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  1. Corrie says

    I am horrified. Just horrified. 20 to 30 times a day they need to be physically disciplined?! That would mean that it wasn’t just one swat per discipline session. Who can withstand such abuse and remain intact, both emotionally and physically?

  2. says

    Trish, it looks like the point is to overwhelm a child, according to Pastor Nathan Trice (and Doug Wilson, whom he quotes):

    “When your will and your children’s will conflict it is your job to break their will. You say, ‘That doesn’t sound healthy, that doesn’t sound good for my child in spiritual terms,’ well, what has God done with your will may I ask you? What has He done with your will? In some times very gently and slowly and other times by means of head-on collision. He has broken you.”

    “Brothers and sisters you need to recognize that when you spank you are to be bringing that child, Doug Wilson puts it this way, especially for a young child, ‘You need to be bringing that child to a place where at least for the moment in that little child’s mind he firmly believes the world is coming to an end…'” He goes on to repeat this statement for emphasis.

    These came from Jocelyn’s blog that I linked to yesterday. She has transcribed sermons of several pastors who addressed physical discipline.

  3. zerubabel says

    You are, sadly, taking Kevin out of context. Kevin is a personal friend of mine and I’ve seen him and his five children and I have to say they are a healthy and vibrant family. While I agree with Kevin that some children require more discipline that others(which includes spanking by the way–if you believe the Bible), I don’t think Kevin’s point was to promote excessive spanking or unloving or inappropriate discipline. Your accusation that Kevin would promote spanking for shyness is absolutely false. I’m saddened by your attack on this brother.

  4. says


    Perhaps you would be willing to put that quote into context for me. I am not sure what you mean. Again,seeking to be quite accurate here, maybe I didn’t understand. My past experience in listening to Kevin Swanson is that one of his favored speaking techniques is hyperbole, which is why I suggested that. Is that what he was doing? Or did he really mean what he said? What did I take out of context? I sincerely want to understand what you mean.

    Where did I say that “Kevin would promote spanking for shyness?” I said that THERE ARE THOSE within the patriocentric camp that have taught that. I have heard the teaching tapes with my own ears.

    Are you saying that spanking is required discipline according to the Bible? Again, we need to be very clear. Are you saying that to not spank is a sin? And are you talking about all children? Autistic children? Special needs kids? Children with Down’s syndrome? Adopted children who struggle with child abuse in their pasts? I would encourage you to look at the tremendous research that Carol has done before you toss all Christians into the “non bible believing camp” because they differ with you on this issue.

    I look forward to hearing from you.

    One more thing, and please be sure you understand what I am saying, as I am NOT accusing Kevin Swanson of abusing his children. Those who were closest to the Schatz family would have described them as a “happy and vibrant family.” Read this account from a close friend:

  5. a chance observer says

    Pastor Swanson is reformed the Pearls are not. A reformed person should understand that perfect obedience is impossible. They should also understand that any real obedience comes from God as does regeneration. They also understand that God uses means to bring about this obedience. These means include the faithful application of: the rod, a loving relationship, instruction/discipleship, prayer, fasting, church membership/means of grace, mentorship, etc. This is roughly the position of Pastor Swanson. Most in America have hated their in the name of loving them(Proverb 13:24). Some have overreacted and abuse their children. Christians must walk the narrow road. There are ditches on both sides. You might take the example of how God treats his adopted children in Romans 8.

  6. says

    Hi chance observer,

    I woukld encourage you to poke around this blog and follow some of the links on this subject. Samuel Martin has written a great book that explores the word “rod.” Clay Clarkson’s Heartfelt Discipline also has a section on the hebrew word for rod and how his heart was changed dramatically as a father once he understood the word and who it was applied to. Hint: never to young children. I agree that grace ought to be understood better by those who claim to embrace it than anyone else. Unfortunately, that seems to rarely be the case when it comes to matters of raising children especially. Check out Anne Sokol’s review on Ted Tripps Sheperding a Child’s Heart for a really good article on this. Just type these phrases in on the site search.

  7. judi says

    I’m wondering what he means by discipline?? I’ll bet I am disciplining my children at least 20-30 times a day but I may only spank a child once a week or less. Btw, I don’t believe spanking is Biblically mandated nor do I believe it is forbidden. Most of the time the discipline involves redirecting a toddler away from an activity that isn’t appropriate, reminding a child to complete a task completely, correcting another child for speaking unkindly to a sibling, etc. As much as I can’t stand Swanson I still prefer to be honest and not assume the worst about everything he says. Thatmom, I went to the link where you said he addressed the Pearls and I couldn’t figure out which recording you were referring to. Can you tell me the title please? Thanks!

