I live in a state of India which is in many ways predominantly a matriarchal society, as many of its men have migrated to other states or abroad to pursue their professional ambitions and goals.
The females are mostly into teaching or nursing professions, besides taking care of their households and bringing up their children through nurturing, care and education.
However, whenever the question of discipline and education is concerned, these mothers almost never compromise on issues such as arrogance, disobedience, lying, bad behaviour or bad performance in schools. In such cases, they don’t hesistate to discipline their children. They set a high standard, both for moral values and educational performance.
Myself and my brother were brought up in exactly such an environment – it was loving and caring but at the same time strict. We understood the language of cane. My mother was very loving but she didn’t hesitate to cane us hard whenever she thought we deserved it.
Of course, it hurt and at the time we felt very bad about these punishments but as we grew up, we realised why our mother had to cane us. I admit that the cane had a great role to play in my upbringing. The most fearful possession at home, when we were young, was my mother’s cane.
Today, I am a mother myself. I too believe that discipline and punishment should go hand in hand and I cane my children too whenever the situation demand it.
For me, a child is almost like a piece of mud – their mother needs to make a wonderful pot out of the mud and the cane is the instrument which makes it into a well-shaped pot. The purpose of discipline is always positive – to produce a whole person, free from all the faults and handicaps that hinder maximum development.
In almost every household it is the mother who is psychologically more attached to the child, and hence she should take the initiative to discipline kids at home.
Of course, one must recognise that punishment is only one means of discipline, primarily when wilful disobedience is involved. That raises another important question concerning what one should use to punish a child. For me, it is imperative that one should not use the hand (which is a symbol of love and care) but a neutral object that will not be associated with the mother directly.
The best such neutral object I have come across is a cane – specifically a rattan cane. The purpose of caning is to cause minimum harm to the child’s body while inflicting maximum pain. As to the target, it should be well padded and in my opinion a child’s buttocks are the most appropriate area to whip, although the cane can also be administered safely to the thighs and legs as well.
The cane should be relatively long and thin. A thin cane is less harmful, plus due to its light weight and better flexibility, it actually stings more, delivering more than enough warmth to the appropriate area – as the saying goes, ‘no pain no gain’.
Most importantly, with a thin cane the parent doesn’t have to worry too much about the physical impact on the child’s body, even when it is swung strongly. The cane will give more than enough pain to the child but causes no lasting harm when applied to the bottom, legs and thighs.
Another advantage of a thin rattan cane is the prominent swishing sound in the air it creates compared with heavier rods. This sound helps to underline the seriousness of the discipline and adds to the child’s natural fear of the cane, as it his used to make him obedient, respectful, truthful, honest, dutiful and attentive to studies.
So, what age should a child be before beginning corporal punishment? In my opinion, he or she should be sufficiently old enough to be able to understand the reason for the caning. In practical terms, I believe this means canings can begin at five and up through the teenage years.
When the child is young, such punishments should be relatively mild but they should increase in severity as he grows older, although they should ideally become less frequent as they acquire more and more self-discipline.
Before I administer the cane, I make clear eye contact with the child in question and then patiently explain why the beating is necessary. While I do so, I will normally hold the cane in my hands so there is no doubt about what punishment is to follow.
Unfortunately, here in India caning is now no longer used in schools. However, many responsible and sensible mothers still keep a rattan cane at home, as a way of ensuring household harmony and good behaviour.