ACE: A PERSONAL PERSPECTIVE

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SUSAN KIONGO FILE PICTURE

After the recent article on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE), I received great feedback, which prompted the need to give a personal perspective on how I see things, vis-à-vis ACE, and in particular, disciplining or correcting children. The other risk factors for ACE are somehow spontaneous in nature and therefore can be hard to prevent, in general terms.

We all have personal opinions and different interpretations to everything we read, hear or see, and that is a beautiful thing because it is what brings diversity, and diversity is good.

I am a strong believer in the bible, so I agree when Proverbs 13:24 says: “He who spares his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him promptly”. Also Proverbs 29:15 which says: “The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame”, is a verse I used often to help impart wisdom to my children. Proverbs 23:13, always encouraged me to give correction when I was hesitant because it says: “Do not withhold correction from a child, For if you beat him with a rod, he will not die”. Sourced from KJV.

When research and facts are presented, it is with the thought that the recipients of such information will use wise discretion to put it to good use, as a guide. It is usually not the writers’ intention to influence people’s decisions, but to present facts or data as they are, because that is all they are: Facts and data. What people decide to do with those facts or data is wholly upon them. In my opinion, facts are supposed to aid us in good decision making, or what in other circles is known as “making an informed decision”.

My children are now grown, but had I known what I know now about ACE and its negative effects on children, I strongly believe I could have used a different approach while correcting them. And now that I have a few grandchildren, boy, aren’t they lucky that their grandma has this information. I will definitely be able to guide my children better when it comes to disciplining or correcting their own children.

Parenting today presents with a lot of challenges because we are aware that corporal punishment is banned in some countries, which was mainly as a result of tragic child abuse cases in the name of ‘discipline’. While this is a good thing to protect children, it tends to leave a gap as to what to do or how to discipline our children without causing them actual bodily harm, emotional trauma or mental anguish. This is a delicate path to tread, and to succeed in parenting today one has to be like a very wise umpire, making wise judgements/decisions without being seen to be impartial or biased, because there are people watching all the time. In school in the USA, I understand that children are encouraged to call a hotline or 911 if parents beat them or are abusive.

It is much harder for especially the older generation (baby boomers) who at times step in to baby sit children while their children go to work. I clearly understand why: They are caught up in the transition between straight discipline/correction where the rod was never spared, and today’s generation where children have rights and options to ‘get back’ at parents when they (children) think their parents are being unfair to them. Don’t get me wrong, I know there are cases of extreme parenting and abuse. However, I consider that my generation experienced the greatest extreme parenting, and we lived to tell the story. If it was so bad, we would not be who or where we are today. But life has changed today, and there was nothing like ‘children’s rights’ then. So, as we contemplate about ACE, fairness, children rights and all else, it would be good to remember that anything done in moderation is OK. It is extremities that are bad. I think we came out just fine, having passed through discipline by fire. Someone said we (baby boomers) were the first generation to be talked back to by our children, but we are strong enough because we (both our children and we), have survived. Talking back to parents during our days was unheard of. Period.

I believe it is important to correct a child when one is not angry or furious, because then the child becomes an object of projection of the anger thus negating the objective of correction in the first place. This then becomes counterproductive. My friend Holly had a teacher who always used her to set an example of what would happen if the class failed to do his assignments or homework. He would call her in front of the class room and without any explanation at all, he would start slapping and beating her up. Then he would say: “That is what will happen to you all if you don’t do your homework”. They had nicknamed him Zinjanthropus. No wonder he behaved in such an uncivilized manner. This story has a somewhat sad turn to it because my friend today cannot discipline her child at all because she suffers from the effects of those unwarranted beatings. So, ACE effects are real.

Being calm, sober, kind and loving, even explaining to the child why the correction is necessary and what will happen next time if they repeat the mistake is important. This lessens the impact of pain and yields better results, which is what, I believe, all parents want for their children. But since there is no hand book on parenting, we all learn as we go, but try to avoid the mistakes we did at the time of our ignorance and use the tools presented to us (like ACE facts), to help us make better decisions.

Children are a gift from God. He puts them in our hands to nurture them for Him. To Him alone shall we be answerable on how we took care of His precious gifts. He has given us a blueprint to guide us in this world, the Bible. Whether we choose to follow it or not is a decision we have to make. All decisions have consequences.

Parenting is a difficult, sensitive role that calls for good balancing, sound decisions and a lot of prayers to be able to mold and help children integrate all aspects of their life into becoming responsible, respectful and resilient adults, so as to survive and thrive in an ever increasingly cruel world.

And, that is my personal perspective.

Wishing you all good parenting!

 Let us strive to be happy, it is still a beautiful world.

Susan Wambui

Integrative Nutrition Health Coach

Senior Contributor

Kenyan Parents In USA

Board Member CODU

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