I couldn't agree more with Ms Maria Loh Mun Foong ("Tougher to instil respect now"; Thursday).
I was brought up by traditional parents who believed in the adage "children should be seen and not heard". Hence, quiet obedience and respect for elders were the order of the day; talking back to parents was taboo.
When people of my age became parents, many of us, being better educated and more exposed to modern culture, decided to embrace new parenting methods. We encouraged our children to be vocal, not cognisant of their inability to know the limits.
During my national service stint some 30 years ago, a fair number of the instructors were lowly educated and boorish, but we endured the verbal and physical abuse they dished out.
In contrast, the slightest mishandling today will invite complaints from parents.
In the past, we were caned by school teachers and principals for mistakes and bad behaviour.
Now that teachers are no longer allowed to dish out corporal punishment, students are generally brazen, rowdy, disobedient and disrespectful. So the adage, "spare the rod and spoil the child", is true.
My friend's daughter, who teaches in a popular school where a student is habitually late, had the unenviable task of highlighting this to the child's mother. Instead of apologising and giving the assurance that things would change, the mother blamed the school for starting class so early.
So if we do some soul-searching, we, as parents, are to blame for our children's lack of respect. We have confused loving them with spoiling them. We dote on them but forget to teach them to discern right from wrong. And these traits, when entrenched, are difficult to eradicate.
Is there hope for the future? There is, if young parents today recognise the need to change and adopt parenting methods that reinforce it.
Lawrence Loh Kiah Muan
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