A parent is a parent, from beginning to end, and was never intended to be the child’s friend
Social and Political Commentator
When my generation was growing up, parents and, by extension, the community at large, kept a very tight rein on us. They did not wait on the big things to happen; instead they tried to manage the small things, so that big things did not get the opportunity to occur.
When a child brings home an F for a final grade, he or she has been bringing home failing grades for the entire term, but you just did not react until the big thing, the failing grade, could not be ignored. If we want to strengthen our community, it begins with strengthening our expectations for our children. Our children are not our friends, and believe me, they do not need us to be their friends.
An old woman, who I greatly respected, once told me that if my children liked me, I wasn’t doing my job. So, each and every time you see your child acting in a less than respectful manner, you have to step up and say that is not acceptable. You cannot afford to wait until you get the call that says they have disrespected a teacher or the principal. It is the two to three cents behavior you have to intervene in, before it becomes a nickel.
From very early, I instilled in my children the responsibility to earn whatever they wanted in life, and gradually as they grew, I introduced a system, where, within acceptable reason(s), whatever they wanted was contingent on what they were willing to do. The reason this is important is, because independence is a state of mind.
When my parents demanded that I earn anything I wanted as a child, they instilled in me the principle that if I wanted something, I needed to find a way to earn it. If we do not teach our children the meaning of self-reliance, by our daily expectations of them, then I believe we are taking the first steps in making them dependent adults.
As a child, I would regularly hear my uncle telling my cousins, “When you get your house, you can make your rules.” Everything about my youth was directed towards the purpose of teaching me, and all other youths in our family, that you get what you earn in life.
Today in so many homes, children are not tasked with any real responsibilities. Parents, or parent, give them the latest iPhone, the most expensive clothes, pay for whatever activities they request to be a part of, and demand almost nothing, directly, in return. For some of us, it is giving our children a better life than we had.
Sad, but nevertheless true, for some of us it is living the youth we did not have, through our children. And it may be that some of us, even though called parent(s), just do not understand how important it is to instill in our youth, from early on, that they get what they earn in life. All those gifts serve as the small steps we make, and take, towards losing our children.
Let us reason for a moment: If our youth spend their developmental years in our homes with no responsibility, and with us parents acting as in-house ATM machines, then where will they learn values, like working for and earning what they want? If all that is required to get what they want, is to ask or tell and wait for us, as parents, to give it to them, then pray tell, how will they know how to get it for themselves, once they leave our homes?
I know that it is hard to say no to our children, and I know that sometimes it is easier to just do something than to fuss at the children to have it done. However, it is not just, or primarily about, saving a dollar, or getting something done around the house. It is primarily about teaching them that most basic lesson in life — that either you learn young, or never learn.
As parents you either keep your children in step or you lose them, by steps.
Aleuta—The struggle continues.
Yvonne Sam, a retired Head Nurse and Secondary School Teacher, is Vice-president of the Guyana Cultural Association of Montreal. A regular columnist for over two decades with the Montreal Community Contact, her insightful and incursive articles on topics ranging from politics, human rights and immigration, to education and parenting have also appeared in the Huffington Post, Montreal Gazette, XPressbogg and Guyanese OnLine. She is also the recipient of the Governor General of Canada Caring Canadian Citizen Award.