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The fear and shame of punitive parenting – Parenting the parent

We were hit as children when we did wrong and I can spot the adult who was raised that way from a mile away.


How you may ask…

Hitting or hurting someone for mistakes they have made, teaches them fear and shame. The tactic works so well, that even a hint of wrong doing fills them with enough fear to feel shamed when we discuss matters on child rearing.

I see the shame you feel and the defenses coming up, because as a child you were never treated as a whole human being.

We were raised to associate anything that may be outside “how your were raised” to do things as controversial, problematic and therefore saying that we are not just making a mistake, but that is some way or form, we are failing.

We still function within the lopsided power structure of parent-child relationship, spanking created. There is a mix up in our minds between fear and respect. We are trained to see fear and respect as the same thing, and we get uncomfortable with the idea that just maybe they are not the same thing.

The fear of being told that what you are doing now, may be damaging, it creates a knee-jerk reaction and release that fear and shame in your heart. The wanting to keep defending yourself, because you were raised to believe that hitting a child is the right way of doing things. We were raised to believe that our parents were never wrong, because they beat that belief into our very souls.

So often I am told that I am parent shaming, when I talk about how damaging spanking or hitting is to a psyche.

I am not shaming anyone, I am trying to have a conversation with you as the parent and with the child that feels so shamed and hurt inside of you. I am trying to help you, help your child to never feel what you are feeling right now.

I don’t want you to feel shame and fear for something you never intentionally did wrong, but I want you to be able to see it for what it is. New information to give you tools to raise a healthy child with less pain, shame and fear.

The fear and shame you feel is so deeply rooted within the expectations your parents had for you and how they enforced those expectations on you. Let us work together in breaking this fear and shame cycle. It starts with us. We do not have to continue

#c3parenting#kidsarewholehumanbeings#stop#listenwithyourheart#knowwhy

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An open letter to parents on the internet parenting groups

Parenting can be hard. It can be overwhelming. Add the internet and it all becomes almost a “keeping up with the Jones’” and a failure to thrive as a parent. There is the odd balance between asking the internet and various online parenting groups “How do I parent x or y?” and Oh look at my perfect family. In the meantime our children end up paying a price.

Don’t get me wrong. The internet moms have played a role in our journey as parents. We offer much less sugar at parties. Our kids eat considerably healthier than what they would have if it wasn’t for the internet parents. We even cloth diapered our youngest due to the information we have found from the internet parenting groups. You are reading this because of the internet parents you know. However there is a dark side to the internet parenting groups that is often overlooked.

It is the price our children pay from following well meaning advice that does not get scrutinised or checked. We have started to live in the opinion era and not the factual era. Where we can support certain decisions based on scientific data and in the very same breath continue with outdated practices for raising our kids. 

There is this fine balance of giving advice and keeping your nose out of other parent’s business. Harmful practices are advised because, well “I turned out okay’” or “My kids turned out okay.” 

In reality the reason the voices that did not turn out okay, cannot speak up, because well, they are either dead or not able to speak up. We hold on to old parenting generational practices that cause deep damage and we allow the cycle to continue and inadvertently pour more brokenness into an already messed up world.

How many adults are caught in a web of eating disorders, depression, anxiety, being abused, drug and alcohol abuse? How many are struggling just to keep going and remain accountable for their actions and their kids? We need to be honest with ourselves as adults and as parents. We are struggling and we are not coping. Why are we not coping? We are not coping because we were raised to live in a world that no longer exists. We were raised within families where everyone gave advice, but everyone kept their noses out of other people’s business, especially when it came to raising us.

You may wonder where I am heading with this? 

Our kids are our responsibility and we are quick to say “If you pay my bills then you can say how I should raise my child..” The problem is, our children will hopefully grow up and become adults, and depending on how we raised our children, our adult children may have a deep and lasting impact on the people around them and on the world at large. If we raise children apathetic to the world by the example that we lead we have failed society at large. If we keep our noses out of people’s business and how they raise their kids, we are often allowing the cycle to continue,

So often we centre child rearing as an isolated event. Just the family at the centre, yet we use the phrase, it takes a village when it suits us. We cannot have it both ways and expect a balanced and well rounded human being as the end result. Just look at the adults around us and at the world around us. We did not turn out so great, if we did, the world would have looked far better than what it looks like. This experiment with raising kids has been failing for decades. We need to start doing things differently. 

We have access to the internet, so we can actually check if the advice given to us by our online village is safe, correct and good for our children. We can search the internet and give factual information to a parent who asks for support and information. From getting your baby to potty train to how and when to start with solids. How, why and when a child throws tantrums to how to parent them in a responsible way, without continuing cycles of abuse and trauma. We can step away from what my parents did and my grandparents did, so it must work and really start educating ourselves and others on safe child rearing practices.

