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
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 themselves. 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.