From the age of 3 until 13, I lived with my fathers older sister. She was very old, so had raised her siblings and their children. So she had a lot of parenting experience. She believed heavily in education, so I was raised to appreciate my schooling. This is her one lesson that I would respect until the end of my days. Her one lesson that I will never admire, is how she disciplined me.
I grew up in a very different age. Yes, yes, I am not that old, but still, when I was growing up, parents could hit their children and not have to be concerned about being taken to court for child abuse. This is a different era. Kids are taught the child-line number from a young age. We live in a country that cares about the rights of children. These are outlined in The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, the Child Justice Act and the Children’s Act. These are three different legislations that portray a similar sentiment: Children are vulnerable groups of society and they need to be taken care of accordingly by their parents, or legal guardians. They need to be given shelter and nutrition, and parents need to ensure that their children are in school.
The law, though, does not regulate how parents are meant to discipline their children. The law prohibits teachers to hit their children. Like I said, I grew up in a different time. I went to a school in the hood where, if a teacher feels like you are looking at him sideways, he can hit you and not run the risk of losing their job.
2019 is one where the table has turned. I have unfortunately seen so many videos circulating on social media where students are beating up their teachers. I often ask myself why they don’t retaliate, and then I remember that corporal punishment is illegal in school.
Could this be the reason why violence is on the rise in our schools?
Now, my aunt was a very old school woman that did not discipline with her mouth. I grew up in a time where I was required to go fetch the belt that I was going to get hit with. Hell, I would also be asked to go pick up a nice tree branch. I remember how I would try and get the thinnest and lightest one so that I wouldn’t feel it as much as it made contact with my body.
What was weird for me is the stuff I would get hit for. She once gave me terrible hiding because I washed all the dishes except for one knife. The lesson in that particular case was that I had to finish what I start, I assume? I did not see the knife because I was in a hurry to go play. I was a child. My list of priorities did not include washing dishes. All I cared about was play. I was a hyperactive child and therefore did not pay attention to much.
I would get a hiding at least once a week. If you think of the number of times your own kids annoy you now, and how many times you want to hide in the bathroom where they can’t find you, tallies up to the beat downs I would get.
As a result, I grew up, not a disciplined child, but a scared one. I did not respect my aunt. I was afraid of her.
You know what getting spanked taught me? Don’t get caught. If I get reprimanded for certain behaviour and get spanked for it, all I have to do is make sure I don’t get caught the next time I do it.
What could have been more effective for me growing up? Let us take the knife scenario for instance. Would it have been more effective for my aunt to deprive me of play time for a few days after that? Probably. I loved to play, and now I would know that if I don’t completely finish my chores, I don’t go out and play.
A lot of families believe in the stick. Maybe it works wonders for some families, but it did not for mine. A lot of people argue that today’s generation of children are ill-disciplined and spoilt because they weren’t raised by the stick, as we were.
I could believe that, but I also have friends that were not spanked and turned out really well.
So herein lies the question: Are we really aware of the long term effects that disciplining our kids with the “stick” has?
I have noticed a pattern with my daughter. She is learning how to press my buttons. I can gently say ‘no’ to her a million times for playing around the heater, and she still goes back. It is even worse if I show her how frustrated I am. I hit her hand the other day and she just laughed at me. Not only did she not understand the concept, but she also enjoyed seeing me frustrated.
Personally, I do not want to be the type of parent whose kids hide or shiver whenever I am around. I am trying to foster a healthy relationship with my daughter, and hitting her won’t help me achieve that. I am also not trying to raise an ill-disciplined child. I will, therefore, use alternative discipline methods.
Spanking is a vicious cycle. If it doesn’t stop with me, my daughter will most likely spank her kids, and her kids after her and and and. This is why we still find women who believe their partners love them when they hit them. They have been conditioned to think that a firm hand is a sign of love. I believe that there is a fine line between “TOUGH” love and “JUST” tough. Tough love is you depriving me of the TV for a week when you know I love watching Grey’s Anatomy. Just tough is spanking me because I did not do my homework because I watched too much Grey’s Anatomy.
I want to raise children that are genuinely respectful and polite, and not those who do it because I promised them hidings if they don’t.
In my experience, children choose what they want to do, no matter how right or wrong. All we as parents can do is lay the groundwork. Regardless of how many times I hit my daughter for doing something I disagree with, she will still do it behind my back and no amount of violence will change that.
Karabo Motsiri is a first-time mom, over-sharer, lover of life, chronic napper and married to her best friend. She loves a good party because the dance floor is her happy place. She enjoys good food, good conversations, laughs a little too hard, and cries during every episode of Grey’s Anatomy. She started her blogging journey because she wanted to share all the ups and downs of being a young modern mama in South Africa. Her blog Black Mom Chronicles has been featured on Ayana Magazine & SA Mom Blog. She has enjoyed airtime on Power FM and frequently writes for the parenting section of Saturday Citizen She also works with MamaMagic on their Product Awards, Milestones Magazine, Heart to Heart blog, and the Baby Expo, which is South Africa’s biggest parenting expo.