In some households in the UAE, children grow up neglected, disregarded and unloved, which exposes them to a very permanent type of abuse — emotional abuse. While people give the most attention to physical abuse, they forget that a purple bruise can heal after a few days, but shattered self-confidence and broken hearts are hard to heal.
How can you expect your child to one day be a productive individual after going through this? A child could grow up seeking attention negatively by making mistakes.
In many households, a father is absent throughout the day as he works to secure the comfort of his family. Caught in the daily grind, he tends to be unaware about things like in which school grade his children are, their hobbies, and is definitely unaware of his duties towards them as a father.
Parenting is not solely a mother's responsibility as many assume. Why is it that a mother stays up all those nights while her husband moves to a different room in the house to avoid hearing the baby crying? Or only becomes playful with his children during half-time when his favourite team is playing?
Where is it written that a woman is required to sacrifice her whole life to raise her children? Isn't it a joint effort based on a common need? Or did it just become the next thing to do in the storybook of a couple's dull life?
Legendary basketball coach John Wooden once said, "The best thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother."
Besides, many households in the UAE cannot function without maids/nannies; a woman starts contacting agencies even before she delivers her baby to make sure the help arrives before the baby does. This comfort is extended to later years in the child's life, leaving the mother literally absent from the child's growth process.
You could possibly understand if the mother is a working woman, but if she's a housewife what else is she busy with?
Young couples often have children without condidering their responsibilities or their capabilities. They sometimes give in to family pressure where every single member in the family — young or old — uses the line, "Anything on the way?" as a conversation starter.
Then there is the classic boredom after the wedding. All the excitement starts dying after the magnificent wedding ceremony that took a whole year to plan, and then couples start thinking "Now what? Wait, a baby could be fun."
In some cases, the husband is busy or loses interest in his new wife because he married her to make his parents happy. So she thinks bearing him an heir would make him fall in love with her. Who wouldn't be happy with a ‘mini me' to show off to the world?
She thinks a baby would be the solution to all her problems, unaware that the damage she might cause to the newborn is far more than the pain of neglect she's suffering. Eventually, this results in nannies raising the children, and parents only entering the picture to punish them.
Never underestimate the power of love in a household, it can either make or break your child. I admire the couples that take time to adapt to each other, especially in the cases of arranged marriages, and prepare themselves emotionally, physically and financially.
It's a shared responsibility and it's a shared future. Make the time for your children, read to them and read about parenting to yourself, play with them; roll around in the grass with them if you had to, it's not embarrassing.
Make sure your house is a safe and loving environment for your child, in order for them not to seek comfort elsewhere.
In the book The Help by Kathryn Stockett, Aibeleen the maid reminds a little girl who is disregarded and unloved by her mother of her value by saying, "You is kind. You is smart. You is important."
Be the one who builds up your child's confidence, because it's not a stranger's job. Allow them to become strong, smart and independent individuals who would play a key role in the development of their country.
Hug your child every day, a dozen times, because it reduces stress, relieves negative emotions, gives them a sense of security and belonging, affects their development and IQ and also, because you need these hugs as much as they do. Remember, it's a cycle of many generations to come. So make it a healthy, loving one.
Fatma Al Falasi is a young Emirati writer who reflects on social issues that relate to Emirati youth. You can follow her at www.twitter.com/Fatmalfalasi