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Calling all parents . . . yeah, right! (4)

Sherwyn Walters

Calling all parents  . . . yeah, right! (4)

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You are very proud  of yourself as a parent, right? Your child has never been accused of unmannerliness, disrespect, breaking a queue, defacing property.
Never broke the school rules – you think.  Never cursed – as far  as you know. Never been in a ZR “rubbing up”  on another child.  Always did homework. (I’m stopping here; you can add in other things that you feel good about.)
Things to be proud  of, yes. But . . . .
What if the child is mean-spirited or bigoted or judgemental? What  if they are boastful, contemptuous of others, lacking in charity?
Or suppose, a little later, they are a malingerer, a drunkard,  a clock-watcher?
What if your polite, respectful, decent-language, rules-compliant child ended up  as a doctor known for  his “overfriendliness” with younger female patients? Or as a lawyer who  finds little or no heart  for pro bono work?
Or as a spouse who beats their partner?  Or as an office worker  who got the kind of talk for the ladies that  would have been sexual harassment if only  we had the laws?
Or ends up in the House of Assembly spewing the most undignifying things  in the most undignified language at opponents?  Or takes the “privilege”  of the House or Senate  to sully the reputation  of someone who has no recourse? Or . . . (now  that you catch my drift,  fill in the blanks).
And what about you, “good” parent?
Have you ever blown through a red traffic light? “Touched” someone else’s vehicle and not owned  up? Used a parking space designated for the handicapped/disabled/differently abled? Stalled traffic while you and  your friend paused your vehicles and conversed?
Have you ever had unprotected sex outside  of a committed relationship? Have you ever given your child too much “help”  with an assignment?  Have you ever asked  your child to tell a lie (white ones included)?
Have you ever done something in “secret”  that if it came out would seriously damage your world? Have you ever divulged what someone told you in confidence? Have you ever been  on the phone at home slugging away at somebody’s reputation  just for the juiciness  of the details?
Have you ever hit  your spouse/partner?  Have you ever so  unloaded your disgust  at their inefficiency, thoughtlessness or different choice that  what your mouth spat could do untold damage  to self-esteem, trust, nerves, mental poise? (Here, you can add in other things you don’t  or shouldn’t feel  so good about.)
But you are a good parent, right?
Thank God, keep your fingers crossed, knock  on wood – whatever is your persuasion. But just remember that it may  just have been that  the extramarital affair remained hidden; the boss dropped a certain matter; there were no cameras  to catch your deed;  the lie met up with Lady Luck; the child/children never got to know.
What I am getting  at is the widespread  self-righteousness and simple-mindedness  in talk about parenting.
Also the fact that the society has seemingly come up with a narrow band of public behaviour that it uses to assess parenting. And all the while less high-profile  or more accepted but ultimately damaging conduct is not connected  to parenting.
Parenting is broader than many think; how Kimeisha and DaShawn turn out is aided  or compromised by many things – some personal, some not.
Certainly, a parent’s chances here have been increasingly compromised by Government virtually forsaking key aspects  of its fundamental role  of assuring social discipline as it has narrowed its focus  to mainly economics, education, health,  tourism and “culture”, thereby leaving parents  to contend with the mounting challenges  of producing “good” children in an unhelpful, undemanding milieu.
The state in this signicantly amoral,  self-indulgent, less religious, less homogeneous society  has no clear, enforced standards of social discipline in matters other than killing, sexual assault and some kinds  of t’iefing – so anyone  can easily get away  with doing what seemeth right in his own eyes  in other areas.
We need to recognize how difficult, without  the help of accommodating factors, it is for parents  to produce the kind  of people we want.
We need to recognize, too, that if all were told, we would all be seen  to have fallen very short, even if not as short  as some others, and we should therefore drop  the self-righteousness  and accept that there  is so much more to do.
Finally, for the purpose  of running a society  (as opposed to running a home), we need to realize that, in the same way  that the American society could not wait on white parents to produce  less racist children but, through focused practical means, especially laws  and enforcement, had  to inhibit racist behaviour, we cannot wait on parents to train up their children in the discipline that  the society cannot  do without.
 •  Sherwyn Walters  is a writer who became  a teacher, a song  analyst, a broadcaster and an editor. Email [email protected]