Keeping Mum
Dita De Boni looks at the trials and tribulations of being a parent.

The life of Brian


When the voice of a rugby great from yesteryear speaks, it's amazing how many people take notice, even still.

Sir Brian Lochore's comments this week, about political correctness destroying New Zealand, have certainly struck a chord with people, if page upon page of comments on the Herald website are anything to go by.

Some of Sir Brian's antiquated ideas seemed a little off to me.

It's hard to imagine why kids playing in the mud while their fathers prop up the rugby club bar would build character. Growing up in a small rugby-mad town, I can attest to seeing many kids do exactly what he's suggested. Many went on to become alcoholics, because this is what they believed to be recreation. It was certainly no fun for their wives stuck at home.

And why is it bad for children to now be expected to wear hard hats on bikes or horses? Do you need to crack your skull to build your backbone?

And finally, long rugby parties with kids sleeping in cars outside is surely stupidity. Thank God parents are expected to be a little more vigilant these days, even if it is a result of "PC gone mad".

But of course, there seems to me to be some essential truth in what he's said. And although he expressed it himself in a pretty ham-fisted way, I reckon it comes down to a couple of things.

Firstly, that being a father is very important and every child needs a father figure, whether he or she lives with that father or not.

The best job done by Mum cannot, especially for a young boy, compensate for the lack of such a person in a child's life.

Secondly, as Sir Brian says, is that respect is very important.

Perhaps this ties in with the first point - a father who is doing his job can easily teach the importance of respect by just being a firm, but fair, dad.

It's a lesson learnt just by observing adults acting like adults should. Not that kids should have to defer to everyone around them all the time, or be submissive. But they should know when to express themselves, and when to be taught or told things.

It seems almost quaint to try and highlight the importance of these things nowadays.

Ironically, an ex All Black may be one of the few people most of us respect enough to hear some unpalatable truths from.

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