Thursday, December 07, 2006

From perfect to imperfect

I was passing by a house in my friend’s neighborhood. Outside a house a father and a mother were beating up a child. I watched in horror as people walked by not even noticing the event. The parents looked very annoyed and I heard them explaining to an old lady who intervened that the child had failed in his exams. It was unbelievable!!! What lesson were they thinking that they were teaching their child through beatings? The value of education or the fear of physical violence!?!

If it is the latter, they have succeeded. But if it is the former then they have failed miserably. So who should get the beatings now???

I have never understood the concept of beating a child. Beating a child would essentially mean a failure on the part of the parent to communicate with the child. This happens when people have children for the sake of having children and hence are not committed to its upbringing. They take care of its physical needs but his emotional needs are never a consideration.

I have observed many young parents within my family and our family friends circle. Parents who don’t have time for the child are the ones who beat kids. It may not be brutal beatings but some form of punishment like pulling the child ears. On the other hand, totally involved parents seem to guide their kids through life without having to use any force or threat of force with the child.

Before I have parents hurling brick and stones on me, let me explain that I am an experienced baby sitter and I have through sheer common sense got kids to listen to me without resorting to the “I will tell your parents if you don’t listen to me” type of threats. Kids are very practical people and I have noticed that a lot of talking and interaction with them is needed. That requires patience and time.

And what is striking is, when you treat a kid like an adult he/she tends to responds to you better than if you were to treat him like a kid. Of course there will be petulance and sometimes they just don’t want to listen, which I think is a child’s right as a child :)

I love kids and love having them around and there is one little one peeping into my monitor right now as I type. When parents talk about how difficult it is to handle kids, I normally keep quite or I get the “wait till you are a parent” lecture. But then I have been a parent a hundred times over with the kids I baby sit and never have I encountered a child who does not respond to me unless he has been handled badly by the adults in his life and hence looks at me like the adults he is used to.
But even in this case, the moment the child sees an adult treating him reasonably inspite of his past experiences with adults, he will respond positively.

I just wish people would realise the damage they inflict on a child's mind when they beat his body.


Sachin R K said... your views have changed...seem to remember something about a certain Miss DAV :P

On a serious note, I agree with you. Beating the child is just one's way of admitting one cant deal with the problem like a mature adult. Its one of the things that sickens me the most.

alex said...

You are cent percent right.

It is terrible when parents, the so called mature people do this.

Like you said, it is because of failed communication.

Moreover, parents fail to respect their children. Parents see them as inferior to them both emotionally and physically.

My grandfather still tells everyone in the family not to beat children. And this lecture of 'wait till you become a parent' is stupid.

Anonymous said...

Being a baby sitter once in a while and being a parent is way different.
As a child I have had recieved mmy fair share of beatings from parents and teachers.As everyone will testify any punishment at that time seems bitter but later on it life it does you good.
"Spare teh rod and spoil the child"
There are instances which demand and many which dont..discernment is very much needed thats all.

Immigrant in Canada said...

Nah Silverine, Beating a child for bad marks isn't because parents had kids for the sake of having kids, it is because they consider, kids as an investment, an old age pension and security..These parents are only protecting their investment..

I wish each parent would think, what exactly they are trying to teach, when they hit their child.. Aren't they telling the child, I am big, you are small and I can beat the life of you! and the child will be thinking..wait till I grow up, I will knock your teeth out!

Jiby said...

i agree with sarah...though in a different way to her second para...i wud always think when i got beaten, wait till i grow up, i will show you parents there is a better way to bring up kids. in my case it puzzled me that mom and dad who were angry a few minutes back wouldnt let me sulk...they would be mollifying me and caressing me back to normal self soon after the caning or scolding!

my parents biggest worry was my poor academic record. i dont know if it was a coincidence or a result though i veer to the latter, by the 10th standard when i began to be treated as an adult and the beatings/scoldings ceased, my grades went up. a fearful child will never realize his true potential.

like you i have had to babysit many children and i have tried out several experiments on how best to rein them in...i have always found the right way is to talk to them like you would to an adult. it also helps in boosting their confidence and outlook to life.

TheDawg said...

No child deserve a beating. True. I have had my share. But I dont think those beatings were unfair.
Like Jiby's parents ,they would never let me sulk , and explain that studying hard was a proven way to get what you want out of life , and that they might not have the resources to support me at some point of time far into the future. So I had to study well so i could support myself at some point of time. That was good logic. So i said "Do away with the beatings. I will see to the rest ". And they did .

I'd say dont beat a child ever. But if you do it , make sure it is for all the right reasons .

A large no: of very logical people I have met are children. They can be reasoned with and once you give them an irrefutable logic , they will do whats right.

I live with a two-and-half year old and a one-and-a-half year old. Children just need answers , things to do , someone/something to show how fascintating things are and tons of hugs , not necessariy in that order.

LI said...

