We live in an age where the fundamentals of life have been changed, where communication is instant, where old ways of doing things are not necessary relevant, and where our interaction can be distorted or magnified through social media and peer pressure.
The essence of parenting itself — the fundamental relationship between children and their mother and father — is facing challenges too, and recent cases from Sharjah point to a need for parents to adapt to new ways of doing things, or at the very least question whether their methodology is best and most suitable to these modern pressures.
In one recent case, a teen allegedly committed suicide by jumping from his fourth-floor balcony, a tragedy that occurred after he returned home very late at night and was reportedly physically challenged by his father. The second case, also from Sharjah, involves a teen who ran away following a tutoring session, with exam stress believed to be the reason.
These cases highlight the pressures our children face, whether be it to hang out with others and disregard clear boundaries such as appropriate bed times, or to succeed academically in a result-orientated system where exams bring intense scrutiny.
For parents and children alike, there needs to be a clear understanding of what will happen and when, not reacting in an instant to set in motion a chain of events where the outcome is extreme.
For anyone with children, the overriding expertise comes from their own experience — how they were treated growing up by their parents: What worked, or didn’t then, may not work now. Or may not be appropriate now given the far greater pressure to succeed.
Getting it right for parents can sadly mean the difference between life and death as a growing trend in teen suicides suggests. Clearly, children need to know where the boundaries of acceptable behaviour lie, what they can do, what they can’t. Every parent knows that children try to challenge, to push, to exceed those boundaries and test the consequences for their failure to follow rules.
Yes, rules are important, and there needs to be consequences, and a method of escalation — and de-escalation too. For parents and children alike, there needs to be a clear understanding of what will happen and when, not reacting in an instant to set in motion a chain of events where the outcome is extreme.
Communication is key, children must be able to talk about their fears and concerns, pressures and feelings. And parents too must communicate clearly, tenderly, firmly of their fears and worries. But above all, creating a loving and caring environment in the home is fundamental. Talking, caring, sharing. And loving.