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Want A Daddy like Will Smith! Should Punishment Be Eliminated From Parenting Completely?



A few weeks ago, actor, Will Smith and his son, Jaden had an interview with Metro US, New York. The talked about family, social media, their new movie together titled “After Earth” and PARENTING! Parenting is hard enough. Being a family of entertainers is no doubt particularly challenging. With parents constantly in the media and having to raise teenagers, we were quite intrigued by the responses Will Smith gave when asked about the issue of punishment for Jaden.

“We don’t do punishment. The way that we deal with our kids is, they are responsible for their lives. Our concept is, as young as possible, give them as much control over their lives as possible and the concept of punishment, our experience has been — it has a little too much of a negative quality. So when they do things — and you know, Jaden, he’s done things — you can do anything you want as long as you can explain to me why that was the right thing to do for your life.”

Anyone who grew up in an average, typical Nigerian family probably has horror stories of the kind of whooping Nigerian parents give their children. However, times are changing and parenting has taken a different angle. More and more people are inclined to adopting a new style of parenting. Where the parents of the 70s, 80s and 90s employed canes, (pankere), belts, and all forms of physically abusive punishment devices, the modern day parents have tried to replace these things with more psychological methods. So where you’d have been asked to “pick pin” or “do Angle 90”, you’d probably get a stern talking to or a withholding of your privileges.

Some have argued that modern day parenting is going to lead children astray or cause them to be more westernized. Others have argued that the physical abuse has a longer lasting effect on the mind of the child.

What do you guys think? Do you agree with Will Smith’s type of parenting or do you think that Nigerian/African parents should stick to the traditional “spare the rod and spoil the child” system. Should children be allowed to take control of their own lives? If so, what’s the ideal age to do this?

You probably wanna read a fancy bio? But first things first! Atoke published a book titled, +234 - An Awkward Guide to Being Nigerian. It's available on Amazon. ;)  Also available at Roving Heights bookstore. Okay, let's go on to the bio: With a Masters degree in Creative Writing from Swansea University, Atoke hopes to be known as more than just a retired foodie and a FitFam adherent. She can be reached for speechwriting, copywriting, letter writing, script writing, ghost writing  and book reviews by email – [email protected]. She tweets with the handle @atoke_ | Check out her Instagram page @atoke_ and visit her website for more information.


  1. Stella

    May 6, 2013 at 9:41 am

    spare the rod and spoil the child , the same time too much of everything is bad so little whooping won’t b bad for today kids..we r Africans n dats our culture

    • jonz

      May 6, 2013 at 10:02 am

      It’s the British that introduced that ‘culture’.

    • nate

      May 6, 2013 at 10:32 am

      and its killing them now.

    • Adedayo

      May 6, 2013 at 5:15 pm

      Every kid is different…you cant raise them the same way…
      Owo ti omo ba yo la ma fi gbe ( its the hand a baby stretches forth that you carry the child with)

    • Noni

      May 6, 2013 at 8:18 pm

      Honestly, I think physical punishment works as a deterrent mainly for little children. I’m 20 so I remember my punishments in my teenage years very well and quite frankly it did nothing. I’m not saying I acted out constantly but if I wanted to do something that I knew my dad would punish me for, I weighed the pros and cons and then did it anyway. Pain is only temporary and at some point children realise that. Taking away priviledges lasts longer and is more painful to a teenager.

  2. Alero

    May 6, 2013 at 9:57 am

    I don’t think children are matured enough to “run their lives” . Children are easily influenced by what they see (on television, daily activities and the internet) and hear. They still need the guidance of their older folks to ensure they are not led astray.

  3. Hi

    May 6, 2013 at 9:57 am

    You don’t see the jaden boy smoking, drinking and gallivanting about town at his young age. Maybe the lack of physical punishment from his parents to him work better for them. I could be wrong

  4. sexy mama

    May 6, 2013 at 10:00 am

    pls enough of all this bullshit talk of dats our culture, if you want to defend and say what is right say it and stop rubbing that’s our culture in our faces……the bible did not know culture when it said to discipline children…..its also not the white man,s culture not to discipline but unfortunately the quest for human rights have landed them where they are today…..train up a child in the way they should go (sensible punishment and explaining why inclusive) and they will not depart from it…..even if they depart like we know some children do, you would have done your part to the best of your ability….

