In one of today’s national Sunday Newspapers, in typical sensationalist-style, it is reported that: ‘parents who spank their children could soon be slapped with criminal charges.’
This is a sensationalist article, designed to get readers hot under the color, for it is published in a country in which spanking your children still seems to be at the heart of child rearing.
And – if you read the article it becomes clear that, even though a specific organization is lobbying for this to happen, chances are slim that it would.
In South Africa it seems spanking your children is the norm when it comes to disciplining your children.
When my son was born, it was how I did things.
After all, it is how I was raised.
One spanking at a time.
The Bible says, ‘spare the rod and spoil the child’, does it not?
And so I would give my three year old son a hiding, whenever he would not obey my command, beating him into obedience & submission.
What an idiot I was.
This is the one thing I have apologised to my son & daughter, my two eldest children, the most.
I will apologise to them again.
It is unforgivable.
My daughter taught me that beatings solve nothing.
She was four years old when she was old enough to express herself well enough, to teach me.
‘What?!’ she shouted through the tears after a hiding. ‘Do you think this solves anything? Do you think beating me shows me you love me!? Do you think it helps me understand? It doesn’t even shut me up. It just fills me with fear. It makes me afraid of you. It makes me want to hide!’
I was speechless.
Her words articulating thoughts more mature than I could expect from most adults.
That she would even take the time to explain to me.
I took her into my arms, and she allowed me to do so.
I don’t know if I would have.
I held her.
And she held me.
And I apologised.
For I could see.
For the first time.
That violence does not solve anything.
It was the last time I had given any of my children a hiding.
It is interesting – we beat our children into submission & then we discipline them about fighting amongst each other, hitting or biting or scratching.
We spank them, teaching them that violence is a solution and then we’re surprised that we live in a violent society.
Husbands beating their wives.
Governments beating their citizens.
Perhaps our society, our world, will not change, unless we have a change of heart?
Is raising children really about getting them to submit to authority?
‘There is no discipline other than self-discipline. All else is coercion.’ says Tim Hewitt-Coleman.
And beating my children, so that they will submit to my authority is of no value in teaching them self-discipline.
Talking to them is.
Helping them discover who they are & allowing them to ‘be’, without hesitation.
Helping them experience life, in all its fullness, with consequences & hardship & success.
But that takes time.
It asks of me to do more than provide a place to live & food to eat & clothes to wear.
It asks of me to be in a meaningful relationship.
To become myself.
To be human.
Which is difficult.
For I was beaten.
Perhaps the cycle will only be broken when I am loved enough, like I was by my daughter, who took the time to explain & engage & set me free.
My Christian friends do not agree with me on this.
They quote that rod-scripture.
They tell me they were beaten and look at them? They are fine?
My Krishna friend gets it.
Violence breeds violence.
So I suppose the question which remains is, will I be ‘beaten’ into submission, rather keeping quiet about what I’ve learnt from my four year old, than being shunned by Evangelical Christians?