Why do we need to go back to the old ways?
We’ve all seen and heard kids running amok in shops and cafes whilst their parents stand by either oblivious or rolling their eyes and shrugging their shoulders, not really knowing what to do to stop them.
Many of us have read about teachers tearing their hair out with disruptive pupils who aren’t used to being told off, or who’ve been up half the night playing computer games because they choose their own bedtimes.
We’ve witnessed kids whose idea of table manners involves not actually eating at a table, or even had young (but old enough to know better) house guests who think it’s acceptable to eat spaghetti bolognese in fistfuls at the age of seven (yes a real example).
There are the children we’ve probably all encountered with playrooms so overflowing with toys that when you hand them their carefully-chosen birthday present, they toss it aside and add it to the neglected pile.
Or those who can’t possibly entertain themselves for five seconds without a gadget of some sort in hand because they never, ever have time without a class or activity of some sort, be it Kumon or karate.
Too many of today’s children are behaving like the world revolves around them and them alone – the pendulum has swung too far in favour of kids ruling the roost.
In the old days the parents were in charge, often now it’s not even a joint venture – the children are running the show.
What this column is about is bringing back old-fashioned, common sense parenting but in a way that recognises times have changed.
This is not about being a scary old dragon who shouts and smacks and locks naughty children in cupboards, or returning to the days of youngsters having absolutely no say and being expected to be pretty much invisible. It’s certainly not about having no fun or warmth.
But it is about instilling some old-fashioned values and being unafraid to say no – even if you feel guilty as you were out working all day or the kids are saying that ‘everyone else at school is allowed to do that’.
It’s about teaching children to consider others. It’s about thinking long term and helping prepare them to function as happy adults in a world where, frankly, their future employers, friends and partners will probably not be pandering to their every need.
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