Friday, October 8, 2010

Perplexing parenting


Modern day parenting dilemmas can sometimes fall into a grey area
It has come to my attention that every parent has their own set of standards.
What’s okay for one, is not okay for another (not that there’s anything wrong with that... but please read on).
To elaborate on this, I’m going to put forward some examples, and reflect on these everyday dilemmas.
Case #1: Parents who leave their kids in the car.
Recently a friend of mine who lives in a small town, popped into a shop leaving her two kids in the car (air-conditioner still running). 
That night, the police knocked on her door asking questions because apparently someone had reported her.
This obviously came as quite a shock, and she was given a warning by the police, who seemed to have nothing better to do with their time.
But the fact is that there is no law against this except to say that parents must not leave children unattended in a car for an unreasonable amount of time.
So what exactly is unreasonable?

Is it okay to leave kids in the car while filling up with fuel and popping into the servo to pay?
Is it okay to leave kids in the car while nipping into Cazalys to give some spare change to the Pokies?
What is “unreasonable” for one parent, might be perfectly acceptable to another.
Case #2: Using a disabled toilet or parking space.
While shopping centres have come a long way in the past 20 years by providing parenting rooms, there are still not enough facilities to go around, and the fact is that children can’t hold their bladders for very long.
Therefore, the best next option is to use the disabled toilet, particularly if you’re looking after a number of kids, pushing a pram and also need to use the loo while keeping a close eye on a baby, and a wandering toddler.
And in some places, the only baby change table is in the disabled toilet.
I’m quite sure parents would consider using alternative toilets if there was a line-up of wheelchairs outside, but if there is no one around, do you think it’s okay to use a disabled toilet?
While toilets for children, or parent rooms, are limited, there does seem to be a growing number of parent parking spaces outside shopping centres.
Disabled parking spaces are for those in wheelchairs or for those who have difficulty walking.
Yet I have seen on many occasions vehicles without a permit in the space clearly marked as a disabled parking space.
It may not be parents parking there, but the question remains, if it’s okay to use the disabled toilet, is it okay to use the disabled parking space?
If it’s not okay to use the disabled parking space, why do parents continue to use the disabled toilets?
Case #3: Letting kids eat whatever they want.
“I was fed up with his behaviour this morning, so I just let him eat a doughnut for breakfast.”
No joke, I heard a mum say this about her two-year-old son.
I don’t really understand how bad behaviour and a doughnut go together first thing in the morning, but she had no qualms in telling those around her what he had eaten for breakfast.
I would be too embarrassed to admit a slip-up like that, but then I wouldn’t have doughnuts in the house tempting my sweet-toothed four-year-old.
My theory with healthy eating is this: “If you don’t want them to eat it, don’t buy it.”
Parents are the ones who buy the food, so if your kid is addicted to Maggi noodles and Coke, just stop buying it for heaven’s sake!
The problem is that some parents have their own bad eating habits to break, and because they’re the only role models their children have, they are already starting a cycle of unhealthy eating, which could lead to numerous health problems such as obesity.
So, is it okay for parents to eat what they want, and enforce a healthy diet on their kids?
Is it okay for kids to eat junk occasionally, even if it develops bad habits?
Some points to ponder among your mother’s group this week.

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