The generation of today’s children in small families have necessarily become a pampered lot in both two income and one income families where money is hardly hard to come by and the motto is, “you name it and you get it.” The parents’ justification is that “my parents did not have the capacity to give me all the luxuries of life. My child or children should not feel such luxury goods are beyond their reach.”
This is quite opposite to my parents’ idea, “You work hard and study for your own good” and no bribes or carrots were swung for all that we did. Of course, there were even during my childhood parents who offered their children a lot of expensive goodies and trips to foreign countries even if their wards passed exams, as also gifts for the teachers who gave good marks to their children which created an envy in us but we understood even at that age that the very payment for the four children’s education was really a difficult task for our middle class parents whom we never dared to question.
Our childhood was governed by the dictum of punishment, always verbal with a rare use of a cane kept more as a means of instilling fear in us, children. Strangely that fear led us to walk on the path of righteousness which we continue even today. For quite some time, there has been lively discussion on whether the rod should be spared to save the child from punishment. Of course this goes very much against the grain of Indian teachings which even recommend punishment only as the last resort after all methods of loving words, and threats all verbal, fail.
But my experience as a mother and grandmother is that discipline, whether verbal or physical, has an important part to play in the ‘proper’ upbringing of a child. Care should certainly be taken to see that punishment of the child acts only as a deterrent to the wrong actions of the child and helps the complete development of the child. This attitude of yesteryear is sadly absent in today’s families and societies where self-gratification at any cost is the name of the game of life and children follow the criminal path of their parents for whom money is a necessary implement to wield in life. Now in our everyday life we see that both the victim and the perpetrator of crimes are getting younger. Sometimes even infants become victims and perpetrators are in their teens.
The victims suffer not only the physical abuse but also social abuse whilst the criminal escapes due to political or muscle/money power with no one to question him! The perpetrator’s parents are ever-ready to support their ward in all the heinous crimes with their political and, of course, money power.
Let us as parents remember that discipline in the right dose is a must for the overall development of all human beings and that begins at home. My late father would always advise that discipline is a necessary factor in all social institutions beginning with the family. Love should be restricted to the child’s food and play and that much and no more. Love the child when and where necessary but correct him or her with an explanation for the punishment, if necessary.