Marriage and parenting are an immense responsibility that always go hand-in-hand. The best gift parents can give their children is a happy marriage between themselves.
Pocket money cannot, movies cannot, the internet cannot and poor quality schooling cannot ‘corrupt’ any child’s values and behavior as much as poor quality and insufficient parenting can. Parenting is not about breathing down your child’s neck and dictating what’s right and what’s wrong. It is about having qualitative, continuous conversations on what your experiences have been. It is about letting the child discover her or his own way of living and reminding the child that you are there and will be there __ no matter what.
Often times, given the stressed lives that most parents lead, there’s no communication (or it is inadequate) between parents and child. ‘Did you eat?’, ‘Have you done your homework?’, ‘Why are you late?’, ‘Get off facebook, will you?’ are not the conversations that add up to quality communication between parent and child. ‘How are you feeling?’, ‘What about your homework is bugging?, ‘Why are you so uninterested in making your room or doing the dishes?, ‘What was your learning from the movie?’, ‘What’s do you feel about the girls or boys in your class?’, ‘Are you attracted to any of them?’ __ these are good questions that give you an opportunity as a parent to engage with your child’s development. To share. To allow her or him to seek clarifications, to venture an opinion.
Also, if you actually pause and reflect, there are no difficult or scandalous conversations ever with children. Kids see an ad for condom or a sanitary napkin on TV and obviously want to know what it is. Changing the channel immediately is only going to provoke their curiosity. And, in today’s Google era, they are going to find what it is all about__one way or the other. Whether you like it or not. You may instead want to stay with the channel and use it to ‘educate’ your child on sex, safe sex and personal hygiene__all of which are important biological aspects of evolution in any case.
Similarly, when a child performs poorly in a subject it does not mean she or he is a loser. It only means the child is not interested in that subject. And perhaps is interested in something else. So, when a teacher sends a report home saying the child is lagging in studies, the conversation with the child must involve these possible questions: ‘Doing what else would give you joy?’, ‘What about this subject is incomprehensible?’ ‘What about the teacher don’t you like?’ and such.
Money makes people responsible. Not irresponsible. We too have made wrong choices and decisions involving money and learnt from them. If you believe money can ‘corrupt’ your child, I am sorry, that’s a poor view you hold of your own creation. And let’s not try to pontificate if schools can be any better. Let’s review how can our houses can become homes.
Parenting is a twosome responsibility. In the event that you are having a bad marriage, be open about it. Don’t fight. Disagree. Share with your children the reasons for your disagreement and tell them individually how your relationship with them (the kids) does not change despite your relationship with each other changing. Parenting is a great opportunity to build the next generation of global citizens. That’s why it is a responsibility that must be ‘owned’ and ‘shared’ by both parents. Being a parent is being a good gardener or farmer. You always will reap what you sow.