Preventing potential bad parents from being parents


Preventing potential bad parents from being parents
By Zan Azlee

Being a parent is not an easy job because it’s not something that you can take classes for before becoming one. You can get advice from existing parents but everyone knows that each individual child (and parent) is different.

I have two daughters, and to be honest, as much as I have prepared myself and to have expectations to the kind of parent I want to be, basically, I am still winging it for the most parts. But of course, winging it with proper preparation.

So, when news of parents who abuse their children crops up, I find it unfathomable as to how they could such things. The ‘monster dad’ who has been arrested and charged with sodomising and raping his teenage daughter more than 200 times is unbelievable.

News reports described how his charge sheet was so long that it took several hours to read and that the court for sexual crimes against children had to operate past usual hours so all the charges could be read fully.

All men are innocent until proven guilty and the accused has pleaded not guilty. But in cases like this, the stigma is such a burden that the public would have already convicted and sentenced the accused even before the case is heard.

The charges are horrendous and when we read about the potential punishments, it reinforces the horror. The accused faces a maximum jail term of 20 years and is also liable for whipping once he is convicted.

I can’t help but also feel disgusted towards the accused even if he is yet to face trial. I put so much effort into being a good parent and trying to provide the best environment for my children that I take child abuses such as this very seriously.

In my mind, there is no bigger responsibility than being a parent. And I know this may offend people, but I believe that I speak the truth when I say that even parents who smoke, but decide not to smoke near their children, are nevertheless being irresponsible.

If it’s not the second-hand smoke that would affect the children’s health, it would be the very fact that they see and know that their parent smoke and it would have a very direct impact on how they perceive smoking. It could very well be that they think it is acceptable behaviour.

Also, a parent would be selfish to smoke because although they might not think that they are harming anyone, by smoking and later on getting sick and diseased, they will directly hurt the ones they love (that is, their children).

Is there a parental test?

I guess that parenting and children is something that is very close to my heart and that any issue that relates to the well-being of a child and his or her parent is something that I would feel compelled to advocate for.

There are no criteria that need to be fulfilled before someone can be a parent. It isn’t like you have to go to a special government department, sit for a test, hope you pass and be given a licence to be a parent.

Anyone can be a parent as long as you’re sexually matured, even those who are underage, immature, irresponsible, jobless, uneducated, alcoholic, drug addicts, mentally unstable, convicted criminals and even sexual predators. There are no laws against these people having children.

So how do we solve this problem? I think education and being a well-educated society play an important role. It would probably be a good idea to create basic parenting classes for the parents-to-be to attend so they would at least have a basic understanding of child psychology.

Some people have mooted that a good idea would be to have a psychological evaluation for couples or individuals who want to be parents. But this is really against human rights because the instinct to have children is quite a basic human one.

So that puts everything into a conundrum because there really can’t be any systematic solution to make sure only good parents can be parents. There’s just no such thing because you can never be sure or guarantee that someone will be a good parent.

But ultimately, to have better parents and family units, there just needs to be a higher social consciousness in our society. And that just means making every effort to mature and progress our society. It may take time, but I hope it is much sooner than later.

[This article was originally written for and published at Malaysiakini.com]

Get Zan Azlee’s latest book ‘JOURNO-DAD: The chronicles of a journalist who just happens to be a dad!‘ today!

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