(The Nationalist, 27 September 2002)
Why are parents afraid of their children? I don’t mean afraid for their children, but afraid of them. I see parents trying to buy their children’s affection with money and presents. I see parents talking about treating their children as equals, or wanting their children to see them as friends, rather than as parents. I see parents trying to ingratiate themselves with their children by acting hip and cool. I see parents who are afraid to correct their children, to check misconduct, to give an instruction that they mean. They say they are afraid that if they do, they will break whatever links they have to their child.
I feel like saying, ‘Catch yourself on and grow up!’ Such behaviour in parents is foolish to the point of being embarrassing.
Please, parents, be what you are, be what you are meant to be – parents, that is, educators of your children. Do the job of training your children for life. Take responsibility. Take charge. Your children need you. They need your time, your attention, and your correction. They want leadership from you. Don’t betray them by running away from the hard challenge.
We live in an age of capitulation, of flight from responsibility. Parents shouldn’t be part of that trend, but instead fight against it.
Why do parents say they didn’t know where their children were, when the Guards call to the door to say their son or daughter has been in trouble. Why haven’t they made it their business to know?
Why do parents give their children money, if they know from past experience that it will be spent on drink or drugs?
Why do we see a steady lowering of the age at which children start experimenting with drink, drugs and sex?
One of the basic differences between a child and an adult is that a child is not expected to be responsible for his/her behaviour, but an adult is. A parent who opts out of the responsibility of parenting is behaving like a child. Children are not being helped to grow to maturity by parents who opt out in this way. Children need boundaries; they need parents who will tell them the difference between right and wrong, and who themselves adhere to the standards they set for their children.
Children need parents, and parenting.