BY FAITH MUTETE – Spare the rod spoil the child. A saying used by parents or at least my mom every time she felt justified to strike me for bad behaviour or to show us how God was in support of children being beaten every time they messed up.

But how much is too much and does slapping or pinching your child every time they fall out of your glory deal with the root of indiscipline or is it just a temporary way of dealing with permanent damaged character?

And how should children be disciplined anyway?Is lack of beating children going to raise hard headed people in the house ,who will grow up to be a shame to the parents and society at large?

All these were questions that ran in my mind after hearing the story of Sandra {not her real name}.I really never sat down to think about having children very soon leave alone raising them and what form of method I would use for punishment ,but this little girls story ,okay…….she is not
little anymore since she is seated next to me as she seeps her hot coffee made me realize that there is a difference between discipline and just beating a child because they have wronged.

So here is my story,she adjusts her chair with a very ‘are you ready to hear this’ face and makes me do the same as I try to cover up the eagerness that was burning in my body considering the fact that i knew how hyperactive she could get, so I expected a very dramatic story,and dramatic
story i got.

Holy Sandra! I say holy…

I grew up in a very normal African setup where Sundays were meant for church,whether you knew why and what church meant or you dont,mom never cared all she knew and wanted is that at 7 o’clock everyone should be outside ready for church.

And I know you think that my indiscipline story comes from not wanting to attend service,but your wrong .Actually I was the first to line up outside the door ready for church.

So we would all aboard the car and in 15 minutes time mom would drop me at the sunday school as she headed for the main service,and as soon as she did that,the devil and all his kid agents would follow me and promise companionship for the rest of my day.

“Why are you laughing? it’s really not funny,because when I look at it right now I really don’t have a reason for half the things I did to those poor children back then,” she said as she sipped her coffee that was rather cold now.

As soon as I entered the doors of sunday school ,the devils kids agents and I would start spotting vulnerable victims who looked like they needed some crying in their life.

We would spot children and sit next to them and start poking their eyes with my fingers,pinching them and taking their offering and making it mine.

After i made sure the child had cried enough ,I would switch positions and find another kid and do the same thing and by the time i was tired half the sunday school was crying and hated everything to do with me.

I handled all the strokes…

This did not bother me as long as I felt good every time I heard a different cry from the last i was satisfied. The teachers tried their best to handle the situation but failed since all they did was beat me everytime i made a kid cry and later report me to my mom
who would increase the strokes ,but with time I got so used to being beaten that i even started choosing the canes that my mom would use on me.

After we came home from church with a very angry mom ready to beat me for hurting other people’s kids and bringing shame to her as the deaconesses of the church with my indiscipline ,I would arrange for her the canes that she would use on me.

I took a certain red sliper that had
never been worn but was worn out and bent because of its tedious work on my body, a mwiko specially bought for me,and my fathers belt that was known as ‘MOTO’ relating to how hot you felt after it landed on your body.

I would then start with convincing my mom why i thought it unwise to beat me for i was just human and human is to error , but she heard none of that and my last statement was the beginning of a cat and mouse race in the house where I ended up being the mouse.

Afterwards i would give empty promises of change but deep down I was planning my next Sunday victim. The cycle of hurting children and getting punished continued but my days were numbered. One
Sunday morning we did everything as usual,prepare ourselves and at exactly seven left the house.

After arriving in church mom dropped me at Sunday school and headed off to the main service. On this particular day I had planned that i wouldn’t just attack anyone but the pastor’s dear child, after all I thought she had some kind of pride that had to be dealt with.

So i sat next to her and did the usual, the poor kid cried so long that all the attention shifted from service to soothing the kid, the next minute I found myself in the pastor’s office with my mom being chased away
from church because of the nuisance I had become.

We left that church and joined another local church around home but this time it was different, not because i had stopped bullying kids but because a different approach was used.

Everytime i bullied a kid the Sunday school teacher would call me aside and make me realize that what I had done was not right, she would then make me share my snacks with the kid i had bullied then apologize to the kid and she even prepared a short prayer of forgiveness that she made sure I recited both at church and at home. Instead of labelling me ‘evil
and bad’ she soon forgot about what I did and treated me as part of the other kids.

I know it seems simple when writing it but for 3 months she repeated these actions of discipline and of course I tried my level best to annoy her but with time, she got me to understand that what I was doing was not right but instead of punishing me or beating me her approach of discipline was centered on love

And for sure with time I learnt how to live with my fellow agemates and even made bonds that are still strong till now.
That act of love changed my life,then I didn’t see it like that but now I can testify that the best way to deal with discipline is to deal with it from a point of love.

Yes, I agree that a child should be pinched every once in a while when they wrong but do not do that with the intent of hurting
them but do it purposely for change. So i donno about you but that’s how i plan to discipline my kids.

“With LOVE”. Sandra said as she finished her cup of coffee that was probably now cold.