Education is a right, not a special favor.
Okay, to be fair to parents, I know sending children to school requires a lot of hard work due to the high cost of education, especially college. But, with all due respect, whenever parents say something like, “You should consider yourself lucky that I am sending you to school,” or something to that effect, why does it seem like their children owe them a really, really huge favor? Well, certainly, children should be quite thankful to their parents for working hard to give them an education. But it seems parents sometimes forget that education is a basic right of their children. It is something that they (should) have accepted and been ready to do their best to provide ever since they decided to have a family and raise children of their own. Moreover, parents should realize that the primary goal of getting an education is to learn and be ready for life – for the children to be self-reliant and responsible members of society – and not just to get a job and make a lot of money. While on the one hand, time will definitely come when children will have to pay back to their parents by taking care of them and letting them retire and just enjoy their remaining years, parents should also understand that their kids are not some kind of financial investment whose profit they are expecting to get after 16 to 18 grueling years in school.
Children are thinking individuals
“You are just a child. You do not have any idea at all how hard it is to be an adult and how difficult life really is. You know nothing.” Oh, really? I beg to disagree. No matter how young a person is, the fact remains that he is a human being – a thinking person. As such, he certainly knows what he wants. A kid may understand less than adults do, but that does not at all mean they do not understand anything. A preschooler knows what he wants to be when he grows up (only that this might more likely change depending on the values and interests he develops and the environment he grows in). A young girl knows what dress she likes to wear on a Sunday mass. A teenager knows whether he likes to take engineering in the best school there is or he wants to pursue his passion for music or photography instead. Even a baby knows when his mother forgets to feed him. My point is, parents should respect more their children’s thoughts. It is not because they are young that adults, who are self-proclaimed mature people, should disregard what the youth have to say. Parents should genuinely listen to and understand their children and not impose on them their own thoughts and values. Let them use God’s gift of intellect and free mind, and exercise their critical thinking. Parents are there to guide their children, not command them to always do this and that. Doing the latter will cause a barrier between the parents and the kids before they even know it. If parents would recognize more their children’s individuality and capacity to think on their own, this barrier will break down and all that will be left is a relationship built on mutual respect, trust and love.
Children are not accessories
They are not pets parents put on a leash. They are not trophies or medals that should be showed off to friends so the latter would feel inferior and less fortunate. The problem is, parents sometimes “exploit” their children by telling everyone in the neighborhood or their circle of friends how lucky they are to have such great kids. To make it worse, some parents become too cocky and fail to realize that they are putting quite a lot of unrealistic expectations on their children. And when their kids do not meet these expectations, they would be so disappointed in them or get mad even because, well, their reputation among their friends would get tainted. They would end up a laughingstock in the Proud Parents Society and, of course, no parent wants that. Of course, there is absolutely nothing wrong to be proud of your children, especially if they are doing so well in school, sports or anything they have put their interest in. But, please, parents, be realistic and reasonable. There are a lot of ways to show how proud you are of your children without compromising their reputation, your ego (which you surely takes care of so much), and especially your relationship with them. You can just hug your kid and tell him/her how blessed and happy you are to have such great son/daughter. I believe that is better and means a lot more to him/her than parading in your block and talking as if you have a million bucks when you actually just have a hundred to show to everyone. How embarrassing is that, especially to your child.
Many parents might disagree with everything I said, and some might even say this classic line: “You will never understand how it is to be a parent until you become one.” Let me tell you, I get that a lot. But I believe all parents of the world since the dawn of civilization never really have a single outcome. I mean, not all parents have had a miserable life raising kids. We all started as a blank slate when we were born. As we grow older, we get exposed to a lot of factors, different environments and social scripting that have always been there. Whatever becomes of us is a matter of choice depending on which fundamental values and principles we take in for ourselves and the decisions we make based on these. A child’s image of his/her parents depends, among other things, on how the latter sees and treats the former. And being at the front line of a child’s growth and development, there is a great chance that kids will see what their parents do and say as (always) true and correct. If parents will treat children as equals – people who think and move and have a life of their own – and with more consideration to their actual being but still maintaining (and certainly, not abusing) that due parental authority, then the kids will feel more appreciated and secured. In effect, they will admire, respect and love their parents more, and eventually become great parents themselves.
I do not have any children yet. I am not even married and have just started my journey in the real, grown up world. Also, the things I wrote here are but based on my personal experiences as the son of my parents, on what I have read, and on my observations about different parent-child relationships I know of such as those of my friends. But I have made a decision; I know that when the time comes, I will choose to deviate from the parenting norms that I grew up in — those parenting principles that my parents and generations of parents before them deemed right and just — and give less regard about the scripting I have been exposed to. I will pick up and apply only what I think will be best for me and my kids. I will look at my children not as a second chance to achieve what I have not, but instead as fellow individual who should be respected, understood and loved.