Friday, March 16, 2012

Spare the child!






“Baby Falak leaves for a better world!!”

Reading the headlines brought a lump to my throat. A two year old baby girl, so severely beaten up that she finally decided to leave this world and go to a better world? That someone could be so cruel to hurt a two year old child, leaving her with bite marks and cuts was unfathomable. I do not know this little child, but nevertheless it was painful! 
May she rest in peace.

My friend called me after reading about this and she sounded pained too. But why would she be pained, I asked myself. I know her to routinely spank her children. Just because they were not as grievously and fatally injured as baby Falak, did not mean they weren’t being abused. And here she was feeling the pain of a child she did not know but ignorant to the pain of her own children!

But aren’t little children in most houses being subjected to this kind of an abuse everyday? I have seen this in the homes of friends, relatives and acquaintances. In the garb of correcting the child, in the garb of ensuring that he/she grows up right. Eight out of ten people I know hit their child to ensure that their child is not spoilt. Take break guys, they are not mangoes!

I have seen parents spank their little ones mercilessly for reasons ranging from anything to everything!  To me it seems like they are venting someone else’s anger on the poor child.

One parent spanks her child because he gets up late. How will he learn discipline otherwise? So I ask her, how has hitting the child helped? He still cannot get up early!  Could it be the outcome of last night’s party? Maybe the child is too tired after the endless extra-curricular activities. He maybe genuinely, falling short of sleep. Maybe there is a serious disorder that needs to be addressed. But no, he will be spanked. Wouldn’t it help, if we spend time with the child at bedtime, instead of spending time watching television, trying to talk him out of his problems?

Spank the child if he is fussy at the dinner table! A friend spanked her child because he vomited on the dinner table. The child was made to clean his vomit and quarantined for bad behavior. Arre Behenji, I will vomit too, if I have eaten something disagreeable! Be thankful he didn’t try to eat it and choke on it!


Another mother complains that her son is rude, ill mannered, and fights all the time. There are numerous complaints from his teachers and friends. In her own words, she spanks him black and blue but he shows no remorse or improvement. I can guarantee that he will not! If anything, he will become more stubborn.
Why is the child behaving so? Is he craving for our attention? Is he a victim of bullying? By spanking the child, we make him feel more victimized than ever. In all probability he is picking up what he sees at home. Children are fast learners and our behavior is like a school.  

The same lady tells me, ‘Your son is Shravan Kumar, you must teach him to fight back, or else people will take him for a ride. ‘An eye for an eye’, that’s what I tell my child.’ she says. Oh! So therein lies the problem!  But sorry, I beg to differ. I believe ‘An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind’. It may sound clich├ęd, but I could never teach my son to hit back someone who has hit him.
My son told me of an incident where his friends were teasing him about something, and instead of fighting back, he explained to them that he felt hurt by their teasing and as a good friend he would never do that to them. They apologized. And I felt incredibly proud of him.


If our children see us lying, they will pick it up in no time. If mom and dad can lie why can’t I? Mouthing bad words? Be sure the child will learn that better than his ABC’s. One mother says, her son lies to her all the time, so she has to spank him; it will deter him from lying. 

Really?

I don’t think so!

My child doesn’t lie to me. I tell him that I trust him. I tell him that I will love him even if he has made a mistake. I tell him that admitting his mistake is a bigger virtue than denying or lying about it. And when he admits his mistake, I ensure that I do not admonish him for that. If he has admitted his mistake, it already means he knows he was wrong, isn’t it? I ask him what would have been the right thing to do. 

Trust your child.

I asked my friend to try this. But she said it did not work out. When I spoke to the child, he said, ‘Even when I spoke the truth, mom hit me, I might as well lie and get away with it.’ So there lies the problem!

There are endless reasons why we keep abusing our children, and we have great reasons for defending our action. But I can think of only one reason.

 WE HIT THE CHILD BECAUSE HE IS TOO WEAK TO HIT US BACK. 

We know he is defenseless. We like to keep him awed about our presence at all times. 

I have strongly believed that no child should ever be abused, physically or verbally. It leaves an indelible scar on their young minds, FOREVER. For us it is a momentary action, but ask any child and you will know that they carry the wounds for a very long time.
Moreover, their little bodies are too weak to bear our heavy fists. What if you accidentally hit a vital organ, what if your spank on his back stopped his little heart or caused internal bleeding, what if it damaged an ear or eye.  We hit out of anger and seldom realize where our hand lands. Why do something that we have to regret for the rest of our lives?

Our children are born out of our love; they need to be tended to with love. I do not mean to say that we should not correct our children even if they are wrong. By all means, we should. That is what we are there for, for holding their little hands, when they falter. Every child is different and only the parent knows the best way of bringing up their child.
But there are a million ways to do that and spanking is definitely not one of them.


There is an old adage that goes, ‘Spare the rod and spoil the child’, but I would rather spare the rod and spare the child. I would rather make this world the best place for my children to be. All our children need is a little patience.

(P.S. I guess I have been a little preachy, and I hope you will forgive me for that)
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