Parents the source of kids’ happiness

2010-02-01 00:00

A COUPLE of years ago I read a very interesting but sad book titled Son are you Standing or Hanging? What made this particular book stand out was that it was written by a parent who had lost her son to suicide.

I recently thought about the book when I read about teenagers who have committed suicide due to the fact that they had failed their matric examinations. This, of course, brought up a lot of painful memories for me as I lost a beloved friend to suicide in my matric year and to this day I still wonder what I could have done differently to help.

As parents we spend 99% of our time stressed about a whole lot of issues and we sometimes forget to worry about our children. This makes it difficult to pick up on the small things that can develop into bigger problems for our children later on in life. I can only imagine the helplessness you feel at discovering too late that your child was crying out for help.

As a mother I worry about my son being bullied at school or a teacher picking on him, so much so that I have thought of home schooling him because in my own way I would be protecting him from the big bad world. This, of course, is unrealistic as my duty as a parent is to equip him with life skills in and outside the home.

The question remains. Is the crisis in our homes or is it within the education system? How are we treating our children? Are we making them feel that matric is the be-all and end-all of life?

When was it announced that once your child starts school you relinquish your responsibilities as a parent? It is my belief that schools are there to nurture the academic side in all of us and teachers are there to ensure that this happens. It is easy to point fingers at outside factors and claim that they influence our children, but the buck stops with us parents. It frustrates me to hear parents complain about TV programmes that their children are exposed to when it is we who are paying for DStv and cellphones that are supposedly a bad influence on our children.

Where are you as a parent when your 13 or 16-year-old is watching X-rated movies or chatting on MXit until 2 am?

For me it is difficult to place the blame elsewhere as it is my responsibility as a parent to teach my child discipline, responsibility and respect, and the fact is that my attitude in life will determine my child’s altitude.

How do we ensure that our children grow up to be adults who can handle the pressures of the real world? The answer seems simple — be the adult that you wish your child to become. Love, encourage and, above all, give credit when it is due. I still maintain that starting with the person in the mirror will go a long way towards solving our problems.

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