Donny's Ramblings


Question and Answer

Question just received via email:

Hi Donny:
I just had the privilege of reading the blog on your site about child rearing ā€“ Spare the rod, Spoil the child. Very interesting indeed!
My question to you a year later: Do you still think the same about spanking your child? Iā€™m just curious where you stand today. There were good points on both sides of the issue.
Hope you have the time to respond.
(name removed)


I’ve always felt that way, even while producing porn. I still have never once spanked my son, nor raised my voice to him.

I just realized, after sending that reply, that there was one time when I swatted him very lightly. So lightly, in fact, that immediately after I did it he said, “Oh look, Daddy, a car!”

I believe that was in the Spring of 2004, which would have made him 4 (and a half, dad).

So… one swat in 8 years. Never once have I raised my voice to him, however. There has never been a need. It may take more work, but getting down on my knees at eye level and TALKING to him has always been effective.



On Sunday evening, as we were traveling, I told Caden a few Bible stories. Speaking about God, Caden informed me:

“I’ve known Him longer than you, dad, so I know more about Him.”



One of the Bible stories I told him was about how Lot and his wife and daughters were called out because the cities of Sodom and Gomorra were about to be destroyed. I knew he’d crack up when I told him Lot’s wife looked back at the town and turned into a pillar of salt. I was right. He did. His laugh, for those who know him, is very infectious.

Yesterday as I was speaking to his mommy, she told me that Caden had shared the story with her that night.

The one about Lot’s wife turning into a salt shaker.


A Face to Melt For…

This morning I started my day by walking the trail for almost 3 hours, taking my time and enjoying being outside in the nice weather.

I sat at home most of the rest of the day, occupying my time with things like organizing photos and reminiscing. It was very nice. Here are a few photos of Caden from December 10th, 2005. We were on our way to San Diego to visit my mother.

I sure love this kid! He’s an amazing child.

I added several photos of him to my “Caden – Random Favorites” set on Flickr. Click here to see them. If you click each photo it tells a little about it.

Yep, I’m a proud proud daddy!

I had to add this one, of Caden as Ring Bearer….

After reading this blog entry Kelly Koolhoven from Bella Rose Photography emailed me this photo of Caden, which until a few minutes ago I had never seen. Beautiful!!!

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Caden Friday Part II: Grandpa and Caden

When my dad left full time ministry as a Pastor, he worked for a few years as a Correctional Officer for the California Department of Corrections. I ran across this photo late last night. I’d forgotten it existed.

Caden was 6 months old when this photo was taken, and was fascinated by Grandpa’s whistle. This shows a tender side of my dad that makes me smile.


Caden Friday

click to enlarge
Originally uploaded by Donny Pauling.

Tonight I’ve been going through a bunch of photos of Caden that were taken during his first year on earth. I shot several thousand photos of him. For some reason I started uploading more than 1,700 photos to Flickr tonight. While doing so I thought to myself, “Hey, I should start having Caden Friday’s where I upload a different photo of Caden each week.

Sounds good to me.

I love this photo of 4 month old Mr. Toothless.

I had a hard time deciding between the photo you see in this post, and this photo here.

This one also brought back some great memories. I loved feeding him. Wendy used to laugh at the faces I’d make while doing so. I guess I’d open my mouth hoping he’d open his.


Spare the Rod. Spoil the Child.

Today we celebrate the birth of my son. Caden won’t actually turn 7 until tomorrow morning, but his party is this afternoon.

This morning as I was preparing for the day I decided to blog a bit about what an amazing child he is and why I believe parenting is the main reason that is the case. I needed a title. “Spare the rod, spoil the child” came to mind. That’s a word-for-word saying my mother used to use, right before she picked up the wooden paddle my father had carved. Mom truly believed that our butts needed to be reddened in order to help teach us right from wrong.

A wooden paddle was used after belts were outlawed following an incident at my grandmother’s house. I’d misbehaved, and dad pulled off his belt to adjust my attitude. He swung and it wrapped around, hitting me in the balls. He felt horrible. After that incident, only solid “rods” were used when administering discipline.

“Spare the rod, spoil the child” was my mother’s summation of a verse in Proverbs. When my own son was born, however, I rephrased her saying:

Spare the rod.
Spoil the child.

As a parent, I see that phrase as two separate commands.

I “spare the rod” and never spank my son. I did so just one time in his life and I will never do so again. It happened so long ago Caden doesn’t even remember it. Sometimes I’ll say something like, “I’m gonna have to wup on you Boy!”, and he laughs at the thought of daddy spanking him. It’s just not something that ever happens, and he knows it never will.

I “spoil the child” with love. I’ve never once raised my voice to him, and I’ve never let him hear the words “because I said so” escape my mouth when he asks “Why?”. Instead, I tell him “why” so that he understands.

Don’t get me wrong, I do not feel mistreated in the slightest by my own parents, but I can honestly say I learned nothing positive from my mother’s yelling and spankings. Does anyone truly have a change of heart if they obey out of fear? I don’t think so.

Caden is a fantastic child. Is he perfect? Of course not. Only one perfect human existed in all of history. But Caden is so well behaved his teachers frequently comment on it, as do others who spend a little time around him.

My heart burst in my chest when I received one of the verbal reports given to his mother by his Kindergarten teacher last year. Caden, she said, has a habit of putting his arm around crying children on the playground and walking them to the teacher. He tries to comfort them.

This year, in first grade, his teacher recently told Wendy (my ex-wife) that during reading time, when other children mess up while reading aloud and most of the other children laugh and snicker, Caden doesn’t do so. He simply doesn’t find it acceptable to ridicule others.

