Friday, 3 September 2010

Grumpy old woman: sad observations of society

I know I'm rapidly approaching 50, so I probably qualify for the role of grumpy old woman but what I saw today made me not only angry but very sad. I'd taken a  break from work to have my nails done in Rugeley.  It's a small market town which is suffering more than its fair share of the recession. There is a wealth of charity shops and many boarded up pubs but the level of socio-economic well being in general is much the same as elsewhere. They had the door open because it was warm, so for an hour and a half while I was sitting in the chair 'being done', I could hear the general hum of human activity as families, teenagers and a good sample of the general population passed by on their way to the market hall or the bus station on a warm summer afternoon. Sounds peaceful, a slice of England going about its business?

NO!! It might have been a sample of society on a summer afternoon but  what I heard was most upsetting and made the whole session quite stressful. At least 3 children crying and being screamed at from a very close proximity to either 'Shut up', or 'Shut the f@&k up' in one instance to a little boy who couldn't have been more than 18 months old. One 2 year old got a smacked bottom because he dropped his dummy (yes dummy, why on earth they need dummies at that age in the middle of the afternoon!). There was a loud, heated argument between a couple in front of their bemused 3 year old with too many swear words to mention and a teenaged mum with a cigarette hanging precariously over her newborn. I could go on but I won't. WHAT IS HAPPENING TO SOCIETY? Are we so stressed, caught up in our own world of problems that we have forgotten how precious and in need of nurturing our children are.

We have a national crisis where parents are not adequately interacting with babies and children which leads to social interaction difficulties, language  and communication problems. At least 40,000 children will have started school this week without the necessary levels of spoken language ability to access the curriculum. These are NOT children with speech, language or communication disorders which they have through no-one's fault, these are victims of what is, in reality, negligence. Had they had better parenting they'd be fine. I am not condemning just families with low income, as some of my most language deprived children who I see come from very affluent families. Conversely, some people I know are struggling on very low income but are fantastic parents.

We must keep trying to spread the word about good practise but its going to take a long time. I was discussing social change with a  friend, we were discussing the fact that everyone wears a seatbelt now and we all know that we shouldn't drop litter. These were two very powerful social messages that various governments managed to sustain. We need one now, about something I think is more important than both of those put together:how we should be talking to our children, valuing them, listening to them and showing them a good example.

The Smart Talkers groups were devised because of this decline see 
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  1. That is all sadly VERY true, and repeated all over the place, and at all levels of society. We seem to have lost our way with so many things, possessions and the latest gadget appear to have taken over as being more important than children and family.......words failed me when a parent sat in the Smart Talkers group TEXTING and ignoring her boys!!!!!!! Oh dear.
    A really old grumpy aka Franky.

  2. Sad but true. Unfortunately it got worse over the years. I stopped thinking about the future because it makes me cry. When children communicate through instant messaging, and emailing with parents, there is certainly a problem. Adults are cut up in their fake world and trying to keep up with the Jones, while the kids left to be educated from TV. I was a volunteer in elementary school and a little girl 1st grader didn't know what is elephant.They can not read or write either, and when the parents was approached they said "so what you guys doing in here? I am sending her to school to learn."

  3. Its very very sad and it makes you wonder what going to happen! Its getting worse all the time.

  4. Its very true and very sad

  5. Very very sad and the same everywhere!

  6. I couldn't agree more, and as a psychologist specialising in child development I see many parents who don't realise how important it is to simply talk to children. Kids don't NEED the latest DVDs, toys or gadgets; most of these things hinder development anyway.
    They need the sensitive, respectful attention of a caring adult.
    I am horrified that parents bark orders at kids, scream or swear at them. Would they do this to an old person who was being a bit slow or difficult? Surely children deserve the respect we afford to all other fellow human beings, and since they are still learning we should show them extra patience and tolerance.
    I am known to be anti-TV but I do firmly believe it is a conversation-killer and to blame for the demise of conversation in families today. Since it is in the home environment that the foundations of early language are laid down it is little wonder that many children start school with communication difficulties.

