Chapter 5 – Abuse for discipline

This father preferred avoiding reprimanding a child, and would call me to do it. Saying it was my fault that the child had done wrong. For example, the child sat speaking to him on Skype and broke the keys off the computer keyboard. This father called me, saying I must tell the child to stop. If I asked him why he does not reprimand the child, he replied, “You want to make me the bad guy.” This was especially the situation with our first child. This pattern changed at times around each child reaching approximately two and a half years of age. Then this father started punishing, using actions, techniques and “games” that to me were abusive and controlling, but he called it discipline.

This father’s pattern, when he returned from a work trip, consisted of: Giving the children treats, starting in the car on the way back from the airport. At home he hid sweets in his bedroom cupboard and put sweets out of reach for them on the bookshelf where they watched DVD’s. In the house he would be amicable, occasionally bearing gifts and, for a few days, be forgiving of their mistakes. In this period, he expected me to reprimand or punish them. When he started his routine stock take, of going through the house for damage, his anger was directed at me. Why did you not look what the child was doing, etc. Did you punish the child hard enough, so he would not do it again, etc.

When this amicable period with the children passed, he became bored with them and be unavailable. He sat at his computer, did not look up and ignored them when they spoke. He would have outbursts of anger at them. For example, when they accidentally messed, he would talk to them in his raging, cold voice, or storm at them and give them a hiding. They were ordered by him to get something to clean up with and then he stood over them while they are cleaning, giving them instructions on where they must still clean. These small children were not maliciously damaging property, they had accidents. They were still learning how to do things and his behaviour was extreme to me.

He would punish them severely for the smallest misgivings and used words that I found misplaced. If a child accidentally messed or broke something, he would tell the child in his raging, cold voice they had “hurt” the carpet, floor, toy, wall or chair. Ironically while giving them a hiding (hurting them), will tell them in his voice that they had “hurt” this possession.

When the children fell and got hurt he told them they fell and are hurting now, because they did not listen to him when he told them to do something earlier or even the previous day.

He attributed unfounded guilt on them, for example, bumping their foreheads hard with his forehead. Then he held his head, saying, “Aiwa, aiwa.” This father’s word for sore. Then he said to the child, “You had hurt daddy.” If I pointed out that he was the one causing the hurt he would say to them, “Mommy does not want daddy to play with you.”

This father wanted me to give all 3 children a hiding when one had done something wrong. He said he and his siblings were punished in this manner. They had one bicycle between them as children and when one child did something wrong with it, the bicycle was taken away from all of them. He said his father came home from the farm land and would give them all a hiding without speaking.

This father stood in front of me in the bathroom, while the children were bathing, ordering me to give all three of them a hiding. One child messed water out of the bath. This father reasoned that because the other children did not stop their brother, they were also to be punished. I refused. Apart from that, I found this “offence” not worthy of punishment. I allowed them to play in the bath and would put towels on the floor for this purpose. I kept on refusing this father’s order and he got cross, saying I undermine his authority in front of his children.

When at home this father loved changing the children’s nappies. He always volunteered when a nappy needed to be changed.

When the eldest boy was potty training he had many accidents. Also on this father’s silk carpet. This father was livid with the child and gave him a hiding. I got cross and told this man to leave his news and politics for a while and rather read up on how to potty train a child, because what he was doing was not helping his child. This father’s response was removing his silk carpets permanently into storage.

He was obsessed with the hygiene of the children. When he did bathe them he vigorously scrubbed them all over with a tremendous amount of soap. He would continuously, during a day, told them to go and get the cloth, while telling them, “You are dirty.”

This father loves to play with the children physically, as if they are toys. Up to the child’s age of about two and a half he would stand on his hands and knees next to the lying child. He would make piglike snorting/grunting noises and biting actions, pressing his mouth and face all over the child’s body. If the child tries to get away he pulled the child back into a lying position in front of him by an arm or a leg and continued his actions. His other “physical game” started when the children got older. He laid on his back on the carpet or on the big pouf cushion. The children would “attack” him and he trapped them between his legs or held them by an arm or leg and ‘tickle, pinch’ them. This he did on their lower stomachs, in their groins and below their buttocks. He concentrated on these areas. The children confusedly cried-laugh while he did this. When they started crying out to me for help, he continued and did not release them. He calls it “wrestling”. His enthusiasm for this physical contact game with the boys interested him. It lasted at least for half an hour. This “wrestling” was reserved for the time before their bedtime.
On occasion a child would start crying. If I spoke up, saying he is hurting them, he told the boys, “Mommy does not want daddy to play with you.”

He scarcely played soccer or any other activity with the children that did not involve this physical contact. When he did, when asked by them, he showed clear disinterest and lack of enthusiasm with doing it and it never lasted more than a few minutes. He kept control of the ball or whatever they were playing with and never relinquished this.
I found a play bow and arrow with a sucking action and a target for the children. They shot with this on their own, only needing a little guidance. They insisted on shooting alone. It was as if this father did not want them to feel accomplished on their own or to have their own personal interests. He bought an advanced version of a crossbow for older children and locked away the bow and arrow they played with independently, even from me. They were now dependent on him if they wanted to shoot. He made them sit between his legs while he held the crossbow. The eldest child wanted to shoot with the old bow and arrow and not the crossbow, but this father would repeatedly say, “Later,” or “after you have done this.” But he never gave it to the child.

