Why are Americans so soft on their children?

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Avatar image for GalvatronType_R
#1 Posted by GalvatronType_R (2188 posts) -

I immigrated here with my parents as a kid. Even though I’m a citizen and I was immersed in American culture, my parents raised me as someone from the home country and to this day, I do not consider myself to be an American. My parents were very tough on me and my siblings, I knew from an early age that they weren’t my friends and weren’t interested in being my friend, and they couldn’t care less what I thought of them. For all of that, I am immensely grateful.

I continually marvel at how soft and permissive most American parents I observe are to their children. Their children speak to and treat them in an abjectly disrespectful and undisciplined manner that had I done that, I would have been killed and not reached adulthood (I mean that literally, my parents would have arranged for my death). Furthermore, they spoil them to no end, buying them fancy smartphones, vacations, nice clothes, and cars when they haven’t earned any of it. I bought my first car and every car I’ve owned since because my parents refused to give me handouts and taught me not to accept them.

No wonder American education is on the decline and many American kids are just not prepared for the real world once they graduate school.

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#2 Edited by Volsung (261 posts) -

I had a great uncle who (supposedly) would take his son behind the barn and whip him.

Between the two parenting styles...

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#3 Posted by judaspete (2991 posts) -

I'll agree with you to the extent that American parents overall are too permissive, but it is okay to be friends with your kids. Play together, sing together, have a good time. If they do something wrong or disrespectful, the fun stops and you take corrective action. But you can be both The Authority, and their playmate.

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#4 Posted by Baconstrip78 (1380 posts) -

@GalvatronType_R: Your parents sound like pieces of crap.

Why is there no happy middle ground between literally having your kids killed if they defy you and teaching your kids about hard work and the value of a dollar while still treating them lovingly.

My mother taught me the second while still being one of my best friends.

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#5 Posted by Ovirew (9080 posts) -

@GalvatronType_R: So you immigrated here but don't want to be an American?

Then get the hell out of here!!!

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#6 Posted by LJS9502_basic (166612 posts) -

Rules and discipline don't mean a parent is an abusive jailer. As a parent my child was taught how to behave but is not an inmate of mine. Doing quite well in fact.

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#7 Posted by Solaryellow (4950 posts) -

There was a time (a few decades ago) when children were disciplined sometimes in a physical manner but then it got to the point where a portion of society became apologetic and excuse making and well, soft to the point where you couldn't even look at a child the wrong way. Discipline still exists in a manner where others don't get to see it.

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#8 Posted by shellcase86 (4431 posts) -

There are extreme on both ends which should be avoided. Children need structure, boundaries, and guidance -- but that shouldn't be at the expense of a happy childhood.

Also, the decline in American education has less to do with differences in parenting styles and more to do with abysmal funding and lack of priority from both local and federal governments.

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#9 Edited by watercrack445 (1664 posts) -

Hitler and Stalin had been hit by their parents and look what they did.

True story

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#10 Posted by X_Karen_x (500 posts) -

They afraid to be sue. Kid it very spoil these day.

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#11 Posted by mrbojangles25 (44045 posts) -

@GalvatronType_R said:

I immigrated here with my parents as a kid. Even though I’m a citizen and I was immersed in American culture, my parents raised me as someone from the home country and to this day, I do not consider myself to be an American. My parents were very tough on me and my siblings, I knew from an early age that they weren’t my friends and weren’t interested in being my friend, and they couldn’t care less what I thought of them. For all of that, I am immensely grateful.

I continually marvel at how soft and permissive most American parents I observe are to their children. Their children speak to and treat them in an abjectly disrespectful and undisciplined manner that had I done that, I would have been killed and not reached adulthood (I mean that literally, my parents would have arranged for my death). Furthermore, they spoil them to no end, buying them fancy smartphones, vacations, nice clothes, and cars when they haven’t earned any of it. I bought my first car and every car I’ve owned since because my parents refused to give me handouts and taught me not to accept them.

No wonder American education is on the decline and many American kids are just not prepared for the real world once they graduate school.

Your parents are terrible people and you should be extremely thankful to be an American. There are so many places you could be that are so much worse. America is not perfect, but it's better than most. Where are you originally from?

