the right to parent?
0 comment Sunday, July 6, 2014 |
Naturally, in the aftermath of the recent disturbances which saw school children on BMX bikes shut down cities, terrorise the MET and make the Government recall parliament, there is much talk of why parents were letting their children go out and do this.
I wanted to just comment on this article from Amelia Gentleman in the Guardian entitled 'Being liberal is fine, but we need to be given back the right to parent'.
Throughout this article runs the common myth that there are only two ways of parenting; authoritarian and liberal. Implicit is the idea that authoritarian parenting is out of fashion, but keeps kids on the right track, whereas liberal parenting is nicer for the kids but means they go off the rails. 'parents have become afraid to discipline their own children,' a youth worker is quoted as saying, the suggestion being that children have gone feral because their parents have been too easy on them.
Actually there are lots of types of parenting and authoritarian and liberal parenting are just opposite ends of one particular spectrum, both of them actually damaging to children. Instead of either of those then, how about good parenting instead?
Yes, good parenting. Not parenting where the child is controlled through fear and humiliation. Not parenting where the child is given no boundaries nor rules and so cannot ever learn to function in society. Good parenting, where the child is given plenty of positive attention every day, natural consequences to their actions, encouragement to make good choices, and good discipline to learn right from wrong.
I don't get why any parent would be 'afraid to discipline' their children unless of course you equate discipline with physical punishment and shouting. A mother interviewed in Gentleman's article says, 'People here will call Social Services if they hear you disciplining your children.'
I find it hard to get my head around that.
Discipline in my house is making a child sit and watch you do an hour's worth of ironing instead of being allowed on the DS, because they deliberately scrumpled up the newly ironed clothes in their drawer. Discipline is making a child practice being quiet in their room instead of being allowed to watch TV because they woke the whole household up at 6am. Discipline is confiscating toys and games that are not being looked after properly, until the child has actively demonstrated that they can take care of their things.
Would Social Services be interested in any of that? I am pretty confidant that they would not.
And yet all that is discipline. It's not smacking and shouting. It is me taking the time and effort to try and teach my children that actions have consequences, for them and the people around them.
And it does take a lot of time and effort. I cannot tell you how many times I have wished that smacking and shouting really helped a child, because it would be so easy to do. So quick and simple and also so gloriously discharging of my own rage.
But I know it doesn't help. I know because I have read the books, I understand the science, I've attended the courses. And I know because my adopted children were smacked and shouted at by their birth parents and That's a big part of the reason they're so screwed up. It still turns my stomach when my kids flinch when I make an unexpected move near them.
I'm hearing on the news that a lot of the kids caught up in these riots are now turning up at Court alone, no parent with them. That's your problem right there. Not that these teenagers have parents who go easy on them. But that they have parents who don't give a shit.