Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Yeah I'm Gonna Beat My Kids

It might yet be a while till I’m a father but this discussion still interests me. When it comes to the debate on whether or not to beat your children (and by beat I mean spank) I’ve heard long and drawn out arguments from each side.

- Child abuse
- Discipline
- Lazy parenting
- Necessary parenting

The list goes on and on, and strong arguments are made in this verbal tug-of-war. Occasionally an opinion falls into the flammable cipher and everyone gasps in horror at its simplicity. A point of view so straightforward it surely cannot hold any weight. Can it?

“I’m going to beat my kids because my parents told me to.”


Yes, my parents have both directly and indirectly given me a truck load of reasons to beat my future kids if they step out of line. To suggest that I’ll beat my kids because they told me to sounds more or less spineless and cowardly; I won’t dispute that. So maybe if I break it down for you you’ll let me keep my testicles.

First and foremost, this debate doesn’t hold much weight where I’m from; the capital of Africa, home of the brave 419’ers . . . Beyonce sang our national anthem, that makes her one of us. Jay-Z drew water from our wells . . . but I’m not too keen on him so he can stick to the projects.

In Nigeria its common to beat your children when they step out of line, I’d go as far as saying it’s the number one disciplinary option. I got beats, my bro and sister got beats . . . I went to my cousins’ homes and they got beats . . . I’m certain that if I was raised in Nigeria I would have gone to school and got beats.

This was pretty much the norm in my upbringing. I never liked getting whooped, what kid would? Don’t dislike and discipline go hand in hand?

Would it be fair to say that they beat it into my nature? My culture and environment have imposed several other traits on me after all; I believe that this is another one of them.

I’m not eager to beat my kids; surely that’s when the issue slips into child abuse. But now I appreciate the line that was drawn between me and my parents . . . even though I spent the first half of my life loving but not liking them that much. In that sense I’d say they went too far with the discipline. I never looked at my parents as friends, as buddies, as pals. It was always mum and dad; approach with caution.

Beatings at my expense allowed my parents to maintain the parent child relationship. You could of course argue that other disciplinary forms would have been just as effective at instilling fear and respect. Did my parents know at the time that their disciplinary authority over me was dependant on whether the beatings hurt me or not? Surely they were aware that I’d grow older, that one day they’d dish out a beating and I wouldn’t even flinch, much less cry. They knew right?

Of course they did!

I never got a beating that was unjustified, not one I can remember anyway. And unless caught in the act, I was given the opportunity to plead my case (or think up a good lie). Every beating came with a lecture that usually lasted at least one hour; they sat while I stood. My days, the lectures were honestly more painful than the beatings. The older and smarter I grew, the less beats I received and the longer the lectures lasted. Notice the shift?

To further justify my decision to beat my future children I’ll draw attention to another significant ingredient of my upbringing. That ingredient is religion. Raised as a Christian, I went to church on Sundays, read my Bible, and prayed before I went to bed. I often listened in church with tentative ears, hoping (almost praying) to hear loopholes that would benefit my budding mind. None arose, but several suggested that a Christian lifestyle might better fit the parents.

- Honour thy father and mother
- No sex until you’re married
- Spare the rod, spoil the child

God was on my parents’ side. Another reason to begrudge them . . . and He also had several reasons to be angry with me. Three on one . . . you might even say it was five on one (if your brain has warmed up). Not the kind of odds for a kid to get excited about.

Some relief comes in knowing that when I take the parent role God will be on my side if I have to beat my kids. They won’t like it, but hopefully one day, after I've beaten stupidity and rebelliousness out of them, they’ll see me as more of a friend . . . sort of how I see my parents now.

A to the. . .


Pope Terry said...

As I've told you before my parents never beat me, I dont think the had to, I was quite and fairly dosile... I sound like a cow dont I). Being raised on a farm meant i never really saw anyone so I think thats largely why I just respect the rules becuase I was and still am scared what strangers will say to me. What I'm saying is if your kids are shy chances are you wont have to 'lay beats' on them, but the may be social rejects when they grow up. My friends parents used to threaten them with a horse whip, but hes still an animal, so the threat didnt really work. I see no problem with giving a surly kid a clip around the ear.

Nae said...

First, nice blog! The title is really cool. Second, I have a son that I'll spank in a heartbeat! He's 7 and just fine. I got spankings when I was younger, as did everyone I know. We're all okay. I believe that if your child understands that it's a form of discipline versus control, then it's okay. If someone spanks their child just because they can, then I might suggest a therapist for all involved parties.

