Our Childs Voice – 30 September 2009

By Parentline, 4 March 2010

Parent behaviour under microscope

By Cathy HollandPublished in Hamilton Press 30 September 2009

We regularly field phone calls from a parent seeking advice on how to deal with the challenging behaviour of their child. When we start to understand the issues that have created the behaviour, we often find that the underlying issue is unacceptable parent or adult behaviour.

I recently took a call from a distraught mother whose daughter had left home after a serious altercation between the two. I could hear in the mother’s voice, a sudden realisation that the most likely cause for her daughter’s departure was the level of domestic abuse between her and her partner, that the children were exposed to every day. The mother appreciated immediately the pointlessness of seeking help for her daughter, when she, as the adult and parent, was not prepared to address the impact of domestic violence within the family home. Whilst her daughter might benefit from counselling, unless the abusive relationship between the mother and her partner was addressed, it was highly unlikely that the daughter would want to stay at home.

Between 2007 and 2009, Parentline conducted a survey R18 Means R18, on the video gaming habits of underage children accessing restricted R18 and R16 videos. Our interest was to understand the impact of extreme violence and sexualised behaviours contained in favourite video games. We were astounded that parents blithely rented and purchased restricted videos for their children and even worse that underage children can walk into a video outlet and rent a restricted video from adult retailers.

I recall a telephone conversation with a grandmother whose grandson was scheduled to attend a sleep-over at his friend’s place. She had been told the boys were going to watch a restricted video game. The grandmother guessed it was illegal to supply restricted games to underage children but was surprised to learn that adults who allow children to watch restricted videos, even within the privacy of their home, can be fined up to $10,000 or imprisoned for 3 months. I suggested that the host parents of the party should be informed that they are committing an offence that carries a substantial penalty.

This is not to say that some parents and adults do not acknowledge the part (sometimes significant) that their behaviour contributes to behaviours seen in their children.

For us, it is always heartening to work with adults who willingly step up to the plate and accept full responsibility for their actions, especially in situations that can potentially leave children as innocent victims.

For parents who are separating, Parentline offers a programme called Parents Building Bridges. Parents attending this programme learn how separation affects their children, what children need during a separation, keeping children away from the arguments and talking with ex partners about arrangements for children. We applaud these parents for their commitment and genuine desire to work in the best interests of their children.

For further information on the services offered by Parentline, please contact our Intake Coordinator, Lisa Herewini on 07 839 4536.