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Lessvn 11

                     Does Parental Permissiveness Affect
                           Children's Development?


                  Who Is to Blame, Mimi, or Her Parents?

    I always thought Xiao Hong a sl;oilt and wilful child, but today I met a girl a hundred times worse. Compared to her, Xiao Hong is an angel!
    Uncle and Aunt Liu came for a visit and brought their darling girl Mimi with them, a girl of five and their only child. The first sight of her disgusted me. She was dressed and made up like nothing on earth. I always hated the sight of Xiao Hong when she got all painted up on C:hildren's Day or on other festive occasions. But this Mimi was painted up for no reasons at all..

And even worse, she had her hair permed too. It' s bad enough to see grown-up women perm thei.r hair into all sorts of shapes and styles - haysacks, loosewires, bird-nests, cock-tails, name what you will,but it's their own funeral. If they want to abuse and spoil their own hair, they are welcome to it, but to do it to their chilren is really awful. As though that' s not enough, the Lius had Mimi's ears pricked too in order that she may wear ear-rings ... What next? They?woulci have her feet bound too if footbinding should suddenly become fashionable.

    The way she was made up, bad as it was, was nothing compared with the way she behaved. When Mum offered her some sweets, she grabbed two handfuls, and refused to say a "Thank you! " when gently reminded by her mother. "Dear girl! She is always shy before strangers and forgets her manners! " What a bare-faced lie! By no stretch of imagination could Mimi be described as a shy girl . Anyway I don' t think she has had any manners to forget.

When she played with Xiao Hong's things, her only pleasure seemed to lie in destruction. When she started to tear up Xiao Hong's picture books, it was really too much and Xiao Hong tried to rescue what remained by snatching them away. Obviously Mimi had never been crossed by anyone like this before and she started to howl like a pig being killed. Her parents rushed up to her, as, though their darling daughter was in mortal danger.

    "Horrid Xiao Hong! Spank her! Spank heri " Mimi kept screaming. Without finding out what it was all about, and without a single word of reprimand, the Lius were all out to mollify her. "There, there, don' t cry my precious! Auntie will spank her later! " But Mimi was not so easily mollified. "No, no! Mammy spank her now!" Her mother really went up to Xiao Hong and clapped her hands behind Xiao Hong's back, pretending to be spanking: "See if you dare to make Mimi cry again! " This sort of farce went on and on.

    Lunch was an even more hectic affair, either because she had too much sweets in her or she was over-nourished anyway, she just refused to eat anything. All the same she insisted on having all the best dishes in front of her and dipped her spoon into every one of them at will, while all the time her parents, one on each side of her, tried their best to spoonfeed her. They coaxed and cajoled, and for every occasional mouthful Mimi took, they cheered and praised as though it was a remarkable feat by their darling daughter. They expected cheers and praises from us too. More often than not, Mimi would spit out what she had just taken, and the table was littered with her spilt and spat out food. She spoiled the whole meal for everybody.

    At last we had a moment of peace and quiet when Mimi dozed off after the meal. But it was only a lull before another storm. When the Lius tried gently to wake her in order to leave, she got into a tantrum because they had disturbed her sleep, and
she kept raining blows ori her father all the way he carried her downstairs. Serves him damn well right, I said to myself in secret delight. At last Mimi was doing something with my full approval. I would love her even more if she did the same to her mother.
    When the door finally closed on them, Mum and Dad looked at each other and burst out laughing. Soon we were all laughing.

II. Read
    Read the following passages. Underline the important viewpoints while reading.

                     l. The Growing up of a Black Boy

    One evening my mother told me that thereafter I would have to do the shopping for food. She took me to the corner store to show me the way. I was proud. I felt like a grown-up. The next afternoon I looped the basket over my arm arid went down the pavement toward the store. When I reached the corner, a gang of boys grabbed me, knocked me down, snatched the basket, took the money and sent me running home in pamc.

    That evening I told my mother what had happened, but she made no comment. She sat down at once, wrote another note, gave me more money and sent me out to the grocery again. I crept down the street and saw the same gang of boys playing down the street. I ran back into t.he house.
    "What's the matter?" my mother asked.
    "It's those same boys," I said. "They'll beat me. "
    "You've got to get over that," she said. "Now, go on."
    "I'm scared," I said.
    "Go on. Anct don't pay any attention to them," she said;
    I went out of the door and walked briskly down the sidewalk, praying
that the gang would not molest me.

    But when I came abreast of them, someone shouted, "here he is."
    They came toward me and I broke into a wild run toward home. Thev overtook me and flung me to the pavement. I yelled, pleaded, kicked, but they rinsed the money out of my hand. They yanked me to my feet, gave me a few slaps and sent me home sobbing.
    My mother met me at the door.
    "They bea... hea... beat me, " I gasped. "They too... too... took the mo... money .    " I stamed up the steps, seeking the shelter of the hcuse.
    "Don't you come in here! " my mother warned me.

