We as the Young People’s Society of Hull recently discussed this subject in one of our meetings. We would like to present a brief summary of our findings.
Switches sometimes are an advantage. Usually a subject such as this one would be reserved for mother’s groups or parent’s meetings. We chose to discuss this subject in order that we as young people might sincerely face the question as to what we really think an ideal parent should be. It’s easy to criticize our parents in an off-handed way, but we thought that if we should face the subject as Christian young people, considering our parents as Christian parents, we would have a better understanding of their duty and ours.
Parents, we realize, have the duty before God to raise their children in His way. They have the authority from God to discipline us, to instruct and guide us. We know that they must do that.
Young people, on the other hand, are too big to be children and too small to be adults. They are experiencing a change in their place in the family and society. Once they were little tots who had to be told to do everything because they didn’t think for themselves. Now, however, they are beginning to look about and ahead having their own ideas as to what they want to do and what they consider worth doing. Still they are not ready to stand alone in this big world. They need to lean on someone for support and guidance. They need the direction of their parents and are duty-bound to listen to them when they direct them.
What in the midst of this period of change is our idea of an ideal parent?
First, we feel that a good parent should be concerned about us. Even though we sometime like to think we can get along without our parents, if we are honest with ourselves, we admit we need them. We appreciate it when they are not so busy that they can’t take time to talk with us. Even though they ask questions like what we do or where we go we recognize they ask them because they are interested enough to care. When difficulties arise between parents and teenagers, an ideal parent is patient enough to listen.
Secondly, we consider an ideal parent one who trusts us. Parents should not run our lives entirely. Teenagers should have some freedom of expression. We realize that if we do something wrong, we lose that trust and the only way we can regain it is to show by our deeds that we won’t do it again. To do this we need the opportunity to prove ourselves. Suspicion makes us resentful and makes us feel as if we are always on trial.
Thirdly, we like our parents to give us responsibility. Not all the decisions of life, but gradually more and more. Parents that give us some responsibility give us an opportunity to grow into our new role as an adult. Things such as driving the family car, going out with each other, opportunity to select our own clothes, etc. This teaches us to make our own judgments and make them properly.
Finally, we need discipline that is reasonable. Yes, when we do wrong we must be disciplined even though we don’t like it. We need a stern hand to guide us, but that hand we feel must be reasonable. Just because a fellow puts a dent in Dad’s car doesn’t automatically mean he was reckless and should be denied its use. Suppose a girl does come home late one evening, her parents shouldn’t keep her in for a month. We like to be heard and explain our difficulties and then if found guilty discuss our punishment. If we can’t be heard we are tempted to “get even” with our parents and resist them all the more.
As young people we admit our judgment is not always correct. In fact, it’s often wrong. We need our parent’s guidance and help, not to make us feel like slaves driven with a whip, but as growing adults who need guidance while we are growing.