'Spare the rod, spoil the child' is bad, dangerous parenting advice

By Tuan Ham   January 4, 2022 | 06:27 pm PT
Using the rod on children is no more than venting anger. It is neither education nor love, and any parent who says otherwise is deluding themselves.

I've wanted to write a piece about children's rights ever since a boy died in Hai Phong in March last year after his father disciplined him by stabbing him in the chest with chopsticks and puncturing an artery.

I have seen claims by parents that they beat their children out of love, and any accident that occurs is an unfortunate accident.

I have realized that many people use the so-called "parental love" defense against any criticism of the violence, even cruelty, they perpetrate on their kids. It is how they psychologically manipulate their children when they throw slaps and kicks and curses at them, even when they do so without valid reasons.

They refuse to acknowledge that they beat their children out of frustration because their kids do not live up to their expectations. Love, if indeed there is any, is last in the list of reasons for their action.

And by the time the rod breaks, when their hands have turned red from the impact, when the head cools down and the anger finally subsides, the damage has already been done.

"Spare the rod, spoil the child" is bad, harmful parenting advice. People resorting to pain as an education method are also teaching children to abandon their sense of self-preservation.

In fact, defenseless kids, those who have never learned to stand up for themselves, are much easier targets for them. If I were to be frank about it, I would say bad parents want their children as puppets for easier control, not human beings with independent thinking.

They weaponize love to justify their actions, to reinforce the idea that adults are always right and it is always the child who is wrong.

News about gruesome cases of domestic abuse never fails to evoke strong emotions among people. But before we can call ourselves champions of kindness, have we taken a look back at our very own family to see if our children are truly "safe" from us?

Children need to be taught how to protect themselves from a very young age. It is a life skill vital to survival, and it needs to be taught as soon as they become aware that they are human beings with rights protected by the law.

And let's face it, we are not doing even remotely enough to teach them that, especially when so many parents believe that beating and scolding children is a natural part of their upbringing.

Do not normalize violence against children in any form, whether verbal or physical. It is time to stop giving excuses and let children know that sometimes parents can be wrong and not all their actions stem from love.

It is time to treat our children as fellow citizens and the human beings they are.

It is time we teach them to cherish their own bodies and protect it from any harm, even from family.

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