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Parents – Who would have them?

By Tim Middleton

The saga over the conservatorship of Britney Spears, the American singer song-writer, which has been going on for several years appears now to be coming to an end.

The conservatorship is a legal arrangement that put her all financial assets, estate, and personal assets under the control of her father, giving her only a “minimal say in her personal and financial affairs” even while she has been an adult.

Normally this arrangement applies to people who are unable to make their own decisions, yet in this case it appears to have been for other more selfish reasons on the part of her parents.

In contrast, Will Smith, the hugely successful Hollywood actor, has recently reportedly spoken publicly about how his son, Jaden, who appeared in a disastrous film with his father, went on to seek to be declared an “emancipated minor”, aged fifteen – meaning he asked to be legally divorced from his parents and therefore be allowed to have control of his livelihood, including living arrangements, schooling and medical care, a practice that amazingly is allowed in some states of the US.

In both these situations, a common question may be hidden beneath the surface: namely, parents — who would have them?

People might go further and ask: What is the point of parents? Do children need their parents?

Do children want parents? Once again, it might appear a ridiculous question yet there will be many youngsters who will have wanted to be free of their parents, including many people who are actually parents now themselves!

After all, why would we have parents whose sole aim in life appears often to be to embarrass their child, be it with their driving, their dancing or their dressing?

The teenager is embarrassed by his mother kissing him in front of his friends, by her father driving her to school in a dilapidated car, by both shouting loudly but ignorantly at the side of the sports field.

Why have parents when they are just plain boring?

Why have them when all they do is shout, at each other and at the child, at the school and the police? Why have them when they are just so busy and consequently too tired to do anything?

Indeed, why have them, when they rarely offer any explanations, often act inconsistently, usually give little attention, never show understanding or trust and only occasionally offer any form of encouragement?

Parents – why have them? Good question, it may well appear!

Indeed, why have parents when all they do is pay for a school to teach their children, employ maids to look after them and gardeners to play sport with them, and buy expensive and potentially dangerous (under no supervision) smartphones, computers or electronic games to entertain them? Why have parents when others are required to fill all their waking hours?

Of course, parents are already queueing up to reel off all the things they do for their children!

They are a twenty-four hour a day taxi service; an always open ATM dishing out limitless amounts of money at the press of a button (usually an emotional one); a constant cooking, cleaning and tidying up service; a police service keeping them within the law at all times when their default position is to behave incorrectly; a counselling service dealing with situations never experienced before; being an agent for their future career and well-being; and much more besides. Children do need parents!

Those are not the right responses though. We do all need our parents, not just when we are young. It takes two not only to tango but also to produce a child and it takes two (at least) to raise them.

Parents are there to nurture, develop and prepare their child (the emphasis is on ‘their’) through instruction, insight, but above all by example.

It is not enough for a child to have parents; they must have good parents  — parents who understand and take seriously their roles and responsibilities; who are there for their child, with their child, with only the child’s best interests at heart.

It is interesting and comforting that Jaden Smith eventually and wisely decided against taking legal action against his parents but his case is not unique.

Many children think their parents have no idea of what it is like being a child, despite them having been one once, but the child is correct to a degree; parents must understand that children of today are wired differently.

May parents live in such a way that no child ever even thinks of the question: parents – who would have them?

We must not live to regret the way we raise our children – ask Britney Spears or Will Smith.

  • Tim Middleton is the executive director of the Association of Trust Schools [ATS]. The views expressed in this article, however, are solely those of the author in his private capacity and do not necessarily represent the views of the ATS. 
  • email: ceo@atschisz.co.zw
  • website:www.atschisz

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