Parenting today: Jail sentence or escape route?

WE have reached the second half of 2017. The end of the year is in sight and parents start taking stock. What about 2018?
Scene one
John has not done as well as expected. His marks are gradually going down and failing the grade is becoming a possibility. You have caught him smoking in the toilet. You have heard Sharon having secret telephone conversations. Visiting friends, John stays out later than normal. Sharon is edgy and there is a communication gap between you and both children.
Boarding school? Sharon says she would like to go. To her it is a new world, a new challenge, new faces, new boys, a new start. John is not willing to go. He would rather repeat his grade ‘than go to jail!’. Sharon sees it as an escape, John sees it as a jail sentence Neither of these children should be sent away.
In all cases of maladjustment or communication problems between parent and child, do not send your scholastic and/or emotional problems to boarding school.
Scene two – under achieving
John (as per example above) is obviously underachieving. This problem should be sorted out at home. How is John going to ‘do better’ on his own in a new environment? He has no support out there.
This is creating a serious dead-end road for him. We have seen some tragic endings in suicide as a final escape.
Scene three – divorce is in the air
Communication between mom and dad is failing. The short circuit does not seem to have a breaker.
Endless discussions are held somewhere in private ‘so that the children won’t get upset’. Sending them to boarding school and finalising the divorce in their absence, when they are away from home when the bomb explodes, is not a solution at all.
Children know and share the same emotions their parents do. Who is deceiving who? Seek professional advice and guidance. An openly declared and honest dispute between parents has never ever done any child any harm.
What the child must know and experience is a feeling of safety, protection and love by both
parents. Children can cope when parents differ, even when divorce enters the picture, because it is not about them.
Scene four – respect and trust
Your child is yours and nobody else’s. Respect your child’s individuality and honour his privacy and confidentiality. Respect your relationship, which is forever, whatever happens. Seek advice from a professional and do not discuss your ‘problem child’ with others, especially if they are present!
Scene five – yes for boarding school
Boarding school is for the child who needs a new challenge. Boarding school is meant for the child that has fallen into a rut and is bored and needs stimulation. Boarding school is not meant to solve problems, but should rather provide new academic challenges, a new culture for learning and new
social, cultural and sport activities that can uplift and enrich your child.
Scene six – all for one and one for all
Parents need to talk to their children. There should be no secrets and no hidden agendas. Parents and children must discuss and find solutions to issues together.
Henk Kaldenberg is a registered counselling psychologist in Empangeni and can be reached on 072 9297671 or email [email protected]
Henk Kaldenberg

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