    I froze in my tracks and stared at her. "But they are coming after me, " I said.
    "You just stay right where you are," she said in a deadly tone. "I'm going to teach you this night to stand up and fight for yourself." She went into the house and I waited, terrified, wondering what she was about.
    Presently she returned with more money and another note. She also had a long heavy stick. "Take this money, this note and this stick," she said. "(Go to the store and buy those groceries. If those boys bother you, then fight." I was baffled. My mother was telling me to fight - a thing that she had never done before.
    "But I'm scared, "I said.

    "Don't you come into this house until you've gotten those groceries," she said.
"'rhey'll beat me.
    They'll beat me," I said.
    "Then stay in the streets. Don't come back here."
    I ran up the steps and tried to force my?way past her into the house. A stinging slap came on my jaw. I stood on the sidewalk, crying. "Please, let me wait until tomorrow!" I begged.

    "No, " she said. "Go now! If you come back into this house without those groceries, I'll whip you. ?She slammed the door and I heard the key turn in the lock.
    I shook with fright. I was alone upon the dark, hostile streets and gangs were after me. I Have the choice of being beaten at home or away from home. I clutched the stick, crying, trying to reason. If I were beaten at home, there was absolutely nothing that I could do about it. But if I were beaten in the streets, I had a chance to fight and defend myself.

    I walked slowly down the sidewalk, coming closer to the gang of boys, holding the stick tightly. I was so full of fear that I could scarely breathe. I was almost upon them now.
    "There he is again," the cry went up. They surrounded me quickly and began to grab for my hand.
    "I'll kill you." I threatened.
    They closed in and, in blind fear, I let the stick fly, feeling it crack against a boy' s skull. I swung again, landing another skull, then another. Realizing that they would retaliate, if I let up for but a second, I fought to lay them low, to knock them cold, to kill them so that they could not strike back at me. I flayed with tears in my eyes, teeth clenched, stock fear making me throw every ounce of my strength behind each blow. I hit again and again, dropping the money and the grocery list. The boys scattered, yelling, nursing their heads, staring at me in utter disbelief. They had never seen such frenzy. I stood panting, egging them on, taunting them to come on and fight. Wben they refused, I ran after them and t.hey tore out for their homes, screaming.

    The parents of the boys rushed into the streets and thieatened me. And for the first time in my life, I shouted at grown-ups, telling them that I would give them the same if they bothered me. I finally found my grocery list and the money, and went to the store.
    On my way back, I kept my stick poised for instant use, but there was not a single boy in sight.
    That night, I won the right to the streets of Memphis.

         2. Parents Are Too Permissive with Their Children Nowadays

    Few people would defend the Victorian attitude to children, but if you were a parent in those days, at least you knew where you stood: children were to be seen and not heard. Freud and Company did away with all that and parents have been bewildered ever since. The child's happiness is all-important, the psychologists say, but what about' the parents' happiness? Parents suffer constantly from fear and guilt while their children gaily romp about pulling the place apart. A good old-fashioned
spanking is out of the question: no modern childrearing manual would permit such barbarity.

The trouble is you are not allowed even to shout. Who knows what deep psychological wounds you might inflict? The poor child may never recover from the dreadful traumatic experience. So it is that parents bend over backwards to avoid giving their children complexes which a hundred years ago hadn't even been heard of. Certainly a child needs love, and a lot of it. But the excessive permissiveness of modern parents is surely doing more harm than good.

    Psychologists have succeeded in undermining parents' confidence in their own authority. And it hasn't taken children long to get wind of the fact. In addition to the great modern classics on child care, there are countless articles in magazines and newspapers. With so much unsolicited advice flying about, mum and dad just don't know what to do ariy more. In the end, they do nothing at all. So, from early childhood, the kids are in charge and parent.s, lives are regulated according to the needs of their offspring. When the little dears develop into teenagers, they take complete control. Lax authority over the years makes adolescent rebellion against parents all the more violent. If the young people are going to have a party, for instance, parents are asked to leave the house. Their presence merely spoils the fun. What else can the poor parents do but obey?

    Children are hardy creatures (far hardier than the psychologists would have us believe) and most of them survive the harmful influence of extreme permissiveness, which is the normal condition in the modern household. But a great many do not. The spread of juvenile delinquency in our own age is largely due to.parental laxity. Mother, believing that little Johnny can look after himself, is not at home when he returns from school, so little Johnny roams the streets. The dividing-line between permissiveness and sheer negligence is very fine indeed.

    The psychologists have much to answer for. They should keep their mouths shut and let parents get on with the job. And if children are knocked about a little bit in the process, it may not really matter too much. At least this wilt help them to develop vigorous views of their own and give them something positive to react against. Perhaps there's some truth in the idea that children who've had a surfeit of happiness in their childhood emerge like stodgy puddings and fail to make a success of life.

