Thursday 2 April 2009

Thought Picnic: Parental Responsibility

The child of something

We really should latch on to the reality that the way children turn out cannot be entirely divorced from the upbringing offered by the parents, if those parents have had opportunity and purpose to rear that child.

In this Thought Picnic, allow me the levity of the simplistic analysis of parent-child relationships without the encumbrance of complex family units suffering all sorts of social pressures.

Many of us owe a great debt of gratitude to parents who have without training or instruction taken on that responsibility of parenting by offering support and encouragement whilst having the good sense not to offer supine excuses for wrongs and instilling the kind of discipline to make us worthwhile members of our communities.

Parental responsibility

Unfortunately, there are other parents who in allowing freedoms for their children to explore and learn have lost restraining authority by ingratiating their little angels regardless of how bad the behaviour of their ward becomes.

The child grows into thinking the world owes them nothing having been schooled in the concepts of boundless excess, unsupervised exploration, untrammelled desire and reckless behaviour without sanction.

At one time, one would think once the child has been allowed to stray into the realms of the unviable the parents would accept a modicum of culpability in how the child has turned out and if there can be no penance for their failings they would not defend the indefensible by breaking the law.

Now, one can understand that if the child has gotten into deep trouble the parent for their failings might offer some support, maybe to redeem their relationship with the wayward child – it should not be at any cost.

A crime so vile

In August 2007, a boy of 11 walking back home from a football match got shot in his neighbourhood – there was outrage and grief from the society in general that suddenly felt it had been robbed of an innocence, safety and sense of community.

Meanwhile, in that same community, the families of the perpetrators of that heinous crime clammed up and manufactured alibis and stories to exculpate and absolve their wards from guilt and blame.

It was the sterling work of the police that finally nabbed the teenage killer and his accomplice who with the help of their parents destroyed essential evidence that might have left murderers roaming the community with impunity.

Parental responsibility rewarded

The murderer and his accomplice were found guilty and jailed, but the arm of justice is not shortened as yesterday the mother of the killer and the parents of the accomplice were jailed for their part in protecting their little angels.

In what is the extreme of bad parenting and the parental absolution of their children for all they have done regardless of how bad and horrible, the children have now dragged their parents down with them giving life to the concept that a child might not necessarily be too different from its parent.

God forbid the thought but whilst a parent might not necessarily be overtly criminal, if the child turns out criminal, where the parents have had good involvement in bringing up the child – is the child the brood of criminals?

I ponder from my vantage point of not having been a parent and not planning on being one, I am however thankful for my parents, I do strive to make them proud rather than drag them down into ignominy, all because for all that they knew, they encouraged when necessary and restrained where appropriate.

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