Sunday, 7 February 2010

The Feather Duster Fury

Now available in different colours

To most people a feather duster is no more than just a household cleaning tool, but for us growing up in a Chinese family mentioning the feather duster will always bring back some very 'painful' memories. Usually the ones that are used consist of a thin bamboo stick, about two feet long which half it is covered with long feathers. Chinese parents have cleverly (or cruelly) discovered more than one use for it; whilst the feathered part is for sweeping dusts, the handle is often used to lash out at their naughty kids, or just taking it out on their kids after losing their gambling bets (just kidding). The funny thing is you'll never see them do any dusting with it. It's more like a secret weapon disguise as a fluffy cleaning tool, usually tucked away and out of reach from their children. The feather duster is commonly used by Chinese parents for punishing their kids, of course there are other tools as well like a slipper, coat hanger, bamboo sticks, light saber....etc. But the feather duster will always be symbolic to us and you could say it's like a tradition passed on from one generation to another.

It's questionable whether this type of corporal punishment is actually effective or required in order to bring order within the family. Inflicting pain on children is the most straight forward and old school way to deter children from doing wrongs, or basically behaving like little brats. Most certainly what we've learned out it BLOODY HURTS! Usually our parents will give us a warning like a count to10 and if we continued to disobey, the feather duster will be unleashed onto us, we can run but it's impossible to hide. The more you pissed the parents off the harder you get hit - The art of feather duster beating.

On a darker note the use of excessive force can have adverse effect and could even leave them mentally scarred for life. Parents can sometimes go overboard and become abusive. I could imagine if people from outside our family and community have known about this, the NSPCC will come knocking on the door and our parents will be arrested for child abuse, and the kids will probably be sent to foster homes. Though that doesn't mean our parents were evil or sadistic, they're did it all for our own good and in the end they still love us, or so they claim.

All of my cousins, Chinese friends, as well as myself who've grown up with the feather duster punishment, all seemed to have grown up just fine (well maybe except a few of them, me?) However I have known people who haven't had much corporal punishment through their childhood and still grown up to be good, and vice versa. Either the parents have sophisticated methods in teaching their children or maybe their children are just genetically superior. Personally I'm not against corporal punishment nor a fan of it, I think it's required as a last resort just as long it doesn't do any severe damage to the child (physically and mentally). But surely there must be better and less painful way to discipline your children.

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