                  3. Parental Piety Is Taken to Extremes

    The dictionary defines "filial piety" as "a son's or daughter's obedience to and respect for parents". It is a pity that in reality the implication of this expression has changed in China, a nation so proud of this virtue.
    It so happened in a department store that an old couple, after careful
selection and much hesitation, fumhled 600 yuan from their pockets for a quality down quilt, smiling wi.t.h content when. the package was handed over the counter.
    "It's so good to see the elderly spend their savings for their own sake. There aren't many old people who buy expensi.ve commodities for themselves these days," commented a. middle-aged paaer-by.

    "We really should be a bit hedonistic, shouldn't. we?"
    The old couple's smile froze on hearing the words. "It's actually for my youngest son. He's getting married soon," sighed the old man.
    The passer-by nodded understandingly, "Show filial piety to your son, eh?" she said half jokingly. Her words were greeted by a fit of hollow laughter.
    This role reversal-piety to one' s children-is not uncommon, in rural areas and cities alike.

    Parents save every penny for a child to enter a self-paid college if he or she fails university entrance exams. They empty their pockets for a son or daughter's wedding. They do all the household chores for a child living together with them.
    Without exaggeration, Chinese parents are the most thoughtful and considerate of parents in the world. Just visit an amusement park on Sunday and you will see how true this statement is.

    When Chinese parents, or grandparents, accompany their children to amusement parks, rarely do they ride the roller coaster or the wonder wheel; not because they are too timid, but because they are simply too busy queuing up for their children.
    In much the same way, they would sacrifice their own interests for the happiness of their offspring.
    A 1990 survey in Bengbu, Anhui Province, found 62 per cent of the younger families owned colour TV sets; compared with 23 per cent in older families.
    While 61 per cent of younger families possessed refrigerators and 80 per cent had washing machines, relevant percentages from the older families were 19 and 35.
    Apart from the older generation's habitual thriftiness, the survey said the aged spend much income on their children. Their savings were further diminished by entertaining their extended families on holidav.

    In Tianjin, a survey of 100 newly-weds found expenditure for the occasion averaged 11, 380 yuan ( $ 2, 147 ) . Among them, 93 per cent were "sponsored,?by parents, partiaily or totally.
    That explains, to a large degree, why the homes of most Chinese parents are rather plain, with furniture bought in the 1950s and 1960s. In sharp contrast, the homes of young couples display matching furniture, video cassettes and audio systems. Therr houses are usually carpeted and decorated with wallpaper.

    When young people do not have houses of their own upon marriage, their parents readily give up the best space in the house, and retreat to smaller north-facing rooms.
    When grandchildren are born, many grandparents volunteer to be baby-sitters, caring for and bringing up the third generation without complaint.
    This "piety" towards sons and daughters is very moving indeed. But I can't help thinking that it is more natural for children to leave their parents and live on their own as is the practice in other countries.In this way, children can better develop the habit of working and living independently. The older generation, on the other hand, can enjoy their later years in a more relaxed way.

    Occasionally, parents may extend financial help to their children if the latter are really in need of it. But they need not lavish care on their grown-up children. It is the children who should practise the virtue of being filial to their old parents. In this way, society would follow a more healthy path of development.


                        4. Bringing up Children

[Extract from an interview.]
    "One reason why the family unit is crumbling is that parents have relinquished their authority over children. The permissive school of thought says, "Let the child do what he wants to when he wants to, no matter what it is, don't warp his pecsonality, don't thwart him, you'll ruin him for life.?Because of this we've got a generation of spoilt selfcentred brats with no respect for their elders. Children always push to see how much they can get away with; if you give them nothing to push against, there are no moral limits,no moral convictions will develop in the children. We have this in the schools-children have much less respect for their teachers nowadays. "
    How do you define respect?

    "Realizing that someone else might have desires also. Respect doesn't mean that when someone in authority says "jump" you jump--that's the military approach-but young people today, if they have an opinion that's different from yours, then you re the fool and the re right, even if they don't have enough experience to judge."
    How do you feel about children using stwearwords?

    "I never hear them swear, but I saw one of my daughter's diaries and it was fuil of a word that I'd have spanked her for if she'd said it aloud. Swearing goes against my sensibilities. It's mental laziness. If people aren't allowed to swear they use their brains to find a better word."
    Do you think it's just a matter of convention or do you think there's a deeper moral objection to swearing?
    "I think it' s not done. It' s taboo in nice society. We' ve been taught not to swear, and I think well-brought-up people should avoid it. If I ever hear a woman use "s-h-i-t" I think a lot less of her." (Margaret, 43, American)

           5. Some Hard-working Dads Miss Seeing Their Kids Grow up

    Dear Ann Landers: A number of my friends work so many hours that they rarely see their children. When they finally make the time,they discover that their children are grown up and have no time for them.
    I wrote the following piece and you are welcome to share it with your readers if you think it's good enough. Sign me-Lonely, Anywhere, U.S.A.
    Dear Lonely: It's excellent. You've zeroed in on one of the principal problems of parenthood in the ,80s. Thanks for tossing it my way.

