Parenting 101

1 06 2010

Some people shouldn’t have kids.

I see them all over the place. They treat their children like their own second chance at getting it right and subsequently make the kids lives a living hell.

I don’t have kids. I’m sure there are people out there who will say that means I shouldn’t have an opinion. Well, sorry, I have an opinion. Part of it comes from the fact that I was a kid. I had a great childhood and I would love for all children to experience that. The other part of it is that I don’t believe that giving birth makes you a great parent. It only gives you the option to try. So, as I said, I have an opinion, deal with it.

The good, …

My opinion is this. I think that good parents can and should raise good children, raise them to be good children, good people and good parents. I think kids should have fun. I think they should learn all they can. I think they should learn to be responsible. I think that knowing you’re safe leads to wanting to help others feel that way.

The bad, …

I think bad parents often try to relive their childhood through their children. I think they try to control in the mistaken belief that they are teaching. I think they ‘need’ to have well behaved children to show to the neighbours and friends as a mark of their own success. I think that they don’t tolerate children infringing on their lifestyle. I think they are not really listening to or seeing their children.

The ugly!

I know there are people in this world who hurt children. They have no business being parents. The hurt and damage is done in myriad ways and these people know they are doing wrong because they go to great lengths to conceal this. These people aren’t just bad parents. I call them “The ugly!”  The ugly ones can’t be fixed. One would hope the bad ones are tractable, repairable.

I can’t give examples of bad parents or ugly parents, I don’t have a lawyer on retainer. But I have a little story about good parents that I feel I should share. These people told me this story thinking it was funny. I thought it was great. A wonderful example of how things can really work.

The very good!

Here’s the tale:

Bob and Jean (names have been changed), had two little boys. The oldest one, Gary, was about five, the younger was three and a half. The elder brother had been socializing with older neighbour children and had come home worrying about a monster that an older child had told him of.

That night, his imagination convinced him that the monster was in his room. Finally, unable to stand the fear, he went to his parents in the living room. He told them of the monster, assuring them it was in his room. “Gary wasn’t afraid of anything, but he was just shaking at the thought of this monster.” Jean said.

Bob asked “What does it look like?” Jean asked “Where is it hiding?” both questions were unanswerable, Gary didn’t know, but insisted that the monster was in there. A brief powwow and Bob and Jean had a plan.

Jean took Gary by the hand and led him down the hall, giving Bob plenty of room to work. Steeling himself, Bob entered Gary’s room, slamming the door behind him. A great battle ensued. Things were turned over, the bed clothes messed up, toys and clothing strewn around and much shouting and pounding and hitting went on. After several long, rather scarey minutes passed, a silence followed. Not a complete silence, there were small skittering noises like something trying to crawl away was being held onto.

Bob called to Jean for a garbage bag. Jean went to the door with the bag. Handing it to Bob she quickly shut the door again. After a little more quiet struggle, the bedroom door opened and out walked Bob, full garbage bag in hand. Something was moving around in the bag, struggling weakly. “I’m off to the dump.” announced Bob and walked out of the house. The car started and drove away. After about fifteen minutes Bob returned and pronounced the room safe. With relief in his heart and sleep in his future, Gary returned to the scene of the battle, climbed into bed and nodded off. No one spoke of the monster or called it by name (it actually had a name) for many years. When Gary was nearly twenty, Bob and Jean asked him what he remembered about the monster. “What monster?” Was Gary’s reply. It seems the quick and total eradication of the monster was not just from the room, but from Gary’s mind as well.

And what was in that bag? “A  lot of hot air and a stuffed toy or something like that.” said Bob. “We couldn’t make him believe that the monster wasn’t there. So we let him believe it was. And then we took care of it.”

Pure genius, I say. Some people should give lessons.  Others should sign up for them.

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