Your parents would have killed you for talking back to them? KILLED YOU!? Jesus, I hope you are out of that household for your own good.

You have some serious problems I think you need to work out, and scapegoating "America" when really it's just human nature that you have a problem with is not getting you any where.

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#12 Posted by Serraph105 (33853 posts) -

I get the sense that parenting, particularly in developed countries, has always been evolving towards a style that's more loving and caring than the generation before it. Each generation seems to think that they were nicer to their kids than the last, and each generation seems to think the next generation is too soft on their own kids.

I think this is largely to do with harsher punishments no longer being socially acceptable over time. Disowning kids use to be fine, the Amish in particular used to practice shunning, but then it was decided that you weren't actually teaching your kids anything and this isn't practiced much anymore and is largely seen as a bad thing in the eyes of general society. Whipping kids with belts or just straight up hitting them also used to be a thing that was common, but again, society has begun to reject it as a method of discipline. Now that's not completely accepted, I have a friend who just posted shit on facebook yesterday that more kids need know the fear of the noise a leather belt makes when snapped. Finally it seems like even spanking (just a slap on the butt) seems to be in the early years of no longer being socially acceptable. I have parents on my facebook who do not believe you should ever hit a kid, and that includes spanking. I don't know if that will ever be a widespread belief, but it all seems to stem from kids who didn't like the way they were treated by their parents and have resolved not to treat their own kids in the same way. In that same process, they have come to be more loving of their children and more understanding.

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#13 Edited by Volsung (261 posts) -

I'm just glad that sadism towards children isn't legal or socially acceptable anymore, at least where I live.

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#14 Posted by JustPlainLucas (79344 posts) -
@Serraph105 said:

I get the sense that parenting, particularly in developed countries, has always been evolving towards a style that's more loving and caring than the generation before it. Each generation seems to think that they were nicer to their kids than the last, and each generation seems to think the next generation is too soft on their own kids.

I think this is largely to do with harsher punishments no longer being socially acceptable over time. Disowning kids use to be fine, the Amish in particular used to practice shunning, but then it was decided that you weren't actually teaching your kids anything and this isn't practiced much anymore and is largely seen as a bad thing in the eyes of general society. Whipping kids with belts or just straight up hitting them also used to be a thing that was common, but again, society has begun to reject it as a method of discipline. Now that's not completely accepted, I have a friend who just posted shit on facebook yesterday that more kids need know the fear of the noise a leather belt makes when snapped. Finally it seems like even spanking (just a slap on the butt) seems to be in the early years of no longer being socially acceptable. I have parents on my facebook who do not believe you should ever hit a kid, and that includes spanking. I don't know if that will ever be a widespread belief, but it all seems to stem from kids who didn't like the way they were treated by their parents and have resolved not to treat their own kids in the same way. In that same process, they have come to be more loving of their children and more understanding.

I believe in spanking. I was spanked, and I harbor no ill will towards my mom for doing it. I'd spank my children as well if they were acting up. The problem with spanking is that sometimes people take it too far or don't bother to do anything else with it, just leave the kid crying and in his room. I was always told what I did wrong, why it was wrong, and was hugged afterward. True, you don't NEED to spank your children as there are other methods of punishment, but far be it from anyone to tell someone else how to raise their children. Weren't spanked/not spanking your children work for you? Good. Spanked/spanking your children work for you? Good. But take it from me seeing as how I work in a family library and this generation of kids is far worse from the one I grew up with... I honestly feel spanking would have worked better because I really don't think some kids today fear their parents.

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#15 Posted by Sevenizz (3908 posts) -

@GalvatronType_R: Your parents sound like assholes and quite frankly, should’ve left ‘the old world’ in the past. You don’t mention it, but it sounds like they may have physically abused you (what does ‘very tough’ even mean?). You don’t even feel American - in America? Another example of bad parenting. It sounds like you had a miserable, terrifying childhood and you lived with tormentors. A parent is supposed to be the opposite. A mentor. Millions of American children are brought up in non abusive households and become well adjusted adults. It’d be anarchy on our streets if they didn’t. Do you have any idea how many kids come away from abusive situations messed in the head? Murderers and hardened criminals were often abused as children.

