Be happy you’re not a parent in England.
News reports claim that the government is planning to pass laws to punish “emotional abuse” of children. It will be interesting to see how broadly that is defined. Will a parent be arrested for not appeasing a screaming child, who has been refuse an armful of candy on display at a grocery store check-out? Children are masters of manipulating parents with screaming tantrums, when they do not get their way. This is often (always?) misinterpreted by the busy-body faction, which is large in England. I can imagine long-suffering parents being fingered by malicious neighbors and “concerned” citizens.
There is too much room for overreach by government in an area where teaching discipline can be seen as abuse. Children need to mind their parents and governments need to mind their own business, which is rife with abuse.
When I was a child, the ultimate punishment was to be sent to my room and not be allowed to play outdoors. An intermediate stage was being restricted to the yard, being able to watch friends roam free in the neighborhood and beyond. The worst I recall was two weeks “incarceration”; the crime, I think, was falling into the swamp and coming home soaked, but only when it became dark.
That form of punishment would not have worked with my children, because each preferred to be in his or her room. The worst for them would have been to send them outdoors to play. We couldn’t have grown up under more different circumstances. I never saw a tree I did not want to climb; my children never climbed a tree.
I couldn’t live without nature; nature was something my children might notice, if glancing out a window. Dirt and water, in the form of streams, ponds, puddles, or swamps, were my preferred elements. Of course, my mother needed to wash a bunch of clothes, but I did not care. Soiled clothes was a badge of honor in my neighborhood.
Tonight, we were at dinner at “the best Thai restaurant in Dubai”, supposedly having won this title for the past five years. The ambiance was wonderful, the food was excellent, and the service what one expects in Asia. Because we had chosen the early seating, because of having a child in the party, we were surrounded by tables with children. Every child had an electronic device, which keep them occupied, but also prevented interaction with grown-ups. The child with had one, which kept him from fussing and let us talk. One must take the good with the bad.
I recall having to entertain children at restaurants, before the advent of electronic diversions. We used books, colored pencils, and toys. We spoke to them and explained things, no matter how little they understood or how little sense we made. We kept them occupied and taught them discipline. Now, parents must achieve the same result, while competing with apps...
Having helped to torture--so to speak--an infant, I would not want to torture an adult or be present when others did the deed.
Unfortunately, children occasionally need blood tests. Even more unfortunately, extracting blood for such test is not easy. One learns how strong children are and how intense the survival instinct is, when they must be restrained to take extract blood. Even a two-year old requires four adults to pin him down, all of which must ignore the screams of a suffering child. And, the doctor has a difficult time finding a vein, all of which are tiny. Worse still, if one can’t be tapped in the arm, the next choice is the forehead. You can imagine the screams and struggle...
This is a classic case of "it doesn't help unless it hurts".
Because his mother is sick, I spent the day with a two-year old. I got the call for help at 6:30, because the father had to go to work. He cannot afford to miss a day toiling to destroy the economy. Work always comes before child care, as shown in such films as Kramer vs. Kramer or One Fine Day.
I did not expect, at this late stage in life, to spend so watch time watching the Disney Channel. I grew up with The Wonderful World of Disney, which aired only Sunday evenings on one of the three television channels. Now, there are several Disney channels on the 24-hour cable networks. I also spent time with a computer watching YouTube videos of bulldozers, tractors, and trucks. And, playing, drawing, and “reading”, which gave some hope that the child will not be addicted to television…
One can never be too young to acquire an appreciation for books. Reading is not required, because color and feel provide enough stimuli. And, who knows, the kid might be reading in his own language. We're too dumb to understand...
I could not find a New Yorker in South Beach, so I bought an Atlantic. I needed something to read that could handle sun lotion, sand, and sweat (I have too much respect for books).
There was an article about parenting, which was very interesting. Now, I understand why my children are often unhappy. It’s my fault; I was not tough enough. All parents should read the article and determine how they did (if you believe psychologists!) I also understand why I have observed so many unruly children on this (and other trips to the US) vacation, acting as if they are the center of the universe. There were also plenty adults of that ilk in the current hotel (more later).
In speaking with a friend today, I had a thought: each generation "ruins" the next one. No one means to, but life changes and one has little control over outside influences. Each parent tries the best he or she can, usually based upon one's own childhood experiences and acquired knowledge.
My friend took his daughter, a soccer enthusiast, to a live international match. At one point, his daughter exclaimed: "This is just like 3-D." Astounded, he replied, "But, it's real."
Children today relate everything they experience to the electronic/virtual world in which they dwell. Will the next generation even know what real life is?
I do not recall receiving any advice about marriage from my parents. The only advice about raising children that I can recall my mother imparting was the suggestion to read only Dr. Spock. With the introduction of the Internet and blogging, my children can never make such a claim (unless they don’t read about my acquired wisdom...which is likely). This is not a definitive list, rather all I can think about at the moment.
Do not marry before 25. I have noticed that most people do not settle into their true personality until around that age. Marrying at an earlier can work, but people must be tolerant of change...or the two partners are really boring.
Live together for a few years to make sure it will work (no guarantee). The desire to have children is the only cogent reason for marrying...or maybe tax benefits.
Make sure that you are friends. This is more important than being lovers. The former is more difficult than the latter. Over time, one should increase, while the other fades.
Agree on three things: religion, politics, and child-raising.
Bad news does not get better with age, so share information.
Some dishonesty is necessary, especially when dealing with female weight, hair, looks, and fashion choices.
Disloyalty is unforgiveable...and completely unnecessary if you followed the above advice. One does not cheat on friends.
Be consistent with children. Do not let a child (clever little beasts that they can be) play one parent off against the other. Children always shop around for the answer they want to hear (But, mommy/daddy said it’s okay...).
Dr. Spock still works...
And finally, I can confirm that the following cliche is true: a woman marry a man and thinks that she can change him, but is disappointed when he doesn't; a man marries a woman and is surprised when she changes.
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.