Thursday, 17 May 2012

Faith, trust and... Parenting

Often in Fairytales, the main character is treated badly. Take Cinderella for example: kept as a slave for her wicked stepmother and two sisters. Constantly made to feel worthless and called horrible names. Despite this, Cinderella is an amazing woman. She's kind to animals, nice to other people and she takes everything in her stride. It could be said that by being treated this way it made her a better person.

But is this true in reality?

Whilst walking to the shops a few weeks ago, I was walking near a young boy and his Dad. The young boy was proclaiming loudly that he didn't want spaghetti for dinner whilst his Dad ignored him. In a bid to get his Dads attention, the young boy pulled at his Dads sleeve.
I think I can safely say that every parent has been yanked on when they haven't given their child the immediate attention they desire.
However, I have never known a parent to turn around and shout "Do that again and I'll fuck you up!" at their child as this Dad did to his son.
I was suitably shocked by the outburst, especially when it could have been dealt with by just giving the boy an answer.
Now as much as I try not to, it's hard not to assume that this boy is spoken to like that on a regular basis. Every parent loses their temper and yells, but to do so like he did, with such venom, it makes you sad. I felt so sorry for the poor boy, being threatened by his own Dad for making such a small proclamation.

On a separate occasion I have witnessed a Mum slap her young son round the face and call him a 'twat'. Her son was only about three, he was still in a pushchair and she slapped him with such force he instantly burst into tears. Once again, he was only trying to get his Mums attention.

This made me wonder: how much does the way we treat our children impact on the person they grow up to be? If we believe in the Fairytales we all grow up with, then we could probably assume these children would grow up to be kind and caring people. But is this the case?
So often now it is said that children mirror their parents. If we shout, threaten and mock our children, then surely they will grow up to do the same?

I have a confession that I'm slightly embarrassed about. Princesses favourite new word is 'bitch'. I'm ashamed to say she has probably learnt this from me. As much as I try and curb my language around her (which is a hard job when your vocabulary is on par with a sailor) sometimes the odd word slips out. Bitch being one of them. I often recoil in horror as she starts to shout it loud and clear in public places but I know she means it innocently. I mean come on, she's 19months old, she hardly knows what it means.
However, if she were to have picked this word up because I had been constantly directing it towards her, then she would probably start directing it towards others.

Every parent makes mistakes and none of us are perfect. At some point or other we have all lost our tempers and said something we regretted later, but to constantly direct that sort of attitude to your child can only have a negative impact.

If a child is constantly told they are useless they will begin to believe it. If a child is called a twat they will probably begin to call other children believing that it's acceptable.
It's hard to believe that by treating children in such a manner that will leave them feeling bad about themselves that they will grow up to become a better person because of it.

What happens when that child has been belittled so much that they can't believe their parents love them? When another child in nursery or school calls them the same names, just because they've heard the word before and think its funny?

As much as I would like to think that children don't need all of the love and attention in the world to become good people, it's starting to become apparent to me that they do.
It's okay to lose your temper with your child, if they pick up a naughty word, whether it's from you or another kid on the playground. It's okay to ignore your child's demands sometimes to try and stop them becoming spoilt.

But it's not okay to call your child names. It's not okay to threaten your child when they annoy you. And it's most definitely not okay to hit your child with such force that everyone around you wants to hit you back even harder just so you can be humiliated too.

We have to remember that children are innocent. They're like sponges, soaking up the world and every piece of information we offer them. It's important to tell your child you love them regularly so that when they go to sleep at night, they can smile to themselves rather than cry.

I might be making such a far generalisation that none of that made sense. But we as adults have to remember that Fairytales don't exist. Our children won't grow up to be kind Prince and Princesses who talk to animals. Who will take every insult and punch in their stride. It's our responsibility as parents to tuck them into bed at night, tell them they are special and beautiful, and to pick them up when they fall.

Not be the ones who put them there.


Mummy Zen said...

Hearing parents like those you mentioned really makes me feel a bit sick. There is just no excuse for resorting to such harsh and inappropriate language. I admit, I do sometimes snap at my son and I hate myself for it immediately afterwards but I would never call him names or anything like that! You're absolutely right that they learn from us and as parents we have the responsibility to set good examples as much as we can.

Misty Bird said...

Thanks for commenting! It really does make you sad doesn't it. As much as I try not to judge other parents, I can't help but think some just don't deserve to have children if that's how they treat them.
Sadly though I doubt any of it will change