To whip or not to whip

Proverbs 13:24, “Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.”

One mom in my daughters class asked the other moms who had children in that class, what mode of discipline we used on our kids. She said that her daughter had become very stubborn and intentionally did what she was told not to do. The mom further said that she had whipped her daughter to no avail and now the mom needed a new strategy as the whipping didn’t seem to work. Another mom pipped in and said that her son was doing the same thing. He too was stubborn and did not heed his mummy’s voice. The conversation picked up and became animated as more moms contributed to the issue. Another mom said her son answers her back sometimes when she tries to correct him. Yet, another mom agreed that her daughter answered back too sometimes when corrected. Another mom said that she used to whip her daughter too but she stopped it seemed her daughter was becoming more stubborn. Then I remembered my daughter, she too was a bit stubborn sometimes. She would not heed to warnings, and if I was more stern, she would continue doing exactly what I had told her not to do. At that point it became apparent that at that age, four years, our kids had an almost similar discipline issue. Stubbornness.

If you have been raised in an African set up like me, whipping of kids was quite common. Parents used rods to discipline their kids, quite literary and it was highly acceptable across many African communities. At least it was, during our yester years when we were kids and the years before us. Those days you would find a parent using a belt or a stick to beat the living daylights out of his child. That used to work. A child would not repeat that act again least he is beaten thoroughly.  These days, few parents of my time whip their kids in an effort to discipline them. One mom in my daughters class, says that she gently talks to her kids and makes them understand what they are doing is wrong, she says that she negotiates with her kids and they agree on what needs to be done. But does this work for kids of six years and below?

My hairdresser disagrees. She is a mother of two daughters, a two year and seven year old.  She is a very vocal woman on matters motherhood. She says that she disciplines her kids the only way she knows how. By whipping. When her kids misbehave she whips them and cubs that behavior before it grows into something worse. She further says that if  she didn’t do that, she fears the kids will carry that bad behavior into adulthood. When the society has to deal with such transgression, she, their mom will be blamed for not raising them right. To guide her kids in the right path, she whips.

My mom never whipped us. I cant even remember her raising her voice on us. But my grandma was something else, my moms mother. God bless her sweet soul. I remember her as a strict disciplinarian. Whenever we wronged, she would pinch us between the thighs. I mean between the thighs?! That spot is very fleshy and very soft, so you can imagine the amount of pain that cuts through, right into your inner being! It was a nightmare. We never wronged again!

I tried once to whip my child. She was repeatedly doing an act that I had clearly told her not to do. But she kept going. I kept insisting to her she stops. She kept insisting she would continue. Continued she did. I insisted. She insisted. The African mama in me stood up, and I took one of my thin belts and whip it went on her thighs. Whip, Whip. She immediately stopped. Then she looked at me, she started crying non stop. I felt so bad. Inwardly I was asking myself questions why I did that to her. I felt so bad. I felt I was a bad mother. It ate on me for days. Outwardly, I hugged her and told her I was so sorry but she should listen to her mom all the time. From that day, I resorted to using gentle methods of discipline. I take away small privileges like her toys. I switch off cartoon time, I denie her play time, I reward her with compliments, hugs and kisses, or something new, I talk to her, I explain her wrongs and make her understand the right thing to do.

When I tell her No! I make sure its firm and final. She then starts to yell, scream and cry. All in an effort to emotionally blackmail me, sometimes I give in. Other times, I stand firm. Its not easy disciplining kids at this age. Its very hard. But overtime, I have learnt that discipline is not fun. I have learnt to acknowledged myself as a parent and she as a child. I have learnt to acknowledge that we are not friends. We are not mates. As a parent you understand this. So these days I discipline her firmly and I dont flinch. She will scream, and pout and I will not give in like I used to. So, what has happened, overtime she too has come to the realization that am not only her mom but I have authority over her. After she is done with all the screaming, pouting and puffing her face, she would later walk timidly to me and say in a sweet small voice, “Am so sorry mom for everything, please forgive me.” Then we hug and kiss. The following day, she forgets and she does the exact same thing I told her not to. And the cycle starts again. Like I said, Its hard.

Talk to me, how do you discipline your kids?


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