Growing up my mother was the disciplinarian in the house. Momma had a cane or two at every corner of the house. Anyone that stepped out of line was given a beating even before the offender was given room to explain his/her actions.
The house was hot and every child towed a respect-yourself-or-get-a-whopping line. One of the reasons I desired to be a grown-up so bad so to outgrow this ass whopping.
Looking back now as a grown-up, I am of the opinion a far stronger and more potent weapon in disciplining a child other than ass whopping is “reasoning”.
We live in a society (African mentality) where disciplining a child seldomly involves reasoning with the child and talking to him/her. It’s always the “spare the rod and spoil the child” approach. In our schools, children are flogged. At home, children are flogged. Everywhere you turn children are beaten like animals that can’t be reasoned with.
It just seems to me that:
1. African parents don’t understand their children. They fail to realize that the way one child behaves will be different from the way another child behaves. That children are human beings with different temperaments, behavioral patterns, likes and dislikes. That where whipping might work for one, an arm around the shoulder might work for another. They fail to realize that children are children not adults and will act as children would; irrational and sometimes insolent. They misbehave as children should and then parents try to reason their child’s child-like actions with their adult brain, don’t make sense of it and then unleash their fury with strokes.
2. African parents don’t see their children as equals. I learnt something from white parents, they see their children as equals. Wise enough to make their decisions and live by them. These children a times take their independence too far and talk back at their parents but judging by how useful these children become to society abroad compared to grownups in Africa, I think their parents did a better job. Over here, as long as a child is under a parent’s roof, he or she is seen as a subordinate while the parents are the Masters. They have no say. They can’t voice their opinions. African parents are just like their political leaders: authoritarians.
3. African parents don’t fully understand the scripture. To begin with, the saying “spare the rod and spoil the child” as quoted, isn’t in the Bible. The closest verse like it is Proverbs 13:24 which reads, “Those who spare the rod, hate their children, but the one who loves their child disciplines them diligently.” The question is, what was the use of the rod, and is it a directive or a metaphor?
4. African parents misunderstand the word “rod”. A shepherd’s rod in biblical times was a two to four foot club used for defending the sheep from predators and robbers. It was worn in their belt and may resemble a walking stick but was a weapon or tool to provide safety for the flock.
Key word is defend and provide safety. So why do African parents keep inflicting pain, fear and apprehension on their sheep (children) in the name of discipline?
Let’s take a look at Psalm 23:4. “Yes, though I walk through the valley of the shades of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” I’m sure that does not mean that God will beat us with an actual rod to comfort us.
Also in 2 Samuel 7:14 when God made a covenant with David, He said “I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men….” so we know that God does not mean that He would beat David with an actual rod but God was using this word as an expression of His discipline of David when he needed it. This is actually a sign of love because love = discipline.
5. African parents forget Proverbs 22:6. The most powerful scripture in the Bible pertaining to raising a child is found in Proverbs 22: 6 which says “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it”. Train according to the dictionary involves educating and exercising with discipline. Imagine going for a training for a position in a company and educators holding canes to whip anyone that didn’t understand lessons being taught.
6. African parents are too lazy to properly train a child. I was watching a documentary on police dogs and how they are trained and realized that police dogs are never beaten or whipped. To my amazement, the trainers talk to these dogs like they would a human being. They tell them what to do, if the dog doesn’t do it, it doesn’t get a reward (mostly dog biscuits). The dog eager to get rewarded and praised, does everything within its power to learn and make its trainer proud.
White parents open a line of communication with their children to understand why they disobey their instructions.
When they still repeat the offense, they use methods like “removal of video games”, “grounding the child”, ” not taking the child to Disney Land”, “not giving the child her favorite toys” etc to get the child in line.
In Africa, our parents are to busy making money to properly take care of their children and discipline them. They give that responsibility to housemaids, grand parents, nannies and even teachers at school. Whenever they are home, all they have time to do is flog and take discipline to the extreme.
As a child I was literally afraid of my mother. I knew she loved me and I loved her but her incessive flogging made me behave just because I didn’t want some ass whopping. This act breeds children that pretend. They act responsible at home but revert back to their true irresponsible characters outside.
If a child is consistency directed they will learn what is expected and generally conform. However, if they are beaten and broken they not only stop responding, but they look for every opportunity to escape–even when escape may mean grave danger.
To spare the rod doesn’t mean a parent should beat down their children into submission, rather they are to be like shepherds who value and care for their charges and keep them from danger by using the tools of good parenting to teach responsible behavior and appropriate morality
Finally, we know that no discipline feels good while it is happening, but afterwards the rewards are rich (Hebrews 12:11). Godly character, fruit of the Spirit, and peace are rewards of God’s discipline. The same is true for our human children. Children who have learned how to take responsibility for their actions are much happier people (Proverbs 3:11–18).