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Published:August 19th, 2009 12:23 EST
Training Children: Do It Now

Training Children: Do It Now

By Ignatius Fernandez

Disillusioned parents bemoan children who are disobedient, bad-behaved and difficult to manage. They label the children as a `problem`. They should have stopped at `difficult to manage`. By labelling children as `problems`, these parents have incurred the wrath of some Child Psychologists, who spring to the defense of the children. In the vocabulary of these experts, there is no such thing as a `problem` child; there are only problem parents. Now, that is a sledge hammer blow on parents who are known for their untiring love. Yet, parents may be persuaded to reflect and admit, in humility, that part of the blame rests with them.

Why are some parents seen as a problem? Because they do not bestow on the training of children the focussed and informed attention, they ought to give it. For example, take their careers. Since they will not compromise their careers, their families get compromised. Long hours at the work place, work brought home, endless phone calls and now, the twitter. The children are left to the care of grandparents, maids, baby sitters or fancy day-care centres.

Some parents have their pet passions of partying, catching up with friends or indulging in their favourite pastimes. Again, the family is compromised. Not that all activities outside the home are forbidden. It is the excessive indulgence in them , that distract parents from their core responsibility.

Guilt-ridden, they try to overcompensate their children with expensive gifts and
concessions. Some of these concessions make children believe that less-than-good behaviour will be condoned at home. Parents wrongly think that such `gestures of love` will win for them the affection of their children. Instead, what they get is lip service from children who learn to manipulate them. To make things worse, such overindulged children drive a wedge between the parents, who try to outdo each other in showering favours on them, in a vain attempt to be regarded as the `favourite` parent.

They gain brownie points, but the rift between them widens. Parents who make such compromises hurt themselves and their children. These hurts take a long time to heal. Some, don`t heal at all. In time, these parents lose control over themselves and the family, and agonize over the misfortunes that have befallen them.