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On bringing up a child as one should

As we are reminded of the Miracle Child this festive month –– or ought to be –– there is hardly a better time to ponder the responsibilities we have towards our earthly offspring; the duty of ours, as parents, to ensure our seed are properly guided and their minds free of mental and moral conflict.

A child denied these developmental spiritual comforts could well have a future marred by misery and schisms; all wholesome expectations denied.

Those of us who focus on the birth of Jesus at this time will reflect on and baulk at the insipid attitude of that innkeeper in Bethlehem who, caring not enough for the pregnant Mary and more callously less for the child in her womb, turned them away to the bleak and shadowy alleys of the town. We will, in this season of love, at worst, put out of our mind this hotelier of sorts who would condemn our Miracle Child to an animal shelter, where the very beasts were far more tender in feeling and affectionate of character.

Surely, there was more room in the inn than was in the keeper’s heart. Such conduct of the innkeeper is indicative of the careless, sometimes deliberate, habit people have of downplaying the importance and station of children and their well-being –– their proper place in the scheme of things.

In a nutshell, too many of the parents and would-be parents among us approach the rearing of our children all too off-handedly or much too casually.

We cannot stress enough that the child’s welfare rises above all other interests, and that his or her care, safety, development, counsel and benefit must be at the centre of all battles and negotiations –– no matter how intricate or abnormal. And none of us must have that hands-off attitude of the Bethlehem innkeeper.

Which brings us to a disturbing feature of childhood in Barbados, as enunciated last weekend by none other than an officer of the Barbados Child Care Board: that many of today’s children were being confused by their parents who were in same-sex relationships, or who had multiple partners.

The latter infelicity we are not exactly unaware of, and we do not seek here to diminish the emotional abuse it will most certainly subject a child to; but it’s the former that is more startling at this point.

Child Care Board deputy director Denise Nurse –– at a panel discussion hosted by the Mothers’ Union of Barbados at the George Lamming Primary School last Saturday evening –– said many children were being now exposed “to all types of relationships” –– parental, that is –– which were a cause of a multiplicity of attendant challenges for them at home and consequently at school.

“Family is now man and man. Family is woman and woman. Family has changed. Family is no longer man and wife . . . ; so children are coming to school confused,” Ms Nurse told an audience of mainly teachers and members of the  Mothers’ Union.

“. . . If you [as a child] get up, or in the night you turn around, and see your mother with a woman . . . . .”

The befuddlement of any offspring ought to be obvious.

The strange thing about it is that there has been virtually no public comment on Ms Nurse’s concern, except for some barbs between a few social media users who were more concerned with their positions and “rights” than any interest in the welfare of these affected children.

We have come to accept that adults will do what they wish, within bounds, when it pertains to their sexual preferences; but hardly think minors should be dragged headlong into these alternative lifestyles.

Surely, the natural dynamics of a family dictate that the bona fide Daddy and Mummy provide the optimal setting for child rearing and upbringing –– not a make-believe pair. Indeed, a child will be confused when it is impressed upon him that two males could be a mum and dad. Such pretences, we aver, are bound to have a negavtive effect on a child’s mental health and, in his delirium must give birth to lower educational attainment and ultimate antisocial behaviour.

Even where there is no pretence, revelation of the cold hard facts of having two daddys or mummys does not make it any easier for the beleagured child who fails to see such other matches, by his own observation, among the rest of the animal kingdom.

We insist that whatever the battles, challenges, diversions or alternatives, the welfare and well-being of the child must be raised high above these. If a man or woman will go alternative, it ought to be by his or her own doing as an adult, not as the end result of a caged and blinkered upbringing. It would be grossly unwholesome if all through adolescence to adulthood one did know what a heterosexual relationship was.

The family structure, we daresay, that leads to optimal child development is that headed by that pair of truly male and female parents –– yes, in a low-conflict or no-conflict relationship.

Let our children be children. And let them so live –– without all this mental turmoil and discomposure!

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