Africans And The Spare-The-Rod-And-Spoil-The-Child Mentality


This is a very dicey topic and I’m going to try as much as possible to explain my point without appearing dismissive of our traditional beliefs.
Africans have this “spare the rod and spoil the child” mentality in their approach to disciplining their children. In the Western World, its a criminal offense to physically strike a child in the guise of discipline.
Ask an African and he/she will tell you two things about their approach to discipline;
1. Its an instruction in the Bible that sparing the rod would spoil a child.
2. When you don’t beat a child, he or she will not be disciplined and would grow up wayward, take a look at the Western World and their stubborn kids.
In a bid to get to the bottom of this notion, I searched deep into the Bible via Google and discovered that “spare the rod and spoil the child” is unscriptural. The closest to that notion is in Proverbs 13:24 and Proverbs 23: 13-14. Proverbs 13:24 (NIV) reads “Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them”. While Proverbs 23:13-14 (NIV) reads “Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish them with the rod, they will not die. Punish them with the rod and save them from death”.
Just like the phrase “God helps those that helps themselves“, spare the rod and spoil the child is not in the Bible, verbatim speaking.

On the other side, it seems like Western World kids are stubborn, they could be unruly, rude, lethargic and strong headed. African kids could be respectful, obedient, nice but whose deceiving who? Who wouldn’t behave properly when faced with a cane/belt? What happens when these African parents aren’t around? These kids go back to their normal selves but with the Western kids, they behave the same way with or without their parents’ presence. Looking at it from another angle, when these kids finally grow up, who becomes more useful to society? Who pays dodges taxes? Who supports corruption? Who beats their wives? Who engages in 419? Who accumulates ill gotten wealth for their children’s children? Who bribes officials? Who throws a tire on people accused of stealing and burns them to death? Your guess is as good as mine.
So how good has the “spare the rod and spoil the child” approach done for Africa? We are simply breeding pretentious children who behave when threatened with flogging and return back to their unruly behavior when no one is watching.

I recommend a fusion between the African and Western world style of child upbringing:
Instead of constantly flogging, beating, bashing our kids, we should try a bit of the talking and listening like the Whites do. They failed in their system because sometimes kids need a little bit of motivation (spanking) to do the right thing while Africans have failed because sometimes kids need a listening ear more than a flogging hand to do the right thing. Most times we are so much in a hurry to brandish the belt/cane and flog sense into our children’s heads but why not listen to them. Even if you need to discipline them, why not try another approach like; buying something for their siblings and not for them, taking their siblings out and not them, banning them from visiting friends, stopping them from watching their favorite shows on TV etc. If you notice, African kids are scared of their parents, an African girl takes in and aborts without any parent knowing with the mindset that “my dad will kill me”. A while girl gets pregnant and although she knows what she did is wrong still confides in her family who help her through the journey.

Am I saying we should stop flogging out kids? No! I am saying we should try a different approach. Instead of 100% flogging, let’s try 20% flogging and 80% talking to and listening ear. It works wonders with children. They need someone to listen to them. Please be that person. Don’t ever bring up kids that are scared of you. Never.


Further Reading: 5 Ways To Discipline A Child Without Spanking

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