Saturday, 13 June 2015

Why When I Was Your Age! or To Spank or Not to Spank?

In the news in the last few months - the Supreme Court of Canada upheld the existing spanking law.  CBC Report.  I read this report again yesterday.  It made me think, ponder, reminisce.  Times have changed.  It is a new world.  Facebook has made it possible to hammer home this point online, every day.  Each funny quote is a reminder of the way life was post-war and beyond - unbelievable to later generations, but, oh so true.  I laugh with nostalgia along with the rest of you!

Picture these:  Riding in the back of a pickup truck to the old swimming hole; spending countless hours wandering in the woods, miles from an adult; tobogganing down the steepest, longest hill we could find, over and over again; and, for only the most courageous, playing crack-the-whip on Jone's pond.  My sister spent a winter in a cast as a result of the biggest crack ever!  Although the game was outlawed at the arena, there were no rules out on the pond!  Check.  Check and Check!  Our generation had a freedom to experience the world with consequences the most significant teacher.  The adults in our lives literally told us to go out and play and we did - all day, every summer, until the 9 PM curfew sounded.  Our stomachs dictated lunch time and, dinner time was tattooed on the inside of our eyelids - no one dared to miss dinner!  Serious consequences for that - a swat on the back of the head, a finger wagged in your face, a scolding that the whole neighbourhood could hear!

And, with all of this freedom and life experience building our character, we endured the verbal and corporal punishment delivered by our parents - for our own good, of course.  For me, my last spanking was when I was five years old - a swat on the behind for wearing my brand new, black patent shoes outside so I could slide on the icy road, Manitoba style.

We boomers like to think this mixture of discipline and hard work made us into the successful generation we became.  It seemed to work.  We opted out in the 1960's a little - took a zig where our parents would have preferred us to zag - but came back with a vengeance, burning our bras, fighting for careers, choosing to have smaller families and expecting, yes, even demanding, that we be rewarded with the good life!  And, in many cases, we were - at least, by our parent's standards.

We continued to mete out spankings for our own children - gentler versions, no belts (that was excessive!), but, admittedly, we used the occasional tap with a wooden spoon, as though, like a puppy, the child would relate the pain to the instrument and not the handler!  We hugged, used positive encouragement, pushed our children to perform in sports, education and beyond.  We sat back with pride as our daughters crossed the stage accepting diplomas and degrees, marrying later, delaying child rearing until they were established in their career of choice.  We marveled at their ability to buy a house, two cars, and vacation every year.

So what has changed that a spanking won't fix?  Why then, we ask, should they not be disciplined like we were?  Are they or will they be spoiled?  Lazy?  Disrespectful?  All of the above? And, this because their parents don't believe in spanking - even the spanking that is now being ratified, once again, as a reasonable form of discipline for parents and teachers alike?  Not on your life!

These little ones are facing scary things that have never been so close to home.  War has literally landed on their doorstep as those intent on evening a score infiltrate our country with violence on their minds.  Bullying has invaded our schoolyards in a way that rarely could flourish in the 1950's - the 50's moms and dads would take care of the perpetrator when he/she got home (yikes) because Mom was home and so was a whole neighbourhood of other moms!

The world has shrunk in size so that there are daily reports of natural catastrophes, economic disasters and  live coverage of horrendous crashes/accidents/crimes - all recorded in living colour on a screen in your own home.  The global boogeyman sits on the family room couch every night, hangs out on your grandson's computer lurking just beyond a keystroke in the world of google, and, unlike our small-world childhood, is real.  Facing real boogeymen so often generates an anxiety that we rarely encountered during our childhoods.  It didn't even touch our own children's childhoods to this extent - although I am sure research would indicate that we may have missed some of this and just explained our own children's reactiveness to being sensitive.

So, when your grandchild needs a big person to help him understand his world, deal with his problem, understand his dilemma, he or she REALLY needs one, right now, at this moment, no matter what.  And that BIG person better be able to handle it without shouting, hitting or alienating - fueling the very fears that instigated the meltdown to begin with.  Sure, some kids can handle more than others (just like in our day, right?), but more and more, I see it, really see it, and finally, I think I get it.  Each generation, does the best with what they know, and, what they know is what their own children need to flourish in the world as it is now, not what was then.

This generation is not lost;  it is being found every moment of every day by the loving parents who were shaped by (me/you) the generation before.  Of course, not everyone had a good childhood.  There was and still is much abuse happening in the million dollar homes and the small condo complexes of this century.  But, no matter what, there are still many pockets of loving families scattered across our nation who will embrace their children with loving arms, whisper sincere apologies when they fail their child's needs in a moment of humanness, and then, move forward, filling their little ones with security, hope, and a love of life, for today and also for when they have little ones to cherish and parent the best way possible - for their time - law or no law.

Note the little one needing his BIG person in this moment!

No comments:

Post a Comment

I love to hear from you!