My 2-cents worth about the recent decision of the courts not to allow corporal punishment of children in their own homes:
Corporal Punishment: May I just firstly confess as an ‘old’ mom (who now has a laatlammetjie) that I ‘control spanked’ my two older boys when they were small. That was the way I was brought up, that was the way my friends and family disciplined their children, and that was all I knew. BUT, I will be very honest; it really didn’t achieve much… It caused Nathin (now 24) to shut down and be an even bigger introvert than he already was – and caused a good dose of rebellion in him too. Kevin (now 22) was absolutely petrified of a spanking and would be inconsolable and emotional afterwards. It was dreadful for me to spank them. And even though it was the ‘norm’ and ‘everybody did it’ (especially with the Afrikaans “moer die kind reg” mentality) I always felt guilty and I always cried more than they did, albeit it alone in my room and out of sight. It just never ever felt right to me. So, the few times I did spank my boys with a slipper, it left all of us traumatized and even as a very young mother I felt that I could do better. Their father didn’t share my sentiments unfortunately and for the longest of times he would spank them, because the ‘rod should not be spared…’
One day when my ex-husband (not their biological father) wanted to give them a hiding too, I just put my foot down. And I mean, put my foot DOWN. It was a difficult conversation because yes, he was their stepdad, but he was the one who had to discipline them. He too was used to his dad spanking him first and then asking questions. But my boys were (are) highly intelligent, emotionally sensitive, GOOD boys, why couldn’t we sit them down and talk to them? As one human being to another – and explain why their behaviour was unacceptable, why I won’t tolerate it, and what the consequences will be? And so, I had a ceasefire agreement with my boys: You choose the behaviour, you choose the consequence. And “B” will not happen before “A” has not been completed. E.g. you will not be taken to rugby practice (or play rugby at all for that matter) if you do not submit to the house rules. Unless, your room is clean and your chores are done, you unfortunately will not be at practice and therefore won’t make the team. And depending on the seriousness of the offence, I would also revoke privileges or take away PSP’s or sleepovers (or heaven forbid, not allow them to watch TV.) I admit, in a way it was more difficult to ‘talk it right’ than ‘smack it right’ and sometimes their stepdad failed the test miserably, but I honestly believe the two amazing young adults I have today is because I talked (ok, sometimes shouted!) and stopped spanking them. Not that I would have been able to do that for much longer anyway, Nathin was taller than his mom in no time!
With our laatlammetjie JD (now 9,) I took a totally different approach, the so-called emotionally sensitive (gentle) ‘positive parenting’ approach. I honestly feel for mothers who have to deal with their husbands hitting their children and those moms don’t agree with it. But don’t be a victim too! If you really love your child and you really don’t agree with it, you will speak up. Because your child can’t. YOU are the only voice they have. In my opinion it is much more challenging (and a lot more work!) to bring up a child without corporal punishment – it’s waaaaaay easier to just whack their bums and get it over with. But in my view (she says whilst looking for cover) it’s LAZY parenting to hit your child. Corporal punishment is the easy way out. Because to actually engage with your child, to face the emotional shitstorm that’s probably going to hit you right in the face, and still remain calm and in control of a highly emotional and sometimes volatile child is NOT a picnic. Many days I had to literally bite my tongue to control my anger and impatience. Please note, MY anger. And then when I thought about the situation afterwards, I would realize that I was angry and I was perceiving my child to be angry too, but most of the times he wasn’t angry. He might have been confused, frustrated, scared, hungry, tired, sad, exasperated – but he wasn’t angry. And when we start looking at our kids as PEOPLE – as human beings who do not have the skills yet to articulate their emotions and explain the source of their frustration, and thus ‘act out’, then we realize that hitting the child for expressing their emotions is just so terribly wrong. A common misconception is that positive (or gentle) parenting is permissive parenting. It is NOT. Positive parenting firmly believes in boundaries and also believes that consistently maintaining the same boundaries aides in disciplining our children. It is NOT a free for all!
