Gender & Identity, Life

If you’re Desi, you probably grew up spanked by your parents – but why is that still normal?

If the only way your child 'learns' anything is when you hit them, the problem is in your teaching technique.

Editor’s note: Discussion of verbal and physical abuse.

Every Desi child you will meet will tell you they were routinely hit in their childhood by their parents.

It is totally normal.

So much so, in fact, that YouTube comedians like Zaid AliT and Hamza Productions, and standup comics like Russell Peters and Aziz Ansari have all earned their fame through depicting exactly this: Desi parents hitting their children and threatening violence at the drop of a hat.

Which tells you how much of a norm beating your child is in the Desi culture.

It is more bizarre to hear of Desi parents not hitting their child than to hear of one that does. Click To Tweet

Seeing a parent not hit a child is more novel than a parent hitting a child.

You would get hit in public when you wouldn’t behave at weddings. You would get hit in private when your mom had a headache and you were annoying her. And most commonly, you would get hit when you would not sit still and do your homework.

Recently, a video of a distressed little girl went viral in the Desi community. In the video, a 3-year-old girl is crying and scolded by her mother for not being able to count to 10 properly. The girl begs her mother not to yell at her and to speak gently, the little girl goes on to say that her head hurts as well. The mother, however, is relentless and the little girl is forced to start counting again.

Unsurprisingly, due to the immense pressure, the little girl was facing, she messes up again and her mother’s voice becomes threatening once again.

The reaction to the video was incredibly polarizing. While some people absolutely hated it and chastised the mother for the pressure they placed on her daughter, a lot of people laughed and shared it in jest, taking it to be a funny video.

The girl’s family even explained the video asking everyone to let it go since they did not know the full story.

But the reaction which shocked me the most was when I saw someone had posted in a group about how she taught her child in the same manner.

Why? Because the child was incredibly naughty and did not pay attention to their studies unless they were yelled at or hit.

While I do not claim to be an expert and I am certainly not a mother, I do not think that teaching children through the means of threats and intimidation is any way for a child to actually learn something.

There is a reason corporal punishment was prohibited in schools.

If hitting your child is the only way they learn, the problem is with you, not them. Click To Tweet

So when I saw several mothers talking about how the little girl was acting and certainly deserved her mother’s violence, I was baffled and angry. How could anyone justify a child’s physical and emotional pain?

The worst part for me is that children are small and defenseless. They look at their caretakers for protection and love, so when their caretaker is abusive towards the child, who does the child turn to? If anyone is unclear about what that video showed, let me clear it up for you; it was a clear example of physical and verbal abuse.

No parent likes to hear how to raise their child. But if a parent is blatantly abusing their child and recording it to share it on the internet, I think they need to be told what they’re doing is wrong.

I think the rule about no abuse is a fairly basic one everyone should know. Click To Tweet

A lot of people defended the video, saying that this is how they were taught as children and they turned out fine. But, if anything, our experiences should make us even more determined to stop children from being physically and verbally abused by their parents.

Physical, verbal and emotional abuse is extremely common in Desi households by parents towards their kids. The idea is that parents have ownership over their children and can do with them as they please.

As a psychology major, I have learned that while we tend to make light of these childhood experiences, they are crucial to shaping a great part of our personality. These experiences do not stay in the past but have an impact on our entire lives.

I have seen countless Desi parents complain that they do not feel close to their adult children or that their children do not prefer speaking to them unless it is necessary.

I strongly believe that there is a connection between the abuse Desi children have to endure when they are young and helpless and how they feel about their parents when they grow up.

If you want a good relationship with your child, don't hit them. Click To Tweet

Even attachment theories suggest that the relationship a person shares with their parents sets the course for every relationship they will ever have in their life.

While hitting your children because they are annoying or not doing as they’re told might seem like a good short-term solution, think of the long-term.

How will this impact your relationship with your child? You are your child’s protector.

So here’s the big question: if you hit them, who are they supposed to trust and turn to in times of need?