Since the untimely passing of the recording artist Amy Winehouse, and then the London riots, I have thought a lot about parenting. As a parent myself, I can’t stop wondering whether parents can really save their children from a life of self-destruct.
Regardless of what the social services in the UK and other industrialised countries say, I don’t agree that children belong to the state. Surely parents should be responsible for molding their children into the decent and law-abiding citizens they want them to become. Now let’s be clear about it, parenting is certainly no bed of roses. And those who delegate their parenting responsibilities to the state or to the streets, for that matter, will have a very hefty price to pay further down the line.
Oftentimes, parents of well-behaved children, and those who aren’t even parents, are quick off the mark to criticize parents of seemingly ungovernable children. While some parents are simply detached, reckless or even irresponsible, others may have genuine difficulties with parenting. But how does this blame culture help parents who really do need help in this area?
But there’s more to it. A bit of luck also comes into the equation. It is not uncommon for some parents to have done all the right things to raise their children, but yet, self-destruction eventually strikes. I am sure we all remember a certain American, female, six-time Grammy award-winning singer, who, despite her religious upbringing and squeaky clean image in the 1980’s and early 1990’s, was later plagued with drug abuse allegations.
Suicide bombers also fall into this category. More often than not, those who blow themselves up in the name of martyrdom were not raised that way by their parents. Even at a local community level, I am sure many of us know of parents to whom fate has dealt a hard hand in this way.
So how do we address this? Personally, I don’t believe that there is a prescriptive holy grail parenting formula which guarantees that children will turn out right . Of course it would be nice if there was. Additionally, I don’t believe that children from wealthy nations are less likely to self-destruct. According to a 2007 UNICEF child well-being study, the UK was the worse place in the industrialised world, to raise a child. The world’s richest country, the U.S., was the second worse place to raise a child.
I do, however, believe that there are things we can do, as parents, to tip the scales in our favour and then hope for the best. Things like spending more time with our children, listening to them, setting ground rules at home, and instilling in them, at an early age, a sense of pride, duty and responsibility.
“Life affords no greater responsibility, no greater privilege, than the raising of the next generation.” – C. Everett Koop
Happy parenting !!!!!!