I’m 47 and the mother of a 9-year old. I don’t give a rat’s ass about ‘don’t spare the rod’ or ‘a good hiding has never done any harm’ or ‘moer die kind net, dit sal hom ‘n les leer’ or whatever else society throws at me. I am telling you today: If you love your child. If you consider yourself a good parent, if you want only the best for your child and if you are a mature, intelligent adult YOU WILL NOT HIT YOUR CHILD!!! We can NOT punish our children by physically hurting them and then expect them not to react to that!! And believe you me, they will react in ways that will shock and surprise you and somehow, I have a feeling that the shock is going to be greater than the surprise…
For all the haters (of which I’m sure there are going to be many): No, I’m not a psychologist or psychiatrist or a psychic for that matter. I am ‘just’ a mother and I suppose in your eyes I have no right to tell you what to do in your own home. Or maybe you feel like a lot of religious folk do, that I have no right to tell you that you can’t physically harm your child because you believe your religion requires it of you and/or absolves you*. I do however have an obligation to the child you are hitting to NOT keep quiet, so I won’t. So here goes: Stop being lazy, (wo)man up, and come to the party and invest in your child with your time, and your heart and your attitude. Stop hiding behind excuses just because it’s too much effort to do things differently. Step up to the plate, you owe your child your everything because they are worth more than being treated as objects, simply because they cannot communicate or articulate the way you do. Stop being a douche and start being a dad. Stop being a martyr and start being a mom.
I see the effects of a dad who was violent with his children on a daily basis. It’s heart-breaking. And the sad part is that I see a lot of men who were spanked and emotionally abused as children, follow the same pattern with their children AND their wives! But I don’t buy into the ‘Ag shame, they don’t know any better’ bullshit. You know better. You are a mature adult who has the capability to realize that you are doing your child harm. And your child is getting hurt and hurt people hurt people – the same way that violence begets violence. Don’t hit your child. Just don’t. Yes, it’s really THAT simple.
*PS: Do not DARE to hind behind your religion to warrant corporal punishment!! If you are a Christian parent hiding behind the ‘don’t spare the rod’ excuse, I will let Karien Pitout educate you:
“The statement that so many Christians believe about the rod, is first and foremost a wrong understanding of how a shepherd’s rod actually was and is used. It was and will never be used to hit or give a sheep “pakslae” In actual fact it is used to gently block a sheep from going somewhere and the crook of the rod is used to pull the sheep back and away of potential danger if they have strayed too far from the shepherd to be able to use the rod to block their movement. Here is a theological addition. Old testament views woman and children from a position of possession. Their place in the world is relational to that of a man. There are other verses that also commands the stoning of a child who refuses to listen to their parents. This is all Old Testament. New Testament shows various way how Jesus came to restore the place of the woman and child in society. removing from them the burden of possession. Let’s address the role and place of children before we even get to the language and semantics of the word discipline. A child in the Bible originally had no voice nor place in society. Temple was only held if there were 10 or more men at the temple that day, there could be hundreds of woman and children in attendance, but if there were less than 10 men, there was no service. Children were educated with the Torah and at the age of adulthood (13) the boys were deemed to be men. At the age of 12 they had intensive Torah training, however during that training the child received and may ask questions, but was not deemed old enough, wise enough or even allowed to teach anything to their elders. Then Jesus came along and at the age of 12 (boyhood) He taught the Rabbi’s for three days, probably longer, it since Joseph and Mary only realised He was gone three days into traveling away from Jerusalem. Then He went a step further, when the woman tried to prevent their children from engaging Him, he called the children over and did not only engage with them, but told the adults to learn from them what it means to have faith. One of the most powerful things any Christian can do. Basically, educating adults about what it means to believe. In Acts 17 Paul actually highlights how important the youth will become in living life. Once again propping children up as an equal to adults. Now let’s get down and dirty with semantics. Discipline stems from the word disciple, which means to guide and teach and live according to what the Rabbi (leader) is teaching. Jesus spent three years, disciplining his disciples, how did he do that? He did it with narrative, guidance and asking difficult questions. Relating to them in a way they can and should be able to understand. When they overstepped, He rebuked them, but never once did he raise a hand (hitting a student/disciple was common practice in that time) he redirected them and gave them extra information, he guided them. Then the night in Getsemane. What a night it was. Peter His most impulsive Disciple, decided to chop someone’s ear off… Did He spank or hit him, no, He rebuked Peter and then healed the man. After His death, Jesus did not return and punished his disciples for running away during his execution, He did not even smite Peter for betraying him, he showed them love and continued to prepare them for the life ahead. So no, as a Christian, there is not any reason to give a child “pakslae” as Jesus had set the example of the equality of children and how to discipline without violence.”
And here’s Bible verse from me: Hosea 4:6, “My people are destroyed from a lack of knowledge”.
Nicci Coertze (Proud positive parent of Nathin, Kevin and JD)