There is a debate on to beat or not beat kids. Some believe in gentle love upbringing and some swear by the tough love upbringing.
My upbringing was of the latter style. One red cross in my marked homework and my left palm would pay the price; my mom would cane that extremity of mine, one blow for one red cross. If you are wondering why my left upper limb bore the brunt, I am left handed and my mom made it a point to hit the very appendage which made the mistake.
She was extremely creative in selecting tools to whoop my ass. The items consisted of broom, clothes hanger, ladle, belt, pipe hose and plant twigs. As a child, I had the wish to make those items disappear from existence.
My dad was the exact opposite from my mom – he never raised his voice at me what more whack me. But, he never stopped my mom from flogging me.
The lady who birthed me gave me tough love until I finished PMR and prior to that, I was very afraid of her. As a child, I didn’t like my mother much for her habit of hurting me physically although I was a generally a well behaved and dexterous child.
I took the beatings in my stride for I had my dad to run to and complain at. But, my dad never said anything against my mother – he’d merely comfort me.
Well, I survived my mom’s beatings and rebuke and now we are the best of friends – I’d crack jokes at her, teach her and sing to her.
That was a decade ago – at that time, kids were meek. When we ask questions to our parents like, “Ma, where did I come from?” they’d dismiss,”It’s very important now la.. Now run along and play with your siblings, amma got work,” and we’d do as we are told. I don’t even have to mention the birds and the bees. Kena penampaq buaya kang..
To beat or not beat kids in this current age
In this information age, kids are born thinkers and questioners early on who won’t take ‘No’ for an answer. Kids these days are extremely precocious and savvy simply because there is so much information around them and they absorb it like an arid sponge. And, they ask the most difficult to answer doubts and wouldn’t back down until a satisfactory answer is given. What to answer and do when your kids ask you why they aren’t anywhere in your wedding photos and cry because you didn’t take them to your wedding? Buta.com right? You cannot beat them to shut them up or shrug their doubts off in this age because you could never expect what they’d do next.
And, because kids these days are way smarter than we were as munchkins, the dilemma to beat or not beat them is even more pressing. And, some Indian parents are hypocrites when it comes to beating their kids or not. My brother, for instance, forbids his only 5 year old son from watching Tamil movies, especially violent fight scenes. If the boy gets a glimpse of such Tamil movies heroes kick butt when his dad is around, the man would tell the kid that it is very wrong to hit others and a nanosecond later slaps the kid for the tiniest misdeed almost daily. This deed of the dad, would send mixed messages to the kid – he wouldn’t know which is right and which is wrong because his dad speaks against violence and then be violent himself at the very person he preached non violence.
It is alright to spank kids when they are exceptionally naughty, once in a blue moon. If parents beat kids for every trivial thing, they will lose track on what they do will be deemed naughty or not. So, confusion and hatred for the flogging parent will grow. Don’t simply wallop your kid for every little thing. Making mistakes and being mischievously adventurous are part of growing up – kids learn that way.
My brother’s double standard is ‘paying off’ now. His son is anarchic whenever his dad is not around – he would do all the things his dad forbids and break all the rules his dad stipulates, never heeding to his mom and grandmother’s words. If his dad is in close range, the mischief and rebellion in the boy would go into hiding. My brother would hit his son if he doesn’t write the alphabets properly and in the fear itself, the boy makes further mistakes and gets more spanks from his dad. For goodness sake, the boy’s only 5. He should be given a break.
My nephew stifles sobs if his dad smacks him, not a squeak will come out and it is otherwise if his mother only swipe his arm lightly for his monkey business. Paya pulleh veede rendu aakiruvan. He also hits his mother and granny back if they attempt to thwart his disobedience by whacking him. During his Chutti TV watching days, he’d call his mom/granny muttal nai if they discipline him – I was not spared either. When told to apologize, he vehemently refuses. Chutti TV is the children version of Goundamani Senthil comedy and it is toxic for kids – fights in Tamil movies are far better than Chutti TV.
Whenever my nephew’s mother or granny reprimand him with a stroke of a cane, he’d retort,”I don’t like you.” If his mom beats him, he’ll run into his granny’s arms and ruefully say,”I don’t like Amma.” It’s likewise with his granny. Once, the innocent lad said out of the blue,”I will beat dad one day.” I watch Kutty Chutties regularly and when the host asks the glib kids whom do you like better, your dad or mom, they’ll mention either one and when proceeded to ask why, the answer is always,”Appa/amma adipangga, athan pudikathu.” Kids these days are expressive and sometimes what pops out of their mouths astounds us. What kind of message are we sending when we beat our kids? This is where the dilemma to beat or not beat kids intensifies.
Conversely, my nephew listens if told gently and lovingly but the elders around him don’t have much patience. But, rather than have him screaming bloody murder after caning, the diplomatic way is much pleasing for both parties and that is the way to go. Patience is crucial.
Of course all the parents who flog their kids mean well. They want the children to grow up as good persons but beating is not the way to do it in this current age where exposure is the order of the day. Indian parents should be convincing diplomats, not ironfisted dictators. Talk kids into doing what you want, beating them would only make them more obdurate. My brother can shield his son from watching fight scenes in Tamil movies only to a certain point of time. After that, he no longer can shield his child. What my brother should do is sit with his son, watch the fight scenes and tell that this is not good and then proceed to convert his words into action. Rather than restricting and beating your kids, guide them and make them understand that what they did is wrong and that they shouldn’t do it next time.
And, kids have this tendency of getting more curious on what is forbidden by their elders. Note Simba going to the elephant graveyard even though his dad forbade him. This is why making kids understand that certain things are dangerous and we should stay away from them is important rather than flogging them after the damage is done. Give your kids confidence that they can come to you whenever they need company or guidance rather than going to misinformed peers when they become adolescents. SET THE FOUNDATION WHILE KIDS ARE STILL YOUNG. Beat your kids nowadays and you’ll be on your way to prison. 🙂