Thursday, November 25, 2010

What Kind Of Parent Are You?

Recently a middle school student set his house on fire killing four members of the family. The boy wanted to go to art school but the father was opposed. His habit of hitting  the boy to get him to study was another reason given for the boy's action. His father had the patriarchal notion of authority and wanted his son to do what he desired. Talking about the problem with his son was far from his thoughts. A columnist with the Catholic Times used the incident to reflect on this serious problem in society.

In this case, she says it was the father's use of authority to disciple the son without showing love that triggered his rebellious action. The problem often begins with parents who are not interested in what the child wants but only what they deem necessary for them, believing that the parent knows best. The consequences of such parenting is that the child does not learn to express his or her feelings but just accepts what is said and obeys, often with hostile feelings toward the parent. This does not bode well for the future; the way the parent acts towards the child will often result, when the child  reaches puberty, in the child acting in the same way toward the parent. Resentment will tend to explode like a volcano and words the parents used with the child will come back to them like a boomerang. If, for example, a parent says: "What do you know about this, just listen and obey." Similar words might be used by the child when responding to parents: "What do you know, leave me alone, that's how you can help me." 

Parents have to learn how to listen to their children to learn what the child is feeling; they will then be better prepared to direct the child correctly. The columnist titled her article "Before  being student parents, they are parents."  She  quotes from a public service advertisement she saw: "Parents tell the child to look to the  future, student parents tell them to look at what is in front.  Parents say associate with the  other students, the student parents tell the child to get out in front.  Parents tell their children to dream and student parents don't  give the child  time to dream." Are you a  parent or a student parent?

She hopes being parents of children comes before being parents of students. Parents who do not listen to the desire of their children and  force them unconditionally to study are not raising children but treating them like animals. When children are raised with love, they become loving human beings, a gift from God. Children are not the possessions of parents. Parents should find out what the dreams and desires of the children are and help them to achieve these dreams.

Having a strong desire for an education is considered a blessing in Korea, but it is also a reason for much sadness. Effort is being made now to change the overly competitive environment students face, but the expectation of parents and the competition to get into the better schools are so strong that until parents and children can separate education from its use simply as a means to get ahead in the economic world, the problem will be with us for some time.

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