Blessed are you if you have the best childhood and parents in the world because not everyone feels the same way. In fact, most of us have some instances or more of misgivings towards our parents. One thing that is clear is that we will never know the full impact of how we grew up to the decisions we make today. Scaring and punishing kids is bad parenting but we experienced it and we do it to our kids anyway.

Scaring Kids Because of Fear

Instilling Fear in Child

When Renzo was 6 years old, he was smart enough to know that the sooner he finishes dinner, the more playing time he has. But one thing he needs to do before playing is to go to the bathroom and brush his teeth. Usually, I would go with him to the bathroom to watch over him.

Later, we decided he should learn how to sit with the rest of the family until everyone finish eating. But my bundle of joy would have none of that. So, my wife (now ex-wife) said, “If you go to the bathroom alone, what happens if there is a blackout? You might fall down and hurt yourself.”

It was at that point that I realized how vague the line is between what is good and bad parenting. To be clear and fair, my ex-wife is a wonderful mom to our children.

Remember how our parents raised us?

Were there times when we wanted to do something, but they told us not to do so because bad things could happen?

The reason why my ex-wife did not want Renzo to brush his teeth on his own was because of fear. He was a small boy who needs to stand on a plastic stool so that he could reach the faucet. His mom feared he might slip and fall, and we know the bathroom is one of the most dangerous places in the house.

But instilling fear is a temporary solution that may cause long-term problems on attitude. At his young age, the seeds of doubts on his own capabilities were sowed. As a result of bad parenting, the habit of not doing anything outside of his comfort zone has started forming.

Stopping a Child Because of Fear

Renzo’s elder brother, Rinaldo, was around 9 years old when I decided to cook with him. It was the first time I was cooking, but my son has been doing that with his mom. While I was preparing the other ingredients, he started chopping mushrooms.

And he was chopping while looking at me and talking at the same time. I stared at him with my eyes wide open and felt my blood rushing to my brain. So, I said even as my heart pounded, “Rinaldo, can you please stop talking and look at your hands?”

I wanted to stop him because he was holding a large knife and I wanted to scream at him to drop the knife. I almost did, until I realized he was chopping exactly the way a chef would and just like how his mom had taught him.

Stopping kids from doing what could be dangerous does not mean they will be any safer. Click To Tweet

In Renzo’s case, the best thing to do was to teach him how to stand on a stool the right way. Furthermore, we could train him on how to react by doing simulations such as the stool slipping. Rinaldo learned how to use knives and with that, also learned how to keep himself safe.

Love Fueled by Fear

Being parents, we have unconditional love for our kids. Love is good but also it could be bad. Parents will tell you that seeing their kids hurt causes unbearable pain. Because of that, in spite of knowing that there is nothing to fear but fear itself, fear still sets in.

Instead of stopping kids from doing things on their own, isn’t it much better to teach them? And whatever it is that we fear, isn’t it better to train them to avoid what we fear the most?

Acting on fear because of love is bad parenting. Click To Tweet

Today, millennials use a term that some people love while others hate – adulting. On social media, when people use this term, it is often in relation to difficulties. For many of us, I feel that our upbringing compounds the level of difficulties we face.

We could be better if we do not let fear stop us. I wonder how much of our fear today in doing the things we could were a result of our parents scaring us in the past?

Don’t get me wrong here. I am not blaming the parents, mine included. After all, it’s hard to argue against their actions (or inactions) because of love. Also, the more pressing question is this. How are we treating our kids as parents?

Punishing Kids Because of Discipline

Terrorizing Kids

Imagine a 6-year old boy and someone kidnaps him. “You will never see your mommy again,” the kidnapper tells the terrified kid. But that did not stop there because the kidnapper goes on to say he is going to nail the kid to the wall of a shed.

Blindfolded, the kidnapper takes the kid to the basement of a house. An accomplice then takes off his pants and says he could be sold into sex slavery.

I am pretty sure we all share the same sentiment. There is not a chance we will allow that to happen to our own kid. It’s hard to imagine how anyone could terrorize a child that way, but that is exactly what happened. A family staged the fake kidnapping of the 6-year old boy for being too trusting of strangers.