We do not have to keep up with the Jones’, BUT we have to stop misinformation and dangerous advice given on parenting groups and forums. We have a responsibility as the village to ensure that kids grow up safe, and without years of trauma under their belt before the age of 18. 

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The art of our children’s hearts

There has been this big reaction about a young matriculant and his art. I am not going to share the video of the person who shared it for various reasons.
What I want to address is the way a parent handled this situation, mostly because we tend to parent this way and don’t even realise it…

Photo credit Photo by Jonas Smith on Unsplash

Just for those who missed the whole debacle, here is what you need to know as it pertains towards this specific incident.

An adult man, saw art pieces done by a matriculant (child) and felt deeply offended and upset and on the surface one could understand why he felt this way. He jumped to a conclusion, and disrespected the child’s work by making a video of it and basically shamed the matric for what he has done. He touched the art work and showed deep disrespect for the art itself.

In the video one can see that there is actually rationales added with each artwork as the theme is controversial.

The matriculant did artwork that is deeply researched and explained in the rationale. His artwork is displayed in an area where there is limited access to it and there was specific warnings put up. He has done everything right.
Art is subjective and usually tells the story of how the artist sees the world, or the subject matter. It is a journey and has to be seen as commentary about the world the artist finds themself immersed in.

So what does this have to do with parenting you may ask?

As an adult we tend to jump to “superior conclusions” when we deal with something a Child has done. We tend to do what the man in the video did.

There is a sign stating this content is controversial – Our kids put signs up with their behaviour or just the tone of their voice. It warns us as parents to tread carefully, mindfully and be ready to actually hear what is going on.

Our kids give us their rationale – yet we tell them to stop back chatting, fall in line and that their thinking isn’t as superior as ours. “Mother/Father knows best”

They share their lived experience with us, how it shaped them – and we dismiss their feelings and experiences. We tell them what they have to feel, think and that if only they would get with the program, they will see it our way.

They ask us to not share, touch or just respect them – and we make “videos” and share it with the world. We make it all about us and forget about them

That painful controversial art in the hearts of our children are being battered and abused by us, because we think we know best. We do not listen, we share their stories without their context and the hurt they suffer, ripples to others.

We wonder why our kids stop trusting us. Reactions like this, that is why. Why should our children trust us, when we negatively label their lives and jump to conclusions?
We as adults can do better. Our kids are thinking, living, experiencing human beings. If they open the hidden corner of their life to you, the best you can do is, keep quiet and listen and learn. Adults do not always know best

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Parenting the parent – Concourt and breaking the cycle

Many South African parents are now struggling with the idea that they are not allowed to hit/spank their children. To them discipline = a spanking. It has always been done this way. There is a deep seated struggle for all of these parents. The main reason for this struggle is that the constitutional court has finally ruled that one may not hit a child to chastise them as it is not deemed reasonable and infringes on the rights of the child. Hitting a child will now be viewed as abuse, the same way hitting an adult is deemed abuse in the eyes of our laws.

Photo by Mimi Di Cianni on Unsplash


The struggle for parents now is two fold. Firstly, they are now called abusers and it does not equate with their views of themselves and secondly they are at a loss as to what they may then do to teach and discipline their children. (I am aware of the elephant in the room regarding religious beliefs, however that should be afforded a discussion of its own)

Let us chat about the first

If someone is a parent that has never read the studies or attended workshops and training that explained the damage hitting/spanking does to a child, it can feel extremely hurtful and demeaning to all of a sudden fall within the category of abuser. Most parents did not know better, or they have been following what they have been raised to do when a child misbehaves. 

It makes the parents feel as if there is now a belief that they do not love their children and do not care for their children. Which in most, if not all circumstances is not the truth. They do love their kids. They only want the best for their kids. They want their kids to grow up and have respect for others and be able to adhere to the rules and most of all, they don’t want their children to end up in jail or dead due to bad life choices. All in all they are doing the best job at parenting they know how to do.

If parents raised in punitive homes view acknowledgment that spanking/hitting a child as wrong, they inadvertently acknowledge that they have made a mistake. Mistakes in punitive homes are not usually tolerated, or assisted, but rather punished and at times lots of feelings of shame step into the conversation. 

Punitive households often struggle with the idea that adults and parents should apologise and change what they do when they make a mistake, because of an outdated belief that it will interfere with their authority and control within their home. 

In punitive homes admitting a mistake is often viewed as a character statement regarding that person’s morals and values and no one wants to see themselves as a horrible person and much less that their actions may inadvertently have been abusive.

