Earlier today, I was catching up with a fellow nerd friend of mine. Just general chit-chat, really. The topic of educational issues came up, and we were discussing Parental Imposed Handicaps.
Allow me to clarify what I mean by that.
In a previous post, I mentioned Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder [FASD] which is a term that describes Foetal Alcoholic Syndrome, as well as a plethora of defects that a baby can be born with [including, but not limited to, physical deformities] due to foetal exposure the alcohol consumption. Just to recap, for you lazy buggers who don't bother with clicking links, Foetal Alcoholic Syndrome pretty much means that your child will constantly behave as if they are drunk. They will be facing learning difficulties [such as dyslexia and being slow learners], as well as social handicaps [such as being slow to catch on in social environments, slurred speech etc] and can be quite uncoordinated in their movements. Think of how many IQ points you lose whenever you get drunk. Now imagine living in that state for the rest of your life - without the buzz you get off alcohol. Fun, eh? Oh, and it also affects the child's facial features.
The issue with FASD is that it is the mother's fault and therefore can be very easily go undiagnosed - at least, officially. Few mothers will admit to being the reason their child has disabilities which could have very well been avoided. And most will get defensive should anyone make an attempt to bring their attention to the issue. This means tat the child will not get the support s/he needs.
Another Parental Imposed Handicap that came up was a case of children being brought up in too much of a sheltered environment. In this day and age, most children grow up way too quickly, so a certain measure of control over what they are, or aren't exposed to, is a good idea to have. However, when it comes to being TOO sheltered, it pretty much can be a severe social handicap. Imagine being a 15 year old boy, who cannot understand how an unmarried couple can make babies - or hose parents don't allow him to read the newspapers, or watch the news, to protect him from "the evils of the world. Or being a 15 year old girl whose mum decides how your hair should be cut, what clothes you should wear, who still bathes you every night. Yes, these parents do exist. And I pity their children.
Parenting is a tough game to play, but there are a few guidelines one can keep in mind in order to equip their child with the necessary life skills.
Let your child be aware of what is going on around him/her. Take responsibility for your actions, and make sure your child takes responsibility for his/her actions too. Don't justify him/her with "S/he's just a child!" whenever they do something they know they shouldn't have. Allow your child to learn from his/her own mistakes. As much as it hurts to see your child get hurt, sometimes they need to earn their battle scars to truly learn the lesson. Learn when to step in, and when to take the back seat - a child has to learn how to fight his/her own battles, whilst knowing that they will still find your support should it be needed. Don't limit yourself to destructive/constructive criticism only - a healthy mixture of both is needed. If your child does something wrongly, don't just scold or punish them - explain why it is wrong, and how to fix it as well as what to do to prevent repeating the same mistake in the future. Make sure your child knows there are no stupid questions - this will encourage them not to be afraid to ask you stuff.
I could go on and on and on with tips on what to do and what not - but I won't. What it all boils down to is this - Life is hard enough as it is - don't make it any harder unnecessarily.