I need a break from Social Media. A break from heartbreak. I recently read of a 9 year old child being beaten so badly by his Quran instructor, that he died. Yes, you read correctly.
Since becoming a mother, I now see the world differently. That isn’t to say that a person who isn’t a parent isn’t able to see it my way. But I do remember my reaction and feeling when I wasn’t a mother and it didn’t debilitate me the way that it does now.
I don’t know why child abuse related videos and articles are circulated around on social media to begin with (a place that is meant to be a happy escape from reality), but it’s very hard NOT to somehow come across one of these on your news feed, and I almost always immediately scroll past, click unfollow. Still, I have watched, read and scrolled past too much to the point where it’s already soul-damaging.
I’m not sure how anyone thinks it’s appropriate to raise their hand to a child. Mind you, I grew up in a generation where it was completely acceptable to beat your child – in public or at home. I grew up in a generation that didn’t just grant a parent the permission to do so – but your aunt, uncle, brother, sister, teacher, any one who was older and gave off the impression of being “authority” seemed to hold that “right” to smack your kid. And I’m not talking about a tiny slap on the wrist – I’m talkin’ full on beating.
It’s controversial, I get it. Some people still hold the belief that a little physical reprimanding isn’t damaging. I am not judging you. I think we’ve all been in a situation where we might have at one point or another justified it in our minds. Why, though? Why do we feel this way? Is it because our parents did it to us? We turned out to be “good” people and so now do we think that it’s because of a couple of “a** whippings”? Is that the real reason you are a responsible and respectable adult? It was for me.
I always thought before having a child that it was perfectly acceptable and OK to physically discipline your child. Again, there is a major differentiation between a slap on the wrist and a full on beating. The latter is never acceptable. Ever. I used to really feel that a little physical reprimanding for bad behavior was acceptable. (Again, not judging you if you still believe this!) But all of that completely changed when I became a mother, and when I was finally put in a position where I could have raised my hand at my child. In that moment, I couldn’t do it.
For the first several years, a child is learning EVERYTHING they see you do. I have seen my child go from the inability to grasp a spoon, to learning how to use it and feeding herself from my own plate. During this stage, they pick up on social norms. They are not always aware that what they are doing is “wrong”. Their curiosity causes them to have multiple accidents around the house with things they probably know they shouldn’t touch but aren’t really sure why. So, why is it OK – as an adult – to lose our temper and raise a hand to a child who doesn’t really know that what they just did was wrong? What do you gain from that slap across the face? Has the child learned anything? Yes, the child has learned that if he/she breaks the bowl mom said not to touch, mom or dad will smack her. She/he doesn’t learn that glass is dangerous and can hurt her/him. You hit to stop a behavior, but it rarely serves that purpose. Rather, it instills a slight (or deep if you’re the type of monster that carries out the beatings we spoke of before) fear and then it seeps its way into their personality? They develop insecurities. They pick up on hints of violence. Why do we see children who’ve been abused, at times (not always by any means) grow up to do the same thing to their own children? It’s a cycle. “My parents hit me so, I will hit my child. That is how you parent.”
I am clearly quite bitter about this subject.
Again, it’s cyclic behavior. Just like sexual abuse is a necessary topic to be discussed in our community – hitting your child is another issue we should bring to light. I know there are many that will think I’m overreacting. That a slap across the face or on the butt is totally appropriate. That is your decision to make as a parent – I’m just here to tell you about the decision I’ve made. To not hit my child in any capacity.
Every generation brings about a necessary change; I am from the generation that has learned that hitting your child does more harm than good. Many communities still carry on the traditions and ideas of their forefathers since they know nothing else. Those are the communities who should be educated on the realities of abuse and the harm it does to a child. I do believe that some people really know no better. This is what has been taught to them, this is what they do, and this is what they end up teaching their child. And again, the cycle continues. This doesn’t make them bad people. Just a little, misguided.
Education, and awareness about the effects of abuse (even if you don’t believe this to be abuse) can help. It takes time, motivation, and emotional investment to make this a reality. We should let our children be children. I remember the fear of being smacked if I did something wrong, and I don’t want my child to ever feel that same fear. No matter how big or small. We can teach our children to respect authority and listen to us and our rules without physically reprimanding them when they aren’t cooperative.
Just something to think about.