Congratulations, you bought yourself a car. You did that, not your parents. Take responsibility that you’re a decent adult and don’t smite parenting skills you don’t know anything about. And if you even think of raising your children like you were raised, you better pray that they don’t tell a teacher or a school nurse - because you can go to jail.

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#16 Edited by KungfuKitten (26645 posts) -

@Sevenizz said:

@GalvatronType_R: Your parents sound like assholes and quite frankly, should’ve left ‘the old world’ in the past. You don’t mention it, but it sounds like they may have physically abused you (what does ‘very tough’ even mean?). You don’t even feel American - in America? Another example of bad parenting. It sounds like you had a miserable, terrifying childhood and you lived with tormentors. A parent is supposed to be the opposite. A mentor. Millions of American children are brought up in non abusive households and become well adjusted adults. It’d be anarchy on our streets if they didn’t. Do you have any idea how many kids come away from abusive situations messed in the head? Murderers and hardened criminals were often abused as children.

Congratulations, you bought yourself a car. You did that, not your parents. Take responsibility that you’re a decent adult and don’t smite parenting skills you don’t know anything about. And if you even think of raising your children like you were raised, you better pray that they don’t tell a teacher or a school nurse - because you can go to jail.

I think that's the real reason. You can't say much anymore in the USA without getting into trouble. Even at universities where people in the past were (or in other countries are still) expected to think critically. And I think those confines are also seeping into more than just words and education. I'm convinced that life in the USA is declining into a state of constant fear for being accused.

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#17 Edited by GalvatronType_R (2188 posts) -

The replies have been very amusing and enlightening. I must have struck a sensitive spot with some of you all (or as you Americans say “U mad bro?”).

My parents were excellent parents who did a great job. They were more interested in being my parents than being my friend. They understood that kids need boundaries and discipline and they taught me about family honor. I would rather die than dishonor my family and Americans generally do not teach their children about family honor or collective familial responsibility for their children’s actions.

I’m grateful that my parents understood that diamonds are made with great heat and pressure, they are not made being too nice and soft. Success starts in the home and I am the way I am due to their toughness on me.

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#18 Edited by XVision84 (16241 posts) -

The issue you bring up in your last paragraph is due to numerous symptoms of American living, not just the one you mentioned.

That being said, I disagree with your stance on parenting. Your evidence is primarily anecdotal, which isn't enough to discount the effectiveness of alternative methods (nor to prove the effectiveness of your own).

I don't see any reason why being a close friend with your parents is a negative thing. Being spoiled and having a toxic attitude does not need to arise from such a relationship. I would argue that generalizations such as that do more harm than good.

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#19 Edited by XVision84 (16241 posts) -

@GalvatronType_R: Again you're stating a generalization without the data to back it up. Americans is a loose umbrella term that constitutes many cultures (ex: African American, Asian American, Middle Eastern American, etc.). To assume that they all raise their kids the same (even in a general sense) is absurd.

Don't use physical properties as metaphors for raising a child. Historically, people have used all sorts of those "sayings" to justify or reinforce their methods. Diamonds have absolutely no connection to parenting, barring the meaning we impose on it.

It's great that you're proud of your family and grateful to your parents. I'm happy for you. However, that doesn't mean ridiculing other parenting styles and misattributing larger societal issues to them is the way to go.

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#20 Posted by judaspete (2991 posts) -

@Solaryellow said:

There was a time (a few decades ago) when children were disciplined sometimes in a physical manner but then it got to the point where a portion of society became apologetic and excuse making and well, soft to the point where you couldn't even look at a child the wrong way. Discipline still exists in a manner where others don't get to see it.

Physical discipline largely went out of fashion when people in the field realized it taught children hitting others can influence them do what you want. Children tend to model behavior they see adults engage in.

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#22 Posted by goodzorr (504 posts) -

1. Terrible 'generalisation' of an entire nation. Good work.

2. Why have children if you don't want to be friends with them on any level? What purpose does it serve to have children if you are just going to be an arsehole to them? To 'carry on the family name'? That's super backwards and just not necessary in the 21st Century.

