PARENTING TODAY: Ending physical punishment tops columnist’s 2019 wish list

It’s nearly 2019 and time to think ahead to the new year.

In 1954 the United Nations established Nov. 20 as National Child Day each year, a day to honour, celebrate and protect our children.

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But it is all but ignored. Why is that? Is it because kids don’t vote? It should be an important touchstone when we determine how life should be for our children.

Here is my top wish list for our children in 2019 and beyond.

Physical punishment of children is antediluvian and unnecessary. Our children need to be protected, nurtured, raised and cared for by responsible and loving adults who would never dream of hurting them.

Years of research prove that physical punishment of children carries risk factors such as child aggression, poorer mental health and impaired parent-child relationship. And the risks often carry on into adulthood.

The Criminal Code of Canada has a section which permits the legal assault of our children. Let’s repeal that section and join the 54 other countries around the world who prohibit physical punishment of their children. For more information go to

Food is a basic necessity and one that too many children in our country are missing. It is an outrage that some of our kids, who live in a country that is one of the wealthiest in the world, go without food.

School-based meal programs need to be a priority for all parent committees in all schools, particularly the affluent ones. Should we not feed all the children before we fundraise for computers or soccer sweaters?

My dream is that in this land of abundance all our children have enough to eat but also that food banks be a need of the past. What can we do to ensure that all our kids go to bed and arrive at school with full bellies? I don’t know that answer, but I certainly have it as one of my dreams and wishes for our kids.

All our children need to be free from sexual abuse. We need to raise our kids to understand that all people in our communities no matter their gender, sexual orientation or age deserve to be free of any form of sexual abuse.

It is up to us to teach our children to treat everyone with respect and dignity. And, of course, besides teaching our children this important and basic lesson we need to model it.

We need to have to treat our kids with respect and to have them see us treat each other in the same way. After all, our kids learn how to behave by imitating the primary adults in their life.

Allow kids to have time to play. Unplanned, unstructured play. I would like to see more playgrounds which focus on limited risk. There is a difference between a hazard which needs to be avoided and a risk which teaches kids how to assess their abilities and plan accordingly.

Children constantly learn from free play. They problem-solve, they become creative, they work with other kids to develop the games and they simply have fun.

Teens need to be recognized as young people with different needs from their younger counterparts. But that doesn’t mean they don’t need parenting. They need limits, rules and parental expectations.They need to be welcomed in our communities, not shunned. A group of teens is simply a group of people and we need to look on them and smile, just as we would if they were preschoolers or older folk.

Parents in the workplace should be honoured for the work they are doing in raising the next generation of adults. They should be supported and recognized for both their paid employment and the parenting work they do.

Take time to be with our children. They are fun, interesting and stimulating. Let’s enjoy them.

Kathy Lynn is the author of Vive la Différence, Who’s In Charge Anyway? and But Nobody Told Me I’d Ever Have to Leave Home. If you want to read more, sign up for her informational newsletter at



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