This piece is written in response to Irene Waters blog topic, Times Past – Punishment
I’m a Baby Boomer living in an Australian capital city.
Firstly I’d like to say I was lucky, I think in my family no-one got any pleasure from punishment.
The first punishment I can remember came when I refused to eat my dessert, quinces and rice, I was shut in the bathroom and told I couldn’t come out until I was ready to eat it. I don’t remember how that ended but I do know I don’t eat quinces or sweet rice.
It’s interesting to me that I can remember only one individual instance of being smacked by Mum though I know it happened more often and when I heard, “I’ll give you 5 fingermarks on your backside” I certainly knew what that entailed. The instance I do remember was a smack across the face for making my younger sister cry just before Dad was due to get home from work.
I remember “having my backside tanned” by Dad when I slammed my bedroom door in a rage and it broke the ceramic door plaque. I felt I deserved that one but I still feel a sense of injustice over a school punishment. In Grade 3 we used to get stamps in our handwriting workbooks if our writing was very good. I was sitting next to a boy when I saw he’d coloured one of his in so I did the same. When the teacher saw what I’d done she was angry, I protested that I’d copied the boy. She gave me two whacks across the palm with a wooden ruler and told me one was for colouring it in and one for lying.
I think we were kept in line more with words than fear of being physically hurt and Mum was a master of sarcasm. Dad used his own hurt to make us feel bad. I remember once being so excited when I saw Dad bring home my big brother’s Christmas present that I raced off and told him what he was getting. I don’t know how Dad found out but he looked at me and told me to get out of his sight. That really hurt.
9 thoughts on “Punishment”
I think you are right in your statement that it didn’t happen often but you knew what it meant and I think that was probably enough to keep behaviour fairly acceptable so that it wasn’t meted out too often. It is funny how you don’t eat quinces and sweet rice to this day. Punishment didn’t work in those instances at all. You brought back memories for me on that one except rather than the bathroom we were not allowed to leave the table. Punishment always hurt more when you knew you didn’t deserve it and like you all my Dad had to say to me was how disappointed he was in me and I’d feel as though I’d been caned. Thanks for joining in – it was interesting reading your experiences.
Reading about punishment of little children makes me furious! So much more can be accomplished with reason, consequences (which don’t involve physical or psychological punishment) and the example of parents. Those were the “good old days”, and good riddance to that part anyway!
I have to confess there are times I think a quick smack on the bot would put an end to some outrageous behaviour. I hate to see people treating kids roughly when it’s obvious they’re just tired and far too much is being expected of them.
The threats were often enough to keep some children behaving, but often, children don’t always understand their misbehavior. Funny that you still won’t eat sweet rice! I think your last story about your father’s hurt expresses how often children truly want to please their parents. It takes a bond to respond to another’s hurt, I think.
Dad & I were certainly both hurt by what I did though I was oblivious to any wrong doing at the time. I agree with you about children often not knowing what they’ve done wrong. When children say, “I’m sorry” I like them to say what they’re sorry for so it’s clear to everyone what caused the hurt.
I was an independent, sassy spirit and fairly often my face met the back of Mama’s hand. She could smack faster than anybody I knew. Daddy would get mad and had a violent temper, but I only remember one time of him coming after me. He never found me. I stayed hidden until he cooled off. I deserved his rage because I cursed at him, but not the way he was going to take it out on me. He came after me with a sledge hammer. Mama, however, slapped me every chance she got. If I was breathing, that was reason enough it seemed. She didn’t treat my little sister that way. Mama blamed me for the abusive marriage. In her eyes, everything was my fault. Of course, it wasn’t my fault, but I paid for it anyway.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my parents and know that I’m not perfect either. We learned early on with our own children that physical punishment rarely changed anything. Instead, we ended up taking privileges when they misbehaved. Being disappointed in their behavior was enough to keep some of them behaving.
Times have certainly changed. I remember Mum saying to us, “Stop your crying or I’ll give you something to cry about!” She wouldn’t have been considered an uncaring mother in those days but if you heard that now you’d think “What a callous cow!” I think the only weapon used was a hand and I’m sure that must have stung Mum too though it never occurred to me at the time. I’m glad most parents now give more thought to the way they respond to bad behaviour.
I’m happy you survived your childhood without bitterness. 🙂
My mama said that, too! My thought always was, “You just did!” Every kid I knew growing up got slapped and spanked. It’s just how it was. My mama slapped with her hand, but spanked with a belt. It’s surprising that more mothers didn’t have broken wrists as hard as some smacks were! Thank you. I’m glad that you made it fine through your childhood, too. 🙂 Have a blessed day.