3. I am also in favour of spanking where necessary, however it must be warranted. My parents smacked my butt or back of the legs if I misbehaved when I was a kid and it changed nothing towards my respect for them.

4. I also paid for my first car, but my Dad fronted the money and I paid him back within 4 months. The cost of that car would have been short change for him on a monthly basis, but he recognised both sides of the coin; to help me but also show me that I must pay my own way. You make it seem like there is no middle ground?

5. tl;dr: silly post to provoke people imo.

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#23 Posted by SaltSlasher (1145 posts) -

I'm pretty sure if you find the nation with highest child beating ratio, their kids aren't leaving High School ready for real world, probably need several years of psychiatry.

People really should get a dog and train it before ever having kids, cause they at least know what training obedience means.

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#24 Edited by Solaryellow (4950 posts) -

@judaspete said:
@Solaryellow said:

There was a time (a few decades ago) when children were disciplined sometimes in a physical manner but then it got to the point where a portion of society became apologetic and excuse making and well, soft to the point where you couldn't even look at a child the wrong way. Discipline still exists in a manner where others don't get to see it.

Physical discipline largely went out of fashion when people in the field realized it taught children hitting others can influence them do what you want. Children tend to model behavior they see adults engage in.

A crack in the arse would leave a different impression than a beating, right? Besides the degree of physical response, parents aren't being parents and properly explaining why such a response was warranted. IMO kids seem to be worse (in terms of behavior and respect) than decades past.

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#25 Edited by judaspete (2991 posts) -

@Solaryellow said:
@judaspete said:
@Solaryellow said:

There was a time (a few decades ago) when children were disciplined sometimes in a physical manner but then it got to the point where a portion of society became apologetic and excuse making and well, soft to the point where you couldn't even look at a child the wrong way. Discipline still exists in a manner where others don't get to see it.

Physical discipline largely went out of fashion when people in the field realized it taught children hitting others can influence them do what you want. Children tend to model behavior they see adults engage in.

A crack in the arse would leave a different impression than a beating, right? Besides the degree of physical response, parents aren't being parents and properly explaining why such a response was warranted. IMO kids seem to be worse (in terms of behavior and respect) than decades past.

I agree that kids seem more disrespectful now than they used to be, but i also think people in general are more disrespectful to each other in our everyday interactions. And, like I said, children model behavior they see adults engage in. Also, since most families have two working parents these days, they don't end up spending as much time with their kids anymore. Experience is the best teacher, so a working parent is at a disadvantage compared to a non-working one.

Now on corporal punishment, I think there may be situations where it is warranted as long as, like you said, the reasons are made clear, and the child is intelligent enough to understand them. But this should be rare, as the takeaway for the child will be that sometimes it is okay to hit someone.

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#26 Posted by shellcase86 (4431 posts) -

I get your viewpoint, OP. That parenting style works for plenty kids, but it also will turn some into monsters who continue to further this.

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#27 Posted by Jag85 (13535 posts) -

Reminds me of Russell Peters, who did a stand-up segment on how immigrant parents beat their kids and American/Canadian parents are soft on their kids.

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#28 Posted by sealionact (3990 posts) -

@GalvatronType_R: You make it sound like its a good thing to be tough on your kids. It's not. You never get as close to them as you can if you raise them with love instead of an iron fist.

The fact that you've fallen out with your siblings is so sad, and that has to do with the way you were raised.

Theres discipline, teaching a kid right from wrong, and then there's beating them because somehow you think that will make them a better person. It won't.

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#29 Posted by rmiller365 (794 posts) -

You don't beat your kids, you psychologically destroy them. Find what they love and rip it from them. Kids need to show respect because they contribute nothing and are entirely dependent on the income YOU earn for THEM.

-Smart mouth? Look I took away your phone I pay for, now nobody can hear your mouth.

-grades low? Look I just deleted you Fortnite profile because it seemed more important than your future.

-caught lying to me? Look I just took only the power cord to your console so you can look at it but know it's a lie and you can't play it.

