We are at a stage where parents to a large extent are being held accountable for their children’s behaviour at schools and the community. Sometimes blame is shifted to teachers. Many take the view that the guidelines and principles that children are exposed to at home influence their behaviours both at home and outside of their family setting. Some would say that irrespective of the great efforts of parents and guardians to raise men and women, who will positively impact society, in so many instances there are disappointments about the path their children have taken.
So where exactly are things going wrong- a question frequently asked- a question that has no clear-cut response – a question to which we must find some answers if we are to preserve the moral values that make us decent human beings.
I strongly believe that one of the biggest problems is lack of respect for those in authority. We must remember that children from a very young age exercise defiance; it is a trait that is inherent. Interestingly, one of the first words uttered by our toddlers is, ‘No’. Fair enough, sometimes we find this rather cute, we laugh and we often utter, ‘This child has a strong will’. However, while having a strong will is good, it is important that this strong will is not something we allow to override parental instructions and guidance.
It goes without saying, that the first line of authority the child encounters is that of the parents. Parents nurturing of moral values is a god given responsibility and must begin at home. If this line of authority gives in, or falls apart then it becomes so much more difficult to address problems resulting from defiance and disrespect in the home, let alone the school and wider society.
Let me give you a simple example. Waiting for my connecting flight in the departure lounge at Euston USA, the reasonably quiet atmosphere was interrupted by the echoing shouts of a mother, who was instructing a young child to stop running around the waiting area. The child seemed to be just about five to six years old. She simply paid no attention to her mother and within a short time; they both became the focus of attention. There was a very embarrassing show of defiance which the mother seemed unable to handle. The child only gave in, when she was offered a packet of crisps. This followed a bribery of hugs and kisses. Some might probably think that was just an insignificant example, but I chose to use this experience because it is the simple things we let slip that cumulate to have serious repercussions at a later stage.
But it is so important that one establishes rules and sets limits when bringing up children. They must also be clear of the consequences of overriding structure and breaking rules. Having done so, one must be careful not to compromise those rules to accommodate the mood of the child, for it is this same response they are likely to expect from their teachers, members of society and the legal system.