Local comedian, Harith Iskander is a man who practically lives online. His official social media pages are regularly updated with slices of his life and features personal thoughts on everything from politics to race relations in the country.
Recently, however, his post about a certain punishment dished out towards his eldest son, Zander sparked mass consternation instead of the usual giggles you’d expect from him.
In a post on his Facebook, Harith chronicled how he wears the pants in the house when it comes to disciplining his kids. He says his wife (and manager), Dr Jezamine Lim, often scolds him for being too harsh, which makes what follows even more surprising.
Zander, who like many of us has had to take classes online owing to the pandemic, had exited a Maths class 10-minutes in, and refused to re-enter for reasons unexplained.
Citing her earlier complaints, he tells Jezamine: “Mummy, since you think I am ‘too harsh’, you handle this.”
“I thought at most he will kena marah sikit… but Jezamine was not playing around and sh!t hit the fan!”
The accompanying photos show Zander sitting on a park bench at dusk, looking equal parts dejected and bored. His mother had instructed him to “pack his belongings” and “get out” until he understood what he did wrong.
“He took a box(?) and packed it with his favourite shirts, a pair of shoes, and his bicycle. Not sure where he was planning to ride tengah malam though,” said Harith.
“I think next time we will ask to go back to Daddy’s discipline style.”
Though written in a light-hearted manner, the post actually sparked a cogent conversation about parenting in the 21st century. While a few commenters laughed along, the rest saw it as a dated example of heavy-handed parenting.
One commenter in particular, respectfully pointed out the need to call out such ‘toxic’, ‘tough love’ parenting styles.
“Not going to tell you both how to parent your kid, since, well it’s your kid, but that sounds pretty abusive,” the person wrote in a top-reacted comment, adding, “If I were your child I would hate you both so much because this would traumatise me.”
The comment went on to exclaim that since we adults expect polite conduct from our peers, why ought this consideration not be extended to that of the next generation.
Harith had actually commented a reply, stating plainly, “I beg to differ with you.”
“If you believe that sending your child out of the home for a ‘time out’ is abusive then that’s your perogative (sic). By the wahine (sic), in my books (sic), this is no where near the ‘tough love’ Asian parenting that I (and my wife) experienced growing up.”
Despite this explanation, many proceeding commenters continue to take Harith and Jezamine to task over their less than diplomatic response.
“I wouldn’t have liked my father sharing this on social media. Some things are better kept to yourself. I get that you’re approaching this with humour, but I’m not sure your son has the same POV. He will grow up one day and this will (still) be on the internet. Forever. Bullies will have a field day in school.”
As a person who was raised by parents from different circumstances and upbringings, I can see the merits in both sides of the coin.
However, in this hyper-connected generation, perhaps truly, some things are best left offline.