                              Where Did the Years Go?
    I remember talking to my friend a number of years ago about our children. Mine were 5 and 7 then, just the ages when their daddy means everything to them. I wished that I could have spent more time with my kids but I was too busy working. After all, I wanted to give them all the things I never had when I was growing up.
    I loved the idea of coming home and having them sit on my lap and tell me about their day. Unfortunately, most days I came home so late that I was only able to kiss them good night after they had gone to sleep.

    It is amazing how fast kids grow. Before I knew it, they were 9 and 11. I missed seeing them in school plays. Everyone said they were terrific, but the plays always seemed to go on when I was traveling for business or tied up in a special conference. The kids never complained, but I could see the disappointment in their eyes.
    I kept promising that I would have more time "next year? But the higher up the corporate ladder I climbed, the less time there seemed to be.

    Suddenly they were no longer 9 and 11. They were 14 and 16. Teenagers. I didn't see my daughter the night she went out on her first date or my son's championship basketball game. Mom made excuses and I managed to telephone and talk to them before they left the house. I could hear the disappointment in their voices, but I explained as best I could.

    Don't ask where the years have gone. Those little kids are 19 and 21 now and in college. I can't believe it. My job is less demanding and I finally
have time for them. But they have their own interests and there is no time for me. To be perfectly honest, I'm a little hurt.
    It seems like yesterday that they were 5 and 7. I'd give anything to live those years over. You can bet your life I'd do it differently. But they are gone now, and so is my chance to be a real dad.

             6. Parents Go back to School to Teach Children Better

    Having abandoned cl.asses for more than 10 years, many citizens in Beijing have returned to school only because they have become parents.
    They seek help to tackle a thorny problem: the education of their "only child". Some people call these children the "little emperors of China" .
    "Many parents, either doting on their children or behaving badly towards hem, know little about home education and thus make errors, " said Ding Rong, a teacher from the Fourth Middle School of Beijing.

    After a pupil was beaten to death by his mother Last year in Northwest
hina's Qinghai Province, a survey was made in a Beijing primary school. Of the 36 parents surveyed, everybody knew of the incident yet none were aware of any defects in their system of home education.
    Surprisingly, some said they would follow suit if their children failed to study properly.
    "In this sense, parents' schools are badly needed, " said Zhen Yan, deputy general-secretary of Beijing Research Association of Home Education, which is in charge of more than 3, 500 parents' schools in the city.

    The purpose of the schools, she said, was to help parents to establish proper position for their children in a family and society and treat them in a more enlightened way.
    The schools provided a series of lectures on "how to educate your child properly? advice given by experts and "Fumu Bidu" ("How to become good parents") and a monthly magazine published in Beijing with a circulation of 600, 000.
    "I never thought I would re-enter school, ?said Xiao Chengjun, a 40-year-old woman worker, "I was taken aback when I was first asked the question 'Do you really know your child?'"

    Jiang Bo, her 14-year-old son, was a second-year student of Hujialou Middle School in Beijing's Chaoyang District. Of six courses, he failed three of his first term exams. Xiao got angry and beat him, but he showed no improvement.
    It was not until she took courses in a parents' school that she realized beating is pointless. The following term, Jiang Bo succeeded in all his lessons and helped teach his mother English.

    "Children are easily affected," said Ding Rong, "the disharmony, and often the disputes in a family places the child in an awkward position. "
    Parents, who are the first teachers of their children, need not only to instruct, but to.be educated, even by their children, said an expert.
    One pupil complained in a composition that his father, a chain smoker, always left the smell of smoke in the living room and he could not do his homework there.
    Another wrote that his father often played mahjong and the noise kept him awake most of the night.

    "It's the father's fault not to educate his son himself," is an old saying. "But, it's also the father' s fault if he sets his son a bad example, " said Zhen Yan.
    Since China pursues the policy of "one child for one couple", many parents are expecting too much from their children.
    In Taoranting Primary School, Beijing , s Xuanwu District, 423 parents, over 87 per cent of the total surveyed, wanted their children to become university students. About half of them threaiened to punish their children if they did not pass their exams.

    A parents' school set up by the First Experimental Primary School suggested that parents allow their children to take over some household duties on Sundays to build up their sense of responsibility.
    Some parents admitted they ignored the physiological and psychological changes in their children and thus treated them with beatings and scoldings.
     A parent said, "After attending the class, I know more about my child and she also understands me more. "