By BERN MORLEY
It used to be all about the feather duster to the bottom, the ruler to the bare knuckles and for the very unfortunate few, a whipped electrical cord to the back of the legs. Nowadays it’s more about timeouts, countdowns and the naughty chair. Welcome to disciplining your child in 2013.
The way you and I were punished growing up, is very different and completely unacceptable in today’s day and age. That’s not to say it still doesn’t happen behind closed doors. Or in some cases, quite publicly. Am I one of those parents? No. Was I? Yes. Am I proud of this? No. Do I realise that trying to teach a child right from wrong whilst inflicting pain is a totally backward concept? Yes, yes I do.
The loudest argument we always hear is that “it didn’t hurt me as a kid”. I’m guessing it really, really did, but I can honestly say I cannot remember and am not personally scarred by it. Often, I only received a belting (and this was a literal belting with an actual leather belt) when I had done something pretty bad. Like that time we broke our Mum and Dad’s bed after repeatedly using it as a high-jump mat. You know, the times we sent her to breaking point. Sure, today, wrapping a belt around a bare bottom, seems extreme but back then it was the norm.
My husband was the same. And from what I understand, being one of four rambunctious boys, there were enough incidences for his mother to actually break the feather duster over his arse one day. Believable, considering they (he and his brother) accidentally once set a derelict house on fire and stole their Gran’s cigarettes on a daily basis.
I only ever got slapped once. I lied to mum and told her I was at my girlfriends for the night when I was at my boyfriends. I was 17, older by most standards, but not by hers. When she eventually found me and got me home, she simply slapped me across my face. I got up and went to my room. No further discussion was had about the matter. Did I stop lying? Yeah. I did. Did I forget it? No, I did not.
The thing is, one size does not fit all with discipline. My guinea pig, my first child, got smacked a few times. Only when I found her pinching her new born brother on the leg or the equivalent. Did it work? She never did it again.
Sam was different. I’m pretty sure he’s never received or deserved a smack in his life. He’s a pleaser. He hates to be in trouble and to be honest, all it has ever taken is a stern word and he folds.