IN-TOUCH PARENTING

3 October 2014 11:05 am
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By Shanthi Wijesinghe Associate ECE/ACPsy, Adv. Dip - Mont.Ed, Remedial Instructor - SpL LVEP

Mother and child in conversation about school

Print mother: how come you are not going to school today ? child: aiyo amma...school is boring. The teachers are boring and lessons are boring. I learn so much at home. mother: like what ? child: ummm...like....it’s good to tell lies... mother: what ? Who told you that? child: no one...I see you do it all the time amma...

In a world that’s blink changing and on the look out for easy solutions the meaning of LIFE becomes hazy to those who truly care. We must change. In fact, our very existence demands us to think differently and access a change of attitudes fitting with a modern and exciting world.

Therefore bear with me and read to the end. That’s part of a change in attitudes. Too often we skim through vital information jumping to conclusions barely getting to the desired result. Let’s start at the beginning. The beginning of a new life born yesterday. Just 24 hours in this world, and still warm from his mother’s amniotic sac we name and label this being. He is weighed, tested and pronounced healthy by a medical person. It’s a routine check for the professional. At home we give it everything it wants, desires and demands. The demands must be met – at any cost, or so we think. Into his second month in the world he finds that LIFE is a game. It feels good. It invites him to play. He loves the feeling of the enveloping energy. Every time he yawns, squints, whinnies and belches he gets an audience. It’s a cute game for sure. It’s an endless game passing through infancy, toddler hood, the preschool and primary years, adolescence, youth, adulthood and finally old age. The infant has come full cycle. He becomes intolerable to those around him. He still has unlimited demands. The initial multitudes who gathered around his crib have passed on to the world beyond leaving him utterly helpless with a dysfunctional behaviour. Those who saw him as ‘cute, funny and sweet’ are now avoiding him like the plague. His family endures him due to dutiful love. His children, grandchildren and relatives are starting on a round of the blame game. An alarming and dangerous trend in parenting has been emerging for some time. The humongous responsibility of child rearing and upbringing falls on the shoulders of aging grandparents, ill informed domestic workers and the wider circle of social networking ‘friends’ and relatives who drop by online with advice on the do’s and don’ts of parenting. Advice is good whether localized or international. However, it depends on who is dishing it out. An information site can provide general input. Sri Lankans do not need westernized parenting tips.Our cultures are different although we may speak the same language. For instance we want our children to have a childhood. A pleasant childhood with out the frills and frivolities. These very same people cannot help you in case of a mishap. They will vanish into thin air.They steer clear of taking responsibility when the rocks hit parents. Would you then blame social media or a network of friends and family? Society will not hold back when your child is a miscreant. Love is all encompassing. It is a feeling of great emotional value. Thriving and delivering on love alone is not going to bring a child full circle in good behavior and discipline if he is to be introduced into society. He needs to blend in. He needs to understand and recognize the needs of others. He needs to be an independent thinker while being part of the family. When a child is given everything it desires, it is NOT love. It is convenience and misinformation of the lowest kind. Accepting every word your child utters and following his demands is crucial to his non development of behaviour and conduct. These mannerisms follow him throughout life. At the end of the day when those who showered foolish love Parents are afraid of their children on him has passed on, he will be left to tackle the deficiencies of his mental state. At this point he can turn either abusive, a dependent, irresponsible and somewhat detached from society that can be quite cruel and indifferent. Contemplation of self-mutilation and suicide is within the reach of that delusional mind. They are afraid of ‘upsetting’ them. They are afraid of being judged when they are out in public. They are afraid that their child would get into a mood at the wrong time if they happen to pull him up. They are afraid of being blamed. On the other side of the coin are parents who refuse to see that their child is in the wrong and needs correction. Denial is a terrible mistake that can never be erased. How old are these children? Not more than 10 years old. As a parent if you are afraid of your 10 year old CHILD there is serious trouble ahead. Parents need guidance. Not a ‘guru’ who says we have to accede to our children’s demands at any cost. That is not parenting – that is showing us educators that you are gullible. Do not get caught in the trap of easy-parenting. There’s nothing easy about parenting. It’s more serious than your PhD. You are physically responsible for turning out a solid citizen for Sri Lanka. Children misbehave. Sunday Mass is a good example. Christ did say: Suffer little children to come unto me but He didn’t(I’m pretty certain) say : let them run riot in my Father’s House.(!) As children, we were taught to attend church in an orderly manner. We were prepared mentally and physically. We didn’t have an array of dresses to choose from and even if we did kick up a row at the last minute about the choice of dress we knew we would have to explain about the outburst later on. There were rules to be observed in a House of Prayer. We didn’t run around screaming and playing hide and seek while the priest delivered the homily. Kids fidget. We did too. We learned to handle ourselves. We learned to be patient although it was an annoying thing to put up with. People attend a place of worship not to be rudely ousted or their hair pulled by a 5 year old. Children were toilet trained from a young age. We didn’t use the church floor as a toilet. If accidents happened, the parent took responsibility of cleaning up without looking at the puddle mysteriously as if the elderly gentleman sitting close by had made it!!! When we visited any other House of Worship we gave it the same respect and regard. Parents must prepare their children to face the world outside with these small but important strides. They cannot ignore bad behaviour. You are not attacking the child. You are attacking the behaviour. Therefore learn to attack a behaviour. Children will be excused as long as they are children. As adults, it is not cute and funny anymore. Who has authority over your child? School? Teachers? Yes, to a certain extent. However, teachers are not in a position to correct children anymore for fear of being stripped of their dignity. Gone are the days when parents sided with a teacher.Now, we find that teachers have given up their role as protector, confidante and second parent because they are harassed by parents if and when they do. Harassed? Yes. When money is thrown by wolves it is grabbed by weak teachers. Children are shown that it buys power and insane attitudes; ethics fly out the window. Parental attitudes have changed. Children witness this. They are being made to understand that power is trading values and being excused for poor conduct. There are some of us who stand against the strain. We are never over-powered although there should be more of us. Digest this example from about a hundred similar cases : A child of 13 demands that he is allowed to attend a party where it is rumoured there’s bound to be liquor and harmful substances. His parents argue and plead every case in the book but the boy is adamant. They finally cave in fearing that the boy would harm himself. Incoherent and reeking of liquor the child ends up at his home at 2 in the morning. He is only 13 for goodness sake!
  • Is it actual suffering when your children take a bus to school?
  • Is it suffering when their favourite breakfast food is over and you forgot to replace it?
  • Is it suffering when your child has to bear the teacher’s admonishment when he hasn’t done his homework due to his own negligence?
This is not an isolated case. These children go to schools in Colombo. Their parents work hard at getting a comfortable life for them. They little realize that children need to exert themselves like their parents and their grandparents did before them. “We went through a hard life and we don’t want our children to suffer” is heard constantly. If you are a responsible parent ask this question every time your child throws the dish of guilt-water on you. The behavior is typical of the age. Children react strongly when they cannot get what they want. It is the duty of the parent to stay calm and not over-react to his puppy dog appeals or theatrical expressions. In the face of such behaviours, the parent must lay down terms and conditions in low tones and controlled vocabulary. Even a die-hard 13 year old understands authority. The parent is acting as a parent and not as a hapless terrorized creature. The parent is not afield marshal – he is simply taking responsibility for his child’s future.

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