When we start a family away from our home culture, we often struggle with the balance of this multicultural experience. What we care to keep from our home culture, and what we care to adopt from the new one to give our children the highest chances for success.
It is a very difficult balance and often comes with challenges that neither the home culture nor the new culture would have a good answer for.
To add to the challenge, parenting for the first time with hardly any support can be quite isolating, especially if there is also a language barrier.
Any problem could feel bigger under these circumstances. I understand how overwhelming this experience could feel. I've been there too.
Now let's switch gears and take a look at different cultures and how they disciplined children until the time when our generation was growing up. That's just one generation ago.
Chances are that hitting or slapping was part of the norm in every culture. I am scanning the map now and honestly, I can not think of a single culture where some form of hitting was not a part of a parent's discipline toolset.
So, there is a good chance that many of today's parents - including you and me -have received a hit, spank, or slap at some point in their life as a form of discipline.
Would I understand why some parents are now using some of these methods with their children?
Yes. I understand why.
Would I excuse this behavior because culturally that's what our parents did?
No. I can not excuse hitting for any reason.
For ANY reason?
Yes, for any reason. Here's why...
Hitting damages self-confidence
A child's behavior is their way of solving a problem. When hit, the child loses trust in their own judgment. They learn that their way of solving problems is wrong. The next time they need to make a decision, they will not trust themselves. Now they have lost confidence in their own judgment, and they have created a dependency on someone else to make the "right" decision for them.
It does not teach the right lessons
Sure, it may stop the negative behavior in the short run.
What hitting does not do is offer a child the space to understand why their behavior was not acceptable. It also doesn't give the thinking space to come up with alternatives that are acceptable.
In the long run, hitting hurts a person's ability to think reasonably and find acceptable solutions to problems they are facing.
It breaks the relationship between parent and child
Fear is not a relationship builder. It hurts more relationships than it builds. When children are hit or spanked, they learn to hide information in fear that they will be hit again.
When they learn to hide from us as their parent,
why would they come to us for help when they need it?
By hitting children, parents are practically sending the message that they are not trustworthy. That when the child has a problem and needs help, they should go somewhere else for support.
Parents who hit are actively opening the door to bad advice that could lead to trouble.
It promotes hitting others
If parents are hitting children as a way to express anger or show that the child made a bad decision, then the child will learn that when they are angry or see someone making a bad decision that they should hit to solve the problem.
Not only will this behavior not solve the problem, it will also create much bigger problems that could lead the child to get physically hurt, expelled from school, or fired from work.
Some parents would argue that they want their children to learn how to protect and defend themselves when needed.
Children should feel prepared and confident to protect themselves. I completely agree. But hitting is not the way to solve problems. Parents who want their children to defend themselves should enroll them in a martial arts program in case danger presents itself.
However, day-to-day interactions and problems should be resolved verbally without the need to hit.
It leaves long term damaging scars
Even if the hit never left a mark on the skin, its negative impacts lasts for many years.
Long Story Short
If you were hit as a child, I am terribly sorry that you had to live with this experience. I am sure that your parents were doing the best they could with the information they had.
Today we have better information. Long-term research showing just how deeply hitting children affects them.
We now know that hitting does not build character or strong personalities. It promotes fear, dependence, and violence. It destroys trust, ruins relationships, and invites negative influence. Its negative effects can last for many years.
Is this really what we left your home country to achieve?