Being a parent in the modern world is far more difficult than in the days when children were seen and not heard, where nannies took on the majority of responsibility and parents were left free from such troubles. “Many” feel that children take advantage of their home life and are “unappreciative” of the many years that their poor benighted parents have lavished upon them.
A long time ago, in England, when we barely had two chick peas to rub together, I also felt overwhelmed. Later when we came to the States and still hardly had more than a couple of garbanzo beans to rub together, parenting became even more difficult. It became more difficult because we did not have the financial resources to fulfil our daughter’s every whim and the temptations were tenfold.
The gap between them and us, widened. Dissatisfaction grew all around. Thus it was, that when she announced her need for independence and escape, we were happy to scrape together the air fare to China, where my brother lived. He willing took on the responsibility of being the watchful, rather than the ‘evil’ eye.
A few months in China, was an eye opener. Education was a privilege. Plumbing was desirable. Hygiene followed different standards. Everyone worked and worked hard.
The months of her absence were long, for me at least, but when she returned to us, she had returned to the idealistic individual she had been prior to the hormones. Whilst I’d like to confirm that we sent her off to “darkest Africa,” that was in fact, her own volitional choice.
Now I have a chance to instill choices in the current generation of children that I am responsible for. Consideration, co-operation and teamwork are not values that are easy to install in any child, least of all those with dodgy wiring systems.
I remember a school trip to the local Humane Society. The idea was to foster a sense of community in the children. There were a wide variety of donations that the children could provide, from home made chew toys and snacks, to old blankets and cast off socks. My reluctance to co-operate with the plan was entirely personal. I would happily donate the goods, make the toys, give of my time and effort, even money, but there was there was no way I was going to subject the boys to such an ordeal. I might just have managed one of them, but two and my daughter as well meant we would have all be eaten alive.
The car transition would be monumental. The noise, smell and crowd would be overwhelming. My list of ‘completely impossible’ was encompassed and magnified by such a trip. It would not be possible to design a social story to dim the pain. No amount of modeling would get us even close to appropriate behaviour. I think it was about at that same time that I fully realized the enormity of what autism can mean to some individuals. They loved dogs, adored cats, but this pleasant day’s outing was the equivalent of throwing them into the lions den with real lions. I remember a great feeling of sadness that they were unable to do what they would love to do.
But that’s part of the great joke, a trick that some parents fall for hook, line and sinker. A bottom feeder parent like me, with a little luck, can learn to lure and bait, tease and tempt, coax and corral. In essence, over the past 26 years I have learned that the original parenting skills, still work today. The times and decades change. The techniques have different labels and are more politically correct.
What is the best and most effective method of parenting? It’s the oldest one, adopted by cavemen and cavewomen and used on their cavechildren – ‘go catch a lion and we’ll all have dinner.’ The best method, tried, trusted and true is ‘bribery and corruption.’ There is no doubt in my mind, as I have the evidence before me. The Humane Society is no longer in the category of ‘torture,’ it is in the category of ‘treat.’