Thursday, February 21, 2008

Parenting Schmarenting.......

It is too late for me to take advice on parenting – I have already inflicted my own unique brand of parental damage and torture. But a movie, a book and a magazine article have made me think a lot about different ways that parents respond to their growing children.

When I saw Juno, I saw instantly that the young girl’s parents were far too relaxed and accepting for me. Pregnant at 16? no problem……Did these “chill” parents go into hysterics, start berating their kid, lecturing, hectoring? I don’t think they even raised their voices. That would not have been me…….. I like to think I could have helped my daughter come up with the best solution for her, but it sure wouldn’t have been without me losing it.

Then my friend Wendy sent me a book by David Gilmour, The Film Club. Gilmour’s 16 year old son wanted to drop out of school. Gilmour permitted his son to leave school on the condition that the son and father watch 3 movies a week. Gilmour picked movies that he felt would permit some dialogue between them, and that might provide the son with some “education” while he was out of school. Although I would never have been able to accept Gilmour’s parenting style, I enjoyed the book very much. I do recommend this book - for the discussion of important movies, but also for a look at how a parent does in fact sometimes know instinctively what the child needs.

Then I read about Dan Hill and his teenage son. Dan Hill is a Canadian songwriter ….“sometimes when we touch, the honesty’s too much”….you know who I’m talking about. He recently wrote an article in Macleans about how his son just narrowly avoided a life of crime, violence and death in Toronto. The decisions to save his son are far reaching – from therapy, to threatening the boy’s friends, to restricting the son’s activities, to sending the child out of the country. Who would imagine that his story could have turned out happily.

Being a parent is dang hard work……….


Anonymous said...

As a teacher for over 30 years, I have seen many students some of them wonderful and some of whom I sure would be interesting subjects for books. My most famous student to date was Monica Schnarre, supermodel. She was an ideal student, wonderful person. Her involement with Habitat for Humanity speaks volumes at least for me. Others I have chosen to forget as quickly as possible.

Raising childrent is an incredible challenge and it is made more difficult because children have access to more people and ideas than we can imagine. They are influenced by the media in a positive and negative fashion.

It must be very difficult for a parent to watch their child go off the rails. I have a friend whose child has been a major challenge for nearly two decades. It is not her parenting that is the problem since she has a daughter who is a teacher and married parent and son who is completing his PHD and engaged. He is hoping to find a place of employment close to his fiance who works in a small musuem.

What works for one child does not necessarily work for another. We are all unique and sometimes have to bend a little but remember that there are some rules that must never be broken.

These books about raising difficult children which are based on fact teach us that others also face challenges since we might find it difficult to believe that someone with the fame that Dan Hill had would have challenged children.

Parenting is definitely a role without a clear rule book and guidelines.

Anonymous said...

I suspect parenting has always been challenging, if not difficult, no matter the era. Having been raised in the 40's and in an ethnic family, I pretty much knew what I was to do or not-to-do. That was clear, and if it wasn't, I didn't have only my parents to remind me of that but my brothers.

Who do today's young have to listen to nowadays? How clear are the "rules" they hear to be followed? How much do young weigh the consequences of their actions in the light of what they hear from others? Just what are their frames of references for making jugments?

It's all pretty muddy, imho.