"Beating a child would essentially mean a failure on the part of the parent to communicate with the child". Not Exactly . When my parents tells children what to do some of them do exact opposite . At least it was true in my case . When my mother asked me to drink the complan milk , i put it in the wash basin :) . No wonder she gave me a small beating. What say?. Some nut children are like that only. But it is wrong to beat children when the child does not have the potential/ capability like the case you described it can be a possible reason for the child to fail.

silverine said...

sachin: Yeah, beating a child is a sign of immaturity!

Alex: My Dad is also against beating, never did it once nor allowed my mom too :)

Anon: Have you been a regular baby sitter like me or are you a parent?

Sarah: You are absolutley right!!!

Jiby:I have had tremendous succes with kids by talking to them like adults :)

thedawg: Yes, beating only makes the child do things against his will and that is no way to make him study or behave.

LI: You did just the opposite because that was an act of rebellion against use of force! I had a terrible problem with milk and my Dad understood, but my Mom insisted, finally she also realised that it was no point making me drink it and gave it up...something my Dad had adviced her long time back :)

Puchu said...

I agree in most parts with "thedawg". I had more than my share of the stick. Yes, many times, when the report card came out. I however dont think I sulked or went into any sort of a depression due to that. I am not saying that it does not happen to others, may be it was thanks to my parents who probably balanced the stick with appropriate communication. My parents used the stick so that I study harder and do well for myself. And not as "immigrant in Canada" put it very unfairly as "investment for their future.

I am not a parent and not an expert on parenting but have seen quite a few young parents quite closely. Accd to me, babysitting is one thing but parenting is a totally different ball game that requires immense patience, smart thinking, lot of hardwork, etc etc. And these only increase as the kids grow up. I really have great admiration for the way our parents brought us up and keep wondering if the next generation has it within them to do the same.

The main reasons (I believe) why kids nowadays are a tough lot to handle and dont concentrate on studies is - no avenue to release all their pent-up energy ( no playgrounds around... all have turned into apartment complexes) and the excessive viewing of television instead of spending time with hobbies and books.

I however agree with silverine that young couples see procreation as a must without understanding what they are getting into.

Anonymous said...

Slight digression,

I view parenting as being harder currently than any time in the past. Children lose their innocence at a very young age. They are witnessing a lot of disturbing events. Children are also much more aware of what is happenning around them. Not fear, but respect for elders and others is lacking in many children. This may be due to bad parenting or bad environment, but it is the truth.

I certainly find beating children wrong. Only people who are impatient, restless and ignore the need to spend time talking with a child will beat him/her up senselessly. More then the parents beating, I find the lack of sensitivity from passerbys upsetting. These kind of actions are what children are watching and what is making children less sensitive and cold.


silverine said...

Puchu: I think Immigrant in Canada (Sarah) has made a very fair statement :) Even I have a lot of admiration for my parents because they were very commited parents. Our TV watching and computer time was strictly regulated. TV was in a room that was locked and computer was password protected.So if kids today sit in front of TV then it is the parents fault. Even we didn't have playgrounds but my folks played with us. What I am trying to say is parenting is a 24 hour job and committed parents do not have to beat a kid due to the dialogue that is created when there is a parent child relationship. But when parents act as mere caretakers this doesn't happen and leads to beatings to get the child to listen.
p.s by babysitting I don't mean an hour or two but entire weekends and
sometimes weeks as we have lots of young parents in the family here in Blr. You will have to read my post Sitting Ducks at Poomanam to know what I am talking about :))

Kajan: "Only people who are impatient, restless and ignore the need to spend time talking with a child will beat him/her up senselessly." Exactly what I was trying to say :)

Jay Sun said...

True, beating a child is criminal...sounds like displacement of anger...

Of course in our regular neighborhoods, children are seen as the parent's property - to bring them up any which way they want...very few people would actually intervene...

mathew said...

Am really confused what to comment on this..coz i myself had a decent share of thrashing when I was a kid..something I still try not to remember..The immature mind in me generated enuf hate for my dad those days..the worst part is getting beaten up in front of others..and subjected to shame..mostly for my not to so good academics..But finally it spoils the joy of learning..

Although i have learned to forgive them for the good intentions they had..(know it sounds arrogant)..I ll defintely say it scars a young mind for a long time..

SP said...

My father would beat us black and blue. Sometimes it was for our academics... I never forgave him, never will. I have two teenage kids of my own now. I have managed to bring them up without raising my hands at them once.

@mathew: I understand because I have been there.

Arti Honrao said...

This post of yours should be slapped on the face of every parent who physically punishes the child for failing in exams. Though I am not sure what will happen of you later on!

I seriously believe that there are much better ways to handle failure.
But Silvu! Are there not exception? I mean are there not circumstances where the parents have to act rough?
Who is to be blamed?


MC said...

absolutely agree with you..its just some myth thats created a notion that unless you whack the kids and bring them up nothings gonna work. i think its a "tradition" followed in this side of the earth. i have closely observed how some americans and canadians bring up children..with so much care, patience and understanding. and it really makes a whole difference in the way children are too - no tantrums, much smarter and well-behaved.

i am not saying any parent who beats a child loves them less than a parent who does not..but as everyone here said, its something we can very well avoid. and avoiding it only does better for the child - provided the parents have the patience [and intelligence :)] to reason out with the children.

having said that..i am an adult now!! and i am still being treated like a kid by everyone including parents!!! i want justice!!!

silverine said...

