JOURNAL

How Do You Make Your Child Learn, With Fear Or Love?

Navigating parenthood

Huzaifa Irfan (Account Closed)

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© 2017 Marco Tibasima for Human Rights Watch
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When a child learns about life through fear and shame, they will have drastic consequences in adulthood.

Sensing the little ways my sister uses fear to discipline her child makes me extremely worried. Worries because I found myself in him, I was punished by my parents for the innocent mistakes we made, for the little disobedience, and for not learning the school homework well on time.

It starts from the very moment a child begins to feel things around as he starts to explore; we use fear to get them to sleep, we use fear to make them pray to God, and we use fear even to make them eat. Instead of making them love what they need to do, we terrify them on the consequences if they do not do it.

This shapes their mind and psychology that everything they fear is acceptable to bear, for things can turn wrong; they lose the power to confront their fears, instead fear puts a limit on their lives.

Sometimes she uses me as a sign of fear, indicating that I am a demon, and if he doesn't discipline himself, I may come and beat him. I highly object to such things and am clear to them that they should not be using me as a means of fear in her child's mind. I, to this day, did not like my mother for she put a heavy fear of our father in our minds, and he took this job as perfectly as he could.

Whenever I ask her to stop doing what she is doing to her child, she resigns and asks me to put an end to the child's tantrum if not for fear. This comes with the mindset that she is doing best for what is better for the child, including punishing him for discipline. Though I agree she might get the short-term benefit, it does not do well in the longer term. We like numbing our feelings, ignoring the root causes of the problems, and using coping strategies as a means to soothe hard feelings.

Whether it is the fear of darkness or a human, it always makes children insecure and uncertain of themselves. Before understanding that fear should not be an obstacle to thriving well in life, we introduce different kinds of fear from the day they begin to sense things. When we use fear in severity, their mind shuts down — they may obey but internally they shut down, and their minds stop working, and they stop learning.

When we are forced against our will, either by emotional pressure or by fear, we might do the task but we build a lifelong hatred for learning and studying.

I remember the days in our school when the teacher would beat us severely when we did not memorize our schoolwork, the numbers less than 06/10 would gift us several beatings, some by heavy stick. While corporal punishment is illegal by law, teachers still use it to this date, and our parents let that happen for our sake.

While I like to wear a T-shirt for the gym, I hate school uniforms and to this date, I don't like formal suits just because I would be beaten up by teachers for not wearing my tie appropriately. To this day I don't enjoy accounting, calculations, and general math as every wrong answer would lead to several slaps on the face or a whip to the buttocks.

All because I was made to hate the thing I should have loved.

While the parents might think they are helping the child, instead they are destroying their passion and capacity to learn life well. While you may think the abuse in your childhood disciplined you, you still don't know that your problems in navigating life well result from the same traumatic experiences.

I consider parenthood as a conscious decision. While I consider myself to be an accident of fate, I don't want the upcoming generation to grow unwell and with fear.

If children are difficult to handle or understand well, I don't understand the quest to bring several children into this world, leading to broken men and women becoming a liability and furthering traumas.

While there are many strategies to make your child learn well, fear is certainly the worst of it.

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your quality time and attention.

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