Of course, the case of that poor child is an isolated case so absurd that it is unlikely someone else has done the same thing. By the way, I have a friend who swore that when he was a kid, his grandfather placed him in a sack for being too naughty. He would then hang the sack (with him) on a tree for a period of time, not caring even if there were ants.

But what happens more often in the home are verbal abuses and threats. For example, a frustrated parent may yell at a child and threaten to leave the house. Some words are harsher such as threatening to throw the child out in the street.

Parents today talk a lot about bullying in school when the truth is that a lot of bullying happens in the home. What makes it worse is that it’s the parents who do the bullying and verbal abuses.

Spanking or Venting?

There is one thought today that continues to break my heart. I am not sure of the timeline but Rinaldo must have been around 6 years old when I had a realization.

When he was younger, I thought I needed him to understand that spanking is an option and it can be painful. On many occasions, I brought Rinaldo to the walk-in closet and spanked him with my belt. I would hit him once and make sure I control the amount of force I use. It was not so much the pain that makes him cry, but the fear of the spanking.

On some nights, he would refuse to sleep. I would tell him that if he doesn’t close his eyes and lay still, then I would bring him to the other bedroom. There, we would sleep on the floor without air conditioning. So, it happened several times. But once, I was so upset that I spanked him by hitting him on his leg.

Here is the shameful truth.

No matter how much I’d like to think that I used controlled force, it could be bad. So, I hit him harder than I should have, and it caused not only red marks, but there was a small spot the size of a dot – blood.

And then it hit me.

Those were among the most tumultuous years of my married life when I was angry and hateful. All those emotions, I kept it inside me. With no other outlet, I didn’t realize I was venting on my own kid.

How could I love my kid by punishing him?

How could I even say it was for his own good that I would use spanking as a way to discipline him?

From that day on, I stopped spanking.

Discipline Gone Wrong

There is no universal manual that teaches what good and bad parenting is. Sure, there are countless books and even more posts available online, but there’s a big BUT. Circumstances and even cultural differences either validates or invalidates the tips and guides. And it is our emotion that causes us to either stay on one side or cross to the other side.

How far would you go to discipline your kids? And how far have you gone in doing so?

Good or Bad Parenting

To be honest with you, this is an article that I have a hard time writing. Being a dad and a writer, it follows that one of the topics I love would be good and bad parenting. But I don’t live with my kids and that fact can take a toll on how I think and feel.

In sharing one mistake I did on spanking, I had to remember and live that moment once again. Far worse than the memory of what happened, it’s how I felt then that makes it tough for me. But I shared because the bits and pieces of my life may give you important life lessons.

So, if you are single/childless, this is a good reading for you. But for you parents, remember how it was like in the beginning, when we had visions of the perfect family?

Life can be hard and with that comes pressure and stress. As we raise our children, sometimes our emotion may cloud our judgment causing us to act on raw emotion. We love our kids and fear for their safety.

What we do with our kids either prepares them or hinders them from becoming the best versions of… Click To Tweet

Good parenting and bad parenting are two different things. But sometimes, the line dividing the two is so thin that we do not see where we are.

24 COMMENTS

  1. This is a great post, and very interesting. There really is a fine line and sometimes it is so, so difficult to find it.

    Side note – it’s so refreshing to see someone acknowledging that their ex is a good parent. It doesn’t happen enough!

  2. Personally, I guess there is no right or wrong. Yes. Really thin fine line in between. Most importantly is how parents balance in using their techniques. If too much of scaring, kids somehow will find out the truth one day, then there goes their respect towards. Cheers.

  3. I had the same experience when I was a child. Most of the times, it would be my mom who would do the spanking whenever I did something wrong. How I wish she would just tell me what did I do wrong without hurting me at all. It had been a preach + a spank that will give me bruises. But it has been the belief in our family that kids need to be spanked whenever they did something bad.

  4. There is a thin line between disciplining and scaring a kid. It can help the child or shatter the child depending on how wisely you use the method. I am totally against inducing fear in the minds of kids. I see my neighbor threatening to leave their less than 2-year-old daughter for crying incessantly. How angry and frustrated I feel then!

