ATSP ED Newsletter term 3 2016


Children generally, but teenagers especially, tend to think that the prime responsibility of their parents is to embarrass them. As they grow older they plead with us not to kiss them in front of their friends and not to drop them at school in the old jalopy; they cringe at our dancing and singing and dress sense (especially when we appear to vie to be ‘the oldest teenager in town’); they moan inwardly at our screaming and ululating and cavorting at matches.

Whether we plead that we are not deliberately setting out to embarrass them, it would help us to heed the simple piece of advice from a wise man many years ago who said, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children” while on another occasion he added, “Do not embitter your children.” (Note we will embitter them if we exasperate them). Our initial response would be that we would NEVER exasperate our children! Why on earth would we do that? And of course, we would probably follow it up quickly with a defensive riposte that it is our children who exasperate us! However, it is not the things that embarrass them that exasperate them; it is much more than such superficialities. In what might appear to contradict what I shared in last term’s newsletter (“Say ‘No’ So They Know”), it is the notable ‘No’s that we present them with that exasperate them. Let me stress it is not us saying “No” to them which will exasperate them but it is the things they do not see in us as parents that does that. This is what exasperates children.

Firstly, they receive no explanations – children will no longer accept “Because I say so”; they want (and deserve) reasons and if you cannot give them, why are you making such statements? Secondly, they see no consistency, be that in the ‘rules’ you set, the behaviour you show (they will not accept “Don’t do as I do; do as I say” – they hate hypocrisy big-time) or the punishment you give. Thirdly, they find no understanding – this generation is nothing like the generation when we were children and we need to understand them. Fourthly, they notice no attention – we cannot use the lame excuse that “I am busy”, as the message to them is they are of no (or less) value. Fifthly, they gain no trust – before we claim that they must earn our trust (which is actually a contradiction in terms), we might ask ourselves how much we have earned their trust? Sixthly, they feel no encouragement – we only ever point out their failings and foibles. As Suzy Kassem wrote, “The worst thing in life is having parents that always stand against you and never with you. They discourage you, instil fear in you, hold you back, push you down and never encourage you to fly forward.

Our responsibility as a parent is not to push or pull them down but to “bring them up” (as the wise man, previously mentioned, also stated). Note that we are to “bring” them up – not send them to someone else; note that we are to bring them “up”, not drag them down.

I wish to thank the new committee of the ATS Parents Association for all they are doing to help you as parents. There is a strong move to train parents in parenting and we encourage every parent to take any opportunity that comes along to learn more about this thankless, difficult task. Check the ATS website for articles on such issues ( ) – a new one has just been posted.