Thursday, March 12, 2009

5) "There is no such thing as a problem child."

"There is no such thing as a problem child. There is a problem parent. "Dr Anuradha Oberoi, Child Psychologist.

A diamond is mined, cut to size and polished to become a dazzling, often high-priced
treasure. Sometimes it is chipped in the refining process; then it suffers from loss of brilliance and value. Parenting follows a similar process. When a couple get their first child(that bundle of joy), the mining process starts. They pamper the child with gifts and affection. At that time they do not know what 'tough love' means. Lapses, one after another, pile up. Such experiences leave the parents exhausted, but wiser. Cutting the diamond to size has begun. Years later, after much hard work, repentance and reform, the diamond begins to take on a glow. Parenting is then coming into its own, through hard won experience. However if the learning process goes wrong, parents are devastated - they have lost the glow they should have had. How does this happen?

Some parents learn fast; others learn slowly, refusing to benefit from the experiences of parents they know and watch. A few shuffle their priorities and form habits which harm children. For example: some parents, despite their avowed concern for children, forsake them to grandparents, baby-sitters or fancy day-care-centers, in the name of their careers, which they believe cannot be comprised. They are eager to provide children with greater financial security, expecting that money will provide the answer to all questions, the solution to all problems. Only later they discover how wrong they were. A few others have their pet passions: partying, gambling, drinking, hanging out with 'friends', listening to their favorite music and watching TV for long hours.

Attending to the needs of children, then becomes a spare-time activity, or an act of relegating responsibility to domestic help. Such parents feel guilty and try to over-compensate their children, indulging them with gifts and concessions. They think that such 'gestures of love' will earn for them the 'affection' of their children. Spouses even compete in playing 'benefactor', hoping to polarize the attention of the children in his/her direction. In time they find out, to their dismay, that they received only 'lip-service' from children who manipulated them to gain favor after favor. The gap between spouses widens; slowly they lose control over themselves, the children and the whole family. In agony they ask: "Why did this happen to us? We gave the children all that they wanted". Very late, they realize that love cannot be purchased.

Why do well-meaning parents end up disappointed? Dr Anuradha Oberoi's words at the top of this post offer an answer.It is a sledge-hammer blow to parents who really want to succeed in parenting, yet fail.In humility, if parents accept that part of the blame rests with them (and not look for excuses), the obvious question is: How do we improve the quality of parenting?


  1. I count myself lucky that I am able to be so much a part of our children growing up....the little things that may be taken for granted as part of a daily routine...dropping the kids at school, kissing and waving them goodbye, being there ON Time to pick them up and 'catching up' with their friends and teachers, listening to their 'school chatter' or 'silence' as they are driven home, helping them get used to a routine of putting their school bags away and washing up for afternoon tea, watching them enjoy their tea or laughing with them at a funny TV show, doing homework....and the list goes on until they wish us goodnight.

    I couldn't agree more with the opening quote. There is no problem child, instead there are only problem parents!. As a young mother of 2, I guess the more quality time you spend with your kids, the greater the opportunity for quality parenting.

  2. I remember Ivan replying to the toast at his wedding. He spoke about his nephew. At that time I wondered what it would be like to have a nephew, watch him or her grow.

    Four years later I held my nephew in my arms 45 minutes after he came into this world. The little fella wasn't crying at all. It is not just parents who have the responsibility of parenting. Its also the uncle and aunts especially if they are part of the same household. Many a time we can undo the good work done by the child's parent by bringing in different standards that conflict with the ones they have exposed the child to. We end up confusing the child and diluting the lessons the parents have taught the child.