“How beautiful.” the Pope added. “He knows the sense of dignity! He has to punish them but does it justly and moves on.”‘
One issue is this advocacy for slapping, but a deeper issue is looking at parenting from the needs of a Father – the Father has the right to do what he has to do, the Father has the right to have control over what needs chastising, the Father has the right to deem what his subordinates will find humiliating. Where does the right of the child come into it? At what point to we allow the child to be a person? How can we expect a child to learn from behaviours? How can we expect a child to become an independent thinker? These things are obviously not important to the pope, the child is not important to the pope. What is important to the pope is ensuring that a father holds control over his family, thus ensuring the disempowerment of the child. A child is naturally vulnerable, but through respectful interactions any child can become an empowered being capable of giving respect. However, this causes fear to some people, and indeed there are people who serve to benefit from increasing the vulnerability of children. It is not surprising that the pope is an advocate for actions to increase a fathers control over his children thus increasing the vulnerability of that child.
To further support how uninformed the pope is, ‘a representative of the Vatican press office said the Pope wasn’t speaking about committing violence, but about helping children to grow and mature’. Psychologists around the world have spent at least 8 years of training each learning about and researching what does lead to the maturation and growth of a child – there is no psychological evidence to support the popes claims. Claims that are based on opinion and certainly not on expertise. The pope should leave the parenting advice to those who are trained expertly in this field. I know very little about the pope, theology is not my field of expertise. It saddens me deeply that the opinion of one man in a field that is not his area of expertise can get such coverage globally. Why can’t experts in the field of psychology get this coverage for what is truly effective in fostering growth and maturation in a child? Perhaps psychologists should start giving expert advice in relation to theology – or everyone should just stick to their respective areas of expertise.