Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Public Parenting

I inadvertently found myself caught in a family dilemma this evening - but it wasn't even my own family! It was just where it took place kinda threw me.

I spoiled myself and had dinner at Maccas tonite [so, sue me! heh heh]. As I was tucking into my Fillet-O-Shark, I could not help but overhear the conversation on the table directly beside me. Mum and dad were talking to their c.16-yo daughter, who'd obviously failed a whole lot of her school subjects this year, according to the report and letter the mum had in her hand.

Apparently, there had been some kind of agreement between them, as to how she would perform at school, as to what her ongoing options re. schooling would be. Basically, her parents tried to make her understand that paying her private school fees this year was crippling their family... apparently their agreement/understand was that if she failed to perform to a certain level at her schoolwork, she'd have to go back to public education.

The girl was horrified and began to throw what can only be surmised to be a tantrum, threatening to run off, breaking down in loud sobs, etc etc.

This is where her parents came into their own. They made her sit down, and told her directly, not loudly or in an upset tone, but in a very matter-of-fact way, how things stood re. her schooling. Brilliantly, both parents backed each other up during the discussion. It wasn't aggressive, or hostile, or negative. It wasn't a 'controlling' situation, either. It was just laying things down in black-and-white, re-affirming their daughters' responsibilities and consequences of them.

The daughter ran off into the kitchen/office of Maccas (I then assumed she'd been working there), kinda just to get some space. The parents, who were obviously upset but outwardly very calm and in control of their emotions, continued to discuss the situation and all their options.

At that point (call me a whatever), I simply leant over and affirmed their parenting at what was, obviously, a very tough time. They smiled, thanked me, asked if I had teenagers yet ("he's just 14", I replied), and agreed it was tough. Basically, i just wanted to encourage them in their direct bold parenting. Parenting is hard at any time, let alone at times like that. Moments like that aren't covered in the Parenting Manual, you know... I just wanted to encourage them as parents, from one to another. I could tell they appreciated where my comment was coming from.

Look, the girl was obviously upset. She'd probably let herself down as well, with her poor school results. But seriously - she doesn't know how good she's got it. She has parents who love her enough to set definite boundaries, consequences - and call her to account. She wanted to be treated like an adult, and she sure was.

Maybe I was jealous (I later reflected). I wish my parents had been so bold and direct with me at the same age. I pulled-out half-way-thru my final year of High School, and basically floundered around for the next ten years. I wish my parents had kinda set some definite boundaries and responsibilities that kinda forced me to stay at school. Maybe things might have turned out differently. Hey, I'm not dizzing on my parents - not at all! I'm just saying - this girl here had some good, firm but fair parents, who were showing her some 'tough love'. Sure, she probably won't appreciate it now, but in a few years the lights'll come on for her, and she'll understand what they're trying to do for her. Give her a sense of ownership and responsibility for her own life, at her young age. Good on 'em, I say!

Anyways, the girl came back and sat down after about 3 or 4 minutes, after obviously speaking with the duty manager (who came out to reassure the parents their daughter was fine and would be coming out in a minute). I'd finished my meal by then, and I just couldn't stay any longer. I had to get out of there, simply because my own heart felt both the heaviness, pity and sorrow of both child and parents.

I really appreciated what they were trying to do for their daughter, I really do.

Just - why do it at dinner time in a public place like in the middle of Maccas...?!?
Peas be with ewe

Subscribe Subscribe to this Blog


  1. Some kids today really don't truly appreciate the sacrifices their parents make for them. The parents did well, although you have to wonder if Maccas was the place to hold a discussion like that.

    I feel sorry for my sister. Her eldest will be 13 next year.

    Thanks for visting my blog. I'm glad someone else is reading it!

  2. I agree with you, great parenting, but this discussion would have been better at home..

    Thank you mal for visiting my site :) I don't say it enough.

  3. Mealtimes are certainly a magnet for family fall-outs - maybe it's because they are one of the few occasions when everyone sits down face-to-face nowadays, away from the computer/playstation/tv etc?

    Perhaps the parents chose a public place deliberately, hoping it would force their daughter to be in control of her emotions?

    We have a nearly-15 year old - it's certainly not easy riding the tide of unreason, whilst being firm but flexible (?)

    Time someone wrote that manual, eh?