I’m not sure why I do this but do it with such conviction. I tell all my parent friends, families etc. don’t discipline your child around me or don’t beat your child in my home. I never want to represent a sad or horrible memory for any child. It scares me to think that I may not find the guts to discipline my own child, but onward I must go. Today I said to a friend, ‘Your son doesn’t listen completely when you be stern with him because you aren’t smacking him over the head with any object you can find. You also don’t need to do that so don’t beat yourself up for the way he is, his personality is intact.’ She spoke out about his rowdiness and readiness to fight. I backed him up by saying, he’s a boy, it’s his first instinct, just be patient with him, teach him to deal with his anger and talk him down. Our parents ‘over-smacked’ us, and while some would say it worked, I believe it also created a fear in us that wore out our spirit. We eventually became defiant, restless and rebellious in our own homes. While some of us fought to the end, others like myself would always retreat in a fitful of tears; until I was burnt out. I remember when I used to take my beatings and retreat to the bathroom where I would lock myself away for hours just to be alone. We lived in a studio home where if you inhaled too deeply you could ingest mist from the other person’s breath. I can’t imagine how much badness I could have done in such a small space but I understand that children are amazing creatures. I also know how my mentality got messed up when I kept being controlled by my tears and how robotic in my choices I had become. I lost my spirit. I wanted out, I did not want to go to school, I wanted to work so that I could leave. ASAP.
I don’t believe in sparing the rod and spoiling the child. I also believe that parents ‘over parent’ a lot and try to discipline their kids for the simplest of things. I have noticed moments where a strong hand was felt because a parent simply had no patience at the time and so ‘quieting’ the child would end all misery. I’m also not against a beating, but I believe this form of torture should be used sparingly. I recently met a mother who had a certain sternness in her voice that I myself was scrambling to get my act together in her presence. She credited rewarding her child when he was good as one way of maintaining an excellent relationship with her son. She also made herself his only ‘friend’ while he was growing up. She fondly recounted a moment when she told him, ‘…those children that you are playing with are not your friends, they know you would be in trouble if you did so and so and they watched you do it without telling you the proper thing’. I believe as well that parents don’t let their children build their experiences enough, we more berate, threaten and scare. There’s not a lot of, ‘I warned you and this happen so now you will have to deal with it’.
In this instance, I reflected on the type of parent I wanted to be. I never want to beat my child to a pulp every time he did something wrong. I also don’t want to have such a strong hand he loses his spirit and freedom of expression. I never want to be known as a parent he can’t come to (even though naturally he probably won’t) for everything. So, I’m putting it out there in the universe. I want a child that is wide eyed for life, filled with wonder and curiosity but disciplined, focused and driven. I hope he becomes a boy that will question all things but is humble in his exchanges and grateful for his blessings. I hope for a little boy that isn’t boastful and filled with pride. A son, brother, friend, husband, father that will not become a product of his society and will respect his parents and what they are limited to provide for him. I hope he will learn and keep the value of laughter, especially in this cold harsh world. I most importantly hope to nurture my child’s spirit, guide how strong it may be and build him up when he needs it. I refuse to be the forceful hand that ruins his joie de vivre! I want his dartboard to be me.