  5. Someone

    May 6, 2013 at 10:05 am

    “you can do anything you want as long as you can explain to me why that was the right thing to do for your life”
    For me, the above quote is a very misleading concept. What will be the explanation if he steals or do something even worse. Children need to be talked to and a little whip is not bad. I use seat on the wall sometimes for my little boy and it is working for me.

    • Someone

      May 6, 2013 at 10:06 am

      *sit on the wall*

  6. Jiddah

    May 6, 2013 at 10:14 am

    Apparently not punishing their kids work for them, but not applicable to all children.

    If they do not want to beat their kids or punish them in anyway then fine. But parents need to find a balance. A little spanking, a little “face the wall’ , taking away toys, and even rewarding for good behaviour.

  7. Ewurafua

    May 6, 2013 at 10:30 am

    I don’t agree with the Smith’s approach to parenting, but Jaden and Willow are their kids, so they can do as they please. I just want to see these kids in their 20s, and I hope for their sake, this relaxed approach to parenting doesn’t bite them in the a$$. We have already seen what Hollywood does to child stars, and kids of famous and wealthy parents: Britney Spears, Lindsey Lohan, Michael Jackson, Olsen twins, Nicole Richie etc., and lately; Amanda Bynes.
    Willow has already been acting out – posting dark and twisted messages on social media sites, taking pictures in strip clubs, dyeing her hair a thousand colours etc.
    Kids need structure and discipline.

  8. mo

    May 6, 2013 at 10:30 am

    i agree with Alero. Kids definitely need guidance especially their parents who are supposed to know better. i have a daughter and i will definitely punish her (moderately) if i believe she deserves it. But most of all, i would explain my reasons for the punishment so she gets it. I think our parent’s generation did not see reasons to explain their actions in the past but seriously, not disciplining your child might do more harm than good.

  9. Mz Socially Awkward...

    May 6, 2013 at 10:39 am

    Will and Jada have got to be joking. Giving young children control over their lives, ke? “As long as you can explain why it is the right thing to do for your life”? Kini? What are you both parents for? I’m sorry but that sounds like complete BS.

    Anyway, they’re both rumored to have quite an “open” marriage so the open parenting shouldn’t shock me too much… I’m not going to delve into the whole to-smack-or-not-to-smack debate BUT … I will declare that children need punishment. Unless you gave birth to the baby Jesus, your child will do wrong time and again; they will need rebuking in equal measure. How do Will, Jada & other grown-ups in society know their own boundaries, if not for the laws which set punishments and prohibitions on certain behavior? Why don’t you, Mr Smith, speed past a red light at a traffic stop and then proceed to explain to the judge how you felt “it was the right action to take for your life”?

    This our modern world and its declining everything…. Mttchewwwwww

    • Partyrider

      May 6, 2013 at 11:11 am

      Lol @ baby Jesus..

    • Atoke

      May 6, 2013 at 11:48 am

      “Why don’t you, Mr Smith, speed past a red light at a traffic stop and then proceed to explain to the judge how you felt “it was the right action to take for your life”?”

      This was funny. Loll

    • jcsgrl

      May 6, 2013 at 1:37 pm

      Chai nne you have proceeded to slay me with your comments. I don die o!

    • Wow

      May 6, 2013 at 4:03 pm

      Couldn’t agree with you more. Children (even adults) need boundaries. And they need to know that there are repercussions for actions.

  10. coccus

    May 6, 2013 at 11:33 am

    I couldn’t have put it any better!

  11. pynk

    May 6, 2013 at 12:04 pm

    spanking doesnt always accomplish anything. My Nigerian father tried spanking till i was 5, and it was ineffective. However when they started seizing my allowance for bad behavior, i was open to dialogue and understanding why my actions were wrong or unacceptable, because they were obligated to dialogue with me.

  12. Just me

    May 6, 2013 at 12:05 pm

    Hmm..I don’t think i’d go for smith’s parenting style. Spare the rod, spoil the child.. but then some parents beat their kids worse than as much as i encourage corporal punishment..moderation is the key.. With one hand you use to flog the child, use the other hand to draw them to you and let them know why you punished them and that you love them still so the kids don’t get rebellious. Wisdom is the key.