I was bragging about him to Pastor Bill Giovannetti. We were in Bill’s home and several children were present. Not 5 minutes after telling the Pastor about those two incidents I just shared with you the children came tearing into the room, being chased by a “monster” in the form of an adult. One little girl tripped and fell. Rather than hurdle over her and continue running, Caden stopped to ask if she was okay. The Pastor noticed and commented about it to me. I’m surprised my shirt didn’t tear as my chest expanded with pride.

It just makes sense to get rid of violence and yelling when dealing with children. Let me get into your face, screaming, and you tell me how that makes you feel. If I don’t like something you’ve done, let me hit you. Does that make you want to cooperate with me?

Children feel no differently. The only thing yelling and spanking accomplishes is to instill fear and anger, and as stated before, fear does not change hearts. It hardens them. Spanking and yelling results in children who hit others and yell at people when they’re upset.

When correcting Caden, I get down on one knee and look him in the eye. I speak in a loving tone and tell him “why” he should do something differently. I make sure what I’m saying makes sense to him, which is why “because I said so” has no place in my vocabulary. That saying, my friends, is a cop-out used by parents who are too lazy to put in the work required of them when raising a child. Work that actually results in LESS work down the road. If the work is put in while they’re young and they UNDERSTAND why things must be certain ways, their behavior changes. They aren’t confused. They understand for themselves why things must operate by certain rules.

If we’re in public, or in front of others, I pick Caden up and hold him in my arms as I whisper in his ear about any behaviors he needs to change. There is no point whatsoever in embarrassing him. After all, I am the adult. He is the child. I am the one expected to have enough brain power to correct my child in a loving non-violent manner (which includes refraining from yelling or using bad attitudes).

In return, he obeys out of love and respect, not out of fear.

Despite the fact that we divorced several years ago, Caden’s mother and I talk to each other daily. We want to be on the same page in matters relating to Caden. We feed off of each other. She spends much more time with Caden than I do, but we discuss nearly every aspect of parenting that arises. She’s the one doing almost all of the work with our son. I simply get to follow the same parenting guidelines while he’s with me.

We all spend time together a few times per month. Instead of fighting about our own differences, as divorced people often do, we try as hard as we can to remember that our son is much more important than petty disagreements we may have with each other. Most of the time we succeed. If we do happen to bicker, Caden is quick to let me know Mom is always right. He loves sticking up for her.

My dad has been raising my brother’s daughter. She’s almost a year younger than my son and has lived with my dad and step-mother for a few years now. Some of the most flattering compliments I’ve ever received are when my dad asks my opinion on parenting issues. He sees how well behaved a child Caden is and respects the parenting decisions we’ve been making while raising him. It’s really cool to be able to compare parenting notes with one’s own parents.

Caden, my son… I love you so very much. Happy 7th birthday, buddy!

PS: after a previous blog entry one reader commented via email that he/she was proud of the parent I’ve become since surrendering my life to God. Let me assure you, I have always been a very good father, long before surrendering my life to God. Let’s get that straight. šŸ™‚


The Bee Lie Bee Lie Eee

Today is exactly one month since “the surrender”. It really feels like much longer than that.

My ex-wife has always been a Christian. I’ve mentioned that before. As such, she has always taken my son to church. I’m telling you this so that I can now make sense of the title for you. It refers to how my son used to sing that song: “The B-I-B-L-E, yes that’s the book for me…” blah blah blah. You probably know the rest. Caden used to sing it “The Bee Lie Bee Lie Eeee”. I don’t remember how old he was at the time.

On my mind today is the Bible. I have a Life Application Bible, New International Version. I can’t seem to get myself to open it much. I just don’t know where to start. And even when I do open it to some random scripture I can’t seem to spend much time in it. I just close it back up and go for a drive, listening to K-Love. I’m not a big fan of the music played on K-Love but for some reason it still raises my spirits and brings God’s presence into my car. And it’s so much easier than reading the Bible.

I’ve been going to church a lot, and I don’t bring my Bible with me most of the time. That’s partially because one of the churches I keep going back to has wireless internet, so when the message is being given I just log into, type in the scripture the preacher mentions, and then see what it says in several different translations. I type fast, so I take a lot of notes in Microsoft Word for Mac, and simply copy and paste the scriptures into those notes.

Then I go home feeling like I’ve done my Bible reading for the day. I can’t be the only one who feels this way, I’m sure.


I Think of This Photo While in Church

For as long as he’s been able to stand, Caden has reached for me like this. The look on his face says it all: he’s almost desperate to be held.

Every time he reaches like this my heart melts. In fact, it almost hurt to make him wait as I shot this photo. I wanted to pick him up so bad, but I also wanted to capture the moment.

When he is upset I pick him up and whisper in his ear, calming him with my words.

This photo comes to my mind every time I’m in church. Others raise their hands in surrender, I raise my hands asking to be “picked up”. My hands look very similar to the way Caden’s hands look in this photo.

Lately my heart has been happy at times, heavy at others. It’s during those heavy times I reach skyward and ask God to pick me up and whisper calming words into my ears.


My Son – Between Ages 1 and 2

I checked my records and this photo was taken just a few months after he turned 2.

According to the Chinese Zodiak, he’s a rabbit. So this photo makes perfect sense, no? In his first year of life I took more than 10,000 photos. He quickly became bored with cameras. This is a look that became quite common: the “Dad, give up the camera already!” look…