Thursday


Challenges of modern day parenting


Saleh Al Shaibany

We all like our children to behave like angels. We know that is impossible and that is perhaps why they get away with almost murder. While most children have the same temperament, not all parents have the same attitude.

I am not just talking about smacking children or disciplining them but how parents behave at home. In a bad home, children pick up all the nastiness that happens between mum and dad. They apply them outside because they have no other bearing. You would normally smack your own child when they trample on people's feet in a crowded place. However, when somebody else's kid pokes you in the ribs or splashes tomato sauce on you, it takes more than self-control not to react. But really, you should react on the parents and not on an innocent child. If a child's home is a jungle then the outside world is as good as a war zone where they can practice what they learn.

You would argue that parents are not angels either. You would also say that one could never time when an argument would erupt between you and your spouse. It just happens. That's alright. But if the rows are deeply sandwiched between smiles then you could prove to a child that parents are only humans.

We all come across situations when children hang out precariously from windows of fast moving cars. Parents of such children would think nothing of it. The tragedy is that youngsters like that grow up in a one dimensional environment and they would normally struggle at school and beyond.

I heard one mother defending her unruly child by saying, 'he is only a child once.' Or another parent justifying a wild youngster, 'he did not mean it.' In the next moment, these children would repeat their disruptiveness and you would think their parents would run out of excuses. Some couples, who had been severely punished at home by their own parents, understandably would not want to do it to their children. So they let them run wild. One teacher complained: 'How would you teach a child some discipline when no seeds of good behaviour were sown at home?' Here in the Gulf, our social securities are not well defined. Perhaps our governments should seriously start to consider introducing rules that would punish parents who fail their children.

In Oman, the government banned teachers from caning or even smacking children. This was after parents lodged endless complaints about the method of punishment some schools employ. No argument there but we are equally concerned when a child is allowed to do whatever he wants without proper discipline. To many, not laying a finger on an unruly child is baffling and this is where the whole child-parent relationship gets complicated. If you are blessed with an obedient child who accepts a chocolate as a bribe for good conduct, then you may think you are lucky.

They now demand an iPad which they quickly get bored with. Then they want something more expensive next week. So it is very tempting to let them blow the roof and pretend you don't see them. It is easy to dismiss people with disruptive children as bad parents. Well behaved children don't always grow up to become good citizens, though. I guess good parenthood is more than a nurtured talent. It is about your background and the way it has affected you. It is also whether your marriage sails in rough or calm waters. It takes two to tango and an audience to watch. Your children may not join in the music but they would dance in the same rhythm years later.

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how true.....parents are the first n most important influence on their child.... followed by the childs teachers....