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spare the rod and spoil the child

Discipline is necessary for good upbringing, as in She lets Richard get away with anything—spare the rod, you know. This adage appears in the Bible (Proverbs 13:24) and made its way into practically every proverb collection. It originally referred to corporal punishment. It is still quoted, often in shortened form, and today does not necessarily mean physical discipline.
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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