That is how people raised in punitive homes view the world. Step out of line, you deserve punishment. Many will have anecdotal stories to tell of when they grew up and their parents heard they were in trouble at school, they will be punished at home, regardless of whether they have already been punished for their actions at school.

So taking responsibility for your missteps in life, usually meant that you will be punished some or other way. You are fearful of being honest about your mistakes, because we all know, you surely then deserve to be punished or hurt and most of all you bring shame to the family. 

As someone who broke the cycle myself, I struggle almost daily with this reasoning, this fear of making a mistake, owning my missteps and understanding that my authority and value as a person is not undermined by being authentic about being human.

The second is where the chaos comes in. Parents who practice corporal punishment honestly and whole heartedly believe that this is the only means to discipline. No spanking to them = non-parenting and will then have the opposite outcome for which they aim. They have been raised in homes where they were spanked/hit and they truly believe that they did turn out fine or okay. So they are wholly unequipped to start parenting in a different way. 

So now the expectation is that parents need to stop hitting their children and find other means to discipline their children. Where do they start? How do they get the necessary tools to instil discipline in their homes and children, when the only tool in their parenting toolbox has always been spanking? There are blogs and books and people like C3 Parenting that will gladly support and help parents to break this cycle of hitting children as a means of discipline. However you will have to start somewhere. The first place to start may have to be, to admit to yourself that in your heart, you never really felt at ease with spanking your child in the first place. Owning that reality and then reaching out and asking for help.

Changing the way we parent will take time. It will take education of parents and helping them in a proactive way. It is changing the way we engage with the topic while remaining within the scientific proof of what styles of parenting is effective without the detrimental effects that spanking has on children. 

If someone is a parent that has never read the studies or attended workshops and training that explained the damage hitting/spanking does to a child, it can feel extremely hurtful and demeaning to all of a sudden fall within the category of abuser. Most parents did not know better, or they have been following what they have been raised to do when a child misbehaves. 

It makes the parents feel as if there is now a belief that they do not love their children and do not care for their children. Which in most if not all circumstances is not the truth. They do love their kids. They only want the best for their kids. They want their kids to grow up and have respect for others and be able to adhere to the rules and most of all, they don’t want their children to end up in jail or dead due to bad life choices. All in all they are doing the best job at parenting they know how to do.

If parents raised in punitive homes views acknowledgment that spanking/hitting a child as wrong, they inadvertently acknowledge that they have made a mistake. Mistakes in punitive homes is not usually tolerated, or assisted, but rather punished and at times lots of feelings of shame steps into the conversation. 

Punitive households often struggle with the idea that adults and parents should apologise and change what they do when they make a mistake, because of an outdated belief that it will interfere with their authority and control within their home. 

In punitive homes admitting a mistake is often viewed as a character statement regarding that person’s morals and values and no one wants to see themselves as a horrible person and much less that their actions may inadvertently have been abusive.

That is how people raised in punitive homes view the world. Step out of line, you deserve punishment. Many will have anecdotal stories to tell of when they grew up and their parents heard they were in trouble at school, they will be punished at home, regardless of whether they have already been punished for their actions at school.

So taking responsibility for your missteps in life, usually meant that you will be punished some or other way. You are fearful of being honest about your mistakes, because we all know, you surely then deserve to be punished or hurt and most of all you bring shame to the family. 

As someone who broke the cycle myself, I struggle almost daily with this reasoning, this fear of making a mistake, owning my missteps and understanding that my authority and value as a person is not undermined by being authentic about being human.

Let’s talk about the second

The second is where the chaos comes in. Parents who practice corporal punishment honestly and whole heartedly believe that this is the only means to discipline. No spanking to them = non-parenting and will then have the opposite outcome for which they aim. They have been raised in homes where they were spanked/hit and they truly believe that they did turn out fine or okay. So they are wholly un-equip to start parenting in a different way. 

So now the expectation is that parents need to stop hitting their children and find other means to discipline their children. Where do they start? How do they get the necessary tools to instill discipline in their homes and children, when the only tool in their parenting toolbox has always been spanking? There are blogs and books and people like C3 Parenting that will gladly support and help parents to break this cycle of hitting children as a means of discipline. However you will have to start somewhere. The first somewhere may have to be, to admit to yourself that in your heart, you never really felt at ease with spanking your child in the first place. Owning that reality and then reaching out and ask for help.

Changing the way we parent will take time. It will take education of parents and helping them in a proactive way. It is changing the way we engage with the topic while remaining within the scientific proof of what styles of parenting is effective without the detrimental effects that spanking has on children. 

