Mon­ster Cre­ation 101 - When Par­ents Refuse to Par­ent

The Star (St. Lucia) - - COMMENT - Alicia Valasse By

The per­pe­tra­tion of the most heinous crimes can stir up un­de­sir­able feed­back from parts of our so­ci­ety while in­spir­ing in some of us the most pas­sion­ate re­sponses. The re­cent dis­cov­ery of the body of Yana Au­guste has prompted much di­a­logue in var­i­ous spheres of our so­ci­ety: the fem­i­nist move­ments in our midst, the sea­sonal, out­spo­ken pro­po­nents of vi­o­lence against fe­males and the public at large who seem to be emo­tion­ally af­fected only in the fort­night fol­low­ing the crime. One of the most no­table re­sponses to what has been hailed by many as at­tacks on fem­i­nin­ity is Honourable Alv­ina Reynolds’ re­sponse - “We have cre­ated some mon­sters”. Re­ally?

Over the years, par­ents have put away their par­ent­ing tools all in an ef­fort to al­low chil­dren to blos­som freely, in­de­pen­dently and fear­lessly. Any hon­est in­tro­spec­tion from us will un­doubt­edly re­veal that many of our chil­dren are re­spon­si­ble for them­selves on this is­land. They imag­ine bed­time sto­ries while their par­ents are work­ing the night shift, and they unan­i­mously de­cide how to ra­tion the last loaf of bed in the cup­board for break­fast while their par­ents sleep. Af­ter school, they may join their friends “on the block” for the oc­ca­sional sip or puff or they may sim­ply stay home to catch up on the latest hap­pen­ings in bad fam­ily re­la­tions on the for­eign sit­coms. This is the life that many chil­dren live on our is­land.

Many par­ents have failed in their roles as so­cial­iza­tion agents. Bear­ing in mind that many of our chil­dren live in house­holds manned by one par­ent, the trans­mis­sion of ba­sic deco­rum is al­most ex­tinct. Cus­tom­ary greet­ing of oth­ers is dis­missed as a prim­i­tive ges­ture while “Thank you” and “I’m sorry” ut­ter­ances are re­served for those who have re­gret­tably at­tained the ti­tle of “sissy”. While many among us will be quick to blame the “fathers who did not stick around” or those who have been la­beled as no­madic se­men dis­pensers, all par­ents must play their parts in help­ing to bring up this “blank slate”. Two or­gan­isms played a part in the conception so two per­sons should be ad­e­quately in­volved in the process of up­bring­ing. It should not be as­sumed that our chil­dren would un­con­sciously at­tain good man­ners from the edited por­tray­als of fam­i­lies we en­counter on tele­vi­sion.

Re­gret­tably, many par­ents (who are ado­les­cents them­selves) con­tinue to fail as dis­ci­plinary agents. The use of ob­scen­i­ties by chil­dren is seen by many young moth­ers as ex­cerpts from a com­i­cal per­for­mance - they would laugh aloud of­ten dis­miss­ing the young child’s curs­ing re­hearsal as “noth­ing”. To them, the young minds are com­pletely ig­no­rant of what is said in their pres­ence and so, there’s no need to sanc­tion. When fi­nally, the child openly em­bar­rasses the mother (usu­ally) with ob­scene enun­ci­a­tions in the queue at the su­per­mar­ket, a sud­den im­pulse to dis­ci­pline kicks in. Hands are pre­pared im­me­di­ately to strike the near­est body part hard enough to ap­pease the on­look­ers. Un­for­tu­nately, such oc­ca­sions are rarely en­light­en­ing.

Our chil­dren are ex­posed to so much vi­o­lence that they are un­know­ingly be­ing trained for com­bat. The car­toons that they view present a plethora of meth­ods to kill - from the ar­chaic bow and arrow to nu­clear weapons. These meth­ods are of­ten glam­or­ized by re­veal­ing per­pe­tra­tors who evade jus­tice and vic­tims who al­ways res­ur­rect. At home, many chil­dren live in homes where par­ents dis­re­spect each other openly; they hurl curse words and in­sults at each other or sim­ply at­tempt vil­i­fi­ca­tion of an ab­sent par­ent. Sadly, many chil­dren wit­ness fist­fights be­tween their par­ents, at­tempted mur­der, as­sault and ac­tual mur­der. Oth­ers wit­ness par­ents drown­ing in al­co­hol, wrap­ping up the “joints”, and pros­ti­tut­ing them­selves for the week­end break­fast.

Whether we want to ad­mit it or not, these set­tings are per­fect for cre­at­ing mon­sters. Many homes are Mon­ster Train­ing Academies - they are void of man­ners-learn­ing ses­sions, they present live vi­o­lence shows, they do not ac­knowl­edge the ex­is­tence of a higher power, they un­con­sciously teach the so­phis­ti­ca­tion of pro­fane lan­guage and they love so much that they fail to dis­ci­pline. But let’s not be too quick to point fin­gers solely at the fam­ily although so­ci­ol­o­gists gen­er­ally rec­og­nize it as a pri­mary so­cial­iz­ing agent. The com­mu­nity, the church and the school all have parts to play in the so­cial­iza­tion process. Some­how, many of our in­sti­tu­tions and even many of us con­tinue to look the other way when we be­gin the see the neg­a­tive meta­mor­pho­sis. We are only moved to in­ter­vene when some­one is left in a pool of blood or some­one dies.

Who are the real mon­ster cre­ators in our so­ci­ety?

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