written by P.E.T. Representative for South Africa, Heidi Malan
For days now, I’ve been reading about parents up in arms and torn by the new legislation that makes spanking your child illegal in South Africa.
I must admit that I was quite shocked, not by the ruling, but to discover how many parents are asking for an alternative. And, rightfully so…
Many parents feel frustrated for having been left without any other option. Whether it was the responsibility of government or a parent to seek this alternative remains debatable – and frankly, it’s too late for debate now.
As parents, most of us want only the best for our children. We want to be able to raise our children with the methods we choose and rely upon, without any judgment from anyone. But more importantly, we want to raise a child that is self-disciplined, in self-control and has an inner sense of personal responsibility, especially when we are not around.
So, how do I raise a child that chooses to do right, not out of fear, but because of free will?
What if I tell you, that spanking your child is not my answer, and that the recent judgment of the South Gauteng High Court might just have saved your long-term relationship with your child?
You might be feeling uneasy, insulted, or judged having read that. Because spanking your child has and will remain one of your core values.
But what part of spanking your child makes you feel successful as a parent? Is it the control? The power? Or the quick and easy way fear sorts out problems?
Don’t get me wrong, spanking does work, but at what cost and for how long?
We’ve all heard the argument: “I was spanked, and I turned out fine”.
Yes, while you might have turned out to be a well-functioning adult who hasn’t killed anyone, there still are plenty of long-term effects that you might not even be aware of. One question I always respond to that argument is:
“How is your relationship with your own parents today?”
If you can honestly say, “Great! Open, honest, and closer than ever…”, then congratulations you no longer have to continue reading. But, if you are doubting your answer ever so slightly, then perhaps there’s something to explore.
Children are the only group who can be physically punished under the guise of discipline. A parent should remember that there is a difference between a disciplined and a self-disciplined child. And the difference shows when you are not around.
Parent Effectiveness Training (P.E.T.) is a program that has helped me as a mother, by helping me adjust my mindset of the parenting styles we cling to from our past.
The course shifts away from relying solely on power, control, and fear in the parent-child relationship, by rather focusing on self-disclosure and communication.
Some of the core values of P.E.T. include the importance of a safe space, family rule-setting, boundaries, and most importantly acceptance.
It’s a family without bosses. It’s an alternative.