Spare The Rod…No!

I’ve tried taking the ‘new age’ approach to raising a child, and the major flaw in the approach is the assumption that the child is a willing and co-operative participant. The result of the child not being that way inclined, and the adult persisting in the same approach will inevitably result in an adult with a dented ego and a nearly non-existent self-esteem.

I am a product of my upbringing (as I’m so often reminded by a dear friend). And the way I turned out, from a discipline and behaviour perspective, I believe is admirable, if the constant acknowledgements from family and strangers alike are anything to go by. I haven’t succumbed to the temptation of drugs, alcoholism, promiscuity, delinquency or violent behaviour, to mention a few vices, and I pray that I never will. My point is that a large part of this discipline that I have is directly related to the strict measures that were taken in my upbringing.

If I didn’t respond in a respectable manner to an adult, or didn’t comply with a reasonable request from an adult, or if I back-chatted or told lies, I got the belt against my butt quicker than I could say ‘Eina!’. So it’s this same upbringing that prompts me to consider why it is that suddenly ‘spare the rod and spoil the child’ is encouraged, only so that the same adults can hold their heads in their hands crying about their wayward teenagers later in life? Why is it that suddenly all the measures taken to raise us into responsible human beings are being rubbished by liberalists who focus on research and studies in abstract but have yet to raise their own kids in a very hostile world?

The bed wetting continues with my daughter, although her overall demeanour has improved considerably. The conundrum that I face right now is simply this: If kids are allowed to simply outgrow their bad habits, what lesson is that really teaching them? Are we then saying that it’s acceptable for them to do what they want when they’re ready to do it, or is it our responsibility to teach them that compliance is not always an option that they have a choice in, but that at times they must comply even if it’s not something they like doing? I’d much rather establish more controls up front and then teach them how to let go later, than to struggle with an overly indulgent teenager who thinks that conformance to certain moral standings is repressive and that dabbling in controlled substances is a freedom of expression.

The liberals have gotten our world into the sad state that it’s in. The extremists are pushing us further down the same ridiculous path. There is a desperate need for moderation in the way we raise our children. But in the absence of any principled leadership to guide new parents in this process, it’s difficult to see an end to this destructive cycle. Adults need to stop looking for affirmation from their children about their child-rearing skills and instead look to the living examples of others that have raised respectable and responsible members of society. That way, chances are that they won’t back down from disciplining their children just because they’re afraid their kids won’t love them.

In my experience I’ve always found one consistent truth with kids. They need boundaries and rules. And when things go bad for them, they polarise towards those adults or role models that established healthy boundaries with them and not towards the ones that were liberal and chose to spoil them at every turn. The balance we need to strike is to create opportunities for them to express themselves creatively and actively, but always cognisant of the fact that there are boundaries beyond which their behaviour encroaches on the rights and feelings of others. It’s this sense of responsibility that will hold them in good stead throughout their lives.

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