  5. It’s a very interesting post. I’m yet to become a parent and this was exactly the topic my man and I were discussing last night… We see our nephews getting so naughty at times and their parents just don’t say anything. That really irritates me. Some level of stern commands and discipline and mild punishments are required I guess… But I’ll never know until I become a parent!!!

  6. I am not a parent but I used to be a preschool teacher. This is a really good post because it shows you the battle between good and bad parenting. I guess excessive of anything is bad? So a little discipline and a little “learn on your own” would do.

  7. For me, it’s always good parenting. I’ve been hit or slapped during my childhood days and it instilled some values. To be honest, those were really painful but I’d rather suffer that over and over again than grow and be a selfish bitch. Kids these days are so sensitive that when you try to hit them they could rebut that with “Oh yeah, go ahead. I’ll post it on social media and you’ll be tagged as a bad parent.” So that’s why I’d consider it good parenting. Cause sometimes, talking cannot really get through someone that’s why you need some reinforcements to do so.

  8. I am a young parent. I became a Mom at the age of 23. And to be honest, the way I parent my son is a bit different from an approach of how my parents raised me. My parents, though I know they act out of love, often stop me from doing the things I love. Like for example, I learned to love playing badminton and volleyball when I was around 11 years old. That was also the time when I started wearing eyeglasses because of poor eyesight. And so because of my condition, they would often tell me I should stop playing those sports as they don’t see me fit for doing it. What if the ball hits me in the face? You see, their intentions were good as they don’t want me to get hurt. But emotionally, deep inside my confidence was crushed into pieces because, in a child’s point of view, I understood it as something like “my parents do not believe in me – in what I can do”.

    Those instances were something that I do not want my children to experience. I wanted them to grow up reaching for their dreams because they know that someone believes in their potentials.

    Parenting is really hard. But I try to keep in mind that I am trying to raise my kids with a positive mindset and has confidence in themselves. And that is where my actions as a parent are rooted from. 🙂

  9. I and my sibs were raised by parents who instill punishment to anyone of us who did wrong. And, when I became a parent I know and understood the reasons behind it… and the more I grow older as a parent I know I am doing the right thing. The kids nowadays are growing in a more diverse society. We need to instill in them what is the relationship of parent to child and vice versa.

  10. Good and bad parenting. I think we are all guilty of this in one way or another. But the what matters the most is when the parents realize that what we do is already bad parenting and we have to snap out of it. Yes, we are parents but still humans and very much susceptible to mistakes.

    Thank you for such an amazing post. I admire your openness in this matter.

  11. Such a beautiful post. I feel that you have done a great work with this post and I am sure this might not be very easy to put into words. There is a thin line between good parenting and bad parenting. The most important thing is to obviously keep your kids out of the fear.

  12. I agree with you that there is a very thin line between good parenting and bad parenting. I choose to believe though that most parents want the best for their kids but they are influenced by how they were parented. Thus, their default parenting is similar to what they experienced in their childhood and youth.

    Like what I always say in my parenting talks, there is no single way to best parent your children. The best parenting approach or style is what brings out the best in both the child and the parent. 🙂

  13. I do agree with teaching kids how to be careful or how to do something properly rather than scaring them that they won’t even try anymore. As for spanking, I do it very minimally and try to get them to understand the right and wrong of things first.

  14. This was such an interesting read. And I totally agree. I think future parents should actually read something like this before they decide to become parents.

    I had issues with my parents because they were being over-protective of me, and their fear of something bad happening to me actually stopped me from enjoying my life completely.

  15. This is an article that would educate me to become a good parent to my child soon. You really have raised your kids well, I hate comparing, but we are not like that at home way back when I was still a little young guy. I act on my own, my mother and father left us at an early age, so I learned to be independent and strong. I left my grandmother’s home when I was 13 years old and started chasing my dreams, pursuing my education in High School until college without a financial assistant from my parents. Anyway, I’m still thankful now, that those situations have taught me a great deal, and if I were to become a parent soon, I would make sure I’ll be responsible enough to my child cause it’s not easy when you grow old without your parent’s guide.