  8. says

    Judi, the two quotes I listed were from Kevin’s sermon on the use of the rod. I link to that sermon in the first paragraph. I believe he is talking about spanking that many times a day, not other forms of discipline.

  9. HoppyTheToad says

    The people I know that follow the Pearls’ advice often spank their toddlers (ages 1-3) 20-40 times per day. By spank, I mean the child gets 20-40 licks with a switch per day. For example, every time the child tries to climb on the table, his leg would be switched. And instead of putting latches on kitchen cabinets a baby or toddler isn’t allowed to explore, his hand would get switched when he tried to open the cabinet door. (I do think at least some of them use latches on cabinets with dangerous things like cleaning chemicals, but I don’t think all these people do.)

    My comments are based on observations of people I know in real life.

  10. says

    Hoppy, I believe every word of it. I just read a blog a while back that was so outrageous I plan to give a whole blog entry as a response. One point she mentioned was that has never put a single latch on any door because she has “trained” them to obey so well. What you share as well as what Kevin Swanson said are examples of the instructions given to many parents through seminars and books etc. His comments didn’t surprise me in the least.

  11. judi says

    Thank you for the link thatmom! I just can’t imagine spanking a child that many times a day! Even with my most strong willed child I never spanked that often. I’m certainly not questioning the testimony that it happens I’m just pretty horrified by the idea. If you’re spanking that many times a day then I would say you’re not really parenting. It’s easy to swat a bottom. It’s not quite so easy to provide guidance and training.

  12. Jennifer P. says

    I just heard Kevin Swanson speak at the ICHE convention in Naperville, IL. I found him to be encouraging because he seemed to have a realistic perspective on the challenges of homeschooling. He emphasized the individuality of children and the need to adjust their education according to their individual needs. He acknowledged the temptation to be a prideful homeschool parent. His speaking style certainly has a tendency toward the dramatic:)

    I am a new subscriber to your blog, but happened to find this post when I was searching for information on a book he wrote as a commentary on the Book of Proverbs. I’m saddened to read what is posted above (including the links); I had never even heard of Kevin Swanson before I heard him speak on Thursday. I’m taking some time to think this through.

    I’ve heard the word patriocentricity used in relation to Christian homeschooling. I’ve been part of the homeschool community for five years and have encountered this philosophy. At the ICHE convention this year, I heard and observed a tendency toward authenticity and self-disclosure that broke through any “perfect parent” facades. This was more evident than in any prior conventions I had attended in my short homeschool career.

    Many of us are trying to make things better, closer, more loving for our kids. The “green” quotes on your blog page seem to encourage this. I’m trying to take in all the good information I can. Even though Kevin Swanson seems to be associated with some less-than-gracious philosophies, he was a tremendous encouragement to me this week.

    Thank you for your thought-provoking posts and analysis of the church and homeschool movement.

  13. says

    Jennifer, I am so glad that you were blessed by your time with Kevin. I continue to pray that some of those who have embraced a patriocentric philosophy would re-evaluate those ideals. Lord-willing, one of these days we will see public statements correcting the error Kevin taught as quoted in this piece. Thanks, too, for your kind words. After the last segment with Shawn, we are looking forward to continuing this discussion on the FIC with another pastor who at one time was in the FIC movement and saw that it did not address the issues properly.

  14. says

    When my daughter was little I used to read a column in the paper called “Hassle-Free Homework”. It was written by an educational consultant and was mostly aimed at helping parents help their kids succeed at school, but there was a lot of general parenting stuff there. The writer, Yvonne Fournier, lived (lives?) in Memphis, where we were then, and I heard her speak a couple of times.

    What I learned from her was to assume that most of the time, my daughter was doing the best she could, and what might strike me as bad behavior was simply her immaturity, or acting on incomplete information. You can ask open-ended questions to turn up the latter – “tell me what happened here” for instance, which is less accusatory than “why did you do X” – and you can make allowances for a little childish impulsiveness, but the main thing I found helpful was to try to view these issues as a strength that needed fine-tuning rather than a weakness to attack. So shyness, which we dealt with, was not viewed in our household as a character flaw. Instead, I told her, it came from her honesty: she felt that acting not shy was pretending to be a person’s friend, and she didn’t know them yet, so it seemed dishonest and fake. And we talked through how to deal with that, and it got better.

    I think a lot of what you are describing as a problem goes to a basic lack of respect for the child as being a person independent from each of the parents. Rather than differentiate between a child’s unique personality and actual bad behavior that has to be corrected, these people think they have to redesign their kid from the ground up and make her fit a pre-disposed pattern. You can’t, and you’ll break your kid and your relationship with the kid if you try.


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