A parenting highway code
We live in a modern egalitarian country and, thus, it would be easier to assume that our children are all born equal and have equal chances at succeeding in their lives.
Undoubtedly, enormous resources have been invested in society to ensure that our children thrive and climb the social ladder. This has been by and large a successful project and, yet, despite this huge injection of capital, results show a constantly depressing proportion of children who persist in leaving school with limited skills or any tangible inclination of wanting to pursue further education.
Some would be quick to criticise the government for this and ask for more money to be thrown at the problem. I firmly believe that poor parenting and an ever-increasing consumer culture are eroding these children’s sense of values and failing to give them the right skills to lead a successful life.
We need a parenting revolution!
If you are privileged enough to peek into people’s lives you will quickly realise that raising healthy, well developed children who thrive at school and aspire to succeed has nothing to do with having money but plenty to do with successful parenting.
The theme is being discussed in the UK where it has been proposed that children as young as five should be incorporated into a project aimed at helping children learn parenting skills. Consider this example brilliantly highlighted in a British weekly arguing the advantages of successful parenting!
Two families living in a government housing estate, same environment and pretty much same family income. In one residence, the parents spend time with the children, teach them the values of time management and weekly budgeting, help with the homework and attend all school meetings. There is no extra money for luxuries but the children are always well groomed and dinner is always on time.
Next door, the TV and Playstation are always on, the children sleep late and arrive at school tired and irritable, possibly, with or without an acceptable school lunch. There is no structure in their lives as mum is always out and dad has to work part time to make ends meet. The parents show little if any interest in their children’s lives and happily assume that by buying the latest video game they are positively fulfilling the role of parents!
We need a parenting revolution!
Basic life skills cost nothing and should be handed down from parents to children. Parental attention and quality time have decreased in our families and it is time to accept that children thrive most when given this valuable attention and direction in their lives.
Admittedly, preparation for parenthood is sometimes insufficient and at times merely part of a basic module in marriage preparation courses. The overwhelming majority of parents usually replicate the methods employed during their childhood and apply these directly and hope for the best.
Sadly, in a number of cases this just isn’t enough and no amount of love and material possessions can make up for failing to introduce children to self control, discipline and a healthy attitude towards education and work.
Children are desperate to learn these life skills and, after all, maths is much more fun when applied to domestic weekly budgeting!
Our educational campaigns certainly have changed and we have moved from “eat your greens or else” to fun, colourful schemes to get your five-a-day!
These healthy eating campaigns were introduced in schools and have been a huge success and it is believed that such schemes can be applied to promote parenting skills and ensure that tomorrow’s parents are well equipped to balance their responsibilities and duties within a family unit.
Where successful parenting has been eroded, we find children unable to live up to their potential.
Our children are introduced to a wide variety of subjects at school but are seldom given vital information on topics that may well govern the choices they make in their adulthood. I have always found it disconcerting how we cram their little heads with so much information on such a variety of subjects and, yet, fail to introduce them to the fundamental rules that govern our society such as successful parenting, basic first aid and financial planning.
Usually, this is gleaned from personal or incidental experiences and, yet, could have an outstanding impact on the success of their lives.
During encounters with families on my electoral district, I have sadly observed a number of teenagers struggling to reconcile what structured education has provided with the realities of adulthood, further convincing me that the road map to our children’s success lies ultimately with structured and successful parenting.
A heightened and sometimes remorseless consumer culture has eroded the very essence of parenting and it is time to stand up and stop being selfish.
Our children need us and we must stop blaming the authorities for this lack of social mobility and assume our responsibility as parents and providers in this society.
It is time to revolutionise parenting. We owe it to our children.