  13. JADE

    May 6, 2013 at 12:29 pm

    spare the rod and spoil d child really applies, my sister and her husband never ever spanked their children,one day i was at home with her first daughter and her husband. i noticed he was looking for somethng and i called her to come so we’d help him look for it, she replied right in front of him “that when i look for my stuff he doesnt help me so why should i help him look for his” and she walked away. The man didnt say a word! disciplining your children is very very paramount. mine may not be flogged by me they will receive the occasional slaps, corporal punishments(kneeling, squatting, angle 90, flying to Mecca,push the car, sit on the wall, pick pin) and yes they will be rewarded for good behaviour. Discipline cannot be over stressed, as one that has almost 13 nieces and nephews, ive seen wat harm sparing the rod can do and no my children will not be useless 🙁

  14. buchi

    May 6, 2013 at 1:03 pm

    “you can do anything you want as long as you can explain to me why that was the right thing to do for your life”
    I tink most of us don’t understand this statement. Explaining why that was the best thing for your life is THE punishment.
    My father did that to us when we were in primary school, you would sit one-on-one with him and justify your report card. Why you came home with that position? Why a certain number of pupils did better than you? Why you didn’t do better than you did? What you think others did differently to pass? No joke! This would go on for as long as it takes you to give reasonable answers or justify your result. It was hellish! Nobody go tell you to read harder next time. Phew!

  15. chinn y

    May 6, 2013 at 1:16 pm

    i dont agree with Jaden and Smith, sparking a child or given a child some sort of punishment when they misbehave is very essential to bring up a child, but it shouldnt be all the time, sometimes parents should engage in talking with them. i remember when i was a teenager, i fought with my younger brother, but my mum punished me alone by putting pepper into my eyes and my V, I cried my heart out that day, but then it helped me to stop engaging in any fight with my brother, but my brother in question became a very spoilt child till date, joined some bad friends, talked to my parents anyhow he likes. but i on the other side, was well mannered that parents used me as an example to thier children as a well behaved kid. i still believe in some little punishment but not too much of it.

    • jcsgrl

      May 6, 2013 at 1:33 pm

      OMG putting pepper in your eyes and V. Jesus that is abuse! Parents actually do that?

    • I hate people that say "thank me later"

      May 6, 2013 at 3:35 pm

      Chineke!!!! pepper in a girl’s V to stop her from fighting a boy? shouldn’t it be the boy getting punished so he learns not to fight/beat girls up.Omo! (I can’t judge your parents sha)
      But my dear you didn’t turn out a good girl because of that punishment o, it was just probably ’cause they were generally strict with you. Please don’t do that to you kids…it’s abuse.

    • Just me

      May 6, 2013 at 5:50 pm

      aww..sweetheart, that wasn’t a punishment..that has child abuse written all over it..and the sad part is, you have accepted it.please don’t do it to your kids oo. There are better ways of punishing your child…biko nu

  16. d

    May 6, 2013 at 1:28 pm

    lol @ Jade which one is flying to Mecca and push the car punishment again, very funny. I feel you can discipline a child in different ways: beat sometimes, no gifts and outings, cutting down on allowances when the child is of age, serious discussion and advice on a wrong behaviour also helps. Most of all be unpredictable with your strategy they never know how daddy would react.

  17. jcsgrl

    May 6, 2013 at 1:31 pm

    “you can do anything you want as long as you can explain to me why that was the right thing to do for your life”
    So if I can convince you that f**king my sister is the right thing to do for my life then I can go ahead? Oyibo ppl sef! Its not their fault. When you have too much money, you become a philosopher and your ideologies begin to make sense to you. Children need boundaries. They need guidance. They need to be controlled until they can make decisions for themselves. However way you choose to give the boundaries and it works for your household is entirely up to you

  18. nene

    May 6, 2013 at 1:36 pm

    those children will give them trouble in future. they didn’t let them experience childhood. trust me, i miss my childhood, even when i was 13 and felt like i knew everything. now if only, i had acted and done things that normal 13 year olds did, i won’t have grown up too fast. there’s a lot of years to be an adult, but when your child is not up to 18 and you don’t teach them boundaries, or caution/spank/discipline them, and you let them “discover” themselves, there will be issues. look at kids in the UK, having sex at 12 and living on benefits, with no future ambition. anyway, will smith and jada are weird, but i love them.

