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June 26, 2016

No More Licks for Statia?

"Spare the rod and spoil the child" is the quote that has been used for many years to sanction corporal punishment as a form of discipline. It is known that in black culture children are spanked and while I believe that spanking is a useful form of discipline I do not think that it is the best or safest way to punish a child. By now someone is saying that a 22 year old with no children cannot possibly understand how to raise children but I disagree so let's begin.

There are four types of parenting styles and it is important for us to recognize them. The neglectful parent is one that basically lets their kids do whatever they want. If you've ever been in a grocery store and seen a mother completely unconcerned by the fact that her sons are jumping from shelves you now have your example.
Another type is the permissive parent. You know that parent who says yes to everything? The one whose child is their best friend? The worst is probably when you hear a dad say just give her the candy so she can stop crying. Permissive parenting is a great way to create a monster especially an academic one. As a teacher you often meet students that have no respect for authority. Students who feel entitled while having no motivation and you wonder why. Then you have your first parent teacher conference and it is like seeing for the very first time. A big flashing sign goes off in your head saying: BLAME THE IDIOT PARENTS. If you are any of the above or know anyone who is please seek professional help. #ImSerious
The more common parenting style in the Caribbean and on Statia is the authoritarian. This picture pretty much sums up the authoritarian parent.

Most Statian kids are very used to physical discipline and for many it is all they know. When I was younger getting 'licks' was a given when I misbehaved. It was simply nonnegotiable and to be honest that is probably why it did not have an effect on my behavior. Though this was not a good or effective method I knew that I was being spanked as a punishment. However, as I got older (around the age of nine) I started being hit because my parents were frustrated. They couldn't get me to shut up and so a lash worked to make them feel as if they were fixing the problem. Yet that reaction to my behavior was the problem. Parents often forget that children are human beings and can reason and understand. On Statia our efforts to silence children by using corporal punishment it abuse. A child's refusal to listen in general is not a good enough reason for them to be spanked.

Recently while having a discussion with a child psychologist he stated that parents who hit their kids should allow others like family members and teachers to do the same. He argued that the reason most parents would not allow it is possibly because they know or feel that physical discipline is wrong. When I gave this more thought I realized that this is completely possible. If you trust someone with your child on a daily basis and you trust them to punish them appropriately in a nonphysical manner why wouldn't you trust them with the physical?

The authoritve parenting style is one that seriously needs to be adopted in our culture. Children are not robots and do not have to do what they are told because the adults say so. Children should understand why they need to obey and that should be out of trust, respect and love. Many times we tell children not to touch the stove without ever sitting them down and telling them exactly why and if we do we think that once is enough. Unfortunately once is not enough for adults so it will never be for children. "I only talk once" usually makes no sense because children like adults forget and need reminders and that should not be physical.

I am sure there is someone saying that it is impossible to have a meaningful conversation with a two year old and I wholeheartedly agree. So by following my logic the less developed the child (cognitively, socially and mentally) the more physical the punishment. As children grow and develop so should the punishments. So do you spare the rod? No of course not you train up a child in the way they should go so that when they are past four you will not have to take out the rod as often.