Ideas from Different Countries about Raising Kids

Every culture looks at disciplining the kids slightly differently.  It influences the whole society according to when, how, and who does the disciplining.  I had a German grandpa, and you better believe, he was strict!  His attitudes about right and wrong were strictly obeyed or his kids were spanked, and my dad learned from him how to parent children, so I was spanked a lot growing up, and the discipline was strict. I had a sister in law in Ohio who smacked her kids so much!  There was also German in their background, and she didn’t even warn her kids and say “no.” If the kids put their hand in the wrong direction, it got hit. She smothered her kids, and they both grew up shy and weren’t confident about themselves at all. It is good to keep kids in line, but we can go overboard, but we can also be too lenient.  Different cultures go about it differently.

Amazingly enough, I have learned that the Koreans and the Japanese are extremely lenient on their younger kids. The kids aren’t taught right from wrong until they go to school. When my kids were small, I was told when my oldest son was two years old that kids are never to young to start teaching them the difference between right and wrong, and that I needed to begin telling him “no” and smacking his hands. I developed a system of saying “no,” and if I wasn’t listened to when I said “no”, I said, “if you do it even though I said ‘no,’ I will smack you!”  If they did it, I followed through and smacked my kid’s hand. I used it as a teaching tool, and I made sure to talk to the kids and explain to them why I smacked them and how not to be smacked again. As they grew, I learned to do other things beside smack.  My oldest son hated his bed, so if he did something wrong, I sent him to his bed. He hated it, and it corrected the problem.  My youngest daughter hated to sit in a chair.  If she did something wrong, I put her in a chair and made her sit there, and just being told she must sit in the chair, big tears began rolling out of her eyes and down her cheeks, and she got the point that she had done something she shouldn’t do.

However, I taught in a language school in Japan, and we were sent to a kindergarten twice a week to teach the kids the English alphabet.  Those kids were so out of control it was amazing!  I learned that the kids are completely spoiled when they begin school in Japan.  They are 5 and 6 years old, but still going through their terrible twos.  If you have never heard of the terrible twos, in America, that is what we call two year old kids because they don’t know how to control themselves at all, and we recognize there is a lot of teaching to be done, and the parents are driven crazy trying to teach them the difference between right and wrong.

I have also learned that here in Korea, the parents completely spoil the kids.  When they go to school, the kids drive the teachers crazy, and it is considered the teacher’s job to get those kids under control.  Korean parents love their kids, and they smother them with gifts, but they don’t teach them the difference between right and wrong.  They send them off to teachers, and teachers have to teach them to behave themselves.  In the past, there was a lot of spanking going on in Korean schools, but it has recently become illegal for the teachers to spank the kids in Korea.  If the parents aren’t disciplining the students, and now the teachers can’t spank them either, what will happen to future generations of Koreans?  I understand that the disciplining has gotten out of hand in the past, and that is why they wanted to make spanking illegal, but who is going to teach the children the difference between right and wrong? Often, in Korea, the older students thump the younger ones because of the hierarchy of the society. If that older student is a decent kid, he might be able to teach the younger one a little about right and wrong, but if he isn’t he may just be picking on the younger one which happens quite often in Korea. Right now, Korea has a very peaceful, happy society, but what will happen when kids who haven’t been taught the difference between right and wrong by neither parents nor teachers grow up?

In Nigeria, they have  a completely different system of teaching the kids the difference between right and wrong. The parents don’t do it. The teachers don’t do it, but the uncles do it.  There was a time they had chiefs too, and the chiefs took the people in hand in Nigeria and kept them in line.  However, when Democracy came to Nigeria, the people didn’t quite know how to handle themselves because Democracy has a central government, not a chief in charge of every village keeping the people in line.  With Democracy, they tried installing religious knowledge teachers in the high schools to teach the students the different between right and wrong. The problem was they gave the students the choice between Christian religious knowledge and Islamic religious knowledge.  Christian religious knowledge teaches people the difference between right and wrong, and it may be the redeeming factor for Nigeria and Korea.  However, if people are good Muslims, they cause trouble. Nigeria accidentally raised a bunch of students who were serious about Islam and caused part of the country to be under Sharia law now, and the Muslim villages attack the Christian villages and burn church buildings down.  At that point, you ask, “Who is supposed to decide what is right and wrong?”

In England, they are like Americans, and the parents are responsible for teaching the children the difference between right and wrong. I have known American parents who took their kids to church and sent them to Bible class simply so the kids would know the difference between right and wrong.  My dad used to urge my mom to take us to church so we could learn the difference between right and wrong, but he would say he didn’t want us to become too serious about it, but just learn what is right and wrong. However, if you really understand any religion, you are not asked to be luke warm. You are asked to actually do it with all your heart.  Otherwise, you miss the point and when people think you are good, you may be lying to them and perhaps even stealing or something else bad in the background. With my own kids, I wanted them to learn that God loved them and to learn to love God not just to save their souls, but because I understood God’s love and Heaven gave them a motivation to be good. Kids need to be taught the difference between right and wrong, and they also need motivation.  Heaven, a good motivation, is much better than having to spend all the time spanking them, but sometimes a negative teaching tool is warranted if you do it right.  Going overboard on anything, especially spanking, is wrong. I had to pull my ex-husband off my oldest son because he just wouldn’t stop spanking, and he bruised my son.  I made him promise to leave the disciplining up to me because it was obvious he didn’t understand. He promised, but went back on his promise later.  It is one of the reasons he is my ex-husband, so I could protect the kids.

As you can see, different cultures think differently about who should correct the kids, how it should be done, and even when it should be done.  I have thought a lot about this this week because I attend a church where there are lots of kids, and some of the parents pulled me aside last week and were asking me questions about disciplining kids. I am an American, and they are Korean. However, I have four grown kids who turned out well, and people have noticed. My daughter teaches in a school where the Korean principal spent time in England, and he was so embarrassed by the way his kids acted as compared to the way the kids in England acted. The English understood how to teach the little ones the difference between right and wrong, and he didn’t know because in Korea, the teachers do it, not the parents. As a school principal in Korea, one of the reasons I he wanted to hire people from the west was because he wanted the kids in his school to learn the difference between right and wrong. I actually consider myself too old to teach the young energetic kids anymore, but if the young parents want me to tell them how to do it, I know how.




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