Gone are the days when parents beat us like thieves

Parents should take the time to listen and talk to children

In Summary

• My parents never spared the rod when it came to disciplining us

• My siblings and me feared them second to God

A boy is warned by his mother
A boy is warned by his mother

Growing up in an African household is an extreme sport.

At least I can remember it was an extreme sport in the household that I grew up in.

In terms of discipline, I mean.

My folks were running a very tight ship when we were growing up.

Every time my older brother and I thought about even putting a single toe out of line, we had to rethink it.

My mother and father used to deal with us properly.

Just the other day, my siblings and I were having a hearty chat, reminiscing on the old days.

The days when my parents still had the strength to whip the three of us into shape and instil the fear of God into us with just a single look.

My older brother describes the way we used to be disciplined as being beaten like a pair of thieves.

In fact, there was a special cane that was set aside just for discipline purposes.

The terrible thing is that the same cane was used sometimes used by my father as a weapon when neighbours raised the alarm that an intruder had been spotted in the neighbourhood.

Anyway, my brother and I are apart by five years, so by the time we were up-to-no-good little rascals, both my folks were in their prime and thus, the beatings fit for a thief.

By the time my younger sister came along, however, they weren't as agile as they used to be when we were smaller.

They were more lenient with her on the discipline front.

Perhaps it happens with most parents and their lastborns.

They grow softer as they age, I think.

Or maybe they grow more aware and realise that some tactics of discipline don't really work on children.

I know many of my friends who grew up with that same discipline method.

It was literally like warfare.

But kids these days, I presume, don't get beaten like that.

In fact, kids these days should not be beaten like that, it should be illegal.

But they should count themselves lucky.

We tell my younger sister as much all the time.

That she was lucky to be born at a time when both of my parents had grown a bit older and less aggressive with their discipline tactics.

With her, there was more dialogue and negotiation and less guerilla warfare.

But there was the occasional thrashing, because what is an African child without a little thrashing here and there?

We turned out alright, though. At least I think we did. We are a trio of very good children, and we are slightly well-adjusted adults now.

I don't think I would have the heart to discipline my child the way my parents did with my siblings and me, though.

I understand that they were just doing what their parents did before them and their grandparents before their parents.

But times have changed and parents talk to and with their children, not at them or over them.

Even now, my folks are learning to talk to us as their adult children and not just dictate what they want us to do.

You can tell it's a little difficult for them because you can't really teach an old dog new tricks.

Discipline Dilemma

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