The move that mattered

I am a mother of two and when our boy was ten and my daughter aged eight, we decided to move to India for a while from our original family home in the US.

One of the main reasons behind the move was I wanted my children to grow up to be disciplined and well-mannered. We had been living in a fairly liberal area of the US, where corporal punishment was at best looked down upon, and my son in particular had been getting out of control.

My husband comes from a liberal background himself, so he wasn’t so upset as I was, but personally coming from a culture where obedience and respect for your parents are both expected and strictly enforced, I felt we had to do something. I couldn’t bear my son mouthing off to me and his father just because it was the ‘normal’ way of doing things in his environment. He began to focus far too much on toys and video games and his school performance also began to falter.

The lack of respect, though, was really the thing which got to me. Not being originally from America, I don’t know whether it’s considered normal over there to call your mom a ‘bitch’ or your dad a ‘dumb ass’ when you are 10 years old, but it was totally unacceptable to me. The first time he did so – because I made him do his homework instead of playing on his video console – was a severe shock to me. I felt my face turn red with the anger I felt, and my first instinct was to beat him until he couldn’t sit down.

I was about to go outside and cut a switch for this very purpose, but my husband stopped me. “You just can’t do that sort of thing over here any more,” he said. “It could land you in a heap of trouble.” “In that case,” I replied, “we move somewhere where can be proper parents to that boy and his sister!”

Not long after we moved back to my homeland of India, I think it’s safe to say that my son wouldn’t have dared slack off doing his homework again, let alone call me an offensive name. The difference was the cane.

I built up a small collection of swishy canes to discipline the children, and kept them out on view as a reminder to behave. I didn’t cane them for minor mistakes, but I didn’t hesitate to beat them when they really crossed a line and needed correction.

For a short while after we moved here, my son tried pulling some of his old tricks on me, thinking he could get away with it like he used to. But this time it was different. He soon found out that Mummy would not tolerate any nonsense and would thoroughly cane his bottom when he stepped out of line.

Canings usually began with a dose across the palms of the child’s hands, then they would be required to lie face down on their bed for the punishment to be completed across their legs and bottom. In our culture it is not the done thing to bare a child’s bottom for punishment, but the cane is still perfectly effective when administered on the seat of a boy’s pyjamas or a girl’s salwar. I usually applied around five to six strokes on their bottoms and legs, with a maximum of 10 for very serious offences.

The cane worked miracles on my kids’ behaviour and manners, although admittedly I had to use it rather more frequently when we first made the move to India. I know I might sound like a despot to some westerners, particularly the virulently anti-spanking crowd, but the cane worked for me as a mother and I have no regrets about using it.

Contributor: Sangeetha

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