When they grow up and actually get a real feel for how the world actually works, they will thank you for it- I know I did.

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#30 Posted by X_Karen_x (500 posts) -

Parent just seem not to care. It common in my area to see parent put themself above a child. It not something easily to understood but it happen and I see it too.

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#31 Posted by Jag85 (13535 posts) -

@Jag85 said:

Reminds me of Russell Peters, who did a stand-up segment on how immigrant parents beat their kids and American/Canadian parents are soft on their kids.

Found it. This is the video:

Loading Video...

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#32 Posted by dataielts45SS (2 posts) -

really Americans are so so soft on their children because the have great love them

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#33 Posted by Heirren (1537 posts) -

Ha ha damn i could tell a story but i avoid getting too personal on the internet.

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#34 Posted by HoolaHoopMan (10782 posts) -

If you have to physically hit your children then you're doing it wrong. You can teach discipline and punish bad behavior through other corrective means. What's one thing you tend to see less of in the western/1st world economies? People aren't beating their kids as much.

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#35 Posted by Chutebox (44657 posts) -

Yuuup. Kids are horrible and parents, for the most part, let them act that way.

Whenever we take my kids out, they always spot kids acting out and I can tell me kids are wondering why they are acting that way. Very thankful for mine haha.

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#36 Posted by foxhound_fox (97970 posts) -

That's because most North American (Canadians have this problem as well) parents don't know how to teach children discipline without physical violence towards them. They don't realize that they can in fact say "no" to a child and not have to hit them as well.

It's about teaching them about being an adult, while still allowing them some childhood innocence to go along with it and not totally shattering their world view.

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#37 Posted by NattyDaddy604 (304 posts) -

@GalvatronType_R: Lot's of overly sensitive people nowadays. My dad used to discipline me by beating me with a belt over my hands and my ass. Did he do it every time he was mad or every time I made a mistake? Of course not. But he beat me when words weren't enough. And I thank my parents every single step of the way for it. Granted, I believe parenting should be a leader/student role and conversing can dispute majority of issues, but occasionally, every so often authoritarianism is demanded from the parents.

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#38 Posted by sonicare (56768 posts) -

I think you are making huge generalizations and making large assumptions about how others parent.

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#39 Posted by angelsemaj (16 posts) -

I'm Filipino and our parents use capital punishment to discipline us. They used to whip us with whatever they get their hands on (broomstick, belt, clothes hanger, etc.) when they catch us red handed. It actually went well if I may say so myself.

Now they're trying to pass a law in the senate that would outlaw parents hitting their children for the purpose of discipline. All because our senators say "it 'worked' for America." ( -_-)

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#40 Posted by jun_aka_pekto (25253 posts) -

I'm not soft on my kids. They know what I'll do if they get out of line. They also know I'm fair. They have common sense and now have their own self-discipline. I haven't had a need to discipline them for a while.

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#41 Posted by Horgen (120599 posts) -

@jun_aka_pekto said:

I'm not soft on my kids. They know what I'll do if they get out of line. They also know I'm fair. They have common sense and now have their own self-discipline. I haven't had a need to discipline them for a while.

That just means they are getting better at hiding the BS. :P

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#42 Posted by Kadin_Kai (505 posts) -

What an interesting topic!

I think there are strict parents in every country. But if your folks are from East Asia (HK/China, Taiwan, Singapore and Japan) then parents are quite strict with education.

My parents are Chinese and they immigrated to the UK in the 1970s. They were strict with my education. Poor grades were simply not acceptable. But everything else, I was pretty much free.

Plus, they bought me a 128K Spectrum, C64, Amiga, Mega Drive, SNES, PS1 and a N64 over the years in return for my not-great but well above average grades!

I also do not feel British despite I was born in the UK, (how could I when there is so much racism). Anyway I moved to Hong Kong/China a few years ago and I love it here (mainly because of the food)!

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#43 Posted by jun_aka_pekto (25253 posts) -
@horgen said:

That just means they are getting better at hiding the BS. :P

The top-notch GPA/grades of both say differently. Plus, the eldest kid is a young adult. She now works in addition to taking classes at the university. So, she's on the right track.