  19. Ani

    May 6, 2013 at 1:37 pm

    My BIBLE says spare the rod and spoil the child. A lot of parents are loosing their kids nowadays because of the way they bring them up. GOD ALMIGHTY knows why HE said so. Oyibo style of parenting, not acceptable to me at all.

  20. Babycakes

    May 6, 2013 at 1:39 pm

    Before my dad passed, he was a psychiatrist and he dealt with each child individually. He figured I was sensitive to verbal reproach so all he had to tell me was “see her head” and I would cry and apologize for whatever I did. One of my sisters was a rebel though, she got whooped so hard before she got the message.
    My mum on the other hand was the Dame of Whoopassville, she didn’t care if it was effective or not. she for don beat you finish, then she would incorporate all other forms of discipline: insults, the stink eye, being grounded, withdrawn privileges and also explaining the reason behind your foolery( explaining was very hard though, cause whatever you say would be used against you in the court of law,haha). She ended up raising 6kids(ages 12 to 1) by herself and we all straight as an arrow…she must have done something right! In fact people sent their crazy kids to our house for summer boot camp!! my momsi na baddo,hehehehe.

    • Partyrider

      May 6, 2013 at 2:33 pm

      Lmao.. Shutout to your mum.. 😀

    • Partyrider

      May 6, 2013 at 2:34 pm

      Lmao.. Shoutout to your mum 😀

  21. SMH

    May 6, 2013 at 3:08 pm

    it is bad enough that some of these these kids are not modestly chastised in school. i have lived with two families. the first my family with my brothers and sisters then with my uncle with my cousins. when we were in primary school, the punishment for not doing your home work could either be kneeling down for some hours, picking pieces of paper in the school or you get whipped by your teachers. with these punishments, our excesses as kids were curtailed. My sisters will come back from school and would want to do their homework even before eating. Fast forward to Lagos, where people train their kids as if they are living with the queen, doing homework for my cousins is like a tug of war, you persuade them with different kinds of promises so that they can do their homework and guess what my aunty hardly beats them. I really don’t know where she learnt her style cos left to me she is raising kind but irresponsible children

  22. JADE

    May 6, 2013 at 3:52 pm

    lol @ D i was a boarder na so i know different styles of corporal punishment, in my family we are 10 and i am d last, popsi passed away when i was a yr old so i dont really know his parenting style but my mom? good lawd!!!! my mom is fat so when she wants to beat u, she calls u into her room, sits u down and then from nowhere shez bending ur ear n pushing ur head in between her thighs for a thorough beatdown so u dont escape or run. my mom made sure we all made it out of the slum (ajegunle) we were born in with quality education bt she neva let anyone escape the whooping which is why it amazes and saddens me the way my sister acts like the mere mention of a cane will paralyze her children,well to each his own. But no be me go born pikin wey go walk out me, that day ehn,hmmm u go see ur grandpapa papa 🙂

  23. beeess

    May 6, 2013 at 3:55 pm

    To each his own really, you need to figure out what works best for your kids. Sometimes, I find that flogging your child doesn’t necessarily stop the child from doing bad things, it just places the fear of God in the child which doesn’t last long before the child does something bad again. I believe that we need to communicate with our kids and have them understand why what they did was wrong and have them understand the consequences of partaking in such action.

    Growing up, mumc didn’t spare the rod oh, asin, I chopped beating. Not from only her sef, lesson teachers, school teachers the whole nine yard and what worked for me was beating me. It didn’t necessarily mean I wouldn’t do wrong again on, it just tamed the devil in me for a short period of time.


    May 6, 2013 at 4:20 pm

    spare the rod and spoil the child is what we are familiar with in this part of the world. while Yes we can take a leaf from your western approach, we cannot entirely adopt it. Atleast Going by the recent happenings in the US for instance, one would observe that system has become very sick, this approach has given rise to so much permissiveness. how can someone just enter into a school and begin to shoot and when asked- no cogent reason/answer

  25. Just me

    May 6, 2013 at 5:49 pm

    aww..sweetheart, that wasn’t a punishment..that has child abuse written all over it..and the sad part is, you have accepted it.please don’t do it to your kids oo. There are better ways of punishing your child…biko nu

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