Sunday, 2 August 2009

Benign Neglect

When I read this article by Joanna Simmons in The Times on Saturday a couple of weekends ago, it was as if a million light bulbs had gone off in my head.

Benign neglect is what I've been trying valiantly to achieve in our household for the last 18 years. A state of play where there is equal value placed on the general enjoyment of the adults as well as the children.

Where life is not all about jumping up to satisfy their every whim immediately and there is quality time for both parents, individually and as a couple.

It would just be nice to be able to use the bathroom without having someone banging on the door making demand or, indeed, just barging in to hold a conversation regardless of any complaint on my part.

Every day I see the results of not parenting by this concept... and I'm not just talking about my own offspring here. Because it overflows into their interaction with other non-related adults, with their insistence that those grownups also indulge their desires instantly and, worse, their refusal to accept that life is all about rewards without having to earn them first.

In a world where teachers are also expected to comply with the rules of this new order, discipline and respect go out of the window and the last bastion of hope for future generations with it.

We all need to start being more selfish.


Lady in red said...

I know I have been guilty but I am learning to be selfish and point blank refuse to do their bidding unless they earn isn't easy to stick to my guns but gradually they are learning.

I do hope though and I have always seen it in them that my boys do show respect for adults, just not their mother.

Joanna Cake said...

I think most children are respectful most of the time but - and I blame Roald Dahl's 'Matilda' for this - there does seem to be a growing belief that adults should somehow earn respect and not be accorded it just because they are bigger and older.

Ro said...

I was talking about this just the other night.

Our society seems to suffer from the two extremes of parenting: there are those parents who bow down to every whim of their beloved offspring; and there are - as a recent report strongly suggested - those parents who are so selfish that children grow up ignored and alone.

Neither produces well-rounded children who'll grow up into well-adjusted members of society.

It can be difficult to walk that middle line but it's certainly worthwhile.