SP: Your kids are wonderful people :)

Jaysun: As you rightly observed parents think children are their property and not individuals entrusted to them to take care.

mathew: Many parents do it because studies is the only sure fire way to keep your head above the waters and they get concerned enough to hit a child if he doesn't do well in studies.But I guess however well intentioned the parents are, beating does leave scars.

arti: So many parents do it :( I don't think any circumstance is justified.

MC: Lets form a union of "Adults still treated as Kids" :P
I can almost hear my mom saying "Anju stop acting childish and demanding to be treated as an adult!" LOL

SP has put up a strong argument against beating kids. Somehow I feel sick at the thought of a bigger and stronger adult hitting up a small and defenceless kid :(
In the case of Americans and others, they have kids when they really want one and are prepared for the responsibilities of parenting :)

Arti Honrao said...

Hi! I am sorry for doing this, I usually do not comment on someone's comment but here I would like to do so, without hurting anyone's sentiments.

When talking of Americans and Canadians, it would be wrong to be under the impression that parents are always good to their children. It is not that beatings happen in India ONLY. It happens all around us.

I personally know two women who faced Child Abuse when they were kids and I know a teenager who IS facing the abuse even now :(


Jeseem said...

I guess one needs a lot of patience with a child. Some people are natural with kids, guess u r and you are experienced :-) ( I mean as babysitter).
again looking after a child 24/7 needs a lot of patience and commitment, which not everyone has. So sometimes parents cannot control their anger, leaving bad long-term mental scars on the child.

Ganja Turtle said...

tempted to take a personal viewpoint and say i got thrashed quite often and i think i dont have too much of a pblm with it...but have heard too many horror stories from too many friends about parents and kids...

sometimes when i see a spoilt kid am tempted to think that all he/she needs is a whack on the bottom, but then again i have to tell myself that somebody made them spoilt... for thought...

ToOothlEss WOndeR! said...

being born off two parents - one of which had a great affinity for ears, and the noises that can be effected by pulling and twisting them in different directions, and another that was way too serious on not inflicting any damage and talking to children like they were adults, i think to get spanked (or ear pulled) once in a year is good.
really. like tonic. chooral kashayam they used to call it. keeps you healthy.
especially when you dont have the time to be a full time guide to your child in his every move, when you'd rather he found out things by himself.
as for me, i think the only thing i'd really tell my kid to be would be to be the individual that he/she is, to reason with me when i'm wrong - to make sense.
and yeah, you get on my nerves and dont make sense when you do, i may not give you the beating everytime, but you can't ignore the risk.
afterall, what goes around, comes around. law of conservation of energy you see.

ToOothlEss WOndeR! said...

PS: i think it makes sense to add this (may clarify a point that i'm driving)- i am a person who's never hit anyone, never even had a fight with anyone that lasted more than 2 hours - in my whole life.

silverine said...

Arti: Yes child abuse happens in the West too!
Jeseem: It is our system. Couples are pressurized to have kids whether they want them or not!

GT: That is exactly what I think when I see a spoilt or cranky child. Someone who was mishandled. I have also heard horror stories of beatings from classmates that left me scarred.

toothless wonder: he he it's nice to know that you feel that chooral kashayam is good once in a while :))

Pradeep said...

The trick often lies in distracting the children and keeping them engaged...

Neihal said...

my parents believed in no beating and no shouting policy...even when we did something teriible they'd take us to our room and explain us everything...we all grew up to be decent individuals so I guess it was a good policy
but sometime back I met this SIL of mine who has triplets and who drive her my opinion she tries her best to deal with the kids....but her family is so unsupportive including her lets not never know what the parents are going through...not that I support the beating.

abhishek said...

Children require patience, as you correctly put it. And when people point fingers at families breaking up in the US and men and women pursuing single lives, what they don't realize is that some portion of these cases are legitimate in that certain people don't have the patience nor want to raise a family. Is that a bad thing? Hell no. We all know this world could use fewer people and better parents. I would rather have 10,000 fewer children running around than 10,000 socially immature people sitting around.

Corporal punishment is the ugly reality of Indian society (it's not restricted to Indians) in that it forces people to get married at an early age and under the wrong circumstances. When parents take out their anger on children through corporal punishment, it's actually a sign of immaturity on the parents' part. The reality is that these people became parents too early in their life. They have not yet overcome the obstacles in their own life. What we should be doing is encouraging people to get married once they have fulfilled certain necessary obligations to themselves: getting educated, seeing the world, getting a job etc and discouraging them before they have done any of those things.

Safari Al said...

i found your other blog...! its as good as the other one. thats too many others in the same line. er....never mind.

f*** y**

That was priceless!


silverine said...

Pradeep:Yes and that requires an interest from the parents side :)

neihal: You are so right. I have seen moms go crazy cos they have no help. My Dad too was against beating and still is :)

Abhishek: You said it. I think parents of young couples should stop pressurising their kids to marry then have children!

safari al: :))