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Giles Coren: 'I’d Never Say A Cross Word To My Child’

Even when she’s uses the walls as a canvas for colouring, home is no place for raised voices or physical discipline, says Giles

For me, it always went without saying that I would never smack my children. I was smacked as a child, and it’s the thing I most remember about being little. My childhood was otherwise happy, comfortable and full of love. But mostly I remember the smacking.

I don’t think that’s me being unfair on my parents. After all, if you went out and had a great night in the pub, ate a great meal, saw a great movie, kissed a beautiful boy or girl, then got beaten up on the way home, what would you remember most about that night? Exactly.

Smacking is wrong

Violence and happiness can co-exist, but they shouldn’t have to. It staggers me that there is still even a debate on the subject. If I had legislative power, I would impose a course of psychiatric treatment on a hitting parent at the first offence, then imprison them for a second. For a third? I’d cut his balls off.

Yes, his. It is not my business to think about what mothers should do, just fathers. An angry man hitting a defenceless child is the scariest, most evil thing on earth. It brings terror into a home, which should always be a place of refuge.

For a dad's third offence? I’d cut his balls off

Few mothers can ever be scary enough to turn a home into a place where the fear of violence is paramount. And women have their own issues to deal with. If a mother must smack, let her smack. But never a father. A father should never even raise his voice. Too many of the most terrible things in the history of the world started with men shouting for it to be acceptable in a family home.

Patience is key

This is easy to do. You just have to not get angry. Ever. Real paternal love should make that impossible. My daughter is three next month and I have never, ever said a cross word to her. And I never will. Nothing a child can do is that bad.

Sure, our walls are covered in multi-coloured graffiti up to three feet from the floor, but the rest of the wall is clean. Sure, she has smashed some things, but they have been replaced.

Sometimes she doesn’t want to leave the house in the morning but, hey, who does? Sometimes she doesn’t want to eat, so why make her? Sometimes she just shouts and screams, let her. She calms down in the end, so just be patient. What have you got to do that’s so important anyway?

People laugh at me and say, ‘You just wait till she’s older’. Well, I have no choice but to wait until she is older, and my son, too. That is my job as a father. To wait. And wait. And wait. And occasionally pay for things. But brutality no longer has any place in the job description.

 
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