DON’T HIT THAT CHILD: RETHINKING OUR CULTURE OF DISCIPLINE

ImageHave you noticed that when parents attempt to hit their children, grandparents defend the kids?  “Hitting isn’t a good way to bring up kids,” they say. Grandparents are adorable, but have they forgotten the days when they hit our mothers and fathers?
With age, hearts become softer. Or perhaps they just become forgetful. If you hit your child, it’s likely they’ll pass on the tradition. When it comes to discipline, I’ve noticed flying slippers are a mother’s specialty. All of a sudden moms turn into baseball players.
There is also the belt—a more serious weapon—usually reserved for the father. From the sharp crack of the whip, you can tell how painful the hit is going to be.

When they get mad they’ll throw anything and everything that is within a hand’s reach: pens, a TV, cups, shoes, remote controls. Other hitting techniques include: slapping, kicking, pinching, pulling the ears, in addition to the famous bamboo stick. Some people look back and laugh, but for others, abuse like this can be traumatic. For thosewho had very aggressive parents, they may grow to have psychological problems. Beating children affects their confidence and their future relationships. You find parents who use the “military approach” in raising kids. They act very strict, harsh, they raise them without showing love, care, or compassion. Because, using this line of thinking, showing affection is regarded as a sign of “weakness.” Kids grow up, but they don’t forget. I bet anyone reading this would be able to recall a time when they were hit as a child—a time when you said to yourself that that you will never be the same when you grow up. The pain of the slap might have disappeared but the emotional effect never disappears. If you are a “hitting parent,” don’t complain about kids breaking toys, screaming, or having tantrums. If you are a “hitting parent,” don’t complain years down the road that your kids grew up to be cruel and left you at an elderly house. “Hitting parent,” control your temper. Ask yourself three questions: What did they do? How are you going to punish them according to the action? Why did you choose this punishment? This logic of violence,this idea that our problems can be fixed with fists is terrible. And it extends beyond the rough disciplining of children. The worst kind of abuse is when men hit their wives. If youask him “why did you slap her?” he may answer “she raised her voice to me.” You call yourself a man? I’m sorry to break it to you, but you, a real man does not hit a woman. What’s “manly” in hitting a lady? Not every guy is “manly,” but a whole slew of immature behavior—like hitting women, lying, fighting—often gets labeled as manly. Holding your temper, your tongue, and your hands when you’re at the peak of your anger—now that’s manly.Manhood is about being kind to those weaker than you. But I see men who mock poor people, oppress the weak, and boast when they hit women. I never saw a rooster hitting a chicken when he was angry. I thought that humans are supposed to be the intelligent creatures.

Beating has become an acceptable cultural norm. Social circumstances, the environment around us, and the way people were raised all play a role in the spreadof violence in our culture. Teachers, parents, men and women keep saying that they were “raised this way,” and they “turned out fine.”

But I’m not so sure if they really did turn out fine.

This was published in The Yemen Times on June 10, 2013

Illustration done by: Samar Al Ariqi

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