Immigrant parents too violent? Culture gap in Quebec…

Posted on janvier 1, 2012


On December 7th La Presse touched on a touchy issue; the way immigrant parents discipline their children.
For years, I have been hearing immigrants saying that parents in Quebec are overly indulgent with their children. On the hand, some Quebeckers seem to think that immigrants are tyrannical with their progeny. Who’s right, Quebeckers or immigrants?

Striking cultural shock

I’m not ashamed to say that as a kid, I received slaps when I misbehaved. Most immigrants in my entourage recall with humor and nostalgia how their parents would give them similar treatment. Like the Moroccan humorist Gad Elmaleh likes to put it « the thing that has always struck me about by father was its hands ». Growing up, I have come to appreciate the fact that my parents disciplined me when it was necessary because today I have good manners and I’m not egocentric.

Are all immigrants as reasonable with their children? To answer this question, it would be good to determine first what makes a discipline reasonable or excessive. The answer depends on the culture of the parents.

We have to know that in some cultures, people consider that slapping someone with a slipper or locking a kid in his room is less humiliating than slapping a kid with hands.
Cécile Rousseau, child psychiatrist specializing in ethnocultural approach

Abusive parents, children’s false testimony

Families who immigrate to a new country are inevitably subjected to « a lot of stress, new values and discrimination ». Confronted with Quebec values, it seems that some young immigrants start to question the way their parents have always disciplined them. What seemed acceptable in their home country may not be well seen here. Thus, a lot of immigrants take undue advantage of this culture gap to report maltreatment.

On the other hand, it goes without saying that some parents do not pull their punches when they discipline their kids. And that’s where the Québec society is obviously right. Children that are getting beaten up must be protected. Even if some immigrants give their culture as a pretext, we have to understand that beating a child until he bleeds is considered to be a crime no matter what country the family is from. As the saying goes, « long way, long lies ».

But how do we know when the children are lying or when the parents are really using excessive discipline?