This April, provided we are lucky enough to get tickets, we shall take the children to see Lord Of The Flies in Regents Park. A wonderful, if disturbing story of the powerful force that is peer-pressure. Ever since we decided to get the tickets I’ve been observing little things about my children, like their arguments over trivial things, the way they interact with other people, the way they try to control their anger, their overwhelming flares of compassion and sensitivity. All the emotions that push them from the comfortable seat of childhood and send them hurtling into the unknown arena of adulthood. We, as parents, set the guiding walls to steer them the right way and without us, without those guides, it would be so easy for their emotions to take control and then we end up with a situation like that in Lord of the Flies.
A while ago there was a reality TV programme where a group of children were sent to live, by themselves, in two houses. One house was for the male children, the other for the females but they had to avail themselves of the goods supplied, share them as it were, and organise themselves. The intention was, I presume, to see the difference in the way the two sexes achieved their goal – to keep house. But in reality it was more a case of how quickly children give into their weaknesses.
The situation was awful. Giving children the responsibility of doing their own washing, cooking a meal or household chores builds their independence and gives them confidence, but only when it is done under supervised conditions. I believe the programme was cancelled after numerous complaints that it was a form of child abuse. So it was as some of those children did not want to be there after the first night. What had at first appeared to be a wonderful escape – days without parental control, to be able to do what they wanted when they wanted – had quickly turned into a form of torture.
Children need direction. From a reliable source. Direction from a drill sergeant would either emasculate the boys or turn them into raving monsters. As for the girls – I suppose the same applies. However, direction from a sweet never-say-boo weepy person would be merely reinforce their belief in their own power and we would end up either with a group of children who hadn’t learnt anything because they were too scared to try or cannibals who would ravage anything and everything.
This is why it is so important to have the right guidance and adults, every adult, has a duty to reinforce the lessons that children are taught by their parents, uncles, aunts, grandparents and teachers. When I walk around the larger towns and I see children behaving badly there are few or no adults willing to scold them. If children are allowed to misbehave then they will turn into teenagers that will misbehave.
You’re right, I agree. We do live in a world where it is dangerous to challenge the behaviour of the younger generation but then again it is a self-perpetuating fear: as the children become aware of our wariness their aggression increases which scares us more…
I don’t know if there is an answer but, working in a school, I can tell you that it is harder and harder to control children as the rules governing their care become stricter. In the end it is the teachers who are over-regulated and too scared of putting a foot wrong, and the children who are given greater freedoms usually supported by a parent who never took the time or trouble to provide the firm guidance needed from the start.
Okay, I admit it, it was a bit of a crap day and this is just my little rant. Tomorrow will be bright and wonderful again.
…and why do I press the wrong button when it says I have spelling errors?