Friday, March 06, 2015

Spanking laws under scrutiny

France is a country where spanking is still common, and there are no laws against it. Until now.

It's true this aspect of culture is not only common, but accepted. I've seen my own amount of physical violence against children in Paris since living here: There was the boy being pulled by his ear along the sidewalk by his mother. There were the smacks on the bottoms seen multiple times in the local parks.

And then there is the verbal aspect which I find equally alarming:
* A mother's response to when her little girl fell down: "well what did you do that for?"
* A mother's statement to a little girl when face-to-knee to an old man on the sidewalk: "watch out so you don't upset the monsieur."
* A nanny's threat to a little boy who fell down so hard on his ribcage that he was screaming in pain, "if you don't calm down I'm taking you home."

One time my son fell down the stairs in my mother-in-law's house. I was right behind him. He was holding the railing so he was able to stop himself quickly. My MIL came out of her room and started laughing at him. Because she's perhaps been aware of my mothering style being totally different from hers, she caught herself and quickly tried to also express concern for him. It was shocking to hear her initial reaction, but it was heartening to hear her shift.

Each time I express my disbelief-alarm-concern at these incidents my husband will quickly respond with "it's in the culture, darling. It's always been like that." He admits if he didn't live with me and have my influence, he'd react the same way towards his son as he was treated.

I see this as a cultural thing, but I also see other young French mothers (perhaps a minority) who are sensitive and gentle with their children. We have proof that the only lesson physical violence teaches children is that this is the only, acceptable form of self-expression. Hurt children hurt children. Hurt children grow up into hurt adults, who hurt (inwards and outwards). Stopping the cycle starts now with treating our children, but also our contemporaries with loving kindness and gentleness.

Here's the Connexion article with more details.
Image compliments of Capital Koala.
and another new article on how the majority of French are against the ban.