For days now, I have been closely following a news story about a missing 7-year old boy in Japan. Apparently, his parents forced him to get out of the car in the middle of the forest and they then drove off. When the father returned a few minutes later, he was no longer there.
This has sparked debates about the extent of discipline that children should be subjected to. The authorities are also considering charging the parents for neglect.
Here’s my two-cents on this issue. The boy was missing for almost a week. The forest where his parents left him was filled with bears. He is young so he probably didn’t have any survival skills that could’ve helped him survive in the wild. And this is not a Disney movie so he wouldn’t suddenly turn into Mowgli and be adopted by bears and panthers and wolves.
As a parent, I know that the anguish of not knowing whether your child is still alive can slowly eat you up inside. The anguish of knowing that your son probably hasn’t eaten a morsel since the last meal you gave him can fill you up with so much guilt. The agony of knowing that your son is probably sleeping under the stars, exposed to the elements and to insects and wild animals, can be harrowing.
Knowing that you willingly subjected your child to all that agony is punishment enough.
I also wouldn’t be surprised if the boy abandons his parents in the woods once they get old. Not that I wish this to be their fate because no one deserves it. But we all know that karma works both ways. And this kind of emotional and mental trauma can stay with you forever, regardless of all the expensive therapy sessions you engage in. So, yeah, I wish Mr and Mrs Tanooka all the luck in the world.
And to my fellow parents, please, be kind to your children.