 3,441 total views

Parenting the Parent

“I was spanked and I turned out okay. Kids these days needs to be disciplined more, by discipline we mean spanking, hitting, smacking or removal of things that matter to them.” At least that is what we are told. “A child without punishment, becomes a child who sits in jail or ends up dead because of drug abuse. Without punitive parenting kids have become disrespectful and a social ill”… These are just some of the claims so often made by society. Unfortunately these claims are also so far from the truth. The reality is that punitive parenting leads to social ills and creates a fear driven society.

Living a life with social media has opened the floodgates for parents to ask other parents about parenting. Today we are going to look at some of those questions and reasons as to why these questions are being asked. 

Photo by Alex Azabache on Unsplash

“I did not want to give my child solids yet. Research has shown that before a certain age it is not good for them. Now my mom said that we were given solids at x amount of weeks and nothing went wrong with us. Should I give my child solids now? How do I tell my mother/father or in-laws that I am not going to follow their advice?”

“We are recently married. We wanted to buy a couch set. My parents said we shouldn’t. We bought the set and now my folks are angry at us.”

“We don’t want children. My parents are angry at us for not wanting children. Should we just give in and have some?”

“My boy child wants long hair. I want to respect it, but I have loads of pressure from my family to cut his hair.”

“My mother cut my child’s hair without my or their permission. What now?”

“We decided to school our child differently, now my parents are angry because we did not consult them.”

These are the type of questions asked so often. The sense of powerlessness these parents feel comes across so clearly! These adults, fear their own parents, still! They fear going against their parents’ wishes. Some grandparents will even overstep the boundaries of parenting and do as they see fit with their grandchildren even when it goes against the wishes of their own children. The adult child then struggles to find appropriate boundaries or even fails to address their parents about the lack of respect, out of fear. Where does this fear stem from? 

I have often wondered why parents struggle to say no to their own parents when it comes to living their lives. Why do adults struggle to stand up for their own life choices when they are in the company of their own parents and often even someone who is older than them? So often we see that an adult becomes like a child in the company of their parents. Partly because of relationship dynamics, but the larger elephant in the room is the power dynamics between parent and child, no matter their age.

As a parent of a small child, we as parents have the executive power over most of their life choices. What they eat and wear, who they visit, when and how. We try to manage their relationships platonic and romantic. We are the “boss”. (No wonder children who feel powerless often state “You are not the boss of me”) We have control and as they grow older we are supposed to slowly let go of that control, but the ability to do so becomes a minefield. 

We are scared of letting go. We tell ourselves that it is because we love them and we only want the best for them. However, the reality is, it is because we are scared of losing our power and control over them. We are afraid that if we do not have the final say, they will make choices that we disagree with or cannot live with. We say we want them to be safe, but we only want them to remain in the spaces we deem as safe. We measure safety according to our own life experiences and feel threatened when they venture on paths we have not tread or do life differently than we have done. We know our own pains and mistakes and want to control their lives in a way that will prevent them from making the same mistakes we have made. We are running scared, so we try to maintain control the way we were raised to maintain control, we do it with punishment, threats and violence. Yes you read that right, violence.

So often we believe we respect our parents, however we were raised to conflate respect and fear. Respect is accepting someone’s intrinsic humanity, punitive respect is fear of punishment for not toeing the line. 

How often as a parent have you had a discussion about your child with your own parents or a parental figure in your life. Your parents make a “suggestion” on how to do things and you almost feel bullied into having to do it their way? You know in your heart you don’t want to do it their way, but you have this fear in your heart that if you do not do it their way, you will upset them? That isn’t respect, that is fear. Not being able to make decisions as an adult that go against your parents wishes, especially if you know that the choice you want to make is the best choice for you and your family, is a fear that was created by punitive parenting.

An adult should never be afraid to make their own decisions and live with the consequences of their decisions. They should never feel that they cannot disregard advice given by their parents. For an adult to be able to embrace this, they need to be able to learn from a young age that their voice and choices will be respected.

How do we change the cycle? It starts when children are young. Allowing them to make their own choices and be part of the decisions that impact their day to day lives. From what they wear, to who they engage with. How they engage with others and respecting their boundaries. It is not a free for all and age will always play a role, but we as parents will have to start giving over executive power to our children as they grow up. BUT we as parents also have to deal with and address our views of children. How we engage with them. Where do we place them in their role in society? Are they to be seen, have to be obedient and not heard? Or do they have a voice, a mind and a personhood of their own.

We need to stop punishing our children for being human and being themselves. Punitive parenting or fear driven parenting creates the idea that love is conditional. If you toe the line, you are accepted and deemed worthy. If you do what I tell you to do, you are accepted and part of the family. If not… Well you will be punished and love will be withheld. You will experience isolation, humiliation and pain. Now think again why it is so difficult to say no to your own parents. It is not because of respect, it is because you fear that they will stop loving you.

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