One of the saddest memories of my childhood was seeing a cousin of mine being beaten with a belt in front of his peers.
There were five of us between the ages of nine to twelve and we were at a wedding. The bride and groom had stepped out of the Mandap to eat and the guests had dwindled. Seizing the opportunity, we pounced on the flowers decorating the stage, gaily pulling it off the strings they were tied to and scattering petals everywhere. We were caught up in the innocent exuberance of childhood. A cameraman who had left his open bag on the stage returned after eating his fill, to see his bag filled with petals. After a furious yell, he rushed off to find one of the grown-ups to complain to. Unfortunately for my cousin, it was his father that the photographer found. My uncle stormed back into the room and dragged my cousin into the backstage dressing room, where he was mercilessly beaten, while being yelled at.
He was denied many things, my cousin - all in the name of discipline and being strict. And as we grew, I saw him rebel, first in thought and then in action against his strict upbringing, even resulting in a complete estrangement with his family.
No one denies the importance of disciplining your child. Children need limits. They need guidance. They do not come with an innate moral compass. And as parents, it is our duty and responsibility to gently guide them towards appropriate behaviour. The way in which, we do this, depends on the kind of parenting style we gravitate towards. Sometimes, due to our intense need to become the best kind of parents that we can be, many of us choose to come down rather heavily on our children. And in doing
so, we cross the line from being merely strict to overly so, unknowingly inflicting more damage than good.
((For the rest of this post, please do head to World Of Moms, where I will be posting on all things Parenting.))