Bad Parenting

I was quite horrified by what I witnessed just now. About an hour ago, I was at the food court ordering lunch (today’s schedule made it a bit too inconvenient to pack). Next to me was a small boy, of lower primary age. His dad had given him money to buy lunch. After a while, the boy’s dad came up to ask him what he had ordered. The boy had ordered a bento set, and the dad was already quite annoyed that it cost slightly more than the other stalls. The boy explained that he ordered such a big set because he wanted to share it with his dad. That’s really thoughtful of the child. But what happened next shocked me!

Immediately after the boy had said that, the father scolded the child for being SELFISH because it deprived the father a chance to order whatever it is that he wanted to eat for lunch! SELFISH?!?!?! WHAT THE HELL?! I can’t believe what I witnessed!

I think the real selfish person is the father!

Sure, the child should have asked the father if he wanted to share. The boy meant well! But to scold the child for being selfish?! Heck… To even scold the child just because you have to share whatever he ordered, and not get to eat what you want – that’s really really selfish of the father! I mean… he’s such a young child, and he only meant well!

These are the kinds of things that confuse and frustrate children. They are taught that certain actions, like sharing, are good, and should be encouraged and done at all times. And when children do such things, parents who, in their anger vent it out on their kids, confuse the child into thinking that these things are bad. Bear in mind that at such a young age, children aren’t able to process complicated situations the same way as we do. They can’t tell the difference between doing a morally bad thing and not doing something well enough. What a young child will experience will probably be something like: “If papa scolds me every time I share, then maybe sharing isn’t a good thing at all. Maybe I shouldn’t share in the future since it will probably make other people unhappy.”

I know many people don’t really like Jack Neo’s movies. But he has a movie that really highlights this very well. In the movie, “We Not Naughty,” this is precisely what happens. Children try to be good, but they get scolded by parents who vent their anger on them. The child learns that X is a good action, and does it. He gets scolded. The next time, he does not-X, and he gets scolded too. This is very confusing and frustrating for a child. How is he supposed to know what is he supposed to do if he gets scolded for doing both X and not-X? In the end, when they turn bad, e.g. join gangs or commit crimes, who is to blame? They’ve been taught from young that doing such good things result in a harsh scolding. So why bother doing these virtuous actions?

Sometimes, children just become apathetic towards others. They’ve learnt that not caring at all is probably the better thing to do – you won’t get a harsh scolding (or maybe you will, but it won’t be as bad as having done something).

Anyway, this is not the only case I’ve seen.

In shopping malls and even on public transportation, I’ve seen parents lashing out on their kids for doing the most trivial things. Moreover, when the child finally misbehaves really really badly, the parents are often too tired to even bother. Gosh… This is really bad parenting! Such actions will condition kids to think that morally good actions, like sharing, are bad; and to think that anti-social behaviours are good (since they don’t get a scolding, or not as much a scolding/beating as compared to doing those good actions).

I know parents are very stressed out. But really, keep you anger to yourself. Don’t vent it out on your kids! If they do something good, like sharing their things, praise them – even if it irks you a bit. Just like the father at the food court, you are being selfish for scolding your kids just because it irritates you and only you. Spare a thought for your children! As long as they’re doing something good, just bear with it even if it irritates you (remember: you are stressed out). It’s not the end of the world.