Lady_T said...

I believe that your parents are there to be your parents not you friend. I think beatings are a good way to teach your child right from wrong, something they could use in the future (shouting really doesnt have that much of an effect). Its just those parents who overdo it and actually really abuse their children that may eventually have an adverse effect on the child in the future.

It's hard to say what the effects would be psychologically for the child in later years but thats with parenting in general I think.

I was beaten by my parents, I do not hate them now and I never will say 'shut up' to either one as I have seen so many kids say to their parents nowadays.

Eugene D. Gibson said...

Like you I come from a culture where beating was commonplace.Now it has become less common and rude and uncontrolable children are the norm.It is better for you to punish your children now than for society to punish them later.

david mcmahon said...

G'day Ak-Man,

I didn't get beaten - 'cept at cricket, tennis, table tennis, soccer, hockey, track'n'field, swimming, basketball, volleyball and golf!



Shrink Wrapped Scream said...

It's a thin line between beating and child abuse. Every mass murderer usually claims violence in their childhood. A clip around the ear is a world away from a lashing with a belt. As toddlers, my kids received the odd thwack over their nappy (it didn't hurt, but the shock stopped them dead in their tracks from what they were doing). As soon as they were able to reason (3-4 years) physical restraint/punishment became redundant.

Punishment is necessary if kids are to grow up answerable for their actions. Teaching them by example to lash out if they are angry is showing them bullying wins. Taking away or denying them what they value the most gets a sure result, and the currency of what that is changes according to their age. Times are a-changing the Ak, my parents knew no better than to batter us, I thank God I've found another route. So far it seems to be working.. fingers x'd.

Ak-Man said...

Nice bundle of replies from you guys . . . Cheers.

Pope - Sounds like a rough upbringing. I grew up in the city of London, even if i was cool at home, there were many ways to get in trouble out of it.

Nae - Thanks for the compliments. I think the tough part is communicating the idea of 'discipline' to the child. No one wants to get a beating. Parents will lose out and 'fail' if the child isnt aware of why they are getting a beating.

Lady T - We're pretty much on the same page regarding this topic. Similar upbringings as well . . . Coincidence?

Eugene - Parents play a huge role on the outcome of a child. Some kids are naturally 'good' or 'bad'. But a parent can steer them in either direction. Doesnt have to involve beating of course, but discipline is necessary if you want to raise a 'good' child.

David - I'm guessing you beat everyone else at English, Maths, Science, History, Geography and Economics.

Carol - The age limit holds a lot of weight. I agree that once the child can reason and knows right from wrong you have to educate them on what's right. Like you suggested, beating them can teach bullying and wrong ways to settle differences.

Jenera Healy said...

Interesting and thought provoking topic-one that has led me into heated debates time and again.

I was on the receiving ends of spankings very few times in my childhood. I chalk that up to the first few being quite productive in stopping me from doing those things that would lead to future spankings.

I do not set out to spank my child as he gets older (he's only 17 months now) however, I'm not opposed to it. Right now, he at times gets a slap on his hand if he is getting into things that he shouldn't be-usually just the dangerous things that could hurt him. I have a kid that is too smart for his own good. Already he gets that look when I KNOW he understands me but is choosing not to listen.

I have spanked him once, if you could call it that. I popped him on the butt-a butt that was covered with shorts and a diaper-because he kept getting into things he shouldn't have while laughing at my saying no. Did he knew I meant business then? Sure did. Did it hurt him? Nope, not physically.

I think being a parent is learning the line between discipline and senseless spankings.

david mcmahon said...

Good luck with the new job!

Xymyl said...

Life is a beating. Why shouldn't the folks get in a swat or two? I certainly had my share of beatings and can honestly say I never learned anything from any of them. Well, except for how to take a beating.

Turns out that's pretty much all I needed to know.

Personally, I can't understand what my parents were thinking. They were just doing the best they could. But at least when real life smacked me in the face, it had a familliar ring of unfairness that reminded me of home.

karoline said...

raised for a little more than half of my childhood, by an abusive, alcoholic mother, i decided to not follow in any of her footsteps...having three boys from 11-19...i can count on less than one hand the "gentle" swat to the bottom they accumulatively received from me. they are good boys, but we've had our moments here for sure...i tend to use the time out rule and they're banished to some frigid, siberian wasteland (or their rooms if no wilderness is available) until they can get along and make amends....