Violent Parenting Is Wrong. Dear Parents Are You Listening?

Let us face it. Violent parenting is a norm in our society. Parents consider a slap or loud scolding as the most valid reaction to every misbehaviour of the kids. But do they understand the impact that violent parenting might have on kids? Do they know that scars of violent parenting go deeper than the skin and last longer than the moment in childhood? And is there a gender bias when it comes to violent parenting?

Problem with violent parenting

It is common in our society for parents to be controlling and interfering in the lives of their offspring. Whether it is about the choice of clothes, career or marriage partner, Indian parents assume that it is their right to make the decisions for their offspring. Similarly, when it comes to dealing with their kids’ mistakes (which again is a contested domain), parents try to be dominant so that they can “improve” their kids well on time. Moreover, as Dr Ishinna B.Sadana says that there is a power relation that breathes under parental violence. She says, “Basically we know that our child is powerless and cannot really do anything about it so we slap…Do we slap any other family member when they do not behave according to us?”

But can violence ever be a solution to any issue? If violence is the wrong way to deal with any problem in life, be it marital issues, politics or problems related to business and family, then why is it okay for parents to be violent towards their kids? For kids, parents are the first source of understanding human life and experience. If parents find it normal to vent out their rage through violence, wouldn’t kids internalise the same as the norm?

The major problem with violent parenting is that it often forces kids to normalise violence in their lives. After witnessing parents’ violent reactions to small to big mistakes, children internalise violence as the valid answer to any mistake or issues that they might further face in life. This is often the reason why kids who have faced parental violence turn out to be violent in their adulthood too. For example, men might find it normal to be violent towards their wives if they commit a mistake. While women might find it normal for men to shout at them or beat them up for their mistakes.

Citing the problems that parental violence might lead to, Dr Sadana says that slapping kids can lead to some major issues among children. First s that it confuses them that they somehow deserve it, makes them anxious and lose their confidence. Some children even become rebellious after continuous episodes of parental violence. Moreover, slapping ruins the relationship between parents and children because it is not respectaful. Dr Sadana says, “Children need to see how respect is given. They need to receive respect in order to learn to give it. So when we (parents) are slapping, we are teaching them that wherever there is power we need to give respect over there.”

Gender bias in violent parenting

This brings me to another very important aspect of violet parenting-gender. Usually, fathers are expected to be violent towards their kids while mothers play the role of the ones who heal the scars. I am not generalising because in many cases the opposite might also be true. All I want to assert is that patriarchy has defined violence as synonymous with masculinity. This explains why most of us are afraid of our fathers more than our mothers. Secondly, patriarchy has also made it a norm to deal violently with male offspring while dismissing violence in the case of female offspring until the mistake is beyond repair. The idea behind this assumption is that male kids being strong can bear violence and pain while women, who are considered fragile, cannot.

The worst impact of this gendered idea is on the conditioning of men and women. After bearing spells of violence at the hands of their male guardians, men normalise violent reactions to mistakes, issues or dissatisfactions. On the other hand, women internalise the ideas of fragility and submission and find nothing wrong in being the silent and sacrificial partners in relationships.

Time to change how we raise our kids

It is an undeniable fact that most of the disputes that we witness today are a result of wrong upbringing and hence future can be made better by improving how we raise kids in the society. Parents must educate their kids to stand against any instance of violence, whether it is committed by a friend, relative or the parents themselves. Violence can never be an answer to any conflict, mistake or issue. Period. Normalising violent parenting can put us at the risk of raising a generation that suffers from traumatic memories and can be the carrier of the toxic cycle of patriarchal violence. Because violent parenting might permit violence in any intimate relationship between two people.

Can we even afford to have another generation struggling under the claws of patriarchy after all the battles that we have fought and conquered till now? If we don’t raise men and women who are against violence, can we ever overcome the reality marred by conflicts that we inhabit today? Be it violence based on caste, gender or religion, it cannot be denied that we breathe amidst battles and bloodshed. It is rightly said that a conflict begins at home. But revolution too begins at home. Which one would you choose, dear parents?

Views expressed are the author’s own