Saturday, March 6, 2010

Parental Advisory

A little while back, my father told me about something he witnessed while at a basketball game with my little brother (who was playing). There was another boy on my brother’s team who reportedly wasn’t playing hard enough defense or not passing or whatever. His mother, who was sitting in the stands watching, called that out to him. She told him to push harder, and in response, the boy gave his mother the middle finger. Neither the mother or father (who was also there) did anything about this. I, on the other hand, would shortly afterwards be on trial for assault and battery against a minor*, but this article at the Huffington Post says I would be wrong.

The article by Ellen Galinsky, about preventing aggression in children and refraining from responding to aggression with aggression, says that you have to show physical affection (hugs and pats on the head and s&%t), have to be vested in whatever your child is trying to do with themselves, reward them for their achievements.

I think any realistic person will say that raising a child has to be a mixture of love and discipline, serving the child but at the same time mentally and emotionally strengthening them to stand on their own, or to be civil and respectful people rather. Being warm and sympathetic and hippie to your child 24/7 fails to teach that child any kind of respect for anything, since their will is unhindered by any kind of discipline for destroying things or taking them or corrupting them in some sort of way or fashion. But also, you can’t completely invade your children’s will and thought. You must teach them to be able to assess decisions for themselves.

You shielding your children, keeping them ignorant and in fear of losing your love if they don’t follow your rules seems to me like a display of your own fear. Perhaps, for some parents, it’s easier to keep their children in the world of things they know themselves. They have not fully inspected or have come to understand the world, and so, are not fully aware of what will or will not hurt their child. But perhaps your child can teach you things; can come to understand things about the world that you would not perceive from your viewpoint.

I watched an episode of a reality show called “The World’s Strictest Parents”, where two kids, a constant martini-drinking and cigarette smoking girl and a cursing, disrespectful gay teenage boy from England flew to the American Deep South to live with two extremely conservative Christian parents. After the first hour or so that the Brits came into the house, there was sharp tension. The Christian father, who was strict on inspecting every piece of media, from songs on their children’s iPod’s to the T.V. shows they watched to the detail of every turn and stop their children made when out driving the car, went through the British boy’s bag and looked all through the pictures of his camera. Of course, the boy voiced his rebellious opinion about this, and all the father would say is that in their house they have strict rules about what content is there and what isn’t (the mother said that if she listened to a song on her children’s iPod during “inspection” and heard just one word she didn’t like, she would delete the song).

I’m not a parent nor a child psychologist or professional, but I am always a proponent of the belief that good ideas about subject come from brainstorming as well as the hands-on approach. And in some situations, a solution to a problem becomes obvious to both sides. The two teenagers were reckless brats and the parents would’ve been great Nazis during World War II. The personalities don’t have to crash together like this, because that seems to be about conflict. And I think to prevent this, there has to be understanding and civility between the parent and child. The child should respect the authority of the household, but the child should also have an opinion in things.

*I joke, but I’m trying to say that there would have been some severe disciplining for that.