Saturday, April 26, 2008

Licensing for parenting

Over my years studying medicine, I have had to endure the paediatric clerkship three times (eight weeks each) and now have to go through the remedial (six weeks), giving me thirty weeks of paediatric experience under my belt. That's almost half a year; I don't even think family medicine trainees get that long. Over this time I have come to make several observations. Firstly that all the professors and teachers in our university's paediatrics department are clinically insane in some way or form. They are either psychopaths, have multiple personalities or sado-machoistic. I'll probably elaborate on this observation some other time, since it is not my main point. The observation I want to bring to light is parenting is very difficult, almost down right impossible. Yet this is not an excuse to continue bad parenting.

Why is it when people, rational in all other areas in their lives, become suddenly irrational when dealing with their kids? I know they are the best observers for their kids when it comes to their medical history but when making decisions for their kids they don't act with logic. One example I frequently encounter is the decision to feed your baby with breast milk or formula milk. Every medical student and doctor knows breast milk is vastly superior than formula milk. We tell this to all mothers once they given birth and continue to emphasize it later on. Yet mothers seemed to be hypnotized by television adverts, coming under the trance of magical words such as 'DHA' and 'taurine', to feed their child formula milk, thinking they will have vastly better brains. It is the same with anything we subject children to: going to piano lessons, having extra-tutorial classes or sending them off to boarding school. Parents think they know what is best for their kids but do they really go and search for studies whether or not piano lessons can vastly improve your children's skills and happiness? Do they really ask their kids if they prefer having tennis lessons, when in fact they rather prefer golf lessons? Most parents just listen to friends or other family members about their experience but what necessarily applies to one kid doesn't apply to another.

What I just wrote in the last paragraphy really applies to all parents. Of course there are two spectrums of parenting I have seen. There are mothers and fathers who don't give a rat's ass about their kids and leave them to fend for themselves. These are usually lower socioeconomic class people who have an unplanned pregnancy and decide to keep the baby, not really knowing what lies ahead. These are the people who are just ignorant on what parenting entails, think it is easy. Most children suffer from neglect, like one girl who was left to fend for herself while her mother went to Macao to gamble. Everybody in Hong Kong hears these stories every so often and it is disappointing to hear that it continues.

Yet on the other scale are the parents who think money solves everything (just like my father). They ensure the care of their child in the Filipino domestic helper, who doesn't give a monkey's behind whether or not the kid lives or dies. They thrust the child into every extracurricular activity imaginable, get the child to attend extra tutorial to ensure the child gets good grades, goes to a good university and gets a good job regardless whether the child enjoys it and spoils the kid by buying him video games and gifts whenever he/she wants it. These kids grow up to be obese because their parents don't want him/her hurt in any physical activities. These kids also become ignorant and stupid because they numb their brains by watching too much TV and playing too many video games.

With so many kids suffering from inadequate parenting, I have often contemplated whether or not governments should have licensing for parenting. People who want to be mothers or fathers should show they are competent enough to raise kids. I know this idea will never get off the ground, as it infringes on the right to have a family, yet I often feel this right is constantly abused and taken for granted by many adults over the world. With many people paying absorbent amounts of money for IVF treatment to have kids, there are people in the world who dabble in sex as a bit of fun without thinking of the consequences and take for granted the kid they produce.

What I have just written is the reason why I don't want to become a parent. I just will become totally illogical and probably act like my father - far too opinionated and ignorant to care for the kid.

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