We got an over-sized pamphlet in our letterbox today entitled Family Values – pitting politicians against each other and compared their values, as opposed to their policies. The first policy that springs to mind for me when I think parenting and politics, is Section 59 – the anti-smacking legislation which had been on my mind earlier in the day after what may be herein known as McDonalds-gate.
I have three children, they are all loved, cherished and fussed over. They are equal parts intelligent, funny, charming, charismatic, empathetic, compassionate, crafty, independent, stubborn, single-minded, headstrong, quick witted, laws unto themselves. Who were ungrateful to be eating an apple pie at McDonalds, and would have preferred a Happy Meal. They possess the skills to make sure their parents are aware of their wants and needs. Which they did. To the entire restaurant. Loudly.
And I couldn’t help but wonder how different it would be if it was legal to give them a short sharp clear signal that their behaviour was unacceptable. It crossed my mind. I don’t smack my children. I don’t believe in inflicting physical harm on my children, partly because it’s illegal. But it definitely crossed my mind.
Parenting is hard, somehow I don’t think that it matters a jot how well-equipped we are, how high our EQ is or how many books we’ve read or theories we’ve studied. Some days it’s a bit like playing the pokie machine – the odds are stacked against you, no matter how much you might win, at the end of the day, your children know you better than anyone, and they know what buttons to push.
I don’t know if Section 59 has really done anything to protect the children that need it most, and I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t want to model my values off those of a Politician. But with the benefit of hindsight and regardless of how it felt it at the time, it wasn’t a situation that warranted any drastic measures. I think, as parents, some days the best we can do is “tie a knot and hold on”. Take deep breaths, leave the aggravating situation, smile through gritted teeth and explain to the children quietly and calmly how they will not be going to McDonalds again any time soon.