In Illinois recently two siblings in their twenties brought a law suit against their mother for causing them emotional distress through bad parenting whilst they were young children.
This bad parenting included her refusal to buy them toys, giving them a birthday card with no cash in it and insisting that they wear their seat belts.
If you are the type of person who is shocked and outraged that the judge so quickly threw their case out then you would not have enjoyed the recent talk by clinical psychologist Nigel Latta at Takapuna Grammar School.
Nigel has recently taken on the role of ambassador for the Devonport based, cancer related charity Kenzie’s Gift and as part of their fund raising efforts he donated his time to providing over 200 people, including your Speculator correspondent, with his thoughts on the “Politically Incorrect Guide to Raising Boys and Girls”, a show based on his successful TV shows.
Over the 2 hours Nigel took the audience through a range of topics including the why men need to position themselves with a view of the TV whilst enquiring about their in-laws, how to use a screwdriver rein in unacceptable adolescent behaviour and why having sex with stupid people may seriously jeapordise the chances of your offspring becoming a top neurosurgeon.
Nigel ‘s style was to deliver it as he sees it, expletives and all. He continually moved across the stage at high speed as if he was scared that when he advocated punishing kids for bad behaviour, an outraged Politically Correct parent in the audience would leap forward with intent to maim or worse (Nigel himself highlighted that he is already on a hit list of many PC supporters including 2 deeply upset and sadistic midwives in Hamilton).
He described his own approach to parenting as being lazy and the key elements of his advice were around the need for parents to avoid stressing themselves, that they will get things wrong, their children will do inexplicable things but that in the end most of them will grow up into fine adults. In his view what is needed is an application by parents of good old commonsense for as Nigel pointed out, for humans to have been around for 200,000 years then parents must have been doing most things right well before we started to be bombarded with expert advice as to how to be the perfect parent.
Nigel’s recommendations and suggestions were given added credibility by the fact that he has 2 young boys of his own so the audience can see that he has also undergone the enlightening experience of trying to get an 8 year old to eat breakfast, get dressed and off to school without Mum and Dad suffering a mental breakdown every morning.
This credibility aspect raises an interesting point as to why his TV show about murderers, Beyond the Darklands, is also so successful and that maybe the police should be checking Nigel’s freezer for body parts.
When Nigel’s talk came to a close Nic Russell, the founder of Kenzie’s Gift, talked about how the charity helps children of cancer sufferers come to terms with the illness and showed a video clip about one of the children the charity has helped with therapy.
Being reminded that there are children and families out there experiencing real suffering on a daily basis not only brought home Nigel’s point that those in the audience need not get stressed out by little Tabitha refusing to eat her greens or teen monster Jamie not tidying up his room, but also that charities like Kenzie’s Gift need ongoing support to deal with family circumstances far worse than our own.
As a closing thought, having recently attended the Form 2 end of year ball at Belmont Intermediate, it is clear that most of our children are growing up happy and benevolent, as well as occasionally a little strong-minded.
The wall of positive vibes that came off the parents, the teachers (the Headmaster is a jewel) and the kids during the last couple of dances was just awesome to experience. As I watched this seething mass of excitement Cha-Cha in beautiful unison with parents and teachers in full participation, I was struck by the thoughts that - despite the substantial pressures on all parents, many of them solo – most are doing a fantastic job.