Thursday, May 08, 2003

Responding to others' blogs.......

Dawn argues that "[t]he safest family environment for a child is a home in which the biological parents are married. Contrary to current theory about the effects of marriage on children, recent research demonstrates that marriage provides a safe environment for all family members, one in which child abuse and fatality are lowered dramatically." Joanie counters that "90% of the children brought in to the hospital [where she works] suffering from child abuse are from homes where mom and dad are married and living together."

I have no experience in being a husband or a parent, but I'll still say this: You live what you know. I recently went out for drinks with a few classmates, and came to a realization: all four of us had parents who were involved in our lives cared about what we did, and encouraged us to pursue our dreams. And for the most part, we all turned out well.

No one is perfect, and we all have our flaws, but my guess is that both Dawn and Joanie are right. Where the biological parents are still married, and had happy childhoods, the children are well adjusted and happy. But those parents never wind up in divorce court, and are usually successful. Hence, no social issue.

But where there have been problems in the parents childhood, those problems will manifest themselves again when the parent has their own children (clear as mud?). If you're abusing your children, they'll abuse theirs. If you smoke in front of them, they'll smoke. I could go on and on. This is a subtle form of addiction, breakable only when someone makes the conscious decision to break the cycle. Until that happens, the behaviour will continue. We've all known children afraid to talk about sex, because that's "dirty". Usually, these people either meet enablers or become enablers themselves, so the cycle continues.

I agree with Dawn. There is a social problem out there. But there is no one cure-all panecea which will solve the problem, no metaphorical bomb we can drop to make it all go away. It has to start with the parents themselves - get involved in your children's lives, and don't be afraid to discipline them when they need it ("Honey, please don't do that" is NOT discipline - be firmer). But know when to back off, and know the difference between discipline and abuse. Teach them morals and values, and exhibit the behaviour you want them to exhibit. If you show respect for others, they'll learn to be respectful. And yes, you'll make mistakes; we all do. But if you feel the urge to punch your six-year-old, see a psychiatrist.

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