“Bring up a child by teaching him the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn away from it”
From The Bible, Proverbs 22 verse 6
With our baby due in a few months and with the Scottish government’s attempt to make smacking/spanking by parents illegal; Bud and I have been talking about our positions and views on spanking and ways we can enforce discipline should the ban fall through.
Working (and reasoning) with grown adults is hard enough as it is and in my 8-years of working with children and young adults, I can attest that working, teaching, caring and raising children takes a commitment that is super-human (because kids have the divine gift of getting on your last nerve I tell you).
I have also had the privilege of experiencing and witnessing how parents would ideally instill discipline or respond to difficult behaviour from two different cultures along with some pros and cons from both ends along the way.
For instance, in the UK, I have heard some grown folks say they were spanked as a child but in all my years here, I have never seen a child getting spanked. I have however seen children hit, scratch, bite, slap, scream and throw things at adults. I have noticed that most parents would generally speak sternly to address and curb such behaviour in public while a few would look helpless and ignore the situation.
In Nigeria, to begin with, you get walloped not spanked and as soon as your infant brain can comprehend, you quickly realize that walloping is the rule, not an exception. You also quickly realise that your biological parents do not have monopoly over walloping you and there is no place that is off limits for walloping (don’t think for a second that you are safer in church either because that is the best place to wallop the fear of Jesus into you and obliterate every trace of the devil, mmhmm). Interestingly, half of the time, you have no clue why you are being walloped. You may know what you have done but very rarely why it would or should result in a vengeful-like hell-descending whooping.
As a Childcare Practitioner, I have been asked on many occasions by a cross-section of adults what my views are on spanking a child. I must admit that on a few occasions I have outrightly responded ‘aye! children should be spanked’ without missing a beat. However, since being preggers, I have often wondered why I was so quick to respond that way.
I have been asking myself;
- Why would and should I spank?
- When should I spank?
- How should I spank?
I firmly believe children need boundaries, structure, discipline and to learn about consequences because Lord knows, some days they make me sing…
‘Precious Lord, take my hand
Lead me on, let me stand
I’m tired, I’m weak, I’m worn…‘
However, I have also seen that children need time, patience (lots and lots and lots!), love, security and above all, an example to follow. I have learned that telling a child is not as effective as showing a child because children are expert watchers.
As the bigger guy, it is easy to forget that the little guy will one day grow up with a full memory of his/her experiences as a child.
So, for the spanking/walloping parent, the parent who turned a blind eye, the abusive parent, the parent who gave their time and energy, the parent who ‘told’ by being an example, the hand-of-God parent, the parent who was there and the parent who just cannot be bothered…
What would the little guy remember about you?
All of that said, I’m still wondering, ‘why should I spank my child’?
Let me know what you think.
Photo 1 credit: http://www.baby-direct.com.au/baby-cots-baby-furniture/baby-cots.html