So many jokes! “Families are canceling their trips to Scandinavia…because they sometimes smack their kids on their bottoms and don’t want to get arrested.”
So much indignation! “We Indians know to handle relationships at the highest level unlike Westerners who have no concept of family. How dare the Norwegians teach us how to raise our children?”
Why do we get so emotional about something that happened in another country, just because the couple involved is of Indian origin? Are the Norwegians that stupid that they would jail someone for nothing? Most reports talk of the couple hitting and scalding the child…obviously, this is completely unacceptable…in Norway or for that matter in India. And most importantly, irrespective of the issues involved, when in Rome, we must do as Romans do and follow the rules and laws to the best of our ability.
But that isn’t even the issue!
Does the indignation come from the fact that people want the freedom to hit their children, perhaps because they truly believe in the idiom “If you spareth the rod, you spoileth the child”?
My parents’ generation used to freely slap and smack its children. Our teachers in school used to hit and pinch. While we can now laugh about these incidents and keep saying that we’ve all turned out to be the better for these…we don’t really know, do we! Yes, there is a big line between an occasional smack and abuse, but it doesn’t take much for that line to be crossed or to become really, really thin! And we don’t really know of the scars are friends and colleagues still carry!
Somewhere down the line though, in one generation, things have changed so much. We no longer hit our children. No slaps, no punches, no smacks. It is not that we don’t feel like doing something physical to them at times…and God knows those occasions are not uncommon. But the milieu we live in has changed and neither of us can bring ourselves to raise our hands against our kids. And this is true of most of our friends and colleagues.
Perhaps this applies to the specific socio-economic stratum we inhabit. There are many who still believe in disciplining their kids by physical means and our schoolteacher friends talk of such incidents being not uncommon. All of them though are unequivocal that corporal punishment just does not help and in fact only works negatively, both in terms of its effectiveness and in terms of what it does to the child as well as in the end, the parent.
There are many ways of disciplining kids. Time-outs, denial of entertainment options, detailed explanatory conversations, etc. They all work in different permutations and combinations, depending on the situation. The problem is that they require a lot of effort and work on the part of the parents. Hitting is simpler, easier and quicker.
More worrisome, as we see these days, is the situation where the parents neither hit, nor do they bother talking to and disciplining their kids. Perhaps they are too busy with their own lives, or don’t have the inclination and hope and believe that the kids will grow up on their own…I don’t know. But that has to be the worst of all situations.
Some people believe that we are raising a bunch of namby-pamby kids! I doubt it. What we are raising are children who understand the reason we discipline them, even though they may not agree at the time and who perhaps will carry fewer hidden scars, both mental and physical.