This post has been prompted by the news of an Indian couple in Norway who are facing Jail term for harshly treating their children (the term being used is ‘abuse’ for strict punishment) and have been grabbing the headlines in the Indian newspapers for some days. The general response from the Indian government (and the public ) was that if the law of the land has been broken, they must face the consequences. Some time back another Indian couple in Norway had found themselves in the eye of the storm for co-sleeping with and hand-feeding their two kids. This case had evoked a different response; that of empathy. Many felt that the couple failed to adapt their parenting style to the new place as feeding kids by hand or Co-sleeping is a common phenomenon in many Indian families.
They say ” When in Rome, do as the romans”. However, some times what might be a common practice or common understanding in one culture is a lot different from other cultures of the world. As immigrants it takes a lot of time to understand the intricacies of the law and the general cultural rules of a place. I don’t think new immigrants with kids check the law about disciplining the children. It is far down the list of things to learn about and to do. When I became a mother, I honestly did not look at baby centre for disciplining laws.
Being a parent is not easy. You only have to watch the televison for a short time to understand what the media tells us. “a mother knows”, ” you want the best for your child”, ” you are there for the child, so is (insert product name here)” or similar thoughts make up the taglines for all toddler and kids products. Much of parenting is considered instinctive in nature Yet so many laws have been put in place to protect us from our instinctive reactions and responses. Our instincts in part are informed by our experience (or inexperience) and because of this very reason the law lays out an even field. In the nature v/s nurture debate, the focus seems to be much more on nurture these days.
I felt the load of responsibility of being a parent a bit more heavier after reading this news bit. I did my due diligence and looked up canadian family law regarding child discipline. As a parent, my accountability towards my faith and beliefs, my husband, the family (and now including the law) has increased. The good book has been quoted often regarding discipline as favouring punishment:
” Whoever spares the rod hates their children,
but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.” Proverbs 13:24
But The Bible also goes on to say further, ” Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.”
I think , Parenting all about striking the delicate balance. Doing what is best for the child and in a way that is right and lawful.
PS- By the time I published this post, the Indian couple in norway have been sentenced.