Sunday, 13 December 2015
There can't be many parents who're blithely confident that they're doing fine, that they know what's good for their kids, and aren't always looking over their shoulder at what other parents are doing.
I'll admit to a bit of censorious tut-tutting myself. Kids who run riot in restaurants. Kids who sit next to me on the bus and are jumping up and down for the next 20 minutes. Kids who drop chocolate wrappers in my front garden. But at least I keep my petty whinges to myself and don't load the parents with yet more guilt and self-blame.
So many people think they could do a better job than the parents themselves. Surely all that's needed is a bit more discipline, a bit less lazy indifference, and a few basic behavioural guidelines. How hard can it be?
Those who're doing the parenting could tell them exactly how hard it can be. Relentlessly truculent children, relentlessly hyper-active children, relentlessly destructive children. Just put yourself in our shoes, they might say, and you'll see what a constant struggle it can be to turn wayward children into civilised human beings.
How thankful parents must be if they're blessed with polite, considerate, diligent children who're a delight to have around and not a permanent embarrassment. And how sympathetic they must be to those whose children are an endless headache.
I've never had children, but I sometimes wonder if my own children would have been little horrors or little angels. In my worst nightmares, they would have been the offspring from hell. And the censorious tut-tutting would have been a deafening clamour.