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#44 Posted by Horgen (120599 posts) -

@jun_aka_pekto said:
@horgen said:

That just means they are getting better at hiding the BS. :P

The top-notch GPA/grades of both say differently. Plus, the eldest kid is a young adult. She now works in addition to taking classes at the university. So, she's on the right track.

I hope she doesn't overwork herself.

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#45 Posted by theone86 (22417 posts) -

In my experience they're not. I hear people constantly talking about how parents are soft, but I never really see it. If all the parents are really so soft then shouldn't they be talking more about how everyone else is too hard? Anyway, I think parents these days push their children extremely hard. There are tons of expectations on them and I don't see a whole lot of parents telling their kids to just ignore the expectations. Plus there is a ton of micromanagement. I think that, where people tend to attribute kids' difficulty in dealing with life to a lack of physical discipline, the problem is really that parents do not find failure acceptable and therefore interfere far more in their kids' lives, leaving them without the experience necessary to handle their lives on their own. Plus kids just have to deal with more and more shit nowadays, and every time someone suggests going easier on them, even if it's backed with concrete evidence, people start whining about how kids nowadays are too soft, usually without concrete evidence. I don't particularly like my own childhood, but I think things might be even worse for kids nowadays.

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#46 Edited by PCVirginRace (177 posts) -

Agree. South "Americans" and central latin "Americans" are soft on kids

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#47 Edited by sakaiXx (5707 posts) -

Its ok to be friends with your kids, sometimes they dont have friends and rely on parents due to their social anxiety.

Its also ok to whip them to get into shape if they do wrong. I can't believe when I heard I can be jailed in some european country is I do this. Some kids just need some toughen up smackdown.

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#48 Posted by jdc6305 (5051 posts) -

My grandmother would grab a switch off a tree and whip my mom back in the 60's. When I was a kid back in the 80's they had paddles in school and if you got out of line they'd beat the snot out of you. I know I had it happen to me. I told my mom to F off once and she turned around and socked me in the nose. I was seeing stars. My parents didn't coddle me.

One time I got in trouble with the police. They called my mom and she said keep him and hung up.

Parents have been getting softer and softer over the years. People have kids and think the schools should raise them.

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#49 Posted by jun_aka_pekto (25253 posts) -

@GalvatronType_R said:

I immigrated here with my parents as a kid. Even though I’m a citizen and I was immersed in American culture, my parents raised me as someone from the home country and to this day, I do not consider myself to be an American. My parents were very tough on me and my siblings, I knew from an early age that they weren’t my friends and weren’t interested in being my friend, and they couldn’t care less what I thought of them. For all of that, I am immensely grateful.

I continually marvel at how soft and permissive most American parents I observe are to their children. Their children speak to and treat them in an abjectly disrespectful and undisciplined manner that had I done that, I would have been killed and not reached adulthood (I mean that literally, my parents would have arranged for my death). Furthermore, they spoil them to no end, buying them fancy smartphones, vacations, nice clothes, and cars when they haven’t earned any of it. I bought my first car and every car I’ve owned since because my parents refused to give me handouts and taught me not to accept them.

No wonder American education is on the decline and many American kids are just not prepared for the real world once they graduate school.

Are you from Pakistan? There are some Pakistani parents so strict, they killed their own daughters for being Westernized. I read about at least two incidents In NY state where the daughter was beheaded because she didn't want to conform to the old country customs.

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#50 Posted by theone86 (22417 posts) -
@jdc6305 said:

My grandmother would grab a switch off a tree and whip my mom back in the 60's. When I was a kid back in the 80's they had paddles in school and if you got out of line they'd beat the snot out of you. I know I had it happen to me. I told my mom to F off once and she turned around and socked me in the nose. I was seeing stars. My parents didn't coddle me.

One time I got in trouble with the police. They called my mom and she said keep him and hung up.

Parents have been getting softer and softer over the years. People have kids and think the schools should raise them.

Call me crazy, but I think the fact that parents aren't ****ING FLOGGING their children is a good thing. And a good deal of the psychological community seems to agree with me:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/great-kids-great-parents/201404/why-physical-punishment-does-not-work