Suddenly, my father’s parenting tactics don’t seem so rough. I thought I had it bad in elementary school when he made me run around the perimeter of our square acre of land to prepare for the Presidential Fitness test, while a four-year-old kid from China is running through the New York snow in his skivvies.
Does the outcry over this seem similar at all to parenting differences regarding spanking? Is encouraging discipline through pain different if it’s from a parent’s own hand, or from the elements? This parenting technique is certainly extreme, and my opinion is that it is beyond the pale, but let me play the devil’s advocate for a minute. Sure, spanking is punitive, not preventative, but that makes a good argument for this strict form of parenting. As a father, wouldn’t I want to make my child tough, both morally and physically, to prevent bad behavior, instead of being lax and then finding it necessary to punish mistakes—mistakes that in a worst case scenario, could be life threatening?
Over at the site Circle of Moms, there is a great discussion on spanking that touches on my exact feeling when watching this video. They bring up interesting ideas, talking about how violence breeds violence, but also how the best type of parenting might be flexible, responding to how your child responds to you, a type of feedback loop. Sitting at our computers, watching this video, we see the briefest glimpse of the life of this child. We see none of the issues that this child has dealt with from being born with water on his brain, or the struggle his father has had trying to help him overcome any developmental issues resulting from that. There’s no anger or glee overheard. It’s hard to believe the boy’s father is doing anything but what he believes is best for the child.
And no, just because he believes he is doing good, that does not necessarily mean the father is actually doing what’s best. It does mean, that before passing judgment, us other men (and women) should try to separate what is physically or mentally harmful to a child, from what our culture deems appropriate.