He showed no interest in what the children did at school or went to parent-teacher meetings. His only concern was teaching them how to count. He showed me an article on the internet, where a mother made her daughter sit in front of the piano and refused her the bathroom and food until she managed to play a piece on the piano. He used this as an example of how I should raise the children. ( ) I disagreed with him and the parent that did this. I am their mother. This position is most descriptive making use of the word nurture, not torture.
I preferred allowing my children to choose their own interests, and did introductions to what is available for them to do. I said to them, “You can manage to do anything you really wanted to do by doing it repeatedly and not giving up, until you manage to do it.” I told them, because everyone is different, they might be better at doing something than their brothers and their brothers again better at doing something than they are. I made sure they know I love them just as they are.

When the house we lived in was under construction and the doors were put in, this father asked me why there were no locks on the doors I had ordered. He wanted to know how we would keep the children in the room without a lock? This father had told me when they were children their mother locked them in a room. He said if his mother found them outside, she gave them a hiding and locked them back in the room.

He wanted the children to get the food they had not eaten at one meal for the next meals as well, until they have eaten it. I refused to do this. He told me he did not eat liver as a child and had stayed without food for three days, because he got it at every meal.
On one of our visits on his parents’ farm, the grandfather wanted to repeat this with my eldest boy during breakfast. The child said he had eaten enough and this father’s father told him he was going to get the porridge for every meal, until he ate it. I took the children outside, went back inside, took his left over porridge and gave it to the dogs. They got the family’s left over porridge in any case.
This father, at mealtimes, licked his plate clean, using his finger. Initially I thought it was because he enjoyed the food. When I commented on this behaviour later, as an inappropriate example to the children, he told me I had obviously never gone hungry.

After I declined to repeatedly give a plate of food a child did not want to eat, this father started force feeding the children after they said they had had enough to eat. He stood next to them and put each bite into their mouths, sometimes not waiting for them to swallow the previous mouthful. The eldest child, on occasion, got nauseous.
While he did this, he kept on praising them. I tried to make the arrangement with him that when there is a bite or two left, the children can finish it. But if half the plate is left, not to force that on them. He always reverted back to forcing this food on them. I noticed that sometimes they ate little and sometimes they ate a lot, depending on what they felt they needed. My children ate all vegetables and fruits. I saw no reason to make eating a punishment.

My children had their scheduled eating times, which consisted of three main meals and two snack times in-between these, depending on them.
When we visited this father’s parents’ farm, I asked his mother for left over food or an egg when it was the children’s scheduled eating time. This father was extremely upset and told me I expect everyone to adjust to me. Everyone else, including me, ate at whatever time the grown-ups ate, which would not be at a scheduled time. It depended on when his youngest brother and his father returned from the land. On most occasions only at 14:30 in the afternoon and 21:00 at night. This was out of my children’s schedule and I could not expect them to go to bed hungry. This father expected his children/toddlers to go hungry, so that his mother did not have to boil eggs for them. While she smilingly refused any offers of help in her kitchen.
While growing up I was never forced to wait for someone to give me food. We got our meals and could help ourselves in between meals to what ever was available when we were hungry. I told my children they were allowed fruit or a snack any time during the day and could take it themselves or ask for help. This father’s family, even as grown-ups, still wait for their mother to give them food. For example, one evening at 21:30, after having to wait for this father’s father and brother to return. All these grown people sat around the table, without speaking, waiting for food. But, their mother and/or wife made no attempt nor gave any sign of “bringing” any food. She started making a mix to bake a cake and they sat waiting quietly as if there was an unspoken law. They usually had bread and jam for dinner. I stood up and asked her if I may set the table and went and fetched the bread, etc.

I noticed this father took turns picking on a child. He picked on the second child the most and then at other times he would treat him as a favourite in front of the other children. The most “picking” happened during meal times. He would tell the second child what a mess he is making or that he is dirty and he is a “piggy”. The youngest child, right next to his brother, messed in the same manner, but this did not bother this father.

On a visit to this father’s parents’ farm at dinner time, my eldest child was sitting on a chair too low for the table. When asked by this father to lift himself for a cushion his response was slow. This father’s youngest brother stormed around the table and pulled my eldest child upward with force, resulting in bumping this child’s thighs against the underside of the table. The child laid his head down on my lap and started crying. This father’s eldest brother commented, saying he thinks the child got hurt. This father’s family, except for his mother and sister, started laughing as if someone had made a joke. I did not think it funny when someone hurt a child and told them so. Apart from this, that they were laughing struck me. They hardly ever laughed especially with no outsiders to impress.

I had seen this father pulling his hand into position to give one of the children, the smallest one, a backhand slap. He dropped his hand when I moved towards them, but his reaction was so instantaneous it appeared he was used to doing it. But I saw this only once. It was for a very small incident where the child had accidentally pushed over something of this father.

This father’s father were discussing discipline with me during one of our visits to their farm. He said it is wrong that physical punishment is not allowed anymore. I told him that it is allowed for parents to appropriately discipline their children. I took a chance, based on the above incident, to see how they will respond, and said what is not allowed and is atrocious, is to give a child a backhand slap. There was dead silence after I said this.