04 May, 2013

Parents' obligations

A couple of things this week have got me thinking about parents’ obligations towards their children, and also about the way children treat their parents.

It is my youngest child’s class performance soon. Each child in the class needs to bring in a pair of dark leggings or jogging bottoms to wear both for the dress rehearsal and for the two evenings of actual performance. Despite the fact that we had been given plenty of notice by letter of this requirement, as well as the children having been given the message verbally to relay home, one or two of the children still failed to bring an appropriate piece of clothing in to school. As a result, the class teacher had to resort to asking the other children whether they had a pair of PE jogging bottoms that they wouldn't mind lending out. My daughter, being kind, proffered hers. That’s fine in some respects, but there are two problems from my point of view. The first is that on days when she does outdoor PE and it’s cold, my daughter now has to wear shorts, when normally she would wear her long jogging bottoms. And, even more importantly, my daughter needs her jogging bottoms in the week immediately following her performance for a school trip. So between us we have to make sure (a) that they are returned and then (b) washed in time for the trip—and we wouldn't have had to do either of these things had the parents in question bothered to provide their children with what was required.

It amazes me how often these kinds of things happen in school—how often parents don’t supply their children with what they need. I’m sure that this is sometimes a one off, simply down to forgetting. Parents are busy people, after all, as I know only too well. But what you tend to see is that, on the whole, the offenders are repeat offenders.

In contrast, and turning towards the issue of how children treat their parents—my oldest daughter threw a complete fit one morning this week because I asked her to change her school polo shirt. It was dirty and, as a responsible parent, I didn't feel that she should wear it into school. The problem was that, given she currently only has the one polo shirt (another one is on order, incidentally), her available options were a shirt and tie or a summer dress. But she, quite vehemently, did not want to wear either of the alternative options. The issue (although she would never admit it) is that the majority of her friends wear trousers and polos, and she wants to be like them. It’s teenage peer pressure kicking in.

So it can be very hard to win, it seems. While some parents fail to fulfil their parental obligations, others try very hard to do so, but this can be met with resistance by the children. No one ever said parenting was an easy job, I guess...

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