I had this preconceived view that there is something as bad parenting and good parenting. I would not take away this view, but I have definitely learnt that sometimes even with what we can call best parenting, things don’t always turn out so rosy when it comes to children.
I have worked with children for quite some time now, and I have even designed and delivered parenting classes for a charity. There is not one particular right way to bring up a child, yes; consistency makes a difference but it doesn’t work for all.
With my two children, the way i deal with each of them when it comes to any issue is quite different. They are 2 different individuals with different needs and need to be tackle differently even when facing similar situations. And, they would be called ‘normal’ children by most if not all (if we can really define what’s normal). Unfortunately, not every child is labelled as normal. In my line of work, I come across different pupils showing different forms of behaviour, which would sometime be called ‘challenging’. All the children that I work with have been expelled from schools for reasons that could scare even an adult in many a situation, but then you get to know those children and realise that they are much more than the files you’ve read, and they are not the monsters described on them.
As adults, we tend to look for what we see as ‘normal’ and when this ‘normality’ is not present; we easily dismiss it as challenging/unacceptable behaviour without getting to the root of the problem. The other day, I was in a supermarket and a 7 year old was having a tantrum and people were looking at the parents like it’s their faults, and some even gave passing comments about bringing up children. I am not surprised by the reactions of the people around; after all we have been accustomed to what society has agreed on being normal. A woman even went up to the mum and said can’t you calm your kid down; it’s no age for him to act like that! Were they wrong to judge someone they don’t know? Were they wrong to judge someone’s parenting skills, would they have done any better in that situation? Honestly, I haven’t got the answer, but what I could see was the Mum being hurt by those comments. I think most parents bring up their children with the best of intentions and sometimes we may choose the wrong way to go about it but most parents want to see their children succeed and have a comfortable and happy lifestyle. I don’t know if there was anything wrong with the boy, but I thought it wasn’t my job to tell mum how to deal with her child, whom she knows best. But, it did make me think about a particular parent of a child I work with. This parent had been in similar situations a number of times, and eventually decided that she will shut herself to protect her child and people in society. This parent, who I would describe as an excellent parent, she loves her child as any parent would, she cares for him as any parent would and more importantly she even disciplines her child when he acts out and rewards him for the good he does. But, talking to her made me realised she has lost her own life in the process. She hasn’t had a social life for years, if she needed to go out on her own, she felt too embarrassed to ask people to look after her son; or she had been turned down so many times, that she knows there’s no point in even asking someone to babysit for her. It’s quite a sad state of affairs.
I remember reading an article a while back, with a similar situation to the supermarket scene, and a lot of people including parents were commenting to say if your kids don’t behave, don’t bring them with you or we don’t have to deal with your rotten egg etc. So, i wonder if those same people happen to have a ‘rotten egg’ would they stay at home all the time? What would they do if they were unable to find a babysitter? People are quick to judge (including myself) without understanding the ins and outs. I can never put myself in this mother’s shoes cos Alhamdulillah I do not have a child who suffers from a learning/mental disability. I do not know if i could have done any better than her, or was it that I morel ikely would have been worst?
I work with a lot of children who actually would be called SENs and a lot of those learning disabilities cause them to act different to the norm and as a result of our misunderstanding, it builds up a frustration in them;whereby they see themselves as inferior to ‘normal’ children. Once we are able to accept them with their differences and allow them to cope with their disabilities the best way they can, then they turn out in many cases to be the most well-behaved and polite children, of course with the help of good parenting. Some parents do the best they can, but it’s not only up to them to create successful stories for their children but also about society accepting that we are all different and need to accept our differences and accommodate for it. So well done to all those Mums out there who sometimes think they have given up on their life for their children’s sake.Even if people around you do not recognise the selfless sacrifices you make on daily basis, you are worth much more in your children's eyes. It is easy to judge when standing from the castle, but had you been down in the mud, only God knows how you would have coped.