In Sri Lanka, election seasons are usually not the times to focus on the family when politicians have a spat discussing family issues. Seldom do politicians pay attention to family issues except to spotlight the high cost of things connected with the kitchen when housewives are instigated to come on to the streets with kitchen utensils and make a din.
Nevertheless, even many national issues before the legislature would not be unnecessarily complex and complicated if more attention was paid to families in the nation: to help to build wholesome and in every way, educated, well-bred, healthy families throughout the country. If families were socially healthy, children would grow up in the home itself knowing from their early years what is good and bad, right and wrong and the fundamental moral norms and values.
Learning to live in society
It is from the parents that the child should learn to know the true from the false. It is in the home that the basic norms of good relationships and good neighborliness and a caring concern for others, especially the poor, the disadvantaged and the helpless are learned. It is from the father and mother that children learn that certain decisions and actions need the permission of parents and that certain boundaries are not to be breached ever. Good parents teach their children that they should always have a blameless conscience.
Thus as they grow in the family environment, the children learn the basics of civic and social consciousness and responsibility coming to know well how to live in society and attend to one’s duties as a law-abiding citizen. These elements of good breeding would be further strengthened through school discipline where knowledge and respect for basic law and order are inculcated by good teachers. School discipline should be such that a schoolchild learns self-control, will never be found guilty of unacceptable social behavior, let alone crime.
If a concerned State Ministry were to pay careful attention to family well-being, it would obviously pay attention to the foundation of the family which is marriage. It would see that those who are obtaining a license to marry are indeed qualified to marry and become parents of children: that they are sufficiently knowledgeable about the responsibilities they are assuming according to the covenant they enter into as well as the responsibility of loving acceptance of children and the long-term and contingent eventualities consequent to a marriage partnership.
But today, due to the State abdicating a responsibility devolving on it, parents are not purposefully prepared for parenthood. Would-be teachers need to undergo training. (Even some university professors, who, because of their intellectual abilities, have themselves obtained very good results at their final exams, turn out to be unsuccessful teachers because they neither have the knack nor have they acquired by training the ways of clearly communicating what they know so well to their students and teaching them!) In some way, human beings need to be instructed to accomplish what they have got to do. Some are fast at it, but some are slow. Parenting too is a skill that needs to be acquired on the job or prepared for in some way, if one has not been gifted with an innate skill.
Parenting needs preparation
There can be no excuses for anyone for not being prepared for parenting. There occurs unmindful and neglectful parenting, thoughtless permissive parenting, disorderly parenting. Some parents are overly strict with children, and at other times indulging their every desire. All children need to be guided as to how they should associate with and relate to other children from different backgrounds, families, religious orientation, social strata and economic status and not show meanness or cause offence to anyone.
Awareness of pluralism in our society could come to children in the family itself. Relating to others with respect and good behavior is something inculcated in the home and parents are the ones who instill it in their children in the bosom of the family. Not to infringe on the rights of others are learnt in the family and in the school under good parents and good teachers.
Towards good behavior
At a young age proneness to wickedness, retaliation, dishonesty, lying, arrogance, bullying, unkindness and delinquency can be corrected; also the cultivation of good habits, orderly and virtuous conduct, selflessness and faithfulness, living up to religious ideals and values, devotion to service and love of others and even heroism can also be instilled in the young by parents, teachers and guides in the course of the ordinary lives of children in the family and in the schools.
Good parenting and integral education can drastically reduce juvenile delinquency, arrogance, bullying and social misconduct. Good parenting aided by good schooling could bring about a disciplined society where no one needs to prod on another to prevent unacceptable social better behavior.
The effort made to equip couples getting married with the skills of good parenting will bring good dividends in the form of a disciplined, orderly and law-abiding society.