Let me tell you, as they say, a little story. An 11-year-old boy is abused by another child. The abuser is habitually foul-mouthed, using the most obscene of words as a matter of course, sometimes in front of his father. He sometimes becomes horribly angry, screaming four-letter words at other children and shoving them.
He tells his friends that he smokes every night, tells them how cool it is to fail at school and holds forth on the delights of phone sex. Some of those around him are enthralled by the tales. They hang on every word.
The parent of one of the children complains. He is told by the child’s father, and by a teacher, that “you have to let the kids sort it out for themselves.”
I disagree more than I can say.
Of course we let children sort out their own little skirmishes and squabbles, but this is something entirely different. If, for example, a boy is beating up another child, we surely don’t let the pair fight to the finish even if one child is being battered.
If a child has been exposed to the worst the culture has to offer, to all sorts of television, to crass materialism, to bad schools and bad teachers, to semi-pornographic material, a well-raised child should not have to deal vicariously with all that garbage.
In short, the product of a bad parent should not be able to damage the product of a good one.
Some argue that parents should not shelter a child. Define shelter. In my case, I don’t shelter so much as protect. I will no more let a child of 11 watch every pernicious image that filters across the television than I would let him play in a busy road. I shelter him from spiritual and moral harm just as I do from physical danger.
As he gets older and is stronger in his development, he will be able to cope with the inevitable darkness that comes from others. But not at 11. How dare I impose my sloth on his little being? How dare I abuse him with some fatuous social theory to the detriment of his stability and happiness?
No child should have unsupervised access to the internet, no child should have a pager, no child should be left in front of a television, no child should be allowed to treat his parents and others with rudeness and disrespect.
No child should be allowed to become a prisoner of the culture, raped by every whim of big business and media hucksters. No young girl should dress like a hooker, no young boy should act like a pimp.
Then why, why, why do so many otherwise apparently sane people allow their kids to behave the way they do?
The answer is pretty straightforward. Yes, there are problem kids who need special help. But, for the most part, we’re talking about middle-class parents who just won’t do the work. I’m tired of the excuses and the lies. Because every parent who won’t walk the walk makes it that bit harder for the rest of us.
What I have noticed about so many parents of superbrats is how they resent mums and dads who bother to do their jobs properly. They use words like “snob” or “pompous” or “elitist.” In other words, if you aspire to something noble, you are a bad person. It’s the product of guilt. They are shamed and guilty and instead of dealing with their ineptitude, they hit out.
Well, maybe we are elitist. Maybe we do want the best for our children and, important this, understand that they are capable of grace and greatness. And here is where the flavours behind the cult of death smother the good taste that is intrinsic to the culture of life. We who understand the spark of the eternal that is within every human expect more and aim higher than those who believe that we are lumps of flesh, to be disposed of and treated as if we mattered little more than a farmyard animal or a commercial commodity.
The fundamental truth is that life begins at conception and ends at natural death. But these are the bookends of the library that is glorious. Life. Full to bursting, not with the scrapings of existence, but with leaps at brilliance and beauty, rather than crawls into banality and bestiality.
The ill-bred child and the indifferent, trendy parents are products of the very ideology against which we struggle. The knowledge that children are precious and that every life is unique makes for better parents; the belief that we are mere accidents of birth and that even allowing life to exist in the first place is at the whim of adults tends to lead to parents who care more for the process than the product. Forget that and we forget what we are fighting for. Tragically, modern society forgot all this some time ago.
Michael Coren can be booked for speaking events at www.michaelcoren.com.