    Sorry, I’m just so touched by your article and would wish my parents would have performed better like what other parents did to their kids.

  16. Sheer fear alone is not good. Sometimes, you need to scare them but afterward, you need to explain why you did such a thing. They need to understand why they need to stay away from certain things. When they understand, they will follow you more.

  17. What a wonderful and touching post. As a parent myself there are times when I ask myself if the way I am raising my children is right. I am avoiding spanking as often as possible, and even when I do spank I only use my hand. I don’t want to ever reach the point when the spanking will get so bad that my child will be afraid of me.

    On another note, though, that hand-washing part made me feel a bit more confident about my parenting. My 3-year-old can help cook, wash her own hands, go to the toilet by herself, fix the toys, etc. And because my 3-year-old is a good role model, my 1-year-old is following in her footsteps. I hope that they can continue to be this way!

  18. I quite agree with you here situations can be tricky and impromptu, you may not be able to decide whether your action over something connected to your child was right or wrong. I have a 5-year-old boy too. I feel if I just let him be and make him independent it will be good for him. However, as a parent and for the love for him, I do things for him occasionally but I do mention that I did it for his certain good behavior or a good act. This although, is limited as I don’t want to also incentivize everything for him. There are many things which he himself would say that he’d do them on his own but there are still a few things that my wife or I need to do for him. But it’s good that he’s clear in his mind and understands most of the time that no one is going to restrict him but there’s a limit.

    Scolding sure works for that moment but that leaves a negative impact on the child’s mind, according to me. We would occasionally resort to scolding but that’s only and only when it’s going beyond control by a certain behavior.

    This is a great bit of advice that you’re giving here through your personal experience. Very well written lesson of life.

    – Pixellicious

  19. This is a great read! I actually can relate to the situations you cited, and I sometimes feel like I, too, am a bad parent. Well, we should all accept that we can’t be 100% good with our kids all the time because none of us is perfect, but I think we can lessen the bad experiences by reflecting on our attitude towards our kids. I have two boys, and I find it hard to discipline both of them, but with the help of the people around me and the parenting tips online, I know I’m doing just fine. 🙂

  20. My Dad would always threaten us in some ways if we were not obedient. If we do not wanna sleep in the afternoon and keep playing, he would always say that he’ll hit us with his belt. So with that fear of being hit instilled in our minds, we would force ourselves to sleep. If we were too hard headed, he sometimes would lose control and spank the shit out of us. LOL, but even so, I know it’s for disciplinary purposes and I love my dad.

  21. I have to say I have never thought that instilling ‘fear’ in a child could have repercussions later on in life. Now that you have explained it, it seems like it could be very detrimental and I am thinking about how to discipline children in a whole new way. I think that the way forward with children is almost always teaching. Childhood is all about discovery and learning after all!

  22. This article is ON POINT. When I was a kid, I was not spanked but whooped (if y’all know what I mean) LOL but I did turn out alright naman. Ngayon I have 3 girls and me and my partner had a discussion when I was still preggo with our first kid na we won’t spank because we’re both brought up by parents who “whoop” their kids. This is a very sensitive issue but gotta admit it it’s real life and it ‘s got to be addressed. About “threatening kids” or instilling fear to them kase as parents nga diba we fear na kids might hurt themselves, I think there’s a balance to this. In my case kase I grew up na binabawalan lage pero I ended up still doing stupid shit kase I was curious. So my point is, it’s OK naman siguro to tell kids what not to do so they won’t hurt themselves and at the same time we encourage them to do things on their own. Yun lang 🙂

  23. Kids these days are very much different from kids of our generation. During our time, our parents resort to spanking when we disobey them. In my son’s case, I cannot reprimand him without telling him first what he did wrong. He’s so naive like that. Parents today really need a lot of patience to understand where the present generation is coming from.

  24. I had my fair share of spanking when I was a child but I don’t plan to do it to my children. I would prefer to talk to my daughter and explain why the action is not acceptable and why it should not happen again. I also implemented a “time out” or “face the wall” zone in our house for when she needs a little bit more “punishment”. I always reinforce discipline with kind and loving words, though.

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