Proverbs 23:13

ESV Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die.
NIV Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish them with the rod, they will not die.
NASB Do not withhold discipline from a child; Though you strike him with the rod, he will not die.
CSB Don't withhold discipline from a youth; if you punish him with a rod, he will not die.
NLT Don’t fail to discipline your children. The rod of punishment won’t kill them.
KJV Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die.

What does Proverbs 23:13 mean?

This verse and its counterpart (Proverbs 23:14) follow the biblical teaching of proper child discipline. Other proverbs noted the same general idea: that appropriate loving discipline trains a child to avoid evil, sparing them from greater suffering later in life (Proverbs 3:11–12; 5:23; 13:1; 19:18; 22:15). As with all proverbs, this is a statement of general truth—of common sense—not an absolute guarantee. Even diligent parents can experience the heartache of wayward children. Yet, in general, parents who raise sons and daughters with loving correction set those children up for success (Proverbs 22:6). Unruly children tend to become unruly adults, who face adult consequences such as prison, violence, disease, and addiction.

Although Solomon mentions the use of a rod or stick, the literal object is not the point. Nor is the meaning of this verse that physical discipline—known as "corporal punishment"—is required. Whatever form of discipline suits the individual child and the individual situation is what's best. A disciplinary measure that works well for one child may not work well for another. A spanking, for example, may deter one child from repeating an immoral behavior. Another child may become enraged and not learn from corporal punishment, while responding quickly to loss of privileges.

Loving, sincere parents may protest that they "love" their children too much to discipline them. Yet this only trains the child to expect a world without consequences—a world which does not exist. A parent who genuinely loves the child should recognize the need for reasonable discipline and apply it accordingly (Hebrews 12:6).
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