Spare The Child and Spoil The Rod
— TD Fuego II
By now, regular and not-so-regular readers of MT are well used to LEX’s no nonsense, straight talking style. His piece last Friday’s (24-Jun-2011) entitled “Spare the rod and spoil the child” was even more compelling. After reading it, I just had to add my tuppence worth.
If we are faced today with juvenile delinquency and criminal behaviour, it is simply because, over the years, parents have been lulled into thinking that nanny State knows best, which is a load of rubbish. More dangerously, the State has usurped parental rights altogether. Not only does it forbid teachers from using any form of corporal punishment on an unruly child, but also awe betide any parent who is found doing so. The result is that parents feel helpless, and are confused about their role in inculcating discipline in their offspring.
Ah, discipline! There is a something that the Ministry of Child Welfare and the Ombudsman for Children do not seem to have in their lexicon of words. Only the other evening, the MBC aired a film-clip of theirs lasting several minutes portraying young children proclaiming that they had rights to this, rights to that, and rights to the other. All very laudable stuff, no doubt. But, what about their obligations and responsibilities?
It is little wonder that, with this constant harping on about children’s rights without spelling out their obligations, the youth of today thinks it has the God-given Right to do Anything and Everything, and proceeds to do it. Under-age fornication — sometimes with several partners at the same time, child prostitution and teenage pregnancy are but some examples of the many undesirable outcome of our laissez-faire attitude. Lack of respect and violence towards each other, and towards elders, have also become standard fare.
Parental Tolerance and Discipline
However, it would be unfair to heap all the blame on the authorities. We, the parents, are not totally blameless. We tolerate far too much. Only recently, I went to visit a relative of mine. She was furious that her brother-in-law had reprimanded her little son for riding his bike too fast down the drive. The uncle had judged that, at the speed the boy was going, he might not be able to stop before he reached the public footpath or, worse still, the street — and have a horrible accident. But, the mother did not see it that way.
“Mone dir li, li pa ena auquene droit lor mo zenfant, moi qui donne li manger!” was her proud boast. Many years ago, when I was working in Botswana I came to learn a wise adage that says “Never argue with a fool, for people cannot always tell the difference.” Needless to say, I kept my counsel to myself.
However, things were not always like that. Upon learning I had been admitted to the Hospital, my cousin came to pay me a visit the other day. Apart from my wife, there was no other visitor. So, Dhaneswar was able to stay for most of the visiting time. As happens often when we meet people from our childhood, the conversation soon veered towards the old days when we were boys growing up together in our village.
He told my wife how he used to cry when chacha — that is my dad –used to shout at him. In my father’s case, there was no need for the rotin bazaar, which my mum used to take out now and then. That thunderous voice and a certain look were sufficient. Dhaneswar’s own parents were rather tolerant and easy going. But, not even once did I hear my uncle or my aunt tell my dad that he had no right to reprimand their son.
Of course, he used to spoil him too. Whether it was the cinema, the seaside or a football match, he would always take him along with my brother and me. We both agreed that the discipline that the old man inculcated in us has served us well throughout our lives.
Of course, there were no busy-bodies from any Ministry or Ombudsman to hinder and thwart him in what he considered to be his duty as a responsible father…and uncle!
TD Fuego II