  7. All very ture and what seems the saddest fact for those who are not communicating with and respecting their children's language needs is that they are missing out on so much too. Children have so much to say and talk about, I never stop being surprised and warmed by some of their opinions and what they have to say. Talking and listening to children is a must for all - how will we ever be taught anything significant about being a better parent/person if we don't?!!

  8. Thank you for the comments, I think I'm 'preaching to the converted' with you. It's a shame our views are not the norm!

  9. Sorry Libby, I too am "converted" and have to say I totally agree with everything written here. I despair of people swearing in front of their children.

    My own daughter is 7 and recently asked me if I know any "square" words.... "erm, cube?" I replied, "no, like f*@k mummy". Uh oh. It transpired that children in her year had been trying to get others to say these words, and my daughter (thank goodness) didn't quite get it (hence square words!). We talked about it, I tried to explain there are certain words that upset and hurt people and shouldn't be said, but it does make me so sad. These children have obviously heard the words somewhere - maybe not necessarily from parents, but somewhere, and I think that using offensive language to/in front of children is tantamount to abuse.

    No, our views may not be the norm, but at least we can be slightly reassured that there are others out there who feel equally distressed about this. Good to know!

  10. So sad, especially when there's such an easy (and cheap)solution - just talk to children, respect them, treat them like the little human beings they are.

    Thanks for entering the blog carnival.

  11. How sad - but how often it happens in the UK these days. I live in France and have never seen anything like this (I'm sure it happens, just not as often I guess).

    We all get short tempered with our kids at times, but there's no excuse for speaking to toddlers (or anyone) like that. :(

  12. I find it all so tempting to go and speak to the parents and teach them more appropriate ways of talking to each other and to their children. I would have been really upset too. It really annoys me that parents think they can shout and scream and their kids and use inappropriate language.

  13. It won't be long before those parents install computers in the kids' rooms and communicate via email. I found your blog via British Mummy Bloggers carnival - I'll be reading some more posts!

    PS - is ti ok for a ten yr old to still be saying 'f' instead of 'th'? I fear it's become a habit and maybe he needs some help?

  14. You're right!
    Saying 'f' instead of 'th' is perfectly normal until you are 6, after that it will need some work to correct it. Try practising after teeth brushing in the mirror 2x a day to start with. You might find just by making the child aware of it, it sorts itself. If not gentle correction should help. Message me again if it doesnt.
    By the way, there is a growing number of adults these days who cant say 'th' either!

  15. Wow that is really upsetting. I was out with my 2 year old the other day to lunch at a restaurant and this man came in with his sone (about 6 years old) and I tell you he nagged that poor kid the whole time.

    He corrected everything the little guy did and then told him to "Get your elbows off the table!" "Where are your manners!?" and so on - I felt so uncomfortable because he did it in a mean way and not loving at all.

    I say let your kids be loved and show them the way - DON'T yell and nag them until they cry.

    Thanks for the great post

  16. If I see something like that it really makes my blood boil, I feel so angry on behalf of the little person and feel ashamed that I don't have the courage to challenge them right there in the street because I think it'll just make things worse for the kid. My mother used to shout at me like that and on the rare occasions someone challenged her – she would throw a torrent of abuse at them and then wait till we got home to do the same to me. Blaming me for having caused her to lose her temper and embarrassment in public…

  17. You are right, I feel the same and yet it makes you feels helpless & angry. I hope you have a good relationship with your mum now.

  18. Hi Libby, you are so right. This seems to be the norm now. The fact that people swear at their children is downright disgusting. It makes me incredibly sad and extremely angry! It also makes me want to go over to these parents and ask them what on earth they are doing, but they are also the sort of person who would respond very badly and I really don't know what I would be letting myself in for.

    People don't realise how blessed they are to have children, there are many people out there who would dearly love to and would be great parents but for reasons known to someone higher than us, can't!

    The more people that get on board and share this message of yours can only help. And if that makes me a grumpy old bird too then so be it!