To beat or not to beat?

Our society is so keen on keeping life in order that actions once thought to be necessary but private are now clearly peered upon and scrutinized under the brightest of lights and the largest of microscopes. The rule of law was created to maintain and perpetuate order. After all without order there would be anarchy. Everyone has to obey certain rules and guidelines in order to survive this world and as time progresses they are altered to grow and keep up with the ever changing world. There is a need for “protection” of the vulnerable and the weak. Boy, you hear all these horror stories and you read about all the occurrences in the news and think why couldn’t their be harsher punishments to deal with that, man? (colloquialism in Jamaica gives life to boy at the beginning of a sentence and man at the end.)  Corporal punishment has been a topic of great discussion for many years. Numerous studies have taken place to analyze the parental climate and its effects on their children. Numerous studies have also been posited on positive parenting versus harsh parenting. The question is though, at what point do we deepen the discussion so it is more inclusive rather than that of a dictation?

Well rambling aside, as parents despite varying social climate, our world is moving towards an invariably more poignant state of political correctness. To some extent I see nothing wrong, it keeps everything in check. We are all held to a greater standard of accountability, well at least we ought to be. The question is though, is it protection, nuisance, an act that needs to be balanced or ultimately the necessary good? There is a general fear developed for some when disciplining their child because there is a fear of the impact of the state more than you fear the impact it may have on the child. As time goes by, there is a greater push for more positive parenting. There are many human rights groups springing out fighting for the rights of the weaker of our nations. Sometimes though they can feel a bit burdensome. In conversation with a few folks the other day it is somewhat likened to the actions of a well known government organization here in Jamaica- an arm aimed at keeping the police in line with the right side of the law, but in more recent times has been seen by many police as an exacerbation of power leaving them cowering and fearful to act. Don’t get me wrong our children, our women and the elderly are in the greatest need for protection at its highest. But, when did scolding my child at a decibel higher than a normal conversation become child abuse?

Please do not get me wrong, I repeat; children, women and the elderly ought to be protected with the highest regard. All I want to know is when some of these folks forgot the biblical inset of :

Proverbs 23: 13-14

Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.

I try not to practice beating my son, because he forgets why it happened after the sting disappears. I learned that from our first encounter. If he really and truly doesn’t listen, nothing gets to him more than a firm vocal box and a solid 15 minute time out. For the parents that do beat however, every action is scrutinized (with loose reference to the United States.) Here in Jamaica, it is observed, more so, during custody battles and spreading straight to clearly abusive circumstances. Many Jamaicans who have left yaad have found a difficulty in adjusting to the new expectations and rules of the international world. As their children quickly find out that them scolding them harshly or beating them can be deemed abuse and often threaten to call the police.

Today, I told my wild child to eat his dinner before he would be able to eat a fruit snack, you know the yummy colorful small ones in the blue packaging? Well he opted to eat it first and when I caught him stuffing his face with them, he looked a lot like the little boy in Matilda and that got me upset. Upon seeing me he dropped the bag and stared quite frantically in my eyes. I tell you no lies I yelled at him for not being able to follow my instructions followed by two I would say medium scale slaps to his right forearm. It was during his tearful moments that I thought to myself should I have slapped him for that? Or was that worth just a firm scolding? As the evening progressed I was reading an article written by Rebecca Eanes, very thought provoking I might add, wherein she proclaims that our children are human too. ( She also made reference to The Newbie’s Guide for Positive Parenting wherein the most widely seen quote puts forth:

“So often, children are punished for being human. They are not allowed to have grumpy moods, bad days, disrespectful tones, or bad attitudes. Yet, we adults have them all the time. None of us are perfect. We must stop holding our children to a higher standard of perfection than we can attain ourselves.”

It put a lot into perspective for me. I am by no means saying that he ought not be punished. All I’m saying is sometimes I have to take into account my own nature and personality when disciplining him. He is an incredibly smart, handsome and charming little boy, with a personality that engulfs a room upon his very entrance. He has also taken some of my less than flattering traits being that of stubbornness and that strong willed nature I referred to in one of my previous posts.

Parenting is a difficult task all things considered. But with research, prayer and a little effort it can be done. There are so many books, so many YouTube videos, so many forums, sessions and blogs, there is help. Don’t feel as though you have to go it alone, single parent or not. There is a whole supportive society out here waiting to offer our advice if it helps in any way at all. Never mind the trolls, it gives them something to do. So if you are concerned about navigating the sea of parenting as it relates to disciplining keep an open mind, open heart and it will come together.

From my pair of thirties and I, we wish you the very best in your parenting journey!


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