A Mother’s Perspective on Disciplining Children
(Minghui.org) My father worked in a different city when I was young, and my mother raised us on her own. My mother was constantly exhausted from work and household chores.
She had neither the time nor patience for her children. In her mind, physical punishment was the best and only way to discipline us. My mother's favorite tool was the willow tree branch, willow trees being plentiful in my hometown.
She would yank a branch off a tree and start whipping us. My mother's theory was that the willow tree branches were soft enough not to cause injury, but still able to cause enough pain for children to remember.
I used to accept this idea too. But after I started practicing Falun Dafa, I no longer adhered to this belief.
Even though willow tree branches don't cause serious injury to the body, this discipline can damage the mental and emotional states of children quite severely. I remember resenting my mother after each whipping, and I told myself that if I had children, I would not hit them. I told her that my children would then grow up happy!
In reality, if I did not have the guidance of Falun Dafa and the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance, I would probably have raised my daughter the same way my mother raised me.
One summer day when my daughter was a year old, I prepared a bath for her. Bath time was her favorite, and she usually played with her rubber toys while I washed her. She was very resistant that day, however, and refused to go into the water. After some fruitless coaxing, I lost my temper and spanked her on her bare buttocks.
The next morning, my daughter woke up with a burning fever. It suddenly occurred to me why she did not want her bath, as she must have been feeling chills the day before. Tears streamed down my cheeks. What an unworthy mother I was!
Master's words flashed into my mind:
“I believe that the world will be a better place if we can each work on ourselves and look at our character, or thoughts, to identify the source of any problems we face, and then make a point of doing better next time and try to always be thoughtful towards others. Morality will improve, people will become more civil, and the world will be safer for it. Perhaps a police force wouldn’t even be needed...” (The Ninth Talk, Zhuan Falun, 2018 Translation Version)
I was wrong both as a practitioner and as a mother. I apologized in my mind to Master for not remembering the Fa. I then apologized to my daughter, “I am sorry, it was all mommy's fault. Were you feeling cold yesterday? Is that why you didn't want to take a bath?” She nodded.
From that day on, I always remembered Master's teaching and disciplined my daughter in a calm manner—until a few years later, that is.
Children in our neighborhood liked to play together after school, and they would stay out until dinner time. My daughter was no exception. Starting from second grade, she would ignore her homework and play outside until I got home from work. One day, I came home late from work, and I found my daughter still outside playing.
I told her to do her homework, and I went to cook dinner. I went to check on her progress after I cleaned up the dishes. She had only written a few words during that entire time. When I asked her what was wrong, she would not answer me.
My anger erupted like a volcano. I picked up a ruler and pulled out her palm. Our eyes met just before I was about to smack her.
My daughter's expression brought back my childhood memories, and Master's teaching struck me:
“Some people lose their tempers when disciplining their children and get all worked up. But it needn’t be like that. You shouldn’t genuinely get angry. You have to be calm and rational for your child to be reared well.” (The Ninth Talk, Zhuan Falun, 2018 Translation Version)
I lowered my hand and the ruler landed lightly on my daughter's palm. I said in a kind and stern voice, “I want to spank you, but I'm reluctant to. Mommy's heart aches when you are hurt. However, you can not just play and not do your homework.”
My daughter suddenly broke out crying, and she finished her homework smoothly. That night, we snuggled in bed and talked. She told me how scared and lonely she was when my husband and I were both in the labor camp. My husband and I were sent to labor camp for practicing Falun Dafa, and my husband was still in prison at that time. Our hearts felt so close right then.
After my husband was released, we cultivated and faced our hardships as a family. My daughter's grades went from last to first in her class, and she eventually was admitted to a top university.
While raising my only child, I became more sympathetic toward parents who are frustrated when they cannot find effective ways to discipline their children. The hatred I had toward my parents was also resolved, and I thought of them with compassion and understanding.
My mother asked me, “Are all Falun Dafa practitioners as nice as you, always considering other people first?”
“Yes,” I said. “Every genuine Falun Dafa practitioner is like this, and many are doing better than me!”