There are not many African children who can say that they have not faced corporal punishment at one point when they were growing up. What I can tell you is that our parents’ slippers, the sticks in the compound and open palms had a relationship with our small backsides.
I don’t like using the word ‘corporal’ because it makes it sound like our parents were battering or torturing us. No. However, they were also not taking away iPads and iPhones as a form of punishment. They were not denying us some TV time and they definitely were not denying us our weekly allowance.
I am writing this column while laughing because the forms of punishment I have just listed above can make most men and women who raised us double over in laughter. I can hear them loudly ask, “Allowance? For what? What am I paying you for when I buy you everything down to your underwear?”
Well, times have changed. I have often struggled with some aspects of parenting. I, for example, have been adamant that I am going to raise Kwezi the same way I was raised but I am slowly accepting the reality of the fact that the 80s are so long gone and so much has changed. I still apply corporal punishment but over the course of the last few weeks, I have opened myself up to trying the ‘western world’ style of parenting where I have conversations with Kwezi. I have always maintained my stand that I do not negotiate with “terrorists” but well, sometimes you have to give in. I did not expect to be surprised. I sat Kwezi down and I explained to her that it is bad manners to slap, kick and throw tantrums when she doesn’t get her way. You must be wondering if I had never done this before. Of course I have, but it usually happened when she was still hyper and crying so loudly and I would also be screaming in frustration. This time around, I just called her to my room randomly, sat her down and told her that if she asks for anything politely she will get it. I had noticed previously that when you have a conversation with her and at the end say, ‘deal?’ and ‘promise?’ it seems to stick with her. So I used the words and since then, I have noticed that when she starts to throw a tantrum and I calmly remind her that she promised and she made a deal with me not to behave badly, she calms down immediately.
It is so funny the little things that really make this parenting journey very exciting. I like breakthroughs. I don’t like resorting to corporal punishment and when we get to an understanding that makes both of us avoid this, I am overjoyed. It has been a good week.