Friday, November 17, 2006

Re-post: "Parents need to learn how to say No" - Oct 05

From Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Now where did I put that soapbox? Oh, here it is :-)
From my newspaper yesterday:

"Parents need to learn how to say No to their children if they are to be brought up properly, a leading private school headteacher warned yesterday. Mike Beale, chairman of the Incorporated Association of Preparatory Schools, said that parents should not give in so easily to their youngsters' demands just for an easy life. Instead, they need to take a stand and put children in their place - even if it risks making them unpopular in the home. This would make the life of teachers much easier as they would be more firmly backed by families in their drive to maintain good discipline, he said."

"The headmaster of Craigclowan Preparatory School in Perth, which has 320 pupils aged three to 13 and charges £6,720 a year, said: 'Heads are too often at the centre of trying to educate parents that it is ok to say no to their children. It is essential to draw lines for those children, beyond which they are not permitted to go. It is not essential that families are democracies. My heart still sinks when mum or dad say to me that they have made a decision, they don't really like it, but Maggie Rose really wants this or that or the other and they are afraid not to agree. Sometimes I'm afraid the reasoning has to be that parents, like heads, have to say no sometimes because they know best.'

"In May Mr Blair attacked parents for failing to bring up their children properly as he outlined a crackdown on yobs. He said there were deep-seated reasons for rowdy and disrespectful behaviour. These were to do with 'family life in the way that parents regard their responsibility to their children, in the way that some kids grow up generation to generation without proper parenting, without a proper sense of discipline within the family.' He added: 'I cannot solve all these problems. I can start a debate on this and I can legislate. What I cannot do is raise someone's children for them.' The Government launched a task force on discipline in May after Ofsted's annual report revealed spiralling misbehaviour in the country's schools. The panel, which will make its recommendations this month, is expected to demand greater parental accountability."

Well. *Rolling up sleeves*. Where do I start? ;-)

Oh, I'll make it quick, it's nothing I haven't said before and I've got other things to do today.

Yes, there are problems with the behaviour of children in schools and elsewhere. Yes, there is disparity between the balance of power in most houses and that in schools. No, the balance of power in homes should not be brought into line with that in schools - it should be the other way around.

Mr Blair, Mr Beale, gentlemen, an unstoppable revolution is taking place. It is indeed time for change. In 100 years, people will read your comments and gasp in the same way we do now on reading Edwardian comments about the need to keep women in their place, or Victorian ones about people of other races needing more discipline. In the inexorable movement towards a fair and peaceful society, it's now the children's turn to take back the power over their own lives that is rightfully theirs. This revolution is not being actively driven by any one person or group of people. It's a natural process, which will take place no matter how much you try to stop it with your futile legislation. Children will take their power back, whether or not their parents are in prison, no matter what you threaten or punish them with. The more forceful you are, the more devious they'll be - and the more determined.

What is changing is the essence of power itself. Power over other people - discipline in the sense of an externally-imposed thing - the power of authority is waning. Rising in strength is the power of self-discipline, self-control and autonomy. The hot-spots and flash point problem areas are where the two kinds of power clash.

Parents - still, against all odds, more in tune with their offspring than anyone else - realised this some time ago. The old method of breaking a child's will in the early years is no longer effective. In order to gain the kind of compliance from a 2-year old that our parents and older ancestors may have enjoyed, it is now necessary to employ increasingly brutal bullying parenting methods after which any victory will only be a deferral: a battle may be won but the war will rage on all the stronger.

We love our children. We want them to grow up strong and independent, to know their own minds and have the guts to stand up for themselves and their rightful place in the world. We know instinctively that the way to achieve this now is to work with them, not against them. Yes, it's going to weaken government. Yes, it's going to finish schooling in its present format. Yes, it's going to raise challenges for the economy as it's now set up. But in the end when everything has settled down we'll be healthier, more vibrant, effective communities who look back on all of the bad old days of oppression and shudder.

posted by Gill at 8:20 AM 3 comments


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