Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Bringing Up Children

As the train doors open at the Mongkok station, a young woman who looked like she may be from Indonesia came in from my left and was going to sit down one seat away to my right. From the right a young boy about 3 years old came in, followed by a woman who may be his grandmother. The boy was also eyeing the same seat but was a bit late. He screamed at the young Indonesian un-intelligible words but it was obvious he was not happy that “his” target was about to be taken. Startled, the young Indonesian retreated, still smiling; and started to talk to another young woman wearing a head scarf.

The child’s grandmother scolded the child, also with a smile on her face. She said the child was a bully, and he should not have taken the seat from the young woman. But she did nothing to stop the child from taking the seat, nor did she try to get the child to return the seat.

It reminded me of another incident on a bus the day before. A young couple took the seats behind me. Their young boy, about 2, started to scream, kicked the seat, and was making himself a nuisance. The young couple told him he should not disturb other people. But just like this grandmother, made no serious effort to stop the child.

Then I recalled another boy I know, about 10. He does not like to study, finds all kinds of excuses not to do homework, does not read, plays no sports, spends all his time on computer games, and goes to bed early in the morning. In short, your normal Hong Kong child. Then I discovered by chance that his parents take turns to play computer games until 3 o’clock in the morning. No wonder.

And we complain that young people nowadays have no self-discipline, no respect for other people, go to bed too late, and get up too late? Do we need to look beyond ourselves for the reason?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's obvious the grandmother and the couple were not serious when they reprimanded the kid. They were doing it "officially" (as the definition of "reprimand" calls for), so observers got the idea that as grown-ups, they knew right from wrong, and had taught their kid accordingly. But did they mean business? Did they teach by righting wrongs?

I have seen too many such cases, and such behavior will persist because both the parents and the kid emerge as "victors", basking in their "so what?" mentality.

As a parent of 3 kids, I do not recommend parents to create a spectacle and scold and shame their kids in public. Never should they do this. In the situations mentioned, I would just firmly request the kid to give the seat back at once, or stop kicking immediately, and then if the kid is too young to articulate, then I would, on behalf of the kid, sincerely apologize to the other party. Follow this prescription 2 or 3 times, and such "victimizing" behavior can be eradicated.

Kids who do not respond to parents' requests (particularly in public) probably means parents have never been serious in disciplining their kids, and the kids gathered that their parents are again putting up a show to impress those around that they are "teaching" their kids right behavior.

In short:
1)We are fooling ourselves if we think kids can be fooled.
2)There are rarely problem kids; only problem parents.