As a parent, I am one of those who reads child-rearing books, openly shares issues with other parents for support, and/or sympathy and to compare notes (hence the blog I suppose), and seeks objective advice from relevant professionals when appropriate – my logic being the more help I can get the better my chances for success.
I am fortunate enough to be the niece of a very experienced child-rearer; although not a “parent” himself in the literal sense, over 40+ years my uncle has been a boarding house master, teacher and school principal in all-boys’ schools as well as working with delinquent youths in a well-known boys home, amongst other roles. He’s the best “surrogate” parent I know.
So who better to provide me with occasional wisdom and advice regarding the issues I face with Man-Child I and II. He probably also has the odd laugh to see that my own children are putting me through what I put my own parents through in my adolescence.
Following some recent issues with Man-Child II, he did offer some great advice for which I am extremely grateful. I’m sure he won’t mind me sharing his words of wisdom with you, gained over the years through experiences with hundreds if not thousands of adolescent boys. You may not be in agreement with each of these, but for me they were objective tips sprinkled liberally with pertinent quotes, which provided me with another viewpoint to consider.
- “The art of being wise is knowing what to overlook” (Edmund Burke). Maybe you have to overlook more than you really think you want to overlook. A good question to ask yourself is ‘What will it matter in a hundred years, or even ten?’
- “A wise man (woman) sees as much as he/she ought, not as much as he/she can” (Montaigne). My uncle never lied to his father because he was sensible enough not to look too closely or push him too hard into a corner (and I’m sure being the fourth child made this more likely too).
- My uncle never liked ‘grounding’ or what the boarders called ‘gating’. It made kids resent what you really wanted them to enjoy – being at school. He did everything possible to find positive alternatives, something you could withdraw temporarily – a sanction rather than a punishment.
- His golden rule about punishments was to keep them as short as possible rather than locking yourself into a long battle. Same day punishment is ideal with a fresh start tomorrow – and certainly seeing the funny side of misbehaviour. (So much for my term-long grounding of Man-Child II recently)!
- Lastly, some advice a colleague and close friend of my uncle gave the carers of very challenging boys – “Enjoy the kids”, even with their unusual behaviour.
So there you have it. Sage advice indeed from a Man-Child expert. I wonder if he’d consider a book? I’m sure I’d find plenty of buyers.