Raising a 21st century child in diaspora is a whole new ball game when compared to the past. Take for instance, my mother didn’t think anything wrong in slapping me at the age of 18 for wrong doing. I knew a good beating was the price to pay for coming in late and death the price for having a boy visit me at home. Did I agree with those parental techniques? No, but that was what they knew and it worked for them so history kept repeating itself.
However, now living in the US, how do I transpose those child rearing techniques to my Nigerian-American children without running foul of the law. Let us get this fact right, I believe in a good old spanking for a child but that is after all warnings and other deterrents have not worked but the laws in this land makes it criminal for me to even slap my child. These children also know it and push all the buttons they can to get that reaction you do not want to give. I have seen some Nigerians who have had to go to the extreme of sending their children home for secondary school with the hope that their heads will be re-set before they come back but not everyone has that luxury of a loving family to help them raise their children in Nigeria. So, what do we do? I agree that I am a bit old fashioned and my views may not resonate with a lot of modern parents but I am sorry that I am my mother’s child. In trying not to alienate my children, I have had to modulate the child rearing skills I learned from Nigeria. When my children were younger, I did a lot of ”talking to the wall” punishments. I also did some spanking and I made sure that they didn’t report me by employing some emotional blackmail tactics. I told them that if they reported me, what the government will do was to take them away from me and put them in an orphanage or with foster parents. Thank God for Hollywood, my children had seen the whole spectrum of evil in orphanages and foster homes so they knew which was a better choice for them and that saved me from the long arms of the law. After a while though, I realized later that it was a harder punishment for the children to stand still in a place than for them to be beaten so I started using that form of punishment more.
As my children have gotten older, I have used deprivation as my form of punishment. I have fluctuated between taking away privileges like visiting and hanging out with friends, internet and taking away things they like like cellphones and laptops. That works most of the time but sometimes they get on my last nerve and I just want to give them what we used to call “a dirty slap” to re-set their brains especially when they talk back at me. However I realize that this is the 21st century and I have to find a way to punish them so as to get the maximum effect, keep my sanity and not become a resident of the Department of Corrections. I know of so many Nigerian parents who have gotten into serious trouble because they spanked their kids, with some even losing their jobs and having their careers terminated as they ended up in some register that barred them from doing some type of jobs.
I get frustrated at times as I feel the law has not given us a lot to work with in terms of punishment. I do understand that it is because of the abuse by some evil parents that the government has decided to err on the side of caution. In doing this though, they have also tied the hands of good parents like me who do not want to abuse their children but who will like to just give them a good slap once in a while to re-set their brains.