By Marion Brownlie


This topic is very age related. Your views will depend on whether you are viewing the subject from the point of view of an older parent, young parent, grandparent, or not a parent. I can only speak from my own point of view and what you consider important will also depend on your own value system as well as ethnicity, nationality, religion and social status. If it is the ability to survive in a city with no job or income the most important thing may be that they learn the skill of being a pick pocket. Survival becomes a foremost need as opposed to cleanliness, good manners, respect etc.

Many of my generation thought respect and good manners to be high on the list. We would have been horrified if our child had pushed in front of an older lady or remain seated when she had to stand.  How many times have you nearly been knocked down or pushed past by some ignorant child without a by-your-leave? All I can say is “all too often”.

As a generality the younger generation have become so overindulged that it is, me first, me second and right now with “thank you” being a forgotten word. To cap it of the children are extremely opinionated and have not learnt to listen.  They talk over you and seem to think they can interrupt any conversation even if they have nothing important to say.  They believe they know more that you and are the kings and queens of their world and adults their slaves.

By the same token what I would consider the most important thing to teach my kids now is very different than what I though back when my children were young. I also have learnt from life and adjusted my values accordingly.  When my children were growing up they addressed people they knew as Mr and Mrs, auntie and uncle and so on. If you smiled and said hallo to a child they would say hallo back. Children have been so conditioned to stranger danger that you can think yourself very privileged if you get a child to look you in the eye and say hallo in return. It is a sad day when children learn to view all people with the same dark glasses.  It would greatly enhance a child’s well-being when they become adult if they had learnt to trust their own gut instincts about people.

Once upon a time if an adult gave a child a dressing down for their behaviour they knew they had to be quite and take it. There was no answering back or a verbal recital of their “rights”.  If adults saw a misbehaving child they would not hesitate to let the child know they need to behave.

Even parents are too scared of disciplining any child encase they are reported to child welfare by some do-gooder and have the child taken of them because they are mistreating it. This also leaves parents in a sticky situation as they the child soon learns they can get away with bad behaviour in public.

Today’s children could well do with a good dose of self-respect. If they learnt to respect themselves then this would rub off to respecting others.   It is well documented that children who know their boundaries and have to adhere to them are much happier children. They don’t spend their time continually testing them thereaby saving the child and parents hours of arguments and grief.  Nobody ends up happy in this all too common situation.

The hovercraft parent does not teach a child personal responsibility. Someone is constantly there deciding what can and can’t be done thus a child does not learn to calculate real risk.  Experience is a wonderful teacher.  Hover crafters try too hard. They don’t know when enough is enough and ironically, it often backfires. The child becomes a teenager and discovers drugs, sex and alcohol and thinks everyone else does why shouldn’t I?

Who ever heard of participation certificates? Everyone gets one even if they sit on their backside and do nothing. This habit of equalising everyone does not encourage a child to give their best and the child builds a sense of entitlement. They lose the pride and the gratification they could have gained from striving to achieve off their own backs. No wonder these children are still living at home in their 20’s.  Learning to deal with failure is part of life. You cannot always be first. You won’t always win. Life happens, you can’t shielding a kid forever as sooner or later life will bite them on the rear.

I feel what we can well do to teach children is let them learn from experience to develop resources from experience, that no means no and that you are the adult and they are a child.

If you bend over backwards for your children,
you will eventually lose your balance. – John Rosemond