Bringing up baby not child's play

By Aidan Clarkin-Rush

I CAN remember those days as a mischievous toddler as clear as the water I would aim at my exhausted parents. I recall the dishes of unwanted food I would toss, the pointless tantrums I would throw and the mischievous acts I would perform away from the observant eyes of my parents.

Nowadays, when I reflect on the delight I would bring to myself but the anxiety I would bring to my parents, thousands of questions fill my already-perplexed mind. "Why did I act like such a spoiled brat? What would have happened if I had been in my parent's situation?"

I have now come to terms with the demanding reality of parenthood; this realisation has, unfortunately, arrived many years too late.

The job of raising a child is challenging and the end product is often good. Parents will often be confronted with new predicaments, some of which cannot be easily solved. Alas, there is insufficient assistance and education provided for struggling parents. I believe this is a crisis, which has gradually spread throughout New Zealand.

The majority of the problems parents will tackle commonly occur within the first five years of a child's life, and during the teenage years in which a child matures into an adult. These difficult times involve the development of a child's physical, emotional, social and spiritual dimensions (hauora). This growth is vital for living a life of fulfilment and optimism.

My parents were, and are, the ideal type of parents and raised me with both rules and rewards. If I misbehaved, my parents would discipline me non-violently, teaching me numerous valuable life lessons.

I learned that violence was never the answer to any problem.

I was raised in a quiet, comfortable environment with a loving family and many affectionate animals. These surroundings most probably taught me to love and nurture all living things.

I was punished for bad behaviour and rewarded for good. This form of discipline taught me to persevere and behave to receive the things I desired. My parents presented me with picture and activity booklets. These taught me the basics needed for the school journey.

My parents fully prepared me for the arduous voyage of life. I can proclaim with certainty that my parents have done everything in their power to make me the best person I can be.

There are many pieces of advice which I would give to parents. I believe parents should not punish their children physically, or the child will grow up assuming that violence is acceptable.

Parents should reward children for good behaviour and punish them for bad. This will teach the child to work for rewards and maintain good behaviour to keep them.

Child abuse is a rapidly increasing problem in New Zealand. I am absolutely disgusted to discover that New Zealand has one of the highest child abuse rates in the world. My heart aches for all the children who are victims of child abuse. The child is never to blame.

Adults who abuse their children are not prepared for the role as a parent. Child abuse will scar a child for life, and this could cause the child to commit abuse on his or her children, and the cycle continues.

There are numerous reports of child abuse occurring in New Zealand. I yearn for the day when the phrase "child abuse" is unfamiliar and forgotten.

Aidan Clarkin-Rush, Year 9, Hamilton Boys' High School

- NZ Herald

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